Her Majesty’s Colonies in North America

This video is dispiriting. Is it capable (reasonably) of an interpretation according to which Amy Coney Barrett has not renounced the Faith? The text of the U.S. Constitution was not written to favour the Catholic Faith. Any respect in which it may do so is accidental to the intentions of its framers. As far as I can tell (and I am entirely open to correction) the text of the US Constitution does not conflict with Natural Law. In virtue of the Treaty of Paris (1783) the thirteen colonies became “free sovereign and Independent States”. They therefore possessed the right to replace the authority hitherto exercised by the Crown of Great Britain with the government created by the constitution of 1787. Having been legitimately enacted in an indifferent matter (governmental form) without conflict with Natural Law this text ought to be interpreted by judges according to it’s literal sense (the plain meaning of the words when written). Presumably, it would be possible to interpret the document disingenuously so as to favour the Catholic Faith in a way contrary to the plain meaning of the words when written. For example, one might interpret ‘religion’ to refer exclusively to Catholicism. To eschew such disingenuous interpretations is entirely legitimate. If the U.S.A. is one day to fulfil ‘the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ’ it must be through honest and legal means. That is, this duty should be fulfilled through an amendment to the U.S. Constitution not through a transitory control of Congress and the Presidency (contrary to the 1st Amendment and prudence) and certainly not through judicial activism. If this is all Mrs Barrett means, that she would not interpret the U.S. Constitution disingenuously so as to favour the Catholic Faith in a way contrary to the plain meaning of the words when written, then she has not made any undertakings incompatible with the Faith. Let us hope that this is what she meant.

I have been reflecting penitently on the harshness of my comments about American Greek Catholics. One thing to which I did not do justice is the sheer beauty of the innocence of Americans. There is a naivety which is inseparable from American culture. It is genuinely inseparable. The increasingly predominant liberal elite in the USA is just as naive. They remind me of nothing so much as the sneering simulated worldliness of the angry abused child. They are just as heart-breaking to watch and to listen to. Dying Europe is the parental abuser for whom the liberal elite nourish the characteristic self-destructive hatred/loyalty. The naivety in the hearts of those whose innocence has been preserved and immortalised by supernatural wisdom is piercing and convicting in its beauty but still difficult to accept for a wizened old European. The USA demands the same indulgence for its vulgarities and misunderstandings as any enthusiastic adolescent. Adolescence lasts a lot longer nowadays.

Many believe in or claim that they believe in and hold fast to Catholic doctrine on such questions as social authority, the right of owning private property, on the relations between capital and labour, on the rights of the labouring man, on the relations between Church and State, religion and country, on the relations between the different social classes, on international relations, on the rights of the Holy See and the prerogatives of the Roman Pontiff and the Episcopate, on the social rights of Jesus Christ, Who is the Creator, Redeemer, and Lord not only of individuals but of nations. In spite of these protestations, they speak, write, and, what is more, act as if it were not necessary any longer to follow, or that they did not remain still in full force, the teachings and solemn pronouncements which may be found in so many documents of the Holy See, and particularly in those written by Leo XIII, Pius X, and Benedict XV. There is a species of moral, legal, and social modernism which We condemn, no less decidedly than We condemn theological modernism.

– Pius XI

Hamish Fraser once observed that the universal restoration of the traditional liturgy would not solve the crisis in the church. The traditional liturgy was, after all, universally observed before the crisis arose and it did not prevent it. That which was not upheld and which would have prevented the crisis, the absence of which led to the crisis and the restoration of which alone will solve it, is the preaching of the Social Kingship of Christ. However, as Hilary White has recently and eloquently observed the Kingship of Christ exists exclusively for the salvation of souls. When His disciples could not find Him in Capharnaum they found the Lord alone in the hills praying. He said to them “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” As I once heard a very holy monk observe, the word here translated as ‘came out’ is ἐξῆλθον the same word as Our Lord uses in John 8:42 to describe His eternal generation. He went out into the hills to prepare to preach to the people. He came out from the Father in eternity that He might breathe forth the Spirit. He came into the world to save mankind, but that salvation consists in going out from the perishing city as He went out from Capharnaum to share in the eternal processions of the Divine Persons through prayer – the one thing necessary. Only in this light are any temporal benefits (such as the people of Caphernum sought) even benefits. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

St Benedict says “To you, therefore, my words are now addressed, whoever you may be, who are renouncing your own will to do battle under the Lord Christ, the true King, and are taking up the strong, bright weapons of obedience.” But he is not addressing would-be statesmen or even the fathers of families, he is addressing would-be monks. The Social Kingship of Christ consists in the reordering and subordination of temporal realities to the supernatural end. Its foundation lies in the recognition of the utterly surpassing nature of that end. Its foundation is in the monastery and the monastery’s foundation is in heaven. Without this all temporal Christian struggle is worthless. The path of restoration proceeds from the monastery through the liturgy to the capitol and back again, but cut off  from its source and destination it will nought avail.

I have had the opportunity over the years four times to celebrate the feast of Christ the King on its traditional date in the United States of America according to the traditional rite. On one of those occasions the Mass was arranged by a lay ‘Latin Mass Community’ who ensured that it was celebrated with gusto. A High Mass with full choir, Blessed Sacrament procession and the solemn intoning of the Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On the other occasions the Mass was offered by the FSSP. Now the FSSP are splendid fellows but the liturgy was not at all celebrated with the vigour and pomp one might expect for the Feast instituted to combat social and political modernism, the consecration was recited in a frankly perfunctory manner (and one occasion omitted entirely), there was no procession and the Blessed Sacrament was not exposed. Most seriously of all there was absolutely no mention made in the sermon of the Social Kingship of Christ on any of these occasions.

Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King in order to compel the clergy to preach this doctrine.

[A]lthough in all the feasts of our Lord the material object of worship is Christ, nevertheless their formal object is something quite distinct from his royal title and dignity. We have commanded its observance on a Sunday in order that not only the clergy may perform their duty by saying Mass and reciting the Office, but that the laity too, free from their daily tasks, may in a spirit of holy joy give ample testimony of their obedience and subjection to Christ. The last Sunday of October seemed the most convenient of all for this purpose, because it is at the end of the liturgical year, and thus the feast of the Kingship of Christ sets the crowning glory upon the mysteries of the life of Christ already commemorated during the year, and, before celebrating the triumph of all the Saints, we proclaim and extol the glory of him who triumphs in all the Saints and in all the Elect. Make it your duty and your task, Venerable Brethren, to see that sermons are preached to the people in every parish to teach them the meaning and the importance of this feast, that they may so order their lives as to be worthy of faithful and obedient subjects of the Divine King.

Hamish Fraser famously described the American Catholic as “a Protestant who goes to Mass”. There is, alas, all too much truth in this ungenerous observation. One is often struck by the way in which American Catholics will say “I’m Catholic” rather than “I am a Catholic” as if ‘Catholic’ were one among a number of flavours of Christian. They will even talk about ‘Catholics and Christians’ as if there were some other sort of Christian or as if Catholics were not Christians or as if there were some kind of generic ‘mere Christianity’ approximating mildly conservative Protestantism upon which Marian devotion and five sacraments and the Real Presence are (hopefully) harmless baroque accretions.

Fr Brian Harrison observes:

[R]ejecting papal authority in favour of one’s own individual judgment was a perfect recipe for religious anarchy. And in medieval Christendom it was much easier to see that fact – and also to see that such anarchy is thoroughly undesirable – than it is in modern Western society. Desensitised after several centuries spent under a socio-political umbrella that shelters multiple coexistent Christian denominations, we have now, as a society, baptised this chaotic anarchy with the bland name of “religious pluralism”, and have come to see it as an instance of normal and healthy progress, rather than of pathological decline from the revealed norm of a Catholic polity that recognises the kingship of Christ. (After all, isn’t such ‘pluralism’ a cornerstone of democracy and a guarantee of individual liberty?) Those of us who are converts to the faith can testify from experience that for modern Protestants right across the liberal-evangelical-fundamentalist spectrum, the co-existence of many Christian denominations or “churches”, while theoretically acknowledged as falling short of the biblical ideal of Christian unity, is for practical purposes taken for granted as something normal, natural and inevitable – pretty much like the co-existence of many different countries, languages, styles of music, or ice cream flavours. From that perspective it is precisely “Rome” that appears as the renegade – the black sheep in the Christian fold – by virtue of her “arrogant” claim to be the one and only true Church. And let us recall the full radicality of this Protestant critique. It is not that the Southern Baptists (let us say) object to the aforesaid claim simply because they consider their own denomination, rather than “Rome”, to be the one true Church. That would basically be the same kind of objection that many claimants to this or that national throne have made over the centuries against rival claimants: “It is not you, but I, who am the rightful king!” No, the Protestant position cuts much deeper. It is like objecting to someone’s claim to the throne of England on the grounds that no such throne exists! It’s like protesting that anyone at all who claims to be England’s rightful ruler is ipso facto an impostor and potential tyrant whose pretensions must be firmly resisted! For the common position now shared by Protestants is precisely that no single Christian denomination may claim to be the Church founded by Christ, and, therefore, that no leader of any one denomination may dare claim the authority to make doctrinal or governing decisions that bind all Christians. Rather, it is said, each denomination should respectfully recognise many (or even all) of the others as being true, that is, real, “churches”, and so limit itself to making the modest claim of being preferable to the others in one way or another – for instance, by virtue of possessing what it believes is a better understanding of Scripture. In other words, the different organised “churches”, according to this ecclesiology, are seen as being in this respect pretty much like banks, schools, cars, brands of toothpaste, or any other sorts of commodities and services. It is considered legitimate to promote one or other as being of better quality than the rest; but just as it would be outrageous and beyond the pale for Wells Fargo to claim seriously that none of its competitors is truly a bank, or for General Motors to claim that nobody else makes real automobiles, or for Colgate ads to proclaim that what you’ll get in tubes of other brands is not just inferior toothpaste but fake toothpaste – so Protestants right across the liberal-conservative spectrum consider it theologically outrageous and beyond the pale for any single Christian denomination (read: Roman Catholicism) to claim that it is the one and only real Church.

The analogy of a disputed throne versus ideological republicanism is quite apt. The nonsense that legitimate governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed” goes hand in hand with nominalist contractualist ecclesiology. It is this Protestant vision and only this vision that could make sense of an intended adherence to the Gospel and a simultaneous acceptance of the ‘separation of Church and State’ as desirable for its own sake. The superstitious awe in which the citizens of the USA are expected to hold the Freemasons and Deists who composed their constitution and Declaration of Independence forbids the very idea of taking an axe to the First Amendment. American Catholics are expected to fly the flag of the US in the very sanctuaries of their Churches. This is extremely rare to non-existent even in countries that are or were formally Catholic, but this is the flag of the first western polity since the Edict of Theodosius in 380 to withhold recognition from Christ and which substituted the five pointed star for the Cross on its flag. This secularised banner is often, even in churches, hoisted on a staff surmounted by a golden eagle, the very symbol the Labarum supplanted and which was employed to desecrate the Holy of Holies in 70 AD.

Between the World Wars liberal economics and politics seemed tired. The world was torn between totalitarian ideologies that demanded the whole person. The Church thrived in this context with an integral vision of God and man that answered all the aspirations of the human person in freedom and ranged her against “the modern world in arms”. The Leonine formula of indifference to the form of regime but implacable insistence on the conformity of the civil order to the Divine and Natural Laws made vast strides against Modernity. In the wake of the Second World War the USA was left as the hegemonic power and the ideology of its founders has eaten away at the Church. The ‘Boston Heresy Case‘ was a disaster as the quasi-condemnation of Feeney’s garbled version of explicitism seemingly justified the complete surrender of the American church to the spirit of Thomas Jefferson. The United Kingdom, born of the revolution of 1688, has this paradoxical advantage: the sovereign is subjected to a religious test. The Jacobites, like the colony of Maryland, became entangled in the dubious cause of religious liberty. The rectification of the British constitution, upon the conversion of the Monarch and the people, requires only a single Act of Parliament.

Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux!

Dieu et Mon Droit


One assumes of course that Hilary will win, but then it seemed inconceivable that Trump would ever win the Republican nomination, so who knows? Hilary is a corrupt, incompetent feminazi. Trump is a grotesque pathological narcissist.  How can any one morally vote for either of them? Of course, the authority of rulers is derived from God not from the governed or the voters (whatever the American Declaration of Independence may claim) so one is not responsible for the actions of the people one voted for unless one voted for them for that reason. One’s obligation is to obtain the election of the best possible candidate. The victorious candidate is responsible to God for what he then does with that power. This is not to say it might not be the best thing to write in a candidate or spoil one’s ballot if the alternatives are so bad that there seems to be no other option. Such an action can at least signal to would-be candidates that there is a sizable constituency that is untapped by the present constellation of forces and so possibly improve the range of options next time. Yet, in normal circumstances, however bad the range of options, there will be a discernible gradation of turpitude. In the US nowadays this usually requires that one vote for the Republican candidate (however awful) because the Democratic candidate has gone to some pains to be worse. This is obviously a highly undesirable situation. The Republicans can take the votes of believing Christians for granted and the Democrats can write them off. However, it would seem that all is not lost because of the US primary system which allows ordinary registered Republicans to determine the candidate over the heads of the establishment (limited by the vast resources necessary to mount a campaign). And yet, this very system has now delivered Trump. De Tocqueville famously observed in reflecting upon the USA “our posterity will tend more and more to a division into only two parts, some relinquishing Christianity entirely and others returning to the Church of Rome.” That process was working well in the USA up until the act of ecclesiastical harakiri known as the Second Vatican Council. Protestantism is a parasite, it lives off the Catholic Church. When the Church wavers, Protestantism, after the enjoyment of a brief stimulus, begins to retreat and decompose. What will become of ‘conservatism’ when religion has passed away? One has only to look at inter-war Europe to see: militaristic protectionist populism. The leaders of such movements are invariably, as with Trump, mentally unstable. This is what produces the peculiar dilemma of the present US presidential race. On the one hand we have an evil woman determined to employ the resources of the world’s hegemonic power to further the culture of death and accomplish the final ruin of western civilisation. On the other hand one has not a lesser version of the same evil (as in previous elections) but a madman who cannot responsibly be placed in charge of a nuclear arsenal. Democracy (i.e. isonomia) broke down in Europe between the wars because the socio-political arithmetic deteriorated to the point where only the Fascists or the Communists could win. The ballot box ceased to be a solution. The recreation of those conditions is dangerously close.

Today is the 200th Anniversary of Britain’s sack of Washington DC and burning of the White House. About which Canadians (I spoke to one yesterday) remain extremely smug. I’m told the Iron Duke was confident his veterans could re-conquer the thirteen colonies but advised it was not worth the endless hassle from the disaffected neo-subjects. A Canadian musician introduced me to this song a few years ago and I thought the bicentenary was a good opportunity to post it here while my UEL relatives retain a numerical preponderance. The Americans ought to be grateful really as the campaign also gave rise to a slightly more famous ditty.

Queen 1980s

News has emerged today (under the thirty year rule) of a speech prepared by the government for the Queen in 1983 for broadcast in the event of a war with the Soviet Union. It is notable the emphasis it places on the family as the essential unit of society. Thirty years later as the UK removes recognition from the family it is clear that the state-worshipping evil of which HMQ didn’t quite speak now reigns triumphant in her own land. “It is this close bond of family life that must be our greatest defence against the unknown. If families remain united and resolute, giving shelter to those living alone and unprotected, our country’s will to survive cannot be broken. My message to you therefore is simple. Help those who cannot help themselves, give comfort to the lonely and the homeless and let your family become the focus of hope and life to those who need it. As we strive together to fight off the new evil let us pray for our country and men of goodwill wherever they may be.” Amen.

The BBC in its article comments that the text was prepared “in the year that US President Ronald Reagan both enraged and alarmed Moscow with his denunciation of the Soviet Union as the ‘evil empire'”. I thought it might be interesting to see what Reagan actually said in that speech. Reagan’s speech was delivered to a group of evangelical pastors and it is extremely assertive in its hostility to what we now call the culture of death and the separation of Church and state (as understood by the twentieth century US Supreme Court). He remarks,

“I want you to know that this administration is motivated by a political philosophy that sees the greatness of America in you, her people, and in your families, churches, neighborhoods, communities–the institutions that foster and nourish values like concern for others and respect for the rule of law under God. Now, I don’t have to tell you that this puts us in opposition to, or at least out of step with, a prevailing attitude of many who have turned to a modern-day secularism, discarding the tried and time-tested values upon which our very civilization is based. No matter how well intentioned, their value system is radically different from that of most Americans. And while they proclaim that they’re freeing us from superstitions of the past, they’ve taken upon themselves the job of superintending us by government rule and regulation. Sometimes their voices are louder than ours, but they are not yet a majority.”

Alas, is that still true? Elsewhere he praises a man he heard give a speech once who said “I would rather see my little girls die now; still believing in God, than have them grow up under communism and one day die no longer believing in God.” It makes you wonder if the catastrophe had occurred and Elizabeth II had delivered that speech would not the world that emerged (if any), though brutal and dark, have left more room for human moral struggle and perfection than the degraded horror of contemporary perverted hedonism. For Marx and Engels the beginning of class war is marriage and the family. For the new atheists and sodomanics the destruction of marriage and the family is the final stage in their war to overthrow the West.

“Yes, let us pray for the salvation of all of those who live in that totalitarian darkness–pray they will discover the joy of knowing God. But until they do, let us be aware that while they preach the supremacy of the State, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination of all peoples on the earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world.”

It is a Protestant speech and one inspired by the (to say the least) imperfect ideals of 1776. It even ends with a Pelagian indifferentist flourish “One of our founding fathers, Thomas Paine, said, ‘We have it within our power to begin the world over again.’ We can do it, doing together what no one church could do by itself.” But it is also rather moving. If only he knew that there is only one Church and only her Lord can begin the world over again.

“Yes; for grace can, where nature cannot. The world grows old, but the Church is ever young. She can, in any time, at her Lord’s will, ‘inherit the Gentiles, and inhabit the desolate cities.’ ‘Arise, Jerusalem, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. Behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and a mist the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see; all these are gathered together, they come to thee; thy sons shall come from afar, and thy daughters shall rise up at thy side.'”

Two American friends sent me links to these within a few days of each other. It seems to be a choice between ignoring the the first and invoking the second amendment of the US Constitution.

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