Online Reading Group: Andrew Willard Jones’s Before Church and State

The Josias is planning an online reading group to discuss Andrew Willard Jones’s new book, Before Church and State: A Study of Social Order in the Sacramental Kingdom of St. Louis IX.  Jones’s book is perhaps the most important recent work on a subject of great concern to The Josias: the relation of spiritual to temporal power. Jones argues that the understanding of the relation of spiritual and temporal power elaborated in the teachings of the popes of the High Middle Ages has been imperfectly understood by historians. Historians have tended to place that understanding, and the conflicts in which it was elaborated, in the context of the narrative of the rise of the sovereign, national state. Jones argues that that narrative, in which conflicts between spiritual and temporal power in the Middle Ages are viewed as conflicts between the “secular” power of “the state” and the “religious” power of the “church” for “sovereignty” within society obscures the way in which medieval society actually functioned and understood its own functioning. In the Middle Ages, he contends, there was no such thing as “religion” or “the secular” in the modern senses of those words, there was therefore no such thing as “the church” in its modern sense of a voluntary association with purely religious aims, and there was no such thing as “the state” or the “sovereign” monopoly of power that characterizes that modern institution. Before Church and State is not only an insightful treatment of an historical period; it is also an important contribution to the proper understanding of perennial Church teaching on the relation of the two powers. Continue reading

Notes on Right and Law

by Pedro José Izquierdo

1. The words right and law refer to related realities. Their meaning is derived from the Latin ius and lex. The more fundamental of these is ius, as regards both the nature of the virtue of justice generally, and the juridical order specifically. In English, this is obscured by the predominance of the words ‘law’ and ‘legal’ to designate that order and the framework within which ‘rights’ exist. Continue reading

Dyarchy is Dyarchical: A Reply to Meador

Over at Mere Orthodoxy, Jake Meador has written an article outlining six responses towards mainstream culture and liberalism. Among these six, he prominently includes integralism as expounded upon in The Josias by writers such as Pater Edmund and Elliot Milco. Although Protestant, Jake Meador gives a sympathetic account of integralism as a coherent rejection of the current post-enlightenment liberal ordo, dominating western thought. Particularly valuable is Meador’s analysis of the reasons that not merely integralists, but also various other strains of Protestant and Catholic thinkers, are now having to grapple more deeply with the inherent contradictions of liberalism. Continue reading

The Mirror of the Benedict Option

Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation (New York: Sentinel, 2017).

One of the great sorrows that I encounter as a priest is the sorrow of parents whose children have abandoned the Faith. Their sorrow can be more bitter even than the sorrows of those parents who suffer the fata aspera of having to bury their children. To have given the gift of life, only to see that gift taken too soon, and to be able to give only the “unavailing gift” of funeral flowers, is a bitter fate indeed. But for those who have come to believe that true life is the eternal life of Christ, it is still more bitter to have brought a child to the waters of Baptism, hoping for that child to receive a share in the inheritance of infinite bliss, only to see that child trade the infinite good for the vain pomps of this world. If it were not for the hope of future repentance, this would be almost too much to bear. And yet, it is a sorrow that Christian parents have had to bear at all times. Children of believing parents have been abandoning the narrow way that leads to eternal life since the Church began. But the great falling away from the faith in Austria in the past five or six decades or so have given so many parents that sorrow. It is of course difficult to tell whether that is because hypermodern culture has actually led more children astray, or whether it has simply made straying more obvious— previous generations of worldly children were perhaps better at pretending to their parents that they were still in a state of grace. When I tell such parents that I come from a family of eight children they often ask me whether all of my brothers and sisters are still practicing Catholics. And when I answer affirmatively they invariably ask: “How did your parents do it?” Continue reading

Letter on the Needy Immigrant

Pater Edmund,

I agree with much in your “Needy Immigrant” post as far as your analysis of the rise of the nation state and the ideal of Christendom, but I take issue with the tenor and general framework of your piece because I think it fundamentally misapprehends the reason why most Americans (and probably most Europeans) oppose immigration, even when using “what benefits us” sort of language. I fear it will be used as further support for the position that the refusal to accept immigration on any grounds is tantamount to rejecting Christ. Continue reading

The Needy Immigrant, Nationalism, Globalism, and the Universal Destination of Goods


The current debates on immigration between liberal globalists on the one hand and populist nationalists on the other raise fundamental questions about the nature of political community and solidarity. Neither side offers satisfactory answers to these questions. Immigration naturally raises such fundamental questions, since the extent to which new members are admitted to a community varies widely depending on how that community understands and sustains its own internal unity. Thus a nomadic tribe, living in easily breachable tents, and depending on close bonds of trust will approach the integration of strangers differently than a city-state with stone houses, locking doors, speculative philosophy, and law courts. Continue reading

Catholics and the Ethics of Voting

by Stomachosus

The main purpose of our civic actions must be the promotion of the common good. Voting becomes a duty when the common good or the good of religion demands it:

It is the duty of all citizens who have the right to vote, to exercise that right when the common good of the state or the good of religion and morals require their votes, and when their voting is useful. (Davis, SJ, Moral and Pastoral Theology, v. 2 pg. 90)

It is important to note the second qualifier “when useful.” It is fully possible that a vote might be useless—say, if all candidates were equally wicked and no write-ins were allowed.

But whom must we vote for? Well, we must choose good candidates. What makes a candidate good? Those are good “who with strength of mind, in a christian spirit, and skill in bearing affairs, exhibits knowledge of political matters and sufficient eloquence” (Prümmer, Manuale theologiae moralis, v. 2, § 608). They must be upright, capable, and have a strong backbone. Obviously, the eloquence necessary in a county clerk may  be different than that needed in a Senator, but it must be sufficient for the position they are running for. Continue reading