Posts tagged “materialism

“If the World Hates You”…

¶ For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. – Gal:1:10

The great temptation for a Catholic, whether layman or churchman, is to allow himself to be attracted by the world and wish to become part of it, being accepted and admired.

Triple Concupiscence

We are not talking about the physical world created by God, which, like everything else He created, is very good.  The world here is a moral entity opposed to God: “For all that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1Jn:2:16)

Thus, to give in to the temptation of the world is to cave in to the triple concupiscence, to adopt worldly wisdom and flee from the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which the world sees as “foolishness.”

The Impossible Quest of Catholic Liberals

Our Lord does not pray for this world, for it refused His light. Hence “the whole world is under the power of the evil one,” under Satan, “the prince of this world.”

Now then, “what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath the faithful with the unbeliever,” the one who “loved darkness rather than the light”?

Therefore, it is impossible, as liberal Catholics claim, to remain Catholic while being admired by the world; and to have the consolation of the Faith along with the pomp and honors of the world.

“If the World Hates You”

Our Lord himself explained the reason for this impossibility as He warned the apostles:

“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘The servant is not greater than his master.’”

Thus, to wish to be part of the world is to stray from the right path and drive away from the truth; for only Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life.” It is to fall under the domination of the one who “is a liar and the father of lies.”

The Christian is called “into the world, to testify to the truth” not only through a flawless life but by fighting error and evil.

It is to lose the peace of Christ: “my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.”

Confront the World and Combat its Malice

That does not mean that a Catholic must only flee from the world without fighting its malice: “I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.”

Instead, like his Savior, the Christian is called “into the world, to testify to the truth.”

This testimony must be given not only through a flawless life but by fighting error and evil.

That is why the Savior said: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword.”

” For the word of God is living and effectual and more piercing than any two edged sword; and reaching unto the division of the soul and the spirit, of the joints also and the marrow: and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  (Heb:4:12)

The Voice of the World and the Voice of Christ

“There is no truth” in the prince of this world. “When he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies.”

He not only employs direct lie, as when he seduced Eve, but also ambiguity and deceitful words: “But let your speech be yea, yea: no, no: and that which is over and above these, is of evil.”

The world accepts lies and ambiguity because “the whole world is under the power of the evil one.”

But those who belong to Christ do not allow themselves to be deceived: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Since He is the Incarnate Truth, his words are clear, tender toward the good and the repentant sinners, severe and even terrible to those hardened in evil: “You belong to your father the devil and you willingly carry out your father’s desires.”

The World in its Present Form Is Passing Away

Let us therefore not allow ourselves to be carried away by this world’s deceitful appearance. Its joy is false; it is “sorrow [that] produces death.” “For the world in its present form is passing away.” Eternity is the only thing that really counts, as “our citizenship is in heaven.”

Let us raise our eyes to Our Lady, Queen of Heaven and Earth, and to her Divine Son. “I have conquered the world” He said, and He will give us the necessary strength to resist the snares and attractions of the world.

The world enslaves and takes away “the liberty of the glory of the children of God.” Only the truth liberates, whereas lie and sin enslave.

In this tragic situation we are going through, in which vice is glorified and virtue oppressed, lie and ambiguity have free rein while truth and the evangelical language of “yea, yea: no, no” are despised, let us ask the One Who said “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world,” that He give us the necessary strength to resist the snares and attractions of the world.

Let us not be as the liberal Catholics that want to serve God and the prince of this world: because “’No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

http://www.tfp.org/tfp-home/catholic-perspective/the-impossible-quest-of-catholic-liberals.html

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Dictatorship Imminent

soma

“There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.” Aldous Huxley

A remarkable portrait of our contemporary world appeared two months ago with the  daunting title :  “Decline, Decay, Denial, Delusion and Despair”,  but the content is surely true to life. Starting from a street scene to be found no doubt all over the eastern United States, the author concludes that within 15 years an Orwellian dictatorship will descend upon his country as the unwanted effect of wanted causes. But the USA is not typical of the whole world ? The whole world is buying into the American way of life. “Let the buyer beware”!

This autumn in the streets of Wildwood, New Jersey, the author observed pavements encumbered with a host of heavily overweight men and women under 50 years of age rolling around town on government-subsidized mobility scooters to visit one fast-food joint after another in order to gorge on sugar-laden goodies which would give their latest model scooters more work than ever. His amusing name for them ? – “The weight-challenged disabled on their powered mobility enhancement vehicles.” Such is the flight from reality of “political correctness” and its language.

The author seeks causes for this tragic-comic effect : how can the American people that once saved 12% of their income have been persuaded to frighten the obesity statistics off the end of the charts with a debt-laden, sugar-sodden way of life, with no more savings for themselves and with an unbearable burden of debt being bequeathed to their children and grand-children ? Of course there is a lack of self-control on their part, he says, but there must be something more sinister, some mind behind such a mindless scene. He says the mass of citizens are being manipulated by an invisible government that has mastered the modern techniques of mass manipulation.

He quotes a pioneer of these masters from the 1920’s, Edward Bernays: “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the masses is an important element in democratic society… Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society… Whether in politics, business, social conduct or ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons… who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses.” They are “the true ruling power of the country,” and they “pull the wires which control the public mind.” For what purpose ? For their own wealth and power.

It is they who have organized today’s financial and economic crisis for their own benefit. They have “wrecked the world economy… shifted their worthless debt onto the backs of taxpayers and unborn generations, thrown senior citizens and savers under the bus by stealing $400 billion per year of interest from them, and enriched themselves with bubble-level profits and bonus payments.” And when the plug has to be pulled on this unsustainable way of life, then our invisible masters have prepared for us a 1984 “dictatorship of tears” with militarized police with millions of bullets, surveillance cameras and drones everywhere, imprisonment without charges and so on and so on. Yet, says the author, it is the citizens’ own fault who have preferred ignorance to truth, sickness to health, media lies to critical thinking, security to liberty.

There is only one thing lacking to this admirable analysis: could our governing elite have run so wild, or our masses have turned so dumb, if either had retained the least sense of a God who judges us all at death, according to Ten Commandments ? Of course not. Catholics, wake up !

Kyrie eleison.   Bishop Richard Williamson

 


Materialism, Calvinism and The Greed of The West

Well the Season of Greed and Avarice is upon us.

Why has the celebration of the birth of Christ been adulterated to such an extent that we act as if we are deserving of so much more on His Birthday than he had?

Christ “so loved poverty that He chose for His mother not a rich and powerful queen, but a poor and humble Virgin.  He willed to be born, not in a palace, but in a bleak stable, the manger of which, covered with a little straw, was His only couch.” – The Sinner’s Guide, Venerable Louis of Granada.

Where did it all go wrong?  The West’s wealth and love of money is unprecedented historically.   We are told that capitalism is the best  economic system but what happens when capitalism is devoid of morality and a sense of responsibility to our children and our future?

Personal greed and corporate greed have transformed capitalism.   Corporate America panders to our base nature.   It seeks out the latest, coolest, hippest and ultimately the lowest elements of our culture,  repackages them, and seduces our senses, our children, and our pocketbooks.

The “hipsters” behind the scenes of what’s cool push the envelope on every front.  They turn their decadent, sex-obsessed minds on our children and assume them to be of like ilk.  They assume the average male is a vulgar, adolescent, frat-boy, who delights in toilet-humor, sex jokes and freaky stunts.  They imagine the average female to be a shop-a-holic, vain, sex-kitten, who longs to throw off the confining chains of parents, husband and or children.  The imagined male and female become reality when they are fed constant rebellion, entertainment, and not only sex, but “taboo” sex.

We exalt in arising at 4:30 a.m. on the biggest shopping day of the year to acquire, accumulate and acquiesce to this culture.  The corporations that exploit Christmas also exploit our thirst for human respect.  After all, if we opt out of the spending and gift-giving mania, we are uncharitable scrooges and our friends and family may think we have become religious fanatics.  When we could use the season to counter the culture’s notion of Christ, we instead capitulate.

Why this obsession with the temporal?  Where has our sense of the holy and eternal gone?  Hillaire Belloc said of John Calvin and Calvinism, “In denying the efficacy of good deeds and of the human will, and abnegations, in leaving on one side as useless all the doctrine and tradition of Holy Poverty, Calvin opened the door to the domination of the mind by money.  St Thomas had said it centuries before–that if men abandoned the idea of God as the supreme good they would tend to replace Him…[with]…material wealth” as the supreme good.”   -Hillaire Belloc, The Crisis of Civilization.

If Calvin was right and our good deeds have no effect on our salvation, and, furthermore that we are predestined by the Divine Will to such an extent that man’s free will is nullified, then one can see how man could easily be consumed by temporal matters, and conversely ignore matters of the eternal.  Why be so  foolish as to forego the world’s glitter and glamour if there is no eternal consequence to partaking in it?

“Man cannot freely rise to God and the contemplation of His beauty while he is breathless in pursuit of riches.  A heart filled with material and earthly pleasures can never know spiritual and divine joys.  No it is impossible to unite what is false with what is true; what is spiritual with what is carnal; what is temporal with what is eternal; they can never dwell together in one heart.”   -The Sinner’s  Guide, Venerable Louis of Granada.

Likewise man cannot truly appreciate the gravity of Christ’s birth when we engage in the world’s notion of Christmas which amounts to idolatry and worship of the golden calf.  God requires good deeds of His people and our actions will have consequences.  We must not partake in the corruption of Christ’s birthday.

“Riches are acquired only at the expense of pain and labor; they are preserved only by care and anxiety; and they are never lost without bitter vexation and grief.  But worse than this, they are rarely accumulated without offence against God…”.  -The Sinner’s  Guide, Venerable Louis of Granada.

http://www.realclearreligion.com/materialism_calvinism_the_g.html


Utopian Dreams

The Utopian dreams of Socialists, if they could be realized, would not give us a Utopia, for they do not take account of some of the most essential elements of human nature. When we have taken away his property and given it to others, we have not thereby turned the millionaire into a nobleman or the recipients of his money into saints. A drastic law or an economic system, which shall make it impossible for men to corner the market, will not place either speculator or producer or consumer within the gates of paradise. For paradise is first of all a condition of heart: it does not wait for crops and it does not follow the markets. It may exist where food is coarse and scarce; it never comes simply because luxuries abound or because men are at ease.

Even if a man makes two blades of grass grow where before only one grew, the exhortation of Carlyle, the extra grass-blade will not solve the deep problems of his life. It may make his cattle fatter, but will it make his life larger and nobler? No, indeed, for out of the heart, not out of fatted cattle, are the issues of life. Another blade of grass? Yes, by all means, for that is good, if used as means to nobler life. But just the grass-blade or the millions of them upon a thousand acres, will not uproot the vice that kills or take away heartache.

The same truth faces us when we go to the other extreme where poverty pinches. And the pinch of poverty is a real calamity in thousands of lives. Church and state may well unite, not only to stamp out pauperism, but to prevent the conditions that breed paupers. But what we see in nine cases out of ten as the real cause of distress is not so much low wages or an unjust land system, as deficiency of life: weak wilt, disordered body, low vitality, feeble conscience, industrial incapacity. What every charity worker deplores is not so much low wages as low life. The problem is human, not simply economic. There is no more necessity that we equalize things than that we equalize knowledge. There is, however, supreme need that we equalize opportunity for knowledge and for property, but on condition that both become the servants of life. We may well put a high value on these material conditions, which Socialism so overemphasizes, and we may well demand a more just distribution of the goods of the world. But let us not be deceived. It is not by such means that a Paul is created, a Sistine Madonna painted, a Hamlet written, or a Washington produced.

“The Way to Utopia: A Brief Essay”
BY
JOSEPH HENRY CROOKER
1907


Freedom in Danger

From an address delivered on April 4, 1943 by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Today we shall speak about a grave danger facing the world— not America alone. That danger is the threatened loss of something which is on the tongue of everyone, namely, freedom.

A proof that we are in danger of losing it, is that everyone is talking about it. If you suddenly came into a country where everyone was talking about the health of the lungs, you would immediately conclude that a disastrous microbe was rampant. In the last war everyone spoke about “making the world safe for democracy,” and yet the world became so unsafe for democracy, that within twenty-one years democracy had to stumble into another war to preserve itself.

Now, we ought to be worried about freedom, simply because everyone is talking about it! Slaves talk most about freedom; the oppressed talk most about justice; the hungry talk most about food.

We are all agreed that the external threat to our freedom and the freedom of the world comes from the totalitarian states. There is no need to develop this thesis.They are Satan’s vicegerents of tyranny, the anti-Christ’s advance agents of adversity. But our point is that the gravest threat to freedom comes from within; I do not mean within America alone, I mean within the hearts and souls of men throughout the world.While the world is attempting to preserve freedom in the political order, it is surrendering it in those deeper realms upon which the political reposes.

Picture a group of men on a roof-top proclaiming in song and story the glories of architecture, while below saboteurs have already knocked out half the foundations of the house— and you have the picture of modern freedom. Politicians in the upper stories are glorifying freedom while false philosophy in education, and so-called Liberal Christianity, have knocked away its supports.

Firstly, freedom is denied in education today. This may sound bizarre to some educators who have been shouting catch-words about freedom for decades. But I submit they are talking about license—not freedom. They are concerned with freedom from something; not freedom for something; they are interested only in freedom without law rather than freedom within the law. And the proof? Do not many educators today assume that evil and sin are due to ignorance, and that if we educate, we will remove evil? Do not others assume that evil is due to bad environment, bad teeth, or bad glands, and that an increase of material wealth will obliterate evil? Can they not see that these assumptions destroy freedom; for if evil is the result of ignorance, and not the result of a perverse use of freedom, then Hitler is an ignoramus, but he is not a villian? Can they not see that education without a proper philosophy of life can be made the servant of evil, as well as of good? Have they not the vision to see that if evil and sin are to be attributed solely to external circumstances, then man is not free to do wrong? Then wrong is in our environment, but not in us. Is it not inconsistent to praise a free man for choosing what is right, and at the same time, when he does wrong, to deny that he is free?

That kind of education which denies guilt and sin is destroying freedom in our schools, while our soldiers are fighting for it on the battle fronts of the world. Modern religion has also denied freedom. Oh, do not misunderstand! I know it preaches freedom. But here we are searching hearts, not lips. Modern religion denies freedom because it denies hell. In a recent survey of ministers it was discovered that seventy-three percent did not believe in hell.

If there is no hell, why should there be a heaven? If there is no wrong, and hence no sin for which men ought to be punished, why should there be a heaven where they should be rewarded for their virtues? If there are statues erected to our patriots, why should there not be prisons for our traitors? Whom do they think God is— a kind of grandmother who laughs off the wrong-doing of His children, as if there were no scales of Justice, and He were not the God of Righteousness?

This sugary, pale ersatz of Christianity has set at naught the very words of the Christ Whom they preach— the Christ Who on more than a dozen occasions said there was a hell. Hell is the eternal guarantee of human freedom. If God were to destroy hell, at that moment He would destroy human freedom. So long as there is a hell, we know that He so respects human freedom that He will not by Force or Power destroy even that free will which rises up against Him with an everlasting “I will not serve.” Satan is thus destroying our freedom at the very moment he has let us believe that we are most free. He did so by the very same temptations which failed when he tempted Christ on the mountain at the beginning of His public life.

Satan tried to tempt Our Lord from His Gospel of Love by offering three substitutes. In the first temptation, instead of winning souls through love, Satan suggested that Christ buy them with bread, inasmuch as men are hungry.

In the second temptation, Satan suggested that Christ win them by manifesting great Power over nature, such as throwing Himself from a temple tower unhurt.

In the third temptation, Satan suggested winning souls through politics. He unfurled before the mind’s eye of the Savior all the kingdoms and empires and nations of the world, and in a frightening boast, as if to imply all were his, said: “All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me” (Matthew 4:9).

Our Lord refused to surrender freedom. If souls would not love Him without the bribery of bread, without the exhibitionism of Power, and without selling himself to Caesar, He would still not force them. Freedom would endure through an eternal heaven and an eternal hell.

Satan is now back again in the world, and oh, how he is succeeding in destroying freedom. Souls are today selling themselves out for that bread which today they call security; for that power which is now called Science and Progress, while others, in over a fifth of the world’s surface, have bartered their freedom for dictators and tyrants.

Dostoievsky, that great Russian writer of the last century, was right when in a great flash of genius he warned that the denial of sin and hell in education and religion would end in a world Socialism where men would surrender freedom for a false security. He pictured anti-Christ returning to the world and speaking to Christ, thus: “Dost thou know that the ages will pass, and humanity will proclaim by the lips of their sages that there is no crime, and therefore no sin; there is only hunger? And men will come crawling to our feet, saying to us: ‘Give us bread! Take our freedom.’

I wonder if those days are not already here; Finally, in place of free men, the anti-Christ pictures the new Socialistic State in which he and his followers will organize every-thing after convincing people there is no sin— there is only hunger. And Dostoievsky again pictures anti-Christ speaking to Christ: “They will tremble impotently before our wrath, their minds will grow fearful, they will be quick to shed tears like women and children, but they will be just as ready at a sign from us to pass to laughter and rejoicing, to happy mirth and childish song. Yes, we shall set them to work, but in their leisure hours we shall make their life like songs and innocent dance. Oh, we shall allow them even sin, they are weak and helpless, and they will love us like children because we allow them to sin. We shall tell them that every sin will be expiated, if it is done with our permission, that we allow them to sin because we love them, and the punishment for these sins we take upon ourselves. And we shall take it upon ourselves, and they will adore us as their saviour who have taken on themselves their sins before God. And they will have no secrets from us. We shall allow or forbid them to live with their wives and mistresses, to have or not to have children— according to whether they have been obedient or disobedient— and they will submit to us gladly and cheerfully. The most painful secrets of their conscience, all, all they will bring to us, and we shall have an answer for all. And they will be glad to believe our answer, for it will save them from the great anxiety and terrible agony they endure at present in making a free decision for themselves. What I say to Thee, 0 Christ, will come to pass, and our dominion will be built up. I repeat, tomorrow Thou shalt see that obedient flock who at a sign from me will hasten to heap up the hot cinders about the pile on which I shall burn Thee for coming to hinder us. For if any one has ever deserved our fires, it is Thou. Tomorrow I shall burn Thee. Dixi. (I have spoken).”

This frightening spectacle is already taking place on a large part of the earth’s surface. By denying responsibility to God, men have surrendered their freedom to Satan. Such is the inevitable outcome of the world unless we pray. Pray we must, lest we succumb to the challenge the world hurled at the Cross: “Come down and we will believe.” They were willing to admit that they would believe if He would only show His Power by stepping down from His gibbet! Poor fools! Did they not see that they were asking Him to force them to believe, which would have been the end of freedom? They were free to believe that He was the Son of God, as the thief did, so long as He did not come down to smite them!

They had freedom so long as He left their faith in their own hands and not in His. His refusal to come down was the guarantee of freedom. The nails which pierced Him were the stars of the flag of freedom; the bruises of His body battered by free men, were the stripes of that flag. His blood was its red; His flesh its blue and its white.

So long as Our Lord hangs on His Cross, man is free! The moment He comes down in Power, man is His slave, and He is man’s dictator. But come down He will not! Freedom will never be destroyed— not even in hell, for even there He leaves man the eternal choice of his rebellious will.

So He did not come down! If He came down He would have made Nazism, Fascism, and Communism before their time. The coming down is the death of love. If He came down, He never would have saved us! It is human to come down. It is divine to hang there!

 http://www.fultonsheen.com/Fulton-Sheen-articles/Freedom-in-Danger.cfm?artid=1


America: Time to Start Over

This must have been what it was like living in the 1930s: politicians running around, fingers in their ears, unwilling or unable to confront a rising conflagration that they helped to light.

Back then, the threat came from a revivified and revanchist Germany. Western leaders stood by while the Germans rearmed, then looked the other way as ever larger chunks of the Continent fell to the blitzkrieg. When the enervated Western elites finally took a stand over Poland, it was too late — the fire was so large that, by the time it was finally quenched, the world lay in smoldering ruin.

Today we face a different, though no less mortal, sort of threat: the wealth of the West has been revealed to be largely illusory, built on the foolish foundations of credit that shift and scatter like sands in the wind. Individuals, governments, and corporations for decades have borrowed against the future, gambling that later economic growth would finance current incredibly high living standards, standards which every good Westerner came to believe their birthright.

It never occurred to these citizens and policy-makers that the economic growth they counted on may never arrive, that their obscene levels of borrowing would themselves be enough to strangle future wealth in its cradle, long before it had a chance to grow.

The reality is this: the total debt portfolio of the United States is conservatively estimated at $130-150 trillion. And that’s just us; add up the red ink of every person, nation, and company on the planet and we’re talking many hundreds of trillions. To put that in perspective, the gross domestic product (GDP) of the whole world was last year a mere $65-70 trillion.

In short, we have been living a “hundred of trillions” lifestyle on “tens of trillions” in actual wealth. The difference between the two sums is money that would have belonged to the future: future kids would have used it to pay for their education, future inventors to invest in their ideas, future couples to buy their first home. It is money they will now never have; we have plucked it from their pockets and purses before they were even born. It’s easy, after all, to rob someone who doesn’t yet exist. So that we could pretend to be richer than we are, we have ensured that our children will be poorer than they deserve to be.

This is a monstrous moral failing, a horrendous crime against our heirs. The difference between ourselves and Bernie Madoff? Not much, really. It is the height of hypocrisy to put a man like Madoff behind bars for engaging in the same sorts of financial shell games that we like our politicians to play. Social Security is every bit as much of a scam as a crooked hedge fund, yet FDR is lionized while Madoff rots in a cell — nothing could better encapsulate the moral and literal bankruptcy of our civilization.

The consequence of all this debt is easy to predict — decay, decline, demise. Such has been the fate of all entities, both public and private, whose commitments have so overwhelmed their resources, and such will be our own fate. We have murdered our future with a million papercuts; our republic was KIA by IOU.

Watching the eunuchs in Washington squabble over the debt crisis is a sobering experience, in that it makes perfectly clear that our political class is every bit as unequal to the times as was its 1930’s counterpart. I shudder to think how pale and poor are the hands that hold the reigns of state in these times of peril. Our politicians really haven’t the slightest clue what they have wrought, nor the faintest idea of the severity that awaits us.

Of course, the thing about democracies is they usually get the political class they deserve. The American voting public proved its utter unworthiness to govern itself when in 2008 it elected an attractive but empty suit to the most consequential office in the world. He shouted hope. What for? We didn’t ask. He promised change. What kind? We didn’t care. He looked good on TV, which is really, when you get right down to it, all that matters these days.

I have come to the conclusion that this crisis is so vast that it is effectively beyond the scope of our present institutions to effectively address. That is because our institutions are part of the problem; indeed, they are the problem.

The old way has brought us to this precipice, and will sooner or later push us over. Time to start dreaming of a new way.

Time to start America all over again.

http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/07/america_time_to_start_over.html


Social Justice

Faith Hope and Charity

The call for “social justice” is often employed today, not as a mandate for the application of Catholic principles and precepts in the public square, but as a slogan for those who wish to promote agendas that are frequently at odds with authentic Church teaching.

“Social justice” is a term that is Catholic in its very origin. It was first employed in the 1840’s by an Italian priest in a book that he wrote to address some of the challenges faced by rural people as they moved into cities and towns in order to provide labor for industry.

It would be some fifty years later that Catholic social doctrine as we now know it came to real prominence in Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical, Rerum Novarum, in which he set about defining “social justice” without ever employing the phrase.

With all of the confusion surrounding social justice these days, now seems a very good time to examine what it is, as well as what it is not. Now, I don’t propose to give an exhaustive treatment of how social justice is most properly applied in the details; rather, I’d like to offer a sense for what social justice properly understood demands of us, and how its demands are often distorted by today’s secular interests.

Those inclined to do so will find the task of deciphering the truth from the deceptions that are so commonplace in current political discourse as it applies to social justice fairly easy from here.

Okay, so what is social justice?  First, let’s consider the word “social;” it means of or relating to cooperative, interdependent relationships and associations among human beings. Remember that word “associations.” It will come up again.

It is in considering the word “justice” that we most need to make sure we are focused on the Church’s understanding as opposed to the secular world’s definition. The term ‘justice,’ in common usage implies ‘to render to every man his due.’  In reality, however, this classical definition does not specify what ‘due’ is to be rendered to each person.

So the question remains, what is man’s due?

The world will tell us that man’s due is a function of absolute freedom, and it manifests itself largely in the so-called “right” to seek pleasure without moral restraint or judgment. At its worst the notion of absolute freedom for one man becomes the weapon by which another man’s freedom is taken; extending even so far as to consider it “justice” to take an innocent life through abortion, euthanasia, or the destruction of human embryos for medical purposes.

“Justice” in this view is also sometimes invoked for inflicting an artificial equality (also labeled as “fairness”) upon society in a way that attempts to override the legitimate uniqueness of individual human persons.

This can be discerned in social systems that attempt to downplay the connection between skill, effort and outcome; e.g., in educational systems that shun traditional grading methods, or in “competitions” that take an “everyone’s a winner” approach, or in economic systems that divorce production from remuneration. At its most egregious we see it in statist systems of governance that seek to redistribute temporal goods in the name of fairness, sometimes even going so far as to reject the right to private property.

The secular view of justice-as-fairness also manifests itself in radical feminism — embraced as it is in varying degrees by both men and women alike – in which the unique qualities that are proper to males and females are eschewed as mere cultural constructs that only serve to restrict and confine human potential.

All of these initiatives misnamed as “social justice” have a common theme; they are built on the assumption that rendering to every man his due is ultimately defined, though not always explicitly so, in terms of the avoidance of suffering.

The challenge in maintaining clarity in the matter for Catholics lies in the fact that the secular view of social justice as we’ve discussed it thus far presents what seems like rather admirable ideals: freedom; equality; fairness and the avoidance of suffering… In other words, it doesn’t really seem at first blush to cry out for rejection.

It is helpful to recognize that the secular view of social justice is untenable at its root because it is born of an unwillingness to embrace the fact of the human condition; i.e., it is unwilling to accept who we truly are.

We are created beings, body and spirit, beholden to the Creator in whose image we were made. We are endowed with a free will indeed, but one that is duty bound to the Divine law above all else. We are beings of equal dignity one to the other, but we are also uniquely endowed with God’s gifts such that no two are alike.

Furthermore, we are uniquely dignified among all creation thanks to our unique relationship with the Creator, and we are therefore of inestimable worth, but we are also fallen and sinful and destined without exception – in this life – to suffer and die.

This last truth of the human condition – that all must suffer and die – is of paramount importance in conceiving of “justice” rightly. When we embrace the reality of human suffering as it relates to justice, not only are we coming to terms with who we are; we are also coming to terms with who God is.

Human suffering has always had this effect on humanity, moving us to question, why do we suffer?  How can God allow such things? Is God not just? What is the meaning of life?

The reason the world struggles so mightily to understand justice is simple; the world has rejected the reality of sin. Is God not just? Yes, of course He is just, and His perfect justice allows suffering in order to redeem the sinner. It’s simple; failure to recognize sin is failure to recognize justice.

Christ is the Justice of God. It follows, therefore, that failure to recognize Christ is failure to understand justice.

“Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it completely” (Proverbs 28:5).

Christ is justice. This means that mercy, love and truth as revealed in Him is justice.

Still seem like a vague concept? Don’t feel bad. Pope Leo XIII said of social justice:

The discussion is not easy, nor is it void of danger. It is no easy matter to define the relative rights and mutual duties of the rich and of the poor, of capital and of labor. And the danger lies in this, that crafty agitators are intent on making use of these differences of opinion to pervert men’s judgments and to stir up the people to revolt (Rerum Novarum 2).

The teaching found in Rerum Novarum is as relevant now as ever in combating the errors of the world. The agitators are agitating with remarkable tenacity!

Pope Leo went on to give us valuable core principals that form the basis for Catholic social teaching. We need to embrace these core beliefs or we’re going to be misled. Ultimately, in the interest of space, the heart of the matter is this:

The true worth and nobility of man lie in his moral qualities, that is, in virtue… Christian morality, when adequately and completely practiced, leads of itself to temporal prosperity, for it merits the blessing of that God who is the source of all blessings; it powerfully restrains the greed of possession and the thirst for pleasure. (Rerum Novarum 24, 28)

Above all, justice comes from grace…  Social justice lies in the fullness of morality as defined by God, not as calculated by majority rule. It is a function of grace, not government.

The last point I want to leave you with is this: the oft overlooked principle of subsidiarity tells us that human needs are best met by the smallest possible unit of society — the individual, the family, the parish, the community, etc… We must therefore be wary of excessive government control.

On this point, know this: in Rerum Novarum, Pope Leo XIII pointed to the freely formed associations of men in response to the demands of social justice no less than 48 times, and he pointed to the State as the servant of the people who form them.

Keep these thoughts in mind the next time someone calls for social justice and ask yourself, is the “justice” they invoke according to the world, or is it authentic justice — that which is made manifest in Christ?

http://catholicexchange.com/2010/03/15/128085/


Socialism

The word socialism may indicate various things. There is the socialism which is immoral and unchristian, which declares that “property is robbery,” and which would rectify inequalities by seizing on all wealth and dividing it among all men.

There is a doctrinaire socialism, which has its plans carefully elaborated on paper without taking account of human nature. It disregards the law that a social system must be developed from the living organism of society, and can not be manufactured brand-new for the occasion out of the brain of an amateur.

Then there is the socialism of responsible statesmen who yield bit by bit to the requirements of the multitudes. This, is founded, not on any deep, true principles, but on present material interests; it proceeds sometimes on right and sometimes on wrong lines, and at the best only does imperfectly what Christianity would have done in the natural course had it not been impeded.

Finally there is a Christian socialism, grounded on the equality of all men as declared by God, on brotherly love, and on the right of every man to receive a proper subsistence in return for honest labour. —Bishop James Bellord, 1899


Humility in a Time of Recession

There has been much discussion about the contribution of unethical behavior to our present economic circumstances. Whether it was borrowers’ lying on mortgage-applications or Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s politically-driven lending policies, there seems to be some consciousness that non-economic factors played a role in facilitating what we already call the Great Recession.

Unfortunately evidence is emerging that some people have learned nothing. A recent report, for example, commissioned by the Wall Street Journal illustrates that “losses from mortgage fraud—ranging from falsified credit reports to identity theft—rose 17% last year after declining 57% in the two years after its 2006 peak.”

Of course wider adherence to ethical norms against lying and stealing won’t solve every economic problem. There are heavy technical dimensions to many economic dilemmas which require technical solutions. Nor does every policy-error constitute a moral failure.

Nevertheless those making economic decisions are human beings, and our virtues and vices do shape our purchasing, selling and policy choices. Many such virtues could be highlighted, but one needing extra-attention today is humility.

The word “humility” derives from the Latin humilitas. This in turn comes from humus which means earth or soil, but is also related to homō, meaning man. For the Greeks and Romans, the word underscored the idea that humans are not God or gods. Likewise for the Jews and early Christians, humility was about remembering that humans are fallible creatures who come from and return to the earth: ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Some first millennium Christian writers, such as St. John Chrysostom, even described humility as the mother of the virtues, as it prevented vanity from corrupting every other virtue.

So how might a renewed embrace of humility help us to rethink our approach to contemporary economic life?

In the case of consumers, a good dose of humility might well encourage some acceptance that the meaning of life is not simple and is certainly not to be found in how many material things we possess, as important as wealth can be in helping us to live dignified lives. To this extent, greater humility might temper the “I-want-it-all-right-now” mentality that helped generate such high household-debt levels in America and Europe.

Likewise, businesses could benefit from a renewed appreciation of humility. The financial wizard the late Sir John Templeton once wrote that humility was crucial if business was to maintain the open-mindedness that is essential to successful entrepreneurship rather than rest upon their past glories. To this we might add the insight of another prominent entrepreneur, François Michelin, that humility helps business leaders in a market economy remember that the customers are the real masters. More humble business-leaders would also be less-inclined to succumb to the “Masters-of-the-Universe” hubris that helped destroy any number of banks in 2008.

Speaking of hubris, humility also has a role to play in encouraging mainstream economists to accept economics’ limits as a science and acknowledge that not everything about markets can be explained by mathematical models that were supposed to fail only once in a million years. As George Mason University professor of economics Russ Roberts has wisely observed, while “facts and evidence still matter”, economists “should face the evidence that we are no better today at predicting tomorrow than we were yesterday.”

But perhaps those who could do with the biggest bout of humility during recessions are politicians and governments. If the Great Recession has taught us anything, it is that governments should admit many economic problems are beyond their control, and that any claim by politicians to be able to “manage” trillion-dollar economies is arrogant nonsense.

Instead politicians should be modest enough to concede that (1) the seemingly disorderly process of market exchange resolves many challenges that governments cannot; and (2) government overreach invariably causes new problems. Here they would do well to read Adam Smith’s famous warning concerning the “man of system” who “is apt to be very wise in his own conceit, and is so often enamored with the supposed beauty of his own ideal plan of government, that he cannot suffer the smallest deviation from any part of it.”

The fear of the Lord, the Bible says, is the beginning of wisdom. Contrary to received opinion, this verse has nothing to do with frightening people into religious belief. Instead it reminds each of us that we are not the center of the universe and that the sooner we grasp this, the wiser our choices will be. All of us—consumers, business-leaders, and politicians—need to be sufficiently humble to reassess our actions in a time of recession, acknowledge our errors, and then live out the necessary correctives.

To this extent, the virtue of humility may well be a key to understanding our pre-recessionary past and a way of illuminating our path to a better and more economically-prosperous future.

http://catholicexchange.com/2010/09/04/134041/


Babel in Our Time

The story of the Tower of Babel can be found in the Bible  in the Old Testament  in Genesis 11.

1 ¶ And the earth was of one tongue, and of the same speech.
2 And when they removed from the east, they found a plain in the land of Sennaar, and dwelt in it.
3 And each one said to his neighbour: Come let us make brick, and bake them with fire. And they had brick instead of stones, and slime instead of mortar:
4 And they said: Come, let us make a city and a tower, the top whereof may reach to heaven; and let us make our name famous before we be scattered abroad into all lands.
5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of Adam were building.
6 And he said: Behold, it is one people, and all have one tongue: and they have begun to do this, neither will they leave off from their designs, till they accomplish them in deed.
7 Come ye, therefore, let us go down, and there confound their tongue, that they may not understand one another’s speech.
8 And so the Lord scattered them from that place into all lands, and they ceased to build the city.
9 And therefore the name thereof was called Babel, because there the language of the whole earth was confounded: and from thence the Lord scattered them abroad upon the face of all countries.
(DRV)

My first impression of the story is that the people got together to build a tower to take themselves to heaven and God was mad at them for trying to do something so arrogant- so God mixed up their language and scattered the people.

Well, that is the story sort of, but like most stories in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, there is a great deal of symbolism associated with the story.

According to Bible scholars the city of Babel and the Tower of Babel were built by a man named Nimrod. Nimrod’s idea was to build a city and a tower. Before he built the tower, however, he had the people make bricks. (By the way, Babel refers to Babylon which, in the Bible, is symbolic for the wickedness of the world.)

Ex: 20
22 ¶ And the Lord said to Moses: Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel: You have seen that I have spoken to you from heaven.
23 You shall not make gods of silver, nor shall you make to yourselves gods of gold.
24 You shall make an altar of earth unto me, and you shall offer upon it your holocausts and peace offerings, your sheep and oxen, in every place where the memory of my name shall be: I will come to thee, and will bless thee.
25 And if thou make an altar of stone unto me, thou shalt not build it of hewn stones; for if thou lift up a tool upon it, it shall be defiled.
26 Thou shalt not go up by steps unto my altar, lest thy nakedness be discovered.
(DRV)

When Moses was commanded to make an alter to offer sacrifice to God, he was told to make the alter with stone that had not been cut or shaped in any way by a tool. Why? God wanted the Children of Israel to understand that uncut stone was made by God while brick or cut stone was crafted by man- all stones are  unique while bricks are uniform. It is clear that we should not worship men or what men can accomplish but should always remember and worship only God. We should always understand the uniqueness of God greatest creation which is MAN. Man is a stone, not a brick. No two men are exactly the same. It is a good thing we are different and something that should be appreciated not condemned.

The word for mortar in Hebrew, I am told, means materialism. Mortar is the cement that holds bricks together. Materialism or the worship of temporal things of the world is the act of turning our attention from God and replacing God with the things of this world. So the symbolism of a tower, built with man made bricks that are held together by man made mortar is, a tower that attempts to replace God and what only God can do. This is a tower that is constructed by men and held together by the corruptible things of this world.

So why did God condemn the tower, confound the language and scatter the people? First, the tower was an attempt by Nimrod to replace God in the eyes of his people. Second, the tower was to be built with bricks that were all the same rather than with stones. The symbolism of bricks instead of stones is that people didn’t matter. They were not unique, they were all the same and the importance of the individual was lost. To God, the single lost sheep is unique and important; to leaders like Nimrod, people are interchangeable. Finally, the mortar of our society should be a faith in God. Nimrod wanted to replace that faith with a faith in man and what man could produce; he aspired to a secular society rather than one based on allegiance to God.

It is interesting that the more things change, the more they stay the same. In our time, Secular- progressives  or Marxists, Fascists, Liberals  or Socialists if you prefer those labels, are trying to destroy the foundation of God and faith in our society. They want us to be bound together by our economic ties rather than our ties of faith. They want us to look to Washington (or worse, a one world government) instead of to God when we are faced with problems. Moreover, to the secular- progressive, people are not as important as the society or the state.

We are supposed to all get on board the state social health care bandwagon. We are supposed to use mass transit rather than drive a car that harms the planet. It is okay to destroy an unborn infant, but wrong to leave a carbon footprint. We are supposed to live cookie cutter lives with their morality of rules and regulations. As a matter of fairness, we will punish the rich, productive and talented and reward those who are not, so that no one stands above the crowd. We are supposed to be interchangeable manmade bricks rather than unique stones that were created by God.

Secular-progressivism is nothing new. It is the opposite of God’s plan of freedom and choice and individualism. It is the works of Satan. This is not just a matter of political differences of opinion; this is a case of good vs. evil.

Men of faith, stand up and defeat the evil of the modern day Tower of Babel. We can never allow evil to overcome righteousness.

http://drclarkjensen.com/2010/11/modern-day-tower-of-babel/