If we could sum up under one heading the manifold evils of the present age, we might do it well by remarking that ours is an age in which disorder reigns and in which far too many are forgetful of the proper order which should prevail, in themselves, in their personal relationships, in the relations with state and Church, within the Church, and most importantly with God, His Holy Angels, and the Saints.
It seems that everyone, regardless of which camp they claim to belong to, is acting disorderly and is refusing implicitly or explicitly the Catholic notion of order and the corresponding moral duty to preserve order, observe order, and act according to order in all things, both in our own minds and hearts, and in our external acts.
Being the sons of Adam, if we are not baptized, or reborn as the sons of God, if baptized, though still suffering predominantly from the effects of Adam’s sonship if we have not seriously sought to sanctify ourselves, we are apt to see better the faults of others, than our own.
In recent years there has been a calamitous outcry against the disorder which is spreading in the modern world, whether in the State or in the Church. From the imposition of marxist or socialist economics in the United States, to the advancing of the homosexual revolution by the forced imposition of their perverse creed, from the scandals in the Church regarding the abuse of children by priests and religious, and the worse dishonestly of Bishops, Cardinals, and even Popes, in not doing anything about it, or in denying the problem, or even in denying their own responsibility when documents show that they knew of the problem in time enough to have limited it more than they did: the whole world is aghast at the perversion of order, the falling away from order, and the disorder which abounds on every side.
The advent of blogging has increased the disorder, because the mere liberty of expression and the facility of expression which reigns on blogs, seduces many a weak soul into believing that just because he can say something, he ought to; or just because an issue merits discussion, any discussion of it is meritorious.
The height of recent hypocrisy in this matter, in the Church, has been the intemperate criticism of church leaders for their own intemperate speech; as if the fact that my superior has sinned gives me the right to commit the same sin. Such obtuseness makes many a blogger so adverse to the self-recognition of his own hypocritical behavior, that not even the most gentle of comments is permitted and any attempt at fraternal correction rebuffed.
Blathering on a blog is no more useful and no less sinful, than blathering at the local diner or pub. But alas, the facility of some towards literacy is just a strong occasion of sin for them, as the facility of some for loquacity.
For this reason, following in the footsteps of my Seraphic Father, St. Francis, who commanded all of his sons to preach in season and out, about vice and virtue, punishment and glory, I take this occasion of the Solemn Celebration of his own glorification in Heaven 787 years ago, so begin a small Series of Articles on the notion of Order and Disorder.
I do this to gently remind Catholics the world over of the importance of retaining and returning to a right notion of Order and to putting this notion into practice in everything they do. It is my hope that by means of this series of reflection, at least you who read this blog, might benefit in your own pilgrimage to Heaven.
A Short Treatise on Order and Disorder: An Introduction
St. Francis of Assisi is known the world over for his spirit of faithfulness to the Gospel, his humility and love and devotion to Christ, his care and concern for all God’s creatures, especially poor sinners and unbelievers, to whom he wished to recall to the Gospel or make them know the wonderful good news thereof.
St. Francis is normally presented as a model of holiness or fidelity, but if we look more deeply into his life, he is a marvelous example of order and fidelity to the order which God has established in creation and in the Church.
But to understand better why the observance of order leads to holiness of life and glorification in Heaven, it is good to begin with an introduction to the theology of Order.
1. Order is a Divine Perfection.
According to St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio (1217-1274 A. D.), who with St. Thomas is one of the two primary Doctors of the Church, there are three species of order. You can find these listed in his Commentary on the First Book of Sentences of Master Peter Lombard, d. 20, a. 1, q. 1, p. 372, which God willing, I will be publishing next spring in book format, in the United States of America (but also distributed worldwide by mail).
St. Bonaventure, being a great Scholastic theologian, explains the essential basis of order, thus. There are three species or kinds of order:
A. Order according to position: where one is the superior, another the inferior; but this is in two manners: either according to place, or according to dignity. This species of order does not exist in God.
B. Order according to antecedence: where one is the prior, another the posterior; but this is in two manners: either because the first precedes the second according to duration or time, or because it is prior according to its ‘being understood’ or according to the understanding of its nature. This species does not exist in God.
C. Order according to origin, or according to an emanation, and this is of one producing to one produced. This species exists in God, because there is the order of a Beginning to a Begun, or of One producing to One produced (i. e. the Father to the Son). This divine species of order is the first species of order, because it implicates in itself the other two species: thus, in created things every producer is superior in dignity or prior in time or in being understood.
2. Order in its relations with the transcendentals of being: the one, the true, the good and the beautiful.
The transcendentals of being are appropriatable to the Persons of the Trinity because they express full and pure perfections. Thus, to the Father, one can appropriate “the Good”, to the Son, “the True”, to the Holy Spirit, “the Beautiful”, and to God, “the One”.
Thus, one finds, among the names for the transcendentals, an order between the Good and the True, between ‘the Good and the True’ and the Beautiful.
Perfection according to knowledge is the perfect understanding of the Good; such perfect understanding in God is the Son, Who emanates from the Father as the Eternal Word, the Perfect Likeness and, hence, Knowledge of the Father, Who is “the Good”.
Perfection according to the will is the perfect willing of the Good according to the True; such a perfection of will in God is the Holy Spirit, Who emanates from the Father and Son, from the Father through the Son, as the perfect Love or Nexus of them Both.
3. The Eternal Word as the Exemplar of Order.
Since He is the middle Person in the Trinity, He is, hence, the exemplification of the essential relation of order in the Trinity, since all the intra-trinitarian relations refer to Him; thus, the order between the Divine Persons is completed in the Logos, the Perfect Expression or Image of the Father, and the occasional Principle of the Love Emanating as the Holy Spirit, both from the Father unto the Son, and from the Son unto the Father; because, the precondition for understanding every act of love is that there be two other Persons; and He is the Second Person.
The order which is found in creation, or in our own being, body and soul, or in human society, or in the Church, in Heaven, in Purgatory and on Earth, is a reflection of that Order which is found first in God, and which is exemplified in its highest manner the Eternal Word. By observing the right order in all human affairs, we do the will of Jesus Christ for us. Indeed, if we examine the Gospels and the words of Our Lord and Master, we find that on every page He is teaching us about how to observe the right Divine Order for all things, and how, by returning to the right order, we can be saved and have eternal life.
Order then is a perfection; coming from God, and founding creation; but also a perfection which if we embrace and observe, can transform us in holiness of life and transport us to the Kingdom of Heaven.
It is, therefore, very useful and valuable for each of us to observe order, whether in thought, will, word, or action.
May Christ Jesus, our Eternal Master, by His Omnipotent Spirit, grant us the grace to humbly confess our sins and return to the right order of life!
(In the next installment, I will discuss the perfection of order in created things and the two kinds of society, natural and moral).