Lumen Scholasticum

Elucubrations, translations, and commentary from a Scholastic and Catholic integralist perspective

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Victor Cathrein SJ on society, social activity, and the partition of society

We present today a rather short text on society, taken from an influential manual, the Philosophia moralis of Victor Cathrein, SJ, which went through twenty-one editions. To our knowledge, this work is an abridged Latin recension of his larger two-volume work in German, Moralphilosophie, which may be found here and here. The present translation is taken from Philosophia moralis, IIa pars, lib. II, cap. 1, a. 1-3.



426. We have hitherto considered man according to individual relations; now we shall treat of the same as a member of society. And because natural society is principally twofold, domestic and civil, we shall consider both separately in chapter 2 and 3, the general notions about society having been set forth in chapter 1. In chapter 4, finally, we shall set down the question concerning the relations of diverse civil societies among themselves, that is, of international law.





(Zallinger, Institut. nat. n. 166. Meyer, Institut. iuris nat. I, n. 347.)

427. 1. A society is a moral and stable union of many, working in harmony by their acts toward some common end.

It is called a) a moral union, i.e. of that sort which is effected by spiritual bonds, from which hence there is excluded not only the aggregation of irrational beings, as a crowd of apes, but also a multitude of men brought together into one place and not united except by an external bond, e.g. a multitude of men congregated for market day. For a true society it is required, that its members know the common end, and are secured by mutual duties and rights in an order for willing this end, and, with united powers, attaining it.

b) stable, because a transitory union which is for a momentary end, or which is to be dissolved, its singular endeavor having been completed, is not properly called a society.

428. 2. From these things, it is clear that the material element of society is the multitude, but the formal element is the moral union itself. This moral union is effected by a twofold principle:

a) a common end, which specifies the society and of itself is already capable of effecting, to a certain degree, unity of minds and wills. Nevertheless, for a constant and ordered union in cooperating, taking into account the liberty of men and the diversity of judgments and powers, of itself a common end alone does not suffice, but there is required in addition

b) some element in the real order, which primarily consists in a mutual obligation in respect of the same end. There is further required some principle, which constantly and efficaciously directs free will to the common end, namely authority, which is a necessary element of society and may be defined: the right of obliging members of society, so that they might cooperate by their acts for the common good.

In any society, authority, as the principle of social union, cannot but be one, and ought to inhere in some real subject, and indeed by exclusive right. This subject is called a superior. By reason of social union, society brings forth the similitude of a person, or it institutes a new person—not indeed physical, but moral—which has its own being and activity proper to itself. Read the rest of this entry »

Manualist Monday: Cardinal Billot on the baptism of children, and ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the baptized

Having returned from our holiday “break”, we present for this Manualist Monday another text on baptism, from the esteemed traditional Jesuit theologian Louis Cardinal Billot’s commentary on the Tertia Pars of St. Thomas. This excerpt, consisting of the two Theses concerning pædobaptism, deals directly with the topic of ecclesial jurisdiction over all the baptized, hence our interest in it. We think it good for the reader to pay special attention to the very important argument that the Cardinal makes in footnote 6, regarding the causal rôle played by human consent in the reception of baptism and the sacramental character thereof.

Card. Louis Billot, De Ecclesiae sacramentis vol. 1, In IIIam, Q. 68, Theses XXVII-XXVIII, pp. 267ff.


(Art. 9).

The children of the faithful are to be baptized. But those baptized in infancy, when they shall have come to the age of discretion, do not have the right of ratifying by their own decision that which the patrons promised in their name, but, whether they wish it or not, they remain perpetually bound by all the obligations of Christians.

Concerning the baptism of infants, the Anabaptists have erred most of all, who, led by Muncer (in 1522) began to teach that no one is rightly baptized unless of adult age, and thus not only did they abstain from baptizing children, but they even rebaptized those who had been baptized as children, whence they claimed the name of Anabaptists for themselves. These ones, amongst all the initiators of the Pseudo-Reformation, stand out for their truculent fierceness; undaunted, they have with implacable logic taken the principles of Protestantism to their ultimate conclusions; and in them, finally, as Bellarmine notes,[1] there appears the greatest rage of Satan against the human race, who, not being content that innumerable souls of adult men have perished through the Lutherans and the Sacramentarians, wished also that the souls of infants should perish through the Anabaptists. But Erasmus, the guide and teacher of all the liberals of our age, inasmuch as he was imbued with the principles of the Protestants wherever, introduced another error. For he taught, that men baptized in infancy, when they had reached manhood, should be asked whether they would ratify what had been promised in their name in baptism; and if they should refuse, they ought to be dismissed free, and not be subjected in any way to the coercion of the Church. Against all of these errors, there advance the Tridentine anathemas, sess. VII, can. 11-14 on baptism: «If anyone should say, that no one is to be baptized, save at that age at which Christ was baptized, or in the very article of death, let him be anathema. — If anyone should say, that little children, having received baptism, for that they have not the act of believing, are not to be accounted amongst the faithful, and furthermore, when they shall arrive at the years of discretion, are to be rebaptized, or that it is preferable that the baptism of such be omitted than that they, not believing by their own act, be baptized in the faith alone of the Church, let him be anathema.» Cf. also the Second Council of Malta, can. 2,[2] and the Fourth Lateran Council, cap. Firmiter.[3]

Moreover, if we speak at present of the children of believers, the reason is not that others are excluded, but that a special question will be considered concerning these others, as has been premised above. Read the rest of this entry »

An update

So far, as may have been noticed by those who have been paying any mind to us, we have posted little on the matter of Church and State, though we said in our inaugural post that this topic holds especial interest for us. We are pleased to say that this will be remedied in the next day or two: we shall be posting our translation of a text from the distinguished Dominican Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, on the duty of civil authority and society of accepting divine Revelation.

A blessed Feast of Christ the King

We unhappily did not have anything prepared especially for today’s feast of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ. (If we can wangle it, we might be able to present something for you later in the week.) Yet given our interest in the question of Church/State relations, and given the reason that Pius XI gave us this great feast, it is only right that we, at the very least, exhort our readers to read through his luculent 1925 encyclical Quas primas, and drink deeply of the wisdom contained therein regarding the place that Our Lord must by right hold within the hearts of individuals and within public society itself. The English text is here at the Vatican website, and the Latin (which version we always encourage if the reader is able) is here. (Or, if you, like us, prefer the relatively calming surety of a scanned book to the dangers which inevitably come with an OCR job, the Latin may also be found in this 1926 volume of La Civiltà Cattolica, p. 97ff.)

We also recommend giving a read to Professor Kwasniewski’s 2014 article at Rorate Cæli on the difference between the traditional feast of Christ the King and the new feast post-Consilium. It gives a good account of this variation, and hints at the causes behind the reform of this feast.

The Collect and Postcommunion for today’s Mass:

Almighty and eternal God, Who willed to restore all things in Your beloved Son, the King of the Universe, graciously grant that the peoples of the earth torn asunder by the wound of sin, may submit to His most gentle rule. Who livest and reignest with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

We have received the food of eternal life, and we beseech You, O Lord, that we who are proud to serve under the flag of Christ the King may forever reign with Him in the Kingdom of heaven. Who livest and reignest with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

The hymn at Vespers for today’s feast, according to the traditional Breviarium Romanum:

Te sæculórum Príncipem,
Te, Christe, Regem Géntium,
Te méntium, te córdium
Unum fatémur árbitrum.

Scelésta turba clámitat:
Regnáre Christum nólumus:
Te nos ovántes ómnium
Regem suprémum dícimus.

O Christe, Princeps Pácifer,
Mentes rebélles súbiice:
Tuóque amóre dévios,
Ovíle in unum cóngrega.

Ad hoc cruénta ab árbore
Pendes apértis bráchiis,
Diráque fossum cúspide
Cor igne flagrans éxhibes.

Ad hoc in aris ábderis
Vini dapísque imágine,
Fundens salútem fíliis
Transverberáto péctore.

Te natiónum Praesides
Honóre tollant público,
Colant magístri, iúdices,
Leges et artes éxprimant.

Submíssa regum fúlgeant
Tibi dicáta insígnia:
Mitíque sceptro pátriam
Domósque subde cívium.

Iesu tibi sit glória,
Qui sceptra mundi témperas,
Cum Patre, et almo Spíritu,
In sempitérna saecula.

A note on our blog, and our purposes here

It has long been a cherished but unfulfilled dream of ours, to start a solo blog and post on the things which concern and interest us. There was a point far back in the past when we were involved in a short-lived blog with a dear friend of ours, but until now we have never actually made our own private site, which would be a venue wherein we might post our thoughts.

This blog, then, is our humble attempt at bringing this dream at last to fruition, after much procrastination and the urgings of several of our most esteemed and learned acquaintances and friends. It principally serves, to our mind, the valuable twofold function of a static repository for our amateur thoughts on matters we think to be of moment, so that we might have a public and accessible locus in which to organize and store our musings; and a record, more or less permanent, for our developing thoughts on said matters, so that we might in future be able to as it were track our progress and evolution, if such there be. It functions secondarily as a venue for commentary on and critique of our own thoughts, so that we might grow and mature through fruitful discussion with others more learned than we.

Our focus, at the time of this writing, is mainly Scholastic theology and integralist political philosophy. We have for quite some time now been enthusiastically engaged in exploring and delving deeper into Catholic social teaching and thought as it pertains to the civil order, and most of all concerning the relation to be had between Church and State. This we have set out to do by immersing ourselves in the very many bulls, encyclicals, constitutions, and apostolic letters of the popes concerning the question, and by obtaining and reading the even more numerous manuals and philosophico-canonico-theological treatises of the Church’s theologians, canonists, and Doctors.

Most, if not all, of these works are to be found only in Latin—with the exception of most of the papal encyclicals from Pius IX even to our present age, which generally have been translated and placed up for public reading. It is certainly the case, however, that nearly all of the manuals and tracts from which we have taken our readings are to this day untranslated, and hence are unavailable to the average Catholic (or non-Catholic) who is interested in this topic yet unschooled in Latin. Part of our project here at this blog is to provide translations of excerpts from these works—some more polished than others, admittedly, insofar as some we make with a mind for publication elsewhere, at e.g. The Josias, while others are simply pieces which we have translated in a rougher fashion for interested friends who are not quite so demanding in their standards.

In particular, we have a special predilection for the old Latin manuals of the pre-conciliar Church, which stretch back as far as the Council of Trent and which have most unfortunately been abandoned and forgotten—and often vilified—by most Catholic thinkers ever since the New Springtime of the Second Vatican Council. It is in part from a desire to remedy this grievous privation in modern Catholic theology and political philosophy that we conceived of the idea to host our translations in the first place, for the Scholastic manualists, much more than the typical neo-Catholic theologian of today, understood the importance of attending to the whole corpus of magisterial and canonical thought when writing on matters of Church doctrine, especially concerning a subject which is as fraught with misconceptions and error as is contemporary Catholic thought about the proper relation of Church to State.

Given our love and appreciation for the old manuals, we think it fitting that we should institute what we hope to be a weekly feature here, entitled Manualist Mondays. It will consist mainly in the proffering of a certain manualist text, coupled with a translation and perhaps a bit of commentary on it, as we see fit and depending on whether or not our natural sloth prevents us from being more industrious.

In that vein, the curious and non-Latinate reader may wonder at the fragment of text at the head of the blog. It is taken from one of our favorite tracts on the Church, De Ecclesia Christi vol. 2, by the great and learned French Jesuit Louis Cardinal Billot. It is his concise description of Liberalism, and reads:

Liberalism, according as it denotes an error in the matter of faith and religion, is a multiform doctrine which more or less emancipates man from God, and from His law, and from His revelation, and as a consequence unbinds civil society from any dependence upon religious society—that is, from the Church, which is the guardian, interpreter, and teacher of the divinely revealed law.

Thus we close this our inaugural post. Sit splendor Dómini, Dei nostri, super nos, et ópera mánuum nostrárum dirige super nos, et opus mánuum nostrárum dírige.

Gerardus, die 24 Octobris MMXVI.