Returning to the Wellspring

Perch_Rock_lighthouse_in_a_storm-by-Mike-Pennington-copy-300x195 Returning to the WellspringAs the stage is set for a great storm, our common peril forces us to look for a vision of life that will serve to unify the nation. We believe this vision will not be inspired by economic reforms, financial policies, or government programs. The question remains as to where we must go to find the ideas that will inspire our return to order.

In our times of crisis, we would do well to repair to the wellspring of our Christian culture in the hope of rediscovering those spiritual values that gave us birth. We should look beyond our materialistic vision and turn to what Johan Huizinga calls “more and higher values than the mere gratification of want and the desire for power. These values lie in the domain of the spiritual, the intellectual, the moral, and the aesthetic.”[1]

RTO-mini2 Returning to the WellspringFree Book: Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go

In this spiritual quest, we must avoid the idealized inventions of great philosophers or the complex schemes of sociologists. We must reject the rigid ideologies of modern thinkers who have constructed ideal systems without any link to reality, much to the detriment of mankind. We must embrace instead those ideals, principles, and values that have always served to inspire and unify men. They are ideals that are connected to reality and manifest themselves in the diverse customs, traditions, and ways of life of a people.

Horizontal Vision of Society

By returning to the source of our values, we engage in a real search for meaning and unity. It is not the scattered modern vision of things that so characterizes our age of individualism. To employ a metaphor, we might say that the present socio-economic model resembles a horizontal line drawn on a piece of paper where the line scatters our attention with no single point of focus. This line extends outward; it is flat with no hierarchy of interests.

Such a model corresponds to a horizontal vision of society. It is an image of a model that favors frenetic intemperance, expanding markets, and gigantist networks obsessed with outward progress and the horizontal expansion of finance or empire without any central focus. Lawrence Friedman writes that “urban, industrial, mass-media society” is a “horizontal society” full of superficial links among equals.[2]

A Vertical Vision

Our return to the wellspring calls for a vertical perspective. It supposes a vertical vision of the universe where things are viewed through another prism. To extend our metaphor, we can liken the model we seek to a vertical line drawn on paper. This line draws our attention towards a single point as it progresses upward, much like the vertical lines of a church bell tower draw our gaze upward towards the cross at the top.

This vertical vision invites us to elevate our minds with singular purpose to transcendent values and ultimately to God. R. H. Tawney describes this vision as a “theory of a hierarchy of values, embracing all human interests and activities in a system of which the apex is religion” as opposed to the modern “conception of separate and parallel compartments, between which a due balance should be maintained, but which have no vital connection with each other.”[3]

This vision confers a great unity of purpose upon a society. This unity, which might also be ours, could be seen in Christendom. “There have been periods in European history in which more rapid progress has been made in some directions, and in which there has been a greater variety of individual genius,” writes R. W. Southern about the Middle Ages, “but there has never been a period which has displayed so great a variety of achievement in the service of a single aim.”[4]

The Good, True, and Beautiful

The inspiration of this vision is found inside man himself. It corresponds to the most fundamental desires of the human heart. It comes from our constant search for all that is good, true, and beautiful. This impulse is something that occurs naturally in us and sets in motion powerful movements inside our souls that call us to sacrifice.

Aristotle speaks of what he calls to kalon, that is, our passionate concern for all that is elevated, dignified, and noble. It was something he recognized as universally present in the spiritual core of each human being. These highest aspirations of rational and free beings are “capable of dedication, devotion, and even sacrifice for the sake of causes perceived as just and as thereby partaking of transcendent or eternal value.”[5]

Likewise, Saint Paul in Holy Scriptures calls upon us to look to these same ideals when he says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things”(Phil. 4:8).[6]

When men seek after these high standards of perfection, beauty, or excellence, it gives rise to a vision of life that inspires civilizations. We need only look to our Christian roots as a confirmation of their efficacy. History gives ample testimony to the selfless acts of saints, heroes, and martyrs who put Christian ideals before all else. Their influence permeated the culture, established a rule of honor, and gave birth to a whole civilization.

However, there is more.

“Omne Delectamentum in se Habentem”

When we search for that which is most elevated, dignified, and noble, we inevitably encounter the supernatural and divine, which is at the pinnacle of all beauty and the true wellspring of Christian civilization. Omne delectamentum in se habentem, says the liturgy for Benediction. We might say of this vision that it has “within it all sweetness.”

Subscription8.11 Returning to the WellspringBy embracing the supernatural, we encounter God and His Divine grace, which communicates supernatural life to our souls and makes our ideals shine brighter. Grace perfects nature and opens up new possibilities for the realization of our ideals beyond that of the merely human. While we cannot quantify the action of grace in history, we can observe those selfless acts of virtue that brought about amazing transformations in society.  We see, for example, the fruits of grace in the noble, dignified, and elevated acts of those who bear suffering with joy and dignity, experience triumph with humility, and treat others with veneration and respect as brothers. We can observe the effects of grace, which enlightens reason, and, guided by the light of the Faith and an infallible Magisterium, creates the ideal cultural conditions for an organic society.

By returning to the wellspring of our Christian civilization, we avail ourselves of this Divine assistance and thus our efforts become proportional to the challenges from the impending storm.

*          *          *

In short, as increasing numbers abandon the failing materialist culture that adopted the common, useful, and ordinary as its “unheroic” standard, we must repair to this Christian wellspring to regenerate our culture. It is this search for meaning and unity that we will now explore. From this source, we will see its fruits reflected in the hearth and home, the public square, the marketplace, and the sanctuary.

The text above was taken from Chapter 46 of the book, Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Go Here, and Where We Need to Go.


[1] Johan H. Huizinga, In the Shadow of Tomorrow (New York: W. W. Norton, 1936), 40-41.

[2] Friedman, Horizontal Society, 60.

[3] Tawney, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, 8.

[4] R. W. Southern, Western Society and the Church in the Middle Ages (London: Penguin Books, 1970), 43.

[5] Thomas L. Pangle, Leo Strauss: An Introduction to His Thought and Intellectual Legacy (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006), 93.

[6] North American Bible Revised Edition.

  • Rosech Levy

    I agree we need God back in our lives. I have been amazed, however, at how many are there already as I read other blogs so feel there is hope. Tonight and further debates need to be won by Trump as the only viable candidate to enable our return to the real America based on Judeo/Christian ethics. If not, I do not think our prayers will have much weight as America is turned over to the globalist communists. I still think God sent Trump at this point in time as he did not have to run but felt impelled to run. I continue to pray constantly that the Catholic Church I knew and grew up with will again turn around and come back and not be listening to Francis and Bishops speaking “communism” as my family personally suffered and thankfully escaped communism which we have been seeing creep into our country almost daily. I still believe in America first and charity begins at home, that is America, and we need to right the ship first, and that is our country and its future, so that we may have a future!

  • Edward Koestner

    I am in awe of how Saint Paul outlines the pathway to be followed: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things”(Phil. 4:8).[6]

  • Augusto50

    Trump’s view of America is that of a return to an imperialistic regime. He has racist tendencies and his god is MONEY. I don’t believe Mr. Trump is some kind of savior or messiah, please, this is the same kind of logic that extremists use for Isil and terrorist agendas.

    • Shelly Gale

      If you must think of it in these terms, then he is the lesser of two evils.

    • Randal Agostini

      I would question your judgement in this matter. America has never been an imperialistic regime. On the contrary it has been an intellectual attempt to forge governance that allows for individual excellence and equal opportunity in the pursuit of Happiness – either spiritual or physical. Trump articulates that government should be as small as possible to carry out it’s basic functions.
      There is a choice each time we choose a president, but there are few times that we may choose someone who is not apparently seeking power. Since we are all flawed I would rather seek someone who brags about their earned riches than someone who covertly wants to take away my rights in favor of their own.

      • Augusto50

        My country was invaded by the U.S. in 1898 and established the longest colony in the world, Puerto Rico. So your doubt about the U.S. never been an imperialistic regime is hopefully cleared. Trump does not establishes how he will achieve most of his plans, in fact many of his ideas will go as far as create chaos in the economy, like his Nafta position that is quite shadowy. One problem is that Mr. Trump states what people want to hear without a concise idea of how to implement them, some, as he has stated, will be implemented by sheer use of force, others, maybe with the help of his friend Putin, if we believe him. So there is enough doubt of his capabilities to be empowered as president of the U.S.

        • John Robertson

          If you so hate America for “occupying” your homeland, citizens of which are American by birth, then why don’t you go back there and fight for independence for Puerto Rico from the American inperialism?

        • Randal Agostini

          America has offered Puerto Rico it’s Independence countless times – how Imperialistic is that. Maybe you prefer the comfort of the American tax payer, which has again come to the financial assistance of your native land.
          You are correct in saying that we do not know specifically how Trump will attempt to solve all our issues, but we do know how his competitor will continue to erode our freedoms, and continue a government rife with corruption.

          • Augusto50

            Randal, can you provide me with a historical fact to support your first sentence? Come on, circumstances, dates, anything our readers can corroborate. Off the bat I will tell you your are incorrect, that has never happened. American tax payers are not providing one cent for the current fiscal situation on the island, so you are incorrect in both statements, just verify the PROMESA governance rules and you will see that what you say its not correct. Besides, you are incorrect in believing that I support any of these two candidates, Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton. I do not support the reasoning of allowing Mr. Trump to become president of the greatest nation just to allow a “lesser of two evils” philosophy. That is not the way the U.S. is supposed to be led.

          • Augusto50

            This is just one site you can check for how this issue is funded, there are more so you can recheck, if you are willing to do the homework, and then you can provide readers here with accurate information. Fair enough Randy?

          • Randal Agostini

            The US Federal Govt. spends about $6.5 billion per year in subsidizing Puerto Ricans through Nutrition Aid, Section 8 Housing, Community Development Block Grants and Temporary Assistance for Needy families. Puerto Rico has an unemployment rate about double that of the US mainland. From 1990 through 2009 he US Govt. spent $182 billion more in Puerto Rico than it received in Federal taxes. That is an economy subsidized by American taxpayers.

          • Augusto50

            We were taking about the Promesa issue, as you stated that the US ” has again come to the financial assistance of your native land”, so this a totally different issue you are bringing to the table now. Your figures in this other issue regarding PR being subsided by the tax payers would require a fact check as per your previous inaccuracies. Still the tax payers have been investing in PR, they get far more from us, as the current hedge funds crisis clearly states, than you may imagine. Your figures only highlight the fact that there is a group of American citizens that are been severely left behind the American socio economic landscape, do you agree with this disparity? Do you believe that those living in this American territory should be treated differently, even tough we are american citizens just like you are? What are you prepared to do?

    • Bob Rees

      I would say that you’re correct in your assertions that Trump does look at America with a materialistic view, however, It would be far more damaging to America, and our Christian and Judeo values to have Clinton as president. Can you imagine what will become of our once great country to have her and the democrats in charge. We’ve seen what happens when a communist and racist becomes the Commander-in-Chief. We have chaos. Clinton will continue to destroy our Judeo-Christian values with her selections to the Supreme Court, which will have an impact on America for decades. Christianity and Judaism as we know it will be ripped from our core. So, in ending I will be far more relieved with a Trump presidency than a Clinton administration.

  • mary ann stevens

    If the Catholic Church truly believes in Pro-Life then why do they not all come together for the only candidate who is 100% behind Pro-Life We pray the rosary for all of the babies who are slaughtered. Get out there and vote for Trump!!! God will work through him. Trump is our only choice.

    • Augusto50

      The beliefs of the Church cannot be tied to this kind of reasoning my friend. How do you know he will be consistent with his ideas, he flip flops in most of his postures. How do you know God will work through him? This is fundamentalism.

    • salesgirl

      He is not 100% pro life, he only looks that way compared with anti life Hillary. If he were 100% pro life he wouldn’t have said “contraceptives ought to be available without a prescription.”

      Pray for the sincere conversion of *both* our candidates. What better way to defeat Hillary than to have her turn into a Christian?

  • I Am Who I Am

    We Need The XIII Amendment back in action with xiv amendment What say you MR Trump.

  • Eilrahc

    Why has Obama’s closed records never been opened?. WAY BACK WHEN…..MANY people decided there was a question about Obama’s birth though research. Time blurs and hardens our vision and memory. What I remermber most about the issue is that the original birth cert. begins in the delivery room with pen and paper ……no type writters in the delivery room when he was born. Did we ever see the original hand written, delivery room birth cert.? Truth makes us strong…lies makes us weak. After last night’s debate it has been made more clear that many in society and certainly the media make more out of a innocent misstatement then they do out of trying to deliberately destroy the truth.

    • Augusto50

      Maybe is lying somewhere alongside Trump’s tax info…