Leo XIII Arms

“Every one knows the power and resources of the British nation and the civilising influence which, with the spread of liberty, accompanies its commercial prosperity even to the most remote regions.”

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Frederick Douglass

MY DEAR FRIEND GARRISON: Up to this time, I have given no direct expression of the views, feelings, and opinions which I have formed, respecting the character and condition of the people of this land. I have refrained thus, purposely. I wish to speak advisedly, and in order to do this, I have waited till, I trust, experience has brought my opinions to an intelligent maturity. I have been thus careful, not because I think what I say will have much effect in shaping the opinions of the world, but because whatever of influence I may possess, whether little or much, I wish it to go in the right direction, and according to truth. I hardly need say that, in speaking of Ireland, I shall be influenced by no prejudices in favor of America. I think my circumstances all forbid that. I have no end to serve, no creed to uphold, no government to defend; and as to nation, I belong to none. I have no protection at home, or resting-place abroad. The land of my birth welcomes me to her shores only as a slave, and spurns with contempt the idea of treating me differently; so that I am an outcast from the society of my childhood, and an outlaw in the land of my birth. “I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.” That men should be patriotic, is to me perfectly natural; and as a philosophical fact, I am able to give it an intellectual recognition. But no further can I go. If ever I had any patriotism, or any capacity for the feeling, it was whipped out of me long since, by the lash of the American soul-drivers.

In thinking of America, I sometimes find myself admiring her bright blue sky, her grand old woods, her fertile fields, her beautiful rivers, her mighty lakes, and star-crowned mountains. But my rapture is soon checked, my joy is soon turned to mourning. When I remember that all is cursed with the infernal spirit of slaveholding, robbery, and wrong; when I remember that with the waters of her noblest rivers, the tears of my brethren are borne to the ocean, disregarded and forgotten, and that her most fertile fields drink daily of the warm blood of my outraged sisters; I am filled with unutterable loathing, and led to reproach myself that anything could fall from my lips in praise of such a land. America will not allow her children to love her. She seems bent on compelling those who would be her warmest friends, to be her worst enemies. May God give her repentance, before it is too late, is the ardent prayer of my heart. I will continue to pray, labor, and wait, believing that she cannot always be insensible to the dictates of justice, or deaf to the voice of humanity.

My opportunities for learning the character and condition of the people of this land have been very great. I have traveled almost from the Hill of Howth to the Giant’s Causeway, and from the Giant’s Causway, to Cape Clear. During these travels, I have met with much in the charade and condition of the people to approve, and much to condemn; much that thrilled me with pleasure, and very much that has filled me with pain. It, in this letter, attempt to give any description of those scenes which have given me pain. This I will do hereafter. I have enough, and more than your subscribers will be disposed to read at one time, of the bright side of the picture. I can truly say, I have spent some of the happiest moments of my life since landing in this country. I seem to have undergone a transformation. I live a new life. The warm and generous cooperation extended to me by the friends of my despised race; the prompt and liberal manner with which the press has rendered me its aid; the glorious enthusiasm with which thousands have flocked to hear the cruel wrongs of my down-trodden and long-enslaved fellow-countrymen portrayed; the deep sympathy for the slave, and the strong abhorrence of the slaveholder, everywhere evinced; the cordiality with which members and ministers of various religious bodies, and of various shades of religious opinion, have embraced me, and lent me their aid; the kind of hospitality constantly proffered to me by persons of the highest rank in society; the spirit of freedom that seems to animate all with whom I come in contact, and the entire absence of everything that looked like prejudice against me, on account of the color of my skin—contrasted so strongly with my long and bitter experience in the United States, that I look with wonder and amazement on the transition. In the southern part of the United States, I was a slave, thought of and spoken of as property; in the language of the LAW, “held, taken, reputed, and adjudged to be a chattel in the hands of my owners and possessors, and their executors, administrators, and assigns, to all intents, constructions, and purposes whatsoever.” (Brev. Digest, 224). In the northern states, a fugitive slave, liable to be hunted at any moment, like a felon, and to be hurled into the terrible jaws of slavery—doomed by an inveterate prejudice against color to insult and outrage on every hand (Massachusetts out of the question)—denied the privileges and courtesies common to others in the use of the most humble means of conveyance—shut out from the cabins on steamboats—refused admission to respectable hotels—caricatured, scorned, scoffed, mocked, and maltreated with impunity by any one (no matter how black his heart), so he has a white skin. But now behold the change! Eleven days and a half gone, and I have crossed three thousand miles of the perilous deep. Instead of a democratic government, I am under a monarchical government. Instead of the bright, blue sky of America, I am covered with the soft, grey fog of the Emerald Isle. I breathe, and lo! the chattel becomes a man. I gaze around in vain for one who will question my equal humanity, claim me as his slave, or offer me an insult. I employ a cab—I am seated beside white people—I reach the hotel—I enter the same door—I am shown into the same parlor—I dine at the same table and no one is offended. No delicate nose grows deformed in my presence. I find no difficulty here in obtaining admission into any place of worship, instruction, or amusement, on equal terms with people as white as any I ever saw in the United States. I meet nothing to remind me of my complexion. I find myself regarded and treated at every turn with the kindness and deference paid to white people. When I go to church, I am met by no upturned nose and scornful lip to tell me, “We don’t allow niggers in here!”

I remember, about two years ago, there was in Boston, near the south-west corner of Boston Common, a menagerie. I had long desired to see such a collection as I understood was being exhibited there. Never having had an opportunity while a slave, I resolved to seize this, my first, since my escape. I went, and as I approached the entrance to gain admission, I was met and told by the door-keeper, in a harsh and contemptuous tone, “We don’t allow niggers in here.” I also remember attending a revival meeting in the Rev. Henry Jackson’s meeting-house, at New Bedford, and going up the broad aisle to find a seat, I was met by a good deacon, who told me, in a pious tone, “We don’t allow niggers in here!” Soon after my arrival in New Bedford, from the south, I had a strong desire to attend the Lyceum, but was told, “They don’t allow niggers in here!” While passing from New York to Boston, on the steamer Massachusetts, on the night of the 9th of December, 1843, when chilled almost through with the cold, I went into the cabin to get a little warm. I was soon touched upon the shoulder, and told, “We don’t allow niggers in here!” On arriving in Boston, from an anti-slavery tour, hungry and tired, I went into an eating-house, near my friend, Mr. Campbell’s to get some refreshments. I was met by a lad in a white apron, “We don’t allow niggers in here!” A week or two before leaving the United States, I had a meeting appointed at Weymouth, the home of that glorious band of true abolitionists, the Weston family, and others. On attempting to take a seat in the omnibus to that place, I was told by the driver (and I never shall forget his fiendish hate). “I don’t allow niggers in here!” Thank heaven for the respite I now enjoy! I had been in Dublin but a few days, when a gentleman of great respectability kindly offered to conduct me through all the public buildings of that beautiful city; and a little afterward, I found myself dining with the lord mayor of Dublin. What a pity there was not some American democratic Christian at the door of his splendid mansion, to bark out at my approach, “They don’t allow niggers in here!” The truth is, the people here know nothing of the republican Negro hate prevalent in our glorious land. They measure and esteem men according to their moral and intellectual worth, and not according to the color of their skin. Whatever may be said of the aristocracies here, there is none based on the color of a man’s skin. This species of aristocracy belongs preeminently to “the land of the free, and the home of the brave.” I have never found it abroad, in any but Americans. It sticks to them wherever they go. They find it almost as hard to get rid of, as to get rid of their skins.

The second day after my arrival at Liverpool, in company with my friend, Buffum, and several other friends, I went to Eaton Hall, the residence of the Marquis of Westminster, one of the most splendid buildings in England. On approaching the door, I found several of our American passengers, who came out with us in the “Cambria,” waiting for admission, as but one party was allowed in the house at a time. We all had to wait till the company within came out. And of all the faces, expressive of chagrin, those of the Americans were preeminent. They looked as sour as vinegar, and as bitter as gall, when they found I was to be admitted on equal terms with themselves. When the door was opened, I walked in, on an equal footing with my white fellow-citizens, and from all I could see, I had as much attention paid me by the servants that showed us through the house, as any with a paler skin. As I walked through the building, the statuary did not fall down, the pictures did not leap from their places, the doors did not refuse to open, and the servants did not say, “We don’t allow niggers in here!”

A happy new-year to you, and all the friends of freedom.

Source

 

Justice

 

Then, again, who does not see how empty, how foolish, is the fame of noble birth? Why, if the nobility is based on renown, the renown is another’s! For, truly, nobility seems to be a sort of reputation coming from the merits of ancestors. But if it is the praise which brings renown, of necessity it is they who are praised that are famous. Wherefore, the fame of another clothes thee not with splendour if thou hast none of thine own. So, if there is any excellence in nobility of birth, methinks it is this alone—that it would seem to impose upon the nobly born the obligation not to degenerate from the virtue of their ancestors.

–  St Severinus Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy

Classes are a natural feature of human society perfected and not abolished by grace. They are also hereditary in that one is born into them. In a society undisturbed by foreign occupation, kleptocracy, usury or socialism these classes ought to be

1. Clerical

2. Religious

3. Chivalric

4. Agrarian

5. Academic

6. Artisanal

I omit ‘mercantile’ as ideally such persons will be the paid servants (or better, junior members) of the sixth class.  In English terms the upper echelons of the first and second classes constitute the Lords Spiritual, the upper echelons of the third the Lords Temporal, the lower ranks of the third and the free-holding members of the fourth would be the electors of the Shires, the Masters of the fifth class would be the electors of the Universities and the Masters of the sixth be the electors of the Boroughs.

However, there seems no reason as such why the Lords Temporal should hold office by descent rather than election. Undoubtedly this was a feature of mediaeval life but this feature of mediaeval life was a consequence of the Völkerwanderung and, far from being a positive feature, was the Achilles’ heal by which the entire edifice was brought down at its weakest point (the French monarchy).

It is entirely natural and good that, in the main, a child should follow his parents in their station in life. It is also unnatural, unjust and harmful if a child is prevented from following his talents if they lead him elsewhere. Men and women will quite naturally gravitate in differing proportions to different occupations and social functions and any attempt to suppress this tendency is unnatural, unjust and harmful but equally any attempt to enforce what ought to come naturally is tyrannical and counter productive. Likewise, the attempt to harden into a caste system the natural tendency of a child to follow his forebears in his class and profession will gravely weaken any society in which it occurs and eventually provoke a devastating reaction.

Why is this so important? Because talentless toffs were the ruin of Christendom and the Ancien Régime in France was sufficiently stupid as to be immoral. As Pius XI observed,

What We have taught about the reconstruction and perfection of social order can surely in no wise be brought to realisation without reform of morality, the very record of history clearly shows. For there was a social order once which, although indeed not perfect or in all respects ideal, nevertheless, met in a certain measure the requirements of right reason, considering the conditions and needs of the time. If that order has long since perished, that surely did not happen because the order could not have accommodated itself to changed conditions and needs by development and by a certain expansion, but rather because men, hardened by too much love of self, refused to open the order to the increasing masses as they should have done, or because, deceived by allurements of a false freedom and other errors, they became impatient of every authority and sought to reject every form of control.

The French Revolution was a disaster but no disease is ever cured by seeking to replicate the conditions obtaining at the moment it was contracted.

 

 

A remarkable book was published just over a year ago, called In Sinu Iesu. The title is a quotation from Jn. 13:23: Now there was reclining on Jesus’s breast one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. The book consists of an internal colloquy taking place over several years between the author, named simply as ‘a Benedictine monk’ and ‘a priest’, and our Lord. In that respect it resembles somewhat The Imitation of Christ.  It has already been translated into Czech, and I have met someone who is translating it into German.

The dominant theme of the book is Christ’s desire for His people, and especially His priests, to seek out His friendship by spending time before the Blessed Sacrament. Other themes include the lamentable state of much of the Church, the lukewarmness and scanty faith of priests, the role of our Lady in the spiritual life, the future renewal of the priesthood and the Church, and the four last things. The words in which Christ is represented as speaking, by their union of loving simplicity and gravity of tone, of antiquity of content and freshness of appeal, have, to my mind, all the marks of authentic private revelation.

The last date ascribed to the words of our Lord is April 14th, 2016. Amoris laetitia was published on April 8th. Neither here nor anywhere else does the book mention Amoris laetitia, nor, as far as I remember, the present papacy or the synods on the family. But this last entry of the book contains these words:

Consecrate yourself to My Mother, and lift your eyes to her all-pure countenance. She is the star whom I have set in the darkness of the firmament, lest those who belong to Me lose hope and perish in the tempest that threatens the very survival of all that I have done and of the works of My saints. Those who flee to My Immaculate Mother and cling to her mantle of protection will emerge from the sorrows of this time, and, after the raging tempest, will rejoice in a  peace that the world cannot give.

Amen, amen I say to you, that you shall lament and weep, but the worlds shall rejoice; and you shall be made sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.

 

 

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.

Disneyland

Brits who have visited the United States are usually familiar with the “I’m Irish!” phenomenon. The bewildered Brit is usually told this by a very American seeming person on the strength of a grainy black and white photograph of a great-grandfather who may or may not have been wearing a green item of clothing. This flimsy evidence is then used to justify a bewildering series of observances involving plastic leprechauns, green lager and corned beef that seem to have almost nothing to do with the fair Hibernia of actual experience. Of course, the Irish (particularly in the Republic) do tend to connive at this phenomenon, however disparaging they may be in private, as it pays serious financial and geo-political dividends.

Even more irritating for an English Catholic is the expression of admiration by American Catholics for the ‘wonderful’ Anglicans. Who are apparently ‘so English’ despite the fact that the English people (Catholic, Non-Conformist, godless and even many of the Anglicans themselves) have always held the absurd Anglican confection in contempt as a cultural substitute for Christian faith invented for the political, financial and sexual convenience of Caesar. As Tolkien put it “a pathetic and shadowy medley of half-remembered traditions and mutilated beliefs”.

One of the very few positive aspects of the “I’m Irish!” and ‘wonderful Anglican’ phenomena is that they prepare you psychologically for the even more ludicrous phenomenon of the American ‘Greek Catholic’. Usually we are talking here about ‘Ruthenians’ although the individuals in question often have no idea that the churches they frequent are, or were once supposed to be, Ruthenian. In this case there is seldom even the pretence of any ancestral or cultural connection to Eastern Europe. Mention of Uzhgorod or Mukachevo is met with blank stares. The best one can hope for is a nervous defensive supressed grimace from someone (perhaps a cleric) with a vague sense that he is supposed to have something to do with these places. Often, ironically, these ‘Greek Catholics’ actually are Irish (or at least of Irish descent). Often too one finds they are former Protestants who the eviscerated post conciliar liturgy and a residual desire to be their own magisterium has sent on a trip to Disneyland invent-your-own Byzantium.

Any ‘real’ familiarity the plastic-Byzantine may have with Byzantine tradition begins and ends with the schismatic ‘tradition’ of the ‘Orthodox’. They have read a few books by Kalistos Ware and are now ready to tell you all about what ‘we Byzantines’ do in ‘the East’. The music is terrible. A friend said to me in shock after visiting an American Greek Catholic church “I didn’t realise it was possible to do the Divine Liturgy badly”. Even more terribly they have attempted to create a Novus Ordo Divine Liturgy where the first third of the rite is abbreviated into a single paragraph and the veneration of the Gospel is thrown in as a coda to its proclamation.

The most dreadful thing of all for those who know and love actual Greek Catholics and actual Greek Catholicism is the veneration for and identification with the schismatics. Real Greek Catholics have preserved the flame of Byzantine tradition through centuries of persecution. Often their parents and grandparents have been imprisoned, tortured and killed by Communist and Tsarist authorities inspired and encouraged by the ‘Orthodox’, often too they have had to fight physically to retake their stolen churches from the schismatic Soviet stooges. Imprisoned Greek Catholic clergy were frequently offered their freedom and great advancement if they would only conform themselves to the schism. These are the descendants of the converts of Cyril and Methodius and of the people of Volodymyr, of the Romans who have lived and endured for centuries under Muslim domination in the Middle East. To now be told by some Anglophone colonials in fancy dress that they fall short because they insufficiently resemble Muscovite upstarts and Hellenic nationalists is impertinence and vulgarity that beggars belief.

Perhaps this vindicates the traditional disapproval for promiscuity of rite. There are many reasons why this may be best avoided but this obscene invention and appropriation (not to say desecration) of tradition is not the least of them.

Is there any remedy? Yes! Fasting, history lessons, penitential pilgrimages to Uzhgorod, the repudiation of all Agonyclite tendencies, singing lessons!, the restoration of the Filioque to the Creed (if they are Ruthenians), learning Old Slavonic, shredding their awful gender inclusive bowdlerised translation of the Liturgy, zeal for the true faith, horror of schism!