April AD 2009
Our Lady of the Rosary
ON THIS PAGE:
Is the Body always a "Temple of the Holy
Via Media for the Commandments?
Moral issues of the Great Depression (Continued)
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.”
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
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".
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
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
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
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.
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?
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.
His professional life was divided between academia and service to the British
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
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.
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
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.”
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
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
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.