The Moon and Its Halo
Why should a Catholic be concerned about Society
and not only about Religion?
Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
An understanding of the sanctity and splendor of temporal society is fundamental, if not indispensable, to have the virtue of the love of God. We should not love God only as an Abstract Being lost in the highest Heaven, but through the images that reflect Him on this earth.
God established the Catholic Church as a means for us to know and love Him through her institution, government, and hierarchical structure. Also, through the sanctity of her History, the majesty of her liturgy, the purity of her doctrine and, of course, the sanctifying graces of which she is the necessary channel.
But God also created man as a social being called to build a temporal society with an adequate civil life to reflect Him. Man is called to mold such temporal order according to Catholic principles, so that in all aspects of human life God is glorified. This is not just a casual option for men, but a necessity, an imperative necessity.
God must be glorified in all aspects of created life
Giusto dei Menabuoi, 14 century, Padua
The temporal and religious perspectives of the glory of God are like the two eyes God gave us to see. With one eye, we have the notion of the depth of a panorama; with the other, its width. The harmonization of the data of both eyes, therefore, gives a complete picture of the objective reality before our eyes. Likewise, the temporal and religious perspectives of society must be harmonized in our souls so that we have a full vision of the ensemble of created reality, love it accordingly, and give due glory to God.
In the ensemble of the order instituted by God, there is a general perspective, a global vision, that properly speaking is the full vision of creation. A broad notion of sanctity comes from this vision of the ensemble of a world organized according to Catholic doctrine. It is a sanctity more extensive than the sanctity of single person, family, or a pious seminary. By considering this ensemble of the order instituted by God, we have the most perfect image of Him.
This ensemble reflects such a beauty of God that I consider it to be the most perfect reflection of God possible for a man to have. It is this supreme sanctity that man is called to know, love and imitate.
I also believe that no one can be indifferent to this ensemble. Explicitly or implicitly all men take a position before these two great harmonized realities: the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, the supernatural society, and the Christian temporal order.
The Catholic Church is like the moon, and the Christian order is like the halo of light that encircles it. That most beautiful luminous halo is temporal society. The luminosity exists in function of the moon, just as the Catholic State lives in function of the Church.
No one can be indifferent to this reality. The very expression "religious indifference" regarding the role of the Catholic Church in temporal society is a term coined by the enemies of the Church. This is why religious indifferentism is strongly condemned.
Also, one cannot be indifferent before the reflections of God on earth.
Imagine that in two neighboring apartments there are families with entirely different life-styles. One is a good Catholic family in whose home the atmosphere is supernatural and the members live in harmony. The other is a family with bad customs, wherein some members are habitually drunk, others use drugs; bad language and adultery are common; fighting and insults are normal. How can anyone pretend that the two apartments do not matter for the glory of God or remain indifferent about whether a person lives in one versus the other?
In the first apartment, the face of God is represented by the virtue of the family; the other family expresses the opposite of Him. No one should be indifferent to this. In this particular situation, to love the image of God in all things implies loving the good Catholic family and hating the evil of the bad one.
True love of God includes the love of all good that exists on earth and the hatred of all disorders and vices that deny the perfections and excellences of God.
These are some presuppositions we need to have to enter our study of organic society.
Organic Society was a theme dear to the late Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. He addressed this topic on countless occasions during his life - at times in lectures for the formation of his disciples, at times in meetings with friends who gathered to study the social aspects and history of Christendom, at times just in passing.
Atila S. Guimarães selected excerpts of these lectures and conversations from the trancripts of tapes and his own personal notes. He translated and adapted them into articles for the TIA website. In these texts fidelity to the original ideas and words is kept as much as possible.
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