Sunday, July 3, 2016

"Two by Two:" Protecting God's Priests!

Two by two. For these reasons:

1. That the one might aid and support the other, as Origen, Theophylact and S. Gregory say, and that if one were weary or from any cause unable to carry on the work, the other might take his place. “Two are better than one. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth.” Ecc 4:9-10.

Wherefore Pachonius rules: If the Superior permit, let him take a trustworthy companion and then go forth to visit a brother or a neighbour. And again, Let no one be sent on any business unless another go with him. S. Augustine writes, When ye are journeying, walk together—when at your journey’s end, together rest. And so rule all the other founders of the religious orders.
2. That one may always have in the other a witness to his life, and an adviser and guide. Experience teaches us that they who are associated together two by two, rarely or never are tempted to sins of impurity, but that those who are alone lay themselves open to accusations of evil, even if they have not actually fallen away. Hence S. Thomas was wont to say, A monk away from his brethren is an active evil. S. Augustine rules (Reg. cap. xii.), When ye are in a church, or wheresoever there are women, let each protect the other’s modesty. For thus God, who dwelleth in you, will protect you from yourselves. Another writer, S. Jerome, enjoins: If in the exercise of the priestly office, thou art called upon to visit a widow or a virgin, enter not the house alone; and again, Abide not alone with any woman, unless in the presence of a witness. So also S. Basil. Possidonius also tells us that if S. Augustine was asked by any women to visit them, he never entered their house or conversed with them, even on private matters, unless in the presence of some of his clergy. And so S. Charles Borromeo in our times adopted the rule of S. Augustine, for he never conversed with any of his female relations except one of his upper servants was present. (Vita. Lib. vii. cap. vi). And Seneca even (Epist. 25), says, “Solitude tempts us to every evil;” and as a corrective adds, “Without doubt, it is profitable to place a guard over thyself, so as to have some one to look to, some one to be acquainted with the very thoughts;” and adds, from Epicurus, “Do everything as if there was some one beholding thy actions;” and again (Epist. ii.), “Most sins would be avoided, if a man had a witness beside him when he was about to sin.” The Emperor Justinian also (De Monachis), decrees that monks should go about in company, “to bear witness to each other’s integrity.” And Pope Lucian (Epist. i. ad Episc.) decrees, “We exhort you, for reputation’s sake, that according to the rule of our holy Church ye always take with you priests and deacons as witnesses of your life and conversation; for although ye may have a conscience void of offence, yet because of evilly disposed men, it behoveth you, as the Apostle saith, to have a good report amongst them that are without. 1Ti_3:7. Hence we have ordained that, as a testimony to the Church, two priests or three deacons should always and in all places accompany their Bishop.”

Lastly, we have the authority of S. Thomas of Canterbury, a man of great sanctity and wisdom, who says, “I who have been for thirty years a Bishop know how true is the saying, ‘Woe to him that is alone.’ For I have frequently heard of fearful dangers, and fearful scandals having befallen those who either in public or private affect a solitary life, evils into which they would not have fallen had they not shunned the companionship of their fellow men.”

3. That their preaching might be more powerful to persuade. At the mouth of two or of three witnesses shall the matter be established, Deut 19:15. So we find Christ and His apostles constantly acting on this rule. For Christ sent two of His disciples, Peter and John, to loose the ass and to prepare the passover. After the resurrection Cleophas and a companion went to Emmaus. In like manner we find Peter and John often associated together: they run both to the sepulchre, they go up together to pray at the ninth hour, and both are sent to Samaria by the apostles.

So Paul and Barnabas were separated for the work of the Holy Spirit; Silas and Judas, surnamed Barsabas, sent to Antioch; and Paul and Silas to Syria; and according to the universal belief of the Church, Enoch and Elias will re-appear in the time of Antichrist as witnesses to the truth.

Figuratively. S. Gregory (hom. 17. in Evang.) says, The Lord sent His disciples two by two to preach, because the precepts of charity are two, the love of God and the love of our neighbour, and charity cannot exist without at least two, and thereby he silently suggests to us that he who has not love to another ought not to undertake the office of preaching.

So Origen. It seems from the word of God to be an ancient custom, that two should be associated in His service. For God led Israel out of Egypt by the hands of Moses and Aaron. Joshua and Caleb also united together to appease the people. Hence a brother aided by a brother is as a fortified city. So two by two the animals entered into the ark, unclean by natural generation, but cleansed by the sacrament of the Church, by the spiritual grace attendant on the preaching of the disciples. Gloss.

Cf. "Celibacy and Homosexuality"

N.B. Notice that the traditional confessional box, in addition to placing a wall between priest and penitent (so that the twine should never touch!), had two sides, so that there is also, always a witness close at hand!
It baffles me that, with all of the psycho-babble regarding "protecting God's children" and the almost unrelated yet practical ban on visiting priests saying Mass in church, there is no legislation regarding a reform of the confessional back to the traditional form, providing an holy and inviolable environment for all.
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