Deus, qui ad exhibenda nostre redemptionis mysteria terram promissionis elegisti, libera eam, quaesumus, ab instantia paganorum, ut gentilium incredulitate confusa populus Christianus de tue virtutis potentia glorietur.



O God, who chose the Land of Promise to display the mysteries of our redemption, free it, we pray, from the presence of the heathen, that with the disbelief of the gentiles being confounded, the Christian people may glory in the power of your strength.



Deus qui ammirabili providentia cuncta disponis, te suppliciter exoramus, ut terram, quam unigenitus filius tuus proprio sanguine consecravit, de manibus inimicorum crucis eripiens restituas cultui christiano, vota fidelium ad eius liberationem instantium misericorditer dirigendo in viam salutis eterne. Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. R. Amen.



O God, who arrange all things with wonderful foresight, we suppliantly entreat you to restore to Christian worship, wresting it from the hands of the enemies of the cross, the land that your only-begotten Son consecrated with his own blood, by mercifully directing the prayers of the faithful who are pressing for its delivery into the way of everlasting salvation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. R. Amen





The Ecumenical Councils of Trent and Vatican I and the Creed of Pius IV all require us to:

…accept the Holy Scripture according to that sense which holy mother the Church hath held, and doth hold, and to whom it belongeth to judge the true sense and interpretations of the Scriptures [and] never take and interpret them otherwise than according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers.

If is often said that the Church has, in fact, only very rarely defined the precise meaning of a biblical passage. Whether or not that is true one clear instance of such a definition is the Bull Unam Sanctam which has very precise teaching concerning Luke 22:35-38 and John 18:11. In ordering the disciples to buy a sword if they had not one already, and in telling them that two swords are enough, and in ordering Peter to sheath his sword Our Lord laid out the precise nature of the jurisdiction of the sacramental hierarchy and  the Supreme Pontiff over the temporal power.

Both the temporal and the spiritual power are intrinsic to the Church. The spiritual sword is to be exercised for the specific ends for which the Church was instituted and by the members of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. In contrast, the temporal sword must be exercised by members of the Church but cannot be wielded by the members of the ecclesiastical hierarchy (although they may confiscate it if it is misused and assign it to another) because it is not a means by which the specific ends of the Church may be advanced.

What rarely seems to attract much notice is the reason Our Lord gave for this arrangement:

And he said to them: When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, did you want anything? But they said: Nothing. Then said he unto them: But now he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise a scrip; and he that hath not, let him sell his coat, and buy a sword. For I say to you, that this that is written must yet be fulfilled in me: And with the wicked was he reckoned. For the things concerning me have an end. But they said: Lord, behold here are two swords. And he said to them, It is enough.

The apostles are told to obtain a sword because Christ will be treated as a criminal. As Our Lord also said at the Last Supper “the servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you: if they have kept my word, they will keep yours also.” The opposition between the Church and the world is such that the Apostles (and their successors) need to have the protection of force in order to function. Yet, a short time later when Peter uses his sword to try to defend the Lord he is rebuked. “Put up thy sword into thy scabbard”. The Apostles have two swords but they are permitted to wield only one. The word of God is in the power of the clergy the state is to be in the power of the laity.

How does this fit with the prohibition on coercive conversion? The temporal sword of Christendom is essentially defensive. It is not ‘for’ the Church as Boniface VIII insists, it is wielded ‘by’ the Church (the lay faithful). The essential purposes of the Church cannot be advanced by violence but the non-ordained members of the Church can use the temporal sword to defend the Church from external persecution. Once the state is no longer in the hands of the Church this is not possible. So long as the state is non-Christian the Church’s business lies in buying the sword (bringing the temporal order by consent into the possession of the Church). Once it is purchased the sword may be drawn – but only by the laity – to stave off temporal impediments to the operation of the spiritual sword. We do not live by the sword. The life of Christendom is established and maintained by the peaceful spreading of the Gospel. However, once that life has reached the highest temporal level of social organisation the temporal sword can and should be drawn in its defence.

As St Cyril of Alexandria teaches:

He says sell his cloak, and buy a sword: for henceforth the question with all those who continue in the land will not be whether they possess anything or not, but whether they can exist and preserve their lives. For war shall befall them with such unendurable impetuosity, that nothing shall be able to stand against it.

At the beginning of the Song of Roland Charlemagne (in deference to his council) seeks to negotiate a temporal peace with Islam. He seeks to keep his cloak instead of buying a sword. He forgets the truth that he remembers later in the midst of battle with the Emir of Babylon: “Never to Paynims may I show love or peace.” The Lord tells us “the things concerning me have an end” there is no new revelation to dispense us from the unremitting opposition of the world. As Leo XIII teaches “Christians are born for combat”. The faithful must sell their cloaks and buy a sword because the state cannot simply be left in the hands of the pagans if the Church is to survive. This is why the Song ends with a weary Emperor roused from his bed by St Gabriel to carry on the war. He sought not first the Kingdom of God and His justice and so earthly peace is taken from him until he learns his lesson.

It tends to disturb some people that in the opening portion of this gospel reading it is said that when our Lord went down to Capernaum, not only his mother and his disciples followed him, but also his brothers. There have been heretics who supposed that Joseph, the husband of the blessed virgin Mary, begot of another wife those whom the scriptures call the Lord’s brothers. Others with a greater lack of faith, have supposed that he begot these of Mary herself after our Lord’s birth. But we, dearly beloved brothers, without any hesitation or questioning  must be aware and confess that not only the blessed Mother of God but also Joseph, the most blessed witness and guardian of her chastity, always remained wholly aloof from the conjugal act; and further, that those who after the customary manner of the scriptures are called our Saviour’s brothers or sisters were not their children but their relatives.

– Saint Bede the Venerable, Homily on John 2:12-22

Tomorrow is the 100th anniversary of the bloodiest day in British military history. I wonder how many of the young men who went over the top on the Somme that Saturday morning in July knew that it was the Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ. Too few: but those who gave their lives or limbs for Christian civilisation, however poorly understood, made a sacrifice which He surely did not spurn. If there are any souls of those who died on either side in that battle still in purgatory, may they rest at last in peace.

A week ago the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who fought on the Somme, and at Mons and Passchendaele voted. They voted to resist an anti-Christian empire that wishes to rule them. The vote was close, but it was clear. It may be that if five more years had gone by, the changing of the generations would have caused the vote to be different. But the vote was not taken in five years time, it was taken in the year of grace 2016.

Now we hear voices saying that the people must be made to vote again, till they get it right. How can the poor and the uneducated be expected to know what is best for them? A feature in the Guardian yesterday solemnly warns us that elections can be the enemy of democracy. Here at Laodicea we have supported suffrage by household rather than by individual; but given that the youth vote was in favour of ‘Remain’, and given that a larger proportion of such voters than of older ones are living in another’s household, then the margin of victory would have been even larger on Laodicean principles.

In any case, the vote has been taken, and has shown an impressive popular will to resist the propaganda and the vested interests of the godless rich, and the sense of having a heritage to defend. Of course the country cannot be healed by such a will or such a sense, without first turning back to the Precious Blood. But this is, at least, a chink in the darkness, a first unmerited grace (gratia operans) given to Britain. May the descendants of the heroes of the Somme be not unworthy of their sires.

I suppose what we might call the Blackadder Goes Forth version of the First World War is pretty standard by now. It might be summarised as “Both sides as bad as each other, engaged in slaughter out of commercial ambition and stupid jingoism, until one side happened to win” (it’s not only materialist historians who speak like this, incidentally; a recent article of John Rao’s seemed to take the same view.) Yet even such a version of history seems preferable to the Daily Telegraph attitude of solemnly commemorating the heroic sacrifice of our forefathers while simultaneously promoting abominations that would have caused those same forefathers to say that the country they defended had simply ceased to exist.

There was a painful juxtaposition of headlines on the front page of the Telegraph at the time of the 100th anniversary of the start of the war last year. One of them said: ‘We will never forget’. The other one said, ‘What’s wrong with {excuse me} sperm banks for lesbians?’, the columnist arguing that nothing was. Never forget, forsooth. When it comes to the civilisation we were fighting for, or rather that those young men were fighting for, whose names we read on the war memorials, often several from the same family in even the smallest English village: they forgot long, long ago.

I’ve been reading recently some of the articles that Chesterton wrote in his weekly newspaper column during the War. While the style is recognisably his, they have an elevation of tone that sets them apart from his peacetime works. He has no doubt that the cause of the Allies is not only just, but that the fight is essentially spiritual: a war for the what remained of Christendom, for natural law, justice, the traditions of chivalry and honour and civilisation, against that mixture of brutality, totalitarianism, and mystical self-worship which is evoked by the word Prussia (I wonder if he had any inkling that the young emperor of Austria was a saint?) In one sense, namely as a defence of Belgium, the justice of the war is obvious, and can be judged by posterity as easily as by contemporaries. With regard to the spiritual essence of the combat, insisted on by Chesterton, things are less easy. It is not one or two obvious facts but a multitude that can justify one in speaking as he does. Spiritual things, though supremely real, are subtle, and it is hard for those who have not directly experienced them to speak of them. Yet Chesterton’s words carry conviction. Here are a few variations on a constant theme:-

Prussia was not a nationalist democracy which chose evil; it was not a nation, or even, in the proper sense, a people. It was simply such accidental crowds of colourless, lumpish, outlying northern men as certain chiefs could hammer and harden into mere regiments conscious of no flag. It is necessary to be ruthless because we must reach the centre of the machine in order to break the spring – or, perhaps, the spell. But it is not necessary to be hopeless, because in a sense the men living under it have never yet lived at all. There is nothing in their native and somewhat mild character to prevent their ripening under a better civilisation into very happy and humane Europeans. In that sense this is quite strictly to be called a religious war – in that it is waged to save souls by hypothesis capable of salvation (March 17th, 1917).

We hear this conflict called, not unreasonably, the most horrible war of history. But the most horrible part of it is that it would not be the most horrible war. Wars more and more horrible would follow the failure to vindicate and restore Christian equity and chivalry in this one. This does not make the fight less ghastly to the feelings; but it does make it more inevitable to the mind. It is, even in its most intense agony, still a problem of the reason, and even of the senses – of the sense of external things (29th September, 1917).

There is one fatal blunder in [the] whole picture of the war between England and Germany, and that is that it is a war between England and Germany. There is no war betweeen England and Germany. What happened, as a simple historical fact, in A.D. 1914 was not  a war between England and Germany, either in origin or occasion, or motive, or proportions, or excuse. What happened was a war between Prussian and the remains of the older civilisation which Prussia had not yet subdued, and with which England only threw in her lot at the last moment, by a belated implulse mainly noble, but almost entirely new. It is profoundly true that now the very existence of England is bound up with beating Prussia; but that is a result of her largely unexpected act and its many unexpected consequences (December 1st, 1917).

What we have been fighting is the half-finished design of a sort of inverted Roman Empire. It is one in which the least civilised instead of the most civilise power is on top; and one which originally radiated not from an old republican city, but from a new royal court. Bavaria is part of it only as Bulgaria is also a part of it. They both belong to it, in the sense that the Bavarian King would say to the Kaiser what the Bulgarian King also said to the Kaiser: Ave Caesar (August 24th, 1918).

Suppose we were at war, like the Children of Israel, with a Phoenician State vowed to the worship of Moloch, and practising infanticide by flinging babies into the fire. If we used strong words about smiting such enemies hip and thigh, I think it would be unreasonable in essence, though it might sound reasonable in form, for some sage to say to us: “Are there no good Phoenicians? Do not Phoenician widows mourn for their warriors? Is it probable that even Phoenician mothers are born without any motherly instincts?” The answer is that all this misses the main fact; which is a very extraordinary fact. The wonder is not that some Phoenician mothers love their babies, but that most Phoenician mothers burn their babies. That some mothers revolt against it is most probable; that many mothers have so many feelings urging them to revolt against it is almost certain. But Moloch is stronger than the mothers – that is the prodigious fact for the spectator, and the practical menace for the world. When Moloch’s image is fallen, and his fane laid waste; when his worship has passed into history and remains only as a riddle of humanity – then indeed it may be well worth while to analyse the mixed motives, to reconstruct in romance or criticism the inconsistencies of cruelty and kindness. But Moloch is not fallen; Moloch is in his high place, and his furnaces consume mankind; his armies overrun the earth, and his ships threaten our own island. The question on the lips of any living man is not whether some who burn their children may nevertheless love their children, it is whether those who burn children shall conquer those who don’t. The parallel is practically quite justifiable; what we are fighting has all the regularity of a horrible religion. We are not at war with regrettable incidents or sad exceptions, but with a system like the system of sacrificing babies, a system of drowning neutrals, a system of enslaving civilians, a system of attacking hospital services, a system of exterminating chivalry. We do ot say that there are no exceptions; on the conrary, we say that there are exceptions; it is our whole point that they are exceptions. But it is an almost creepy kind of frivolity that we should be speculating on the good exceptions at a moment when we ourselves are in peril of falling under the evil rule (July 20th, 1918).

And just after the Armistice:-

There is another form of the same materialist fallacy which fools have sown broadcast for the last four years. Its most fashionable form may be summed up in the phrase, “It will all be the same a hundred years hence.” I have read pacifist poems and essays in which the old rhetorical flourish to the effect that the corn will grow on the battlefield, or the ivy on the ruined fortress, is seriously used to suggest that it makes not difference whether the battle was fought or whether the fortress fell. We should not be here at all, to moralise about the ivy on castles and the corn on battlefields, if some of the great conflicts of history had gone the other way. If certain barbarian invasions had finally swept certain civilised districts, men would very probably have forgotten how to grow corn, and would certainly have forgotten how to write poems about ivy.

Of some such Eastern Imperialist it was said, as a sort of proverb, that the grass would not grow where he had set his foot. Europe has been saved from turning gradually into such a desert by a series of heroic and historic wars of defence, such as that of the Greeks against the Persians, of the Romans against the Carthaginians, of the Gauls against the Huns, of Alfred against the Danes, or Charles Martel agains the Moors. In each one of these cases the importance of the result does not decrease, but does definitely increase with time. It increases with every new generation that is saved from that destruction, with ever new civilised work that is built on that security, with every baby that might never have been baptised or reared, with every blade of grass that might never have grown where it grows today (November 23rd, 1918).

Though the darkness has returned and Moloch is again in his high place, yet what was gained by their sacrifice will at least always have been gained. Whether or not there can still be continuity for our civilisation, those young men have at least left us an example. So in those words of Tolkien that so moved his friend Lewis, both of whom fought on the Western Front, I say that these were “great deeds, not wholly vain”.

The only legitimate society is the City of God, the earthly portion of which is the Catholic Church (militant). The visible head (and supreme earthly judge) of the members of the Church is the Pope. The ecclesiastical hierarchy which governs the Church militant is forbidden to administer earthly affairs (that is: matters pertaining to property, autonomy and marriage) beyond the bare necessities required to sustain the preaching of the Gospel, the administration of the sacraments and the maintenance of the canons. Those lay Christians who have not been given the graces necessary to bind themselves to the counsels by vow are obliged to continue to administer earthly affairs and require a social authority to do so. This authority is called the temporal power as distinct from the spiritual power exercised by the ecclesiastical hierarchy. As temporal goods are ordered to the supernatural final end those who exercise the temporal power do so subject to the judgement of the spiritual power and may do so legitimately only if they are members of the Church militant (a question subject to the judgment of the spiritual power). Inside the Church an apostate prince loses power ipso facto.
A temporal community is inside the Church when by its constitutional law it fulfils its obligation to submit to the ecclesiastical hierarchy. This is an obligation consequent upon the obligation of natural law upon all men and communities of men to recognise and embrace the true religion. Once this obligation is fulfilled the temporal community necessarily recognises its limited jurisdiction over earthly affairs and submits to the supreme jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical hierarchy.
The temporal power is a necessary part of human life and consequently whosoever exercises it outside the Church the faithful must submit to that authority whenever it does not conflict with natural or divine law (even though such a person ex hypothesi fails in his obligation to worship God individually and qua ruler in the manner God has appointed). Inside the Church a temporal authority which is judged to have sinfully misused the temporal power may be sanctioned and if necessary deposed by the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Outside the Church this power would equally obtain were it not that it would contravene the divine law prohibition on forcible conversion. Those in the Church who exercise the temporal sword may do so upon their own initiative or as directed by the spiritual power to chastise or depose those outside the Church who grossly and obstinately violate the natural law or prevent the preaching of the Gospel, or (inside the Church) to execute the sentence of the spiritual power against an offending member of the faithful (including a delinquent wielder of the temporal power).
In the appointment of the temporal ruler in the Church the relevant civil laws are to be followed. In the event that these laws are entirely frustrated (whether on account of their own failure in particulars or because they cannot be obeyed without sin) the spiritual power may exceptionally appoint the temporal ruler. This is exceptional because the appointment of the wielder of the temporal sword is itself an exercise of the temporal sword which the holder of the spiritual sword may not ordinarily wield. The civil laws may allot to the spiritual power the authority regularly to appoint (or participate in the appointment of) the temporal ruler only where this is unavoidable to sustain the preaching of the Gospel, the administration of the sacraments and the maintenance of the canons. This will generally be the case in regard to the election of the emperor and the appointment of the administrators of the papal state but in other instances only in exceptional (though potentially prolonged e.g. the Dark Ages) circumstances. The temporal power may coerce in regard to divine law only as directed by the spiritual power and only inside the Church. It may proscribe idolatry and the promotion of irreligion even prior to fulfilling its obligation to recognise and embrace the true religion.

Napoleon Bonaparte is the great tragedy of Arthurian Republicanism. The French Revolution overthrew the useless Teutonic parasite that was the Second Estate of the Ancien Regime. Alas for Henry IV! If the heretic king of Navarre had not decided to accept the Mass in exchange for Paris, if Philip II had not insisted that his daughter – the Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia – marry a Habsburg, the French Republic might have been founded in 1589 on the basis of the Holy Catholic Faith instead of the pestilential errors of the ‘Enlightenment’. And yet, a wonderful opportunity presented itself when the Corsican general sought to make peace with Pius VII and to restore the meritocratic monarchy swept away by the Sicambrians, Welches and other savages from the woods and swamps of ancient Germany. The foul Talleyrand persuaded the First Consul to recognise Catholicism not as the one true religion but merely as that of the Consul himself and that of the greater number of the French people. A still more wonderful opportunity presented itself when Bonaparte sought the purple and the blessing of the Pope to do so. Napoleon then committed two further terrible errors: he took the title ‘French’ and not ‘Roman’ Emperor and he made his office hereditary. Thus, he tied his laurels to a mere nation and fell back into the blood superstition of the barbarians.

As Beethoven declared “He, too, then, is nothing better than an ordinary man! Now he will trample on all human rights only to humour his ambition; he will place himself above all others,–become a tyrant!” If only Napoleon had restrained himself then the Church might have been forever liberated from the dead weight of the deposed ‘aristocracy’ endlessly demanding that the Lay faithful waste their energies labouring to restore the Ancien Regime instead of the Kingship of Christ, the privileges of the descendants of Alaric and Attila instead of those of Holy Mother Church. If only Napoleon had remained faithful to the Republic then Leo XIII might not have had to expend himself trying to get the obstinate French royalists to rally to it. As Belloc saw “When you have reconciled these two things – I mean the high Stoicism of the Republic and the humility of the Church (for they can co-exist) – then you will have the perfect state.” Of course, St Hippolytus foresaw that the Antichrist would restore the Roman Empire to the government it enjoyed at the time of Augustus, so if Napoleon had done all these things he would no doubt have proved to be the Antichrist in person and not merely a warm-up act. But this does not mean that these priceless acts would not have been in themselves the right things to do. As Pius VII taught as bishop of Imola,

“Strive to attain to the full height of virtue and you will be true democrats. Fulfill faithfully the precepts of the Gospel and you will be the joy of the Republic.”

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