Presidents Day: What’s to Celebrate?

FreeVector-President-WashingtonPresidents Day, which was observed on Monday, is an odd thing for a Catholic to celebrate.

America, after all, is essentially a Freemasonic experiment. It was constructed by men who not only despised the holy Catholic faith but who sought to erect a nation where fallen man and his corrupted reason, and not Christ and his pristine supernatural truths, would be the basis for all social activity.

Too few Catholics living in the United States realize this.

So, in an effort to get them up to speed with how those “Founding Fathers” really viewed the one true religion, I figured it’d be worthwhile to compile some of their quotes.

But before I do that, I want to draw your attention to this tweet by EWTN anchor Raymond Arroyo:

Arroyo is a full-blooded Americanist. In other words, he’s how Catholics in America should not celebrate Presidents Day.

I’ll go more in depth with “Americanism” in another essay but for now realize that it is an error common among Catholics living in the West that drives them to think “the diffusion of knowledge” is the only guardian of “true liberty” instead of recognizing that the diffusion of sanctifying grace is the only guardian of “true liberty.”

Alas, on to the Presidents.

First up, some remarks by Thomas Jefferson:

Almighty God hath created the mind free, and manifested his supreme will that free it shall remain by making it altogether insusceptible of restraint.

Truth is great and will prevail if left to herself…

[These United States were] founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without pretense of miracle or mystery.

Jefferson’s first error lies in making the claim that because “the mind” is created “free” it therefore must be left “free” from all restraint.

Now, it is true that man possess free will. However, as Frank Sheed writes in A Map of Life, man’s freedom has a purpose and is not to be used in any manner the individual person sees fit:

Now every faculty of man has first its own proper action; and second its own proper object. Thus the eye has its action – namely, to see – and its object – namely, colored surface.

So the intellect has its action, which is to know or be aware of, and its object, which is truth. Likewise, the will has its action, which is to love, and its object, which is goodness. In other words, the intellect knows things insofar as they appear to the soul true, and the will loves things insofar as they appear to the soul good.

Now the supreme truth is God, so the intellect’s highest task is to know God. And the supreme goodness is God, so the will’s highest task is to love God.

In brief, our intellect is not “free” to reject truth, which is personified in Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. “I am the way, the truth and the life.” By its nature our intellect must adhere to truth.

jjjjMoreover, the will is only “free” insofar as it chooses that which is good. “He who sins is a slave to sin.” This is why Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical Libertas wrote, “Nothing more foolish can be uttered or conceived than the notion that, because man is free by nature, he is therefore exempt from law.”

Jefferson, however, constructs his entire political philosophy on the rejection of the duty of the intellect and will to submit themselves to the revealed truths of God as interpreted by the Catholic Church.

Second, while Jefferson is correct to say “Truth is great,” he is mistaken to believe that it will prevail if left to itself to “battle it out” with falsehood in a marketplace of ideas.

This isn’t to deny the fact that proselytism, argumentation and an authentic living out of the Catholic faith can convert non-believers. But history attests to the fact that human nature has been too weakened by original sin and the lure of the world, the flesh and the devil is too strong for mankind, especially those unfortunate souls not members of the Catholic Church, to willfully abide by truth without law encouraging them to do so. Put another way, “neutral” laws that allow man the option of choosing between truth and error usually result in a nation where men choose that which is objectively wrong.

Moreover, as Leo XIII writes, when placed on equal footing with error, truth is “gradually obscured” from society. He adds that when unbridled liberty is granted to all forms of speech “nothing will remain sacred and inviolate.”

Who can deny that this is what has happened in America?

Jefferson’s last comment is nothing more than the typical “Enlightenment” era three-fold claim made by rationalists that the will of the people is supreme (over and above the will of God) that authority flows from them alone (instead of flowing from Jesus Christ) and that the Catholic Church (which Jefferson had in mind when he wrote that America was founded “without pretense of miracle or mystery”) will not have any say whatsoever in our new society.

Next up, Tommy J’s right hand man and fellow non-Catholic James Madison:

The Religion of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right.

In matters of Religion, no mans right is abridged by the institution of Civil Society…Religion is wholly exempt from its cognizance.

The Bill implies that the Civil Magistrate is a competent Judge of Religious Truth…[this] is an arrogant pretension.

Again, it must be stressed that man does not possess a “right” to not submit to the teachings of Holy Mother Church. He is undeniably free to, and may at times possess a civil right to follow and propagate the beliefs of a false religion, but if he possessed an “unalienable right” to reject the Catholic faith, the First Commandment would be a lie and God would then have given equal rights to truth and error.

Pope Gregory XVI of happy memory, in his encyclical Mirari Vos, had this to say about “liberty of conscience”:

Now we examine another prolific cause of evils by which, we lament, the Church is at present afflicted, namely indifferentism, or that base opinion which has become prevalent everywhere through the deceit of wicked men, that eternal salvation of the soul can be acquired by any profession of faith whatsovever, if morals are conformed to the standard of the just and the honest.

This shameful font of indifferentism gives rise to that absurd and erroneous proposition which claims that liberty of conscience must be maintained for everyone. It spreads ruin in sacred and civil affairs, though some repeat over and over again with the greatest impudence that some advantage accrues to religion from it. “But the death of the soul is worse than freedom of error,” as Augustine was wont to say.

Experience shows, even from earliest times, that cities renowned for wealth, dominion, and glory perished as a result of this single evil, namely immoderate freedom of opinion, license of free speech, and desire for novelty.

As far as Madison’s claim that no one may “abridge” another man’s religious beliefs goes, well, let it be said that the Church has always maintained that the State may in fact disallow the the public dissemination of heresy and that a certain type of coercion can be a good thing.

Fr. François Laisney, in an essay for The Angelus magazine, has illustrated why this is the case. Although Fr. Laisney was speaking about the errors of Dignitatis Humanae in his article, his words apply to Madison as well:

…the underlying error here is that any coercion is always against the dignity of man. If man were supreme, thus his own ruler, then any coercion would indeed be opposed to his dignity. [But] God is Supreme [and] man received his being from God…

As intended by God, authority is a help to do good. The authority of parents over children is a good example…Where the authority is good, it helps many to be good.

Thus there can be good coercion (reasonable and moderate) that, far from opposed to human dignity, protects it from falling into error and sin…

Thus the refusal of coercion under the guise of human dignity is in fact a refusal of divinely instituted authority…

Fr. Laisney is merely echoing the words of St. Alphonsus, who once wrote: “Fools regard as prosperity to be free from correction, or to despise the admonitions which they receive; but such prosperity is the cause of their ruin.”

Madison’s claim that the state is not a competent judge when it comes to recognizing religious truth is also at odds with Catholic teaching. Pope Leo XIII tells us why:

God has made man for society, and has placed him in the company of others like himself, so that what was wanting to his nature, and beyond his attainment if left to his own resources, he might obtain by association with others. 

Wherefore, civil society must acknowledge God as its Founder and Parent, and must obey and reverence His power and authority. Justice therefore forbids, and reason itself forbids, the State to be godless; or to adopt a line of action which would end in godlessness-namely, to treat the various religions (as they call them) alike, and to bestow upon them promiscuously equal rights and privileges. 

Since, then, the profession of one religion is necessary in the State, that religion must be professed which alone is true, and which can be recognized without difficulty, especially in Catholic States, because the marks of truth are, as it were, engravers upon it. 

This religion, therefore, the rulers of the State must preserve and protect, if they would provide – as they should do – with prudence and usefulness for the good of the community. 

Next up is our second President John Adams, one of the most anti-Catholic men to ever hold the office:

Since the promulgation of Christianity, the two greatest systems of tyranny that have sprung from this original, are the canon and the feudal law. By the former of these, the most refined, sublime, extensive, and astonishing constitution of policy that ever was conceived by the mind of man was framed by the Romish clergy for the aggrandizement of their own order. All the epithets I have here given to the Romish policy are just, and will be allowed to be so when it is considered, that they even persuaded mankind to believe, faithfully and undoubtingly, that God Almighty had entrusted them with the keys of heaven, whose gates they might open and close at pleasure

…this afternoon’s entertainment was to me most awful and affecting; the poor wretches fingering their beads, chanting Latin, not a word of which they understood; their pater nosters and ave Marias; their holy water; their crossing themselves perpetually; their bowing to the name of Jesus, whenever they hear it…

Adams’ view of Christendom, which Fr. Juan Carlos Iscara of St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Minnesota describes as “the incarnation of Christ in the socio-political order” and “the ensemble of people who want to live publicly according to the Laws of the Holy Gospel,” is that it was one of the most tyrannical things ever to have taken place in human history.

His opinion of the Holy Catholic Mass needs no comment.

Lastly, Mason-in-chief George Washington:

All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition.

When Washington says “in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition” what he means to say is that “America has proudly rid itself of the Social Kingship of Christ and put on the cloak of the Social Kingship of Man.”

Furthermore, the saintly Pope Pius IX in his Syllabus of Errors rejected what Mr. Washington had to say about man’s “inherent natural rights”:

15. Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true – CONDEMNED

So, ladies and gentlemen, having said all this I can only conclude that it would perhaps be best for Catholics to approach Presidents Day more as a day of prayer and fasting and less as a day of celebration. What I mean is, Catholics should spend Presidents Day not fawning over men who espoused ideas completely at odds with Catholicism and who saw themselves as the sworn enemies of Christendom. Rather, they should pray that the men who in the future will wield the enormous amount of earthly power that comes with the American presidency may use it to advance the truths of the Catholic faith. Lord knows too many of them haven’t in the past. But Lord willing they will in the future.

Stephen Kokx is the host of “Church & State with Stephen Kokx” on Magnificat Radio, which airs Fridays at 11am, 2pm, 6pm and 9pm and Saturdays at 10am EST. Follow him on twitter @StephenKokx

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