Pray Brethren

Pray Brethren

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Anti-Nationalism: Medieval and Modern

After the fall of Rome and the limitation of Byzantine power to merely the old eastern Roman Empire, the Papacy found itself able to establish a new Holy Roman Empire in western Europe with the Pope reigning above the emperor himself. While the Pope saw himself as the universal ruler over a dawning universal Europe, the Holy Roman Emperor believed himself to be the true universal ruler with the Pope and Church as his royal subjects. This caused a tension between Church and State which was only exacerbated by the rise of new European nations, each seeking to rule its own lands apart from Imperial or Church control.

Thus in the rise of nations, both the Holy Roman Empire and the Catholic Church fought for their own forms of universalism, and by doing so both Empire and Church stood against the nations. The Church sought a borderless, universal realm governed by the Pope and bishops with a king or emperor under their leadership, while the Emperor sought an unending Imperial rule across the lands. Neither understood their roles in the world of the nations. Indeed, no mere political force has what it takes to unite the nations with their distinctive customs and cultures. This, however, is also true of the Church if it sees itself acting primarily as a political entity.

This is the danger of today’s Church-State situation in Europe and the Americas. While the Secular West is attempting to create a borderless Europe, a godless single-state of atheists, socialist movements in the United States seek to bring European “progress” to our lands. The old imperial universalism has been replaced by an atheist universalism. As the Church confronts this crisis, it would be well if we recall that Christ sent the Apostles to make disciples of all the nations, not exert political authority over a single, united Catholic nation. Christ loved the nations, and God has ordained their existence. Let us not compete with the Secular West – or the Islamic caliphate – in seeking to deny the nations by rekindling the old anti-national, politically universalist dreams of medieval Christendom.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Character of a Men's Group

Check out this article from the Art of Manliness blog (a site well worth your reading time) regarding several men’s groups in recent history and how their discussions, activities, and practical experience helped them shape the worlds of literature, politics, industry, and even the nations. While the writer’s introduction on “Master Minds” can be skimmed, this idea is sound:

...two brains are better than one and iron sharpens iron. When we gather together with others to throw around ideas, discuss and debate, and receive both criticism and inspiration, we grow and develop as men and foster new ideas while refining our old ones.
But more than mere discussion, we see in Roosevelt’s Tennis Cabinet a group of men who not only spoke but also engaged in “vigorous play” – a vital component often overlooked in men’s groups today. Nevertheless, discussions like those of the Inklings should always carry on in an enjoyable “cut and parry of prolonged, fierce, masculine argument,” as C.S. Lewis put it.

Whether it was the Inklings, the Tennis Cabinet, the Junto, or the Vagabonds, the men of these groups were marvelous thinkers, movers and shakers of their fields. Be sure to read the article and learn more about what our men’s groups should look like.

Orate Fratres?

No, the question does not refer to the lack of posts recently. The author of this blog is just getting a very busy month of work – and illness – behind him. What ‘Pray Brethren?’ really refers to is the diminishing masculine form of the common, local liturgy. Now Christ has ensured this will remain to some degree because he has given us an all-male priesthood, but this does not mean that the laity understand the masculine character of the liturgy when they are at Mass each Sunday.

In the book Why Catholics Can’t Sing, Thomas Day writes that the tone set by a congregation often lets a visitor know who’s welcome and who’s not. A casual look around a Catholic weekend Mass will tell you a lot about this – the Mass is a family affair, pure and simple. Maybe this is because the Church has bled out so many members over the last forty years that the family is the last bastion of the Faith in our society. More still, the Church teaches that the family is the basic building block of society, so it makes sense to keep families coming to Mass together.

At the same time, the tone of the liturgy – especially the music, but also the priests – reinforces the old belief that religion is for women and children. What’s more, in our age of shunning male authority, our own clergy are often too afraid to play their fatherly role in leading the worship of God as men. The net effect of this is to leave the fathers of our families board to tears during Mass or not present at all. In our liturgy, the best way we can strengthen our families is by raising up strong men of faith, dedicated to the sacrifice of the Mass and ready to live it out in building up the city, state, and nation. But this will mean putting a little manly muscle back into the liturgy. The new translation is an excellent first step, but more is needed.

It’s high time we put Orate Fratres to work and begin to pray as brethren!

Monday, January 16, 2012

AOTM on the Vortex

Michael Voris over at the Vortex is launching a series of videos on masculinity and he launches the series from my old men's group in Minnesota, the Argument of the Month (AOTM). The AOTM regularly draws hundreds of men a month in St. Paul, MN for food, faith, fellowship - and a great debate!

Check out Michael Voris's video below and be sure to check back for updates.