Sunday, July 30, 2017

Paul Claudel on the Essence of Ad Orientem Liturgy: Ad Deum!

Paul Claudel at Le Figaro (1955): Mass facing the people means there's no longer an Altar
Rorate Cæli

Paul Claudel
Le Figaro
January 23, 1955

I wish to protest with all my strength against the growing practise in France of saying Mass facing the people.

The most basic principle of religion is that God holds first place and that the good of man is merely a consequence of the recognition and the practical application of this essential dogma.

The Mass is the homage par excellence which we render to God by the Sacrifice which the priest offers to Him in our name on the altar of His Son. It is us led by the priest and as one with him, going to God to offer Him hostias et preces [Victims and prayers]. It is not God presenting Himself to us for our convenience to make us indifferent witnesses of the mystery about to be accomplished.

The novel liturgy deprives the Christian people of their dignity and their rights. It is no longer they who say the Mass with the priest, by “following” it, as the saying very rightly goes, and to whom the priest turns from time to time to assure them of his presence, participation and cooperation, in the work which he undertakes in their name. All that remains is a curious audience watching him do his job. Small wonder that the impious compare him to a magician performing his act before a politely admiring crowd.

It is true that in the traditional liturgy the most touching, the most moving part of the Holy Sacrifice is hidden from the view of the faithful. But it is not hidden from their hearts and their faith. To demonstrate this, during Solemn High Masses the sub-deacon stays at the foot of the altar during the Offertory, hiding his face with his left hand.We too are invited to pray, to withdraw into ourselves, not in a spirit of curiosity but of recollection.

In all of the Eastern rites the miracle of transubstantiation takes place unseen by the faithful, behind the iconostasis. It is only afterwards that the celebrant appears on the threshold of the sacred door, the Body and Blood of Christ in his hands.

A vestige of this idea lingered for many years in France, where the old missals did not translate the prayers of the canon. Dom Guéranger protested energetically against those who had the audacity to do away with this custom.

Today’s deplorable practice has turned the ancient ceremony upside down, to the great consternation of the faithful. There is no longer an altar. Where is it, this consecrated stone which the Apocalypse compares to the Body of Christ Itself? There is nothing but a bare trestle covered with a tablecloth, reminding us depressingly of a Calvinist workbench.

Naturally, as the convenience of the faithful was held up as the guiding principle, it was necessary to rid the aforementioned table of the “accessories” cluttering it up: not only the candlesticks and the vases of flowers, but the tabernacle! The very crucifix! The priest says his Mass in a vacuum!When he invites the people to lift up their hearts and their eyes…to what? There is no nothing left in front of us to focus our minds on the Divine.

If the candlesticks and crucifix were kept, the people would be even more excluded than in the old liturgy, because then not only the ceremony but the priest himself would be completely hidden from view.

I would resign myself to this situation with the greatest grief, as henceforth, it would appear that not the slightest spiritual effort will berequired of the common people. It seems necessary to stick the most sublime of mysteries in their faces, to reduce the Mass to the primitive form of the Last Supper and in doing so, change the entire ritual. What is the meaning of Dominus vobiscum [The Lord be with you] and orate fratres [pray brethren] spoken by a priest separated from his people and requiring nothing of them? What is the significance of the sumptuous vestments worn by those we have delegated as ambassadors to the Divinity?

And our churches, is there any reason to leave them as they are?

Meisner and Benedict

Meisner was the bishop in charge for the XX. World Youth Day in August 2005 in the archdiocese in Cologne that attracted more than one million people, the first year of the Benedictine pontificate.

This footage is moving to observe the 79 year old Holy Father on his knees for over ten minutes before the Most Blessed Sacrament before granting the benediction.

This was the event recently mentioned by Pope Emeritus Benedict in his famous message for the funeral of Cardinal Meisner a couple of weeks ago.

Vatican City 11. 7. 2017

At this hour, as the faithful of the church of Cologne and far beyond bid Cardinal Joachim Meisner farewell, my heart and my thoughts are with you, and I am pleased to fulfill Cardinal Woelki’s request to address a word of remembrance to you.

As I learned last Wednesday via telephone of the death of Cardinal Meisner, I initially couldn’t believe it. We had spoken on the telephone to one another just the day before. Gratefulness for finally being able to begin his vacation after having participated in the beatification ceremony of Bishop Teofilius Matulionis in Vilnius on the previous Sunday (25th June) was audible in his voice. Love for the churches in the neighboring countries to the East, which suffered under Communist persecution, as well as an appreciation for their holding fast amidst the suffering of those times made a lifelong impression upon him. And, thus, it is no coincidence that the last visitation of his life was paid in respect to a Confessor of the Faith from those lands.

What particularly impressed me from my last conversations with the now passed Cardinal was the relaxed cheerfulness, the inner joy and the confidence at which he had arrived. We know that this passionate shepherd and pastor found it difficult to leave his post, especially at a time in which the Church stands in particularly pressing need of convincing shepherds who can resist the dictatorship of the spirit of the age and who live and think the faith with determination. However, what moved me all the more was that, in this last period of his life, he learned to let go and to live out of a deep conviction that the Lord does not abandon His Church, even if the boat has taken on so much water as to be on the verge of capsizing.

Of late, two things caused him to become ever more joyful and confident:

For one, he repeatedly related to me how it filled him with profound delight to see how young people, especially young men, experienced the grace of forgiveness in the Sacrament of Confession – the gift of having truly found that life which only God can give them.

The other thing which always touched him anew and put him in a joyful mood was the quiet spread of Eucharistic Adoration. At World Youth Day in Cologne, this was a central concern of his: that there be Adoration – a silence in which only the Lord speaks to the heart. Some experts in pastoral work and liturgy were of the opinion that such silence in contemplation of the Lord could not be achieved with such a large number of people. A few even considered Eucharistic Adoration as such to be obsolete, as the Lord desires to be received in the Eucharistic Bread, and not examined. That, however, one cannot eat this Bread like some common aliment, and that to “receive” the Lord in the Eucharistic Sacrament makes demands upon every dimension of our existence – that to receive must be to adore – has since become once again very clear. Thus, the interlude of the Eucharistic Adoration at the Cologne World Youth Day became an interior event which remained, not only for the Cardinal, unforgettable. This moment remained ever present, like a great light, within him.

When, on his last morning, Cardinal Meisner didn’t appear to Mass, he was found dead in his room. His breviary had slipped from his hands: he died praying, looking to the Lord, speaking with the Lord. The manner of death which was granted to him shows once again how he lived: looking to the Lord and speaking with the Lord. Therefore, we may with confidence recommend his soul to the benevolence of God. Lord, we thank Thee for the witness of Thy servant Joachim. May he be an intercessor for the church of Cologne and for the whole world! Requiescat in pace!

(Signed Benedict XVI)

Benedict XVI at Cologne Cathedral 2005
The largest Gothic Church in the world, Saint Peter's of the North
The first foreign trip of Pope Benedict XVI
In the Cathedral is evident, as with the Meisner funeral, the magnificent children's choirs of Germany!

Thursday, 18 August 2005
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am pleased to be with you this evening, in this city of Cologne to which I am bound by so many beautiful memories. I spent the first years of my academic career in Bonn, unforgettable years of the reawakening of youth, of hope before the Council, years in which I often came to Cologne and learned to love this Rome of the North.

Here one breathes the great history, and the flow of the river brings openness to the world. It is a meeting place, a place of culture. I have always loved the spirit, sense of humour, joyfulness and intelligence of its inhabitants. Besides, I have to say, I loved the catholicity that Cologne's inhabitants have in their blood, for Christians have existed here for almost 2,000 years, so that this catholicity has penetrated the character of the inhabitants in the sense of a joyful religiosity.

Let us rejoice in this today. Cologne can give young people something of its joyful catholicity, which is at the same time both old and young.

It was very beautiful for me that Cardinal Frings gave me his full confidence from the very first, making an authentically fatherly friendship with me. Then, despite my youth and lack of experience, he gave me the great gift of summoning me as his theologian, of bringing me to Rome so that I could take part beside him in the Second Vatican Council and live this extraordinary historical event from close at hand, making some small contribution to it.

I also became acquainted with Cardinal Höffner, then Bishop of Münster, to whom I was likewise bound by a deep and lively friendship. Thanks be to God that this chain of friendships was never broken. Cardinal Meisner has also been my friend for a very long time, so that beginning with Frings and continuing with Höffner and Meisner, I have always been able to feel at home here in Cologne.

I think the time has now come to say "thank you" to so many people with the strong, deep voice of the heart.

In the first place, let us thank the good Lord who gives us the beautiful blue sky and his tangible blessing these days. Let us thank the Mother of God, who has taken the direction of World Youth Day into her hands.

I thank Cardinal Meisner and all his collaborators; Cardinal Lehmann, President of the German Bishops' Conference, and with him, all the Bishops of the German Dioceses, in particular the planning committee in Cologne, but also the Dioceses and local communities which have welcomed the young people in recent days. I can well imagine what all of this entails in terms of energy spent and sacrifices accepted, and I pray that it will bear abundant fruit in the spiritual success of this World Youth Day.

Finally, I cannot fail to express my profound gratitude to the civil and military Authorities, the leaders of the city and region, and the police and security forces of Germany and North Rhine-Westphalia. In the person of the Mayor I thank the people of Cologne for their understanding in the face of this "invasion" by so many young people from all over the world.

The city of Cologne would not be what it is without the Magi, who have had so great an impact on its history, its culture and its faith. Here, in some sense, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany every day of the year! And so, before addressing you, dear inhabitants of Cologne, before greeting you, I wanted to pause for a few moments of prayer before the reliquary of the three Magi, giving thanks to God for their witness of faith, hope and love.

You should know that in 1164 the relics of the Magi were escorted by the Archbishop of Cologne, Reinald von Dassel, from Milan, across the Alps, all the way to Cologne, where they were received with great jubilation. On their pilgrimage across Europe these relics left visible traces behind them which still live on today, both in place names and in popular devotions.

In honour of the Magi the inhabitants of Cologne produced the most exquisite reliquary of the whole Christian world and raised above it an even greater reliquary: Cologne Cathedral. Along with Jerusalem the "Holy City", Rome the "Eternal City" and Santiago de Compostela in Spain, Cologne, thanks to the Magi, has become down the centuries one of the most important places of pilgrimage in the Christian West.

I do not want here to continue to sing the praises of Cologne, although it would be possible and meaningful to do so; it would take too long, for it would be necessary to say too many important and beautiful things about Cologne.

However, I would like to recall that we venerate St Ursula and her companions here; that in 745 the Holy Father named St Boniface Archbishop of Cologne; that St Albert the Great, one of the most learned scholars of the Middle Ages, worked here and that his relics are venerated in the Church of St Andrew; that Thomas Aquinas, the greatest theologian of the West, studied and taught here; that in the 19th century Adolph Kolping founded an important social institution; that Edith Stein, a converted Jew, lived here in Cologne at the Carmelite Convent before being forced to flee to the Convent of Echt in Holland to be deported subsequently to Auschwitz, where she died a martyr. Thanks to these and all the other figures, both known and unknown, Cologne possesses a rich legacy of saints.

I would like to add, at least as far as I know, that here in Cologne one of the Magi has been identified as a Moorish King of Africa, so that a representative of the African Continent has been seen as one of Jesus Christ's first witnesses.

I would also like to add that it was here in Cologne that important exemplary initiatives sprang up whose action has spread across the world, namely: Misereor, Adveniat and Renovabis.

Now you yourselves are here, dear young people from throughout the world. You represent those distant peoples who came to know Christ through the Magi and who were brought together as the new People of God, the Church, which gathers men and women from every culture.

Today, it is your task, dear young people, to live and breathe the Church's universality. Let yourselves be inflamed by the fire of the Spirit, so that a new Pentecost may be created among you and renew the Church.

Through you, may other young people everywhere come to recognize in Christ the true answer to their deepest aspirations, and may they open their hearts to receive the Word of God Incarnate, who died and rose so that God might dwell among us and give us the truth, love and joy for which we are all yearning.

God bless these days!

© Copyright 2005 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Male Female Difference in Brain Structure and Function

¿Qué hago si mi media naranja es toronja? / What Should I do if My Half Orange is Grapefruit?: Guía para comprender, tolerar y amar a nuestra pareja ... our partner using the brain (Spanish Edition)

Jesús Amaya, Trillas, 2005.

Friday, July 28, 2017


Having just heard an otherwise fine sermon which categorized Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as the catechist pope par excellence and Pope Francis as the evangelizing pope par excellence, that designation just does not ring true.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was the pope of the primacy of God, thus the philosopher/theologian pope par excellence, and yes, most certainly, firmly grounded in the Catechism and catechesis.

Pope Francis, though, for all of his enthusiasm, I am not sure what kind of a pope he is. It is not at all obvious. Evangelists do not confuse people. They shed light, not doubt, with the Gospel. If the evangelist sows doubt regarding the faith he must be forgetting his catechism, and is therefore no evangelists at all. Pope France is the Jesuit pope, or, if you prefer, the Argentinian pope par excellence, viz. an enigma with, at best, uncertain results.

"For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?" I Cor. 14:8

Thursday, July 27, 2017

...Qui enim habet, dabitur ei, et abundabit...

"For to him who has shall be given, and it/he shall abound..."
Matt. 13:12 (from today's OF gospel, as well as two Sundays ago: 15th Sunday per annum, A).

Saint Thomas Aquinas' Commentary mentions four goods which, for those who have it, it is given to him and : desiderium, studium, caritas and fides.

Consider, in this regard, who gets more, the infant at the breast or the mother providing the milk? Only a heartless materialist would say that the child gets more. "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Acts 20:23 An apostolic image also of providential God. Cf. Psalm 144:15.

Here is the full Aquinas citation.

Aliquid enim est quod habet homo cui datur. Et quid est illud? Dicendum quod quatuor sunt praeparatoria ad hoc quod detur aliquid. Primum est desiderium. Unde si vis habere scientiam, praeoccupat desiderium, ut habetur Sap. VI, v. 21: concupiscentia sapientiae deducit ad regnum perpetuum. Et supra VII, 7: petite, et accipietis. Unde qui habet, desiderium, dabitur ei, et abundabit, quia ipse est qui dat abundanter omnibus, et non improperat, Iac. c. I, 5. Qui autem non habet, et si aliquam videatur habere aptitudinem ad sapientiam, vel iustitiam, et sit tepidus id quod videtur habere, et non habet, auferetur ab eo. Unde Chrysostomus: si vides tepidum, debes admonere quod desistat: et si non vult, dimitte eum. Apoc. III, 16: utinam calidus esses, aut frigidus; sed quia tepidus es, et nec frigidus, nec calidus, incipiam te evomere ex ore meo. Secundum quod requiritur est studium; et haec est expositio Remigii. Unde qui habet bonum ingenium, et non studet, non proficiet. Unde qui habet studium, illi dabitur sapientia, et abundabit; Prov. II, v. 4: si quaesieris eam quasi pecuniam, et sicut thesauros effoderis illam, tunc intelliges timorem domini, et scientiam Dei invenies. Qui autem non habet, studium, quod videtur habere, scilicet ingenium naturale, non proficiet, sed auferetur ab eo. Tertium quod requiritur est caritas: quia caritas omnium virtutum radix est et omnium bonorum operum. Apostolus ad Eph. III, 17: in caritate radicati et fundati. Unde si habes, scilicet caritatem, prorumpes in omne opus bonum; apostolus I Cor. XIII, 4: caritas patiens est, benigna est. Unde si non habes, totum siccatur. Unde quodcumque bonum habet homo sine caritate, nihil est, quia qui non diligit, manet in morte, I Io. III, 14. Quartum quod requiritur, est fides, quia qui fidem non habent, alia bona parum valent; Sap. I, 2: apparet autem eis qui fidem habent in illum. Et Rom. X, 10: corde creditur ad iustitiam, ore autem confessio fit ad salutem. Et qui non habet iustitiam fidei, id quod videtur habere, sive naturale, sive morale, auferetur ab eo. Apostolus ad Rom. XIV, 23: omne quod non est ex fide, peccatum est. Dico ergo quod datum est vobis, quia vos habetis fidem, illis autem non est datum. Sed hic cavendum est de quodam errore, quia videtur quod ex studio et bonis naturalibus possemus acquirere gloriam aeternam. Sed Paulus dicit: quid habes quod non accepisti? Unde et desiderium, et studium, et caritas, et fides, omnia haec sunt a Deo.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie

Two things I have asked of thee, deny them not to me before I die.

--Remove far from me vanity, and lying words.

--Give me neither beggary, nor riches: give me only the necessaries of life:

Lest perhaps being filled, I should be tempted to deny, and say: Who is the Lord?
or being compelled by poverty, I should steal, and forswear the name of my God.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Full Use of the Rituale Romanum

While Father Ryan T. Ruiz in the July 2017 issue of Adoremus Bulletin rightly and briefly explains that the form of the Rituale Romanum approved by Summorum Pontificum is that which was approved by 1962, there is the broader issue regarding the legislation in the new book of blessings, De Benedictionibus (1984), and the relationship between the two rituals.

The 1984 ritual, which excludes the rituals for the administration of the sacraments, repeatedly emphasizes the adaptability of the blessing rituals to particular circumstances. So that the priest is free to invent it according to his wit and holy desire, maintaining the general structure of the ceremony. That being the case, there can be no restriction to the use of any or all elements of the blessing rituals of the Church from traditional rituals of the past in whatever language he sees fit and in the translation he might prefer, even making it up himself. The priest determines the particular adaptation of the blessings. For example, free use of the blessings in the 1964 English translation texts of the Collectio Rituum must certainly be allowed and even encouraged under that very broad 1984 ritual norm. Furthermore, there is no Spanish translation of the Collectio Rituum. The priest, under the liberal 1984 legislation, is encouraged to make his own faithful translations, even, when necessary, ad libitum, for the glory of God and the good of the Church. Pope Benedict's motu proprio regarding this simply reaffirmed this regarding the traditional Latin texts, what was already law from 1984.

N.B. I will often give a brief instruction explaining in the vernacular the wording of the blessing and then say it in Latin according to the 1962 dispensation, though the same blessings in the vernacular cannot be forbidden when priests are encouraged to even make up their own spontaneous prayers for every manner of blessing.

Cf. De benedictionibus, Caput XLI Ordo benedictionis pro variis circumstantiis, 1246. Ordo, qui hic præbetur, adhiberi potest tum a sacerdote, tum a diacono, tum a laico, ritibus et formulis pro ipso prævisis, qui omnes, ritus structura et potioribus elementis servatis, personarum et locorum adiunctis singulas partes aptabunt.

Episcopal Ring Ambiguity

It is commonly and academically said that the episcopal ring signifies the spiritual marriage of a bishop with his diocese. But bishops change dioceses today like men change their consorts, alas!, shuffled around like so many pieces on a chessboard, even often themselves vying for another post, all under the authority of the Roman Pontiff. So the ring surely cannot mean a permanent commitment to the diocese the way the wedding band signifies the vow of "until death do us part." There is no such vow on the part of the bishop to wed his diocese. Would that it were so! It would solve some major power issues of the Church today. That would also, incidentally, eliminate the retirement of the bishop.

Bishops move and leave their dioceses for a further appointment by the Pope, and bishops are required by law to retire at age 75. In both ways the bishop's commitment and relationship to his diocese is not like marriage, not at all permanent. The bishop's commitment to the diocese is a temporary contract, let's not confuse holy, indissoluble, marriage with that ephemeral bond.

We certainly need a better interpretation for the bishop ring.

Cf. "The ring is the symbol of the spiritual marriage of the Bishop with his Church. The pontifical ring, adorned with a large gem, must be loose enough to be worn over the gloved finger." A Synthetic Manual of Liturgy, Arian Vigourel, Baltimore: Murphy, 57.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Cologne Reform of the Reform: Meisner Requiem


Mass in
Cologne Cathedral

Edifying is the 26:00 minute of the men bearing the banners of Catholic societies of Cologne, heading the procession before the final ascent to the Cathedral portal.

Also noteworthy is that the clergy are in cassock and surplice, in choir, not a mass concelebration. Black vestments for all.
Numerous Roman chasubles among concelebrating prelates.

Not sure why there is no pall on the coffin. A black pall.

At minute 54:00 you can see the place where he will rest in the middle of the sanctuary floor.

Then 59:30 for the Fauré introit! Magnificence!

What about the dozens of torches at the Gospel! 1:26:00. All men.

The Agnus Dei was impressive, Mozart Coronation Mass.
The Adeste Fideles was a bit shocking until I remembered that the Cathedral of Cologne gloriously enshrines the relics of the Three Wise Men.

An ovation for the message of the Pope Emeritus.

The pall bearers even lowered the casket! Amidst the eerie background sound of the bell toll from the enormous bells of the cathedral.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Romanticism: "a Half Way House Between Nihilism and Catholicism"

H.G. Schenk, The Mind of the European Romantics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979, xviii, quoted in Tracey Rowland's Benedict XVI: A Guide for the Perplexed, New York: T&T Clark, 2010, 9.

Here is the full quote, a good definition of romanticism.

"...[The] 'Romantic movement' synonymous with rural beauty and pastoral contentment and sometimes aching sexual passions, mostly unrequited. The collective common factor is an aversion to the ugliness of the industrialized world and its highly rationalistic and materialistic culture, and a reverence for the natural order and its beauty. The movement had strong appeal for artists and intellectuals, that is, for those who wanted their lives to be something more than a contribution to the cold god of industry and capital. it emphasized such concepts as individuality or the personal uniqueness of each and every human being, the importance of memory and the motions of the human heart, the significance of cultures and traditions and the transcendental of beauty, especially as the latter is revealed in nature. H.G. Schenk described it as 'a half way house between nihilism and Catholicism'...Thus, Nietzsche and...Heidegger can be found at one end of the spectrum and Joseph Ratzinger and Hans Urs von Balthasar at the other. While the publication of Aeterni Patris in 1879 fostered a hyper-rationalist neo-scholasticism to out-reason the rationalists, in Baden-Wüttenberg and Lucerne and among English convert intellectuals and Anglo-Catholics, other currents of thought had been engaged with the concern of the Romantics. While they did not eschew the importance of truth or the work of the intellect, their starting point was the whole human person and the quest for self transcendence. They chose to enter the controversy about the relationship between faith and reason only after deepening their understanding of the relationship between faith and history. History in turn opens onto the terrain of memory and tradition and ultimately hermeneutics.

"In Germany the centre of this Catholic engagement with Romantic thought was to be found at the University of Tübingen. Its leading theologians were Johann Sebastian Drew (1777-1853); Johann Adam Möhler (1796-1838) and Johannes Evangelist von Kuhn (1806-1887). As Grant Kaplan has noted, they followed the lead of Schelling in rejecting Kant's project of stripping the positive and historical from Christianity, of proclaiming Christianity as a pure religion of reason. They also eschewed the post-Kantian tendency to reduce Christianity to the level of an ehtical framework. Drey emphasixze that the Catholci faith is a religion of 'sentiment' (Gemüth) as well as of reason (Verstand), and that revelation is itself an historical event. This in turn highlighted the importance of the individual in the reception of revelation. Following the logic of Lessing's Education of the Human Race, Drey concluded that what education is for the individual, revelation is for all of humanity. Similiarly, von Kuhn described the philosophy of Christian revelation as 'the presence of Christ revealed historically, not dialectically'. Meanwhile Möhler added to this accent on history by positing an organic unity between the Christian community and Christ. As Kaplan explained, for Möhler 'the chain of history from nineteenth-century Swabia to first-century Palestine is unbroken. In order to be salvific, the saving truth of Christianity must have been present, even in a truncated form, for ever generation of believers'. This is because access to the truth occurs by living the truth. In a work published in 1988, Joseph Ratzinger was to describe Möhler as 'the great reviver of Catholic theology after the ravages of the Enlightenment'." 9-10

Cf. Dawson on Romanticism

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Why Premarital Sex Is Wrong, Genetically

by Nathan Smith, The Witherspoon Institute
within Science, Sexuality

July 20th, 2017

In 1960, most Americans held the traditional Christian belief, shared by Muslims and Jews, that premarital sex is wrong. Since then, public opinion has changed, and most people now think that premarital sex is okay, even healthy and good.
Our grandparents were right, and we are wrong. To see this today, we can add to their accumulated wisdom arguments that draw some premises from evolutionary psychology, the school of thought that explains human instincts as a set of strategies for the survival and propagation of our “selfish genes.” It has often been noticed that evolutionary psychology confirms many gender stereotypes; it turns out that it can also, when combined with some commonsense ethics, support a new defense of traditional moral views on sex.

Evolutionary psychology shows why casual, no-strings-attached sex does not come naturally to people and why they can’t, ultimately, be satisfied with it. Men are eager for it and use women for pleasure when they can get away with it, but women are naturally choosy and coy. They prefer sex in the context of a committed relationship. Premarital sex is messy and troublesome because of inherent conflicts of interest between men’s and women’s selfish genes. In this respect, it contrasts sharply with marriage, which creates a harmony of genetic interests.

Instincts, Ethics, and the Selfish Genes

Richard Dawkins coined the phrase “selfish genes” to elucidate how evolution can explain altruistic behavior. Though the altruist may not serve his own interests, he serves the “interests” of his genes.

Humans often feel instinctive impulses to help others, but most of these arise from the strategies of our genes to help themselves. The simplest example of this is the instinctive altruism of parents toward their children. Parents make sacrifices, but their genes live on. Selfish genes influence us at a sub-rational level, feeding us desires, impulses, reflexes, and preoccupations—in a word, instincts.

Ethically, these instincts are not inherently either good or bad. C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, explained it best, when he compared instincts to keys on a piano, and ethics to the pianist. No piano key is, in itself, a right or a wrong note, but each is a right or wrong note at a given moment in a piece of music. Likewise, our instincts are all good at certain moments in life, bad at others. The task of ethics is not to obey or to suppress instincts indiscriminately, but to govern them reasonably. Reason—a faculty belonging to the soul and irreducible to genes, molecules, or material forces—discerns the ends for which we should make use of our instincts.

Evolutionary psychology elucidates not human nature as a whole, but the part of human nature that Paul called “the flesh.” As a result of the Fall, humans have lived for hundreds or thousands of generations in conditions of competition and scarcity, and genes had to be “selfish” to retain market share in the human gene pool all that time. That is why even those who doubt or deny that all life emerged from evolutionary processes should recognize the merit in arguments from the selfish genes.

To govern our instincts well, we need to understand them. We cannot forget that evolution operates slowly, so our selfish genes are stuck in a time warp. Human instincts seem to be designed to help us survive and reproduce not under modern conditions but in “the environment of evolutionary adaptation,” that is, in the Stone Age. We like salt, sugar, and fat too much, because these elements of our diet were especially scarce in the Stone Age. Similarly, to generalize broadly, men enjoy video games and sports, because they were hunters in the Stone Age, while women, genetically adapted to be Stone Age gatherers, enjoy shopping.

Above all, the selfish genes care about sex, since that is how they propagate themselves. Evolutionary psychology is a rich source of testable, successful hypotheses about men and women and sexual desire and behavior.

The Sexual Double Standard

Men and women are different. They have to be, because men and women, in the Stone Age, faced very different reproductive opportunities, and their strategies had to adapt. Men’s costs to beget offspring are low (sex doesn’t take long), but females’ costs (pregnancy, childbirth, nursing, etc.) are high. Men need not economize their abundant semen, so they seek quantity of women.

Women, whose wombs are a scarce resource, seek quality. Women are naturally choosy, preferring mates with good genes and abundant resources. They are coy, reluctant to have sex except in the context of a committed relationship. Both strategies address the severe risk of abandonment by men, in whom “dad” instincts to guard and guide their offspring compete with “cad” instincts to score with as many woman as they can. Before mating, women instinctively seek commitment and parental investment from their mates. Women look to the future, focusing on affection and attachment.

Men’s main worry, if they do settle down to be dads, is to make sure the kids they are raising are really their own. That depends heavily on the sexual history and propensities of their mates. Men focus on physical fidelity and look to the present and the past. In particular, they instinctively prefer to marry virgins. Virginity signals that a woman doesn’t easily yield to seduction, isn’t yet pregnant with another man’s child, and has no sexual loyalties to rival those she will feel towards him. This instinctive male preference for virgins is the basis for the old sexual double standard, which regards a woman—but not a man—as dishonored by fornication.

The double standard offends modern sensibilities, and Christian sensibilities as well. Christianity has always risen above the sexual double standard by insisting that a man’s body belongs to his wife as much as hers belongs to him. Contraception, moreover, seems to rob the double standard of its rationale, since it allows women to have promiscuous sex without much risk of pregnancy. Similarly, DNA tests can ensure paternity certainty better than the old male strategies of virgin preference and sexual jealousy ever could.

But the selfish genes don’t know about modern sensibilities, or Christianity, or contraceptives, or DNA tests. They are very subtle after their fashion but absurdly out of date. They can’t inspire or tempt us to propagate them optimally under modern conditions. They feed us instincts suitable for the Stone Age, and reason and religion cannot erase the influence of instinct on most people’s behavior. And so the double standard remains.

In light of the double standard, the reasons why men and women should be chaste are different. Women should be chaste primarily from prudence. Men should be chaste primarily for the sake of justice.

Female Chastity as Prudence

For a woman, to have premarital sex is, first of all, to risk pregnancy as an unwed mother, with great costs and risks to herself and her child. Contraception can greatly mitigate this risk, though it doesn’t eliminate it; in a typical year, almost 5% of American women ages fifteen to forty-four unintentionally get pregnant.

Feminine instincts and bonding hormones can make a woman feel deeply—and perhaps unexpectedly—attached to her sexual partner and her unintended progeny. If her partner leaves her, she may suffer emotionally. If he is a poor mate for the long run, she may still find it hard to leave him. If she is surprised to discover that she wants to be a mother, he may not want to be a father. If she does leave him, he may get possessive, abusive, and violent.

Chastity is a good marriage market strategy. Cultural changes have probably weakened male virgin preference, but it would be rash for a woman to assume that it has completely disappeared and won’t come back. If she does marry, her future husband will probably be grateful if she is a virgin. If she is not, he may secretly wish that she had been and suffer from jealousy.

With all these downsides, premarital sex is imprudent for women. A secondary reason for women to be chaste is to avoid disappointing parents and siblings, who instinctively value her chastity.

Male Chastity as Justice

A man should avoid premarital sex principally to avoid injustice to women. Justice is giving what is owed. The feeling that a man owes something to a woman he has had sex with, even if there was no explicit quid pro quo, is a stubborn one, of which Jackson Browne’s song “Call it a Loan” is one of many poignant expressions. It stands to reason that the nature of that debt varies, depending on what was said and left unsaid between them, what society’s expectations are, and so forth. But in general, we know from evolutionary psychology that sex makes women feel a sense of attachment and belonging. A man who causes this feeling in a woman becomes responsible for fulfilling it.

Men are tempted to exploit women for pleasure and prestige, and need to be on their guard against this temptation. Exploitation is worst when the woman is underage or drunk or emotionally unstable, or when the man uses a position of power to intimidate her, tells lies to impress her, promises to marry her, conceals his marriage to someone else, gets her pregnant, or exposes her to a sexually transmitted disease. But the bottom line is that if he serves his own pleasure at the expense of her welfare, that’s exploitation. If he knew, or could have known if he thought about it, that she’d regret it the morning after, that’s exploitation. And if he knew, or could have known, that she’d regret it one year, or five years, or fifteen years later, when she’s wasted some or most or all of her remaining reproductive years on a guy who wouldn’t marry her, that’s exploitation, too. “He used me” is a standard—and just, and accurate—complaint made by women against men they’ve had sex with.

“Consent” is the standard defense of the modern seducer, but it’s inadequate. What did she consent to? He can’t assume it was just sex, full stop. Women are instinctively forward-looking. She probably wanted more, even if she didn’t articulate it. Her instincts will want more even if she did not consciously want it at the time. It’s not fair to expect her to have kept track of all his words and to ask no more of him than he explicitly promised. To do so is to insist that pillow talk be treated as seriously as the language of lawyers negotiating a contract. A just man must recognize that lovers’ talk is a kind of verbal foreplay, a sublimation of sexual desire, often beautiful and well worth enjoying, but not capable of dissolving duties founded on the more permanent and objective facts of sexual instinct. The only ethically safe course is either to marry a woman or else to leave her chastity intact.

The Magic of Marriage

Humans are intensely ambivalent about sex, regarding it by turns as vulgar, gross, and unseemly, or as sublime and beautiful. We place rape among the worst of crimes, while romantic love is one of life’s crowning glories, the theme of half the novels and songs the human race has written. The deceit and damage involved in so much premarital sex—cool dude bangs insecure girl and turns her into a single mom on welfare for life—fully justifies the repugnance that is one side of this ambivalence.

On the other side is the glory of marriage, and while there’s more to that glory than the selfish genes can explain, they shed an important light on it. For when two people marry, “leaving father and mother” as the Bible says and committing to lifelong monogamy, their genetic interests are united, at least approximately, creating a harmony of instincts. Ordinarily, our instincts put us in competition with our fellow human beings. In marriage, instinct is on the side of love.

Children are the large, obvious reason why marriage is good for society and why premarital sex isn’t. Sexual relationships always absorb a lot of people’s energy and attention, so they impoverish society unless they give something back. Marriage makes the next generation, under the most favorable conditions. Premarital sex is usually not intended for procreation, and if it does result in children, they enter life at a disadvantage because they lack stable parental commitments to raising them.

But even compared to childless marriage, premarital sex has an unwholesome character because, by failing to address genetic conflicts of interest through marriage, it allows competition, exploitation, and fear of betrayal to penetrate into the heart of the most intimate human relationships, not stealthily, but openly and as if by right. There is no way to make premarital sex promote the good of society or of the individuals involved. The world would be a better place if it never happened at all.

Nathan Smith, PhD, is a writer living in Little Rock, Arkansas, author of Principles of a Free Society and The Verdict of Reason: Why Gay Marriage Cannot Be the Real Thing and Should Not Be Recognized in Law.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Moyses: Primus Salvus!

Today's OF first reading relates the saving of Moses, Exodus 2:1-15a.

The Navarra Bible commentary calls him "el primer salvado," the first one saved.

"Lo importante es que Moisés es 'el primer salvado', como lo es el pueblo hebreo, y que Dios lo cuida de modo extraordinario para la misión excepcional que le tiene reservada."
     Sagrada Biblia I, Pentateuco, Pamplona: Eunsa, 1997, 285.

Moyses, Primus Salvus!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Anti-Clericalism: The One Acceptable Prejudice/Intolerance

"The Patriotic Weight Loss Machine"

"...Voltaire [remarked] that Newton, Locke and Clarke would have been persecuted in France, imprisoned at Rome, burned at Lisbon. This zeal for toleration did not, however, prevent him from expressing lively satisfaction when in 1761 he heard it reported that three priests had been burned at Lisbon by the anti-clerical government."

A History of Philosophy Volume VI: Modern Philosophy, From the French Enlightenment to Kant, Frederick Copleston, SJ, New York: Doubleday, 1994. 18-19.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Defect Leads Most of the Time to Slavery: Plato Laws, 729 A

Andrei Rublev

Platone: breviario, Marcellino ed., Milan: Rusconi, 1995.

Here, the context, Plato, Laws 728d-730a

Wherefore the soul is put second (The first place belongs to the gods ([i.e. to Divine Reason]) in order of honor; as for the third, everyone would conceive that this place naturally belongs to the honor due to the body. But here again one has to investigate the various forms of honor,—which of them are genuine, which spurious; and this is the lawgiver's task. Now he, as I suppose, declares that the honors are these and of these kinds:—the honorable body is not the fair body nor the strong nor the swift nor the large, nor yet the body that is sound in health, although this is what many believe; neither is it a body of the opposite kind to any of these; rather those bodies which hold the mean position between all these opposite extremes are by far the most temperate and stable; for while the one extreme makes the souls puffed up and proud, the other makes them lowly and spiritless. The same holds good of the possession of goods and chattels, and they are to be valued on a similar scale. In each case, when they are in excess, they produce enmities and feuds both in States and privately, while if they are deficient they produce, as a rule, serfdom. And let no man love riches for the sake of his children, in order that he may leave them as wealthy as possible; for that is good neither for them nor for the State. For the young the means that attracts no flatterers, yet is not lacking in things necessary, is the most harmonious of all and the best; for it is in tune with us and in accord, and thus it renders our life in all respects painless. To his children it behooves a man to bequeath modesty, not money, in abundance. We imagine that chiding the young for their irreverence is the way to bequeath this; but no such result follows from the admonition commonly given nowadays to the young, when people tell them that “youth must reverence everyone.” Rather will the prudent lawgiver admonish the older folk to reverence the young, and above all to beware lest any of them be ever seen or heard by any of the young either doing or saying anything shameful; for where the old are shameless, there inevitably will also the young be very impudent. The most effective way of training the young—as well as the older people themselves—is not by admonition, but by plainly practicing throughout one's own life the admonitions which one gives to others. By paying honor and reverence to his kinsfolk, and all who share in the worship of the tribal gods and are sprung from the same blood, a man will, in proportion to his piety, secure the goodwill of the gods of Birth to bless his own begetting of children. Further, a man should regard contracts made with strangers as specially sacred; for practically all the sins against Strangers are—as compared with those against citizens—connected more closely with an avenging deity. For the stranger, inasmuch as he is without companions or kinsfolk, is the more to be pitied by men and gods; wherefore he that is most able to avenge succors them most readily, and the most able of all, in every case, is the Strangers' daemon and god, and these follow in the train of Zeus Xenios (The supreme Guardian of the rights of hospitality). Whoso, then, is possessed of but a particle of forethought will take the utmost care to go through life to the very end without committing any offence in respect of Strangers. Of offences against either Strangers or natives, that which touches suppliants is in every case the most grave; for when a suppliant, after invoking a god as witness, is cheated of his compact, that god becomes the special guardian of him who is wronged, so that he will never be wronged without vengeance being taken for his wrongs.

Friday, July 7, 2017

"The Most Beautiful and Most Profound Texts on the Eucharist and its Human Significance, with the New Understanding of the Christian Concept of Sacrifice in an Hitherto Unsurpassed Persuasiveness and Sublimity: City of God Book X" --Joseph Ratinger

Thus the 2011 prologue to his first doctoral thesis on Augustine: Gesammelte Schriften I: Volk und Haus Gottes in Augustins Lehre von der Kirche, Freiburg: Herder, 2011, 8-9.

Below is one of the chapters of that same book ten of The City of God so praised by Ratzinger.

Book x Chapter 6
Of the true and perfect sacrifice

A true every work done in order that we may draw near to God in holy fellowship: done, that is, with reference to that supreme good and end in which alone we can be truly blessed. Therefore, even the mercy which we extend to men is not a sacrifice if it is not given for God's sake. For, though performed or offered by man, a sacrifice is a divine thing, as the Latin authors of old showed when they used the word sacrificium. Thus, a man who is consecrated in the name of God and pledged to God is himself a sacrifice insofar as he dies to the world so that he may live to God. (Cf. Rom. 6,11) For this too pertains to mercy: to that mercy which each man shows to himself. And so it is written, 'Have mercy on thy soul by pleasing God.' (Ecclus. 30,24) Our body also is a sacrifice when we chasten it by temperance, if we do so, as we ought, for God's sake, so that we may not yield our members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but as instruments of righteousness unto God. (Cf. Rom. 6,16f.)  The apostle exhorts us to this when he says: 'I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercy of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.' (Rom. 12,1) The body, then, which, because it is inferior, the soul uses as a servant or instrument, is a sacrifice when it is used rightly and with reference to God. And, if this is so, how much more does the soul itself become a sacrifice when it directs itself to God so that, inflamed with the fire of His love, it may receive His beauty and be pleasing to Him, losing the form of worldly desire and being reformed immutably by its submission to Him! This, indeed, the apostle adds in what follows, when he says: 'And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed in the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.' (Rom. 12,2)

Since, therefore, true sacrifices are works of mercy shown to ourselves or to our neighbours, and done with reference to God; and since works of mercy have no object other than to set us free from misery and thereby make us blessed; and since this cannot be done other than through that good of which it is said, 'It is good for me to be very near to God': (Psalm 73,28) it surely follows that the whole of the redeemed City--that is, the congregation and fellowship of the saints--is offered to God as a universal sacrifice for us through the great High Priest Who, in His Passion, offered even Himself for us in the form of a servant, so that we might be the body of so great a head. (Cf. Phil. 2,7) For it was this form that he offered, and in it that he was offered, because it is according to it that he is a our Mediator. In this form He is our Priest; in it, He is our sacrifice. Thus, when the apostle has exhorted us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, our reasonable service, and not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed in the renewing of our mind, that we might prove what is that good, and acceptable , and perfect will of God, that is, the true sacrifice of ourselves, he says: 'For I say, through the grace of God which is given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to deal soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For, as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members of one another, having gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us.' (Rom. 12,3) This is the sacrifice of Christians; 'We, being many, are one body in Christ.' And this also, as the faithful know, is the sacrifice which the Church continually celebrates in the sacrament of the altar, by which she demonstrates that she herself is offered in the offering that she makes to God.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Christian Humanism, Root of the Higher Culture of Modern Europe and America, Carried by Jesuit Ratio Studiorum

1586 re-erection of  Vatican obelisk, Domenico Fontana

"...[U]nder the influence of humanism, Catholic and Protestant Europe shared a common type of culture. The educated classes studied the same languages in the same way, read the same books and accepted the same ideal pattern of 'the scholar and the gentleman' which had been laid down in the standard courtesy books of the Italian Renaissance--above all in Baldassare Castiglione's book of The Courtier (1538), which was translated into almost every Western European language. In spite of the religious divisions of Europe, the world of learning and literature and art remained an international community, so that even during the Wars of Religion, scholars and scientists corresponded with one another, and Englishmen and Germans continued to visit Italy, like Milton, and to study at Padua, like William Harvey... 38-39

"...[In the new national literature] the men of that age were more conscious than those of any other time that they were heirs of a double tradition and that they all in greater or less degree were at home in two world--the world of classical antiquity and the Christian world. They had discovered a new world of knowledge without losing the old world of faith. From the time of Petrarch to that of Milton, the Christian humanists represent the main tradition of Western culture, and their influence still dominated education and literature and art. The secularization of Western culture dates not from the Renaissance or the Reformation but from the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century." 42

"[T]he Church used the new art and music and drama as the Church of the Middle Ages had done in the past. It was the permeation of Renaissance art and literature by the religious spirit of the Catholic revival which gave birth to the Baroque culture...

"The carriers of this culture were the new religious orders, above all the Society of Jesus, which played a similar part in European culture in the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to that which the Benedictines had played in the early Middle Ages or the Franciscans and Dominicans in the thirteenth century. Like them, the Jesuits owed their influence above all to their educational activities; and as the Benedictines had based their teaching on an adaptation of the classical education of the later Roman Empire to Christian aims, so now the Jesuits adapted the new classical education of the humanists of the Renaissance to the religious ideals of the Counter-Reformation. The Jesuit Ratio Studiorum belongs to the same tradition as [the other] humanist treatises on education... It was, however, more limited and more practical in its aims. Its originality lay in its technique and organization rather than in its subject matter. Nevertheless it did more than anything else to establish a common international standard of higher education, so that even in Protestant Europe the Jesuit schools met with the approval of such a revolutionary critic of education as Francis Bacon. ('As for the Pedagogical part, the shortest rule would be 'consult the schools of the Jesuits,' for nothing better has been put in practice.' Bacon de Augmentis Scientiarum, Bk. VI, ch. iv.)

Christopher Dawson, The Crisis of Western Education, London: Sheed and Ward, 1961.

Pope Benedict Corrects a Page in the Relativism Handbook, in his Defense of the Integral Holiness of the Roman Ritual

"What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful."
Pope Benedict XVI on the traditional Catholic rituals.

I was reminded of that statement when I read this categorically opposite statement by Herder, a pioneer of cultural relativism:

"Could it be that what a nation at one time considers good, fair, useful, pleasant, true, it considers at another time bad, ugly, useless, unpleasant, false? -- And yet this happens! observes...that ruling customs, that favorite concepts of honor, of merit, of what is useful can blind an age with a magical light, that a taste in these and those sciences can constitute the tone of a century, and yet all this dies with the century."
Johann Gottfried Herder, Philosophical Writings, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002, 256 (Referenced in Maria Baghramian, Relativism, New York: Routledge, 2004, 69).

What may be true of nations and centuries (albeit, of course, only in a limited sense, because there are a great many obvious and permanent truths regarding the world, man and God, e.g. all men are born and die within a relatively short span) it is certainly false regarding the Church and her Tradition. "The gates of Hell will not prevail against Her!" Matthew 16:18

The continuation of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite is a exercise of that Divine permanence, at least as important as the preservation of the other ancient Rites of the Church, for us of the Greco-Roman Western heritage. The Catholic faith is not relative, it is universal and trans-historical. It's heritage is from Saint Peter, Christ, King David, Moses, Abraham, Adam, God!

If You Consent to Someone Else's Sin, You are Sinning

Pantocrator: Hagia Sophia

The Penny Catechism lists nine ways to cause or share the guilt of another's sin.

1. By counsel
2. By command
3. By consent
4. By provocation
5. By praise or flattery
6. By concealment
7. By being a partner in sin
8. By silence
9. By defending the ill done

Qui tacet consentit or qui tacet consentire videtur si loqui debuisset ac potuisset is a principle of jurisprudence: silence gives consent. If you should and could have said something, in the face of obstinate evil, it is not neutral to keep quiet. You are guilty too.

P.S. This thought comes in response to yesterday's gospel/post which distinguishes good peace and bad peace. Bad peace is actually war in disguise. It's a cover-up, and Christ comes to have it out! Christ does not tolerate sin in any form, nor do his followers. "I came to bring the sword, not peace," says the Lord. Matthew 10:34

Sunday, July 2, 2017

How Christ Brings Dissension to Family, to Oppose Bad Agreements Among Men

Today's OF gospel is from Matthew 10:37ff. But the omitted preceding verses are important to understand the cause of the dissension: false peace!

Saint Thomas' commentary on verse 34 ("I have come to bring a sword, not peace") distinguishes between two types of peace: good and bad. The name peace means concord. There is a bad peace (i.e. bad agreements among men). Wisdom 14:22 In Evangelium Matthaei, Caput X.

That is a passage about men serving either their affections or their kings to give up true worship for false worship, which resulted in total social disorder, all agreed upon by men! The parallel's with our democratic age are serious: killing the babies and confusing marriage and sexual morality, all agreed upon by men "in a great war of ignorance," such great evils, which they call "peace" and "independence."

Wisdom 14:22-26
And it was not enough for them to err about the knowledge of God, but whereas they lived in a great war of ignorance, they call so many and so great evils peace.
For either they sacrifice their own children, or use hidden sacrifices, or keep watches full of madness,
So that now they neither keep life, nor marriage undefiled, but one killeth another through envy, or grieveth him by adultery:
And all things are mingled together, blood, murder, theft and dissimulation, corruption and unfaithfulness, tumults and perjury, disquieting of the good,
Forgetfulness of God, defiling of souls, changing of nature, disorder in marriage, and the irregularity of adultery and uncleanness.
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