Friday, May 23, 2014

Keeping Secrets

Fr. Angelo discusses the moral issues which accompany blogging. To quote:
The early Church protected the sacred mystery of the Eucharist from the misunderstanding and profanation of pagans by the disciplina arcani, “discipline of the secret.” This meant that the newly baptized were not introduced the mystery of the Real Presence in the Eucharist until just before they received Holy Communion for the first time. In the context of the Church’s persecution, the pagan misunderstanding of Holy Communion as an act of cannibalism could have dire consequences for both believing Christians and those who needed to be evangelized.

So the motives for this discipline were that of reverence and humility. The practice was eventually abandoned. Even so, since the time of Our Lord’s discourse on the Bread of Life in John 6, there has been this tension between the frank and unapologetic proclamation of the full truth about the Eucharist and the need not to throw our pearls to the swine.

We certainly could use more reverence and humility today, especially as it concerns the Eucharist. However, keeping people in the dark about the true meaning of the Eucharist no longer serves this purpose.

Disciplina Esoterica

That being said, the “discipline of the secret,” was not the same thing as the disciplina esoterica, the “esoteric discipline” of the gnostics, who always veiled their beliefs and practices behind myths and arcane symbols and ciphers. They thought that their “sacred mysteries” were inherently too good for the mass of men, and that only those who were truly worthy would be able to penetrate the veil. This belief justified their elitism and was a pretext for them to deal with the uninitiated in a manner that was, shall we say, less than frank.

The esoteric discipline really has nothing to do with humility and reverence, but with pride and covetousness. And of course this is one of the most fundamental differences between true and false mysticism. Where does the mystery lead? To the light or to the darkness? But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God. (Jn 3:21).

Disciplina Alinski

In both cases there are doctrinal and pastoral motives. One might say speculative and political motives. There is a concern to preserve the doctrine. But to do this one must deal prudentially with various persons.

With the “discipline of the secret” and the more general disposition of “reverence,” which must be retained, there is a good faith concern about being honest with the catechumen, even if the revelation of the mystery is gradual. Indeed, the neophyte must know and believe the full revelation concerning the Eucharist in order to be in full communion with the Church and receive Jesus in Holy Communion. And it is the will of the Church that all men come to know, believe and fully participate in this mystery.

On the other hand with the “esoteric discipline,” the effort to protect the doctrine is posited on the belief that some men simply do not deserve it, nor do they deserve the good faith of honesty about what is really going on. It is not about gradually introducing someone to a mystery. It is about keeping it for “us” and hidden from “them.”

In secular politics and social relations, secret keeping has no sacred function, unless one concedes that politics is the religion of the godless. Fine by me. In that case, lying politicians are gods in the secular pantheon.

But the current argument about lying in the service of the gospel (cf. Alinski disciple, James O’Keefe) indicates a problem that hits closer to home. It certainly is not the discipline of the secret, nor is it exactly the esoteric discipline, though it is a very odd attempt to synthesize the godless-secular and sacred-Catholic models.

Is this the “discipline of Alinksi?” It is really pretty much bald-faced Machiavellianism parading around in altar boy robes. The alinskian tactic of appearing to take the high moral ground, all the while demonizing the enemy in order to be successful, requires several other anlinskian ingredients: constant agitation and deception. In fact, rule number one in Rules for Radicals is
Power is not only what you have, but what an opponent thinks you have. If your organization is small, hide your numbers in the dark and raise a din that will make everyone think you have many more people than you do.
Deception, or the sacred euphemism, “discretion,” or the ever-popular “mental reservation” is the rule.

Agitate. Agitate. Agitate, all the while hiding in the shadows. And then when one is called on it, “who me? I am just the messenger,” or “my cause is just.” (Read more.)

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