How shall we spread Christ’s kingdom? There is a certain apostolic strategy that tries to derive all its directive norms from reason alone and natural law.
For instance: What should I say to those high-schoolers at the Catholic prep school if I am to talk with them about right acting? (Some, after all, are not Catholic.) Again: What should be our guiding light if we are to encourage families to live harmoniously? Again, how should we work for a better future?
Some limit these apostolates to the use of reason and natural law. If I am going to present at that high-school, they say, I should only speak of “natural law”. I should not mention the Bible, or Christ, or the Ten Commandments, etc. Only what pure reason can deduce should I mention. Don’t want to scare them.
If a family is disfunctional, mention God perhaps but only as creator of the world. Try to treat the situation simply from the perspective of natural law. Say Johnny is disobeying Dad’s instructions. Say Sally is immodest habitually. Say the situations are very, very bad and that these are only symptoms of the problem. What should be done?
If you are in a group to consider the matter, what should you discuss? Can you bring in the God question? Can you bring in the question of Consecration of the family to the Sacred Heart?
A number of good Catholics are suggesting that in such groups, you should try to identify the issues and a resolution to the problem solely by appeal to reason and natural law. If I am to suggest that the chiefest problem is spiritual and that prayer, the Eucharist, the Rosary, etc., are solid and crucial bases on which to build, the response would be that while the suggestions are very welcome of course personally and privately, they are not invited and perhaps even discouraged as public suggestions.
This is a reason for my last post. Why the restrictions? Has not God spoken? Revealed his will? Left us his Church?
True, the human mind is not so dull as not to be able to learn from natural law. However, the human mind is darkened and on its own it stammers and fails. Its conceptions of God will in the end be mixed with errors, unless it turns to the One True Revelation. (This, by the way, is pretty much De Fide at Vatican I.) All the more, then, when man is to consider the laws by which he should practically act, – all the more is he likely to be mixed up and confused, at least in the details. Earthly pleasures lie close at hand and turn the mind towards them. Sin knocks, beseeches, and begs us: Return to me, you unfortunately thoughtful fellow!
There is another consideration: If a group of predominantly Catholic persons again and again discusses a matter and does so with a mighty effort to avoid appeal to Catholic faith, how could it not very easily, down the road, begin to forget that all foundations that are not set on Christ are doomed to miserable failure?
What good is being “orderly” if it is not directed to Christ? A banker can be upright morally (as it were), good to his kids, Stoically resigned that he may well disappear after death, yet be committed to defending the destitute as well, living decently but not luxuriantly, etc. Should we praise this man? Not if he seeks not the True God with every fiber of his being.
Shall we be glad that Jack is no longer smoking pot and messy, but now orderly and decent? Yes, in limited fashion, we should be glad. But on the other hand, his pot-smoking spelled a deeper hunger that he had. If he has carved out a way of decency shorn of Christ, I’d venture to say that in an eternal respect he is infinitely worse off as a decent man than he was as a pot smoker.
O Sad State of Affairs, when the best of Catholics, who perhaps have the most (human things) to teach, and the most resources, are riding the tide of an 18th century view of “pure reason” and “natural law” that, in the end, I would argue, is at bottom not Catholic.
O that the King of France would have consecrated his nation! O that we would not forgot that religion, special religion, revealed religion, the True Religion!, is also obligatory. O that we would not premise our strategies on the world’s determinations, especially when those determinations were anti-Catholic to begin with and are of course reversible. O that we would drink from wells of Tradition that run back the gamut of Tradition and not merely from the albeit informative and important but in the end, when isolated from the Tradition, quite limited cisterns left us these last 53 years.