Friday, January 23, 2015

In the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Chapter 14 of Peter Kwasniewski's book "Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis: Sacred Liturgy, the Traditional Latin Mass, and Renewal in the Church" bears the title: A Threefold Amnesia: Sacred Liturgy, Social Teaching, and Saint Thomas. For what it says about "social teaching", my guess is that it would be the toughest chapter for people who might class themselves or be classed as Catholic neo-conservatives. Personally, I would question the term "amnesia", seeing as how multiple generations in most parts of the world separate us from the regular practice of Divine Worship with the 1962 Roman Missal as the norm. The rupture with our past, with the (T)tradition is undeniable; to suffer amnesia you have to have been in possession of something at some point.

Similar could be said of the role of Saint Thomas Aquinas in seminary studies, which has been contested and often neglected for an even longer period; most of us were deprived of St. Thomas and have nothing to forget. But the toughie for most folks in terms of restoration or recovery would be that of what Kwasniewski describes as "social teaching", also because it flies in the face of commonly held notions about religious liberty in a multi- or a-confessional state and what ecumenism is supposed to mean for a Catholic today. Wise or unwise, I want to talk about this recovery called for by Kwasniewski right in the middle of the week of prayer for Christian unity 2015.

The proviso or caveat placed by the author would be that the three are yoked together; they are inseparable, which might be a problem for some of the less integral minds in the crowd. Kwasniewski promotes all three as interdependent, referring to them in a school context:

"In all the Catholic schools with which I have been associated, I have noticed a striking fact: a person who does not hold onto all three of these things faithfully and integrally cannot, in the end, manage to hold onto even one." (Kindle Locations 2912-2914).

The clincher, however, is his description of classic Catholic social teaching and the point made that the separation between Church and State in the words of St. Pius X is a pernicious error, the reference being to France's Law of Separation from 1905:

"Let us be frank, even if the Franks fail to be so: the sovereign Kingship of Christ over both individuals and nations, in the order of nature no less than that of grace, is denied almost everywhere since the Council, whether by being simply forgotten as one might forget about grandmother’s rocking-chair in the attic, or by being repudiated as an extravagant relic from the benighted Middle Ages. Our Lord’s Kingship is qualified and spiritualized to the point of irrelevance, as if Jesus Christ had not come to change radically our lives and our world." (Kindle Locations 2829-2833).

Who in the western world deals well with such? Who in the Catholic community today would push the principle "error has no rights" to all its logical conclusions? I am just saying... Kwasniewski is undoubtedly right that a full liturgical restoration would make us more appealing to the Orthodox world, but the social teaching part might renew the kind of American "Know Nothing" chatter which tried to frighten people during the JFK election campaign with the menace of the Pope taking up residence in the White House... I am just saying.

The WCC would be at a loss if the Catholic Church weren't not ready essentially to carry the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Why is that? Does it say anything about the formula now in use for decades? A goodly part of the Orthodox world cannot even pray together with us for unity. Perhaps Kwasniewski has something else in mind for Chapter 14. I say this firmly denouncing multi-culturalism and insisting on the primacy of truth as it comes to us from God. Again, I am just saying... If you read his book and have thoughts as to where Kwasniewski wants to go with a Catholic social model developed on the rebound from the loss of the Papal States and why he wants to yoke it to the other two truly sublime "steeds" let me know.

1 comment:

  1. While every state theologically, spiritually and really is under the authority of Christ; not every state can be said to be united to the Church, since most reject such a union, and in many, Catholics are not even the majority. The first question is, then, why is it when Catholcis are the majority does the state fail to recognize the sovereignty of Christ and that such a soverignty has a political consequence? Part of the problem, only a part, is that the Apostolic See has not taken a lead on this issue since the Council, and no one can expect the sheep to take a lead when the shepherds are silent and knot not where they are going.

    At the same time, though the Church and State ought not be separated in nation with a Catholic majority, that does not mean that the State is the Church or the Church the State, or that the State subsumes the ends of the Church. The State being a creature of the natural order is incapable of itself to seek and promote supernatural ends, and even when assisted by the Church, it has not the organs of governance to effect such ends since such ends are supernatural; thus the State which recognizes the sovereignty of Christ and the proper role of the Church, thus, not being able to this extent, must make very limited efforts in these areas, and be content to promote the natural law and defend that law from the evil effects of false religious and superstitions or errors which militant against that Law and the rights of the Church and Her faithful. A moderated and reasonably proposed notion of the Catholic State therefore would go a long way in reconciling Catholics and non Catholics to the notion of a public recognition of Christ and the Church by the State. It would show that the Classical Roman notion from pagan times, of the unity of the State with the State Religion, as well as the theocracy of the Hebraic state during OT times, is not the notion of the Catholic state, and thus presents no threat to the authentic liberty of the human person, even of non Catholics in a Catholic state.


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