Rorate Caeli

The Council and the Eclipse of God – by Don Pietro Leone - Chapter 8 – ‘The Council’s Anthropology in its Ideological Context.’


Dear Readers,

My apologies. In Chapter 8, which addressed the Council’s deification of man, the following paragraphs towards the end were meant to be prior to the one on the Emperor Claudius’ arrival at heaven’s gate, but were inadvertently left out.  Too precious this excellent, short read.   Not to be missed.                                                           


Painting of 'Homer Among the Greeks' by Gustav Jäger. 1808

‘Even the pagan religions offer a deeper and more serious vision of life and death than the Council.’  Don Pietro Leone.


The Council’s Anthropology in its Ideological Context


The inadequacy of the Council’s anthropology and indeed of its entire world-view may be seen by comparing them with that of (traditional) Catholicism and even with that of Paganism. The former views man as fallen and not glorious in any way in himself, but only in the imitation of Christ. In this it contrasts the things of man with those of God, in which sense St. Paul states [1]: ‘For I give you to understand, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me, is not according to man.’ Man’s task, then, is to lead a life in imitation of Christ, Who died for him on the Cross to give him the graces of the sacraments he needs in his constant battle against the World, the Flesh, and the Devil in order to avoid Hell and to attain Heaven.


Plato and Aristotle saw 'life as orientated to the Good and the True'. 

Detail from “The School of Athens” by Raphael


Paganism, in its greatest and most influential philosophers, Plato and Aristotle, sees life as orientated to the Good and the True; in its greatest poets, Homer and the Greek tragedians [2], it portrays life, death, and the human condition with stark realism, and regards suffering as the occasion for wisdom and for the ennoblement and transfiguration of man. Even the pagan religions offer a deeper and more serious vision of life and death than the Council. After all, the deification of man advocated by the Council, as we have already stated, is only egoism, or egoist hedonism, which has always been recognized as immoral by man. Even the hedonist philosophers, such as Epicurus, maintain an anthropology opposed to egoism.


No, it is rather to the other Gnostic systems that we must turn, in order to trace the ancestry of Council thinking: in modern times to the adherents of sects such as the Freemasonry and the ‘New Age’, and in the middle Ages particularly to the ‘Free Spirits.’


In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries a movement spread across France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria: ‘Its members called themselves the Brothers and Sisters of the Free Spirit or simply the ‘Free Spirits.’ The key doctrine of this sect was belief in the possibility of ‘transfiguration into God.’ Since the soul of each man consists of divine substance, any man in principle can achieve a state of “Godliness.” …the Free Spirit was liberated from all moral constraints. He was higher than Christ... The Free Spirit was the complete equal of God, “without distinctions.” Hence his will is the will of God, and to him the notion of sin becomes meaningless… Nothing performed by the flesh of such a man can either decrease or increase his divinity. Therefore, he may give it complete freedom… Intimacy with any woman, even with a sister or his mother, cannot stain him and will only increase her holiness…’ [3]


In the Gnostic system of the Medieval 'Free Spirits' 
we can ‘trace the ancestry of the Council’s thinking.'

As for the Council’s literary predecessors, it is not to the tragedians that we should turn in our genealogical research, but to the comedians. For what more apt literary precedent can we find for the Fathers’ socialism, eroticism, emasculation, lack of sagacity and a paternal spirit (both in relation to the faithful and to their children [4]) and general superficiality, than Aristophanes’ beard-sporting women Councillors, the Ecclesiazousae? And as for the myth of man’s self-deification, we can think of no more fitting commentary, and of no more fitting conclusion to this second part of the book, than the following passage from the Apocolocyntosis Divi Claudii [5], referring to the arrival of the Emperor Claudius at Heaven’s gate:


‘He wants to become a god… Once it was a great thing to be made a god, but now you have made the distinction a farce… I move that from this day forward, no-one should be made a god…. Whoever, contrary to the decree of the senate, shall be made, called, or depicted as a god, is to be given to the hobgoblins, and get a good thrashing among the newly-hired gladiators of the next show… I propose that stout punishment be meted out to him, that he be granted no rest… and that he be got out of the way as soon as possible, departing from Heaven within 30 days and from Olympus within 3.’ This verdict was carried… he was carried off from Heaven towards the nether regions, whence, they say, no man returns.’


N.B. In the following days, we shall be posting in several installments, the particularly long Chapter 9, wherein Don Leone 'takes out the big guns' of his philosophical and theological training.    


[1] Gal.1.11

[2] we are here thinking above all of Sophocles but also of Euripides, particularly in the Hippolytus. This view of man and the world was to be inherited and kept alive by the Stoics.

[3] Igor Shafarevich, The Socialist Phenomenon, Part One Chiliastic Socialism, s.2.The Socialism of the Heresies. We also find elements in the sect of the Cathars which prefigure the Council: it opposes the Catholic Church (in Her true nature) and the Cross; it denies Her holiness and refers to Her as the 'Church of Sinners'; it adopts an ambivalent attitude towards sin, considering its highest ranking members as ‘the pure’ (katharos in Greek) and demanding celibacy of them, while at the same time deeming them incapable of sin; it adopts a socialist rejection of property; it opposes marriage and procreation, considering the propagation of the human species as a work of Satan and favoring as an ideal for humanity what may rather be described as 'universal suicide'

[4] we are here thinking of the failure explicitly to condemn contraception and of the promotion of ‘sex education.’

[5] the satire on the apotheosis of the Emperor Claudius, in the author’s view, probably the work of Petronius