End of the month (31 March 2020)

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There are two parts to this. The first is that there is a prince of the air, who rejoices when we do what we will, and assuage our desires, neglecting our duty. For in that we do damage. It is not merely pleasure which he rules, but the skepticism and subtle pleasures we know are not holy, from Schadenfreude to virtue purity spirals to the betrayal of our neighbour for ideology or crisis. Our nature is to get it wrong, and then deny responsibility for what we have done, because our intentions were deemed good.

Link is to the BFD, not to twitter.

The second is that Christ has taken us from this state: we are guilty of evil, and if we are honest we know it. Christ allowed us to be adopted by God, and gave us an ability to look beyond what we feel or perceive. Logic has its limits. Beyond the mathematics of rationality, there is a metaphysics that bears witness to God, even in this broken world[1].

Ephesians 2:1-10

2 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Our brother Mundabor[2] has a commentator who linked to this discussion of that misunderstood virtue: prudence. There is a time for hard measures, but there is also a point where your lovely, neat, model, theory or policy has to be shredded because the facts on the ground show it is wrong. Micromanagement is generally not prudent, but the materialist cannot do this calculus, for he does not have all the facts.

Prudence is an interesting virtue. It is not a virtue that enables us to discern accurately the difference between moral good and moral evil. Among the cardinal virtues, justice is far more helpful in such discernment. Among the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, wisdom, understanding, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord are more important for distinguishing good and evil. And among the twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit, faith and charity stand at the top of the list. But prudence is a practical ability to suit words and actions to a particular situation in such a way as most likely to effect the best outcome—which should always, of course, be an outcome consonant with the other natural virtues, and the gifts and fruits of the Spirit as well.

For anyone to possess prudence, certain basic conditions are essential. First and foremost, since prudence exists to achieve good outcomes, knowledge of and commitment to the good is necessary. Second, that knowledge and commitment must be secured by the long practice of virtuous habits, including self-control, so that the person attempting to exercise the virtue of prudence is not unduly swayed or distracted by his own vices (including the vice of human respect). Third, the person attempting to exercise prudence will be far more likely to do so successfully if he is not excessively burdened by physical or emotional distress. Fourth, the person in question must have a good ability to view particular problems not only in light of their impact on himself, but more importantly in light of their impact on a variety of people in different situations, and on the community as a whole.

Fifth and finally, especially when it comes to questions of suffering and death, the prudent man or woman depends on access to the whole truth about what it means to be human. Prudence cannot fulfill its potential, for example, if the spiritual nature of the human person is unrecognized, if suffering is viewed as an intolerable evil with no positive or redemptive character, and if bodily death is judged to be the worst of all evils. Even virtuous pagans in the time before Christ recognized these truths.

Given these rather obvious conditions, it should also be obvious, first, that prudence is always a difficult virtue to exercise well and, second, that it is particularly difficult in our situation today, which is characterized by gross misunderstanding of human nature, a lack of firm spiritual moorings, the widespread adoption of secular cultural myths, and a resulting cult of individualistic selfishness.

Jeff Mirus Catholic Culture

The prince of the power of the air makes us imprudent, for he wants us blinded to what is true spirituality, which is Christ. Our salvation is not our doing, and only through the power of his spirit can we choose wisely and do good works. Our leaders lack this.

Pray for their salvation, but don’t be like them.

  1. I should add that extinction rebellion reject logic and consider only their feelings: they are post rational, bloodthirsty neopagans. Their only use is as an example: Do not be like them
  2. Mundabor reads the Italian papers daily. He’s quite aware of the death rate, and the need for a short period of social distancing. But six months, as the UK Chief Medical Officer suggests? Won’t happen here. We’ll bend the rules