Bona Matrimonii: A Moral Theologian’s Valentine

Red is the rose, green is the tree.
The married state of goods has three.

Roses are red, violets are blue.
Of goods the first is to be true.
The man who dares betray his wife,
Will have no share of Heaven’s life.

Roses are good, so are children,
Twelve, fourteen, or: a million.
Contraceptors this good deny,
In hellish flame those sinners fry.

Roses are red (it’s by design),
Of goods the third: a sacred sign.
A sacrament of Christ’s good love
Like the dewfall from … above.

Roses are red, I won’t conceal
The religious life is more real.
But better now (that’s the concern)
To get married than hot to burn.

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Ignaz Seipel on Double-Citizens

I’ve been reading Nation und Staat by Msgr. Ignaz Seipel, chancellor of Austria in the 1920s. He makes the following interesting point about persons whose parents are from different nations or different states:

Even when one’s father and mother come from different nations, he is generally led by education and external circumstances to feel himself a member of one nation, while his feelings for the other, whose language he speaks perhaps just as well and whose way of life is familiar to him, are merely friendly and not national. But should in an exceptional case someone really not feel more a part of one nation than the other, then he is certainly not a double-nationalist, but not nationalist at all. In this case, the cosmopolitan feeling has displaced the national feeling. Similarly, no one is a patriot in two states. Although the laws do not always exclude the citizen of a state acquiring or keeping citizenship in an other state, nevertheless, the devotion and enthusiasm that are essential to patriotism are not capable of being divided between two states.

Wenn auch jemandes Vater und Mutter verschie­dener Nation waren, so führen ihn doch in der Regel die Er­ziehung, die äußeren Lebensumstände oder auch eigene Neigung dazu, daß er sich dennoch als Angehöriger e i n e r Nation fühlt, während seine Empfindungen für die andere, deren Sprache er vielleicht gleich gut beherrscht und mit deren Lebensart er völlig vertraut ist, nur freundschaftliche, nicht aber eigentlich nationale sind. Sollte sich aber ausnahmsweise jemand tatsächlich nicht der einen Nation mehr zugehörig fühlen als der anderen, dann ist er keinesfalls doppelt national, sondern gar nicht. Das weltbürger­liche Empfinden ersetzt und verdrängt in diesem Fall das nationale. Und ähnlich ist niemand Patriot in zwei Staaten. Die Gesetze schließen es zwar nicht immer aus, daß der Bürger eines Staates neben der eigenen Staatsangehörigkeit eine fremde erwerbe oder beibehalte. Aber jene Hinneigung, jene Begeisterung, die dem Patriotismus wesentlich ist, läßt sich ihrer Natur nach nicht auf zwei Vaterländer verteilen. (Nation und Staat, p. 3).

His observation fits with my own experience, of growing up with an Austrian father and an American mother. My approach to the question of immigration, which some of my friends find it so difficult to understand, is, I suppose, partly an effect of ‘the cosmopolitan feeling [displacing] the national feeling.’

Max Weber’s Critique of Marx

In my post “Use Values and Corn Laws, Aristotelian Marxists and High Tories” I argued that Marx’s analysis of capitalism contains some insights that can be useful to those who, like me, reject his egalitarianism and atheism. The post was mainly taken from a longer writing project, which has since been completed, but won’t be coming out for some time. In the same project I also argue that Marx’s analysis is missing some key insights that a necessary to understand capitalism. Particularly, I argue that Max Weber was right to criticize the excessive materialist determinism in Marx’s economic thought. Marx is surely right that the conditions of production influence human social life, but man is a rational animal, and his reasoning can never be entirely reduced to the “superstructure” concealing a material “infrastructure.” As Weber put it:

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The Dawn of a New Day

The whole race of God’s enemies was destroyed in the manner indicated, and was thus suddenly swept from the sight of men. So that again a divine utterance had its fulfillment: I have seen the impious highly exalted and raising himself like the cedars of Lebanon and I have passed by, and behold, he was not and I have sought his place, and it could not be found.

And finally a bright and splendid day, overshadowed by no cloud, illuminated with beams of heavenly light the churches of Christ throughout the entire world. And not even those without our communion were prevented from sharing in the same blessings, or at least from coming under their influence and enjoying a part of the benefits bestowed upon us by God. All men, then, were freed from the oppression of the tyrants, and being released from the former ills, one in one way and another in another acknowledged the defender of the pious to be the only true God. And we especially who placed our hopes in the Christ of God had unspeakable gladness, and a certain inspired joy bloomed for all of us, when we saw every place which shortly before had been desolated by the impieties of the tyrants reviving as if from a long and death-fraught pestilence, and temples again rising from their foundations to an immense height, and receiving a splendor far greater than that of the old ones which had been destroyed. […]

After this was seen the sight which had been desired and prayed for by us all; feasts of dedication in the cities and consecrations of the newly built houses of prayer took place, bishops assembled, foreigners came together from abroad, mutual love was exhibited between people and people, the members of Christ’s body were united in complete harmony. […]

And there was one energy of the Divine Spirit pervading all the members, and one soul in all, and the same eagerness of faith, and one hymn from all in praise of the Deity. Yea, and perfect services were conducted by the prelates, the sacred rites being solemnized, and the majestic institutions of the Church observed, here with the singing of psalms and with the reading of the words committed to us by God, and there with the performance of divine and mystic services; and the mysterious symbols of the Saviour’s passion were dispensed.

At the same time people of every age, both male and female, with all the power of the mind gave honor unto God, the author of their benefits, in prayers and thanksgiving, with a joyful mind and soul. And every one of the bishops present, each to the best of his ability, delivered panegyric orations, adding luster to the assembly.

Eusebius, Church History, X.

Consider the Spider

Nothing is more weak and powerless than a spider. It has no possessions, makes no journeys overseas, does not engage in litigation, does not grow angry, and amasses no savings. Its life is marked by complete gentleness, self-restraint and ex­treme stillness. It does not meddle in the affairs of others, but minds its own business; calmly and quietly it gets on with its own work. To those who love idleness it says, in effect : ‘If anyone refuses to work, he should have nothing to eat’ (2 Thess. 3 : 1o). The spider is far more silent than Pythagoras, whom the ancient Greeks admired more than any other philosopher because of the control that he exercised over his tongue. Although Pythagoras did not talk with everyone, yet he did speak occasionally in secret with his closest friends; and often he lavished nonsensical remarks on oxen and eagles. He abstained altogether from wine and drank only water. The spider, however, achieves more than Pythagoras: it never utters a single word, and abstains from water as well as from wine. Living in this quiet fashion, humble and weak, never going outside or wandering about according to its fancy, always hard at work – nothing could be more lowly than the spider. Nevertheless the Lord, ‘who dwells on high but sees what is lowly’ (Ps . 1 1 3 : 5-6 . LXX), extends His providence even to the spider, sending it food every day, and causing tiny insects to fall into its web.

St. John of Karpathos

Fr. Balthasar Kleinshroth Meets an Angry Peasant

In 1683, Fr. Balthasar Kleinschroth, director of the boys choir in Heiligenkreuz, fled West with his choir boys before the approaching Turks. He managed to bring them to safety, and then wrote an account of his journey in the form of a diary as votive offering of thanks to Our Lady.  I was recently reminded of an encounter he had with a certain peasant near Kaumberg, while they were on the way to the Cistercian Abbey of Lilienfeld. Here’s my translation of Kleinschroth’s Baroque German: Continue reading