Inferences, Analogies, and Sophisms

Time and changes in the condition and constitution of society may require occasional and corresponding modifications. One single object, if your provision attains it, will entitle you to the endless gratitude of society, that of restraining judges from usurping legislation. And with no body of men is this restraint more wanting than with the judges of what is commonly called our general government, but what I call our foreign department. They are practicing on the constitution by inferences, analogies, and sophisms, as they would an ordinary law. They do not seem aware that it is not even a constitution, formed by a single authority, and subject to a single superintendence and control, but that it is a compact of many independent powers, every single one of which claims an equal right to understand it, and to require its observance. However strong the cord of compact may be, there is a point of tension at which it will break. A few such doctrinal decisions, as barefaced as that of the Cohens, happening to bear immediately on two or three of the large States, may induce them to join in arresting the march of government, and in arousing the co-States to pay some attention to what is passing, to bring back the compact to its original principles, or to modify it legitimately by the expressed consent of the parties themselves, and not by the usurpation of their created agents. They imagine they can lead us into a consolidate government, while their road leads directly to its dissolution. This member of the government was at first considered as the most harmless and helpless of all its organs. But it has proved that the power of declaring what the law is, ad libitum, by sapping and mining, slyly and without alarm, the foundations of the constitution, can do what open force would not dare to attempt.

Thos. Jefferson to Edward Livingston, 25 March 1825.

Convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum

Will the baptized of Ireland shut their eyes to the light set ablaze by Saint Patrick? Will the baptized of Ireland stop up their ears to the truth of the Gospel that he preached? Will the baptized of Ireland turn their backs to the burning and pierced Heart that once ruled over every hearth? Is the prophet’s mournful lamentation so soon forgotten? “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return to the Lord thy God”?

It may well be Ireland’s eleventh hour, but God can, even in these last moments, give faith to the unbelieving and rekindle faith in hearts grown cold and hard. “For whatsoever is born of God, overcometh the world: and this is the victory which overcameth the world, our faith” (1 John 5:4).

Sermon for Low Sunday, 8 April 2018, Dom Mark Kirby, O.S.B.

Adze-head

Robinson, Frederick Cayley; The Landing of Saint Patrick in Ireland; Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery.

Ticfa táilcend tar muir meircenn:
a bratt tollcend, a chrand cromchend:
a mías inairthiur a tigi:
fris[g]erat a múinter huili,
‘Amen, amen.’

Ticfat tailcind, conutsat ruama,
noifit cella, ceoltigi béndacha
ben[n]chopuir ili: fla[i]th himbachla.

Two years or three years before Patrick’s arrival, this is what they used to prophesy:–

Adzehead1 will come over a furious (?) sea;
His mantle head-holed, his staff crook-headed,
His dish in the east of his house.
All his household will answer
Amen, Amen!

Adzeheads will come, who will build cities,
Who will consecrate (?) churches, pinnacled music-houses,
Many conical caps (for belfries), a realm round croziers.

“So,” say they, “when these signs shall come our worship and our heathenism will be destroyed, and the faith and the belief will be magnified.” As, then, it was prophesied and figured, so it came to pass and was fulfilled.

— Bethu Phátraic (Vita tripartita Sancti Patricii).

Patrick (likewise his fellow clerics) is termed tálcend, a reference to his tonsure.

Dixit autem Dominus ad Abram: Egredere de terra tua, et de cognatione tua, et de domo patris tui, et veni in terram quam monstrabo tibi. Faciamque te in gentem magnam, et benedicam tibi, et magnificabo nomen tuum, erisque benedictus. Benedicam benedicentibus tibi, et maledicam maledicentibus tibi, atque in te benedicentur universæ cognationes terræ. Egressus est itaque Abram sicut præceperat ei Dominus, et ivit cum eo Lot: septuaginta quinque annorum erat Abram cum egrederetur de Haran. Tulitque Sarai uxorem suam, et Lot filium fratris sui, universamque substantiam quam possederant, et animas quas fecerant in Haran: et egressi sunt ut irent in terram Chanaan. Cumque venissent in eam, pertransivit Abram terram usque ad locum Sichem, usque ad convallem illustrem: Chananæus autem tunc erat in terra. Apparuit autem Dominus Abram, et dixit ei: Semini tuo dabo terram hanc. Qui ædificavit ibi altare Domino, qui apparuerat ei. Et inde transgrediens ad montem, qui erat contra orientem Bethel, tetendit ibi tabernaculum suum, ab occidente habens Bethel, et ab oriente Hai: ædificavit quoque ibi altare Domino, et invocavit nomen ejus.

Gen. xii. 1-8.

Among the Ruins

We were now treading that illustrious Island, which was once the luminary of the Caledonian regions, whence savage clans and roving barbarians derived the benefits of knowledge, and the blessings of religion. To abstract the mind from all local emotion would be impossible, if it were endeavoured, and would be foolish, if it were possible. Whatever withdraws us from the power of our senses; whatever makes the past, the distant, or the future predominate over the present, advances us in the dignity of thinking beings. Far from me and from my friends, be such frigid philosophy as may conduct us indifferent and unmoved over any ground which has been dignified by wisdom, bravery, or virtue. That man is little to be envied, whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona!

The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides by James Boswell; Tuesday, 19th October 1773: Inchkenneth, Icolmkill (Iona).

Witnessed

The certainty of the Christian faith ultimately rests on the fact that the human word of the apostles and bishops is the divine Word of salvation, not produced but rather witnessed by the human mediator (cf. 1 Thess 2:13).

Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller, By What Authority?, First Things, 16 January 2018.

A Strange Form of Schism

Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of Mary Most Holy in Astana, Kazakhstan.

It is not only a risk of schism, but a certain kind of schism already exists in the Church. … We are witnessing today a strange form of schism. Externally, numerous ecclesiastics safeguard formal unity with the pope, at times for the good of their own career or out of a kind of papolatry. And at the same time they have broken their ties with Christ, the Truth, and with Christ, the true head of the Church. On the other hand there are ecclesiastics who are denounced as schismatics despite the fact they live in canonical peace with the pope and remain faithful to Christ, the Truth by assiduously promoting His Gospel of Truth. It is evident that those who are internally the true schismatics, in relation to Christ, make use of calumnies for the sole purpose of silencing the voice of Truth, by absurdly projecting their own state of internal schism on those ecclesiastics who, regardless of praise of rebuke, defend the divine truths. In fact, as Sacred Scripture says, the word of Divine Truth is not bound. Even if a number of high-ranking officials in the Church today temporarily obscure the truth of the doctrine of marriage and its perennial discipline, this doctrine and discipline will always remain unchangeable in the Church because the Church is not a human foundation, but a divine one.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider.

Scarecrow of the Nations

Thus will be consummated that destiny to which so many gloomy prognostics point as the allotment of the North American continent: to be the accursed field for the final illustration of the harvest of perdition, grown from the seeding of the dragon’s teeth of infidel Radicalism. God gave the people of this land great and magnificent blessings, and opportunities and responsibilities. They might and should have made it the glory of all lands. But they have betrayed their trust: they have abused every gift: above all have they insulted him by flaunting in his face an impudent, atheistic, God-defying theory of pretended human rights and human perfectibility which attempts to deny man’s subordination, his dependence, his fall and native depravity, his need of divine grace. It invites mankind to adopt material civilization and sensual advantage as their divinity. It assumes to be able to perfect man’s condition by its political, literary, and mechanical skill, despising that Gospel of Christ which is man’s only adequate remedy. It crowns its impiety by laying its defiling hands upon the very forms of that Christianity, while with the mock affection of a Judas it attempts to make it a captive to the sordid ends of Mammon and sense. Must not God be avenged on such a nation as this? His vengeance will be to give them the fruit of their own hands, and let them be filled with their own devices. He will set apart this fair land by a sort of dread consecration to the purpose of giving a lesson concerning this godless philosophy, so impressive as to instruct and warn all future generations. As the dull and pestilential waves of the Dead Sea have been to every subsequent age the memento of the sin of Sodom, so the dreary tides of anarchy and barbarism which will overwhelm the boastful devices of infidel democracy will be the caution of all future legislators. And thus “women’s rights” will assist America “to fulfil her great mission,” that of being the “scarecrow” of the nations.

Robert Lewis Dabney, The Southern Magazine, 1871.

The Shadow of Radicalism

Robert Lewis Dabney.

It may be inferred again that the present movement for women’s rights, will certainly prevail from the history of its only opponent, Northern conservatism. This is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity, and will be succeeded by some third revolution, to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt hath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious, for the sake of the truth, and has no idea of being guilty of the folly of martyrdom. It always—when about to enter a protest—very blandly informs the wild beast whose path it essays to stop, that its “bark is worse than its bite,” and that it only means to save its manners by enacting its decent rôle of resistance. The only practical purpose which it now subserves in American politics is to give enough exercise to Radicalism to keep it “in wind,” and to prevent its becoming pursy and lazy from having nothing to whip. No doubt, after a few years, when women’s suffrage shall have become an accomplished fact, conservatism will tacitly admit it into its creed, and thenceforward plume itself upon its wise firmness in opposing with similar weapons the extreme of baby suffrage; and when that too shall have been won, it will be heard declaring that the integrity of the American Constitution requires at least the refusal of suffrage to asses. There it will assume, with great dignity, its final position.

Robert Lewis Dabney, The Southern Magazine, 1871.

Sunken Stones by Strachur

Some ancient stone crosses are yet standing near this ancient pile [i.e. the ruins of Iona Abbey], with inscriptions no longer intelligible. Previous to the Reformation, there existed 860 of various sizes and beautiful workmanship. Many of which, were carried away to adorn the streets of distant towns and villages; and in Cowal, there is a popular tradition, that a great number of crosses and tomb-stones were sunk in Loch Fyne opposite to Strachur, where, if we believe the fishermen of that place, they are still to be seen at low water.

Steam-boat Companion, or Stranger’s Guide to the Western Isles & Highlands of Scotland, Glasgow, James Lumsden & Son, 1839, p. 175.

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Francis.

Et accesserunt ad eum pharisæi et sadducæi tentantes: et rogaverunt eum ut signum de cælo ostenderet eis. At ille respondens, ait illis: Facto vespere dicitis: Serenum erit, rubicundum est enim cælum. Et mane: Hodie tempestas, rutilat enim triste cælum. Faciem ergo cæli dijudicare nostis: signa autem temporum non potestis scire? Generatio mala et adultera signum quærit: et signum non dabitur ei, nisi signum Jonæ prophetæ. Et relictis illis, abiit.

Matt. xvi. 1-4.

RESCRIPTUM «EX AUDIENTIA SS.MI»

Summus Pontifex decernit ut duo Documenta quae praecedunt edantur per publicationem in situ electronico Vaticano et in Actis Apostolicae Sedis, velut Magisterium authenticum.

Ex Aedibus Vaticanis, die V mensis Iunii anno MMXVII
Petrus Card. Parolin
Secretarius Status

Omnipotent Moral Busybodies

My contention is that good men (not bad men) consistently acting upon that position [imposing “the good”] would act as cruelly and unjustly as the greatest tyrants. They might in some respects act even worse. Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under of robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber barons cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some points be satiated; but those who torment us for their own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to heaven yet at the same time likely to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on the level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.

C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock.

God’s Faith and Church Militant

Ye shall not enter into this our Pilgrimage of Grace for the common wealth but only for the love ye bear to God’s faith and church militant and the maintenance thereof, the preservation of the king’s person, his issue, and the purifying of the nobility and to expulse all villein blood and evil counsellors against the common wealth of the same. And that ye shall not enter into our said pilgrimage for no peculiar private profit to no private person but by counsel of the common wealth nor slay nor murder for no envy but in your hearts to put away all fear for the common wealth. And to take before you the cross of Christ and your heart’s faith to the restitution of the church and to the suppression of heretics’ opinions by the holy content of this book.

Oath of the Honourable Men, 1536.