In the wake of the Notre Dame scandal, I have been having discussions lately with a friend about the nexus of liturgy and politics under the eyes of St. Augustine of Hippo.
What we saw at the Notre Dame commencement was a kind of secular/political liturgy but in an ecclesiastical setting. Corruptio optimi pessima.
If politics should be about the social expression of the City of God, liturgy is the sacramental expression of the City of God.
The language and effect of the one will be in discord or harmony with the language and effect of the other.
It may be that the only way we can emphasize the hollow sound of their progressivist, secularizing cymbals is through authentic Catholic worship.
To that end I found an interesting quote today in a very good book by R. Dodaro, Christ and the Just Society in Augustine. Anyone really interested in digging into Augustine and wants a good, very hard, but clear book, should have this one.
Anyway, I was using this to parse that awful piece by O’Malley, SJ, when I found this in Dodaro:
"Satan’s is, therefore, the archetypal seduction because it embodies the form of all future misdirection of the soul. Similarly, it constitutes the prototype for all secular political discourse, in that it displaces within the soul the original blessing of life lived for the sake of authentic spiritual communion, and introduces in its stead the illusion of self-sufficiency and of satisfaction with a lack of moral rectitude. In Augustine’s view, this retreat into a rival ‘creation’ by Adam and Eve inaugurates the realm of the essentially private. Such, indeed, as the political form of Satan’s own pride: a self-deception which rejected the exclusive divine claim to hegemony, and substituted the domain of self-rule. Satan’s rival city remains eternally devoid of truth because its genesis represents an act of usurpation. Augustine’s insistence upon the fundamental mendacity of Satan’s actions is intended to establish the eloquent lie as the cause of social and political disruption characteristic of the earthly city, where he holds sway." Genesis 3 marks the primordial transition of natural desire away from beatitude in human existence, as it was order, toward the ‘mimetic desire’ of longing to have what God alone posses. Augustine maintains that human beings seek to create good works out of their own capacities, but that these attempts, which stem from the original act of defiance, are doomed to failure. When good does result from human efforts, it is because they are never without divine assistance. Knowledge and love of God, the proper worship of God, are impeded by the dissonance of this free-floating selfhood. Augustine describes the sin of Adam and Eve as self-worship as opposed to the correct worship of God… (pp. 68-69).
Then, right on cue, a reader sent the following:
I ran across the following quote in reading Machiavelli’s Discourses for a political theory class I’m taking:
"Princes or republics that wish to maintain themselves without corruption must, above all else, maintain free of corruption the ceremonies of their religion and must hold them constantly in veneration; for there is no greater indication of the ruin of a country than to see its religious worship not respected." (The Discourses, Book I, Chapter XII)
Just thought I’d let you know! I’m a big fan of your blog – thank you for taking the time to write it.
A direct hit.