Carlos Caso-Rosendi

A key to follow this long post: The two avarices, one seeking power over people and the other over things, is a distinction that Aristotle made. I was not smart enough to observe that on my own. My observation is that those two forces oppose Logos and Sophia. The first is the creative-sustaining power of God, and  the second is His wisdom made manifestly distinct from Divine Power at the beginning of creation. Their evil opposites have a common origin in envy, the original sin. Envy is the mother of avarice in general. As God split — for reasons He knows — power and wisdom, so did the devil split lust into the forces behind Moloch and Mammon to conquer Man and his home, Earth.  The economic history part in this post is needed to see the path from the original temptation in Eden all the way to the economic and financial control of the planet by Mammon. First, man is conquered through lust, and then man is deprived of his home (Earth and all it contains). The final unspoken conclusion is: God gives man a home and a companion. The devil deprives man of a home and of all company. God sets up a system that is going to produce life through love, the devil sets up a system that is going to produce death through envy and strife.  All our troubles and frustrations have their origin in the errors of our original parents, Adam and Eve.

The beginnings of the greatest war ever

One of the distinctive attributes of the devil is his total lack of originality. It is true that being absolutely original is something quite difficult. It is also true that every time someone exclaims: “I will be the king!” — at this point in history — it can only make us yawn and say “Another one is going to bite the dust.” The same is valid for other expressions like “I will be the supreme conductor, the boss, the emperor, president, führer, or top banana.” It is quite boring to hear all that self glorification, that same old story about being born to lead the masses. The devil was the first of that ilk.[1] He continues to encourage all those copycats that still appear in the world scene from time to time.

Jesus of Nazareth is the most original man for all eternity. He was born a king, he had all the right credentials; he could do things impossible for any other human being; people wanted to make him king… but he chose to suffer an agonizing death nailed to a Roman cross. Will someone tell me that Jesus was not utterly original? When we feel in our heart “the call to leadership” we should remember that, before being exalted to the highest throne in the universe, even the Son of God had to go through the Cross. That is the way the cosmos is set up. No pain no gain. There is no Glory Sunday without Good Friday.

The originality of Christ is perfectly explained in the first verses of the Gospel according to Saint John. There Jesus is identified as Logos, the creator of everything that exists, the will impulsing the whole universe with his awesome power! Condensing in one paragraph all Sacred Tradition and Holy Scripture, we can say that God made the universe subject to Logos who is followed very closely by Sophia, the Divine Wisdom.[2] One could write countless volumes about them. Here we will state only that Jesus is the perfect human representation of Logos, and Mary of Nazareth is the perfect representation of Sophia. Both truly personify the wisdom, generosity and benevolence of the Almighty. To avoid erroneous interpretations of this parallelism between Mary and Sophia, keep in mind that our analogy is merely conceptual because Mary is not a divine person, she is not co-eternal with God, and she did not exist before her Immaculate Conception. It is important to keep that in mind.

Two entities opposed to Logos and Sophia appeared in the world when the devil, in his envy, decided to subjugate mankind to his own evil will. Those entities have taken many shapes and names through history. For the purposes of our conversation, we will call them Moloch and Mammon. They personify two specific kinds of avarice. One is the inordinate desire to possess persons (Moloch) mainly for — but not limited to — sexual use. The other is the equally inordinate desire to possess things (Mammon) such as money, or any other thing that can be used to attract the admiration of others, or some other false form of honor.

Logos and Sophia lead us to the eternal enjoyment of divine generosity. Moloch and Mammon are the opposite: they lead the souls they can capture to the eternal dark misery where the devil and his followers dwell.

If we follow Christ and submit ourselves to his divine will, we must avoid coveting leadership or glory; we must not desire to wear a crown. Christ himself told us that he who wants to be the greatest must be the servant ministering to all. That is what Christ did when he walked among us.[3]

From this simple principle we deduce a few things. The wise imitation of Christ is not to imitate his glory, but rather to imitate his life filled with examples of modesty, humility, service, generosity, embracing pain and sacrifice. We humans do not like pain. However, the principle is clear: the only way to reign with Christ one day, is to live and die as he lived and died. Per crucem ad lucem.

And so human history continues adding battles, coups d’etat, kingdoms that rise and fall, great men who climb to power in their youth only to be devoured by the misfortunes of politics, or erased from the map by old age and death. Opposed to them, the great saints, some of them powerful intellects, have served humanity in the most diverse ways, some in total anonymity, spending their vital energies on a generous service to others. There was  a man back in my day, a great leader in a certain country who advised his people, at the end of his speeches: “Think about [serving your] neighbors,” “pensad en los otros.” True saints have that kind of dedication. They think of others as objects of their generosity, while those who serve the devil think of others as objects of their rapacity and jealousy.

When our first parents sinned, they lost the garden God had so generously planted for them. The devil first tempted the woman with some lies cunningly disguised as questions. Until then, our mother Eve had learned everything she knew from her husband’s lips. The first human couple was designed to reflect the qualities and divine mission of Logos and Sophia. The man preceded the woman and ordered part of the world using the word (logos), giving names to things and animals. Within him there was a half (a side, or rib)  that was used by God to create Eve, his partner. Just as Wisdom is from eternity within the Logos, Eve was figuratively, potentially within Adam and was part of him until God made her a person distinct and separate from Adam and yet eternally united to him, her origin.

At the last hour of Christ in this world, when he generously gave his life on the cross for the benefit of all his friends [4] there was his mother, Mary of Nazareth. Upon her rested the enormous responsibility of undoing Eve’s error, just as Christ had sacrificed himself to undo Adam’s error. In the mysterious economy of salvation, everything must return to the place where God originally placed it. While Christ agonized on the cross of Calvary, Mary’s maternal heart silently collaborated in the redemptive work of her Son.

When Eve was tempted in Eden, she was in the process of being prepared by her husband to fulfill her mission as mother, teacher, and queen of  future humanity. From Adam, Eve received  the commandments of God regarding the fruit of the tree of good and evil. From him, Eve also learned the names of all things, and the history of creation prior to her birth. Thus Eve was like a sacred vessel, prepared for a special mission: to teach all her children what Adam in turn had received from God. In her simplicity, Eve perhaps wondered if she was ever going to learn something by herself. The lying devil suggested to Eve that God selfishly reserved certain knowledge that she could obtain by eating the fruit of  the tree of good and evil. [5] With that trick, the demon planted his own envy  –like the venom of a serpent– in the innocent heart of the woman. He made her covet the forbidden fruit as the source of the special wisdom that she longed to possess. Perhaps Eve dreamed of teaching something to Adam, surprising him with her newly acquired knowledge.

We all know how that story ended. Adam was carried away by Eve’s mistake and disobeyed the divine commandment. He had waited so long for a companion. He loved her and loved all her feminine charms. He loved showing her the garden, the animals that lived on land and water. He loved to tell her about that beautiful world that God had made for them and their offspring. But now Eve had eaten from the forbidden tree. Adam didn’t know how fix the problem. Fearing he was going to lose his beautiful partner, he joined the rebellion. In that act of the first man, we can recognize the seed of something that has affected all men to a greater or lesser extent. Our ancestor in the flesh, loved more the charms and the delicious company of his wife than the right obedience due to his Creator.

Implicit in Adam’s disobedience there was a distrust of God’s love and power. Could God  somehow solve Eve’s error if Adam would have remained faithful and obedient? Adam decided to follow Eve and the consequences were immediately evident. Over time, they gave birth to a mortal race in a land cursed by disobedience. The first troubles of the first humans foreshadowed the enormous catastrophe of ages to come. The two kinds of avarice derived from the devil’s rebellion broke into the world dragging humanity on to sin and death. Adam and Eve no longer represented Logos and Sophia, but their opponents, and those opponents –the two avarices opposed to the two original kinds of divine generosity– would plague humanity for a long time.

But divine love was already preparing the redemption of man. To the world of Adam, God sent Mary to be the perfect conduit of the life of his Son. The holy heart of Mary suffered decades of anticipated pain, because she knew that her little one, was destined “for the fall” [6] and so, as the years passed, the sword of anticipated pain pierced his heart in the bitter expectation of that fateful outcome.

The destiny of humanity had been shipwrecked by our original mother and now this new Eve, full of innocence in the grace of God, had a great responsibility on her shoulders. She could not fail. She had to be God’s instrument of redemption. The world was going to be redeemed by that God-Child entrusted to a mere little girl from Nazareth. The whole universe weighed on Mary’s heart until the day they took her Son to Calvary. There, in front of the “vile machine”, the tree (ξύλον, xylon) where Jesus died, Mary contemplated the fruit of the cross: the redeeming sufferings of Christ. There, she wished for herself all that pain. In her motherly heart, nothing could diminish the love she felt for her Son, not even the fear of death and the atrocious pain of torture. That holy desire reversed the illicit desire of Eve before the tree (ξύλον, xylon) of the knowledge of good and evil. The circle of redemption that had begun with the fiat –Mary’s assent to her destiny as the mother of the Messiah– was now closed with the desire of her heart to “know” the cross, to acquire by experience “the science of the cross.” At that moment, inside the heart of Mary, God began to recompose the universe violated by the devil’s envy.

The comparison that concerns us here is a simple typological equivalence. The generosity of Logos and Sophia — reflected in the persons of Christ and Mary — has its diabolic counterpart in human concupiscence and greed. The history of man turned out to be a long series of painful conflicts. God prophesied to our first mother after the fall: “with labor pains you shall give birth”.  The struggle between Logos and anti-Logos, between Sophia and anti-Sophia extends throughout all human history and continues to this day. What we will analyze next is the importance of these two avarices in the diabolical plan of conquest, subjection and destruction of humanity.


Salve lucrum. Money’s long road to power

Let’s start with the first part of the temptation, the avarice for the power one can obtain through knowledge. In our time we associate avarice with the greedy desire for riches. Aristotle considered money a “collective fiction” which is usually translated as “convention” or “general agreement”. In his Ethics, he states:

“… but money has been converted by convention [collective fiction] into a kind of representation of demand, and that is why it has the name of ‘money’ (νόμισμα, nomisma) , since it does not exist by nature but by law (νόμος, nomos) and is in our power to exchange it and spend it. “[7]

From the beginning, the value of money was a necessary abstraction, imagined by man to expedite the exchange of dissimilar things that can’t be  easily traded by barter. The capital that was once a mere accumulation of things,  gradually began to be expressed in drachmas, denarii, etc. Today we live in a world dominated by capital. In those countries in which liberal capitalism reigns, wealth belongs to private citizens or corporations created by individuals according to a common legal system. In countries where communism reigns — in any of its many forms — capital still exists but only the State has the right to own and distribute it. Regardless of who holds it, capital is the measure of the material  failure or success of human societies.

But capital is a recent concept in human history. Until relatively recently, military, political, and economic power were the most important goals for ambitious men. The kings were considered the “real” owners of their entire kingdom, and the land was divided into manors or fiefs in which the commoners had to work. The lord of the fief allowed the peasants to work the land — conquered militarily by him or by some ancestor — in exchange for a portion of the product, which was requisitioned at the end of each harvest. The feudal lord consumed a part of it and sold the surplus in the local market. The profits thus obtained were lent to others at interest for various purposes: construction, war, salaries of royal officials, soldiers, etc.

We will focus on the fact that financing was the last consequence of the work of the land. Military power allowed the political government to keep or extend some territory that was parceled and then rented. Then the tenants worked to produce an income for the nobles and the royal house. Military control was followed by political and social power, land exploitation and labor, the procurement of profits and finally financing. That was clearly located at the end of the process. Military force, politics and economics were inseparable. The strong were rich, the weak were poor. This is almost a gross simplification, but what matters to us here is understanding the general process. This is not meant to be a lesson in economics.

With the advent of the Modern Age several changes occurred that eventually unbalanced the feudal system, decoupling the worker from the land. Almost at the same time, a profitable early international trade appeared. Machinery was applied to the production of various goods allowing the introduction of products of mass consumption (i.e, tea, coffee, fabrics produced in textile factories, etc.). In country after country, the use of land changed. Flocks of sheep, destined to produce wool for the textile factories, displaced the peasants who gradually moved to the cities seeking to become salaried factory workers. Observe that this resulted in the commodification of human labor. The worker was no longer in a political-social-economic relationship with a feudal lord, but was selling his productive time in exchange for money. Human labor-time then became a cost, such as the cost of a skein of wool, a bushel of wheat, or a cartload of coal.

At that point a certain inversion of the economic process occurred. In the feudal economy, financing occupied the last place in the productive cycle. When large commercial enterprises needed to invest enormous sums of money to build factories, shipyards, buildings, etc. a further level of abstraction was added. As a result, the money (capital) needed by merchants to launch a common enterprise became a product, just as wool, flour, bricks, etc. Merchants allied to form incipient corporations. Their investors bought abstract pieces of those corporate entities. Those pieces were called “financial shares” that could be exchanged like money. The excess of wealth produced by the nascent manufacturing industry ended up creating the business of finance. Now financing was ahead of the process, one needed money to set up a large productive enterprise. Some of those enterprises grew to be more powerful than the countries they inhabited. The despised merchants, who held no titles of nobility, had managed to displace the feudal lords in social importance, power, and prestige.

Military and political power were gradually subordinated to economic capacity and for the first time in history, even the value of the land had to be expressed in terms of money. Man now had to trade his life, his time on earth, for a sum of money. And the earth, the home of man, came to be measured and valued in the same way. The woman’s coveting of the forbidden fruit — the first conquest of the devil — ended up putting a price tag on the life of her offspring and on their own land. Money, that fiction of Aristotle, had bought reality. As time went by, humanity gradually submitted to a civilization of usury under the control of a worldwide commercial system with bloodstained hands.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church includes the usurious practices among the indirect causes of homicide:

“The fifth commandment forbids doing anything with the intention of indirectly bringing about a person’s death. The moral law prohibits exposing someone to mortal danger without grave reason, as well as refusing assistance to a person in danger. The acceptance by human society of murderous famines, without efforts to remedy them, is a scandalous injustice and a grave offense. Those whose usurious and avaricious dealings lead to the hunger and death of their brethren in the human family indirectly commit homicide, which is imputable to them. Unintentional killing is not morally imputable. But one is not exonerated from grave offense if, without proportionate reasons, he has acted in a way that brings about someone’s death, even without the intention to do so.”[8]

This sentence of the Catechism is consistent with the divine condemnation of the unscrupulous merchants:

Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land, saying, ‘When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain; and the sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale? We will make the ephah small and the shekel great, and practice deceit with false scales, buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat.’ [9]

Already in 1745 Pope Benedict XIV had noted with alarm the scandalous spread of usury that was ravaging several cities in Italy. This situation prompted the Pontiff to issue the encyclical Vix Pervenit, on usury and dishonest profit. The doctrine was not new. Usury had already been condemned by several popes, by three ecumenical councils from Nicaea onward, and proclaimed and taught by bishops and theologians at different times. [10]

What the Church condemned was the wicked application of compound interest to contracts with people who were unaware of the harmful consequences that such application implied. The rebellion of the Protestants against Rome introduced a new participant: the so-called “state churches” that quickly lost the lands they had usurped from the Catholic Church, to the rapacity of the local nobility. Those lands soon became the property of princes who had been coveting them for centuries. With such changes — and I apologize for developing this topic so rapidly — there was a renaissance of usury in Europe. It is at that time that Calvin approves the collection of interest saying:

“Who asks a loan of me does not intend to keep what he receives idle by him. Therefore the profit does not arise from the money, but from the product that results from its use or employment. I therefore conclude that usury must be judged, not by a particular passage of Scripture, but simply by the rules of equity. This will be made clearer by an example. Let us imagine a rich man with large possessions in farms and rents, but with little money. Another man not so rich, nor with such large possessions as the first, but has more ready money. The latter being about to buy a farm with his own money, is asked by the wealthier for a loan. He who makes the loan may stipulate for a rent or interest for his money and further that the farm may be mortgaged to him until the principal is paid, but until it is paid, he will be content with the interest or usury on the loan. Why then shall this contract with a mortgage, but only for the profit of the money, be condemned, when a much harsher, it may be, of leasing or renting a farm at large annual rent, is approved?”[11]

With this Calvin justifies the creation of money (interest or usury) for the sake of money itself. Shortly after, free from the magisterial ties of the Church of Rome, usury became the preferred form of financing for Protestant states. That is the beginning of what we now know as Liberal Capitalism.

A crass and ruthless kind of commercialism had arrived. A force capable of creating wealth within a moral and ethical framework, but incapable of respecting any moral limits in its incessant search for new markets and profits. That kind of capitalism, allied with the new products of human ingenuity — the mills and the steam engines first, then the internal combustion engine, electricity, etc. — managed to lift millions out of abject poverty and servitude, creating the middle classes in developed countries, but generating massive migrations of workers and refugees, wars for the control of commodities, and the installation of oppressive and unjust dictatorships and regimes in those parts of the non-industrialized world where only commodities could be produced. But those were not the ugliest consequences.

In medieval times, financing was the final stage in the process of production and distribution of goods, but with modernity, finance took on a much greater importance and became the first step in all productive operations. This is where Aristotle’s idea of money as fiction reappears. Money, since ancient times, was always associated with the value of some precious or useful metal. But, the problem that the huge new companies faced, was actually quite simple: it was very difficult to raise enough cash to build a railroad crossing a continent, or to establish a company to provide electricity to a whole region. Even selling shares, the capital needed for companies of such a size simply did not exist. But that was not an obstacle to the ingenuity of the financiers.

Over time, the state banks of the world began to create money as if by magic. The needs of economic development were financed (even to this date) by estimating future profits and incorporating them into the present capital needs. As if the banker had a hand that could reach tomorrow and fetch profits from the future. An extraordinary trick of optimism, confidence and Aristotelian imagination that bankers –not surprisingly– eventually abused. The result of those abuses in the generation of currency brought inflation, currency runs, and gigantic bankruptcies; besides generating a lot of corruption at all levels.

The consequences at the beginning of the 21st century are obvious: countries, institutions and companies owe enormous amounts of money in interest to the world’s banks. That general debt acts as a vacuum that sucks money from capital markets so that states can serve the interest they owe. That, in turn, makes money scarce to finance new companies that generate employment. Unemployment and inflation are always around the corner. The magic trick no longer yields the fat profits of yesteryear. The whole world is indebted to a point where it will take countless generations to cancel the loans. Mammon has bought the planet. Now we are all born, live and die with a heavy proportional burden of the national debt. That is the result of Eve’s greed. Now let’s see the result of Adam’s greed.

the-ascent-of-the two-avarices-3

Salve libido. The global return of Moloch

Many have asked themselves: Why did Adam accept to eat the forbidden fruit, knowing full well that this would result in his own death? We can enter into the most extravagant speculations, given the scant information we possess. There is someone who even imagined that the serpent actually appeared as Leviathan. Poor Adam ate the forbidden fruit out of pure fright when he saw the enormous sea monster curled up the branches of the forbidden tree. It occurs to me that was not the case. Let’s use Occam’s razor and see what is the simplest explanation: Adam loved Eve more than he loved God. The poor man had spent who knows how much time without a companion, seeing how the little animals of Eden were cuddling and reproducing each spring while he named them, enjoyed the scenery and had long conversations with the Divinity who visited him every evening but… Adam was alone and that was not good. [12]

Interestingly, in the book of Genesis we read that God contemplated Creation and saw that it was good. It is true that everything was good, but then God himself states that “it is not good for man to be alone.” [13] Everything was good except Adam’s solitude. The creation of Eve not only completed the life of Adam, but, coming from the very flesh and bone of man, she was part of him. Eve attracted Adam with a strength that he had not known until then. [14] In the original Hebrew the verses of Genesis shed light on a very profound meaning. The Hebrew word for “rib” is tsela. That word is used in many other places in the Bible. It has other meanings and one of them is “half” or “side.” Bearing this in mind, the phrase in Genesis 2:22 could be translated as follows: “From the ‘half or side’ that he had taken from man, God the Lord made the woman … ”

There are many theological implications here that I am not qualified to elaborate, but we can imagine the tension that would exist between the halves of that original creature that was Adam. The halves would always want to rejoin, merge into one, and in doing so, life would be generated. If we return for a moment to the experience of Mary on Calvary, we can deduce that, as a necessary condition for our redemption –so that we may have eternal life– [15] Mary wished to merge into a single being with her beloved Son. She wanted to share the pains of the Cross in a magnificent act of consolation that only a perfect mother could think of. Only that motherly desire is pure in its generosity, because it does not seek — as in the case of Adam and Eve — the natural pleasant benefit implied in the marital union. Instead, it seeks to share the extreme pains of the Cross. We could deduce that Sophia, the divine wisdom, comes from the Logos and always tends to return to the Logos even in those extreme circumstances. Remember that Jesus and Mary “were one” from the moment of the miraculous virginal conception to the moment when Jesus was born. Any human mother knows what that is.

This brings us to the “first of the signs” of the Messiah in the Gospel of John. [16] There, Mary shares the table with Jesus at a wedding feast. The host runs out wine. As a good Jewish mother, Mary runs to her son and makes him aware of the situation. And as a good Jewish son, Jesus responds with a question: “Lady, what do I have to do with you? My hour has not come.” But Mary’s suggestion is not ignored and soon six jars, filled with plain water — not meant for drinking, but for ablutions — are transformed by the Logos into exquisite wine, served “at the end” of the feast. That is a prophetic model of a future sign that will be revealed when Jesus completes the rescue of humanity; a “sign” so exquisite that will transform all of us.

The stage is a wedding, like the marriage of Adam and Eve, and the hour is early –“the hour has not arrived” — that is, it is not yet the moment of Calvary, when Mary and Jesus will do their part to generate the life of the Church; life emerging  from the Savior’s pierced side (tsela). The elements are repeated there: the deep sleep of death, the open side of man, the blood, the water, giving witness to the divine intervention. The brief dialogue between Mary and Jesus at the wedding at Cana contains such a profound meaning that we can only contemplate it without fully comprehending it. Mary and Jesus are speaking as Mother and Son, who understand each other without saying much. Sophia knows about the Logos because once they were united, Wisdom was created to complement the Logos in his future work of salvation even before the world was. In this New Creation, Mary becomes Sophia.

To complete our analysis we must ask: what kind of perversion did the devil imagine to imitate and distort (with his characteristic filthy cunning) this relationship that is as lofty as it is pure? The answer appears constantly in the history of fallen man and his struggle with lust. At this point we must summarize: the relationship between Logos and Sophia is very profound, impossible to understand in its totality, but Jesus and Mary “explain” it with their own lives. They form a pure union of wills between two hearts that have a common mission:  to invite humanity to a perfect life in God. In this process two divine qualities are manifested: charity [17] and truth. Both result in life and wisdom –diametrically opposed to the envy and lies of the devil, resulting in death and darkness.

By means of lies and perverse machinations, the devil tempts men in the same way he tempted Eve. That is one of his two weapons, the other is lust: desiring the sensual satisfaction of our fallen body while rejecting the love of God and his charitable hand that wants to lift us towards him. Those two demonic options, greed and concupiscence, become visible in human history as usury and lust. Today we can say that our world is completely devoted to those two deadly forces. What St. John Paul II called “the civilization of death” is mostly the result of those diabolical forces.

We know that Jesus Christ, the Logos, the Word identified in John 1: 1 is “way, truth, and life.” [18] Its opposite is “perdition, lies, and death.” Jesus himself spoke to those who wished to separate the people from his teachings:

“You are of your father the devil, whose wishes you want to fulfill. From the beginning he has been a murderer, and he did not hold on to the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he expresses his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies.”[19]

It is not surprising that the enemies of Jesus wanted to control and separate the people from the Messiah of God. Those are the same ones who plotted the death of the Savior and explicitly separated themselves from Christ by saying: “We have no king but Caesar.” [20] Their main objective was to retain the religious-political control of the Jewish nation. In short, they wanted to set themselves up as a kind of false messiah to handle everything at will. [21] That yearning for control eventually led the leaders of humanity to sharpen the same two tools the devil has been using from the beginning: greed and lust.

Recall the case of the two main temptations that the Israelites experienced when entering the Promised Land: greed, represented by Achan who confessed before Joshua:

“For I saw among the spoils a very good Babylonian robe, and two hundred shekels of silver , and a gold ingot weighing fifty shekels, which I coveted and took; and behold, they are hidden under the earth in the midst of my tent, with the money underneath.”[22]

The other temptation that stands out is — as the reader surely guessed — concupiscence. When the men of Israel approached the pagan Moabites, One Israelite dared to introduce one of those women into the holy camp:

Just then one of the Israelites came and brought a Midianite woman into his family, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of the whole congregation of the Israelites, while they were weeping at the entrance of the tent of meeting.  When Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he got up and left the congregation. Taking a spear in his hand, he went after the Israelite man into the tent, and pierced the two of them, the Israelite and the woman, through the belly. So the plague was stopped among the people of Israel.[23]

As you can see, the devil’s temptation tactics have not changed much throughout history. The imprint left on us by our first parents in Eden, survives in these two weaknesses. The tempter knows how to use them to his advantage. His purpose has not changed either. He continues in his quest  to dominate the people of God; trying to separate them from the Creator through sin. He is seeking to control them, just as he did at the beginning of human history. Today, the temptation of lust is conspicuously present in our global society and is known as “sexual liberation” which — as the reader can already imagine — is no “liberation” at all.

Please, read carefully these reflections of St. Augustine. [24]

“As, therefore, in the case of these two men, so in two families, in two nations, in two kingdoms, this test of tranquility holds good; and if we apply it vigilantly and without prejudice, we shall quite easily see where the mere appearance of happiness dwells, and where real happiness. Wherefore if the true God is worshiped, and if He is served with genuine rites and true virtue, it is advantageous that good men should long reign both far and wide. Nor is this advantageous so much to themselves, as to those over whom they reign. For, so far as concerns themselves, their piety and probity, which are great gifts of God, suffice to give them true happiness, enabling them to live well the life that now is, and afterwards to receive that which is eternal. In this world, therefore, the dominion of good men is profitable, not so much for themselves as for human affairs. But the dominion of bad men is hurtful chiefly to themselves who rule, for they destroy their own souls by greater licence in wickedness; while those who are put under them in service are not hurt except by their own iniquity. For to the just all the evils imposed on them by unjust rulers are not the punishment of crime, but the test of virtue. Therefore the good man, although he is a slave, is free. But the bad man, even if he reigns, is a slave, and that not of one man, but, what is far more grievous, of as many masters as he has vices; of which vices when the divine Scripture treats, it says, “For of whom any man is overcome, to the same he is also the bond-slave.” [25]

Now let’s apply the principle so succinctly expressed by St. Peter and so brilliantly expounded by St. Augustine: The vices of character enslave man and that is why, when evil wishes to subjugate a people — as the Amorites and Moabites wanted to control and defeat Israel — it attacks the virtues of the individual, because men subjugated by vice, are easily controlled by their enemies. Today the objective is all of mankind, and the enemy is the devil. We can easily see how the adversary weakens and controls its poor victims.

At the center of these techniques of domination, is what St. Augustine calls “libido dominandi” — the desire to dominate — that we could also call “domination through lust.” Since the days of the Marquis de Sade, during the French Revolution; going through the years of Alfred Kinsey, and continuing to the emergence of the so-called “gender ideology” — you can see the progress of that second force that is attempting to surround and control humanity. That second column is the equating of sexual immorality with freedom and virtue. That is a complete inversion of values, designed and implemented by the enemy to deceive, subjugate and kill mankind.

From the story of Samson and Delilah we learn that sexual liberation is a form of control. [26] Samson was a man with serious difficulties to govern his passions. That is why he was controlled, subjugated and eventually destroyed, showing us what happens if we “free ourselves” from God’s moral limits.

Behind the so-called “sexual liberation” there is a plan of manipulation and control as well. Freed from the constraints of morality, passions blind man and do not allow him to see how he is being manipulated — Samson started by not wanting to see that he was being controlled. He ended up blind and in chains. Our society behaves like Samson. For example, no one talks seriously about the harm caused by venereal diseases, pregnancy outside of marriage, or pornography. On the contrary, whenever someone raises the alarm, we hear the usual answer: “that is the price of freedom.” In this way a false equivalence is made between the destructive consequences of sexual immorality and a good that we all rightly desire: freedom.  Things that seem harmless like pornography or contraception, cause mental and physical illnesses. Eventually the “tolerant” society suffers the consequences: sexual crimes, legal and illegal abortions, lives lost, broken families, etc.

Pornography and other forms of base entertainment have been defended as a matter of “freedom of expression” and even “freedom of the press.” The advance of sexual immorality in culture, negatively affects large numbers of people that otherwise would be reasonably happy and productive citizens. They end up living a miserable life shaped by the demands of their lower passions. That is not liberating at all! Harmful interest groups wishing to conquer society for their own selfish ends, know that sexual morality historically precedes culture, and that culture precedes politics. First they control the individual by subjecting him to his basest instincts, promising him a false freedom. That lost man radiates his unhappiness to the rest of society, weakening all the cohesive forces that sustain the common good. In that way, man is subtly enslaved. He does not realize that he has surrendered his freedom and serves his new masters without even knowing them. This is a great lie. In it we can see the signature of the devil.

Morality is reason put into practice. When freed from moral ties, man becomes a mere animal. Evolutionists have caused a lot of damage by teaching that we are superior animals evolved from lower forms of life. It does not take much to turn a man into an animal once he is dominated by his passions. Men enslaved by that meager satisfaction of the senses are led by forces (state, culture) that pushed him into that empty and unhappy life. Those forces become the guardians of the “right” of man to satisfy his passions. Thus the individual loses its God given dignity and is easily controlled socially, economically, and politically.

Armed with those new powers, the state-culture rushes to decouple religion from education and from public life in general. This is done to reverse the moral poles of vice and virtue. We have seen that happen in our societies in the postwar decades. With the scare of overpopulation and the Malthus curve, they made contraception into a virtue and having many children was suddenly frowned upon! The very life of a child in the womb is now considered a disgrace that some want to “cure” with free and unlimited abortion. Some see the looming menace of China-style mandatory abortions and euthanasia even in formerly Christian countries. In this unfortunate moral inversion, the Church — a promoter of life and family — becomes an enemy of the state, a danger to social freedom. Man is stalked by death at every turn of his existence.

The solution to this terrible situation is in the hands of God — but God allows us to help — and we can help this sick world building that City of God by praying and working to affirm truth and life.

Back in 1931, the Anglican writer T. S. Eliot summarized his clear vision of the future and what the Christian position should be. In his book Thoughts after Lambeth  he wrote:

“The World is trying the experiment of attempting to form a civilized but non-Christian mentality. The experiment will fail; but we must be very patient in awaiting its collapse; meanwhile redeeming the time: so that the Faith may be preserved alive through the dark ages before us; to renew and rebuild civilization, and save the World from suicide.”

Even if an important part of the Catholic ecclesiastical leadership comes to “fornicate with the world” — to use the biblical expression — we must always remember that God himself is opposing the destructive campaign of the forces of evil. The will of God is something much greater than ourselves or the Church. The very protective force of Christ the Logos, will destroy the rebels who seek to alter nature itself and subjugate the Church. The one who dreamed of dominating the earth will pay the price that is already established by God. [27] But those who persevere in witnessing the truth, will find the way to that day that has no sunset, the path to truth and life everlasting.

“Do not fear for what you are going to suffer. Truly I say to you: some of you the devil will throw you in prison to put you to the test, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

That is the promise of Christ our Lord in Revelation 2, 10.

We have followed the path of those two nefarious forces from their distant origin: the two avarices that the enemy of man used to enslave the human race, but we have also seen that both oppose the generosity and loving charity of God. It is up to us to choose who will be our master. It is our duty to teach others that there is a better kind of life, the one Christ announced when he said “repent and believe in the Gospel.” Thus he invites us all to change the direction of our existence, to let ourselves be taught by Logos and Sophia, to be true witnesses of the love of God to a dying world.

[1] How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit on the mount of assembly on the heights of Zaphon; I will ascend to the tops of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High.’ – Isaiah 14: 12-14. NRSVACE

[2] “The Lord created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his works of long ago. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth— when he had not yet made earth and fields, or the world’s first bits of soil. When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master worker; and I was daily his delight, before him always, in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race.” – Proverbs 8: 21-31. || All wisdom is from the Lord, and with him it remains for ever. The sand of the sea, the drops of rain, and the days of eternity—who can count them? The height of heaven, the breadth of the earth, the abyss, and wisdom—who can search them out? Wisdom was created before all other things, and prudent understanding from eternity. – Sirach 1: 1-5. NRSVACE

[3] “It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant.”– Mathew 20: 26. NRSVACE

[4] “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” – John 15:10-13. NRSVACE

[5] Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God say, “You shall not eat from any tree in the garden”?’ The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.”’ But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate.   — Genesis 3:1-6. NRSVACE

[6] “Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’” — Luke 2:34-35. NRSVACE

[7] Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1133b-1.

[8] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2269.

[9] Amos 8: 4-10.

[10] For more details see: Development of Moral Doctrine. Theological study n. 54, p. 662. John T. Noonan, Jr. 1993. Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton.

[11] “De usuris responsum.” Letter from John Calvin about usury, John Calvin, quoted in Usury A Scriptural‚ Ethical and Economic View, (1902) by Calvin Elliott.

[12] “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’” Genesis 2:18. NRSVACE

[13] This could also be understood as: “It is not good for man to be-remain-continue simple.

[14] The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.’ Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.   And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed. — Genesis 2:20-25.  NRSVACE

[15] This verse summarizes well the missions of both the anti-logos and the Logos: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” — John 10:10.

[16] John 2:1-12.

[17] Caritas, agapé. Lat. Deus caritas est. Gr. Ὁ Θεὸς ἀγάπη ἐστίν [ HO Theos agapē estin] — 1 John 4: 16.

[18] Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. — John 14:6.

[19] John 8: 44.

[20] John 19: 15.

[21] John 11: 45-48.

[22] Joshua 7: 21.

[23] Numbers 25:6-8.

[24] It is good to read all of The City of God. This time we quote Book IV, 3.

[25] They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for people are slaves to whatever masters them. — 2 Peter 2:19.

[26] See Judges, chapter 16.

[27] For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? –Matthew 16:26