Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

The Perennial Philosophy

The Perennial Philosophy is a philosophy not invented, but identified, by Aldous Huxley - yes, the same dude who would go on to recommend LSD as a way to gain a new view of reality. Ok, so, before he got to that point, he wrote extensively about how certain elements of thought appeared in diverse sources. The basic principles of this philosophy found among puritans and pygmies are simple. Reality is real - both spiritual stuff and material stuff, and we cannot make them whatever we like just by intending to do so, or by calling them something different. A rose is a rose is a rose, and by any other name, it still smells the same. St. Thomas Aquinas saw it. Confucius saw it, and even said that the restoration of proper names to their things was the foundation of any real reform. We have to call a spade a spade. So those are the basic principles - reality is real, and we have to call things what they are. When we get away from this path, we get into real danger, the sort of danger of a man driving a car through a shopping mall, the whole way telling his passengers, "Relax, it's just the normal 9th Street Tunnel traffic! I can handle it."

The traditional moral code prohibiting murder, theft, etc., is part of it. The same perennial philosophy, this common inheritance of humanity's common sense, also sees marriage as the foundational unit of society and prohibits those things that directly attack it, like adultery, and also those things that call its purpose and function into question, such as contraception and homosexual relationships. These things call the purpose of marriage into question because, according to the perennial philosophy whether found in the West's Aristotelian Thomism or in China's Confucism, the purpose of marriage is the begetting of children and the mutual benefit of the spouses. Lopping off one of those purposes does not merely leave a sterilized marriage, but a crippled or imitation marriage. You can call it what you like. The pioneers of our present situation called it "companionate marriage," marriage for companionship only. But whatever they called it, it was not marriage according to the perenniel philosophy.

The trick in undermining the perennial philosophy in the West has been that the worst things are saved for last. Nobody came out eighty years ago and said what they wanted for this foundational institution not merely of the West but of all human society. They didn't say that they wanted to see it virtually liquidated. They said they wanted to make it more about love. That sounded real nice, I bet. But they snuck in a concept of love that had chiefly to do with feelings, and was not so much about permanence and the begetting of children. Everything since regarding marriage has been legitimated on the basis of this new, false concept of love - love as a feeling. The problem with feelings isn't that they are bad. They are unstable. And obedience to feelings as if they were gods explains a great deal of the fifty percent divorce rate, for starters.

It's going to be hard for us to transcend our feelings and do what's right even when it doesn't feel good. We won't be able to do it on our own, and as a culture we've gone too far down this road of irresponsibility masquerading as love merely to tweak our course. We need wholesale repentence. Only Jesus can bring it. We who know we need it also need to pray for it. If the Pelosis of the world are leading us into moral oblivion, they will be held accountable. If we who think we know better don't spend hours fervently praying, by our prayers hitting the brakes, we will be held accountable for that.

St. Thomas Aquinas made the bulk of his academic career going around Europe after a man named Sieger of Brabant, who said you could have contradictory truths (not perceptions, but realities), and that whatever you called a thing, that it was. Everywhere St. Thomas went, he calmly tried to get folks to listen to common sense and reason. While he lived, he was very successful because he was very prayerful. Let's follow his example.

St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.

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