Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Q&A
April AD 2009
Our Lady of the Rosary
Parish Bulletin

ON THIS PAGE:
Is the Body always a "Temple of the Holy Ghost"?
Via Media for the Commandments?
Beeswax Candles?
Moral issues of the Great Depression (Continued)

[Q&A ARCHIVES]


TEMPLE OF THE HOLY GHOST

Question:  Is the body a “temple of the Holy Ghost”? always?  Or only if Baptized?  Any other qualifications?  (A.H., Saint Mary’s, KS)

    Answer:  The Holy Ghost dwells in the souls of those who have been justified, and who have not lost that justification through unforgiven mortal sin.  Although we normally equate justification with Baptism, the two are distinguishable, and in the case of adults justification precedes Baptism in the order of time.  The Council of Trent treated them separately in its sixth and seventh sessions, respectively.

    Trent defined justification as “a translation, from that state wherein man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace, and of the adoption of the sons of God, through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Savior. And this translation, since the promulgation of the Gospel, cannot be effected, without the laver of regeneration, or the desire thereof, as it is written; unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.”[1]

    In the case of adults, God provides what is known as “prevenient grace” by which they come to believe in, trust, and love God, to detest sin, to repent of their own transgressions, and to seek Baptism.  (The concept of “baptism of desire” is based on the reality that a man is already justified by his favorable cooperation with prevenient grace, and that if he should die in this grace while obediently awaiting Baptism he has satisfied the spirit of the law that all must be baptized in order to attain salvation.

    For those baptized as infants, the Sacrament itself effects the justification, the child being incapable of resisting God’s graces.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia provides a well written explanation of the indwelling of the Holy Ghost.

The crowning point of justification is found in the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is the perfection and the supreme adornment of the justified soul. Adequately considered, the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit consists of a twofold grace, the created accidental grace (gratia creata accidentalis) and the uncreated substantial grace (gratia increata substantialis). The former is the basis and the indispensable assumption for the latter; for where God Himself erects His throne, there must be found a fitting and becoming adornment. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the soul must not be confounded with God's presence in all created things, by virtue of the Divine attribute of Omnipresence. The personal indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the soul rests so securely upon the teaching of Holy Writ and of the Fathers that to deny it would constitute a grave error. In fact, St. Paul (Romans 5:5) says: "The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us". In this passage the Apostle distinguishes clearly between the accidental grace of theological charity and the Person of the Giver. From this it follows that the Holy Spirit has been given to us, and dwells within us (Romans 8:11), so that we really become temples of the Holy Ghost (1 Corinthians 3:16 sq.; 6:19). Among all the Fathers of the Church (excepting, perhaps, St. Augustine) it is the Greeks who are more especially noteworthy for their rapturous utterances touching the infusion of the Holy Ghost. Note the expressions: "The replenishing of the soul with balsamic odours", "a glow permeating the soul", "a gilding and refining of the soul".[2] [Emphasis supplied.]

    As the Catholic Encyclopedia says, “where God Himself erects His throne, there must be found a fitting and becoming adornment.”  It is therefore inconceivable that the Holy Ghost would remain in the soul of one who remains in the state of unrepentant mortal sin.  But God is merciful and has established a second Sacrament of justification in the Sacrament of Penance.

 
VIA MEDIA FOR
COMMANDMENTS?

    Question:  You spoke of virtue as lying along a “middle way—a via media” between excess and deficit.  If this is true, why isn’t there a “middle way” in keeping the Commandments?

    Answer:  There is no via media in the Commandments because they are objective statements of God’s moral law.  There is no center point about which we might debate the morality of murder or theft or adultery or lying or whatever.  These things are wrong and must not be done.  There may be circumstances like fear or immaturity which reduce culpability of a sin, but violating the moral law is never morally upright.

    The virtues, on the other hand, are not moral laws, but rather strengths or habits or powers which enable us to the good things we must do in life.  Most of them admit of the possibility of misuse through excess or deficit—we can make the mistake of using the power too much or too little.  Hope, for example, means to trust that God will grant us what we need for salvation if we make the effort to cooperate with His graces—it does not mean the presumption (excess) that “salvation is God’s problem, not mine” nor does it mean the despair (deficit) that “even God cannot save one as sinful as I.”  As another example, Justice renders no more and no less than what is due.  The just paymaster doesn’t give away the boss’s “extra money” on payday, nor does he withhold the wages that have been earned.  As another, Fortitude ought to enable one to cope with the vicissitudes of life, but not make one brave to the point of recklessness, nor so timid as to be made inactive in normal day to day affairs.

    In addition to Hope, the theological virtue of Faith might be subject to excess or deficit—in believing everything we hear about God or in believing little or nothing about Him.  But Charity, the love of God, seems to be the one virtue in which it is not possible to sin by excess—one cannot love God too much!

 
BEE'S WAX CANDLES

    Question:  Why does the Church insist on bee’s wax for Its candles?  Aren’t they awfully expensive?

    Answer:  The Church requires beeswax in maxima pars, which is usually interpreted to be 51% or more.  Obviously Mass could be offered with other candles, or with no candles at all, but we try to do our best when providing for the altar of God.  Like many things in Church we see a certain symbolism in the use of candles, and specifically beeswax candles.  Dom Guéranger tells us in his wonderful series, The Liturgical Year:

    According to Ivo of Chartres, the wax, which is formed from the juice of flowers by the bee, always considered as the emblem of virginity, signifies the virginal flesh of the Divine Infant, who diminished not, either by His conception or His birth, the spotless purity of His Blessed Mother. The same holy bishop would have us see, in the flame of our Candle, a symbol of Jesus who came to enlighten our darkness. St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking on the same mystery, bids us consider three things in the blessed Candle: the wax, the wick, and the flame. The wax, he says, which is the production of the virginal bee, is the Flesh of our Lord; the wick, which is within, is His Soul; the flame, which burns on top, is His divinity.

 
GREAT DEPRESSION

Question:  Were there moral aspects of the Great Depression?  A lot of people suffered for well over a decade.  Shouldn’t someone be held responsible?

[Continued from last month:]

● John Maynard Keynes ●

    The grand architect  of “progressive” economic theory was John Maynard Keynes (pronounced like “cains”).  Keynes graduated from King’s College, Cambridge in 1906 with a degree in mathematics.  He was president of the Cambridge University Liberal Club in 1905, a member of the avant garde Bloomsbury Group, and is held by some to have been a member of the socialist Fabian Society.[3]  His professional life was divided between academia and service to the British Government.

    During World War I Keynes advised the British Treasury, and served as their official representative at the peace conference that followed.  In his first major work, The Economic Consequences of the Peace (November, 1919), Keynes warned that the harsh reparations imposed on Germany might be impossible to pay and might bring desperate men to power—in this he predicted the rise of Adolf Hitler.  Surprisingly, he also cautioned about the dangers of inflation, a lesson never learned by British or American leaders, in spite of the disaster it caused in Germany.

    Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the Capitalist System was to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.[4]  [Emphasis supplied.]

    This early writing, The Economic Consequences of the Peace, was Keynes’ logical and straightforward opinion of the economic consequences and their social implications, of the Treaty of Versailles, signed in June of 1919.  The only numbers in the text are in tables of imports, exports, production, and consumption.

    Keynes’ mature writing is best represented by his General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, published in 1936.  The footnote on the first page of the first chapter attributes the distinction between “classical economics” and Keynes’ “general theory” to none other than Karl Marx—a detail that seems to have escaped most reviewers.  This General Theory, which is generally called “macroeconomics,” fit well into the “positivist” thinking of the “progressive” era, which narrowly defined “science” as being restricted to things that could be measured and quantified, dismissing logical sciences like history, theology or “classical” economics.  Unlike earlier economists, Keynes’ theories were expressed in moderately complex mathematical terms, including the differential calculus.

    For our purposes, Keynes most important claim was that a free enterprise economy would stagnate if not regulated by government—that, particularly in times of high unemployment, it was necessary for government to stimulate demand and to “prime the pump” with increased government spending.  (To his credit, he did recommend that governments avoid financing their spending by means of inflation causing deficits—a point missed by most of today’s Keynesians!)

    Again, to be fair to Keynes, his theories were formulated while living in an economic society that was anything but free—in Keynes’ time England had a central bank that had been producing fiat money for two centuries,  She exploited numerous colonies, and was deeply involved in socialism.  Keynes recognized that his own principles “can be much easier adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state than the theory of production and distribution of a given production put forth under conditions of free competition and a large degree of laissez-faire.”[5]

    Keynesian macroeconomics has the appearance of a well coordinated system, justified by a rigorous mathematical framework.  It is well accepted by governments, which glory in their central role and expand in size to spend the money made available to them—and by those in the business of satisfying the needs of that sector of the population seeking something for nothing.  In practice, Keynesian economics produces a number of the problems it claims to solve—chief for our purposes being the aggravation of the “boom and bust” referred to as the “business cycle.”

● A Modern Economist Comments ●
Prof. Thomas J. DiLorenzo 

    So-called macroeconomics has never been real economics but rather an endless series of engineering-type models purporting to guide politicians in centrally planning an economy. In the bizarro world of macroeconomics all capital is the same, and all workers are the same, as one big lump, expressed as "K" and "L" in the models. Relative prices and their role in allocating resources in a market economy are mostly ignored, while "economic aggregates" are said to influence "the" price level.

    In macroeconomics it is taken as a given that markets are incapable of allocating resources in an acceptable way; that’s why there is supposedly a need for macroeconomic central planning in the first place. No such "failures" are assumed on the part of the macroeconomic central planners.

    The opportunity cost of studying macroeconomics during one’s formal education is that that time is not spent learning real economics – the economics of human action and the market process. Nor is it spent studying political economy or the effects of the interaction between the economy and the state. Instead, one spends one’s time trying to make sense of obtuse mathematical models and graphs that sometimes take ten or more weeks of a college semester to "build" and interpret. Such is the witchcraft of macroeconomic "models." Models that utterly failed to predict or explain the current crisis, I would add. [6]

 [To be continued]


NOTES:

[1]   Trent, Sess VI, Ch., 4.  http://history.hanover.edu/texts/trent/ct06.html

[2]   Catholic Encyclopedia s.v. “Sanctifying Grace.”  http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06701a.htm

[3]  http://www.ilanamercer.com/phprunner/public_article_list_view.php?editid1=472   Ralph Raico, “Keynes and the Reds,” http://mises.org/story/891

[4]   John Maynard Keynes The Economic Consequences of the Peace, 1919

[5]   General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money preface to the German edition , 1936  http://tmh.floonet.net/articles/foregt.html

[6]   Prof. Thomas J. DiLorenzo , “Greenankeism (Or, Beware the New Yellow Peril)”  21 March 2009 http://www.lewrockwell.com/dilorenzo/dilorenzo168.html

 



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