Monday, October 25, 2010

The Four Enemies of the Church

To my delight, I've finally found that mediæval compendium of liturgical lore, Durandus' Rationale of the Divine Offices online, in the original Latin; it contains many a treasure, but my eye fell upon this passage, in the midst of a laborious discussion of why Matins is composed of Nocturns:

Potest etiam dici, quod quatuor sunt Ecclesiæ hostes: superiores, id est, dæmones malignantes, inferiores, id est, homines adversantes: interiores: id est, concupiscentiæ carnales: & exteriores, id est, illecebræ sæculares. De primis inquit Apostolus: Non est vobis colluctatio adversus carnem, & sanguinem, sed adversus… spiritualia nequitia in cælestibus (Ephes. 6:12).  De secundis Psalmista: Supra dorsum meum fabricaverunt peccatores, prolongaverunt iniquitatem sibi (Ps 128:3).  De tertiis Apostolus: Caro concupiscit adversus spiritum: spiritus autem adversus carnem (Galat. 5:17).  De quartis Joannes: Nolite diligere mundum, neque ea, quæ sunt in mundo… quia quicquid est in mundo, aut est concupiscentia carnis, aut oculorum, aut superbia vita (I Jo. 2:15 & 16).
(For it is able to be said, that the enemies of the Church are four: those above, that is, ill-willing demons; those below, that is, men opposing her; those within, that is, carnal desires; and those outwith, that is, worldly enticements.  Of the first the Apostle saith: “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against… the spirits of wickedness in the high places.”  Of the second, the Psalmist: “The wicked have wrought upon my back: they have lengthened their iniquity.”  Of the third, [again] the Apostle: “For the flesh lusteth against the spirit: and the spirit against the flesh.”  Of the fourth, St John: “Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world… For all that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life.”)
—Durandus, Rationale Divinorum Officiorum, lib. 5, cap. 3, n. 4

How true: Holy Church, and every Christian soul, is beset by wicked demons above and men below; tried by temptations of the flesh within and the gaudy pomps of the meretricious world without.

How, true, alas, it is, that men of the church have been so eager to give in to sins of utter filth and depravity, spreading a foul canker of rot through the very Body of Christ!  The interior enemy is perhaps the most insidious and dangerous.  What need have men or demons outside the Church to rail against her and attack her (though of course they do, and with renewed avidity) when it is the very viper in the bosom that strikes and wounds to the quick?  And in prosperous nations, materialism has lured very many of the once-faithful into practical atheism, worshippers of Mammon, not God at all.  Why go to boring old church, when one can go shopping?

It may be wondered why heretics and schismatics are not listed – but these are listed among the homines adversantes, the opposing men; and also, as a bishop pointed out to me long ago, all dissent and heresy begins in moral turpitude, among the concupiscentiæ carnales, nowadays just as in the days of lustful Henry VIII and Luther and all dissidents back to the Gnostics: for men prefer to change their religion rather than their sins, by declaring black to be white.  That is why "spirituality" is popular with the world: one can continue to live in unrepented sin if one dabbles in feng shui, but not if one commits oneself to Christ.  Pure religion and undefiled, requires moral adhesion, not rationalization of one's faults as not one's fault.

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