Always Craving

John Keble.

St. Paul has ranked even personal liberty, liberty opposed to the condition of a slave, among other temporal blessings, as an object, comparatively speaking, below the serious concern of a redeemed immortal being. “Art thou called being a slave? care not for it: but even if thou mayest be made free, put up with it rather.” That is, “make the best of your condition as it is, rather than grasp, with eager anxiety, at every chance of emancipation.” And what he says of personal liberty, is true, I suppose, a fortiori, of civil liberty as opposed to subjection. “Care not for it,” says the inspired Voice: “let it be your tendency, in this as in all things, rather to improve existing opportunities, than to be always craving after a change of condition.”

But what says the Christian world to this? Do not men, somehow, think of liberty, as of something unlike other outward blessings, such as health, riches, domestic comfort? something, the mere pursuing of which, for its own sake, is a part of virtue? Contented slavery in either kind, are they not apt to pronounce it meanness?

All this being calmly considered, and compared with what our Lord and His Apostles have said; or rather, with what they have left unsaid, (for there is a silence more significant than words;) I think one must own, that civil liberty, high as it may stand among earthly blessings, is usually allowed to fill a space in our thoughts, out of all proportion to that which it fills in the plan of happiness drawn out in the Bible. Though men commit things worthy of death, yet if they be done for freedom’s sake, the world finds pleasure in them that do them.

Sermon V. Danger of Sympathizing with Rebellion. Preached by John Keble before the University of Oxford, 30 January 1831.

Typology

Detail of The Garden of Earthly Delights (c. 1490-1510), a triptych painted by the Early Netherlandish master Hieronymus Bosch, housed in the Museo del Prado in Madrid.
Detail of The Garden of Earthly Delights (c. 1490-1510), a triptych painted by the Early Netherlandish master Hieronymus Bosch, housed in the Museo del Prado in Madrid.

Abraham pater vester exsultavit ut videret diem meum: vidit, et gavisus est.

St. John, viii. 56.

Veteris Testamenti oeconomia ad hoc potissimum disposita erat, ut Christi universorum redemptoris Regnique Messianici adventum praepararet, prophetice nuntiaret et variis typis significaret. Deus igitur librorum utriusque Testamenti inspirator et auctor, ita sapienter disposuit, ut Novum in Vetere lateret et in Novo Vetus pateret. Nam, etsi Christus in sanguine suo Novum Foedus condidit, libri tamen Veteris Testamenti integri in praeconio evangelico assumpti, in Novo Testamento significationem suam completam acquirunt et ostendunt, illudque vicissim illuminant et explicant.

Dei verbum, IV, capp. 15, 16.

Be Not Dismayed

[E]t ait: Attendite, omnis Juda, et qui habitatis Jerusalem, et tu, rex Josaphat: hæc dicit Dominus vobis: Nolite timere, nec paveatis hanc multitudinem: non est enim vestra pugna, sed Dei.

2 Para. xx. 15.

Blindness of the Ungodly

Oremus et pro perfidis Judæis: ut Deus et Dominus noster auferat velamen de cordibus eorum; ut et ipsi agnoscant Jesum Christum, Dominum nostrum. (Non respondetur ‘Amen’, nec dicitur ‘Oremus’, aut ‘Flectamus genua’, aut ‘Levate’, sed statim dicitur:) Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui etiam judaicam perfidiam a tua misericordia non repellis: exaudi preces nostras, quas pro illius populi obcæcatione deferimus; ut, agnita veritatis tuæ luce, quæ Christus est, a suis tenebris eruantur. Per eundem Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus: per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

Oratio pro Judæis, Missale Romanum (as the text and rubrics stood before 1955).

In view of the multitudes from all nations who have become zealous believers in these books, it is laughably absurd to tell us that it is impossible to persuade a Gentile to learn the Christian faith from Jewish books. Indeed, it is a great confirmation of our faith that such important testimony is borne by enemies. The believing Gentiles cannot suppose these testimonies to Christ to be recent forgeries; for they find them in books held sacred for so many ages by those who crucified Christ, and still regarded with the highest veneration by those who every day blaspheme Christ. If the prophecies of Christ were the production of the preachers of Christ, we might suspect their genuineness. But now the preacher expounds the text of the blasphemer. In this way the Most High God orders the blindness of the ungodly for the profit of the saint, in His righteous government bringing good out of evil, that those who by their own choice live wickedly may be, in His just judgment, made the instruments of His will. So, lest those that were to preach Christ to the world should be thought to have forged the prophecies which speak of Christ as to be born, to work miracles, to suffer unjustly, to die, to rise again, to ascend to heaven, to publish the gospel of eternal life among all nations, the unbelief of the Jews has been made of signal benefit to us; so that those who do not receive in their heart for their own good these truths, carry, in their hands for our benefit the writings in which these truths are contained. And the unbelief of the Jews increases rather than lessens the authority of the books, for this blindness is itself foretold. They testify to the truth by their not understanding it. By not understanding the books which predict that they would not understand, they prove these books to be true.

St. Augustine, Contra Faustum Manichæum, xvi. 21.

Consider

Videte enim vocationem vestram, fratres, quia non multi sapientes secundum carnem, non multi potentes, non multi nobiles: sed quæ stulta sunt mundi elegit Deus, ut confundat sapientes: et infirma mundi elegit Deus, ut confundat fortia: et ignobilia mundi, et contemptibilia elegit Deus, et ea quæ non sunt, ut ea quæ sunt destrueret: ut non glorietur omnis caro in conspectu ejus.

1 Cor. i. 26-29.

Dona et Vocatio Dei

I must not fail, brethren, to make this revelation known to you; or else you might have too good a conceit of yourselves. Blindness has fallen upon a part of Israel, but only until the tale of the Gentile nations is complete; then the whole of Israel will find salvation, as we read in scripture, A deliverer shall come from Sion, to rid Jacob of his unfaithfulness; and this shall be the fulfilment of my covenant with them, when I take away their sins. In the preaching of the gospel, God rejects them, to make room for you; but in his elective purpose he still welcomes them, for the sake of their fathers; God does not repent of the gifts he makes, or of the calls he issues. You were once rebels, until through their rebellion you obtained pardon; they are rebels now, obtaining pardon for you, only to be pardoned in their turn. Thus God has abandoned all men to their rebellion, only to include them all in his pardon.

Romans xi. 25-32.

Deliver Such an One unto Satan

Scripsi in epistola: Ne commisceamini fornicariis: non utique fornicariis hujus mundi, aut avaris, aut rapacibus, aut idolis servientibus: alioquin debueratis de hoc mundo exiisse. Nunc autem scripsi vobis non commisceri: si is qui frater nominatur, est fornicator, aut avarus, aut idolis serviens, aut maledicus, aut ebriosus, aut rapax, cum ejusmodi nec cibum sumere. Quid enim mihi de iis qui foris sunt, judicare? nonne de iis qui intus sunt, vos judicatis? nam eos qui foris sunt, Deus judicabit. Auferte malum ex vobis ipsis.

1. Cor. v. 9-13.

Because N., at the suggestion of the devil, disregarding through apostasy the Christian promise which he made in baptism, does not fear to lay waste the Church of God, to plunder the Church’s goods, and violently to oppress Christ’s poor; therefore we, anxious, lest he perish through pastoral neglect, for which we may have to give account at the tremendous judgment before the Chief Shepherd our Lord Jesus Christ, according to the terrible threat which our Lord himself utters: If thou shalt not have announced to the unrighteous his unrighteousness, his blood will I require at thy hand; we admonish him canonically, for the first, second, third, and also the fourth time to convince him of his wickedness, inviting him to amendment, satisfaction, and penance, and taking hold of him with paternal affection. But he himself, Oh sorrow! spurning wholesome admonitions, puffed up with a spirit of pride, disdains to make satisfaction to the Church of God, which he has injured. Well are we informed by the teachings of the Lord and of his apostles, what we ought to do in respect to prevaricators of this sort. For the Lord says: If thy hand or thy foot cause thee to offend, cut it off, and cast it from thee. And the apostle says: Take away the evil one from among you. And again: If he, who is called a brother, is a fornicator, or covetous, or a server of idols, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner, with such a one not so much as to eat. And John, best-beloved disciple of Christ, forbids to salute such an impious man, saying: Receive him not into the house, nor say to him, God save you. For he that saith to him, God save you, communicateth with his wicked works. Therefore fulfilling the precepts of the Lord and of his apostles, we cut off from the body of the Church with the sword of excommunication a rotten limb, that can not be healed, that does not bear medicine, lest the remaining limbs of the body be infected with so deadly a disease as with poison. Therefore because he has despised our admonitions and frequent exhortations, because, having been for the third time, according to the Lord’s precept, called, he has disdained to come to amendment and penance, because he has neither considered his own fault, nor confessed it, nor by sending an embassy alleged any excuse, nor asked forgiveness, but, the devil hardening his heart, perseveres in the wickedness begun, as the apostle says: According to his own hardness and impenitent heart he treasures up to himself wrath against the day of wrath: therefore, by the judgment of Almighty God, Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit, and of blessed Peter the prince of the apostles, and of all the Saints, also by the authority of our own mediocrity, and by the power, divinely placed in us, of binding and loosing in heaven and in earth, we do separate him, with all his accomplices and favorers, from the perception of the precious Body and Blood of the Lord, and from the fellowship of all Christians, and we exclude him from the limits of holy mother Church in heaven and in earth, and we pronounce him to be excommunicated and anathematized; and we adjudge him condemned with the devil and his angels and all the reprobate to eternal fire: until he may recover himself from the snares of the devil, and return to amendment and penance, and make satisfaction to the Church, which he has injured: delivering him to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of judgment.

And all answer, “Be it done, be it done, be it done.”

When this is done, both the pontiff and the priests ought to throw down to the ground the burning candles which they hold in their hands. Then let a letter be sent to the priests through the parishes, and also to neighboring bishops, containing the excommunicate’s name and the cause of excommunication.

— Roman Pontifical, Ordo excommunicandi et absolvendi.