Skip to comments.Was Our Lady of Guadalupe Wrong?
Posted on 12/15/2004 10:54:42 PM PST by AskStPhilomena
This past Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, was also the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is the Patroness of the Americas and of the unborn. As we approach the days of the "O" antiphons, it is very appropriate to reflect on the relevance of Our Lady's apparition to Saint Juan Diego to the Americas today.
Our Lady appeared to Saint Juan Diego as he was on his way to an offering of Holy Mass. The only Mass offered in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church at that time was the Immemorial Mass of Tradition. Our Lady asked Juan Diego to beseech the local bishop to build a shrine in her honor where the many millions of those soon to be converted to the true Faith could worship God in the Mass that begins with a priest reciting the Judica me at the foot of the steps leading to the altar of sacrifice and ends with the Gospel of the Incarnation. The miraculous image Our Lady left on Juan Diego's tilma helped to effect the conversion of over nine million indigenous peoples of the Americas to the true Faith, almost person for person the number of people lost to the Church as a result of the Protestant Revolt in Europe. Our Lady's apparition to Juan Diego thus helped to expedite the process of the Catholicization of every single aspect of the culture of Latin America. The very process of establishing Christendom in Europe that took centuries to realize came about with remarkable speed in Latin America. There were thriving centers of Catholic learning and religious life throughout the region by the end of the Sixteenth Century into the beginning of the Seventeenth Century.
Our Lady is the Mother of the Word Who became Flesh in her virginal and immaculate womb by the power of the Holy Ghost. She wants every aspect of every nation's social life to be centered around the fact of her Divine Son's Incarnation and His Redemptive Act on the wood of the Holy Cross. She wants every nation to frankly confess her Divine Son as its one and only King. She wants every nation on earth to be totally subordinate to the entirety of the Deposit of Faith her Divine Son entrusted to Holy Mother Church. And she wants every nation on earth to recognize her as its Immaculate Queen.
In light of the dismissive attitude that the apologists of the errors or conciliarism, such as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, as well as some allegedly traditionally-minded Catholics have about the necessity of the restoration of the Social Reign of Christ the King, a very pertinent question needs to be asked: Was Our Lady of Guadalupe wrong to have brought about the conversion of so many millions of people to the true Faith? Is complete and total subordination to the true Faith necessary for personal sanctity and thus for all social order? Is every aspect of a nation's life meant to permeated by Catholicism without any exception whatsoever? Was the Church wrong to have insisted in the past five centuries that the errors of Modernity, including Protestantism and all forms of naturalism, are incompatible with the salvation of souls and thus for the right ordering of men in their social lives?
Some of those who share Cardinal Ratzinger's enthusiasm for the pluralistic model that was spawned by the American Founding have dismissed the arguments made by critics of the Americanist heresy by saying that such critics, including this writer, are engaging in "special pleading," that we are seeking to fit the facts of history to prove our prejudiced presuppositions about the American experience. That this is not the case is obvious to all who have the spiritual vision to see. Either the Popes of the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries were right about their contemporary criticisms of the modern state or they were wrong. If they were wrong, then their consistent criticism and condemnation of religious indifferentism was wrong, thus making indifference about the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity as Man in Our Lady's virginal and immaculate womb and the Deposit of Faith He entrusted to His true Church a virtue that promotes both civic harmony and religious liberty. If such indifference, though, is not problematic, then there is nothing wrong with the spirit of Freemasonry, which contends that religious indifferentism is indeed a social virtue as denominational religion "divides" people, who can pursue "civic virtue" on their own without belief in, access to and cooperation with sanctifying grace. If the Popes of Tradition are right, the Freemasons are wrong. If the Popes of Tradition are wrong, then the Freemasons and their conciliarist allies are correct. There is no other way around this. The principle of non-contradiction teaches us that two mutually contradictory statements cannot be true simultaneously.
The Popes of the Nineteenth Century were not the only ones who were contemporaries of the events that were in the process of undermining Catholicism in the United States and elsewhere in the world. A convert to the Catholic Faith named Orestes Brownson saw the inherent problems of the American Founding and their effects upon Catholics in the United States as early as 1845, one year after he had converted to the Faith and fully thirty-three years before Pope Leo XIII ascended to the Throne of Saint Peter as the immediate successor of Pope Pius IX. Orestes Brownson saw quite clearly that false ideas lead to bad results without exception, that no effort to create a synthetic national regime that is premised upon indifference to the Incarnation and to the true Faith will result in anything other than social disaster over the course of time. Orestes Brownson was not engaging in "special pleading." He was given the grace from Our Lady to see where false ideas lead: barbarism.
Thus, in hopes of encouraging all who have access to the channels of mass communication to defend the primacy of the Catholic Faith rather than to exalt the enemies of Christ the King, such as Thomas Jefferson, I hereby present Orestes Brownson's October, 1845 essay, "Catholicity Necessary to Sustain Popular Liberty."
Catholicity Necessary to Sustain Popular Liberty
by Orestes Brownson
By popular liberty, we mean democracy; by democracy, we mean the democratic form of government; by the democratic form of government, we mean that form of government which vests the sovereignty in the people as population, and which is administered by the people, either in person or by their delegates. By sustaining popular liberty, we mean, not the introduction or institution of democracy, but preserving it when and where it is already introduced, and securing its free, orderly, and wholesome action. By Catholicity, we mean the Roman Catholic Church, faith, morals, and worship. The thesis we propose to maintain is, therefore, that without the Roman Catholic religion it is impossible to preserve a democratic government, and secure its free, orderly, and wholesome action. Infidelity, Protestantism, heathenism may institute a democracy, but only Catholicity can sustain it.
Our own government, in its origin and constitutional form, is not a democracy, but, if we may use the expression, a limited elective aristocracy. In its theory, the representative, within the limits prescribed by the constitution, when once elected, and during the time for which he is elected, is, in his official action, independent of his constituents, and not responsible to them for his acts. For this reason, we call the government an elective aristocracy. But, practically, the government framed by our fathers no longer exists, save in name. Its original character has disappeared, or is rapidly disappearing. The Constitution is a dead letter, except so far as it serves to prescribe the modes of election, the rule of the majority, the distribution and tenure of offices, and the union and separation of the functions of government. Since 1828, it has been becoming in practice, and is now, substantially, a pure democracy, with no effective constitution but the will of the majority for the time being. Whether the change has been for the better or the worse, we need not stop to inquire. The change was inevitable, because men are more willing to advance themselves by flattering the people and perverting the constitution, than they are by self-denial to serve their country. The change has been effected, and there is no return to the original theory of the government. Any man who should plant himself on the Constitution, and attempt to arrest the democratic tendency, - no matter what his character, ability, virtues, services, - would be crushed and ground to powder. Your Calhouns must give way for your Polks and Van Burens, your Websters for your Harrisons and Tylers. No man, who is not prepared to play the demagogue, to stoop to flatter the people, and, in one direction or another, to exaggerate the democratic tendency, can receive the nomination for an important office, or have influence in public affairs. The reign of great men, of distinguished statesmen and firm patriots, is over, and that of the demagogues has begun. Your most important offices are hereafter to be filled by third and fourth-rate men, - men too insignificant to excite strong opposition, and too flexible in their principles not to be willing to take any direction the caprices of the mob - or the interests of the wire-pullers of the mob - may demand. Evil or no evil, such is the fact, and we must conform to it.
Such being the fact, the question comes up, How are we to sustain popular liberty, to secure the free, orderly, and wholesome action of our practical democracy? The question is an important one, and cannot be blinked at with impunity.
The theory of democracy is, Construct your government and commit it to the people to be taken care of. Democracy is not properly a government; but what is called the government is a huge machine contrived to be wielded by the people as they shall think proper. In relation to it the people are assumed to be what Almighty God is to the universe, the first cause, the medial cause, the final cause. It emanates from them; it is administered by them, and for them; and, moreover, they are to keep watch and provide for its right administration.
It is a beautiful theory, and would work admirably, if it were not for one little difficulty, namely, - the people are fallible, both individually and collectively, and governed by their passions and interest, which not unfrequently lead them far astray, and produce much mischief. The government must necessarily follow their will; and whenever that will happens to be blinded by passion, or misled by ignorance or interest, the government must inevitably go wrong; and government can never go wrong without doing injustice. The government may be provided for; the people may take care of that; but who or what is to take care of people, and assure us that they will always wield the government so as to promote justice and equality, or maintain order and the equal rights of all, of all classes and interests?
Do not answer by referring us to the virtue and intelligence of the people. We are writing seriously, and have no leisure to enjoy a joke, even if it be a good one. We have too much principle, we hope, to seek to humbug and have had too much experience to be humbugged. We are Americans, American born, American bred, and we love our country, and will, when called upon, defend it, against any and every enemy, to the best of our feeble ability; but, though we by no means rate American virtue and intelligence so low as do those who will abuse us for not rating it higher, we cannot consent to hoodwink ourselves, or to claim for our countrymen a degree of virtue and intelligence they do not possess. We are acquainted with no salutary errors, and are forbidden to seek even a good end by any but honest means. The virtue and intelligence of the American people are not sufficient to secure the free, orderly, and wholesome action of the government; for they do not secure it. The government commits, every now and then, a sad blunder, and the general policy it adopts must prove, in the long run, suicidal. It has adopted a most iniquitous policy, and its most unjust measures are its most popular measures, such as it would be fatal to any mans political success directly and openly to oppose; and we think we hazard nothing in saying, our free institutions cannot be sustained without an augmentation of popular virtue and intelligence. We do not say the people are not capable of a sufficient degree of virtue and intelligence to sustain a democracy; all we say is, they cannot do it without virtue and intelligence, nor without a higher degree of virtue and intelligence than they have as yet attained to. We do not apprehend that many of our countrymen, and we are sure no one whose own virtue and intelligence entitle his opinion to any weight, will dispute this. Then the question of the means of sustaining our democracy resolves itself into the question of augmenting the virtue and intelligence of the people.
The press makes readers, but does little to make virtuous and intelligent readers. The newspaper press is, for the most part, under the control of men of very ordinary abilities, lax principles, and limited acquirements. It echoes and exaggerates popular errors, and does little or nothing to create a sound public opinion. Your popular literature caters to popular taste, passions, prejudices, ignorance, and errors; it is by no means above the average degree of virtue and intelligence which already obtains, and can do nothing to create a higher standard of virtue or tone of thought. On what, then, are we to rely?
"On Education," answer Frances Wright, Abner Kneeland, the Hon. Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education, and the Educationists generally. But we must remember that we must have virtue and intelligence. Virtue without intelligence will only fit the mass to be duped by the artful and designing; and intelligence without virtue only make one the abler and more successful villain. Education must be of the right sort, if it is to answer our purpose; for a bad education is worse than none. The Mohametans are great sticklers for education, and, if we recollect aright, it is laid down in the Koran, that every believer must at least be taught to read; but we do not find their education does much to advance them in virtue and intelligence. Education, moreover, demands educators, and educators of the right sort. Where are these to be obtained? Who is to select them, judge of their qualifications, sustain or dismiss then? The people? Then you place education in the same category with democracy. You make the people through their representatives the educators. The people will select and sustain only such educators as represent their own virtues, vices, intelligence, prejudices, and errors. Whether they educate mediately or immediately, they can impart only what they have and are. Consequently, with them for educators, we can, by means even of universal education, get no increase of virtue and intelligence to bear on the government. The people may educate, but where is that which takes care that they educate in a proper manner? Here is the very difficulty we began by pointing out. The people take care of the government and education; but who or what is to take care of the people, who need taking care of quite as much as either education or government? - for, rightly considered, neither government nor education has any other legitimate end than to take care of the people.
We know of but one solution of the difficulty, and that is in RELIGION. There is no foundation for virtue but in religion, and it is only religion that can command the degree of popular virtue and intelligence requisite to insure to popular government the right direction and a wise and just administration. A people without religion, however successful they may be in throwing off old institutions, or in introducing new ones, have no power to secure the free, orderly, and wholesome working of any institutions. For the people can bring to the support of institutions only the degree of virtue and intelligence they have; and we need not stop to prove that an infidel people can have very little either of virtue or intelligence, since, in this professedly Christian country, this will and must be conceded us. We shall, therefore, assume, without stopping to defend our assumption, that religion is the power or influence we need to take care of the people, and secure the degree of virtue and intelligence necessary to sustain popular liberty. We say, then, if democracy commits the government of the people to be taken care of, religion is to take care that they take proper care of the government, rightly direct and wisely administer it.
But what religion? It must be a religion which is above the people and controls them, or it will not answer the purpose. If it depends on the people, if the people are to take care of it, to say what it shall be, what it shall teach, what it shall command, what worship or discipline it shall insist on being observed, we are back in our old difficulty. The people take care of religion; but who or what is to take care of the people? We repeat, then, what religion? IT cannot be Protestantism, in all or any of its forms; for Protestantism assumes as its point of departure that Almighty God has indeed given us a religion, but has given it to us not to take care of us, but to be taken care of by us. It makes religion the ward of the people; assumes it to be sent on earth a lone and helpless orphan, to be taken in by the people, who are to serve as its nurse.
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