Saturday, June 5, 2021

Saint Francis of Assisi's warning to rulers

Image: Frater Franciscus, anonymous fresco, before 1228

We have from Francis one other letter written in 1220, an appeal to the very rulers to whom his friars were to preach repentance and devotion to the Eucharist. Addressed “to the podestas, consuls, and other rulers” of cities, the letter is short and stern, a reminder of death and judgement:

Reflect and see that the day of death is approaching. With all possible respect, therefore, I beg you not to forget the Lord because of the world’s cares and preoccupations and not to turn away from his commandments, for those who leave him in oblivion and turn away from his commandments are cursed and will be left in oblivion by him. When the day of death does come, everything they have will be taken from them. The wiser and more powerful they were in the world, the greater will be the punishment they will endure in Hell.

He then turned to his favorite topic in this period, the Eucharist, writing that “therefore” they should receive communion with fervor and foster honor to the Lord among those they rule. “If you do not do this, know that, on the day of judgement, you must render an account before the Lord your God, Jesus Christ.”

Augustine Thompson, Francis of Assisi: A New Biography (pp. 84-5)

Monday, March 22, 2021

God’s goodness and the permission of evil

God’s permission of evil in the things governed by Him is not inconsistent with the divine goodness. For, in the first place, the function of providence is not to destroy but to save the nature of the beings governed. The perfection of the universe requires the existence of some beings that are not subject to evil, and of other beings that can suffer the defect of evil in keeping with their nature. If evil were completely eliminated from things, they would not be governed by divine providence in accord with their nature; and this would be a greater defect than the particular defects eradicated.

Secondly, the good of one cannot be realized without the suffering of evil by another. For instance, we find that the generation of one being does not take place without the corruption of another being, and that the nourishment of a lion is impossible without the destruction of some other animal, and that the patient endurance of the just involves persecution by the unjust. If evil were completely excluded from things, much good would be rendered impossible. Consequently it is the concern of divine providence, not to safeguard all beings from evil, but to see to it that the evil which arises is ordained to some good.

Thirdly, good is rendered more estimable when compared with particular evils. For example, the brilliance of white is brought out more clearly when set off by the dinginess of black. And so, by permitting the existence of evil in the world, the divine goodness is more emphatically asserted in the good, just as is the divine wisdom when it forces evil to promote good.

Thomas Aquinas, Compendium of Theology (Chapter 142)

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The spiritual effects of tearing down Christian culture

Image: Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania converted into brewery


So long as Christ does not reign over nations, His influence even over individuals remains superficial and exposed to overthrow. If it is true that the work of the apostolate consists in the conversion of individuals and that nations do not go to heaven, but souls, one by one, we must not forget, nevertheless, that the individual member of society lives under the never-ceasing influence of his environment, in which; if we may not say that he is submerged, he is, at least, deeply plunged. If the environment is non-Catholic, it prevents him from embracing the faith, or, if he has the faith, it tends to root out of his heart every vestige of belief. If we suppose Catholic social institutions, with our Lord no longer living in the hearts of the individual members of society, then religion is merely a signboard which will soon disappear. But, on the other hand, try to convert individuals without Catholicizing the social institutions and your work is without stability. The structure you erect in the morning others will tear down in the evening. Is not the strategy of the enemies of God there to teach us a lesson? They want to destroy the faith in the hearts of individuals, it is true, but they direct still more vigorous efforts to the extirpation of religion from social institutions. Even one defeat of God in this domain means the weakening, if not the ruin, of the faith in the souls of many.* 

Rev. Denis Fahey, The Mystical Body of Christ in the Modern World (pp. 164-5)

* Paqe« choisies du Cardinal Pie, quoted in La RoyauU Sociale de N.S. JtBU8- Christ, p. 59, by Pere de Saint-Just., a.M.C.