Today is the Feast of St. Henry II, the Exuberant, Holy Roman Emperor. At Mass this morning I used a chalice pall with his image. Sancte Henrice, ora pro nobis! St. Henry’s wife was also a saint: Cunigunde of Luxembourg. They are powerful intercessors for all married persons. It is said that Cunigunde was falsely accused of committing adultery, and so she demanded a trial by ordeal. She walked over red-hot plough-shares without harm, thus vindicating her innocence.
In my monastery, Stift Heiligenkreuz, we have annual requiem Masses for our principal benefactors. Today was the requiem for King Emeric of Hungary, who gave us Kaisersteinbruch in West-Hungary in 1202 or 1203. Kaisersteinbruch was an important support of the monastery till 1912, when we sold it to the Imperial and Royal War Ministry. We used the proceeds to buy forests in Styria, which still support the monastery today. King Emeric’s gift has thus played an important role in enabling us to live the monastic life, and it is a fitting sign of gratitude that we have been offering the Holy Sacrifice for him annually for the past 815 years.
Over at Church Life Journal I have an article up responding to a critique of integralism by Timothy Troutner. I give an exposition of the goods of hierarchy and obedience, and how true freedom and equality depend on them. I argue that the exercise of temporal power for spiritual ends can be a good, albeit secondary, instrument in aiding persons toward their final end. The article was rather long as it was, so I didn’t have time to go into the specific instances of the use of such power that Troutner mentions, and distinguish the good ones from the bad ones. So, as a sort of addendum to my article, I will briefly consider four of them here: 1) the possession of slaves, 2) the burning of heretics, 3) the persecution of Jews, and 4) the “Mortara Case.”Continue reading
Over at popula.com I’ve written something about a confrère of mine, who was imprisoned on suspicion of high-treason in the Third Reich. He was still alive when I entered the monastery, and I knew him as a very gentle and polite old man.
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.’
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:Continue reading
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
Artur Rosman invited me to write something on integralism for Church Life Journal, and so it went up today under the title “What Is Integralism Today?“— a reference to Balthasar’s “Integralismus heute“. Here is a snip:
All political agents, whether they admit it or not, imply some definite conception of the good for man in their action. As Leo Strauss used to tell his students, all political action is concerned with change or preservation. When it is concerned with change it is concerned with change for the better. When it is concerned with preservation it is concerned with preventing change for the worse. But the concepts of better and worse imply a concept of the good. Therefore, all political action is concerned with the good. The Weberian account of separate spheres of social activity, each acting according to its own inherent rationality, conceals more than it reveals of modern social life. There is not and cannot be a neutral “political rationality” that reduces politics to a technique of achieving certain penultimate objectives. For, such penultimate objectives can only become objectives pursued by human beings when they are ordered to an (implicit) ultimate objective. And if the ultimate objective is not the true end of man, the City of God, then it will be a false end, the diabolical city.
In the latest issue of Studies in Christian Ethics, I review of Marcia Pally’s book Commonwealth and Covenant: Economics, Politics, and Theologies of Relationality. The review can be read online at Sage Journals. It’s free at the moment, but will probably be behind a pay-wall later. Some excerpts from the review follow below. Continue reading
Over at The Josias I have a new piece on the distinction between radical (or hard) liberalism and moderate liberalism, and to what extent the American Founders can be called liberals. The header image, incidentally, is by N.C. Wyeth and depicts the Lord Advocate Prestongrange from R.L. Stevenson’s David Balfour.