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April 4, 2004; Republished on March 3, 2005

Whose Commandments?

Much has been made by eager conservatives and self-professed "constitutionalists" about of various jurists and conservative activists to post the Ten Commandments in courtrooms and other public places. While these people are certainly to be commended for their desire to combat the secularist and positivist view of law that is extant at all levels of American life, including the judicial system, it is important to point out that a lot of the arguments made to justify these efforts are founded in an acceptance of the very thing that has produced the triumph of secularism and legal positivism: Protestantism.

Uniting all of the various strands of Protestantism is a rejection of the truth that Our Lord founded a visible, hierarchical Church upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope, and that He entrusted to that Church the sole authority to proclaim and explicate what is contained in the Deposit of Faith, which consists of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Protestants reject Sacred Tradition as a source of Divine Revelation, believing only in Sacred Scripture, which is subjected to individual interpretation precisely because it accepts no human authority above the individual believer as the explicator of the Word of God. A rejection of the existence of the true Church and of the existence of Sacred Tradition as a source of Divine Revelation leads inexorably to the absurdity of mutually exclusive and contradictory interpretations of the passages contained in Sacred Scripture. It is a short step from there, as Pope Leo XIII pointed out in Immortale Dei in 1885, to a world where abject atheism becomes the lowest common denominator and guiding force of a nation’s social and political life. It is Protestantism that helped to pave the way for the triumph of all forms of relativism, both theological and moral, and for the triumph of the secular, religiously indifferentist state that has made warfare against all expressions of religious belief in the name of “diversity” and “religious freedom” and “tolerance.”

As Pope Leo XIII pointed out in Immortale Dei:

To hold, therefore, that there is no difference in matters of religion between forms that are unlike each other, and even contrary to each other, most clearly leads in the end to the rejection of all religion in both theory and practice. And this is the same thing as atheism, however it may differ

from it in name. Men who really believe in the existence of God must, in order to be consistent with themselves and to avoid absurd conclusions, understand that differing modes of divine worship involving dissimilarity and conflict even on most important points cannot all be equally probable, equally good, and equally acceptable to God.

Is this statement true? Is this statement universally and eternally true? If it is, then it applies quite specifically to the false and terminal nature of the founding of this nation. Has not religious indifferentism–or the Masonic variant thereof that contends that anything to do with “God” is a matter of personal opinion and best left to private discussion while we find some common ground as brothers to build social order and international peace–been at the very root of the problems of modernity? Is not a specific and categorical rejection of the absolute necessity of belief in the Incarnation and Our Lord’s Redemptive Act on the wood of the Cross, to say nothing of the entirety of the Deposit of Faith He has entrusted solely to the Catholic Church, fatal to any and all civil societies?

Pope Leo XIII also noted in Immortale Dei:

To exclude the Church, founded by God Himself, from the business of life, from the power of making laws, from the training of youth, from domestic society, is a grave and fatal error.

Is this statement true? Is this statement universally and eternally true? If it is, then it applies to the United States of America and its whole governmental system, explaining why Pope Leo XIII was so worried about the influence of the Americanist ethos upon all Catholics, including bishops and priests. A country that excludes the true Church from its organic documents is doomed to disorder and chaos. Doomed. No amount of rallies in behalf of a non-denominational or inter-denominational support for a generic commitment to Ten Commandments is going to rectify problems in constitutional system that is doomed to failure precisely because it is the rotten fruit of the overthrown of the Social Reign of Christ the King as exercised by the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, outside of which there is no salvation.

A Catholic must understand that Pope Leo XIII was absolutely correctly in reiterating the immutable teaching of the Church about the proper subordination of the state to the Social Reign of Christ the King. Pope Leo XIII was and remains correct, not the late Leo Strauss, a political philosopher who exalted the American Founding and the Declaration of Independence because they did indeed reject denominationalism. Shame on any Catholic who believes that the existence of a religiously pluralistic nation prohibits as evil efforts to publicly profess Catholicism as the only solution to the problems of individuals and their nations. Such a Catholic would rather adhere to a gnostic like Leo Strauss than submit himself in humility to the binding teaching of Pope Leo XIII, which has sadly been consigned to the Orwellian memory hole by the Church herself during the regime of novelty of the past forty-five years.

Protestant "constitutionalists," for want of a better phrase, believe that the Constitution of the United States of America, which makes no reference to God at all, even in the Masonic senses used in the Declaration of Independence, is founded upon Biblical principles. To the extent that some of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America believed in a Biblical foundation to law and government, one must remember that those beliefs were Protestant and thus based upon a defective understanding of Our Lord and His Revelation. A belief that individuals can interpret what is considered to be the sole source of Divine Revelation, Sacred Scripture, on theirown without any assistance from a divinely founded Church easily leads to the manipulation of all written texts, including a Constitution, to serve the relativist and positivist ends of succeeding generations of readers. If there is no authority to guide one in Scripture, how can one assert that there is an ultimate authority to guide one in the interpretation of any other written text? The Constitution itself, no matter the plain intent of many of its passages, is thus rendered defenseless against abuse and misinterpretation precisely because the Bible itself has been rendered defenseless against abuse and misinterpretation by the very spirit of Protestantism.

Additionally, Protestantism rejects the right of the true Church to exercise the temporal power of the Social Kingship of Jesus Christ to restrain the schemes of civil rulers when they propose to do things–or have indeed done things–contrary to the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law. Thus, Protestants must find a common understanding of law that can be the minimal basis for social concord among people with divergent doctrinal viewpoints. Rejecting the Catholic Church as the infallible guardian and explicator of Divine Revelation, Protestants provide an explanation of the Ten Commandments and other passages in Scripture that they believe pertain to civil governance that are frequently in direct contradiction of the Catholic Faith, to say nothing of being in conflict with each other. The Ten Commandments thus become as relativized as any other passage of Scripture, making it very easy for Freemasons to render all expression of religious belief as a private matter. The best way to social concord is for believers and unbelievers to agree to disagree while they attempt to discover some secular, non-denominational way to pursue justice collectively and civic virtue individually. Alas, it is not possible for virtue to exist in society without the people who compose it having belief in, access to and cooperation with sanctifying grace, something covered so very eloquently by Pope Leo XIII in Testem Benevolentiae in 1899.

The effects of Protestantism upon the Ten Commandments themselves are very easy to illustrate. Most Protestants number the Ten Commandments differently than does the true Church founded by Our Lord Himself. Most Protestants separate the First Commandment into two distinct commandments, the second commandment forbidding the worship of idols or graven images. Many Protestants, especially of the Calvinist and fundamentalist strains, believe that invoking the intercession of the Blessed Mother is idolatry and placing statues or images of her and the other saints is to worshiping graven images. Those Protestants who enumerate the Ten Commandments in this way also combine the Ninth and Tenth Commandments. Thus, despite the very admirable intentions of those defending the display of the Ten Commandments and their applicability to law and society, a real question needs to be asked: Whose commandments are they seeking to restore as the foundation of civil law?

As the sole and true repository and explicator of everything contained in the Deposit of Faith, only the Catholic Church teaches authoritatively the meaning of the Ten Commandments and all other precepts that make up the Divine positive law (which include all things revealed in the Person of the Divine Redeemer and taught by His Church as binding upon all men in all circumstances at all times) and the natural law. A Catholic explanation of the Ten Commandments will include such things as blasphemies committed against the Blessed Mother and the saints (as an extension of the Second Commandment, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain”), an absolute prohibition against divorce and remarriage without a decree of nullity, and an absolute prohibition against all forms contraception, among other things, that one may or may not find in a particular Protestant view of the Ten Commandments. This matters quite a lot. If contraception is an objective evil, for example, then it is the job of the civil state to seek to illegalize it and to punish quite severely firms that manufacture and market contraceptive pills and devices.

The Ten Commandments cannot be understood properly from the perspective of an abolished religion, Judaism, or from the various forms of Christian heresies that fall under the name Protestantism. The Ten Commandments must be understood as they are enumerated and taught by the Catholic Church. A rejection of this simple truth leads to the confusion of modernity. Judges can issue decisions favoring abortion and the murder of disabled and/or dying persons and contraception and pornography and sodomy and all other types of vices because they have been trained in a legal framework that is founded on a specific and categorical rejection of the authority of the Catholic Church to direct all men both privately and collectively in everything that pertains to their salvation and to the administration of justice founded in the Splendor of Truth Incarnate Himself.

Although many good, well-meaning people are attempting to symbolize the modern world’s rejection of God, they have to be reminded that it was the rejection of God’s Church nearly 500 years ago by an Augustinian monk named Father Martin Luther that is the proximate cause of the modern world’s rejection of God and His laws. Moreover, these good souls need to be reminded that the entire Anglo-Saxon system of jurisprudence that has been corrupted so steadily in the past century has its origins in England when she was a Catholic nation. Judges in England during the Middle Ages did not for the most part have any written laws to guide them as sat in judgment during trials and rendered sentences. Sitting beneath the very symbol of the Lawgiver Himself on the Crucifix, the judges of Catholic England had been taught about the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law. They knew that human actions were either right or wrong of their nature. No civil “law” was necessary to guide them in this regard. If a criminal defendant was adjudged guilty after due process, a judge in Catholic England applied a penalty that befitted the crime and the nature of the circumstances of its commission. This is how the English common law came into being. The English common law, which is supposed to be valid insofar as Federal courts in this country are concerned, believe it or not, arose when England was a Catholic nation and judges sat beneath Crucifixes, knowing that they would have to render an account of their administration of civil justice to Justice Himself at the moment of their own Particular Judgments. Judges in Catholic England thus accepted all that was contained in the Ten Commandments as they were taught and explained by the Catholic Church. It is thus the Crucifix that we must seek to restore in our courtrooms for it symbolizes that every aspect of our lives must be lived in the shadow of the Holy Cross and that law cannot be understood without reference Him as He has revealed Himself through His true Church.

How very sad it is, therefore, that many of our own Catholic church buildings and schools and colleges and universities and convents have stripped themselves of the Crucifix. As a professor who spoke to students outside of Saint Francis College in Brooklyn, New York, in November of 1985 noted: “It is no accident that this college has suffered a decline in enrollment in recent years. A college that is named after the great saint of Assisi, who bore the brand marks of Christ on His Holy Body, is suffering the fruit of secularism by stripping from its ways the very instrument with which Saint Francis performed many miracles as a means of securing state and federal monies and making itself appear more respectable in the eyes of the world. We have done voluntary in our own Catholic institutions in this country what the communists in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and Red China and Cuba and Nicaragua have had to do by brute force: the removal of the Crucifix.” He could have added, obviously, that it is what the Calvinists did with such abandon, especially in England under the bloody reign of Oliver Cromwell in the seventeenth century. It is an easy step from the removal of the Crucifix to the replacement of Christ Himself and His laws with secular ideologies as the foundation of personal life and civil government.

As we near the mid-point in Lent in 2005, it is important to remember at all times the necessity of praying and working for the restoration of Catholicism as the only foundation of personal life and civil government. The Ten Commandments–and everything else contained in the Deposit of Faith–can only understood and hence properly applied in concrete circumstances if individuals and their societies subordinate themselves to the Social Reign of Christ the King as it is exercised by the Catholic Church, something that many in the highest quarters of the conciliar church need to discover and proclaim anew. We should be holding rallies in defense of the Social Reign of Christ the King and Mary our Immaculate Queen, not attempting to get people needlessly excited about nondenominational rallies in support of the Ten Commandments that only further an acceptance of the false nature of the modern state, including the United States of America.

This is not to take away from the efforts of those who are willing to run the risk of criticism as they confront the evils of secularism. Those who do not see the world clearly through the eyes of the true Faith, including some prominent Catholics, have the natural abilities to be leaders in the restoration of the Social Reign of Christ the King if only they abandoned themselves to the immutable patrimony of the Church and stopped trying to subordinate the Faith to the false framework of our civil government. Wrong-headed notions about the founding of this nation and the mistaken belief that the Ten Commandments can provide a “lowest common denominator” approach to civil law could then be replaced by a vigorous defense of social teaching of the Catholic Church and by a tender devotion to the Immaculate Heart of the Queen of all men and all nations, who stood so valiantly by the foot of the Cross on Calvary and is present mystically as the Sacrifice of the Cross is offered in an unbloody manner in each Holy Mass. We would know then that a commitment would be to the Ten Commandments as they are taught by Christ’s true Church.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for the conversion of the Americas to Catholicism and hence to the Social Reign of your Divine Son, Christ the King.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us during the midst of Lent so that we will be ready for Passion Week and Holy Week, the latter being the very week in which our salvation was wrought for us on the wood of the Holy Cross by the shedding of every drop of your Divine Son's Most Precious Blood. Pray for us to have the same courage as the Apostles, never looking for earthly success and seeking always to be faithful to everything that your Son entrusted to His true Church and is thus binding on all men and in all nations until the end of time.

Father Lawrence C. Smith Makes a Few Observations

Here's a liitle of what resulted from my reading your recent postings at Christ or Chaos on-line:

1) The Ten Commandments may not be posted in classrooms, workplaces, or Captiol buildings -- why should they be posted in courtrooms?

2) The Ten Commandments are not posted in the living rooms of most of the homes of the people demanding that courtrooms post them -- why should a judge have to look at them when judging alleged criminals if a father need not look at them when judging his family?

3) In those aforementioned living rooms is a plague of television sets -- how often are the principles embodied in the Ten Commandments respected on the air?

4) How does the Establishment Clause obey any of the Ten Commandments, most especially the First Commandment?

5) Referent to contraception, immodesty, adultery, and impurity, how many of the defenders of posting the Ten Commandments in courtrooms are willing to heed the Sixth Commandment in their private lives?

6) Referent to unbridled capitalism, consumerism, and materialism, how many of the defenders of posting the Ten Commandments in courtrooms are willing to heed the Seventh Commandment in their private lives?

7) Referent to Sunday Mass, Holy Days of Obligation, and the Easter Duty, how many of the defenders of posting the Ten Commandments in courtrooms are willing to heed the Third Commandment in their private lives?

8) Referent to questions 5), 6), and 7) above, how many of the defenders of posting the Ten Commandments in courtrooms are willing to have the Godless United States federal government, 50 Godless state governments, or innumerable Godless municpal governments enforce those principles?

9) Why do we pay taxes to governmental entities that fund child murder, license sodomy, and regulate the destruction of marriages?

10) Name one of the Ten Commandments on which Unitarians, Seventh Day Adventists, Methodists, Mormons, Jews, the ACLU, and the Ninth District Appellate Court of San Francisco all agree in toto.


















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