The Kingship of
THE PRINCIPLES OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS
REV. DENIS FAHEY, C.S.SP., B.A., D.Pa., D.D.
Professor of Philosophy and Church History, Senior Scholasticate, Blackrock College,
With Nihil Obstat and Imprimi Potest
THE REAL HISTORY OF THE WORLD
IF we wish to place ourselves at the proper point of view for the appreciation of the history of the world, we must consider man as he is fully and completely in God's sight, for the real history of the world is the account of the acceptance or rejection by the world of God's plan for the restoration of the Divine Life.
In other words it is the story of God's undoing of the awful consequences of Original Sin, taken in conjunction with man's response to God's overtures. Thus the real history of the world will be a narrative of how man, destined by nature to develop into different Nations and States and restored to the possession of the Divine Life by the Passion and Death of Our Lord, corresponded with God's designs for the development of His most real life. Man is moving forward to the unity of the Mystical Body in Heaven, where, through the One Mediator, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Priest. and King, God in Three Divine Persons shall be present, seen face to face, in each member and to all. To borrow a metaphor from natural science, just as water always seeks a common level, in different spaces that interommunicate, so in the universe, the Divine Life come down from Heaven mounts up again and we shall be at its level of stable equilibrium for all eternity, through Him and with Him and in Him, Whose Death was our life. Here below, however, Our Lord's Priesthood and Spiritual Kingship are participated in by the Rulers of the One Supernatural Supra-national Society, the Catholic Church, while His Temporal Kingship is shared by the Rulers of the natural social developments of humanity -----States or Nations. Here below we see the Church and States, Spiritual and Temporal Kingship, in Heaven. Our Lord shall be the One Ruler, Priest and King. But God, Subsistent Being, in Whose Intelligence is infinitely perfect order, wants order in the works of His hands. So the world is meant to mirror forth, however imperfectly, the unity of the Mystical Body in Heaven, for the social life of which we are meant to prepare here on earth. Accordingly, the history of the world, viewed from the highest standpoint, to which everything else is subordinate, turns around the social acceptance and rejection of the Kingship of Christ, and thus the attitude of States to the one supernatural society and to the Indirect Power of the Catholic Church is the keystone of the arch of the world's social order.
This point may be expressed in another way. By their natural life men are destined to attain perfection in societies, States and Nations; by their supernatural life they are members of the Mystical Body of Our Lord, the Catholic Church, with God in Three Divine Persons present within them, seen here on earth, it is true, only as "in a glass, darkly," but one day to be seen "face to face" in Heaven. Our adoption as Sons of God is by our being conformed to the likeness of the Eternal Son of God by nature. This conformity is twofold: the one imperfect, by Divine grace in this life; the other perfect, in the glory of our heavenly native land, as we read in I John iii. 2: Dearly beloved, we are now the sons of God; and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. We know, that, when He shall appear, we shalt be like to Him: because we shall see Him as He is (III. P. Q. 45 a. 4 c.). Now, in order to safeguard and favour their ordered tendency to that clear vision of the Blessed Trinity, in perfect likeness to Our Lord, men have a right to exact that the natural societies of which they form part observe their due subordination to the one Supernatural Society. This means the acknowledgment by these societies of that supernatural society and thus of the Indirect Power of the Catholic Church. Thus it is again clear that the attitude of States to the Indirect Power of the Catholic Church is the true test of the world's social progress. The full development of human personality cannot be harmoniously striven for, unless there be order in the relations between the authority in the State or society, whose business is the cultivation of that natural social perfection termed civilization, and the Catholic Church. The attitude, therefore, of the authority in the State towards the Kingship of Our Lord and the Catholic Church may be spoken of as the spiritual principle or soul of the civilization and is the real touchstone of the value of a culture, namely, its capacity to aid in forming true personality, resemblance to Our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. St. Thomas, De Regimine Princip. Lib. I., c. 15).There is only one God, one world and one objective order for redeemed man in that world, the return to God through the One Lord and Master Jesus Christ, Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, in the manner He Himself has laid down.
Has that order ever been realized in the world to any great extent? Yes. The thirteenth century, the high-water mark in man's acceptance of the order established by God, saw Catholic Europe organized in the way we may attempt to represent diagrammatically as follows:
(As He Is In Himself).
OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
(Invisible Head Of His Mystical Body -------The Catholic Church).
Each Nation aiming at the Temporal Prosperity of its subjects so
as to not hinder but favour the attaining their final end -----Union
with God in His nner Supernatural Life.
In the Middle Ages the State fulfilled its obligation of professing that religion which God Himself has established and by which alone He wants to be adored and worshipped -----the Catholic Religion. When Catholics are answering the objections of non-Catholics to the Inquisition, they sometimes seem to lose sight of the formal principle of order animating the civilization of the Middle Ages. They speak of heresy being then considered a crime, because the State recognized the Catholic Religion for what it objectively is, the One True Religion established by God. The phrases employed are liable to leave the reader under the impression that the order then acknowledged was a mere temporary arrangement and that at the present day another arrangement has arisen, also in order. The truth is that the State then grasped the formal principle of ordered social organization in the actual world and that the Inquisition was set up to defend the hold of the world on order against the fomenters of disorder. Of course the particular manner according to which that formal principle was concretely realized in the States of the Middle Ages has passed away; but that same principle is meant by God to mould the new matter and the new circumstances of all succeeding ages. Socially organized, man in the world redeemed by Our Lord is not as God wants him to be unless he accepts the supernatural, supra-national Catholic Church. The modern world has turned aside from order and is suffering for its apostasy and disorder. This great truth needs to be proclaimed unequivocally, so that the interior life with which we celebrate the Feast of the Kingship of Christ may be deepened. It is infinitely better to go down struggling for the integral truth, than to win a seeming victory by whittling it down.
But, from the thirteenth century onwards, there has been steady decay. When once we have understood that, for Luther, Divine Grace, which is our Real Life, remains outside of us, since it is nothing else than the external favour of God, it is easy to represent diagrammatically the Lutheran tendency of
OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
(No Longer, However, as Source or Intrinsic
Principle of Life of the Mystical Body).
Each individual, by a human act of blind confidence, is certain that the
justice of Christ is imputed to him, the one True Visible Church
through which alone (in re or in voto) one becomes a member
of the Mystical Body being done away with.
The note of interrogation at the head of this diagram and of those that follow is meant to emphasize the fact that those who are not in the order laid down by God for return to Him are objectively in a state of aimless disorder. Those who deliberately reject that order come under the leadership of Satan in his struggle against the Mystical Body of Christ (IIIa. P. Q. 8. a. 7).
The resultant Protestant State-organization may be depicted as follows:
Each Protestant State organizes its particular form of religion,
mixture of supernatural and natural, as a State Department.
This Lutheran ideal received international recognition at the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, at the end of the Thirty Years War. That "Peace" has been well termed the funeral of the Catholic order of the world. Luther's separation of the Christian from the Citizen prepared the way for the deification of the State, realized in modern times, and the social influence of Protestant society thus made easy the advent of the modern public man who may, as a private citizen, be a Catholic, but as a public man will get himself represented at Protestant worship or even on occasion assist there at. "You are a prince or judge," said Luther, " . . . you have people under you and you wish to know what to do. It is not Christ you are to question concerning the matter, but the law of your country. . . . Between the Christian and the ruler, a profound separation must be made. . . . Assuredly, a prince can be a Christian, but it is not as a Christian that he ought to govern. As ruler, he is not called a Christian but a prince. The man is Christian, but his function does not concern his religion. . . . Though they are found in the same man, the two states or functions are perfectly marked off, one from the other, and really opposed" (Weimar Edition of Luther's Works xxxii., pp. 391, 439, 440).
The French Revolution marks another stage in the process of decay. It aimed at the violent overthrow of the ordered grasp of life still prevailing in Catholic countries. The tendency of social life in States which have gradually accepted "The Declaration of the Rights of Man of 1789," during this post-revolutionary era of the world in which we are living, may be thus expressed:
PROGRESS OF HUMANITY TO FELICITY HERE BELOW.
The State has no religion of any kind, natural or supernatural.
Religion is an individual concern.
The State or Nation falsely holding that it is not obliged to make public profession of any religion tends henceforth to stand supreme over all the various forms of religion professed by its subjects. The State, as the natural development of human life, is, however, bound to favour the order established by God for man's return to Him. "Civil society, established for the common welfare, should not only safeguard the well-being of the community, but have also at heart the interests of its individual members, in such wise as not in any way to hinder but in every manner to render as easy as possible, the possession of that highest and unchange- able good for which all should seek." In spite of that, it proclaims itself equally satisfied with God not being worshipped in the way He said that He wanted to be, nay even with God not being recognized at all, and with Catholic worship. This is what has erroneously been termed, allowing freedom of conscience. [Emphasis added by the Web Master.] Thus we find enunciated expressly the supremacy of the natural in public life, never-ending source of disorder and confusion for Catholics in their endeavour to follow Christ the King. Thus is ushered in the principle of the supremacy of the State or Nation above the Catholic Church, in countries where the greater part of the people were still Catholic, leading to that conflict between religion and patriotism which has made life so hard for many Catholics. Religion and patriotism in God's plan for ordered life are not meant to be in conflict. "It would be most repugnant to think thus of the wisdom and goodness of God. Even in physical things, albeit of a lower order, the Almighty has so combined the forces and springs of nature with tempered action and wondrous harmony that no one of them clashes with any other, and all of them most fitly and aptly work together for the great purpose of the universe. There must accordingly exist between these two powers-----the ecclesiastical and the civil-----a certain orderly connection, which may be compared to the union of the soul and body in man. The nature and scope of that connection can be determined only as we have laid down, by having regard to the nature of each power, and by taking account of the relative excellence and nobility of their purpose. One of the two has for its proximate and chief object the well-being of this mortal life; the other the everlasting joys of Heaven" (Encyclical Letter of Pope Leo XIII" Immortale Dei," On the Christian Constitution of States).
Here it would be interesting, but unfortunately it would necessitate too lengthy a digression, to point out how much of the myth of Rousseauist and Masonic democracy is found in the Articles of the Declaration of the Rights of Man of 1789. This is easily seen, for example, in the following articles:
Art. I. -----" Men are born free and equal and continue so."
Art. 4.-----"Liberty is the power of doing what we will, so long as it does not injure another: the only limits of each man's natural rights are such as secure the same rights to others; these limits are determinable only by the law."
Art. 6.-----" The law is the expression of the general will. . . . All the citizens being equal in its eyes can be equally admitted to all dignities, positions and public employments according to their capacity and without any other distinction than that of their virtues and their talents."
Art. 10.-----" No one can be molested for his opinions, even for his religious opinions, provided their manifestation does not trouble the public order established by law."
Arl. 11.-----" The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man; therefore every citizen is allowed freedom of speech, of writing and printing, but will have to answer for any abuse of that liberty in cases determined by the law."
The confusion between "Democratism" or Democracy, as conceived by Rousseau, and the legitimate democratic form of government has been and is one of the most fruitful sources of evil in post-revolutionary States and Nations.
For St. Thomas, the human intellect grasps the order of what is, either by Revelation from God, by which it shares in the Divine grasp of that order, or by its own efforts, in seizing the nature and exigencies of being. Thanks to liberty, the human being has the power to choose means so as to adapt his development to the order thus grasped.
For Rousseau, there is no order, supernatural or natural, expressing the essential exigencies of what is. The majority of the expressions of individual will (votes) is the sign or the evocation of the will of the Immanent Social God decreeing and making the good. The dogma of the Sovereign People combined with the dogma of the General Will, which is not the same as the sum of the individual wills, involve the error of the multitude-God. According to the dogma of the Sovereign People, the people are perpetual possessors and sole lawful possessors of sovereignty. (Cf. Maritain, The Things that are Not Caesar's, p. 132.)