Sunday, March 1, 2015

Dawson in 1956

"Now this attitude of withdrawal is perfectly justifiable on Catholic principles. It is the spirit of the Fathers of the Desert and of the martyrs and confessors of the primitive church. But it means that Christianity must become an underground movement and that the only place for Christian life and for Christian culture is in the desert and the catacombs. Under modern conditions, however, it may be questioned if such a withdrawal is possible. Today the desert no longer exists and the modern state exerts no less authority underground in the subway and the air raid shelter than it does on the earth and in the air. The totalitarian state —and perhaps the modern state in general—is not satisfied with passive obedience; it demands full co-operation from the cradle to the grave. Consequently the challenge of secularism must be met on the cultural level, if it is to be met at all; and if Christians cannot assert their right to exist in the sphere of higher education, they will eventually be pushed not only out of modern culture, but out of physical existence. That is already the issue in Communist countries, and it will also become the issue in England and America if we do not use our opportunities while we still have them. We are still living internally on the capital of the past and externally on the existence of a vague atmosphere of religious tolerance which has already lost its justification in contemporary secular ideology. It is a precarious situation which cannot be expected to endure indefinitely, and we ought to make the most of it while it lasts.
     "And I believe that it is the field of higher education that offers the greatest opportunities; first on the ground of economy of effort, because a comparatively small expenditure of time and money is likely to produce more decisive results than a much greater expenditure at a lower level. And secondly because this is the sphere where there is most freedom of action and where the tradition of intellectual and spiritual freedom is likely to survive longest. Moreover the need for action is especially urgent in this field, because the social changes of the last half century have extinguished the old tradition of independent private scholarship to which these studies owed so much in the past. But today the disappearance of the leisure class makes this kind of unorganized individual scholarship impossible. Either the church or the universities must carry on the tradition and make themselves responsible for the maintenance of these studies or the work will not be done at all."

     Christopher Dawson, "Civilization in crisis" (1956), as reproduced in The historic reality of Christian culture:  a way to the renewal of life, Religious perspectives 1, ed. Ruth Nanda Anshen (New York:  Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1960), 96-98 (79-98).

Friday, February 27, 2015

"he knew that God is just."

"the horror that fascinated [Poe] and gave such dreadful unity to his tales is often the inescapable confrontation of the self by a perfect justice, the exposure of a guilty act in a form that makes its revelation a recoil of the mind against itself."

     Marilynne Robinson, "On Edgar Allan Poe," New York review of books 62, no. 2 (February 5, 2015):  6 (4, 6).

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The auctoritas of the simple country priest (Parish priest more than prelate)

"These pastorsoverwhelmed by work and yet [(pourtant)] wretched, remote from all ambition and satisfaction, deprived of the honors and pleasures of society, strong only in the sense of their dutyedify, console the most useful part of society, the inhabitants of the countryside.  They are lacking in brilliant acquirements [(connaissances)], but have the good sense to give what they have away [(à revendre, to resell)].  They have not the varnish of virtue but rather the substance and guilessness of it.  With them Socrates would not be ashamed to converse, and Solon would seat himself voluntarily at their table.  Observe how [(comme)] they speak in their rustic temples, how [(comme)] the people hear them with avidity, how [(combien)] they are consulted in the most scabrous affairs, how [(comment)] their decisions are followed with respect."

     Melchiorre Gioja, in his Sul dipartimento del Lario (Milan, 1804), as quoted in Frenchy by Yves-Marie Bercé, in "Le clergé et la diffusion de la vaccination," Revue d'histoire de l'Église de France 69, no. 182 (1983):  100 (87-106).

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

"the ancient and august alliance of the priesthood and of medicine"

"l'alliance antique et auguste du sacerdote et de la médicine".

     Le Ministre de l'interieur via Le Comité central de vaccine (L'École de médicine, Paris), to all bishops of the Empire (or at least France?), 4 April 1804.  Séance générale de la Société centrale de vaccine, 24 frimaire an XIII =15 December 1804, as quoted in Yves-Marie Bercé, "Le clergé et la diffusion de la vaccination, Revue d'histoire de l'Église de France 69, no. 182 (1983):  91 (87-106).

     Other notable quotes from this article:


"It was not unusual to see in the mornings of the public inoculation at the Hospital a procession of men, women, and children, conducted through the streets by a priest carrying a cross, come to be inoculated.  By these popular means it met not with opposition, and the common people expressed themselves certain that it was a blessing sent from Heaven, though discovered by one heretic and practiced by another."

     Dr. Joseph Marshall to Dr. Edward Jenner, on the former's 1801 vaccination work in Palermo, Sicily, Paris, 26 January 1802.  Bercé (1983), p. 89, as reproduced from a later printing of the English original (John Baron, The life of Edward Jenner, M.D., vol. 1 (London:  Henry Colburn, Publisher, 1838 [1827]), p. 403).


"in November of 1821, although the majority of the Italian states renewed and went into detail regarding their vaccinary regulations, the ecclesiastical state adopted especially constraining measures signed by Consalvi.  The preamble of the edict gave expression to 'the full adhesion of the Pontif to the vaccinary system'.  It attributed the hesitations of parents to a disgraceful ignorance of the poorest [members of Italian society] and described as impiety the possible refusal of educated persons.  'Ministers of evangelical charity:  the law imposes on us [the obligation] of educating the people about this gift from the Most High; make them acquainted with the will, the wishes, the prudent measures that the visible head of the Church, true interpreter of the divine commandment, has taken'" on the subject of vaccination.

     Bercé (1983), p. 80, citing Biblioteca vaccinica [6] (1822):  78-80.


     "Despite the accusations leveled here or there by health officials or doctors, cases of determined resistance [to vaccination] provoked by the clergy were in fact very rare.  The greatest enemy of the vaccinators was not (as they loved to put it in stereotypical terms) prejudice and superstition, but simply the inertia and indolence that, in periods of dormancy [(en dehors des retours épidémiques)], caused parents to lose sight of [(oublier)] the threats [posed] by the variolic peril.  For the [vaccination-]crazed [(enthousiaste)] generation of the first years of the 19th century, vaccination represented an opportunity [(enjeu) not to be missed].  It offered there and then the possibility of (thanks to the light of science) erasing from the world a plague whose appalling effects one could see in every family.  The[eir] dissatisfaction and irritation was exacerbated when, despite [their best] hopes and efforts, the popular embrace that [they] had expected was very slow in building.  [They therefore] attempted to incriminate an embodied opposition (of antivaccinary doctrinaires, of stooges [(suppôts)] of obscurantism) that [they] would be able to defy and to strike down.  It became necessary to invent an enemy; the clergy and religion could serve as the scapegoats most ready-to-hand.  Instead of th[e embrace they expected], the doctors found themselves facing [in certain cases] only silence and negligence, resignation and indifference.  In order to get beyond these obstacles [so] apparently insurmountable, the clergy presented [them (anticlerical as they tended to be)] with (given the state of society at that time) the best cultural impetus [(vecteur culturel)].  This is what the most clear-sighted of politicians and hygienists had understood.  From the top of its hierarchy to the bottom, the clergy manifested the same beliefs and attitudes in [the] face of the innovation [(which is to say as much enthusiasm)] as society at large.  It simply reflected the illusions or hopes of the epoch in which it lived."

     Bercé (1983), pp. 105-106.


     Much more to the point on Leo XII and the supposed 1829 bull against vaccination:
  • Yves-Marie Bercé and Jean-Claude Otteni, "Pratique de la vaccination antivarioloique dans les provinces de l'état pontifical au 19ème siècle:  remarques sur le supposé interdit vaccinal de Léon XII," Revue d'histoire écclesiastique 103, no. 2 (April 2008):  448-466.
  • Ulrich L. Lehner, "An anti-vaxx pope?", First things, 6 February 2015.



Monday, February 23, 2015

"the power of the will as it relates to opposites cannot be known through any sensible effect".

     Thomas Aquinas, De malo 6.ad 18, as trans. Ralph McInerny.  But doesn't the Latin say precisely the opposite?
potentia voluntatis ad opposita se habens non possit cognosci nisi per effectum sensibilem. . . .

"he who steals in order to commit adultery is, speaking formally, more an adulterer than a thief."

"ille qui furatur ut committat adulterium, est, per se loquendo, magis adulter quam fur."

     Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae I-II.18.6.Resp., referencing Aristotle, Nichomachean ethics V.ii.4 (1130a):  "suppose two men to commit adultery, one for profit, and gaining by the act, the other from desire, and having to pay" (trans. Rackham, LCL (1934)).  Objectum:  the commission of theft; finis:  the commission of adultery.

Sunday, February 22, 2015