July 2006 Print


THE RETURN OF ATTILA

Fr. Yves le Roux

I will not speak to you about Attila except to remind you that he was a barbarian, that his name Attila means "Little Father," and that he was proud of his nickname, "the Scourge of God." His famous line about himself was "Where I step, the grass no longer grows." Attila is my metaphor for the deadly consequences of Protestantism.

It is impossible to adequately discuss Protestantism in a brief study. The subject is simply too vast; but, in fact, the actual subject of this article is the present consequences of Protestantism. Nevertheless, we will be obliged to consider Protestantism itself in order to discover the main traits of this error. In this way we will be able to understand more deeply how our present world is the natural offspring of Protestantism, and how much this spirit has penetrated us, young and old alike, but particularly our youth.

If you want to learn more about Protestantism, the best way is by reading The Variations of the Protestant Churches by Bossuet, or Maritain's Three Reformers. Le Sel de la Terre has published some very good articles, too.

If we really want to know something, we must grasp its principle. If we know it, we will be able to know perfectly all its consequences. But regarding Protestantism, it is very difficult to grasp its principle. As Bossuet realized, nothing is constant in it. Its belief is always moving, uncertain, variable (we can find, at least, more than 20,000 Protestant sects in today's world). Protestantism is constantly subject to variations. We can summarize the judgment of Bossuet in a short sentence: "You change; what changes is not the truth."

It is impossible to bring together all Protestants into one coherent doctrine. They have only one point in common: their hatred of the Catholic Church. Even their name does not express something universal. It seems that any kind of doctrine is accepted insofar as it is a protest.
Furthermore, very often we deceive ourselves about the true motives of Protestantism. Of course, we know that it is not true that the first Protestants truly wanted to react against abuses in the Church. Their immediate fruits show obviously that it was not the problems or failures in the Church that caused their reaction, but still we convince ourselves that Protestantism was brought about because of these abuses. We cannot deny that such abuses had a role in the apparition of Protestantism, but if we look into the times of St. Bernard or St. Peter Damian, we see that there were similar abuses and even worse. The existence of abuses is a constant phenomenon in the history of the Church.
The abuses of the Renaissance by themselves are not enough to explain Protestantism; their role is only secondary. They are more an occasion than the true cause. We should rather focus on the particular conditions, on the atmosphere of the Renaissance, with its deliberate break from the realism of medieval philosophy. The Renaissance marks the separation of the intelligence from reality. Its spirit of independence exploded with Descartes and all modern philosophy, but it existed already with the nominalism of William of Ockham (d. 1349), whose teaching influenced Luther. Since the Renaissance man made himself the center of everything, the Renaissance itself implies a true spiritual "Copernican revolution."

In fact, we can apply to Protestantism the words of St. Pius X about modernism: the sewer of all the errors of the Renaissance. Nothing is original in Protestantism, but it was an instrument for the acceleration of the process of the destruction of Christendom. We may say that Protestantism is the heart of the Renaissance, its religion. Or better, that it is the Renaissance spirit conveyed into religion; I mean by that the religion of dyed-in-the-wool independence.

However, even this spirit of independence is not proper to Protestantism. It is the point of departure of all sects and their reason for rejecting the Faith. He who separates himself from Rome does it for this reason. Of course, this spirit of independence inherent in each error is multiplied by the libertarian tendency of the Renaissance and has some particular characteristics, as we will see later in our third point.
Notice that its only originality consists in not having anything truly original. We are indeed obliged to study the initiator of this error to be able to grasp the principle of Protestantism. Thus, a brief study on the life of the father of Protestantism is mandatory. As Maritain rightly points out, usually the whole life of a heresiarch depends on the error he professes. In the present case, we find the opposite: Luther's life, and especially his problems, is the source of his error. This is why it is important to present, even briefly, his life.

As did Jacques Maritain in his book The Three Reformers, we could title this section "Luther" or "The Temptation of the Spirit."[1] In fact, if Luther is known for his debasement, his true problem is of the spiritual order.
First of all, he received–as we already saw–a formation permeated by nominalism. In nominalism, our knowledge is something purely verbal and not a true apprehension of reality. Nominalism, or "terminism" if you prefer, is already idealism and cuts us from reality. Our intelligence, disconnected from what is, will withdraw into itself.

Furthermore, we know that, at the beginning of his religious life as an Augustinian monk, Luther was very fervent, but nevertheless was always worried and agitated. His romantic vocation during a violent storm already showed a feverish temperament. And, in fact, Luther forever looked for emotional consolations. His chief concern was to feel himself in the state of grace. He tried to find a false, disincarnated purity, and remained always unsatisfied, seeking a personal achievement rather than abandoning his sanctity to God. He fell into an egocentric mysticism. Counting only on his own forces, it is not very surprising therefore to see him falling into great crises of scruples. He invented a holiness in which human weakness has no part. He confused internal tension with attention to God.

Living intellectually and spiritually in a personal dream, in both cases cut off from reality, he was not ready to face any tests. In our life, a test is always a gift, an occasion for denying ourselves and finding refuge in God. But tests are also crossroads where we must choose between God and ourselves. We have to choose between fleeing from ourselves and fleeing from God. It is the famous phrase of St. Augustine: "If you wish to flee from God, flee to God." Luther did not follow this advice, but, on the contrary, fled into activism.

This activism was, in fact, the result of his internal decay and played the role of an external compensation. It was a spiritual disaster the source of which was his despair in the face of grace, or, more accurately, his conception of grace, which was the projection of his pride in an idealistic life without weaknesses, faults, or miseries, a life in which I can feel that I am perfect. By temperament and formation, and also by the influence of his times, he was not prepared to make the required act of humility, which is to return to reality and to accept our true human nature with its limitations; difficult perhaps, but real nevertheless. Also, as his hypersensitivity inclined him, he reacted by pride and exaggerated reality.

His reasoning was as follows: Something is evil in me, therefore everything is evil. In fact, I am evil by nature: it is impossible for me to avoid evil. I must accept it, consent to be what I am. My being is intrinsically evil; I necessarily do what is evil, not because I am particularly evil, but because it is my very nature. And we have his terrible phrase: "Pecca fortiter et crede firmius!–Sin mightily, but believe even more mightily!" Usually, we see in these words an invitation to sin, but it is something else, more subtle and dangerous. We are confronted with a perverse inversion of reality.

 
St. Pius X
Its very principle is a principle of dissolution, and not of life. It is free examination....Two roads open before us. In the first, man will consider that he receives his inspiration directly from God and
         he will fall into fanaticism....In the second,
   he puts all religious truth under the
control of reason and he will fall
    into indifferentism. In any
case, each man becomes
   a sect all to himself.

Keep in mind that Luther was frustrated because he was not able to be a saint by his own forces. Also, he affirmed that we are "walking sins" who can do nothing for our salvation (incapable even of cooperating with grace), and who must totally despair of ourselves because our nature has been destroyed! According to Luther, this act of despair must be made. It is essential to make it, because it will lead us to "believe" (meaning "feel") that the blood of Christ has saved us. Willing to do anything else would be blasphemy. It would be claiming that it is possible to add something to the salvation obtained for us by Christ!

It is interesting to note the great difference between the Catholic notion of faith and the Protestant notion. The first one is a virtue by which we submit our intellect to a revealed doctrine. The second one is a movement of the heart, seeking consolation, as Melanchthon [1497-1560] said, an act of confidence in the blood of Christ. (In passing, we may point out the internal contradiction: all our acts are evil because of our inherent corruption, but this act of confidence is good.)

Actually, the only sin which is without remission is the sin against this faith-confidence. And Luther would go so far as to claim that sinning could be better than practising virtue! Why? Because it is an occasion for receiving the Blood of Christ; and also because when Satan tries to tempt us we must perform–as he did himself–a "good sin" to overcome and mock him! In fact the only true sin is the lack of this sentimental confidence in God. Luther taught that only faith can save us–not charity. It is his famous "Sola Fides." But what kind of faith is it? It is not faith anymore, but a feeling of consolation that, even though we remain sinners, makes us one of the chosen of God! Am I exaggerating? Listen to Luther in his commentary on Galatians: "Your sins [believing] are not now yours, but are Christ's." It is, at least, a literary commentary on the famous passage of St. Paul! And he added: "And you, you become the beloved child, and everything is fine, and all that you do is good." We are truly, as sinners, the chosen of God...if we believe even more strongly, of course! In fact, the one truly responsible for our sins is God Himself! By the laws that He imposes on us, "God covers the sin which is inherent in marriage" (Luther in 1538, in a marriage sermon).

In fact, for him, grace is only a cover, a coat, nothing else. We are saved externally; we remain what we are deep within our being: putrefaction. That is what his second slogan–"Sola Gratia"−means. Luther totally refused any manner of cooperation. Everything is evil, especially our works. The "Sola Fides" doctrine opens the way to the "Solus Deus," because any intermediary can be nothing but human, not only useless but blasphemous! The Church, the priesthood, the Mass, and so on–everything is evil.

To summarize Luther's doctrine we must point out the doctrine of "Sola Scriptura." Once again, he did not want to have any intermediary between God and man. Divine revelation is given directly to men from God. He refused to accept the Church's authority for the determination of the canon of the Scriptures and for their interpretation. Behind this denial of any intermediary, we have already the whole drama of Protestantism, its refusal of true human nature, a nature that necessarily needs authority and intermediaries.

Protestantism does not possess any originality, but this does not mean that it does not have some distinguishing characteristics.
Luther's thought led him to deny the true state of man who, wounded by original sin, must fight constantly against the false attractions of his passions. The peace of man on earth is, therefore, the peace of the armed man, always vigilant, always on his guard. Luther refused this reality and our true condition of existence, and tried to obtain peace by his own forces. Of course, he fell. And–the temptation is classical–in his disappointment (which is a special form of despair), he preferred to blame everything else but himself. Permeated by his nominalist formation, permeated by the spirit of revolt of his times, permeated by self-love, Luther looked for a state of peace which would allow him to find some kind of peace. His conscience, obviously, bothered him much, especially if we remember his hypersensibility and his tendency to scruples. He had to find a system that soothed him. Instead of finding it, he created it by these four "soli" which are the pillars of his theory of justification (a term that teaches that we silence the warnings of our conscience), pillars of his justification for him, perhaps, but actually a deformation of the truth and, therefore, a stream of errors. Behind the terms used by Luther, which can deceive us, we must discern the reality and understand that faith, grace, God, and Holy Scripture do not exist anymore.

In this way we find the first true characteristic of Protestantism. Its very principle is a principle of dissolution, and not of life. It is free examination. This free examination is the Protestant principle in matters of faith, either referring only to reason or appealing to direct and private inspirations from Heaven. This spirit of free examination is constant in Protestantism, and consists in the substitution of the legitimate authority by private judgment, or, as it would be more accurate to say, by private feelings.

This principle reduces religion to a school of philosophy, because if somebody rebels against authority he rises up against the principle of the unity of faith. Actually, by her authority, the Church defends the Faith and transmits it. In Protestantism the supernatural no longer exists.
In fact, since free examination gives us the right to reach our own decisions in religious matters, two roads open before us: In the first, man believes that he receives his inspiration directly from God, and we fall into fanaticism. History proves that Protestantism flatters the natural disposition of the human mind to reduce the world to a system that gives man an answer for everything, but cuts him from reality. In the second, man puts all religious truth under the control of reason, and we fall into indifferentism. As a philosophical system, Protestantism leads to deism and from deism to atheism because of its principle of free examination, which essentially means the mind being independent. Historically also, the expansion of Protestant sects spreads the poison of indifferentism throughout Europe.

Protestantism is truly a school of philosophy based on the principle of free examination. Nowadays, we must qualify this philosophy. And this qualification will be our second characteristic of Protestantism. What is this philosophy? Refusing any authority other than the authority of each individual, Protestantism reduces each man to be a sect all by himself! For the time being, it is enough to point out the absolute subjectivism of this philosophical school. As a conclusion to this brief survey of Protestantism, we may quote Blaise Pascal: "He who wants to act as an angel, in the end acts as a devil!"

Present Consequences of Protestantism

By making man withdraw into himself, subjectivism cuts him off from any reality other than himself. Losing the relation to reality, man is confronted with the impossibility of knowing what reality is. Therefore, he can no longer reach the truth. Actually, when the person himself becomes the only known reality, truth becomes something very subjective. We will not talk about truth, but about personal perceptions. It is no longer truth, but "my truth." It is obvious that this reduction of truth is merely its destruction. Truth is reduced to sincerity, which is by itself very changeable according to our feelings. Furthermore, the theory of external justification leads us to live on the level of appearances. Trying to go deeper would be considered a sin against "faith" in the power of the Blood of Christ.

Protestantism fathers a new race of men, one of men whose sincerity changes greatly according to the feelings and appearances of the moment. But it would be a mistake to consider this new kind of man as hypocritical; in fact, it is even worse! Hypocrisy is a conscious and voluntary attitude regarding truth, in order to give the appearance of loving and being devoted to it.

This new race of men does not have any relation with reality and truth. Totally focused on himself, fascinated by appearances, modern man lives a lie, but without knowing that he does so. For him, it is a permanent and "normal" state of life. Nowadays, man lives superficially in an absolutely artificial world. How has this come to happen? By successive destructions, of which Protestantism is the source.

Destruction of Religion

We saw that Protestantism is merely a philosophy based on private judgment and no longer a religion. This is confirmed by the total absence of the characteristic marks of religion in Protestantism. Religion, indeed, always possesses an altar, a priesthood, a sacrifice. Everywhere and at every time, these three criteria are the constant characteristics of any kind of religion, independently of its truth or falseness. They belong to the very essence of religion. But none of these marks exists in Protestantism. This absence is clear proof that Protestantism is not a religion. Nevertheless, since it is something social and philosophical, we must try to introduce some qualifications in this political philosophy.

To do that we must go back to the true principle of Protestantism, which is, as we have seen, free examination. In fact, this principle proclaims the absolute superiority of reason to everything, even in religious matters. Reason can judge all because it is sovereign and independent. Reason is the source of order, and not an instrument that gives us the means for subjecting ourselves to a higher order.

In social matters, this complete independence of reason has a very precise name: Revolution. Robespierre even created a cult of Reason! Beyond tragic or bloody events, whatever the particular circumstances are, Revolution is always "the hatred of any order that has not been established by man himself, and in which he is not king and god at the same time." This famous definition of Revolution given by Msgr. Gaume is also the most perfect description of free examination. Protestantism is not Religion but Revolution.


 

Protestantism fathers a new race of men, one of men whose sincerity changes greatly according to the feelings and appearances of the moment. But it would be a mistake to consider this new kind of man as hypocritical; in fact, it is even worse! Hypocrisy is a conscious and voluntary attitude regarding truth, in order to give the appearance of loving and being devoted to it....This new race of men does not have any relation with reality and truth. Totally focused on himself, fascinated by appearances, modern man lives a lie, but without knowing that he does so. For him,
it is a permanent and "normal"
state of life.
  

And, in fact, it is a very dangerous form of Revolution! It is hidden and continual. It is hidden, because it presents itself under the guise of religion and even under the name of Christian religion. Only a few people are able to discern behind it a revolutionary weapon. Satan advances disguised! And we know that Revolution is really efficient when the blood no longer runs. The bloody period is only an obligatory stage to destroy something. Revolution can penetrate deeply in the minds of people only during a time of apparent peace, because everybody relaxes his vigilance, thinking that the Revolution is over. The Quiet Revolution in Quebec is a very interesting example. No blood, no terror, nothing violent, at least externally, but, in fact, a total and radical apostasy of the Province.

Revolution is also continual. The name of Protestantism itself shows that we must protest, and if the first reformers believed that they would be blindly obeyed after they cut their ties with Rome, the revolt rose up against them, led by their own disciples! The process cannot stop. It belongs to the very essence of Protestantism. Reason should not have to recognize any authority and must be continually in revolt.

This is why Protestantism cannot have a body of doctrine and a solid faith. Doctrine and faith are reduced to a feeling of confidence in the Blood of Christ. What has become important for Protestants is to have a "good conscience," in spite of the internal reproaches of their sins. In spite of, and at the same time, as a result, because for Protestantism, we are unable to avoid sinning, and the true forgiveness of God does not exist at all. Protestantism is an awful blasphemy against the mercy of God and a permanent source of anxiety for its followers. Protestantism is a powerful instrument for the subtle destruction of religion because, appearing to be a religion for many people, it makes them slaves of sin and in constant rebellion against the order of God and particularly the order of His Mercy.

Destruction of Morals

We could say, if we want to absolutely preserve the status of a religion for Protestantism, that it is the religion of the worship of original sin. In fact, original sin seems so powerful that nothing and no one–not even God Himself–can do anything against it. Since we have sinned in Adam, nothing is good. Everything that we do is evil. That is why works are useless, and even evil: because they give us a false peace. It is impossible to make a distinction between good and evil, other than by law. That is why Luther, talking about marriage, accused God Himself of inciting us to sin. We fall into that legalism where only the law–and not virtue–can make us good.

Notice, in passing, a new contradiction: the principle of free examination exempts us from any authority and gives us the absolute power to decide what is good and what is evil. This principle should also exempt us from the power of any law–but, at the same time, it is the law, and only the law, that can make us good! 

The refusal of any kind of virtue closes the door to happiness. To claim that nothing is good places an unbearable burden upon the shoulders of men. In fact, Protestants are not reputed for being joyful, and we can understand why. It is interesting to point out that, even among us, modern man, not having the desire for virtue, does not have the desire for happiness either. Sometimes the desire for happiness is even considered an evil inclination.

This pretension that it is possible to be at the same time a sinner and a beloved son of God is such a great contradiction that it is the ruin of morality. How is it possible to reconcile God and imperfection? Protestantism does not teach us morals, but how to appease our conscience, instead of fighting against our evil tendencies and temptations. About temptations, we already saw that Luther taught that the best way to fight against the devil is to try to find a great temptation and to propose to do it, in order to show the devil that we are not worried about sinning. It is a very strange morality that leads us to follow the insinuations of the devil in order to fight against him.

Further, since doctrine is nothing, from where will morals spring? Morality is, in fact, rooted in doctrine; we can say that morality is the incarnation of doctrine. Without a previous doctrine, morality is only moralism. Moralism is the surest destruction of morals. Morality is not able to justify morals by itself. Moralism tries to do that. That is why moralism is so stifling and disgusts even those who are under its power. This inversion of morals and doctrine is the true essence of Puritanism. Puritanism belongs to the very essence of Protestantism. It is not only a horror, but a true danger, because of this deadly inversion of order.

Legalism, moralism, the loss of a sense of happiness–the way towards licentiousness is wide open. In the end, free examination is by itself a weapon against morality.

Destruction of Society


"Against the facts, there is no argument." Man, living in society, is a fact, a necessity of nature. But now we know that Protestantism–which is naturalism–distrusts and despises nature, considering it entirely putrefaction. Furthermore, Protestantism, according to its principle of free examination, rejects any authority and considers it illegitimate.

However, historically speaking, Protestants were obliged to obtain the support of secular authority to escape the authority of the Church. They did it by proposing that the secular authority espouse its theories in order to help them become emancipated from the spiritual power. Of course, they received a favorable reception from the civil authority.

Here, it is impossible not to stop briefly in order to point out that the principle of free examination is really a principle of the destruction of order. It allows man to become radically emancipated from any kind of authority. Applied at the level of political society, this principle emancipates the temporal power from the spiritual power. The civil power no longer has to be concerned by religion, except to allow all religions to live peacefully together under its tutelage. The principle of religious liberty–which is the real dissolution of a society unable to acknowledge its God, as every creature must do–is all entirely here.

Let us come back to the political men who accepted the proposal of Luther to emancipate themselves from the power of the Church. There is here a terrible risk, which consists in falling into a pitiless tyranny. There is no longer over the secular power another power that prevents it from overstepping its limits. However, this classical tyranny cannot manage to last for a long time. Here intervenes Protestantism, which is essentially a weapon for revolution. Having undermined all the natural foundations by its principle of free examination, Protestantism must find a support, an authority that will enable it to last. Tyranny is indispensable for the survival of Protestantism, but this tyranny must be of the same nature as Protestantism in order to help it effectively, and since Protestantism is a hidden but real Revolution, this tyranny must also be hidden but real. Also, this tyranny will be a soft tyranny; this soft tyranny is "democratism." What is this neologism? It means considering democracy as a religion, a new messianism that is the universal solution for all evils.

How can I claim that the surrounding democratism comes from Protestantism? Of course, I do not deny some other influences, particularly Freemasonry. We can find a lot of similarities between modern democracy and Protestantism, so many affinities that we are justified in thinking that modern democracy is really the politics of Protestantism, and its necessary tyranny. In this new regime, we do not have the union between the spiritual and the temporal powers, but a confusion of them.

 

Protestantism allows man to become radically emancipated from any kind of authority.

     from the spiritual power. The civil power no longer has to be concerned by religion, except to allow all religions to live peacefully together
  under its tutelage. The principle of religious liberty  which is the real dissolution of a society

   creature must do–is all entirely here.... Having undermined all the natural
 
                 examination, Protestantism must find a support, an authority that  will enable it to last. Tyranny is indispensable for the survival of Protestantism.
 
  

In fact, modern democracy is for society what original sin is for man. In the Garden of Eden, indeed, Adam and Eve were deceived by Satan in the name a pretended jealousy of God regarding His authority: "Take, eat; you will be as God, having authority to decide good or evil." Universal suffrage says the very same thing: "You can be as God, free–independent and equal–without any authority over you. It is not fitting to have over you a transcendent authority." It is the famous "neither master nor God," the modern translation of the "Non serviam."

In order to assure the smooth running of affairs, a representative must be elected, but he will have to give you an account of his work because you–and only you, by the simple fact that you are a man–possess authority on your own. This representative will be here only to apply the general will, which is the only thing able to decide what is good and evil.

In fact, universal suffrage is a denial of the Catholic principle that affirms that all authority comes from God. On the contrary, it fits perfectly with the Protestant principle that claims that authority comes from man and that only man can decide what is good and evil. Once again, we find the principle of free examination. And it imposes a subtle tyranny, where men think they are free when they are in fact slaves–slaves of other men who use this new principle of democratic election to lead people to hell in the name of the general will. Remember that after original sin, Adam and Eve thought they were also free.

Protestantism does not only reduce men into slavery by denying the true origin of authority, but it destroys society itself. Protestantism claims that nature is completely evil, but society is a natural need of human nature, therefore society is also evil and must disappear. We have in mind, of course, this slogan of Rousseau, himself formed by Protestantism: "Man is born good; society corrupts him." But it is impossible to destroy society physically. Actually, society will subsist under this form of democratism. But its end will no longer be the common good. Materially, society subsists, but it is only a corpse–its formality no longer exists. Nowadays, the common good has disappeared and has been replaced by the search for profit. The essential attitude of man is to look out for himself–thus, only the individual counts, and from it arises individualism. It is exactly the opposite of what a society must have as its end, the good of the community.

Society ceases to exist, except on the purely material level, where there are only different techniques to help us to make money. Our world, the child of Protestantism, is as Marcel De Corte rightly said, a "dis-society"!

Destruction of the Family

If society no longer exists, then what happens to the family? Once we know how much Protestantism opposes any kind of authority, we have a family without fatherhood. The disappearance of the father and of his role in the family–a real disaster that we see today–is the result of Protestantism's hatred of order and rejection of any authority. A family without a father is a society without authority. Quite simply, the family does not exist.

In order to understand that the family does not exist when it is only an apparent family, I ask you to look at the problem of the lack of affection in our families. The family is a microcosm, in which man learns how to live. Later he will reproduce what he has received, and what he did not receive will be almost impossible for him to receive later unless he comes to belong to a family again, such as a monastery, seminary, or school (although these are less of a family). He could also receive it by undergoing some trial, but even this trial must be something truly hard, which will oblige him to face reality. But if it happens, there is a great danger that he will break down. In fact, to be effective, that trial must bring him back into a relationship with some kind of paternity. Nothing, indeed, can replace the family. In a normal family, the children receive affection, and through it their souls receive a deep imprint that gives them balance for their whole life, giving them the ability to judge reality later. On the contrary, it is medically proven that a lack of affection creates some grave psychological problems.

What is truly affection? It is a love of benevolence by which we want to procure the good of someone else. This love is not a passion; it belongs to the virtues, because only the virtues can help us attain the good. But now we have learned that in Protestantism the virtues–and the good, of course–do not exist. Therefore, affection is impossible within Protestantism. (This does not mean that Protestants are not able to give affection, which is another problem.)

If we remember that Protestantism reduces faith and grace to a feeling of consolation, it will not be too hard to understand that at this particular level, affection is, in turn, replaced by consolation. Actually, rather than giving the affection that trains the children's souls in the virtues, the parents give sentimental consolations, which is much more dangerous insofar as they think, in their sincerity, that they are giving something good. In fact, they spoil their children, because they provoke in them an inexhaustible need. Consolations are on the level of feelings; nowadays, we must feel that we are loved. But nothing is as changing and short-lived as feelings; also, we always need an external manifestation of love, external proofs of consideration. In this case, we are close to falling into sensuality, and far from teaching true love. Consolations open the door to disaster–perhaps later, but certain nonetheless.

By "sensuality" I do not only mean sins of impurity, but our being unable to fulfill our responsibilities and to face any problems in our life simply because we do not receive our share of consolations! See how this "sensuality" affects obedience: we need to be sure that our superior loves us very much and that a new assignment or task is actually a manifestation of his love for us. Then a superior has the duty to manifest this. Watch out! I do not say that a superior should lack humanity or kindness, but, precisely, consolations are not human, but animal! And they are not an end, because they do not give us anything for our soul. But, of course, the soul belongs to our internal nature and to the virtues.

In fact, this consolation creates a false atmosphere at home, an artificial ambiance of happiness, something stereotyped, where we are happy because we must be–it is mandatory. To correspond to this external mandate, we avoid tackling any deep subject and we stay at the level of things politically correct. Once again, also at this level, truth does not matter, the feeling of sincerity replaces it. We are happy because we must be, because of the consolations. It is totally ridiculous! But it really happens today–consider the Barney phenomenon! ["Barney" is a purple dinosaur famous for his jingle, "I love you. You love me. We are a happy family."–Ed.]
The family is today destroyed by the spirit of individualism, which is a product of Protestantism, as we have seen. Do not think that we are free from this kind of problem. We are members of the present Protestant society and we carry its wounds. Our families are families of our dissociety, which is the soft revolution of our time.
 

Destruction of Man Himself

Dissociety destroys families. What remains? Man. Only man! But what is man alone?–A monster!

 

Society ceases to exist, except on the purely material level, where there are only different techniques to help us to make money. Our world, the child of Protestantism, is as Marcel De Corte rightly said, a "dis-society."...Once we know how much Protestantism opposes any kind of authority, we have a family without fatherhood. The disappearance of the father and of his role in the family–a real disaster that we see today–is the result of Protestantism's hatred of order and rejection of any authority. A family without a father is a society without authority. Quite simply, the family does not exist. 
 

To live in society is a necessity for a man, more than for an animal. We need to be received into a society, our family, which will give us an education that will enable us to act as a man. But a man who is only an individual without religion, without society, and without family is actually less than an animal. An animal can guide itself by its instincts, but man does not have the same instincts. Also, he will be led by his passions or he will become the ideal prey of any system, as we can see in the modern world.
If we use what we said about the family, we can ask ourselves this question: what is a man without a father? A man handicapped for his whole life! He will remain forever a teenager, charming perhaps, but a very unbalanced person, not having a model for maturing. All his life he will be subject to his passions and never happy, never simply a man, unable to make decisions, unable to think, because he will be always a slave of consolations. Modern man is a beggar for consolations, not an adult.

But we must go further and affirm that moralism is the destruction of the intelligence, and, therefore, the very destruction of man. Moralism is a perversion of order, an intellectual inversion of order, an institutionalized disorder that puts morals as its ultimate reason for being. Morals are no longer rooted in doctrine, as we have seen. Nothing justifies a morality that is justified by itself! In these morals, we do not have an inclination towards the ultimate end, we do not have to answer the question "Why?" The answer is obvious, systematical and fanatical: "Because it is the law!" But if we do not ask why, we no longer respect the order of the intelligence, of which the proper end is to know. We reduce it to living on the level of the "How?" question. Here is still an inversion: the "how" question comes after the "why" question. The intelligence cannot endure this constant inversion without being damaged. In this way, it becomes very difficult to use the intelligence and to know reality truly and deeply. The snare is that the inversion of the two questions does not impede us from making money, because we remain on the practical level, where the "why" question is not essential. But in this way we reduce man to being a machine, not a thinking being.

In Protestantism, this death of the intelligence is not accidental. In fact, it comes from the very principle of Protestantism: free examination. But this death of the intelligence is very dangerous, because we are no longer able to realize that we are suffering from this constant inversion in the present world and we become Protestants without even knowing it.

The principle of free examination gives all power to reason, which is sovereign and omnipotent; nothing is above it, especially not any kind of authority. In reality, this principle totally destroys the intelligence by flattering it with the sirens' song of independence and by refusing to consider its frailty and its need to lean on a superior authority to overcome this fragility.

For Luther, reason is a weapon used by the devil to deceive men. His anxiety and his pride pushed him to find a system where he does not have to change but where, at the same time, he may have a "good conscience." This manifest refusal to search for truth obliges him to deny any value to the intelligence. Everybody knows his words about reason, the "whore of the devil." But we can quote also some other interesting phrases from him, either about St. Thomas: "...who never understood one chapter of the Gospel or of Aristotle," or about Aristotle himself: "a child that we must put in a pigsty or in the stable of donkeys." Finally, a general judgment about reason: "Reason is contrary to faith."  Actually, it is enough to remember that Luther, by his total inversion of things, already destroyed the intelligence, which cannot act upside down.

Furthermore, intelligence and will no longer have an object. Intelligence allows us to discover the truth, and the will, to attain the good. Nowadays, sincerity replaces truth, and the good is something created by our feelings. At least we can say that the intelligence and will are atrophied.

Man no longer exists. He is an individual without defense against the modern Moloch, not only because of this error, which is spread everywhere, but also because Protestantism, refusing to recognize the value of the natural order, invented a system in which man is no longer a reasonable creature endowed with intellect and will.

A Barbaric State

A system created by an apostate monk to justify his behavior, Protestantism destroyed, by its principle of free examination, the whole natural order. Nowadays, we are facing a field of ruins. Our times are a return to the state of barbarism, and it is even worse because our age has apostatized. Protestantism can be compared to Attila because when it comes somewhere, nothing remains.

Conclusion

With this introduction, we have become aware of the extent of the damage and the present state of the whole world. If we understand the problem more profoundly, we will be able to understand that the true remedy is essentially metaphysical: we must recover the sense of reality, the sense of being. The true remedy is the study of St. Thomas, master of reality, of humility. We need to return to the soil, because the "soil does not lie" and gives us again the sense of reality and truth.

We must not despair. We know the passage of St. Thomas about original sin: "Robbed of grace, with a wounded nature, yet nature remains whole." It is sufficient to apply it. Nature subsists, in spite of the error of Luther. It is, indeed, wounded by our own faults, but God's grace can cure us and give us even more grace, as the Lavabo prayer says.

I think that the liturgy is a very efficacious remedy for ridding ourselves of the legalistic, Protestant frame of mind which, unfortunately, has also penetrated us. The liturgy incorporates us in Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and Life. Yet we must not reduce the liturgy to another legalism; rather, we must follow the example of our founder, Archbishop Lefebvre, who encouraged an active and intelligent participation in Mass. The liturgy is certainly the most appropriate remedy for our faithful, particularly for our youth, and also for ourselves. True contact with Christ in the liturgy is the best antidote against the pernicious and widespread error that is Protestantism.

Fr. Yves le Roux was ordained for the Society of Saint Pius X in 1990 and is currently Rector of St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona, Minnesota. This presentation was given at the SSPX's annual Priests' Meeting held in February 2006 at the Seminary. It was transcribed by Angelus Press with minor editing by Fr. Kenneth Novak for clarity.


    1    This explication of Luther's doctrine follows Maritain's analysis in Three Reformers: Luther, Descartes, Rousseau (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, n.d.), pp. 3-50.

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