Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Legality of the Old Rite

In the following article I shall endeavor to make a case for the public re-introduction of the pre-1962 Roman liturgy, both Mass and Office, from the perspective of Ecclesiastical law. First, I will specify what I mean by the pre-1962 liturgy. Then I will explore the concepts of abrogation, reprobation, custom, and the competing concepts of law present in the Tridentine decrees and the 1983 CIC.

Part I: Defining the Old Rite

By the "old rite" in the context of this blog I generally mean the Roman liturgy as it existed at the dawn of the 20th century, prior to the textual reductions of Pius X and John XXIII to the Office, the ceremonial changes of Pius XII to Holy Week, the vitiations of the kalendar, and the festive ranking system. 

A few posts ago, when discussing Msgr. Schneider's comments on the un-reformed Breviary, a commenting reader asked, presumably in derision, why not go beyond Trent? Why not re-introduce medieval sequences and see how far back into history we can transport ourselves. For the purposes of this article we will confine ourselves to the liturgical books promulgated at Trent and in use in the Latin Church, excepting for local tradition, until John XXIII. Consequently, this includes the typical editions published by Pius X, Pius XII, and early in the life of Papa Roncalli. 

The reason for this is that arguments about Canon Law must be reasonable. Canon Law is not very like modern secular law of the Common Law tradition, whereby established precedents and judicial decisions from prior times guide our contemporary interpretation of law. Additionally, the Codex is not a sacred book in the way law is sacred and uplifting to quotidian society. It is a rule book for governing holy things rather than the holy thing itself; in this it is subject to criticism and historical contrast, but it cannot be interpreted to mean anything other than what it plainly says, the very strange case of the FSSPX not withstanding.

The "Tridentine" liturgy neatly comports to this argument because its use is reasonable in that it is practical, something that could be done without resorting to medieval commentaries, reproducing long lost manuscripts, or resurrecting long dead cultures that used these traditions. The Tridentine liturgy, so named, was ratified by both an ecumenical council and an indefinitely (not the same as eternally) binding papal decree; it was built upon ancient custom and crystallized according to the highest standards of Church law: general episcopal ascent and the judgment of the pope in unison.

"Reasonable", in canonical terms, generally means compelling or necessary, but in the context of someone asking for something it could also mean practical. In this, the Tridentine liturgy, up to '62, is also "reasonable" in that it could be revived without extravagant effort. Before Summorum Pontificum there were enough Missals from which the 1962 Mass could be derived, but most Missals seem to be more recent prints. The older liturgy is accessibly easily enough through the same existing books, older books which can be found with little effort for purchase, and even smaller scale re-printing which one hopes might expand to a larger base.

Legally, a distinction must be adumbrated concerning the Tridentine Office and the Divino Afflatu scheme. In the penultimate paragraph of the aforementioned document Pius X explicitly suppresses the immemorial psalter and declares those who violate his new schema will incur the wrath of Ss. Peter and Paul. This issue will be addressed when we discuss abrogation and its place in law below. Otherwise, there are no such statements in subsequent 20th century liturgical reforms that openly repeal the existing forms, they merely introduce new ones with the assumption clergy will adapt them.

Part II: The Place of Custom

When a liturgical tradition has textual and practical continuity for over a millennium the most immediately obvious canonical precedent is that of custom. Custom in the common parlance means common or habitual practice, but also unwritten law. The Angelic Doctor's own words about "custom" in the Summa, II.97, form the basis for the canonical understanding of custom and, in many respects, are a more complete understanding of Ecclesiastical custom than what is in the current Codex.

Saint Thomas discusses custom in a larger question about whether human laws should be changed and how. In article 2 the Common Doctor observes that "the binding power of the law is diminished, in so far as custom is abolished." More broadly, he means that custom is one with the law and that to change custom is to change law, written or unwritten. Just as Divine Law proceeds from the "reasonable will of God," so Human Law proceeds from the "will of man, regulated by reason." Thomas presumably pauses from calling Man's will "reasonable" because it is not always reasonable, but can be tempered by reason; along a similar vein a great deal of what men do is habitual, not intentional, making those habits inapplicable to law and custom.

As a basis for the rest of his answer, Aquinas adduces St. Augustine's views on Christian custom having the force of Divine Law:
"The customs of God's people and the institutions of our ancestors are to be considered as laws. And those who throw contempt on the customs of the Church ought to be punished as those who disobey the law of God." 
Law is normative, but for Thomas man-made law is also fungible, even Ecclesiastical law. The repetition of external action in union with interior will forms a reasonable custom from which law derives and which has the power to alter law.
"Wherefore by actions also, especially if they be repeated, so as to make a custom, law can be changed and expounded; and also something can be established which obtains force of law, in so far as by repeated external actions, the inward movement of the will, and concepts of reason are most effectually declared; for when a thing is done again and again, it seems to proceed from a deliberate judgment of reason. Accordingly, custom has the force of a law, abolishes law, and is the interpreter of law."
If liturgical historians ever wanted a tight definition of "organic development" they would find it in Thomas's above words. Like administrative law, liturgical norms gain structure, substance, and interpretation through custom. 

Part III: Codex Iuris Canonici MCMLXXXIII

Modern Canon Law, according to the 1983 Codex, makes provision for existing customs and the intentional creation of new customs. Canons 23-28 deal with the erection of customs; intentional customs must:

  • not violate Divine Law
  • be introduced to a "community of faithful" capable of receiving it under its legislative head
  • not violate current Canon Law (unless it has been used for thirty years or holds the force of immemorial custom)
The old Mass and Office certainly do not violate Divine Law, unless all of those Counter-Reformation Saints were as legitimately canonized as Papa Montini.

It is the second of these points that is most critical to understand, that a custom must prevail upon a "community of faithful" capable of receiving it under its legislative head, whoever that happens to be. A custom cannot be a private practice. If a parish priest, for example, were to come upon a Pius IX era Breviary and wish to say it, he really would not carry the force of custom if he were only to use this Office privately. He would, however, have legitimate access to it if he celebrates Mass, whenever he celebrates the pre-Conciliar rites, according to the same rubrics, kalendar, and commemorations; the same would apply for any public celebration of the Office. John Beal's commentary on the Code goes on to remark that a custom must be stable and an intentional norm for a community. There can be no variation, optionality, or mixing-and-matching; otherwise a custom is not realized. This is critical, as custom, both canonically and Scholastically, have the force of Law because they govern popular behavior and belief as much as Law if not more. If it is not "popular" then it cannot be a custom, just a personal habit. 

Who is the legislator or canonical authority for such a decision? Presumably the head of a "community of faithful" as envisioned by the Law, be it an Abbot in a monastery, a Mother Superior in a convent, the parish pastor, or a bishop, should one wish to expand orthopraxis.

With respect to the old liturgy there is the issue of the abrogation of the Roman Psalter by Pius X, which could seemingly end conversation about a liturgical revival, at least of the full blown Latin rite. This is not necessarily the case. In his New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, Beal observes that the canons regarding custom suppress "reprobated" custom, which is not the same as abrogated custom—custom administratively suppressed, but not something inherently wrong. He goes on to observe that abrogated customs could be legitimized again, whereas a reprobated custom is one that violates Divine Law, morals, or the liberty of the Church. 

The Tridentine Office does exist contrary to modern Law. It also enjoys immemorial custom in every sense of the word. One can pinpoint its official publications and typical editions after the Council of Trent, but its contents reach back centuries and its essentials far beyond that. Indeed, most of it is so very old that no one could really say when its specific contents started. Along the same lines, it met canonical abrogation, but simultaneously enjoys the highest state of approval possible, that of a pope in union with an ecumenical council and the full force of custom. Its revival would be contrary to the current force of liturgical norms, but would, simultaneously, be quite legal in virtue of its "reasonable" nature, the ability of a community of faithful to receive it under the correct authority, and its immemorial precedent.

In short, Pius X, and potentially Pius XII, suppressed the old rite, yet the 1983 Codex provides for immemorial custom to be reasonable enough to contravene existing law and for new custom to be imposed on those who would receive it.

Part IV: Greater Concepts of Law

Canon Law's recognition of custom reminds us of an opening point of this short article, which is that while the Codex cannot be read as saying anything other than what it does (ex. Archbishop Lefebvre rejecting the 1983 CIC altogether), it is not the only source or end of law in the Church. In fact, the general idea of Canon Law today has a very different tone from the medieval decretals from which is derives. Canon Law, both in the 1917 and 1983 forms, comes across as prescriptive, whereas the older outlook was that law is proscriptive and protective. Custom and stability give form to Law itself, which must be stable. Any system of law that changes at a whim debases the authority of the law giver.

Before Canon Law, at still embedded in the general outlook of Catholics and of the Councils we are bound to believe, custom and canons reign supreme, both of which are protective and proscriptive by nature. In our case, Pius V confirmed the Roman rite in the interest of perpetuating its use, not dictating what it is. In light of this plain fact, we can apply Saint Thomas's statement on the legal force of custom—and the Summa was placed on the altar, beside the Gospels, at Trent—guides our outlook on all Church law.

This more ancient and more universal outlook on law and custom resides in the very document which began the question of pre-Conciliar forms, Summorum Pontificum. Upon its issuance in 2007 many understandably raised their motu proprio copies in the air and screamed the old fashioned Traditionalist bromide "Never abrograted." How Michael Davies would have loved to see that day!

The passage of time has discovered another far more illuminating and enduring phrase within Summorum, that "What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful." 

Concluding Thoughts

The historic concept of Canon Law, omnipresent in councils and theology, is that law derives from custom and should custom be stable, it gives guidance to the understanding and interpretation of law. In no greater point is this more apparent than in the older Roman liturgy as it existed after Trent, which passed on what had been understood as the Roman rite and which tangibly, firmly continued to be the Roman rite for centuries. Modern Canon Law accommodates for both the introduction of custom and the use of immemorial custom, even if contrary to abrogation. Under this aegis, the leader of a Catholic community could reasonably revive use of the old rite if he did in fact intend to do so as a custom, that is, as the normal way of practicing the old Mass and Office in a given place.

Fathers, let go of apprehensions and buy a Ordo for the old Ordo. Get out of the folded chasubles or have them made. Embrace the old liturgy as a custom, both of the past and the future.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The High Places of Solomon

Josias was the last good king of the southern Kingdom of Judah, the last before the pagan empire of Babylon humbled the chosen people who had so often wandered off to worship strange gods. During his reign the high priest Helcias informed Josias that he had found something odd in the Temple: a book of the law of Moses which had been lost for a very great time. Having heard the book read aloud, Josias tore his garments and begged forgiveness for the many offenses against God. To which a prophetess responded that God would still punish Judah for its many crimes, but he would hold onto his wrath until after the king's death.

Dauntless, Josias made good on his repentance and turned his people as thoroughly towards the worship of God as possible. He made his officers hear the law and swear fealty to it. He cast the Baal-worshipers out of the Temple and burned the demon-god's sacred tree to ashes. He defiled every hill shrine dedicated to the host of heaven. He destroyed the houses of the sodomites near the Temple.

He desecrated the high places of Solomon, the son of David; those shrines the wisest man who ever lived had set up for the worship of Astaroth, Chamos, and Melchom. For hundreds of years these had remained in Jerusalem, offending God and his angels with the stench of their polluted sacrifices. Imagine if temples to Odin and Jupiter had been used in the courtyard of St. Peter's Basilica throughout the ages of Christendom. Imagine they had been built by a pope.
There was no king before him like unto him, that returned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his strength, according to all the law of Moses. Neither after him did there arise any like him. (4 Kings xxiii)
But his son Joachaz did the same evil as his ancestors. God was so displeased with the son of Josias that he was permitted to reign only three months, and died in captivity to the Pharaoh of Egypt.

Clearly the hearts of the people were always straying towards wickedness, and it took a king of massive will to hold their evil in check and force them to follow the Mosaic ceremonies. Catholics have far more sources and opportunities for grace than did the ancient Hebrews, but we still stray the moment our bishops allow it. How many Catholic laity do we know who approve of contraception or perverse marriages? How many were ready to follow the world into damnation the moment the bishops stopped holding them back from the brink?

Josias is a figure of repentance, a symbol of the destruction of evil in our souls. We may live for years in ignorance of God's will, but once we learn it we must swiftly repent and obey. We must root out all the sins of our fathers, die to our selves, and desecrate the idolatrous altars with the bones. This must happen regardless of the great momentum of God's displeasure against the people, because we can at least save ourselves and those few who follow with us. It does not matter how many of our forefathers were wicked or lukewarm; that is no excuse for us. Josias was like the only important one of his ancestors, the man after God's own heart.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Suffrages of the Saints

The suffrages of the various saints in the old Divine Office are rarely treated in histories of the liturgy. Gregory Dix and Pierre Battifol make no mention of them. Perhaps Jungmann does, but I am not familiar enough with his scholarship to recall off hand. Yet these intercessions to the Saints were present in the Lauds and Vespers of the Roman rite for nearly a millennium, as stationary and consistent as the antiphons on the psalms themselves.

Devotion to the Saints entered the regular aspects of the liturgy some time between the reign of Gregory the Great and the reforming pontificate of Gregory VII. In the 9th and 10th centuries monks began to dedicate ferial, non-Lenten Saturdays to Our Lady. At the same time demand for additional Requiem Masses birthed the "private" Mass, that is, an additional Mass not specifically required by the liturgy of the day (in contrast to days where the liturgy traditionally does demand numerous Masses, like the Roman rite on Christmas or the pre-Byzantine rites of Jersualem on Pascha). Votive Masses of the Saints came some time later, but from the same popular desire for liturgical devotion. Early chapters of Duffy's Stripping of the Altars has some fascinating discussion of the evolution of votive Mass texts, mainly by means of priests guiding the benefactors through what sort of readings might be most appropriate and even efficacious for a Saint.

It might be safe to say the Suffrages date to around this time, some era shortly after the Gregorian reforms cemented the place of Gallican influences in the Roman liturgy, including Gallican monastic influences. This last point ought not be overlooked. When Saint Peter Damian visited Cluny, sure the monks were slacking on their vows by wearing habits of the daily liturgical color and feasting on huge meals, he was exhausted after participating in several days of their common life, which included the full daily Office, the Office of the Dead, the Office of the Blessed Virgin, and the Office of All the Saints, some ten hours in choro plus the day's Mass and any potential private Masses.

The texts of the Suffrages relate more to the votive Offices of the Middle Ages than they do to the older feasts of the Saints. For example, the collect for Our Lady is that of Vespers in the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin, not that of any generally celebrated Latin feasts of the Virgin, the Assumption, the Nativity of the Virgin, or the Annunciation. Similarly, the collect for Ss. Peter and Paul is that of the votive Mass of those two Apostles, not that of their feast, although the votive Mass is remarkably similar to that of their Octave day, which presents and "chick or the egg" question about which came first. It would seem possible, if not probable, that the Suffrages were initially instituted as means of honoring Saints on days when their greater veneration was impeded by the presence of Sunday.

Lastly, in the Tridentine Office the Suffrages were sung in choro and kneeling. Was it always like this? Or were the Suffrages sung in the manner of other antiphons prior to Mattins or Mass, that is, as "stations" within the church? Would the antiphons Sancta Maria be sung in procession to the chapel of the Virgin followed by the aforementioned collect from the Little Office? Perhaps readers can chime in on this final point.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Organic Development of the Liturgy Since Trent

Not quite the quire of Westminster Abbey
source: New Liturgical Movement
At its surface, the old Roman liturgy did not appear to change very much between the pontificates of Pius V and Pius X, the former codifying the extant medieval liturgy and the latter initiating sixty years of liturgical tinkering. The texts of the Office and Mass hardly changed saved the addition of numerous Duplex feasts for canonized founders and foundresses of French and Italian communities of religious. The erection of the Congregation for Sacred Rites in 1588 ensured that there could be no further significant textual or structural developments in the Roman rite, like those that happened in late antiquity and in the high Middle Ages. The Roman rite at the dawn of the 20th century, on paper, really looked no different than it did at the dawn of the 16th century, but in fact there had been several organic changes due to circumstance or popular piety which changed the way the liturgy was celebrated and even what was celebrated.

The most obvious changes can be viewed from the lens of architecture. Upon walking into a post-Tridentine church one easily sees the high altar, elevated against the reredros and crowned in the center with the tabernacle. The sacred space is partitioned by a Communion railing [sic], a hint that the sanctuary is something to be viewed and not touched. The ceiling ascends heavenward and without obstruction, an open and breathing arrangement. Additional altars to saints flank the main altar, although their use for Mass is more infrequent than in past times; these altars proclaim tales of heresy, fidelity, damnation, and the glory of the saints; each altar is as much a sermon as it is a shrine. Scattered Confessionals awkwardly stand out of any open space in the nave or aisles of the church, invitations for ambulating sinners to reconcile themselves at a moment's notice. Most obviously, and loathsomely, pews litter the nave itself, confining anyone who desires to witness the Holy Sacrifice to his own static place, a sight-seer and viewer of the Mass and devotions rather than a full participant in them.

Within this casual characterization of a post-Tridentine church rests a thousand assumptions concerning the change in liturgical praxis, although rarely text, that followed the pontificate of St. Pius V. Above all, the post-Tridentine liturgy emphasized witness to the liturgy and Incarnation rather than a personal and communal participation in Christ's Passion which characterized the preceding medieval cathedral rites. Medieval churches, narrow and high, impossible to see straight in unless one was staring down the nave at the Holy Rood, always directed the attention of the faithful to the Cross and then upward; everything else was shrouded in mystery, things one could see and to an extant understand, but not know in entirety. After Trent the prevailing designs suggested a liturgy which could be beheld and known, for it took place in plain sight.

Devotion in this piety shifted away from the Divine Office and more toward new liturgical acts of piety which underscored the arrant nature of the new liturgy. Now, when the priest held up the Sacred Species during the Canon saw the Incarnated Christ in open space. Unlike previous generations, peering through screens at the elevation once a Mass, new generations would extend the elevation of the Sacred Host by means of a new ceremony called Benediction. They sang hymns and offered incense before directly displaying the Sacred Host for a few moments in blessing, a short time to be sure, but more time than was afforded during the Mass. The song of the day was no longer Ave verum corpus, but Tantum ergo Sacramentum.

These new forms of devotion met the mood of the day, still largely communitarian in towns, but more amotized in cities, where Catholicism went from being the religion of the people to being the religion of the majority of people. Personal encounters with grace, be it Confession or Benediction or a quick Mass, replaced the public processions and liturgical anamnesis which would derisively be rebranded as theater in our times.

Mass itself underwent a simplification in its ceremonial observance. As sounds became more complex and polyphony superseded chant as the normative style, people came to see music more as ornamental than as essential. Following the reduced ceremonies of the Roman Curia's Missal published by Saint Pius, servers and ministers followed the prescriptions as to what needed to be done to complete the Sacrifice. Said Mass replaced sung Mass, even without deacon and subdeacon, as normative. Still, a desire for the Mass to be sung and celebrated with as much effort as possible prevailed in some places and a sung version of low Mass evolved into the Missa cantata, styled more as a "high" Mass without the other ministers.

Once of the less obvious liturgical changes since Trent, which was not a variation of something directed in the Missal, was the addition of rose as a liturgical color. The medieval and Pian Missals directed violet for Gaudete and Laetare Sundays. The true differentiation between these Sundays and the other Sundays of Advent and Lent are the use of the dalmatic and tunicle instead of folded chasubles, which would also permit the organ to be used to elevate the music from sober chant into polysonic joy. Rose accomplished a similarly end, providing a break in the exercises of the seasons, to a culture bent towards a simpler liturgy. Rose eventually gave birth to a vast array of colors deemed proper for the Mass and even replaced the seasonal violet in the cardinatial choir dress on those Sundays.

Liturgy as it existed in the years after Trent has been examined and criticized extensively on this blog for its reduction of the Latin liturgy to bare essentials which neglected large pieces of the Church's patrimony. In context, these reductions also reflected creeping individualism and a less communal culture from which sprang the medieval Mass. And yet the post-Tridentine Church was not without its own development in art, architecture, liturgy, and devotion. One wonders what a genuine reform to the liturgy would look like in our even more isolationist age.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi

My Breviary was printed in 1865 with the imprimatur of the Archbishop of Mechelin in Belgium. It is a choral book made for the conventual celebration of the Office with a full supplement of proper Offices for the Minorites; evidently, it was a Franciscan book.

For today, the "Solemnity of Our Seraphic Father Francis", and the octave that follows, the medieval hymn Proles de coelo is sung at Vespers. Written by Julian of Speyer in Paris just four years after Francis's death, the hymn follows an older melody commonly sung in the proper Offices of saints prior to the 17th century, including the feasts of Saint Anne and Saint Stephen of Hungary.

Regardless, it is a beautiful melody and offers a welcomed break from the rite of Iste Confessor the Common of a Confessor, non-martyr.

1. Proles de caelo prodiit,
novis utens prodigiis:
caelum caecis aperuit;
siccis mare vestigiis.

2. Spoliatis aegyptiis,
transit dives, sed pauperis
nec rem nec nomen perdidit,
factus felix pro miseris.

3. Assumptus cum Apostolis
in montem novi luminis,
in paupertatis praediis
Christo Franciscus intulit:

4. Fac tria tabernacula
Petri secutus studia,
cuius exemplo nobili
sponte reliquit omnia.

5. Legi, Prophetae, gratiae
gratum gerens obsequium,
Trinitatis officium
Festo solemni celebrat.

6. Dum reparat virtutibus
hospes triplex hospitium:
et beatarum mentium
dum templum Christo consecrat.

7. Domum, portam et tumulum,
Pater Francisce, visita,
et Hevae problem miseram
a somno mortis excita. Amen
1. A son came forth from heaven,
performing new miracles,
opening the heavens to the blind,
crossing the water with dry feet.

2. The spoils from the heathens
made him rich, yet from the poor
never did he fame or goods demand,
he was a blessing to the destitute.

3. Together with the disciples
he was accepted onto the mountain of light
and in his preachings on poverty,
Francis followed Christ:

4. "Make three tabernacles",
following Peter's vow,
whom neither the power nor the omen
of this name deserted.

5. Paying grateful allegiance,
ye Prophets, to the law of Grace,
he celebrates the ceremony
of the Trinity with the holy feast.

6. While he as host restores to the virtues
the threefold hospitality,
and when he consecrates to Christ
a temple of the blessed minds.

7. O Father Francis
visit our door, house and grave
and redeem Eve's poor descendants
from sleep's eternal dream. Amen.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Darken the corner where you are!

(Hannibal Crossing the Alps, J.M.W. Turner)
“[Some] say it is best to dispel the gloom, not make it worse, and stick to the cheery side. I happen to have a small vocation for spreading gloom; my favorite Protestant hymn, slightly emended from the way it is sung even at Catholic Masses today, is ‘Darken the corner where you are!’ because I think, though life is funny, it is not for fun; and we have blurred the distinction between being happy and being blessed.” —John Senior

We ambulate now in the gloomy half-light of a perpetual cloudiness by day, and of a too bright, washed out starlessness by night. Without the sun beating down on us at noon and the stars delighting us at midnight, we lose our way. Everything seems to be a shapeless murk. Light is no longer light, darkness no longer dark. Our celestial signposts are imperceivable. It is the spiritual equivalent of living in one of the urban Sodoms of the American Northwest.

We could look on the cheery side of things—God is still on his throne, the pope is ravaging the last shreds of ultramontanism in his wrath, and Evelyn Waugh was taken from this world before the Novus Ordo could drive him to apostasy—but we look for a more immediate comfort. We want to see evil overthrown. We want to restore the influence of the Church upon the world. We want to have one stupid sermon where the stupid priest says something that isn’t stupid. We want not to worry about whether or not Fr. is going to groom our sons in the confessional and make his advances in the sacristy. We want to not have a sinking feeling every time someone relates that, “Today Pope Francis said…” We want, we want, we want.

God sends us out as sheep in the midst of wolves, and we need to toughen up.

We are not given the Church for our consolation, although it possesses consolations beyond imagining. We are not given our little rare islands of traditionalism and good spiritual fathers so we can simply huddle away from the aerial bombardment of the Enemy.

God sends us out in the midst of wolves. We are not out there solely to save ourselves but to save our brethren. Be as clever as the Devil and as pure as the Virgin.

A city on a hill cannot be hidden, neither from our friends nor from our enemies. In order to be a beacon for the lost and imperiled, it cannot hide itself from the armies of Hell. A hidden stronghold speaks lies to those who hide within; it lies that hiddenness is sufficient for safety, that they can trust on hoarded wealth and unpracticed arms.

Be as gloomy as you please, but do not let that be an excuse for sloth. The ancient Jews were conquered by Rome and fenced in on all sides. By the time of the Incarnation they had ossified and used this oppression as an excuse for an ouroboros-like ethic of scrupulosity. Sloth is sadness at the thought of real spiritual practice, a repulsion against spiritual action that penetrates into the inner man and reaches out for the betterment of others. It is easier to condemn a cardinal than to practice a cardinal virtue.

The early Church faced oppression from without; we are learning what it is means to be oppressed from within. The Roman martyrs could ask, “Why do the nations rage?” We learn to ask, “Do you betray the son of man with a kiss?” We encounter Iscariots everywhere. We are sheep sent out in the midst of wolves. Learn how to survive or be devoured.