The Apparition Salome Dance. Head of John the Baptist. Painting by Gustave Moreau.
Vol 14 Issue 35 ~ Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward Krier
August 28, 2021 ~ Saint Augustine, opn !
1. The Incarnation of the Word of God—Eberhard Heller
2. Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
3. Beheading of John the Baptist
4. Family and Marriage
5. Articles and notices
The Saint today, died while the Visigoths were attacking and sacking the city of Hippo (Annaba, Algeria today) in which he was bishop. On August 15, this year, the world witnessed the collapse of Afghanistan once more into the barbarism of Mohammedanism. It is true that many will only look at this downfall to wild fanatics that called themselves the Taliban. But the root is twofold: the rise of Mohammedanism and the failure of former Christian Nations. It may be asked: Why do we have Mohammedan Nations, a Jewish State, but no Catholic or Christian Nation? The answer lies in the apostasy of Christians. The epitome is the election of officials and leaders of Western Nations, like Joseph Biden, who parade as Catholics or Christians, but have no faith at all in Catholicism or Christianity. Nor does it help that you have the Conciliar Hierarchy in Rome ridiculously saying that Moslems are going to heaven—it is just one of many paths there. The result: the aspirations of a whole people that Christians would provide a means for them of living a free life being sacrificed for an ideological insanity.
That anyone would deny that democracy under the progressives and liberals (Marxists in heart) would be the same as the democracies of China and Cuba and Venezuela would only indicate that they are ignorant or opportunists and want what others have or are under fear of losing their present power and position. Think I am wrong? Think of all the businesses that receive government subsidies and payments and are now forcing their employees to be vaccinated or be fired, to repeat the politically correct lies or be fired, to take the diversity training classes, i.e., Critical Race Theory indoctrination, or be fired—and worse now, to be a member of a Labor Union or not obtain a job as now being proposed by the Biden Oligarchy in the United States: Worker’s Paradise Lost. The Government now controls the means of production and soon the labor force. There are only those small businesses and citizens holding on to the Constitution and/or their Faith that threatens their absolute hold on power and this is what they wish to eliminate—partially accomplished by the so-called Covid panic. The KGB, Gestapo and Stazi were politically correct police enforcers in dictatorships. And though we may think they are past, the FBI is now the politically correct police enforcer in the USA that comes knocking on your door if you were present at a gathering the Biden-Pelosi Oligarchy considers politically incorrect, arresting you and charging you with insurrection.
What has this to do with Afghanistan? The practical application of the policies of Progressives and Marxists. That there is no absolute right or wrong, just or unjust, truth or lie—only the narrative that fits in with the opportunistic political ambitions of the Progressive Oligarchy of World Domination. Though the fall of Afghanistan out of their controlling hands seems contradictory, it is a sacrifice they are willing to sustain if their clutch on the Western Hemisphere is strengthened. They have no problem breaking promises and they did so to the Afghanis. The Mohammedans see the West as Christian—and it convinces their people that Christians do the work of the devil. They teach their god, Allah, is a mighty power—why they say Allah is great. And they exemplify that power by force—and therefore their mindset of militancy and jihad to impose the vengeance (strength) of Allah. It is the opposite of Christianity, that teaches God is Good and bestows goodness and mercy (Love) that imposes forgiveness of one’s neighbor (which is weakness in the minds of the Mohammedans). Betrayal is also a sign of weakness and no one can call this betrayal of Afghanistan anything other than betrayal of a promise. Together—weakness and betrayal—, the thought the West represents Christianity and has betrayed the Afghan people, we cannot but be seen as weak and to be distrusted by the Mohammedans.
Beyond, and in truth, we are truly a Cain who slew his brother Abel; and the blood of these people will cry out to God as it did after the Vietnam betrayal. After Kennedy allowed Ngo Dinh Diem to be assassinated, less than three weeks later he, too, was assassinated. After the deliverance of South Vietnam to the Communist, there was the fall of Nixon. Yes, Saigon fell under Ford in ’75 and the US helped to evacuate Vietnamese. This is why the Biden Oligarchy, doing nothing for the Afghans, is far worse. But for the Globalist Oligarchy, it is no more than the Iron Curtain allowed to be established after World War II, where we literally allowed people to be walled into terror in front of our eyes and did nothing.
One may interject: They, the Afghans, are Mohammedans and undeserving of our assistance. That they are Mohammedans is true; that they are undeserving of our assistance would go against everything we as Catholics hold true and need to re-read the account of the Good Samaritan once more—as all of the New Testament. I cannot but weep for what has come to pass and ask God’s mercy.
May we pray that Our Lord come soon so the chastisement we so deserve may be quick. May we pray that we persevere in the Faith as we await that Coming.
As always, enjoy the readings provided for your benefit.—The Editor
The Incarnate Word
The Meaning of Art in the Religious Domain
By Eberhard Heller
Translation: Elisabeth Meurer
Quite a few readers will have asked themselves why, in my discourse “The errors of Vatican II and their defeat”, I have quoted, under point 5, “Representation of religious content and ideas in the different areas of art” among the conditions which are to lead to the restitution of the Church, whereas the measures mentioned should only be the most important ones. Why should one give so much importance to the depiction of religious aspects in art?
About this I can say that Christianity has, from the beginning, tried to represent the statements of faith in forms of art, i. e. in pictures, figures, music, poetry, architecture, to give expression to them – in addition to the preaching of the gospel.
Why? In order to glorify God and to depict these religious ideas in the interpersonal sector: the churches, their interior furnishing by pictures and figures and the liturgy which was celebrated in them, they were integrated in the purpose of a free artistic formation. Even in the times of persecution, in the underground art played an important part, just think of the paintings in the catacombs or in the old church buildings in Saloniki or of the monastery Hosios Lukas in Boeotia in Greece of the 11th century with its wonderful mosaics.
The liturgy used music as an independent form of art. First this was done by the human voice to announce the praise of God; it is also spoken of the heavenly singing which was already formed early. There I think of the Gregorian chant, of the “Sacred and divine liturgies” of St. Basil (+379) and of St. John Chrysostom (+ 407) which do not only belong to orthodoxy but also to the Catholic Church even if they are celebrated today in the Eastern Church, too. The music fascinated for example the Indians in Paraguay to such an extent that they adopted Christianity because they heard God speaking through the music. For the Russians under Communist power the liturgy was the source of faith, by which their religion has survived among them. There, religious education – the finest means for imparting the faith – was forbidden.
Let me leap from the early ages of the Church into our present day. What would the season of Advent in Bavaria be without the simple melodies in which the arrival of the Child Jesus is sung of, in which He is worshipped with all humility? (N. b. I remark that in the Bavarian folksongs the former popular religiousness is still kept – despite and just because of the substantial penetration of Conciliarism even into the rural areas. In themselves the reverence for the central miracle of the Incarnation of God remains alive even if incidentally the faith in the real Incarnation of God has vanished.
Religious art could only show itself in these forms as it could refer to precise religious idea and conceptions for its artistic arrangement. Just think of the Romanesque, Gothic or Byzantine church buildings which were built according to certain theological concepts: the direction of the altar towards the east, the source of the cross as floor plan of the church building because the salvation of the New Testament had descended from the cross, the transept was more frequently interpreted as pointing to the description of the heavenly Jerusalem (as in the Apocalypse of St. John by hanging up a 12-bramched candelabra), the direction of the nave towards the altar, the direction of the priest versus Deum (in the tabernacle) and not versus populum (as the reformers do for whom the priest, because of his turning to the people, no longer takes the part of mediator between God and man as he was in the pre-Conciliar times.) In order to confine the central event in Mass, the consecration, from the people in the church, and in order to keep the mystery, the Orthodox use the iconostases still today, while in the Roman Church the choir screen had the same function; it was eventually removed during the Middle Ages but is still to be seen in the Stephansmünster of Breisach or in St. Mary’s in the Capitol in Rome.
The architectural structure provided a room of their own for the candidaten who were not yet baptized but wanted to convert to the church, the so-called pre-temple or portico, the pronaos. In Gothic churches you frequently find the pictures of the lives of Jesus and Mary in the sanctuary. The series of pictures which follow a certain stereotyped pattern were not mere depictions in the true sense of the word, for they also had catechetical functions. There were no books as manuscripts for religious education (yet). The painters who arranged these frescos were called from all parts of Europe. So Simon von Taisten, court painter of the counts of Görz, not only painted the impressing frescos of the pilgrimage church Maria Schnee in Obermauern in East Tyrol by the end of the 15th century but also worked as a church painter among others in Niederdorf, in the Schloss Bruck (Bruck Castle) near Lienz where he painted the chapels between 1492 and 1496, and in Taisten. Until about 1500 Paola von Görz-Gonzaga and her husband, the last count of Görz, Leonhard von Görz, were important customers for Simon von Taisten. (Cf. as well the title photos of EINSICHT, 15th year, no. 1 of April 1985 and the no. 5 of December 1985)
The builders’ guilds also moved from one town to another in order to carry out the demand for churches to be built. This is seen in the Guild of Parle, a family of stone cutters, wood workers and building architects who contributed in developing the gothic architecture in the whole of Europe and were responsible not only for the Cathedral of Cologne, but also for the construction of the Heilig-Kreuz-Münster of Schwäbisch Gmünd, for St. Veit’s Cathedral and the Charles’s Bridge in Prague, for St. Sebaldus in Nuremberg, for the Cathedral of St. Barbara in Kuttenberg in Bohemia (Kutná Hora), the city hall of Krakow, the Münster churches of Ulm, Freiburg and Basel. (Note: Münster in German means a monastic church—therefore these churches were monastic churches at one time).
It has fallen somewhat into oblivion that, besides the master builders, the painters, the sculptors and the plasterers who worked with stucco, those who drew up the theological conceptions for a church received great importance and became famous. Mostly they were the parish priests who were in charge and who, together with their master builders, strived for inserting the ideas into the details of the planning and the executing of a church building. The matter was to set the floor plan, the height of the naves and transepts, the layout of the main altar, of the side altars, to whom the church was to be dedicated, how this dedication was to be represented, by what pictures and which altar retables, how should the loft for the organ be designed etc.? The establishing of such a theological conception for a church building can be seen quite well in the monastery of Rottenbuch in Upper Bavaria, a former Augustinian Canons’ Monastery which was decorated by the plasterer Joseph Schmuzer in the Rokoko style in the middle of the 18th century. At first sight one could think that it is a church dedicated to the birth of Christ. But when taking a closer look at the details and the theological appreciation of these details, it soon becomes clear that it is a church which was dedicated to the birth of Mary.
Just imagine the world of the Christian West without any testimonies of art which were erected “Ad maiorem Dei gloriam” – “To the greater glory of God” (from the dialogues of Pope Gregory the Great) or “Omnia ad maiorem Dei gloriam” – “All for the greater glory of God”. Without the cathedrals, the church buildings of the Religious Orders, without the many chapels which frequently owe their foundation to the private initiative of individual faithful or families, without the artistic portrayals, the decoration with figures, the “musica sacra”, without the mysterious mystical furnishings of an Asam church in Munich. It would be cold in this world, bitterly cold, and we would already be “frozen”. The art which is not bound by a “you must” but freely rises above all constraints, and which still allows to the artist a life of asceticism, is evidence of our spiritual freedom where our reason rises above everything which is merely natural.
So one could go through each style, from the witnesses to the pre-Romanesque on to the Romanesque style, the Renaissance, the Baroque until its late form in Rococo which had also a flourishing period in Bavaria to list the specifically religious declarations each of the eras wanted to express, and which were relevant to them.
If one considers the romanesque depictions of Christ on the Cross, then one will notice that the face is not marked by pain and despair (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?“ – John 19, 26-27), but rather by transfiguration, it is a person who, despite the present miserable situation, has already overcome the terrible death on the cross or who anticipates the victory over death. I am thinking among others about the Volto Santo of Lucca, a wooden crucifix of the 11th century in the cathedral there. It has been venerated as a relic since the middle ages. The Volto Santo shows Jesus Crucified in a long robe, with a beard and opened eyes. It has an enormous aura which draws the observer to have a deep devotion.
The gothic depictions of Christ on the Cross are, in a way, quite different. He is the Crucified One who is dying of pain – spiritual and physical. The panel of the crucifixion of the altar of Isenheim by Matthias Grünewald (1460-1528) in Colmar, the main work presumably made in the years of 1506 until 1515, shows Christ dying with an agonized face on a darkening background which seems to be shifting into night.
The baroque era was able to see and to depict the abundance of life in this world onto the background of the abyss which starts from the lopsidedness of the plateau. “Vanitas! Vanitarum vanitas!” (“Vanity of vanities”) it says in a poem by Andreas Gryphius:
“Wherever I look, I only see vanity on earth,
what this one builds up today, the other on tears down tomorrow.”
In the biography of Emil Nolde, the expressionist painter, who became known among others by his watercolour paintings of flowers, the colours of which are very expressive, there is the following event: In 1909, he had painted the “Last Supper” in expressionist manner in oil with the intention that it would adorn the church of his local municipality. But the parish council rejected this intent. It forbade its being hung up, because the depiction did not have the approval of this committee.
What would thus an art be like which would specifically express the religious sensitivities which have developed in our time? It should take into account the regaining of the central truth, namely that God has become a man, that Christ is this God and man from whom our existence (in the New Testament) is to be formed. It should dedicate itself to representing this central mystery. This could be done by analogies and metaphors, like a parable, as Christ also spoke in parables. But one cannot simply determine them in advance, for the processing, that is, the translation into art of a view remains in the originality and the inspiration of the artist. But one may expect that the product can be understood by men thrown into this strife-torn world, that its language is not an incomprehensible language which only a few can decipher, that is, that they need an interpreter or which is made up in a way that it is beyond any translation.
But in a time of darkness we have every reason to let the darkened picture of the sun, which is Christ, and which is cast over by a deep betrayal, light up again in His honour, to His glory.
(EINSICHT of Dec. 2013, no. 4, p. 122-125)
(To be continued)
The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers
M. F. Toal
THE GOSPEL OF THE SUNDAY
MATTHEW vi. 24-33
At that time: Jesus said to his disciples: No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one and love the other; or he will sustain the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore, I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the meat and the body more than the raiment? Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor do they reap nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not you of much more value than they? And which of you by taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? And for raiment why are you solicitous? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they labour not, neither do they spin. But I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these. And, if the grass of the field, which is today and tomorrow is cast into the oven, God doth so clothe; how much more you, O ye of little faith? Be not solicitous therefore, saying: What shall we eat; or, What shall we drink; or, Wherewith shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the heathens seek. For your Father knoweth that you have need of all these things. Seek ye therefore first the Kingdom of God and his justice; and all these things shall be added unto you.
ST BASIL, BISHOP AND DOCTOR
I. Work and Prayer
1. Since Our Lord Jesus Christ says that, the workman, not simply anyone or everyone, is worthy of his food (Mt. x. 10); and since the Apostle commands us to labour, working with our hands the thing which is good, that we may have something to give to him who is in need (Eph. iv. 28), it is very evident that we should all work earnestly and well. Nor is it fitting to presume that our desire of serving God gives us an excuse for being idle, or for avoiding labour, rather it is a greater reason for effort, for greater labours, and for patience in afflictions, so that we also may say: In labour and painfulness, in much watchings, in hunger and thirst (II Cor. xi. 27).
For this way of living is profitable to us, not only for the mortification of our bodies, but also because of charity towards our neighbour; that through us God may provide what is needed for our weaker brethren; in accord with the example handed down to us in the Acts by the Apostle, where he says: I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring you ought to support the weak (Acts xx. 35). And again: That you may have something to give to him that suffereth need; through which we shall be judged worthy to hear the words: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink (Mt. xxv. 34).
2. What need have we to dwell on the great evil of idleness, since the Apostle has laid it down clearly: that if any man will not work, neither let him eat (II Thess. iii. 10)? Just as food is needed for the daily nourishment of the body, so also does the body need work, according to its powers. Not without reason did Solomon write in praise of her, that hath not eaten her bread idle (Prov. xxxi. 27). And again, of himself the Apostle says: Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nothing; but in labour and toil we worked night and day (II Thess. iii. 8); though as a preacher of the Gospel he had the right to live by the Gospel. And the Lord has also linked idleness with wickedness, saying: Wicked and slothful servant (Mt. xxv. 26). And the wise Solomon not only praises the labourer in the words already cited, but also rebukes the sluggard by a comparison with the tiniest creatures saying: Go to the ant, O sluggard; and consider her ways (Prov. vi. 6).
We have reason therefore to be fearful, lest in the day of judgement He Who gave us the power to work shall also require of us works worthy of the power He has given us. For He says: Unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required (Lk. xii. 48). And since there are those who use prayer and the recitation of the psalms as a means to escape work, we must know that in certain things each work has its due time; All things have their season, as Ecclesiastes tells us (iii. 1). But for prayer and psalmody, as for many other things, there is no time that is not fitting; so that while our hands are engaged in their various tasks, with our tongue (if this be possible and edifying, and, if not, then with our hearts), let us give praise to God, in psalms and hymns and spiritual canticles, as it is written (Col. iii. 16). And so let us perfect our work with prayer, giving thanks to Him Who has given our hands the power to work, and our minds the power to gather knowledge; and Who has given us the material of our work, that in the tools we use, and that on which we use our skill; praying that the work of our hands may be directed to the end of pleasing God.
3. In this way we create within the soul a fitting disposition; for in every act of ours we are both asking God that He may bless our work, and giving thanks to Him Who has given us the power to work; and, as I said, keeping ever before our minds the end of pleasing Him. If this is not true, who can reconcile the two different sayings of the Apostle; namely: Pray without ceasing, and: In labour and toil we worked night and day? And since we are to give thanks at all times, and since this is seen to be necessary to our life both reason and nature have shown, we ought therefore never neglect the times of prayer that have been established in our brotherhoods, and which we have so arranged that each time in turn may serve to recall to mind, in a particular way, the blessings we receive from God.
The matutinal prayer (on rising), so that we may consecrate to God the first movements of the soul and of the mind, and take no other care upon us until we have been gladdened by the thought of God, as it is written: I remembered God, and was delighted; and was exercised, and my spirit swooned away (Ps. lxxvi. 4); nor apply our body to labour until we have done what is written: To thee will I pray: O Lord, in the morning Thou shalt hear my voice. In the morning I will stand before thee, and will see (Ps. v. 4, 5).
And again at the third hour let us rise to pray, and let the brethren be called together, even if they are dispersed each at his different task, and let them lift up their souls in prayer, recalling to mind that it was about the third hour that the gift of the Spirit was given to the Apostles, and let all with one mind adore Him, that they also may become worthy, so that the gift of holiness may be given to them, at the same time praying Him, that as the Guide of our Way He may teach us what is profitable to us; as he prayed who said: Create a clean heart in me, O God: and renew a right spirit within my bowels. Cast me not away from thy face: and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation: and strengthen me with a perfect Spirit (Ps. i. 12-14). And in another place: Thy good Spirit shall lead me into the right land (Ps. cxlii. 10). And so let us resume our work.
4. Should any of you because of work or circumstance of place find themselves at a distance, let them without hesitation observe what has been laid down for all; for, says the Lord, where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them (Mt. xviii. 20). We decided that prayer is necessary at the sixth hour also, following the example of the saints, who say: Evening and morning, and at noon, I will speak and declare: and he shall hear my voice (Ps. liv. 18). And that we may be delivered from attack, and from the noonday devil (Ps. xc. 6), let us also at this time recite the ninetieth psalm. It was the Apostles who made known to us the need for prayer at the ninth hour, in the Acts, in which we are told that Peter and John went up into the temple at the ninth hour of prayer (iii. 1).
When day is done, let us give thanks both for what we have received throughout the day, and for what we have done rightly; and let us make confession of what we have not done, and of every sin, voluntary, or involuntary or even hidden from us, in word or in deed and even in our heart, that we may bring upon us God’s mercy for all of them. For to examine ourselves upon what we have done is a great help against falling into the same sins again. Because of this Scripture says: The things you say in your hearts, be sorry for them upon your beds (Ps. iv. 5).
5. Again, as the night begins, let us ask that our rest be preserved from sin, and free from evil imaginings. And at this hour also we have need to say the ninetieth psalm. Paul and Silas have handed down to us the middle of the night as a time when we need to pray; as we read in the narrative of the Acts of the Apostles, in these words: And at midnight, Paul and Silas, praying, praised God (Acts xvi. 25). And the Psalmist likewise, where he says: I rose at midnight to give praise to thee: for the judgements of thy justification (Ps. cxviii. 62). And again before the dawn we must rise to pray, so that day may not find us upon our beds in sleep; in accord with the words: My eyes to thee have anticipated the morning: that I might meditate on thy words (v. 148).
None of these times must be neglected by those who have given themselves to live for the praise and glory of God and of His Christ. But I consider that it is useful to have diversity and variety in the prayers and psalms that are recited at fixed hours; for with sameness, the soul may become inattentive, and be distracted; but when the psalms and canticles vary at each hour, its love is refreshed and its attention renewed.
The Beheading of St. John the Baptist
1. The Church celebrates St. John’s birthday on June 24; today’s feast commemorates his heavenly birthday, the day of his death. As far back as the fourth century this day was kept in Africa, the Orient, Gaul, Spain, and Rome. The story of the beheading is told by all three synoptics (Matt. 14:1; Mark 6:14; Luke 3:19-9:7).
2. “Fearlessly did I talk of thy decrees in the presence of kings, and was never abashed” (Introit). John had told Herod: “It is wrong for thee to take thy brother’s wife” (Gospel). Courageously he condemned this adulterous marriage, though he could easily suspect that Herod would retaliate. “Herod had sent and arrested John and put him in prison, in chains, for love of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married.” John was not afraid of the mighty, for he recalled the words of God to Jeremias: “Do not be afraid of them, as thou wouldst not have me shame thee before them. I mean to give thee strength this day, strength as of a fortified city, or iron pillar, or brazen wall, to confront the whole land, princes of Juda, and priests, and people. All will be thy adversaries, but they shall not master thee; I will be at thy side, the Lord says, to bring thee deliverance” (Lesson). Like “a flourishing palm tree” this “innocent man” stands before us, a “cedar of Lebanon that defies every storm” (cf. Gradual). He who fears God as John did need have no fear of men; he is stronger with God’s strength than they. “Well may the good man rejoice, Lord, in Thy protection (Offertory).
“He must become more and more, I must become less and less” (John 3:30). In these words the Baptist outlined his own fate. A short time before people had been coming from all directions to hear him and receive his baptism. Then Jesus began His ministry, for which John had prepared the way. After that the Forerunner stepped back unselfishly; generosity and humility characterized all his labor for the Greater, who was to come. He rejoiced to see some of his disciples turn and follow Jesus. Meanwhile Herodias had conceived an intense hatred for the preacher who dared to condemn her marriage; she was watching for a favorable opportunity to get her revenge. It came at Herod’s birthday party, when her daughter ensnared the king with her dancing, so that he swore to give her whatever she might choose to ask of him. Prompted by her mother, the girl replied: “My will is . . . that thou shouldst give me the head of John the Baptist; give it me now, on a dish.” Herod reluctantly but slavishly complied. As St. Augustine comments: “The head of John on a dish! An accursed command, because one could not bear the truth. A maiden dances; her mother is in a rage; in the midst of the pleasures of a banquet, a frivolous oath is taken and the godless oath is carried out. And thus was the word fulfilled: He must become more and more, and I must become less and less. John actually did become less when he was beheaded; but Christ was lifted up on the Cross.”
3. An ancient preface tells the story in figures: “God thou didst deign to grant the forerunner of Thy Son the honor of being beheaded in defense of the truth. He who baptized Christ with water was baptized by Him with the Holy Spirit, and for His sake was sprinkled with his own blood. The herald of the truth who is Christ, because he kept Herod away from his brother’s marriage bed, was thrown into the dark prison, where he rejoiced in the light of Thy Godhead.”
“The man who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14). May the Baptist obtain for us the grace to follow his example and, always and everywhere, to stand up fearlessly for the cause of Christ, who is God; of Christ, whose body is the Church.
Collect: Lord, we pray Thee that the worshipful feats of Thy forerunner and martyr, Saint John the Baptist, may effectually help us to salvation. Amen.
LETTERS TO JACK
WRITTEN BY A PRIEST TO HIS NEPHEW
RIGHT REV. FRANCIS C. KELLEY, D.D., LL.D.
THE way to change into friends the enemies who misunderstand, is to find out the way to tell them the truth; and one doesn’t lose the time taken in scheming to that end.
ENMITY at bottom is a sin; and the only thing with which a sin can be successfully opposed is the opposite virtue.
CHERISH your enemies.
My dear Jack:
I have noticed that you are inclined. to be popular. The people you meet in my house like you. The people who have met you in the office say nice things about you. If I reach for my coat when you are around, you jump up to hold it for me. That isn’t particularly complimentary to me, for I am not so very old, nor have I been accustomed to a valet around to make me think myself a petted child of fortune. But let that go. You have acquired a good habit in always trying to help other people. It is inevitable that, under such a system, you are bound to be popular; but I would not have you close your eyes to the fact that, with popularity, you are also going to accumulate a few enemies. While great popularity reduces the number of our enemies, it surely makes very bitter ones; for it appears to be half a law that the hands which stretch up from immediately beneath the pinnacle of success, are hands reaching for feet to pull down. You will have your enemies; you may have incipient ones now. It is wise to begin already to think how you are to treat them.
I had a chat once with a statesman possessing more enemies to the square inch than any other man I ever knew. He had just passed through a terrible ordeal and his enemies had almost beaten him. Amongst other things he said: ”Revenge is not worth while. Your whole life is a procession from birth to death, and the procession is a race. If somebody hurts you, you cannot afford to stop and wait for him to come around to strike back at him. If you do that the procession will have gone on while you are waiting, and you will be just that much behind.” I was so interested in the views of this man that I watched his career. No one ever suffered so much from enemies; but I never saw him try to strike back. A friend once said of him: “Why, the fool, he would compromise with his worst enemy.” I would not have put it that way; I would have substituted “wise man” for “fool”. An enemy who can be conciliated hasn’t any excuse for existing. Richelieu said that statesmanship is to make friends out of enemies; and Richelieu was right. Nine-tenths of my own enemies are people who misunderstood, and thought that their enmity was for my good. Nearly all of the other tenth were people who, while they did not misunderstand, nevertheless in a vague sort of way thought I had injured them. All of them were wrong. I never tried willfully to injure anybody in my life; but, nevertheless, I may have been at fault, for sometimes a man doesn’t know when he is doing harm to another. The way to change into friends the enemies who misunderstand, is to find out the way to tell them the truth, and one doesn’t lose the time taken in scheming to that end. The way to change into friends enemies who think they have been injured, is not by building up a case for yourself and remaining self-righteously stubborn; it is to take it for granted that you are wrong, whether you are or not. There is no better way of making an enemy realize that you are right.
I can truthfully say, Jack, that if I have any enemies today, and doubtless I have, they are enemies I never met, or of whom I am blissfully ignorant. The people I might know later on as enemies will never find out from my conduct toward them that I acknowledge or notice their enmity. The best rule of life that I find for such situations is to ignore the fact that anyone dislikes you.
Of course, sometimes this conduct does not seem to work out well, for a man who hates you sometimes will hate through everything. But what difference does it make, except that of momentary annoyance? The thing is to be at peace yourself, and you cannot be at peace with yourself if you must add, to the ordinary worries of life, the extraordinary ones of plotting and planning how to circumvent an enemy. There is really only one way to circumvent him—the scriptural way of heaping coals of fire on his head. Enmity at bottom is a sin, and the only thing with which a sin can be successfully opposed is the opposite virtue.
A harder situation arises when you find a man dislikes you as a matter of duty. We all have superiors, and it is the superior’s business to know those who are under his jurisdiction. He rarely gets his knowledge direct, for he has to depend upon others; and out of a multiplicity of opinions expressed to him, he draws his conclusions, sometimes unconsciously. As he has power, these conclusions often work out to your undoing. The superior may think that he is eminently just, whereas he is disgracefully unjust. He may want to do right, but succeeds only in doing wrong. He may not consider the fact that no man looks upon his neighbor as quite perfect, and that most of us, alas, will talk about imperfections rather than perfections. How are you going to handle such a case as that? The first rule, of course, is to see that your own conduct squares with integrity and honesty, so that, if the charges are made against you openly, you may prove your innocence. That’s what might be called preparation for the break, but with that preparation the open break is often averted. It is an uncomfortable reeling, that of being obliged to work under the power of a superior who suspects you and your motives, who is an enemy of the worst kind because an enemy through what he considers his duty. The rule to follow then is: never betray yourself into a resentment before him or before others. Never criticise him or his actions. Never show pique because he does not like you. Praise him whenever you can; and, by the way, it will be easy to pick out things in the life of that sort of a man to praise, for he is usually honest. Help him even more cheerfully than you help anyone else. Rise to every occasion that he puts in your way; but, above all else, even if you have the power, do not try to injure him. You will be tempted to do so. The devil will put it into your power sometime to do so. The time may come when he is caught, and when a word from you may ruin him; but that is the day of your trial, not his; that is the day your mettle is being tested; that is the great occasion that God gives you for growth. Right there you have the chance to be a big man or a little man, to be a success before God or merely a human so-called success. You are there before the caskets, of which there are but two: one moth-eaten, cobweb-covered and ugly, because so few people ever touch it; the other gilded and jeweled, cleaned and garnished, because it is popular. But in that last casket there is only reproach and regret: while in the other is the prize of self-conquest, that admits you at once into the outer circle surrounding the Kingdom of Heaven.
The worst kind of enemy, the one hardest to deal with, is always the man who has already wronged you by act or thought. There is an old advice often given, and it comes in very apropos here, to the effect that one should never lend money to a friend—if one values the friend. Of course, like most bits of worldly philosophy, this is not always strictly true; but it is true enough to make it a general rule of conduct. The man who has received a benefit from you, very often resents in his heart the fact that he was humiliated by accepting it. At first it is only a resentment, but it has a strange and unreasonable growth that arrives often at hatred. Every time this man does something to actually injure you the hatred increases, and grows on its own unreason. There seems to be no remedy for this kind of enmity. New favors only add fuel to the flame, for they bring a return of resentment by giving hatred a fictitious justification. Such enmity goes very far to prove the doctrine of total depravity, whose only remedy was and is the grace of God; which, by the way, you need as much in facing the situation as your enemy does in shaking off his blinders.
It takes your self-discipline, and all of it, to stand up under the feeling of rankling injustice that overflows your very soul, when you become conscious of this sort of unreasonable and ever-degrading enmity. Always fall back on the consciousness of eternal justice before the fact of human injustice; and then stand to your guns. Make the unreasonable enemy respect your firmness and the right of your position. Do not give such a man an inch. Demand from him your own-all your own; not because you want it, but because you know it is good for him to restore it. He is entitled to no consideration from you; but just the same have all consideration for him within the limits of reason, justice and charity. Take no more than is yours; take that and-wait. When you are through with that sort of enemy be through with him forever and ever, so far as giving him a chance at you again is concerned; but do not forget that he remains one of a multitude for you, one out of thousands for whom you still ought to have kindly feelings, honest intentions, and overflowing charity. Just forget your trouble in all but the experience you have gotten out of it. It will pass, but it would never pass if you let it have its evil way.
Enemies have their uses, for they make us careful. They teach us how to govern ourselves. They show us how naturally unreasonable we might become if we permitted ourselves to go wrong. Cherish your enemies, Jack, since you must have them; for a strong and powerful enemy is often a help up the ladder, spiritually as well as temporally.
To avoid making enemies one would have to avoid living at all. There is another old adage which says: “To avoid enemies, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” This is unhappily only too true; yet though we cannot avoid enemies, the wise man always keeps trying to do so, and thus cuts down their number and their malignity. The best rule to follow in avoiding the making of enemies, is always to impute good motives to the acts of your neighbor. After all, we cannot read hearts; only God can do that. An old Scotch lady made it a rule to praise everybody. She disgusted an uncharitable neighbor once to the point of making him blurt out: “Ye auld hag, I think ye’ d praise the deil himself.” The old lady was not taken aback, but smilingly answered: “A weel, he is a vera industrious body.” I would not have you arrive at the point where you could find something to praise in the devil; but, except for the devil, you can imagine a good motive to nearly every act that is not a sin. Even that you can leave to God. There is always an excuse; there is always an explanation; there is always the chance of good intentions; there is always a weakness; there is always something you can pick up to explain. When you do that, you never know how far your words go. I met a certain man once, and never thought of him afterwards until he forced me to do so. He said a nice thing about me to some one else, when there really was no call for him to say it. He had no obligation toward me. I had never done him a favor. I had merely shaken hands with him once and chatted for two or three minutes ; but when the chance came he went out of his way to say the thing that helped me. Now, I am watching my opportunity to say good things about him. It is by practising charity in thought, word and deed that you avoid making enemies and succeed in making friends. (To be continued.)
Father Krier will be in Pahrump, Nevada, (Our Lady of the Snows) September 16. He will be in Albuquerque, New Mexico, (Saint Joseph Cupertino) September 21 and Eureka, Nevada, (Saint Joseph) September 23.
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