Saturday, September 26, 2015

Law and Culture; Faith and Order

Perhaps for having spent most of my adult life speaking foreign languages and getting by "creatively" on a sometimes limited vocabulary I wasn't all that touched a time ago when an authoritative voice sounded a clarion call bemoaning the pervasively antinomian (Merriam-Webster: 1: one who holds that under the gospel dispensation of grace the moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation; 2: one who rejects a socially established morality) character of our age. Such a big word didn't fit in my travel baggage: the notion, the principle, yes; the five syllable word, well, less.

At a farewell supper the other night with our sisters from their several communities in Kyiv, we got to talking about the why and wherefore of what weighs so heavily upon Ukraine, both from past history and present injustice and aggression. One of the sisters thought that better rules, a better body of international law might help the situation. I added that no less important and perhaps more significant would be the dire need we have for a culture, one projecting a sense not only of justice in truth but of propriety. In my childhood, people did not lock their doors, but no well-mannered child would dare walk into another's home. Generally, when a little friend went indoors we waited outside until invited in by the mother or father. As petty or incomprehensible as it might seem to the contemporary mindset, such order was freeing for all involved. Hilaire Belloc speaks of the need for the Faith, for the Catholic Church in Europe, when he adds a Latin maxim to his book title: "Sine auctoritate nulla vita" [Belloc, Hilaire (2012-05-17). Europe and the Faith "Sine auctoritate nulla vita" . Kindle Edition.]. 

Those who would have nothing in common with tradition (whether a big T or a small t is used to set it off) tyrannize our world with their inconclusive, but oh so determined relativism. The theme runs like a current through much of the commentary on the Holy Father's visit to Cuba and the United States, still in progress. How do you stand before the world? How do we in the person of Christ and in Jesus' stead witness to the truth in the face of falsity or hypocrisy? Ecce, Homo! Behold the Man! Meek as a lamb before its slaughterer or a sheep before its shearer? Belloc would insist on the Church's voice being heard in the public square and Bellarmine with a few tweaks and uncommon realism would do the same.

Very simply, we must live the ambivalence of the scene on and off the governor's seat at the place in Jerusalem which took its name from the stone pavement. We live the truth in the face of those without principle or culture, who would have their way and impose their whim upon us. "Sine auctoritate nulla vita" .