The Hat

The Hat

“The hat is an external accessory that reveals to our senses a mysterious and hidden essence, symbolic of what exists in it.”

In different epochs, the hat became a symbol of the dignity of the one wearing it; today, it still survives as a reminder of an ancient vision of courtesy

While not a surprising sight, the hat certainly awakens the dormant attention of people in today’s standardized settings. Their gazes linger, even in passing, at the sight of a hat as they are forced to take a position. Even if just for a moment, different social conceptions erupt in their minds and Ideologies flare up. Quick as a flash — even if this interior movement takes place most often in silence — mentalities are shaken by the stimulus of that vision. Ideologies and social conceptions leap forward, not only toward a worldview, but even towards a political position. Is the hat on the right or on the left of the political spectrum?

We are talking about a man or woman wearing a hat in the busy streets of our megacities. The hat survives as a sign of social distinction. It offers a vision of ancient courtesy that revolved around human dignity. When it comes to wearing a hat, maybe I should not say man or woman, but rather gentleman and lady.

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Is it reasonable to think that the hat — even when one’s attention is not fixed on it — awakens so many movements in the soul? I invite the reader to do this test: Discreetly ask your friends and acquaintances about their impressions when they see someone wearing a hat, crossing Fifth Avenue or taking an evening stroll on Central Park. Listen to their opinions and discretely take notes. They will reveal that these considerations are not far from reality.

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The first objection against wearing a hat in this second decade of the twenty-first century is so commonplace that I even hesitate to fence against it. Crusade Magazine readers — already knowledgeable of our counter-revolutionary positions — would easily answer it. However, it is worthwhile to analyze where this trite argument comes from, as it is often worn as a mask to disguise an unavowed but fierce opposition.

In the beginning of mankind, the hat — so this objection goes — was worn to protect the head from the weather, but with progress that need has disappeared. In the city or countryside, modernity has found so much more effective ways to protect the upper body that the hat has lost its usefulness.

Therefore, to wear it today is a display of cultural backwardness or an attachment to an irrational fashion. This is the objection of the so-called practically-minded about the practical and functional use of the hat today.

These persons do not want to bear in mind that the head is the noblest part of the body. In it reside the faculties that lead to intellectual cognition, and therefore that most influence one’s spiritual formation. The Creator placed the head at the top of the body, whence throughout the ages it has communicated its dignity to the hat that protects it like a king transmits his dignity to his closest servants.

Different epochs and countries gave the hat shapes, sizes, colors and decorations indicative of the dignity of the one who wears it. Thus, the hat became a symbol. As it exists today, the hat is an impoverished symbol but a still worthy heir to its former glory. It is supported by many people of good taste who will not allow it to disappear. Yes, the hat is merely an external accessory. But, as Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira observed, it is an “external accessory that reveals to our senses, a mysterious hidden essence of a symbolic nature that exists in it.”

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How does searching for these symbols help a person? The most penetrating observers of Winston Churchill said that “he saw in things and situations, timeless symbols that embody eternal and brilliant principles.” The same principles that gave him strength in the tragic hours of the struggle against Hitlerism, keeping him in that struggle when his reward was only “blood, sweat and tears.”

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Just as a priest wears a biretta to express his mysterious power as mediator between God and men, so also a hat worn with dignity evokes gestures and attitudes that constitute a true social liturgy, necessary for human acts in a Christian society. In both the biretta and hat, a Catholic “should look beyond the mere practical aspects and look for something which people who worship mundane practicality will call ‘useless’ — he must look for the principles that give the meaning of life and prepare the soul for Heaven” (Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira).

Celebrating The Immaculate Conception

Celebrating The Immaculate Conception

“Our Lady was preserved from Original Sin from the very moment of her conception.”

Written by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira*

In 2014, the Church celebrated the 160th anniversary of the proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception which affirms that Mary was conceived without Original Sin.

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For centuries, the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady was defended by saints, theologians and laymen. However, it took centuries of theological debate to establish a consensus in the Church. Only in 1854, did Blessed Pope Pius IX, after consulting with the bishops of the whole world, proclaim this dogma in his Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, thus affirming as revealed truth that Our Lady was preserved from Original Sin from the very moment of her conception.

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Many defended this position because they felt that the glory of the Most Holy Trinity would be tarnished if the Mother of the Word Incarnate were not the most perfect of all creatures. It would also be against God’s wisdom and mercy if the Savior’s mother did not receive the highest transcendental gifts of nature and grace.

The Immaculate Conception and America

The Immaculate Conception is particularly significant for Americans.

Americans join with Catholics the world over in celebrating the feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8. They are filled with joy this year which marks the 160th anniversary of the proclamation.



However, this feast is especially dear to Americans because Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is the nation’s patroness. Even before the proclamation of the dogma, the American bishops collectively placed the nation under the protection of the Immaculate Conception at the first Council of Baltimore in 1846. The pope ratified this decision on February 7, 1847.

The special place of Our Lady under this invocation led Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington to ask the Holy See to grant a plenary indulgence for those who visit the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in the nation’s capital for the year ending on December 8, 2004.

Reconciling Christ’s Universal Redemption

Although the Immaculate Conception can be found in Revelation and is part of the Deposit of Faith, it is not expressed with all the clarity of other truths like the Resurrection of Our Lord.

The main objection to the dogma revolved around the fact that, according to the dogma of Christ’s universal redemption, all men were redeemed from Original Sin by the merits of Our Lord Jesus Christ. However, if Our Lady was conceived without Original Sin, it would seem that she could not be redeemed from it by the merits of Christ.

How can these two assertions be reconciled? How does one explain the truth of the whole matter?

As Pius IX explains in his Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, Mary Most Holy by the same merits of her Divine Son has been redeemed in a special, preventive manner, preserving her from Original Sin. As the Pope says, “the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God …. her soul, in the first instant of its creation and in the first instant of the soul’s infusion into the body, was, by a special grace and privilege of God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, her Son and the Redeemer of the human race, preserved free from all stain of original sin. And in this sense have the faithful ever solemnized and celebrated the Feast of the Conception.”

While this simple formulation resolved the problem, it took several centuries to uncover. This is not surprising since the solution of delicate theological problems often takes a long time to resolve. Thus, in 1854, the Pope used the authority given him by Our Lord Jesus Christ to safeguard and infallibly interpret Revelation and defined the dogma once and for all.

Popular Piety Affirmed Dogma

Already in the fifth century, Saint Augustine affirmed that “piety imposed the recognition of Mary as not having sin.”(1) Popular devotion took up this belief and the feast of the Immaculate Conception was already celebrated in the Oriental Catholic Church as early as the sixth century. Beginning in the eleventh century, theologians made detailed studies into the matter and verified the fact that popular devotion had grown. Popular enthusiasm for the feast increased so much that it was celebrated all over Europe in 1476.

Taking a Vow

In the sixteenth and especially the seventeenth century, the topic became such a burning issue that “in Spain it became impossible to sustain from the pulpit a contrary opinion [to the Immaculate Conception] since the people would react against such preachers with murmurs, clamor and even violence.”(2)

Beginning in 1617, the University of Granada in Spain began the custom of making a “votum sanguinis”, which was a vow to defend the Immaculate Conception even to the point of shedding blood in its defense. This practice soon spread to religious orders, universities, confraternities and other entities.

The heretical theologian Muratori contested the vow labeling it imprudent, “unenlightened” and even gravely irresponsible. He started a debate on the subject arguing that one cannot risk one’s life for a doctrine that has not yet been defined. This thesis was refuted by the great Catholic moralist Saint Alphonsus Liguori. He favored the vow for two reasons: a) there was a universal consensus among the faithful in respect to the subject; b) a universal celebration of the feast of the Immaculate Conception was already  established.(3)

In Defense of the Immaculate Conception

Great defenders and preachers of the privilege of the Immaculate Conception included: Saint Leonard, Saint Peter Canisius, Saint Robert Bellarmine and many others.

The desire to defend the Immaculate Conception was so great that some universities would refuse to admit any students who did not swear to defend this special privilege of the Virgin. Even civil authorities would demand such an oath as was the case of the congressmen who declared Venezuela’s independence. They swore to defend independence, the Catholic religion and the mystery of the Immaculate Conception.(4)

Was the Debate Justifiable?

Some modern Catholics who are not well informed or deformed by today’s religious relativism might object: Was not such an obstinate defense of this privilege of Our Lady exaggerated?
Such Catholics do not understand the profundity of the dogma and its implications. As Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira explained: “the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, considered in itself clashed with the essentially egalitarian spirit of the Revolution that since 1789 has despotically reigned in the West. To see a simple creature so elevated over others by an inestimable privilege conceded to her at the first moment of her existence, cannot help but pain the children of the Revolution that proclaim absolute equality among men as the principle of all order, justice and good.”(5)

This is one more reason why the Church celebrates this marvelous privilege of the Subscription8.1Immaculate Conception on December 8. This justification of the privilege was so well expressed by the French orator Bossuet who said the Immaculate Conception represented “flesh without fragility, senses without rebellion, life without stain and death without suffering.”(6)

The feast of the Immaculate Conception is an excellent opportunity to ask her special intercession for our country. May she protect us against the evils of abortion, same-sex unions, and so much promiscuity that is destroying the family. May she protect our brave troops that are selflessly shedding their blood in Iraq, Afghanistan and so many other places. Let us pray for all families struggling to be faithful to the Church and to raise their children in the love and reverent fear of God.
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Footnotes

1. André Damino, Na escola de Maria, Ed. Paulinas, 1962, p. 39. [back] 2. “A cura di Stefano de Fiores e Salvatore Meo, Tratado De Natura et Gratia,” Nuovo Dizionario de Teologia, 42, PL 44, 267, Ed. Paolinas, 1986, Milan, p. 614. [back] 3. Ibid, p. 614. [back] 4. Caracciolo Parra-Perez, Historia de la Primera República de Venezuela, Biblioteca de la Academia Nacional de la Historia, Caracas, 1959, II Vol. [back] 5. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, “Primeiro marco do ressurgimento contra-revolucionário,” Catolicismo, February 1958. [back] 6. André Damino, op. cit., p. 36. [back]

The Mysteries of the Food You Eat

pretzel

“you’ve probably noticed that there’s something deeply wrong with the way much of our food is produced and processed”

If you’re an amateur cook like me, or just enjoy wholesome food, you’ve probably noticed that there’s something deeply wrong with the way much of our food is produced and processed.

In today’s mass consumer market, it’s easy to feel like a number when you ask simple questions about your food. The fact is that basic information such as where a product comes from, how it is made, and where the raw materials were sourced are mysteries not just to the consumer, but even to the general managers of many retail stores or restaurants.

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Why is this happening?

One factor is a growing abyss between producer and customer resulting from a frenetic drive to maximize profits. Another factor is a lack of moral responsibility. In today’s global market, mass standardized products are rarely suited to one’s individuality and the consumer is being increasingly forced to accept fewer options although packaging may be varied. And it’s no different in the food industry.

In his just released book, Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society, author John Horvat explains that this frenetic drive is the result of an increasing desire in society to throw off all restraint, and to gratify disordered passions. He calls this phenomenon frenetic intemperance and demonstrates the myriad ways this vice affects society and throws our economy out of balance. And, although this approach to business can build huge fortunes it also has the capacity to bulldoze values and people which stand in its path.

I recently felt this frenetic bulldozing drive to maximize profits on my own skin.

While it may not be surprising to know that a SUBWAY sandwich could contain a combination of meats from several different countries, all sorts of chemicals,1 and that those “fresh” meats have been sitting in storage for many weeks,2 it should be surprising that high-end restaurant franchises are also progressively becoming outlets where it’s impossible to get answers about their food.

I experienced this with a colleague at a recent visit to The Cheese Cake Factory.

After having a $22 farmed-fish dish, I was curious about how and where their cheese cakes were made. As a well-dressed man walked by I asked him, “Do you work here?” “Yes,” was the answer. He was actually the general manager. I then asked him whether his cheese cakes were baked in a bain-marie (water bath).

“No,” he replied, “our cheese cakes are made in a factory, either in South Carolina or California and are shipped frozen.

“I understand sir,” I answered, “but a bain-marie is actually a water bath which makes what’s baked have a creamier texture.”

“No, they’re baked in an oven,” he said.

“Of course they are,” I rejoined. “A bain-marie alone cannot bake a cake, but if you use a bain-marie while baking the cheese cake, its texture becomes creamier.”

“Ah OK, I didn’t know,” was his reply. “I’m not sure but I don’t think so.”

Just fifty years ago, this would have been an unlikely exchange with the general manager of any restaurant. Worse yet, I had this same conversation with a different manager five minutes later. And, although he had heard of a bain-marie, he did not know the method employed to make his cheese cakes.

Upon arriving home, I was determined to get an answer to my question. But, nowhere could I find anything on The Cheese Cake Factory’s web site about how their cheese cakes are made.

What I did find, however, was even more surprising: They claim to make their menu items fresh from scratch daily – the opposite from what the general manager claimed.

The website reads: “We prepare our menu items from scratch daily at our restaurants using high quality, fresh ingredients.” And cheese cake is the signature item on the menu – of course.

So I decided to write a letter explaining my experience and asking for answers. But, not before running into another road block.

Before allowing anyone to leave a simple comment The Cheese Cake Factory requires all customers to submit:

1.Full name
2. Complete residential address
3. E-mail address
4. Phone number
5. Date of visit
6. Time of visit
7. Location visited

It’s now been weeks and I’ve heard nothing in response.*

This experience was my eureka moment confirming just one of Mr. Horvat’s theses in his groundbreaking work Return to Order.

In a real consumer-driven market, the consumers’ needs are of primary concern. On the contrary, in a market possessed by frenetic intemperance the drive to maximize profits issues forth a feverish war to expand production and profits, thereby making mass standardization a necessity. If the customer wants to know something beyond the producer’s standardized straitjacket formulae, he may find himself bulldozed under.

* Below is my letter to The Cheese Cake Factory:
Dear Sir/Maam:

I asked both your managers (Arlington, Va.) whether you bake your cheese cakes in a bain-marie (water bath). Neither knew how to answer this elementary question, the general manager not even knowing what a bain-marie was (forcing me to ask the question three times).

They strongly believed the cheese cakes were not made with a bain-marie, but what they did know is that they are made in a factory off site in another state altogether. I found nothing on your web site about how the cakes are baked but I did find this:

“We prepare our menu items from scratch daily at our restaurants using high quality, fresh ingredients.” Perhaps a little disingenuous?

This contradiction is a profound expression of the growing separation of the producer from the consumer; nay, the growing separation of the producer from even the producer. Your managers didn’t even know what process was used to bake your banner product: cheese cake.

The rule of money over the rule of honor? I’m quite sure I know the answer to what your managers didn’t know. I just don’t know why you would say “your menu items are prepared from scratch daily” when it’s not true.

The floor is yours…

1 http://www.subway.com/Nutrition/Files/usProdIngredients.pdf

2 (Thailand, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Germany, Holland, Denmark or the UK) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/7386214/Fast-food-chicken-arrives-frozen-on-the-slow-boat.html

Praise for Return to Order — David S. Miller

Praise for Return to Order — David S. Miller“I am so impressed at how deeply Return to Order plumbs the American soul, and with 36 years of experience in the financial industry, I do appreciate how much our collective journey as a nation interfaces with our economic cycles. Horvat’s fabulous analysis of our present crisis can and should be a most important instrument in reshaping the educational foundations of our youth, preparing them for leadership in the foremost country of the Western Hemisphere.”

—  David S. Miller
Senior Vice President, Operations Manager, US Bank

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Praise for Return to Order — David S. Miller

praise_david_miller“I am so impressed at how deeply Return to Order plumbs the American soul, and with 36 years of experience in the financial industry, I do appreciate how much our collective journey as a nation interfaces with our economic cycles. Horvat’s fabulous analysis of our present crisis can and should be a most important instrument in reshaping the educational foundations of our youth, preparing them for leadership in the foremost country of the Western Hemisphere.”

—  David S. Miller
Senior Vice President, Operations Manager, US Bank

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Praise for Return to Order — Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D.

Patrick-Fagan-CreditReturn to Order is a clear, engaging read that, by delineating some fundamentals of the natural order, will empower you to spot many of today’s disorders—even some you may have unconsciously bought into. Such was my experience… I was enlightened…. We are moving forward in time to a society more like times long past. Just as the sexual revolution gradually is making clearer the truth and wisdom of the Church on matters socio-sexual so too the greed and envy revolution of the marketplace will drive mankind back to the truth and wisdom of the Church on the political economy. The needs of the global village economy (freedom, flexibility within a just order) provide many opportunities for resurrecting many good norms of order that flourished in the Middle Ages. It is an intriguing prospect. The book is interesting, clear and enlightening.”

—  Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow and Director, Marriage & Religion Research Institute

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Praise for Return to Order — Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon USA (Ret.)

Lt_Gen_Benjamin_R_Mixon_as_USAPACCOM_CO copy“This is a timely and important book as our nation faces one of the most critical challenges in its history. Overcoming the economic disaster America is facing cannot be solved simply through economic policy. Americans and their leaders must put in place policy that will restore values, work ethics, and, as the author points out so well, honor. As a career military officer, honor was the most important attribute to me and my fellow soldiers. Restoring honor to our economic landscape will put the nation on the path to recovery.”

—  Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon USA (Ret.)
Former Commanding General, United States Army Pacific

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Praise for Return to Order – Rev. Dr. John Trigilio, Jr.

Fr. Trigilio“John Horvat succinctly describes the condition, history, diagnosis and prognosis of our current economic crisis. The economic chaos or peril is only symptomatic of the bigger and more crucial issue of a CULTURAL CRISIS. His terminology of FRENETIC INTEMPERANCE is brilliant. This is not an apologia to retreat from the world nor is it an attempt to turn back the clock, so to speak. It is a coherent explanation of the sitz-im-leben we find ourselves. Only an ORGANIC CHRISTIAN SOCIETY can save Europe and America from the same oblivion that doomed the Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilizations. Western Civilization is rooted in the JUDAEO-CHRISTIAN ethos. No philosophical or economic theory can provide what an organic Christian society alone creates and supports. Not Socialism, not Communism, not Fascism and not unbridled, unrestricted and unlimited Consumeristic Capitalism. Horvat, like Fr. Sirico, shows that a Free Market makes sense and conforms to the Natural Moral Law but must also be constrained and governed by it as well. I highly recommend this book.”

Rev. Dr. John Trigilio, Jr.
Author and President, Confraternity of Catholic Clergy
EWTN Host

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Praise for Return to Order – Joseph Scheidler

Joseph M. Scheidler“The depth of knowledge and originality of Horvat’s analysis, plus the scope and inspiration of his vision for a true solution to our current economic crisis, make Return to Order worthy of becoming the bedside book for those who believe America is worth fighting for.”

Joseph M. Scheidler
National Director, Pro-Life Action League