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Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Mini-Series III

The reason I am highlighting this Blessed's work on the Five Wounds of the Church is that unless the people of God return to the simplicity and charitable attitudes of the early Church, the remnant will be forced to destitution and displacement.

I have seen this coming in my own person, and in the Protestant ideas which too many Catholics have adopted.

If Catholics keep insisting that it is the job of the government to take care of the poor, and not their own, we shall see chaos very soon.

The governments will stop carrying for the poor and use other means to control the populations.

The freedom of the Church to help those in need has been usurped by governments, which can as easily change policies overnight to undermine the poor. Do not kid yourselves on this point. We have the example of Stalin in modern times, enforcing a famine to destroy an ethnic group.

Catholics who trust in politics rather than Divine Providence will wake up one day realizing they had chosen a false god.

There is a fema camp two hours from where I am today. The locals know about it. The military know about it as it is on military land. Who do you think these camps, many, many in the States, are going to hold? The rich? No. The secular? No. 

My time for writing is severely limited by finances, but this fact is giving me the boldness to state that many Catholics will collude with evil in days to come.

54. The fourth requirement governing church temporalities and safeguarding the integrity of the clergy was that "ecclesiastical wealth used for pious, charitable purposes, should also be assigned to fixed, determined works to prevent arbitrariness and self-interest from interfering in disbursement of finances." As church riches grew and abuses increased, the Church intervened, although defects in administration were spasmodic and contained. Church resources were allotted to definite purposes according to a fourfold division: for the support of the bishop, the lower clergy, the poor, and the upkeep of church buildings and cult. The Councils of Agde, 506, and Orleans, 511, decreed this division on the basis of older canons. Gregory the Great recalls it in many of his letters (41). It is certain that the best remedy against the corruption accompanying riches was the establishment of laws regulating the precise uses to which they could be applied (42). Abuse is inevitable if the employment of great wealth is left to the arbitrary decision of the person to whom it is entrusted. The corruption and ruin of many monasteries has almost certainly to be attributed to the lack of a law definite enough to determine the principal uses of the great riches possessed by religious houses. As a result, abbots and other superiors controlling finances spent the income as they pleased.
155. But feudalism amongst ecclesiastics made this requirement impossible. Feudalism can be reduced in principle to an armed aristocracy whose interests, along with the interests of the local lords, demands the accumulation of wealth in the hands of the great families, that is, in very restricted circles. Worldly power depended upon this concentration of wealth, and consequently opposed its equitable distribution in brotherly love. Benefices were thus a necessary institution to assure the maintenance of the weakest elements in the clergy, who would have starved to death without some safeguard against the rapacity of the great lords, bishops included. Bishops no longer formed part of the people as in ancient days when episcopal ordination entailed the profession of poverty (however noble one's origins) and acceptance of a place amongst the poor; they were now members of a ruthless, dominant aristocracy. Henceforth, abuse became law. The Church's canons were either evaded by endless sophistry (43) or openly and violently broken. The fourfold division of church wealth, and the application of income for fixed purposes, became intolerable. The ancient rule sank without trace, along with its guiding spirit.
156. The fifth requirement safeguarding the Church from the danger of riches in the centuries before feudalism was "a generous spirit, prompt to give, slow to receive." The great rule fixed in human hearts was Christ's noble, astounding word: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (44). This was the good news the Church brought to a world enslaved by selfishness; it was a light shining in all that the Church did and undertook. Bishops considered temporalities and their administration a burden, to be borne only from motives of charity (45). Laws making difficult the alienation of donated property were not yet in force; offerings were accepted reluctantly, and distributed freely. St. Ambrose refused donations and legacies if he knew that poor relatives of the donors would suffer as a result : non quaerit donum Deus de fame parentum... misericordia a domestico progredi debet pietatis officio (46) ["God does not look for offerings that leave relatives hungry... mercy must begin at home"]. The Church could do this because its spirit was unfettered, especially by the so-called protection exercised by secular rulers.
One effect of the restrictions forced upon the Church by this system was her inability to act with the splendid generosity so often shown by early bishops. I have already mentioned the ideas of St. Augustine in this respect. In a sermon preached to the people, the bishop of Hippo had to defend himself against the accusation that "bishop Augustune gives with total generosity, but takes nothing." What a glorious accusation! (47). As a result, so the complaint ran, the church of Hippo received no benefactions and no legacies. Possidius, in his life of Augustine, tells how the bishop restored property donated to the church by one of the wealthy townsmen who, despite having no further legal claim to the land, asked for it back on behalf of his son. Augustine returned it, and refusing a large sum which the man sent for the poor, reminded him that he was doing wrong.
Possidius also mentions Augustine's reaction to the envy of one of the lower clergy because of episcopal control of church finances (48). The bishop who, like all bishops of his time, spoke about everything to the people of God, referred to this in a sermon. He said that he would gladly have lived on collections from God's people rather than be burdened with responsibility for finances, which he was ready to cede to the people so that all God's servants and ministers might live by sharing at the altar as did the priests of the Old Testament. But the laypeople refused his offer absolutely (49).
157. St. John Chrysostom explained in a sermon to his people why the Church accepted fixed, regular donations rather than live, as it had done previously, on occasional collections from the faithful. The clergy were forced to do this not for themselves, but for the sake of the destitute affected by the lessening of charity amongst the faithful. "Your tightfistedness has brought the Church to this state. If things were done according to the laws reaching back to apostolic times, the Church's income would flow without fail and without fear of diminution from your good will. But you are all seeking treasure on earth now, and locking up your wealth in vaults, while the Church has to spend money on widows, virgins, travellers, captives, the handicapped and mutilated, and other needy persons. So how can the Church act otherwise?" (50).