May/June 2017 - The Protestant Revolution, Part 4
During the reign of Christendom, societies readily submitted themselves to the teachings of Christ and His bride, the Church. Luther introduced the insidous error of "free examination," an error that destroys not only the concept of faith, but also the understanding of authority, which is the very foundation of human civilization.
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
By proposing free examination as the ultimate criterion of religion, Luther radically changed man’s relationship with God. Before this revolutionary intervention, man acknowledged in Christ the sole witness of the Father, Who revealed to Him the secrets of His love. Thanks to the magisterium of the Catholic Church, this revelation was transmitted to men throughout the ages. Men humbly submitted to it, recognizing in it the authentic echo of the unaltered divine revelation.
From Luther onwards this balance is broken. The chain of transmission is interrupted. For man, there is no more question of receiving a revelation, of preserving the deposit of Faith in order to transmit it, but, rather, of exercising his private judgment according to his own choices – this is free examination, the new basis for religion. Establishing himself as the ultimate criterion of religion, man is invited to decide for himself what is included in his faith and to create his own religion according to his personal preferences. If this concept were to be followed logically, each man would profess a personal religion and the concept of church would disappear. In fact, the very notion of a Protestant church contradicts Luther’s principles. But Protestantism is not short of illogicalities…
This principle of free examination marks the great difference between the attitudes of a Protestant and of a Catholic. While the Catholic gives a primary importance to Faith, the Protestant is hardly concerned with it, convinced that the really important thing is to develop a blind and deeply felt confidence in Christ the Savior. This personal feeling gives him a deep inner certainty of his own salvation. This certainty plays the part of a supernatural “life insurance” which opens to him the doors of eternity, independently of the state of his soul. The Protestant is certain of his salvation. For his part, the Catholic is so sure of his Faith that he is ready to die for it; but he is never assured of his own salvation, knowing what he is made of.
This free examination not only divides Protestants and Catholics, it is also at the root of a new concep-tion of the world, diametrically opposed to that which preceded it during long centuries – Christendom.
With free examination having become the determining criterion for his choices, man is invited to choose for himself in the sacred writings what is from God and what is not. Authority is no longer a sacred, transcendent reality, based on the authority of God as the ultimate cause of Faith. It is reduced to being only a property inherent in man. This is an astonishing transference, full of consequences.
These consequences are firstly felt in the religious domain, but they have also a decisive impact on the political level, both in civil society and in families, because if the source of authority changes, so does its nature. St. Paul teaches that authority comes from God: Luther says it comes from man.
In Luther’s system authority does not come from on high, it is no longer a hierarchical reality founded on God in Heaven and enabling men to rise above their petty views. In Luther’s system, authority becomes an impulse coming from man below and leading back to the level from which it arose. Deprived of transcendence, authority finds its source and its legitimacy in the blind, twilight force of the law of numbers, expressed through the “will of the people.”
But what is a world where authority is not rooted in God worth? History, teacher of life, confirms an inescapable law of experience and shows that a democracy that rests on numbers always ends in tyranny. We have only to have a look at the past century to be convinced of the truth of this assertion.
How could it be different? When society is directed by the popular will, it is bound to a weathervane. Is it not the characteristic of a weathervane to indicate the direction of the wind? The popular will perfectly fulfills this function: it scrupulously indicates the direction of the general opinion. But this opinion does not exist by itself and must be built up from scratch. Some men are unquestionably successful in doing this. This kind of opinion is an artificial creation, due to some unscrupulous men, unsavory individuals actually, professional manipulators or, according to the common name which describes them extremely well, “opin-ion makers.”
A society whose authority is a manufactured monster is doomed to unquestionable decadence. Our age, subject to the dictates of popular opinion, is dying from this cruel absence of authority.
Luther’s work is done. Ours is the age of rubble and wreckage; society is dismantled, Holy Mother Church wounded, families are broken.
Animated by a hope that nothing can diminish, we have to rebuild society on the solid foundation that has showed its strength in the past – authority. In the present decadence, the absence of authority shows us the absolute necessity of authority. Let us work to give it again its place and its rights. Let us take care to live under its patronage and protection, and thus we will find again the way towards Heaven and men will recover the hope of which they are today so badly deprived.
In Christo sacerdote et Maria.
Fr. le Roux
NEWS FROM THE SEMINARY
It has been our intention from the beginning of our time here in Virginia to be sure to establish good relations with the community which we have joined, and who have been so welcoming to us from the start. For this end, the Seminary opened its doors on the first weekend of June to all who wanted to come and visit. A two-day open house saw quite a few of our Buckingham neighbors coming to the property for tours and a cookout given by the Seminarians. We hope this will help strengthen the friendship amongst this rural community, as well as perhaps be the beginning of an Apostolate for the souls that might be touched by God’s grace at these sorts of events.
As our first year is coming to a close already, we wish to extend our deep and sincere gratitude to all of you who have contributed or are still contributing to this immense project by your generous donations and especially by your many prayers and sacrifices. The solidity and permanence that this building was designed to reflect is starting to be felt as our new seminary is gradually becoming more and more a home and less a construction site. The latest work has been trying to coax some grass from the hard, red clay of Virginia, as well as the endless finishing work of trim and tiling in the building’s interior. Overall, the work is still very much continuing, and will increase even more as the school year finishes and the summer work time opens. Our administration building remains an empty shell, and the library, side-altars, and even the seminarians’ rooms remain incomplete. We must continue to call upon your generosity for the construction costs as well the upcoming Ordinations week. We have not been able to move here without you, and we will not be able to continue without you!