28 January 2018

C S Lewis and Amoris Laetitia and the smoke of Satan

Amoris laetitia: "A subject may ... be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin." The Filial Correction accordingly condemned the proposition that a person may, while he obeys a divine prohibition, sin against God by that very act of obedience.

In the second volume of his 'theological' Space Trilogy (Chapter 9), C S Lewis portrays one of the Enemy attempting to persuade the future Matriarch of another the planet, a prelapsarian Eve, to break the one commandment God has given her which is commanded solely in order to create a space in which obedience can be practised for the sake of obedience without having any utilitarian advantage. Other commandments, such as Not Killing, may need little justifying because they give us all security; so God has given that planet one commandment  which has as its only purpose the making of an act of obedience.

'Satan', on Lewis's fictional planet, attempts to persuade 'Eve' by arguing that 'God' may give a commandment, while actually desiring that the created rational being will disobey it. "There might be a commanding which he wished you to break". "The wrong kind of obeying itself can be a disobeying". Thus, there may a commandment of God which He actually wishes a human to break. In other words, God may give a Law, but beyond that command God has a higher will which, without saying so, He really desires to be discerned and to be obeyed at the expense of the given and uttered and known Law.

God gave you a Law, but he really wants you to break it.

That is one of Satan's most Cunning Ploys, as cleverly detected and described by Lewis. And it is precisely the Infernal device by which the Enemy subsequently, in our own time and on this planet, has promoted Adultery through Amoris laetitia. It is the notion that, beyond and above "Thou shalt not commit Adultery", there is a higher Divine Will which, at least on occasions, trumps it. Thus AL tells 'remarried divorcees': "You should have adulterous intercourse with X, who is not your lawful spouse, because otherwise (s)he may be tempted to be unfaithful to you and walk out, which would be a tragedy for the children you have had together since your civil marriage." The wrong kind of obeying itself can be a disobeying, as Lewis's Devil puts it. (It is, of course, essentially the old Satanic temptation to do evil so that good may result; that the end justifies the means.)

Blessed Paul VI is not often admired by Traddies; I think he should be given more credit for his courage in issuing Humanae vitae than he sometimes receives. And I am convinced that his own frank honesty in admitting that, on his own watch, the Smoke of Satan had crept through some crack into the Temple of God, deserves credit. OK, he was a po' Amletico, as S John XXIII observed, but he was not blind to his principal duty, as Bishop of Rome, to uphold the integrity of Tradition; to resist novitates. Montini was not, indeed, a Leo or a Hildebrand; but I am not convinced that he was a Honorius.

Speaking only for myself, I feel that if PF were able to bring himself manfully to concede that the Smoke of Satan did indeed  percolate through some fissure into the final section of his Exhortation Amoris laetitia, he would be shown to be a vastly bigger and more honourable man than, despite all his bluster, he seems. As things are, he appears to me to fall some fair distance short of the standards of courage, humility, and honesty, set by Papa Montini.


Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Pope Francis believes what he wrote in A.L. (Even though parts of it were written by others - as almost all encyclicals are) and so one must not think Our Pope and Our Cross does not believe that one may be living in mortal sin and also be living in a state of sanctifying Grace even though Mortal Sin destroys Sanctifying Grace in a soul.

Our Pope and Our Cross is a rank heretic on that point alone and when one denies even one part of Catholic Truth, he is guilty of rejecting it all.

ccc said...

I completely agree with this. But he should also be credited for Credo of the People of God. That came out at a critical time reaffirming immemorial beliefs straight from tradition.

He was a very poor manager, and overwhelmed. But he had the faith. He tried to implement the council the way he thought he was supposed to, even though I think he did so incorrectly in many respects.

Most clearly, he was incompetent in the area of the liturgical reform. He let himself be driven by Bugnini, and as a result we have suffered for over 50 years.

B flat said...

Thank you, Father, for revealing this dimension of Lewis's trilogy. My own reading years ago never penetrated to this depth of meaning.I wish I had time to return to this.

Your final sentence is a very adroit conclusion, and I agree wholeheartedly.

William Tighe said...

What is at issue here seems, in effect, a way of trying to evade or attenuate this clear and dogmatically binding statement of the Council of Trent:


(Decree on Justification, January 1547)


On keeping the Commandments, and on the necessity and possibility thereof.

But no one, how much soever justified, ought to think himself exempt from the observance of the commandments; no one ought to make use of that rash saying, one prohibited by the Fathers under an anathema,-that the observance of the commandments of God is impossible for one that is justified. For God commands not impossibilities, but, by commanding, both admonishes thee to do what thou are able, and to pray for what thou art not able (to do), and aids thee that thou mayest be able; whose commandments are not heavy; whose yoke is sweet and whose burthen light. For, whoso are the sons of God, love Christ; but they who love him, keep his commandments, as Himself testifies; which, assuredly, with the divine help, they can do. For, although, during this mortal life, men, how holy and just soever, at times fall into at least light and daily sins, which are also called venial, not therefore do they cease to be just. For that cry of the just, Forgive us our trespasses, is both humble and true. And for this cause, the just themselves ought to feel themselves the more obligated to walk in the way of justice, in that, being already freed from sins, but made servants of God, they are able, living soberly, justly, and godly, to proceed onwards through Jesus Christ, by whom they have had access unto this grace.

For God forsakes not those who have been once justified by His grace, unless he be first forsaken by them. Wherefore, no one ought to flatter himself up with faith alone, fancying that by faith alone he is made an heir, and will obtain the inheritance, even though he suffer not with Christ, that so he may be also glorified with him. For even Christ Himself, as the Apostle saith, Whereas he was the son of God, learned obedience by the things which he suffered, and being consummated, he became, to all who obey him, the cause of eternal salvation. For which cause the same Apostle admonishes the justified, saying; Know you not that they that run in the race, all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize? So run that you may obtain. I therefore so run, not as at an uncertainty: I so fight, not as one beating the air, but I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection; lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a cast-away. So also the prince of the apostles, Peter; Labour the more that by good works you may make sure your calling and election. For doing those things, you shall not sin at any time. From which it is plain, that those are opposed to the orthodox doctrine of religion, who assert that the just man sins, venially at least, in every good work; or, which is yet more insupportable, that he merits eternal punishments; as also those who state, that the just sin in all their works, if, in those works, they, together with this aim principally that God may be gloried, have in view also the eternal reward, in order to excite their sloth, and to encourage themselves to run in the course: whereas it is written, I have inclined my heart to do all thy justifications for the reward: and, concerning Moses, the Apostle saith, that he looked unto the reward.

(From the canons appended to the foregoing decree:)

CANON XVIII.-If any one saith, that the commandments of God are, even for one that is justified and constituted in grace, impossible to keep; let him be anathema.

Banshee said...

Fallen humans often play the game of "You should have just known," or "Do my telepathic command, instead of what I actually said."

God doesn't play that game.

Banshee said...

Re: heresy -- A person has to understand that he is espousing heresy, and cling to it anyway, before he can formally be a heretic.

I have no reason to believe that Pope Francis understands any of his opinions as erroneous, much less potentially heretical. He is the sort of person who thinks about a lot of stuff, but not about that.

I have loved ones who are of this kidney. It is hard to make them understand any sort of proposition that goes against their own take on things, and they tend to forget everything you just said within a nanosecond. Sometimes they are even selectively deaf to such information. They are very sharp about what they care about; but everything else goes swoosh, right past them, without lodging in their brains.

So I think you could make a very good argument for invincible ignorance. Pope Francis is thinking along totally different lines than factual correctness or consistency of logic, to the point that his parallel lines never run anywhere near the considerations of this Church teaching.

DM said...

I really like this blog but I'm tired of reading about how trads are unfair to this, that or the other - Cardinal Mueller here, Paul VI there. The point is, if you contribute to a general culture of 'development', whilst occasionally offering a valiant defence of the one or two aspects of tradition you care about, then you can't complain if a future generation decides to 'develop' Church teaching on precisely those issues you care about, and you can't complain if the people who have to live through the consequences think your valiance lacks a certain punch.

Karl J said...

I have respect for you, Fr. Hunwicke.

Just watch that you don't hurt your lower back, from bending over backwards for the current Pope.

Fr. VF said...

Who filled the hierarchy with Communist homosexuals?

Paul VI.

Who appointed more and more of the same?


Nevertheless, Bergoglio retains the title: Worst Pope of All Time.

coradcorloquitur said...

To claim that Pope Francis is muddled-headed regarding Catholic teaching and therefore "invincibly ignorant" on the sacrament of matrimony and sexual morality is perhaps the greatest absurdity I have heard in the past few years. Francis has been a priest and bishop all his adult life---a long time indeed---and no matter how defective his theological formation might have been (and all points to a scandalously defective formation indeed), to claim he is so blinded by his self-will (which he clearly is) that he does not fully realize the enormity of what he does in AL is inconceivable. He knows exactly what he is doing and does not give a fig about Tradition, Catholic moral teaching, or scriptural revelation: for him clearly all that matter is his iron will and the program he was elected to bring about. Let us, please, wake up---and about Pope Paul VI as well, a very knowing promoter of the destructiveness that followed the Council.

Unknown said...

I truly wonder for how long most of us (good fellas) should keep talking about the "smoke" of satan? I mean really, it must be time now if never before to call things with his real names. Also to name those who have inhaled that "smoke", less or more. And to point to their fruits which are clearly the fruits, results of that intoxication.
At least, we are now many decades further, and there are so many proofs, evidences of that.
So, should we not take the shovel and start digging into the sludge, to put things in the light of day, and to give them the name they deserves?
Not only to speak about Paul VI, who keep receiving the 'credits' for his 'honesty' in recognizing that smoke, but also the others, among whom the most responsible ones, which are some declared as saint, and by some uberhyperpapolists even a "great".
If one talks about the consequences of inhaling the helium, but at the same time he inhales that same helium with full lungs, he talks ridiculously, does not sound serious and credible!
What to say then about JPII and his longterm Catholic unorthodoxy practicing of papacy?
Do you dear father and all you dear readers ever knew (read) this:
"Pope John Paul II's Theological Journey to the Prayer Meeting of Religions in Assisi"

Banshee said...

If somebody went through doctrine, and explained it to PF in reference to him being in charge, then he might understand and support it. (Of course, the explainer would probably be ditched.)

As it is, I think he sees doctrinal change as just a political concession to his supporters, which can easily be changed back. He does not need people to believe it; he just wants them to obey.

He is not an idea guy. He is in marketing and admin.

John said...

It seems to me that not only is he not invincibly ignorant of Catholic doctrine, he's not ignorant of it at all. He knows precisely what it is. If he hadn't known before, he does now as it's recently been explained to him on several hands. Even by cardinals. And he rejects it. His rejection of Catholic truth may be unconquerable, but he's hardly ignorant of it.