Archive for May, 2009

A Bridge to Sanctity

May 28, 2009 1 comment

“On the other [hand] had arisen an intense, fierce, increasing hatred against the Mass, the Blessed Sacrament, the whole transcendental scheme; a hatred such that all who felt it were, in spite of a myriad differences, in common alliance.  That hatred fed upon an original popular indignation against the corruption of the clergy, and especially against their financial claims.  But the hatred was far older than any such late medieval trouble; it was as old as the presence of the Catholic Church in this world.”

-Hilaire Belloc, How the Reformation Happened

Controversy has always stirred around the existence of priests and the priesthood.  Since long before the advent of Christ and the institution of Holy Orders, societies and cultures have established or acknowledged men who act as mediums between the ordinary individual and the ethereal powers of the universe.  Such an establishment has allowed, with almost invariable consistency despite the differences between the many priestly institutions of various societies and cultures, for great abuse of the people.  Typically, the priests have been a learned class, one far too-often deprived of virtue; a perfect recipe for abusive sophistry.  As the lower classes gain education (enough to begin questioning) and the priestly classes lose it (when virtue declines, the pursuit of education follows), fraudulence is frequently uncovered and priests become a passive and mocked cluster of charlatans.  Thus it is not uncommon for the priest to be considered just another man, only wearing the trappings of wisdom and power.

Despite this common progression, mistakenly presumed to be the truth that previous generations were simply too ignorant to notice, there is a profound and almost indescribable sanctity indivisible from the office of the priesthood.  Essential to the concept of the priest, transcending all societal, cultural, and temporal bonds, is man’s recognition that he is not in control of the universe and something else must be.  Since most men, though they may acknowledge their impotence in the greater scheme of existence, are not content with allowing their lives to be tossed about by an unknown force, finding some means to communicate with this higher power becomes a priority; oftentimes, it is the highest priority.  It is another mistake to assume that priests are thus an invented class by which man intends to control nature.  Though many individuals are no doubt motivated to religious fervor by the uncontrollable whims of material reality, that is not what motivates the true priest.  On the contrary, it is not this world at all which intrigues a man into priestly activity, but another, the next; that mysterious world which man knows of but does not know.  Priesthood does not begin in practice and evolve into theology; it begins with the primal inquisitive theological impetus and only later does it find practical institution.

Nonetheless, there has always been a ministerial responsibility on those who act as priests.  Those who dedicate themselves to the discernment of the Divine ignore many aspects of this world in order to make clear, and in some sense, make present, aspects of that other world.  All men have a desire to know the truth; and not merely to know it themselves, but to make present that knowledge to other men, so that it might be both shared and refined.

But there is something unmistakably unique about the Catholic priest.  However much the clerical classes of other cultures or societies have been vaunted or despised, the Catholic priest has been accorded both praise and insult like no other; partially because he has – not as an individual, but as an office – transcended cultures, societies, eras and epochs unlike any other priestly character, and partially because there is something fundamentally different in the execution of his office.  Namely, where priests of antiquity have had insights into the transcendent reality, such insights have been nothing more than what could be attained by natural reason (or were perhaps demonically inspired); contrariwise, the Catholic priest has actually crossed the boundary and, more than that, brought back not merely a piece of the inscrutable Divine, but the entirety.  Of course, he is merely a man and therefore is merely an instrument who does this not of his own power; but though an instrument, he is the instrument of God.  Undoubtedly, many are poor instruments indeed, who are despicably negligent in their self-maintenance.  Yet even the shoddiest of tools works wonders while directly in the hands of the greatest of craftsmen.  Where non-Catholic priests can always be reduced from their unique societal stature by the intellectual elevation of the laity, those of the Church can never be equaled or surpassed by any man; no advancement of knowledge or capacity for thought can supersede the sacred office of the validly ordained Catholic priest.

In his 1935 encyclical Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, Pope Pius XI gives a defense and explanation of the office of the Catholic priest.  The entire document is well worth reading for anyone interested in bettering his understanding of the sacred priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church.  In paragraph 38, His Holiness quotes the Codex Iuris Canonici (though it is not cited, it is presumably the Codex from 1917) to say that “Clerics must lead a life, both interior and exterior, more holy than the laity, and be an example to them by excelling in virtue and good works.”  It sounds an elitist thing to say, as though the priests are an elect, superior to the laity; which of course they are, though not of their own merit and thence in no way elitist.  Many people sadly reject any necessitation of acknowledging an inherent vocational superiority; such seems contrary to the radical egalitarianism modernity has indoctrinated them to accept unquestioningly.  Against this spirit did Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val, Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X write his Litany of Humility.  Of particular note in his prayer is the last line, “That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus grant me the grace to desire it.”  Should not such a prayer, written by a powerful cleric and a prince of the Church, speak even more strongly to the hearts of those who are not clergy?  Priests, ordained to act in persona Christi, should indeed be exemplars among men; they should be, in the words of Pius XI, paragraph 10, “Ex hominibus assumptus, ‘taken from amongst men,’ yet pro hominibus constituitur in his quae sunt ad Deum, ‘ordained for men in the things that appertain to God’: his office is not for human things, and things that pass away, however lofty and valuable these may seem; but for things divine and enduring.”

A good society cannot endure if it does not acknowledge not only the distinctions between men, but also a hierarchy amongst them.  It is a grave mistake to predicate fundamental equality of all men in this world; for while all have equal opportunity to enjoy the presence of the Divine, their earthly existences are evidently and indisputably disparate.  Some men are faster than others, some are stronger, some are smarter; it should be no surprise that some are also holier, and it should certainly not be a surprise that the holiest men – or those who ought to be the holiest – are those whose “office is not for human things… but for things divine and enduring.”

Priests, unlike the laity, are endowed with incomparable sacramental grace upon the conferral of Holy Orders, a grace which enables them to act in a way ordinary men cannot.  As bridges between this world and the next, they must cling to that grace; to be a bridge to God, to be His minister of the sacraments, is beyond the strength of men.  Who has confidence in a neglected, rotting bridge?  In paragraph 79 of Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, Pius XI states that “in no better way than by this work for an increase in the ranks of the secular and regular clergy, can the Catholic laity really participate in the high dignity of the ‘kingly priesthood’ which the Prince of the Apostles attributes to the whole body of the redeemed.”  It is the duty of the laity to help build the bridges from the earthly side; to help maintain them, to help more be built.  Unfortunately, since the era of Vatican II and its poisonous so-called “spirit,” the laity have been confused by a persistent misinterpretation of Scripture and tradition, in the theme of rupture espoused by theologians in the vein of Karl Rahner and Hans Küng.  This misinterpretation nearly erases any clear distinction between priest and lay; this misinterpretation chooses to read the words of Pope Pius XII, “They [the laity] are the Church,” without reading the sentence preceding: “[they are] the community of the faithful on earth under the leadership of the Pope, the common Head, and of the bishops in communion with him.”  The “Spirit of Vatican II” would have everyone be his own bridge. 

Subordination and inferiority of the laity to the clergy in spiritual matters is right and proper.  It is the primary task of the laity to introduce Catholicism to the world, to be evangelists in all that they do; it is the task of the clergy to act as that medium by which grace is infused into Catholicism.  It is this sacred task that distinguishes the Catholic priest from every other in history; it is this sacred task that infuses the world of the flesh to hate the Catholic priest unlike any other.  For mere men can only help one another be better men; a priest can help man to join God in His Divinity, both in the here and now and the eternal Vision.

Suggested Reading:
Ad Catholici Sacerdotii 
Haerent Animo

Categories: General

On Having a Good Library

May 21, 2009 Leave a comment

It was once remarked that a good benchmark of success for an undergraduate student, at the end of his four years, is to look at his library and to see how it has grown: not merely in size, but in quality.  Part of what the ardent student will find, looking through his library, is a large number of authors of whom he did not know before going to college, but now finds as familiar as old friends.  His shelves should not be laden with popular fiction and Lost and Philosophy (which might be a good title if not for the television show), but with good books and better books: classics like The Republic, Plutarch’s Lives, The Divine Comedy, The City of God, The Nicomachean Ethics, The Annals of Tacitus, Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, Eliot’s The Waste Land, and so many, many more.  It is also important, and fruitful, to amass a collection of the obscure books – not for the sake of obscurity, but for the sake of fullness.  St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae is a masterpiece amongst masterpieces; but one’s collection of his oeuvre, and thus his sapient contribution to the human conversation, is incomplete without his lesser known works, such as On the Unity of the Intellect Against the Averroists or The Division and Method of the Sciences.  Nor is the reader given so full an appreciation of Shakespeare’s Troilus and Criseyde without having also experienced Chaucer’s.

Of course, it is one thing to have a cornucopia of good books, and quite another to have read them all.  There is perhaps no greater affront to books than to use them as mere decorations; even burning them gives more credence, for a burned book is one of two things: one, read and held in either great contempt or great fear, so much so that someone (mistakenly) thinks the only way to deal with it is fire, or two, not read and prejudicially subjected to the same treatment.  Regardless, there is more respect paid to the book by its immolation, in recognizing it as something that inherently attempts entrance into the intersubjective realm of thought and discourse, than by it being turned into an idle and vain piece of decoration.  Nevertheless there is nothing inherently wrong with an outwardly attractive book (so long as the content is equally meritorious to the covering).  On the contrary, Catholic Treasures’ Douay-Rheims translation of the Holy Bible, complete with the Reverend Haydock’s notes, is a most fittingly beautiful volume; the Harvard Classics series of books, though often of inferior translation, are eye-catching and largely worth reading.  Even the cloth-bound Loeb Library, which has the original Latin or Greek of great works on one side and a passable English translation on the other, is a pleasant site for the eyes, and a magnificent tool for those aspiring to the classical languages.  There is nothing wrong at all with deriving pleasure from both the inside and the outside of your books; but be wary of confusing the primacy of merit!

Thus, one’s library should never grow too quickly.  It is terribly hard to read a good book in a short span of time; at least, to read it as it ought to be read, with care and diligence.  Mortimer J. Adler, a 20th century man of genius, editor-in-chief of The Great Books of the Western World a publication of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and co-author with Charles Van Doren of How to Read a Book (among many others), once said that he never reads a great book faster than 20 pages an hour, and never without paper and pencil to hand.  It is a difficult thing in theory and in mental preparation, to restrict oneself to reading so slowly, for there are so many great, important works that an intellectually alacritous mind desires to read.  Yet once having discerned the fruits to such a slow and careful endeavor, once the distinction is drawn between reading a book casually and reading a book intelligently, critically, one can only feel somewhat sickly if he tries to read a great book without due diligence. 

To summarize, one’s library should grow much at the same pace as one’s body; and as the latter slows down its growth, so should the former begin to increase as the mind – which, unlike the body, knows no limits – becomes ready for the knowledge that a good library may impart.  Read good books, and read them slowly; and while you will inevitably, from time to time, read books that are not so good, with which there is nothing wrong so long as it is a diversion to allow the mind to rest, be sure to reflect on whatever you read, to weigh it against all the works of the Western tradition, and to put it in its proper place.  In other words, Stephen King is poor company for Dante Alighieri on your shelf.

Suggested Viewing:

Categories: General

Dear Alethea Malachi

May 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Dear Alethea Malachi,

In regards to the allegation of gnosticism (and likewise elitism, arrogance, and whatever else one may justifiably associate with gnosticism), it can only be said “absolutely not.”  Certainly our first issue was not distributed to every individual within the community; but as is later pointed out in your letter, there is significant expense of time, effort, and money in publishing such a work.  Sadly, our financial backing only allows for a limited number of copies to be printed.  Therefore, in distribution, we aimed for those who we thought most likely to find the journal of some interest, and most especially those with whom it wound generate a dialogue.  We do not hold ourselves as the “sole holders” of truth, but seek, through rationally proceeding discourse, to unveil it as much as possible.  Naturally, we hold what we say to be true and thus advocate it, but are not closed to the possibility that we are wrong.  That is the primary goal of this journal: to invite a dialogical discourse and hopefully make clearer the discernment of truth.  If anyone has any argument against anything said in these pages, we welcome it.

If we are going to have a frank discussion about the roles of men and women, not merely in the workplace but in the world at large (segregation of the world into home and office, personal and professional, is something greatly detrimental to a man’s spiritual continuity), it would behoove us to first review the comment in controversy.  Chesterton’s words – “Modern women defend their office with all the fierceness of domesticity.  They fight for desk and typewriter as for hearth and home, and develop a sort of wolfish wifehood on behalf of the invisible head of the firm.  That is why they do office work so well; and that is why they ought not to do it” – are indeed easily misunderstood, regardless of whether not they are placed in the greater context that he wrote them.  Namely, the words derive from the very end of a chapter called “The Emancipation of Domesticity,” in a section titled “Feminism, or the Mistake about Woman,” from the book written in 1910 under the name What’s Wrong with the World.  For any readers unfamiliar with the writing and argumentation style of G.K. Chesterton, he operates almost entirely by paradox.  This bizarre structure can be seen in the above quoted words: he points out that women do office work exceptionally well, and then says that they should not do it. 

So just what is it that Chesterton finds objectionable about women working in an office?  Clearly it is not inefficiency or incompetence, nor is it a threatening of the male workman.  Rather, it is that by working in an office, by becoming another paper pusher, the woman denigrates herself far more than any amount of housework ever could.  It may be that the home-bound woman, the house wife, the stay-at-home mother feels trapped, confined to a mundane and trivial life; and so may the man feel his desk a nine-to-five ball and chain, replete with torture-loving boss.  Feminists will point out that the man gets to leave the home, be self-determining, decide his own work, pursue his dreams, while women are left devoid of options, of freedoms.  Indeed, that is the sacrificial magnitude of the calling to be a wife and mother; no less, but drastically other than the sacrificial calling of a husband and father.  As it says in Ephesians 5:22-28, “Let women be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord: For the husband is the head of the wife; as Christ is the head of the church.  He is the saviour of his body.  Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so also let the wives be to their husbands in all things.  Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the Church, and delivered himself up for it, That he might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of water in the word of life, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, nor any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.  So also ought men to love their wives as their own bodies.  He that loveth his wife, loveth himself.”

This passage is not the easiest to understand.  Even if one accepts that it is not anti-woman, and that it still recognizes a profound equality between men and women while acknowledging their differences, there are hidden nuances of meaning that bear flushing out.  Let us proceed.

Why would St. Paul, and God through him, command women to submit to their husbands?  I do not think it an exercise in humility – and I am fairly certain that most wives would agree that almost all lessons in humility ought to be directed at the less-fair half of a couple.  Why are men commanded to love their wives, and wives not commanded to love their husbands?  It seems an odd pair of double-standards, but the reality is one of perfect relational equanimity, based not on rationally flaccid social mores, but on the indisputable truth of human nature.

Man and woman, as the two halves of the image and likeness of God, are perfectly equal in their natures, and share much in common between them; yet there are profound differences, not so much in structure – excepting anatomy for the moment – but in spiritual focus.  A man is entirely singular in his life: his pursuits are typically of a particular and exclusive nature, as much as a sword is for fighting.  As Chesterton puts it, a man is called to give his best, which inherently and inexorably means giving only one thing, be it a trade, an art, or an intellectual pursuit.  He may exchange one best for another, as Aristotle forsook the practice of medicine for the philosophical quest, but he may never exercise two bests at once and will always feel some pull towards that at which he excels most.  Contrariwise, a woman is called to give everything; not her best, but her all; her duty is not particular, but universal; she is not a sword, but a fire, with which one may burn for warmth, for cooking, for cheer, for smithing or pottery or a thousand other uses.  To quote from the same chapter by Chesterton, “Women were not kept at home in order to keep them narrow; on the contrary, they were kept at home in order to keep them broad.  The world outside the home was one mass of narrowness, a maze of cramped paths, a madhouse of monomaniacs.  It was only by partly limiting and protecting the woman that she was enabled to play at five or six professions and so come almost as near to God as the child when he plays at a hundred trades.” 

This broadness is why women are called to marriage and motherhood: to fulfill the expansive callings of their nature, with the guidance of the singular calling of a man, each assisting the other.  St. Thomas Aquinas said, in his Summa Contra Gentiles, that woman needs man for her governance – not because a woman is incapable of surviving on her own, but because her multitudinous talents can be a distraction.  If you have ever seen a mother with many children overly deprived of her husband, you can see the truth of this; it is too tempting for a woman to extend herself beyond her capabilities, to do too much and succeed in doing it, but to succeed in such a way that she overworks herself, loses sight of the bigger picture.  Nonetheless, there is a strength in woman for holding everything together, all at once; a woman directs all of the parts that make up the whole that is her household, so long as it is definitively hers.  Thus, the efficacious broadness of a woman’s talents is not only the reason she should, ideally, apply herself to managing the home, but also why she ought to stay out of the office; for the office should never belong to one person; and though women may be the most effective administrators, administration is not the end goal of an office.

This brings us to the issues you raise with the faltered masculinity of modernity.  Indeed, I would say that you are very insightful.  Man has, time and time again, failed in his duty to lead, and has enslaved himself to an unnatural, bureaucratic working world, one which undermines and denies his innate manly qualities.  How many men now are employed in a way meaningful, fulfilling?  Not many; the narrow, monomaniacal world of which Chesterton spoke, the world of men, has been made even narrower by the simultaneously occupation of the broad-minded female.    What ought to have been a sword has been reduced to less than a fencing-foil.  The emphasis in all business is on the wrong things: profit, efficiency, shrink, overhead, so on and so forth.  That is not what man is meant to do, outside of the home; he is meant to do one thing, and to do it well, so long as that one thing is something productive, creative, or serves some greater end.  A journalist’s task is to produce good journalism; a carpenter good works of wood.  Services such as accounting are an unfortunately necessity brought about by a perverted, convoluted society without good sense; it serves a greater end, but minimally.  Thus, it is not the work itself which emasculates men, but the manner in which and the end for which he works that deprives him of the manliness he ought to have.

No doubt there are exceptions within either sex; but in order for them to be as exceptions, there must be a rule, a standard, an acknowledgement of the natures of man and of woman as that against which the abnormalities are excepted.

Regardless, we come back around to that which seemed prior, and may now doubly-so, to be a double-standard between God’s commandments to husbands and wives.  That there is no radical difference between them would appear indisputable: except, of course, when we examine the ends at which man and woman are naturally inclined to achieve, despite by drastically different means.  Namely, men and women act so as to complete one another; individually, they are incomplete, unfulfilled reflections of the Divine, which can fit together only like a four-dimensional jigsaw puzzle.  Thus men are commanded to love their wives, and to show that love by being always ready to die for them, as Christ died for the Church.  Women are also commanded to love their husbands, to love them by submitting to them, by being faithful to them, by living every day for them, as the Church lives every day for Christ.  In the words of the late and hopefully soon canonized Bishop Fulton Sheen, “As a matter of fact, men and women are not equal in sex; they are quite unequal, and it is only because they are unequal that they complement one another.  Each has a superiority of function.  Man and woman are equal, inasmuch as they have the same rights and liberties, the same final goal of life, and the same redemption by the Blood of Our Divine Saviour – but they are different in function, like the lock and key.”

I could of course go on much more, but I will leave off with more words from Bishop Sheen:

“[Mary] was the inspiration to womanhood, not because she claimed there was equality in sex (peculiarly enough, this was the one equality she ignored), but because of a transcendence in function which made her superior to a man, inasmuch as she could encompass a man, as Isaias foretold.  Great men we need, like Paul with a two-edged sword to cut away the bonds that tie down the energies of the world – and men like Peter, who will let the broad stroke of their challenge ring out on the shield of the world’s hypocrisy – great men like John who, with a loud voice, will arouse the world from the sleek dream of unheroic repose.  But we need women still more; women like Mary of Cleophas, who will raise sons to lift up white hoists to a Heavenly Father; women like Magdalene, who will take hold of the tangled skeins of seemingly wrecked and ruined life and weave out of them the beautiful tapestry of saintliness and holiness; and women, above all, like Mary, the Lady of Equity, who will leave the lights and glamours of the world for the shades and shadows of the Cross, where saints are made.  When women of this kind return to save the world with equity, then we shall toast them, we shall salute them, not as ‘the modern woman, once our superior and now our equal,’ but as the Christian woman closest to the Cross on Good Friday, and first at the Tomb on Easter morn.”

Your rather large paragraph regarding the Southern Catholic community seems to be raising two main points: one, that the student body appears to be well-educated, well-informed, and ought to be left to its own course without any effort such as that which comes in this journal; two, that one cannot judge something without knowing every last detail about how it came to be as it is.  As regards the first point, the majority of education for most students comes outside of the classroom.  Certainly, a student’s peers cannot hold a candle to the erudition of his venerable professors; but dissemination of information from a higher authority is fruitless if the mind is not willing to accept it, to seek it (Mark 4:1-20).  Positive peer influence can have a magnificent effect, not only to make a student more eager within the classroom, but also outside of it – to extend intellectual alacrity not only to academia, but to the world at large.  In response to the second point, an institution is not judged by its intentions or the secret difficulties it faces, but by the results it produces.  It may be that, to some eyes, an institution is producing satisfactory or even excellent results, that it is living up to its promises.  To other eyes, it may not seem so.  Undoubtedly, there are many details that never extend beyond the complicated, bureaucratic inner workings of such organizations.  The question is whether or not the inner works should be so complicated and bureaucratic, and even more so whether or not they should be so secretive. 

Where do girls find time to do their hair, or students to write for a school-run newspaper?  Perhaps we took shorter showers, slept a little less, spent a bit less time at meals or idly discussing our egotistic and pedantic opinions.  Minor sacrifices of time come easily, and do not in the least necessitate a failing in the fulfillment of our vocations as students.  Furthermore, we do not see how opinions (though such is a weak word, indicating a nervousness about whether or not one is correct) in contradiction to our own could be of equal value, for a thing cannot both be and not be at the same time, in the same place, and in the same manner; in other words, if one of us is right, the other must necessarily be wrong.  Consequently, to rectify these discrepancies of belief, the journal was primarily distributed to those whose opinions are contrary to ours, in order to, as has been stated over and over again, facilitate a dialogue, to employ reason in the service of truth.  What do we gain by it?  “Do you see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only?” (James 2:24).

Pax Domini
Veritatis Praeco

Suggested further reading:
What’s Wrong with the World – G.K. Chesterton
The World’s First Love – The Most Reverend Fulton J. Sheen

Categories: Correspondence

February and April Editions

May 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Are now available online!  Links are on the right.  In the future, every print issue will be available on the blog roughly one month after publication.  Also expect posts to pick up in frequency, chiefly with the reply to Alethea Malachi later today.

Edit: Sorry if there have been any problems with the links; I am trying to find a better file hosting service.  The links ought to work right now, but the service to which I switched will open another window on you when you try to download.  The file downloads alright, but who doesn’t hate spammish advertising?  If anyone has recommendations, let me know.

Categories: General

Dear Writers and Editors of Veritatis Praeco

May 6, 2009 1 comment

Editor’s Note: This letter was received in response to the first issue of Veritatis Praeco.  An abbreviated reply is included in the second issue, and a full response will be posted here as soon as it is completed.

I have several questions and comments regarding your recent newsletter. The first of which is a complaint. Why was I not afforded the opportunity to read through the newsletter first-hand? I did not receive a copy of your enlightening document. Was I considered unworthy or was I simply overlooked? Surely the editors of such a fine journal would consider it imperative to provide such discussions of truth to all members of society regardless of creed, gender, or color. Does the fact I was absented your mailing list betray some bias on your part? Was there an ulterior motive involved in providing copies to those who did receive the journal? Do you truly aspire to spread truth or do you merely wish to receive approbation and confirmation of your views from an intellectual minority?

My second observation ties in with my first. If you wish to enlighten a community, surely you should contact all its members. Since you have not, I fear I must lay the charge of gnosticism (not the religious view, but of the possession of esoteric knowledge) at your door. Do the editors and writers of Veritatis Praeco believe they are the sole holders of “truth” and understanding regarding Catholic education and worship? Is there an underground society I should join in order to receive the fullness of truth (which apparently I need Veritatis Praeco’s help finding and without which I am lost amid the sunken and crippled intellectual wreckage which drifts through the morass of modern relativist society)?

Furthermore, as an advocate for all things good and true, I take offense at the inclusion of G.K. Chesterton’s comment in your “Logos” section on page 10. I appreciate Chesterton’s sentiment as I have read his writings and I understand his objection to women in the workplace. However, I find it to be out of context in your journal and an example of a biased and unbalanced discussion against women’s equality and opportunity. A full appreciation of the many talents and gifts which women have is vital to the protection and true understanding of femininity. All women should not be banned from the workplace or sequestered to the seclusion of the home simply because they are women. Neither so should all men be forced into the business world to wear a suit and tie and work long meaningless hours as an actuary (no offense intended to the noble profession) or paper-pusher simply because it is the role society has designated for the male. The great advantage of the modern age is that all persons are free to pursue whatever course God may call them too–be it as homemaker, office clerk, CEO, blacksmith, or entrepreneur. 

God does not call all women to be mothers just as all men are not called to be fathers. True, women are biologically and spiritually “programmed”, if you will, for motherhood–but that natural role can be fulfilled in as many different ways as there are vocations and callings. To be celibate and or a virgin does not circumvent the natural design of a woman, it merely shifts its focus from natural born children to spiritual children or to adopted children (as with a daycare worker or social worker). The feminine predisposition toward motherhood is much like the masculine propensity to “provide and protect.” Clearly, the modern man does not hunt and forage every day and protect his family and land by killing those who trespass on it. They work in various positions for an hourly, daily, or yearly wage in order to provide and they protect by providing the basic needs to their families–food, clothing, shelter, etc. They work in the government to enact laws which will ensure their and their families’ safety. Some will say this does not “fulfill” the so-called natural determination of the man to protect and provide. Some would even say that the modern cycle undermines masculinity to such an extent that the modern man no longer acts as a man–he is emasculated, undone, becomes self-serving rather than self-sacrificing, and lapses to a subservient position to the female. Just as the act of that unfortunate Garden incident undermined the proper roles of man and woman by woman’s weakness and man’s failure to lead, so the modern man continues to fall far short of his originally intended nature. 

As a member of the Southern Catholic community, I question your motives in providing the Veritatis journal. I do not understand why the students of the college would benefit from your discussions as the College is a well-formed and well-educated whole, directed toward following the principles and precept of the Catholic Church, which provides an environment which best encourages and induces good spiritual, mental, and social formation. No doubt it has flaws, as any human institution does. However, in the grand scheme it appears to be a well-run, well-furnished educational institution which is capable of attracting and retaining a diverse student population which is, by and large, composed of studious matriculants. The inner workings of the College administration are just that, the inner workings of the administration. Without being present at every board meeting and staff meeting, can we accurately judge the success or failure of the administration to correctly safeguard and support the mission of the College? As far as I know, no one person on this campus has the right to make a judgment about how well or how poorly the staff perform their duties. Such a judgment would require first-hand knowledge of meetings and operations far beyond the reach of any student or professor or other professional on-campus. The complexity of the administrative structure is such that most decisions pass through several departments and before many eyes before they are finalized. What end does repeatedly vocalizing criticism of certain departments or decisions acheive? We change nothing, solve nothing, gain nothing beyond the gradual poisoning of our own souls through the violence and cursing of our mouths (See James 3 and James 4:11 regarding speaking ill of our brothers and sisters). Rather, we should pray, keep watch, and be active (not passive as it appears you are being by publishing an anonymous journal) in finding a positive solution to the percieved ills. Such would Our Lord urge us to do (Matthew 26:41).

Furthermore, if you are, indeed, also members of the college community, where did you find the time to create this journal? I am sure such writing, editing, and typesetting were time-consuming and exhausting. Could you possibly be able to fulfill your own duties and educational requirements, in addition to your spiritual lives and social activities, to the best of your ability while expending such effort into this diversion? How can you justify the expense of time, effort, and money for printing costs when you clearly must sacrifice some aspect of your own college education to do so while writing about the woes of the recession and the wise use of resources? What do you gain by it? Self-gratification? Inflated egos? Since your recipient audience is so severely limited, I can only assume that you intend to exalt your own pedantic opinions, deride and attack other opinions which may be of equal value but of which you do not approve because they are not your own, and to create a gnostic clique which merely reinforces its own narrow-minded judgments through the limited reading of a few select authors which express similar or identical views?

Yours respectfully, 

Alethea Malachi

(You will, of course, take no offense at my own use of pseudonym since I use it to express true and proclaim wisdom without personality etc… etc… etc.)


Categories: Correspondence