This is the second installment from Guido De Giorgio‘s chapter on the priestly caste from La Tradizione Romana [The Roman Tradition]. He sees the process of the degeneration of the castes as beginning, not from the revolt of the Kshatriya, but rather from the failure of the Priests to fulfill their divine mission. Nevertheless, Tradition may be forgotten, but never lost, so there are always some solitary men who continue to maintain that sacred knowledge. De Giorgio moves on to the topic of faith which, he says, is necessary because a man must believe before he knows.
Therefore, they constitute the caste of the invisible ones because their continuous, untiring, hidden action is of the sacred spiritual order and is spontaneously fulfilled through the very force of the soul, the purity of their life that must be a rite, an offering, a sacrifice. We insist particularly on the character of the priestly caste to determine the modality of the hierarchic power and the efficacy of the revelatory mission entrusted to them. They are the leaders of traditional society, but invisible leaders because the sacred knowledge of which they are the depositaries is not a purely dogmatic system nor a dead body, but a living, perennial fire that they must nourish, living continuously in communion with the spirit of God, acting so that His truth is towering at its peak, in isolation from His profound virtue, in the active and effective development that only the contemplative life allows to be realized.
They are the great hermits and they descend among men, the bearers of the graces of the truth, but, even if living in the world, they are really on the outside and dominate while not dominating, act while not acting, illuminating with their light, they save with their presence, strengthen with their example. Their hierarchy and their organization, the traditional type to which they are tied, the value of the character of their mission are absolutely determined by their having freely and consciously chosen not a career, not a profession, not a job, but the way of God, that by leaving from God leads back to God, and of having chosen it not only for itself, but rather with the precise task of showing it to all. They sacrifice themselves and they sacrifice: it is reflected carefully in the value and in the immense importance of these two expressions when led back to the precision of their etymological meaning [sacrifice=make sacred]. The Priests cannot not be sacred themselves, they cannot not make sacred everything that they touch and go near because they were born for that, they were destined to that and their choice, in embracing the holy ministry, is an absolute match with the inherent possibilities of their nature.
They cannot deviate if they are truly priests, they cannot, if they deviate, not fall into the lowest abjection because they have betrayed God, they failed in their vows, and by abjuring, they contaminated themselves and men. If the value and the height of the task entrusted to the Priests is fixed and well understand, one will reach some conclusions to which the modern world, having become anti-traditional, is no longer capable of elevating itself. Let us outline one of them.
Since the Priests are the holders of sacred knowledge and constitute the insuppressible base of a truly traditional foundation, they are to secure its normality, they are to maintain the unity with their invisible spiritual hidden work and therefore are responsible for the general defection of the traditional spirit, because no one can fall if the priests themselves do not fall, no one can fail if the priests themselves do not fail, no one can be banned against the truth of God if the priests do not betray it first, no one can corrupt the world if they do not corrupt it first, abandoning their sacred mission for the concerns of the temporal order, passing from the contemplative life for which they are destined, to the active life that is not absolutely the place of the development of their activity, with falling short of their caste, their obligations, and especially the divine principles whose radiating virtue they must keep intact. How many are capable of understanding how the current state of abjection is due to the defection of the priestly caste who are responsible for it because they alone, the Priests, maintaining contact with the divine not only by means of their action over men, but above all with the constant realization and efficacy of their interior ascesis? Just as God’s strength is mysterious and invisible, so is the Priest’s occult and hidden: contemplating they act, fulfilled in God, they work in the world, sacrificing themselves they sacrifice, praying they save, although their mission is genuine and not the unholy profanation of God’s laws.
If one can with absolute certainty impute to them the state of current Europe, whatever defection of this caste, whatever decadence of humanity is not attributable to the traditional form to which they are reconnected and of which they could be the authentic representatives. Tradition is invulnerable, inviolable, unassailable, it is God’s truth and is kept intact because, even if betrayed by His ministers, He always finds those who preserve its sacred character, those who, among men not belonging to the priestly caste, become its legitimate and authorized carrier. And almost always those, priests among men, carry out their mission more dangerously than if they belonged to the officially recognized caste, because they have to fight against a profane force that tends to suppress them, that of those who have betrayed the faith, repudiated tradition, abandoning the divine for the human and the sacred for the profane: those are the false priests who are no longer such, i.e., holders of sacred knowledge. Reflect on the importance of what we say, and you will be able to understand how the solitary Ascetics, those who we will be able to call οι εξω [the outside], in all the periods of decadence of the priestly caste, have kept alive the perennial fire of tradition against the deceit, the hatred, calumny of those who failed in their mission.
The self-establishment of ascetic groups outside the priestly caste, the presence of Masters, i.e., of solitary Ascetics, in all the period of decadence is explained precisely by the abandonment of tradition by parts of those to whom its deposit was entrusted, and the necessity—of the divine order, we insist—that others seek to keep contact between man and God, purging the sacred ways of the profane dross that the false priests amassed, i.e., the most ungodly deniers of the supernatural world. Dante docet …
It is necessary, to avoid misunderstanding, to insist on the nature and character of this definition, of this contamination that takes place in the ambit of the priestly caste in the periods of decadence. The divine truths that constitute the sacred body of tradition has a purely metaphysical, or transcendent, character: they are superhuman, eternal, and to approach them, it is therefore absolutely necessary to pass beyond the human condition and bring oneself with the intellect into that sphere of pure actuality where the divine reality is developed beyond the domain of Forms and Rhythms in the silence of its ineffability. Faith prepares this transition from the human to the divine, in fact, it is its essential condition, that which cannot elude anyone through the elementary analogy with so many human and contingent situations. It is necessary to believe that one knows, because one knows only by knowing that one can one know before knowing, i.e., before having acquired the wisdom and having already completed the passage from the human to the divine in order to do so that only the divine is.
Faith in whom? In God, in the Master, so say all traditions that insist on this absolutely necessary condition for the effective realization of the divine. One believes in the truth before reaching it, i.e., before being there and being it, and the intensity of faith is in direct relation with the efficacy of the achievement.
Faith is therefore the rail, the bridge, the isthmus between the human and the divine, between what man is not and what he really is when he is no longer, when he surpassed and passed over forever the human condition. But since this is the fruit of ignorance, faith is the necessary condition for the dispersal of ignorance and the reaching of wisdom.
It annuls every human limitation in man, abolishes individuality, opens all the passages of Infinite possibility, considers the chains as untied so that they are really so, it works a type of preparatory radiation of individual faculties, because one believes in things other than oneself, in the sacred text, in the hidden value of the rite, in the minister, in the master, in other words, in whatever passes beyond quotidian reality, the illusion of the world ordinarily experienced in the ambit of all sensible and rational limitations, it denies resolutely the tangible whole and affirms an invisible reality.
To have faith means to believe in what one does not yet know, one does not know, it is the most noble and desperate attempt to bring oneself face to face with the threshold of mystery and to affirm that beyond it there is an unspeakable reality, that which is revealed. Even for those who cannot pass over this threshold, it is enormously positive that they succeed in bringing themselves to the extreme limit connected to their strengths with an act of faith that leaps over error, the visible presence, the world and things, in one stroke, to genuflect in the face of the Invisible Presence, God and His Names still concealed precisely because they are absent, asserted, and believed and not known. Faith is therefore superior to any human knowledge whatsoever, to any conquering activity of the human alone, because it passes beyond it, considers it as ancillary, negligible, negotiable, even nothing in the face of the divine that it recognizes as the invisible venerable root through its invisibility, real through its apparent unreality, divine exactly because not human, not tangible, not discernible with the senses, and analyzable by reason, placed in a sphere of this the good ones, those who believe, will be able to enjoy, if it will be pleasing to God, only after the dissolution of the human compound, i.e., post mortem.
Faith works this miracle that those who cannot reach by an operational effort and aware of the threshold of the divine, attain it with the rapid and direct contact that can be fecund with greater results: compared to those who know, that are beyond the threshold, they find themselves very far, but compared to those who do not believe, to the small men of the small world, the affirmers of the minimum in the minimum and lovers of the shadows, they are in a clearly privileged position because they are distant from just as far as the spirit surpasses the flesh and intelligence surpasses imbecility.
⇐ The Establishment of a Traditional Society: Priests The Establishment of a Traditional Society: Priests (III) ⇒