FEBRUARY
Time of Septuagesima
volume 14, no. 3

More on WAR AND PEACE

    "...even if a nation's cause is just in a particular conflict, the use of armed force alone will never make a nation secure that is founded on a specific rejection of the very conditions of peace outlined by Pope Pius XI, no less one that makes war upon those conditions in every aspect of its national culture. There can be no peace without Christ, something that not even the Church herself in the person of the Supreme Pontiff seems to be able to state clearly, consistently, and unequivocally."
    Pope Pius XI, writing in very similar circumstances at the beginning of his pontificate in 1922, wrote the following in his first encyclical letter, Urbi Arcano:

       " Peace indeed was signed in solemn conclave between the belligerents of the late War. This peace, however, was only written into treaties. It was not received into the hearts of men, who still cherish the desire to fight one another and to continue to menace in a most serious manner the quiet and stability of civil society. Unfortunately the law of violence held sway so long that it has weakened and almost obliterated all traces of those natural feelings of love and mercy which the law of Christian charity has done so much to encourage. Nor has this illusory peace, written only on paper, served as yet to reawaken similar noble sentiments in the souls of men. On the contrary, there has been born a spirit of violence and of hatred which, because it has been indulged in for so long, has become almost second nature in many men. There has followed the blind rule of the inferior parts of the soul over the superior, that rule of the lower elements 'fighting against the law of the mind,' which St. Paul grieved over. (Rom. vii, 23)

       "Men today do not act as Christians, as brothers, but as strangers, and even enemies. The sense of man's personal dignity and of the value of human life has been lost in the brutal domination begotten of might and mere superiority in numbers. Many are intent on exploiting their neighbors solely for the purpose of enjoying more fully and on a larger scale the goods of this world. But they err grievously who have turned to the acquisition of material and temporal possessions and are forgetful of eternal and spiritual things, to the possession of which Jesus, Our Redeemer, by means of the Church, His living interpreter, calls mankind. . . . The inordinate desire for pleasure, concupiscence of the flesh, sows the fatal seeds of division not only among families but likewise among states; the inordinate desire for possessions, concupiscence of the eyes, inevitably turns into class warfare and into social egotism; the inordinate desire to rule or to domineer over others, pride of life, soon becomes mere party or factional rivalries, manifesting itself in constant displays of conflicting ambitions and ending in open rebellion, in the crime of lese majeste, and even in national parricide.

       "These unsuppressed desires, this inordinate love of the things of the world, are precisely the source of all international misunderstandings and rivalries, despite the fact that oftentimes men dare to maintain that acts prompted by such motives are excusable and even justifiable because, forsooth, they were performed for reasons of state or of the public good, or out of love for country. Patriotism--the stimulus of so many virtues and of so many noble acts of heroism when kept within the bounds of the law of Christ--becomes merely an occasion, an added incentive to grave injustice when true love of country is debased to the condition of an extreme nationalism, when we forget that all men are our brothers and members of the same great human family, that other nations have an equal right with us both to life and to prosperity, that it is never lawful nor even wise, to dissociate morality from the affairs of practical life, that, in the last analysis, it is 'justice which exalteth a nation: but sin maketh nations miserable.' (Proverbs xiv, 34)

       "Perhaps the advantages to one's family, city, or nation obtained in some such way as this may well appear to be a wonderful and great victory (this thought has been already expressed by St. Augustine), but in the end it turns out to be a very shallow thing, something rather to inspire us with the most fearful apprehensions of approaching ruin. 'It is a happiness which appears beautiful but is brittle as glass. We must ever be on guard lest with horror we see it broken into a thousand pieces at the first touch.' (St. Augustine de Civitate Dei, Book iv, Chap. 3)

       "There is over and above the absence of peace and the evils attendant on this absence, another deeper and more profound cause for present-day conditions. This cause was even beginning to show its head before the War and the terrible calamities consequent on that cataclysm should have proven a remedy for them if mankind had only taken the trouble to understand the real meaning of those terrible events. In the Holy Scriptures we read: 'They that have forsaken the Lord, shall be consumed.' (Isaias i, 28) No less well known are the words of the Divine Teacher, Jesus Christ, Who said: 'Without me you can do nothing' (John xv, 5) and again, 'He that gathereth not with me, scattereth.' (Luke xi, 23)

       "These words of the Holy Bible have been fulfilled and are now at this very moment being fulfilled before our very eyes. Because men have forsaken God and Jesus Christ, they have sunk to the depths of evil. They waste their energies and consume their time and efforts in vain sterile attempts to find a remedy for these ills, but without even being successful in saving what little remains from the existing ruin. It was a quite general desire that both our laws and our governments should exist without recognizing God or Jesus Christ, on the theory that all authority comes from men, not from God. Because of such an assumption, these theorists fell very short of being able to bestow upon law not only those sanctions which it must possess but also that secure basis for the supreme criterion of justice which even a pagan philosopher like Cicero saw clearly could not be derived except from the divine law. . . .

       "First, and most important of all, for mankind is the need of spiritual peace. We do not need a peace that will consist merely in acts of external or formal courtesy, but a peace which will penetrate the souls of men and which will unite, heal, and reopen their hearts to that mutual affection which is born of brotherly love. The peace of Christ is the only peace answering this description: 'let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts.' (Colossians iii, 15) Nor is there any other peace possible than that which Christ gave to His disciples (John xiv, 27) for since He is God, He 'beholdeth the heart' (I Kings xvi, 7) and in our hearts His kingdom is set up. Again, Jesus Christ is perfectly justified when He calls this peace of soul His own for He was the first Who said to men, 'all you are brethren.' (Matt. xxiii, 8) He gave likewise to us, sealing it with His own life's blood, the law of brotherly love, of mutual forbearance--'This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.' (John xv, 12) 'Bear ye one another's burdens; and so you shall fulfill the law of Christ.' (Galatians vi, 2). . .

       "The only remedy for such state of affairs is the peace of Christ since the peace of Christ is the peace of God, which could not exist if it did not enjoin respect for law, order, and the rights of authority. In the Holy Scriptures We read: 'My children, keep discipline in peace.' (Ecclesiasticus xli, 17) 'Much peace have they that love the law, O Lord.' (Psalms cxviii, 165) 'He that feareth the commandment, shall dwell in peace.' (Proverbs xiii, 13) Jesus Christ very expressly states: 'Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's.' (Matt. xxii, 21) He even recognized that Pilate possessed authority from on High (John xiv, 11) as he acknowledged that the scribes and Pharisees who though unworthy sat in the chair of Moses (Matt. xxiii, 2) were not without a like authority. In Joseph and Mary, Jesus respected the natural authority of parents and was subject to them for the greater part of His life. (Luke ii, 51) He also taught, by the voice of His Apostle, the same important doctrine: 'Let every soul be subject to higher powers: for there is no power but from God.' (Romans xiii, 1; cf. also 1 Peter ii, 13, 18)

       "If we stop to reflect for a moment that these ideals and doctrines of Jesus Christ, for example, his teachings on the necessity and value of the spiritual life, on the dignity and sanctity of human life, on the duty of obedience, on the divine basis of human government, on the sacramental character of matrimony and by consequence the sanctity of family life--if we stop to reflect, let Us repeat, that these ideals and doctrines of Christ (which are in fact but a portion of the treasury of truth which He left to mankind) were confided by Him to His Church and to her alone for safekeeping, and that He has promised that His aid will never fail her at any time for she is the infallible teacher of His doctrines in every century and before all nations, there is no one who cannot clearly see what a singularly important role the Catholic Church is able to play, and is even called upon to assume, in providing a remedy for the ills which afflict the world today and in leading mankind toward a universal peace.

       " Because the Church is by divine institution the sole depository and interpreter of the ideals and teachings of Christ, she alone possesses in any complete and true sense the power effectively to combat that materialistic philosophy which has already done and, still threatens, such tremendous harm to the home and to the state. The Church alone can introduce into society and maintain therein the prestige of a true, sound spiritualism, the spiritualism of Christianity which both from the point of view of truth and of its practical value is quite superior to any exclusively philosophical theory. The Church is the teacher and an example of world good-will, for she is able to inculcate and develop in mankind the 'true spirit of brotherly love' (St. Augustine, De Moribus Ecclesiae Catholicae, i, 30) and by raising the public estimation of the value and dignity of the individual's soul help thereby to lift us even unto God.

       "Finally, the Church is able to set both public and private life on the road to righteousness by demanding that everything and all men become obedient to God "Who beholdeth the heart," to His commands, to His laws, to His sanctions. If the teachings of the Church could only penetrate in some such manner as We have described the inner recesses of the consciences of mankind, be they rulers or be they subjects, all eventually would be so apprised of their personal and civic duties and their mutual responsibilities that in a short time 'Christ would be all, and in all.' (Colossians iii, 11)

       "Since the Church is the safe and sure guide to conscience, for to her safe-keeping alone there has been confided the doctrines and the promise of the assistance of Christ, she is able not only to bring about at the present hour a peace that is truly the peace of Christ, but can, better than any other agency which We know of, contribute greatly to the securing of the same peace for the future, to the making impossible of war in the future. For the Church teaches (she alone has been given by God the mandate and the right to teach with authority) that not only our acts as individuals but also as groups and as nations must conform to the eternal law of God. In fact, it is much more important that the acts of a nation follow God's law, since on the nation rests a much greater responsibility for the consequences of its acts than on the individual.

       "When, therefore, governments and nations follow in all their activities, whether they be national or international, the dictates of conscience grounded in the teachings, precepts, and example of Jesus Christ, and which are binding on each and every individual, then only can we have faith in one another's word and trust in the peaceful solution of the difficulties and controversies which may grow out of differences in point of view or from clash of interests. An attempt in this direction has already and is now being made; its results, however, are almost negligible and, especially so, as far as they can be said to affect those major questions which divide seriously and serve to arouse nations one against the other. No merely human institution of today can be as successful in devising a set of international laws which will be in harmony with world conditions as the Middle Ages were in the possession of that true League of Nations, Christianity. It cannot be denied that in the Middle Ages this law was often violated; still it always existed as an ideal, according to which one might judge the acts of nations, and a beacon light calling those who had lost their way back to the safe road.

       "There exists an institution able to safeguard the sanctity of the law of nations. This institution is a part of every nation; at the same time it is above all nations. She enjoys, too, the highest authority, the fullness of the teaching power of the Apostles. Such an institution is the Church of Christ. She alone is adapted to do this great work, for she is not only divinely commissioned to lead mankind, but moreover, because of her very make-up and the constitution which she possesses, by reason of her age-old traditions and her great prestige, which has not been lessened but has been greatly increased since the close of the War, cannot but succeed in such a venture where others assuredly will fail.

       "It is apparent from these considerations that true peace, the peace of Christ, is impossible unless we are willing and ready to accept the fundamental principles of Christianity, unless we are willing to observe the teachings and obey the law of Christ, both in public and private life. If this were done, then society being placed at last on a sound foundation, the Church would be able, in the exercise of its divinely given ministry and by means of the teaching authority which results therefrom, to protect all the rights of God over men and nations.

       "It is possible to sum up all We have said in one word, 'the Kingdom of Christ.' For Jesus Christ reigns over the minds of individuals by His teachings, in their hearts by His love, in each one's life by the living according to His law and the imitating of His example. Jesus reigns over the family when it, modeled after the holy ideals of the sacrament of matrimony instituted by Christ, maintains unspotted its true character of sanctuary. In such a sanctuary of love, parental authority is fashioned after the authority of God, the Father, from Whom, as a matter of fact, it originates and after which even it is named. (Ephesians iii, 15) The obedience of the children imitates that of the Divine Child of Nazareth, and the whole family life is inspired by the sacred ideals of the Holy Family. Finally, Jesus Christ reigns over society when men recognize and reverence the sovereignty of Christ, when they accept the divine origin and control over all social forces, a recognition which is the basis of the right to command for those in authority and of the duty to obey for those who are subjects, a duty which cannot but ennoble all who live up to its demands. Christ reigns where the position in society which He Himself has assigned to His Church is recognized, for He bestowed on the Church the status and the constitution of a society which, by reason of the perfect ends which it is called upon to attain, must be held to be supreme in its own sphere; He also made her the depository and interpreter of His divine teachings, and, by consequence, the teacher and guide of every other society whatsoever, not of course in the sense that she should abstract in the least from their authority, each in its own sphere supreme, but that she should really perfect their authority, just as divine grace perfects human nature, and should give to them the assistance necessary for men to attain their true final end, eternal happiness, and by that very fact make them the more deserving and certain promoters of their happiness here below.

       "It is, therefore, a fact which cannot be questioned that the true peace of Christ can only exist in the Kingdom of Christ--'the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ.' It is no less unquestionable that, in doing all we can to bring about the re-establishment of Christ's kingdom, we will be working most effectively toward a lasting world peace."

   If only Peter today, that is, Pope John Paul II, heeded these important words! Our hope for national security is not to be had in a needless war with Iraq, one that will, as Pope Pius XI noted, make men "feel good about themselves and their nation for a time" but will do nothing to secure their borders. No, a nation does not have to be free from every flaw to be able to use military force justly to defend its interests. However, even if a nation's cause is just in a particular conflict, the use of armed force alone will never make a nation secure that is founded on a specific rejection of the very conditions of peace outlined by Pope Pius XI, no less one that makes war upon those conditions in every aspect of its national culture. There can be no peace without Christ, something that not even the Church herself in the person of the Supreme Pontiff seems to be able to state clearly, consistently, and unequivocally.

   While praying for the safety of our troops as they prosecute their mission-and for the safety of the civilians who will no doubt be used by Saddam Hussein to protect his own military targets, we nevertheless must understand that the words of Pope Pius XI are truer now than they were just over eight years ago. Sadly, the Church herself has rejected them, which is why we stand on the brink of world governance by those steeped in the spirit of Freemasonry and communism.

   Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us! Our Lady, patroness of the United States under your title of the Immaculate Conception, pray for the United States of America and those who serve her in civil and military service.

Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.


For the first part of this article, see More on War and Peace




FEBRUARY
Time of Septuagesima
volume 14, no. 3
CHRIST or chaos
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