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Sunday 12 February 2012

Pascendi Part Two: Gramsci and America

Time for a Gramsci post. That Obama is the heir to Gramsci I have been trying to point out since 2007. However, few have listened, and the younger generation, I am told, simply do not care about Gramsci (see post below,

However, the recent events in the past two weeks prove my point that the Marx, Alinksy, Chomsky, Gramsci influences on this Administration hold firm. I want to highlight only two points I wrote about before on this blog-the idea of immanentism, condemned by several Popes and a key Gramsci idea, and the idea of hegemony of the mind.

I am doing this series on Pascendi ( and if there are seminarians out there who have read this great encyclical, do so now. You will need the information now and in days to come. If you understand the ideology of Gramsci and his ideas, you will be able to counteract the messy theology of social justice wafting across the Church in the States like poisonous gas.

But, first, let us look at the document's discussion of the heresy of immanence and then, Gramsci's use of the term. Pope St. Pius X writes that,  Concerning immanence it is not easy to determine what Modernists mean by it, for their own opinions on the subject vary. Some understand it in the sense that God working in man is more intimately present in him than man is in even himself, and this conception, if properly understood, is free from reproach. Others hold that the divine action is one with the action of nature, as the action of the first cause is one with the action of the secondary cause, and this would destroy the supernatural order. Others, finally, explain it in a way which savours of pantheism and this, in truth, is the sense which tallies best with the rest of their doctrines. 

In this small section, one can see that those agnostics or atheists who believe in a type of divine immanence place it firmly either in man or men, or in the movement of history, as some sort of power which is not of the supernatural order, but purely natural or human. Gramsci would see this power as a freedom from the rules, or laws of the Church, and place all power in some sort of historically based movement, almost like an evolutionary political utopian vision which grows within a people and a particular time period. As I noted in the post before this one, there is a momentum in this movement, the immanence no longer being ascribed to the Divine, but to humans, or to history. The denial of God and the denial of the Church allowed Gramsci to place immanence in the material-as he is a true materialist, as is Marx. All activity moves towards a goal of human freedom, almost like a utopian anarchy, except not quite. The "not quite" are the elite leaders, be they from the working class or be they from the academic class, the elite are part of this momentum towards freedom from all constraints.

The immanence is not a supernatural one, but caught in a context of history and even economic determinism.

This section from Pascendi should be memorized: Hence we have that distinction, so current among the Modernists, between the Christ of history and the Christ of faith, between the sacraments of history and the sacraments of faith, and so on. Next we find that the human element itself, which the historian has to work on, as it appears in the documents, has been by faith transfigured, that is to say raised above its historical conditions. It becomes necessary, therefore, to eliminate also the accretions which faith has added, to assign them to faith itself and to the history of faith: thus, when treating of Christ, the historian must set aside all that surpasses man in his natural condition, either according to the psychological conception of him, or according to the place and period of his existence. Finally, by virtue of the third principle, even those things which are not outside the sphere of history they pass through the crucible, excluding from history and relegating to faith everything which, in their judgment, is not in harmony with what they call the logic of facts and in character with the persons of whom they are predicated. Thus, they will not allow that Christ ever uttered those things which do not seem to be within the capacity of the multitudes that listened to Him. Hence they delete from His real history and transfer to faith all the allegories found in His discourses. Do you inquire as to the criterion they adopt to enable them to make these divisions? The reply is that they argue from the character of the man, from his condition of life, from his education, from the circumstances under which the facts took place - in short, from criteria which, when one considers them well, are purely subjective. Their method is to put themselves into the position and person of Christ, and then to attribute to Him what they would have done under like circumstances. In this way, absolutely a priori and acting on philosophical principles which they admit they hold but which they affect to ignore, they proclaim that Christ, according to what they call His real history, was not God and never did anything divine, and that as man He did and said only what they, judging from the time in which he lived, can admit Him to have said or done. 

I hope this sounds familiar to many sems and university students, as you are getting this heresy rammed down your throats, as I did in some theology classes. The last part of this section describes the new Marxists, who would not used violence to overcome, but supplant Catholic definitions, which are objective truth, which subjectivism and material immanence. Thus, Western democracies would be destroyed by a new hegemony of the mind, my second highlighted point here.

This hegemony of the mind is a force against the domination of religion and the Church in the culture. The authority of the Church was to be undermined, slowly but surely, through historical movements of the human mind and activity, changing the culture incrementally, and creating crises to destroy religion. Does this sound familiar?

I grew up in the shadow of Alinksy's "rules for radicals". One of the main rules is never let a crisis go to waste. We have a crisis in the States concerning religious freedom and the Gramscians in power will not let it go to waste. Destroy religion and capitalism will fall naturally--this is the way of Gramsci.  To be continued.

The Death of the American Imagination

Many years ago, I taught a class which the students called the "isms" course. It was really a history of ideas and a history of the councils of the Church, but we had fun defining and identifying all the isms. I am reminded by my stay in Ireland that there is a lack of understanding among Catholics, whether lay or priests, that socialism has been condemned by the Church for over 150 years or so. A Catholic cannot be a socialist, and if one is a Catholic and a socialist, it means that there is a deep misunderstanding of the evils of this political and economic system. The Popes in the past have shown us that the definitions of the individual and the State in a socialist philosophy contradict the Catholic idea of a person, personal rights and responsibilities, and the nexus of freedom and rights-natural law.

I cannot tell you how many conversations I have had here and in England concerning socialism as supposedly being acceptable to the Catholic Faith. Today, I shall quote one of the many Popes who have condemned this tricky and insidious system. Here is Pope Pius XI in Quadragesimo AnnoBut what if Socialism has really been so tempered and modified as to the class struggle and private ownership that there is in it no longer anything to be censured on these points? Has it thereby renounced its contradictory nature to the Christian religion? This is the question that holds many minds in suspense. And numerous are the Catholics who, although they clearly understand that Christian principles can never be abandoned or diminished seem to turn their eyes to the Holy See and earnestly beseech Us to decide whether this form of Socialism has so far recovered from false doctrines that it can be accepted without the sacrifice of any Christian principle and in a certain sense be baptized. That We, in keeping with Our fatherly solicitude, may answer their petitions, We make this pronouncement: Whether considered as a doctrine, or an historical fact, or a movement, Socialism, if it remains truly Socialism, even after it has yielded to truth and justice on the points which we have mentioned, cannot be reconciled with the teachings of the Catholic Church because its concept of society itself is utterly foreign to Christian truth.

Here is the rub. The view of society and the view of the person which is held by most Christians in America is out and out socialism. And, the current arguments in the Church over social issues reveal this confusion. One cannot be a good Catholic and a socialist. I am reposting this, as it is crucial to the understanding of the decay of the West. The individual is no longer respected, but only seen as the proverbial cog in the machine. Once a philosophy of the idolization of the State and State power takes over the imagination of a people, there is a momentum which is hard to turn back. A few strong voices, mostly Catholics such as Patrick Buchanan, have tried to show the demise of individual responsibilty connected with the bloating of government power. Sadly, many Catholics have fallen into the socialist trap via bad interpretations of Catholic social justice. I am concerned that the current administration is moving so fast that by next year at this time, we shall literally have lost several main freedoms in the Bill of Rights. The three which are on the line are freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the right to bear arms. This is not hysteria, but a cold evaluation of the takeover of the American imagination. Our imagination was based on English Common Law, Greek democracy, and the Enlightenment ideals. However, our American imagination was also based on Christianity, the Ten Commandments, Christian natural law philosophy, and the years of human rights justification as taught by the Holy Roman Catholic Church based on Tradition and Scripture. Such rivers of influence are all at odds with socialism. 

One may never do evil so that good may result from it

A painful family event in these days is the marriage outside of a Catholic or a Christian service of sons and daughter of practicing Catholics. Some of my friends have absented themselves from either the so-called marriage, civil marriage of a son or daughter to another person, either baptized or un-baptized. Some parents have gone and witnessed such non-marriages. In light of Valentine's Day, I felt it necessary to help clarify the situation, which I had to deal with in RCIA several times.

Firstly, when one attends a marriage, one is a witness to that marriage, not merely a guest. Especially a parent being present is a statement of agreement and support of the bond. One cannot be in person in silence, as silence is consent.

Secondly, the Church has made some rules in Canon Law much clearer in recent times to help us, the laity, as well as the clergy, sift through these problems.

Thirdly, if one is a baptized Catholic, that person is under Canon Law from baptism until death. There are no exceptions.

Lastly, Canon Law specifies that a Catholic cannot marry an unbaptized person without permission of a Bishop, which will be examined at the end of this entry. This is called "disparity of cult" and is a huge problem.

The motu proprio of Pope Benedict XVI, Omnium in mentem clarified many points, a few which I shall outline here. The publication date was in December of 2009. I was aware of this having been involved in RCIA, which demands that the coordinator asks pertinent questions regarding the marital states of those wanting to come into the Church. Such problems which arise are then sent to the Canon Lawyers in the marriage tribunals or, if the priest in the parish is aware of the laws, to the priest.

Firstly, a person can no longer formally leave the Church, as in a formal apostasy. The ruling clears up private and public apostasy. If one is a lapsed Catholic, one is an apostate and incurs the penalties. Can. 1364 §1. Without prejudice to the prescript of  can. 194, §1, n. 2, an apostate from the faith, a heretic, or a schismatic incurs a latae sententiae excommunication; in addition, a cleric can be punished with the penalties mentioned in  can. 1336, §1, nn. 1, 2, and 3.

One must consult a Canon Lawyer, better if he is a priest, if one has been away from the Church, as one may need the special faculties of a priest who can lift such an excommunication, specifically in the case of a woman who has undergone an abortion. Not all priests have this faculty. Confession, of course, is required. By the way, not all parish priests know the laws. The humble ones admit this and get the information. The lay person must be aware of some basic rules, all for the sake of souls. Eternity is a really long time.

Secondly, the fact that Canon Law covers a Catholic from baptism to death means that there is not a period of time when one can claim "immunity". However, the status is such that a person who has contracted a civil marriage may remarry in the Catholic Church after being reconciled. The problems occur if one has been married before in a Protestant ceremony. In most cases, an annulment is required.

Thirdly, the authority to whom one must apply for  marriages is the Bishop, or priests to whom the Bishop has given permission to grant the dispensation for a mixed marriage. "Marriage between two baptized persons, one of whom was baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it after baptism, and the other a member of a Church or ecclesial community not in full communion with the Catholic Church, cannot be celebrated without the express permission of the competent authority". 

Fourthly, it must be discussed whether all Christian marriages in other denominations are truly Christian. A reminder that not all congregations which call themselves "Christian" are. For example, Mormons are not Christian, nor are independent churches which baptize in the Name of Jesus only. The lack of a true Trinitarian Baptism, which constitutes the Sacrament, is missing in both cases. In addition, some Christian denominations now allow such practices as words or practices from Hindu or Native America wedding services to be part of the vows, which would invalidate the Christian marriage, as it is no longer Christian but something New Age. This does happen more than one would think. A parent should not witness such a New Age wedding ceremony.

Lastly, the question of disparity of cult was clarified. Here is the ruling: "A marriage between two persons, one of whom was baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it, and the other of whom is not baptized, is invalid". So, as now it is clear that a parent cannot witness a civil union or a union under disparity of cult, it remains for the individuals involved to try and discuss such matters rationally and calmly, being open to the Church's laws which are for the good of our souls.

May I add, especially in England, where this is more common, that woman are not priests. Anglican orders are not valid. One can be confused on both of these issues, but both Pope Leo XIII and Blessed John Paul II wrote documents clarifying both situations. These are found here and there.

This is more common than one would think. I admire and applaud those parents who have not attended, or rather, witnessed such invalid marriages of their baptized offspring. We cannot be complicit in sin or evil and I am afraid that the English are very bad at these types of decisions, so as not to upset family members, who are entering into sinful lifestyles. We cannot judge the degree of ignorance, but we can teach and be witnesses to the Truth, for the sake of the immortal souls of the sons, daughters and those witnessing. The CCC has an excellent section on formation of conscience. Here is the link. And, a few quotations. always proceeds by way of respect for one's neighbor and his conscience: "Thus sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience . . . you sin against Christ."57 Therefore "it is right not to . . . do anything that makes your brother stumble."58
Faced with a moral choice, conscience can make either a right judgment in accordance with reason and the divine law or, on the contrary, an erroneous judgment that departs from them.
Man is sometimes confronted by situations that make moral judgments less assured and decision difficult. But he must always seriously seek what is right and good and discern the will of God expressed in divine law.
To this purpose, man strives to interpret the data of experience and the signs of the times assisted

May I add that Catholic weddings must occur in a Church. No beach weddings, please. And, lax priests who allow this are just plain wrong.

Sadly, not all priests follow the laws. I had one priest tell me he did not want to be bothered with such things. This attitude and willful ignorance impedes the laity in striving for holiness. And, as a reminder, those who have been in cohabitation, that is living in sin, must go to Confession and live chastely before the wedding. A person who is in mortal sin cannot get grace in the Sacrament of Marriage. I shall pray for all who read this.

I dedicate this to my brave two friends, who did not go to a sibling's and a son's wedding.

With apologies to those who hate Valentine's Day

Are my friends in Kent aware that some of the earliest poetry regarding St. Valentine's Day is from John Gower of Kent? Here is a snippet (1400, after Chaucer) in which the Dame Elizabeth Brews writes to her cousin about his wanting to marry her daughter:
 And, cousin mine, upon Monday is Saint Valentine's Day and every bird chooses himself a mate, and if it like you to come on Thursday night, and make provision that you may abide till then, I trust to God that ye shall speak to my husband and I shall pray that we may bring the matter to a conclusion.

And, we have Chaucer's earlier famous line from The Parlement of Foules (1382):
For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne's day  Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.

I guess the Medievals were not chicken about giving valentines. Sorry, had to say that....Take the poll on the side...Will you give or get a valentine?

Praise God for Those Who Answer His Call-A Hermit and the Extraordinary Form

See my post below from last Sunday. 

Fr. David celebrates a Sung High Mass in the Extraordinary Form in the Church of St. Michael the Archangel, Staholmog, Co. Meath.

Sunday: 1pm, 
First Friday: 11am and 
Holy Days announced: 1pm or 11am where no conflict with parish celebrations.