18 October 2016

"The City cannot be built otherwise than as God has built it.": A Pre-Election, Must-Read Sermon

This Sermon, reflecting on the Gospel for the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, was given by Canon Jean-Baptiste Commins, ICRSS:

XXII Sunday after Pentecost 
Saint Louis, October 2016 
Interesting questions asked by these hypocrite Pharisees. Interesting dilemma for Our Lord. But the answer is prompt and clear. The divine prudence of Our Savior is soon going to shut the mouth of those setting traps to prevent Jesus from teaching the Truth. Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? Two alternatives in the mind of the accusers. First possibility, Our Lord gives a negative answer: it is not lawful, legitimate and therefore necessary to give tribute to the civil authority. He would then receive of course the support of the Pharisees, but on the other side be accused of treason or grave lack of submission towards the Emperor. Now, if he gives a positive answer saying, yes it is lawful and therefore you should all give tribute to the Emperor, then he would have attracted against him, crowds of Pharisees, priests and doctors of the law, because we should be accountable to God and only to Him, he would have lost all credibility with the crowds.  Terrible dilemma in the mind of a simple reader: to God or to the Emperor. 

But here comes the answer; Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. Once again the vain efforts of error broke down on the rock of truth. The order is now re-established; the hierarchy is clearly defined in the divine government of all things. Obey the law established by men he seems to say. And while facing his passion, he once again reminds us this reality: Thou wouldst not have any power over me at all, if it had not been given thee from above. 

You probably all have heard this definition of the Law given by Saint Thomas: as a regulation in accordance with reason promulgated by the head of a community for the sake of the common welfare. Obedience to the law for the sake of the common welfare. 

Obedience to the Law

Our first point therefore, obedience to the Law: The man who opposes authority is a rebel against the ordinance of God, and rebels secure their own condemnation, says Saint Paul. Thou must needs, then, be submissive, not only for fear of punishment, but in conscience. Pay every man, then, his due; taxes, if it be taxes, customs, if it be customs; respect and honor, if it be respect and honor. Therefore, it is certain that every just human law – both ecclesiastical and civil – imposes an obligation in conscience; the law as the secure and safe regulation for society, for the common welfare. The first place where this common welfare has to be cherished and lived truly is of course the family. The family is the basic social unit of the society. When the family is stable then the whole society is on the right track to a better welfare. This implies obedience and submission to the law that regulate family life.
That is, husbands, be the head of the family, as Christ is the head of the Church, as He sanctifies his church through his leadership. Exercise over your family the leadership, the authority that was given you by God, treat your wife generously and honorably. Reminding yourselves often the key role you play in the education of your children, moral, spiritual, social, physical education of your children. Reminding yourselves often the power of the example, good or bad, that you give to your family, because you are the head, and if the head doesn’t give its command, its orders, its power, then the whole body is kind of paralyzed, incapable anymore to just survive. Be constantly occupied in some honest pursuit with a view to provide necessities for the support of your family and to avoid idleness, the root of almost every vice!
Wives and mothers, submit yourselves to your husband, train your children in the practice of virtue and pay particular attention to your domestic concerns, never forgetting that next to God, you should be loving your husband, esteeming him above all others through the practice of a willing and ready obedience. This is the first law, the law given for the welfare of the family as first unit of society. Now let’s open the circle and let’s consider a wider aspect of the law. It would be too long to develop now the different aspects of the law so let’s just focus on one particular issue, especially because this issue today is the fundamental issue, on this issue rely the stability and existence of society and particularly the family. 

What about evil laws? 

What about evil laws, that are contrary to what I believe, to what my faith teaches me, to moral principles, or even to nature itself. What about the authority given by God to Caesar is exercised in a way which is contrary to God’s law, opposed to the common good in its ordination to our ultimate end, Heaven? When you hear this command to render to Caesar the things of Caesar, says Saint John Chrysostom, know that such things only are intended which in nothing are opposed to religion; if such there be, it is no longer Caesar's but the Devil's tribute. And moreover, that they might not say that He was subjecting them to man, He adds, "And unto God the things that are God's." 

The first object of the law is the common good, therefore as soon as the common welfare is no more the principal object, then the law ceases to be a good law. It is a moral impossibility to obey an evil law. The reason for that is the intrinsic evil of every offence against the Natural Law, and all persons are bound to do all in their power to avoid whatever is intrinsically evil, such as abortion, euthanasia, Gender theories, freedom of marriage… While nations insult the beloved name of our Redeemer by suppressing all mention of it in their conferences and parliaments, declares Pope Pius XI, we must all the more loudly proclaim his kingly dignity and power, all the more universally affirm his rights. And when we hear about lesser evil we as Catholics have to remember that this notion of lesser evil is just a way of thinking for tactical voting. It is clear that a Catholic may not choose any evil. Lesser evil doesn’t exist in a catholic mind. 

Of course the often-used name suggests something true, in voting I know that some consequences will be evil. But if I vote it is because I firmly chose all the good choices of the party in question. The object of my choice is and should always be good, a possible good, and my intention is all directed towards this good object. 

Therefore, in this double-effect principle four conditions are required: First, the act itself must be good. Second, the good effect must not be caused by the evil effect. Third, the good effect and not the evil effect must be directly intended by the agent. Fourth, there must be a proportionality between the good and evil result, the good must outweigh the evil. And this is our obligation towards Caesar, guided and enlightened by what is due to God, and his Eternal Law. 

We must repeat, declared Pope Pius X,  with the utmost energy in these times of social and intellectual anarchy when everyone takes it upon himself to teach as a teacher and lawmaker - the City cannot be built otherwise than as God has built it; society cannot be setup unless the Church lays the foundations and supervises the work; no, civilization is not something yet to be found, nor is the New City to be built on hazy notions; it has been in existence and still is: it is Christian civilization, it is the Catholic City. It has only to be set up and restored continually against the unremitting attacks of insane dreamers, rebels and miscreants. OMNIA INSTAURARE IN CHRISTO. To restore everything in Christ. 

Grab your rosaries and go to his Mother, beg for the grace of the restoration of Christian society, when Caesar was subordinated to God and when his first preoccupation was common welfare. And she promised, at the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph! 


Karen said...

I guess I have had too much Novus Ordo-ism in my past. I was so electrified by his sermon when he gave it, that I half expected the congregation to rise up and applaud. I must admit I was applauding secretly in my heart for just hearing such pure truth on this subject for a change!!

thetimman said...

I second the notion. I would have risen up and applauded, but definitely not. a. trad. thing. to. do.

I did turn to my son and whisper, boom!