This is the third and final installment from Guido De Giorgio‘s chapter on the priestly caste from La Tradizione Romana [The Roman Tradition]. He continues the discussion on faith. He points out that when the priesthood deteriorates, it gives rise to priesthood of solitary Ascetics. Although they maintain traditional teachings, these solitary men do not have the authority to maintain traditional society. Furthermore, they find themselves opposed by the decadent priests. The priests who go astray need to be punished in order to prevent scandal. In the contemplative life, one’s own thoughts and desires are emptied and the Invisible Presence begins to manifest in one’s center in an endless number of stages. By losing his life in this way, his life becomes more real and more fulfilled.
Those who are called “geniuses” by men of today, so tied to the human to see them through the greatest irony, even the superhuman, enclosed as they are in human and terrestrial limitations, are greatly inferior to the most humble of believers because they hypertrophy a nothing, man and the world, and they make everything from this nothing, while the believers deny the nothing, man and the world, and reaffirm it only putting it back on God, i.e., in the supreme cause. Those who do not believe see the effect separated from the cause, which is absurd, while those who believe see the effect in the cause, which is conformed to truth: those who know even abolish the effect and this is the truth. Deepening this last point, one will be able to come to understand, first of all, the triple attitude of man in the face of the truth in accordance to what is subhuman, human or superhuman, and consequently the way in which the principle of causality must be considered in the transition from the profane to the sacred, from the human to the divine, according to what the schema of death, life, and liberation makes of it. This triple schema can be more crudely formulated in connection to these possibilities: without God, with God, God.
Faith is therefore the traditional base for excellence since it is the necessary anticipation of the means through which the path begins from the human to the divine and it resolutely builds a bridge that is fixed on the other shore without seeing it but only knowing it as revealed: tradition works this fixation in the divine that constitutes for the believers the invisible ubi consistam [place to stand], the fulcrum of its elevation to the threshold of mystery.
We note that God, precisely because He is believed but not known, is affirmed in His deepest reality, that of the Unmanifested Principle, and that simple faith pronounces itself more positively than what would appear to a superficial examination, since by affirming the unknowability of the destination, it admits implicitly that only a realizing knowledge can attain it with an effective becoming. This knowledge follows faith, it passes over the threshold of the divine to carry oneself into the same mystery.
It is the most interior part of the Temple where the sacrifice is performed, that altar where the Priest resides.
So if the whole temple constitutes the domain of the sacred and we have the profane only outside of it, in the temple itself among the altar and the rest, there is a clean separation, and while the altar constitutes the active realization of the divine and therefore it is the true domain of the sacred, the rest of the church is reserved to those who are present at the sacrifice, they participate in it, but do not perform it themselves, therefore they are always only the profane because there is a barrier between them and the divine truth. This is the relationship between faith and knowledge, between the faithful and the Priests, between those who only believe and those who know and should know, between the throng of the called and the and the rank of the elect, between passive love that genuflects and pulls back outside of the sacred threshold and the active love that performs the sacrifice directly with a gesture that is a benediction, a voice that is of God, an altar that is the very throne of the Eternal.
From all that it is easy to reach this conclusion that the Priests, as the bearers of sacred knowledge, must really possess it by means of a realizing knowledge in order to be able to perform on the altar the highest of the sacrifices, the divine sacrifice, through which they strengthen the faith, reconfirm it in its strength, and reach the hope that it can, by crossing the threshold, reach the sphere of charitas, of divine love.
If the Priests do not attain this realizing knowledge, they are not such, they cannot be the sustainers of Tradition, the princes of a traditional society, those who maintain the contact between the human and the divine in a permanent current, who secure life and the justification of life itself, placing it back in God. This is the true sin which a Priest can incur, of not having attained the realizing knowledge, of performing a rite with knowing its value, efficacy, and meaning, of not knowing, in other words, the sacred knowledge and of reducing it to a simple babbling of the lips or to an idle formulation that, in the scope of realizing knowledge which should be that of the Priest, is an absurdity because the one falling short puts himself beneath the believers, the profane among the profane and the profaner among the profaners.
Tradition remains untouched however, even in such a case, the intangible rite does not diminish the efficacy that it had on believers, on the faithful, some of whom can even substitute, if not in fact, in a reality that even leaps over the fact, the Priest, performing for them the rite and becoming for them the transient or permanent deposits of God’s truth. If this defection does not harm Tradition in itself, it harms enormously the basis of a traditional society, it invalidates the principle of authority that is absolutely necessary to the maintenance of the two orders, the human and the divine, the profane and the sacred, that of faith and of knowledge, of those who believe and those who know, but what is more serious, it gives rise to the priesthood of solitary Ascetics who, by God’s will, maintain the traditional secret with their work reserved to a minority, they safeguard it, they protect it against profanations, and they end up being opposed by the priestly class that fears in then its same knowledge, that which they themselves abandoned and betrayed. These deplorable clashes always occurred at the expense of sacred knowledge, giving rise to upheavals and conflicts of every type contrary to the maintenance of traditional order.
In making the Priests the depositaries of sacred science in in considering so these various questions, we thinking of a traditional form that more is adapted to nature and the spirit of the West where the sole ascetics should be the Priests, where they along should truly safeguard the traditional body realizing effectively in itself the doctrine with the deep knowledge of everything that constitutes the divine truth.
The Priests besides being deprived of real knowledge of sacred things can also come up short of the decorum that is imposed on their caste. The accusation of immorality is too noted and too usual because one has to insist there, instead of this were derived incomprehensible devaluations of tradition itself, which is truly absurd, giving rise to the sect, schism, heterodoxy. We will immediately and clearly say that the morality is for knowledge and not the inverse and the purely moral side of a question of any fact is the least act for make it comprehend and valued its meaning. The first and only sin is ignorance and one is responsible more for not knowing or poorly knowing than to act evil. As to judge conscience, we do not believe that his is not only a very arduous and insolvable task, but directly a sacrilege, because from God alone and in the name of God consciences are judged and where it never than the so called more judgments are given in God and in the name of God? One reflects attentively that and one will see that only the facts can be judged in the customary place as the condition capable of determining others and therefore, if harmful, condemnable.
Therefore what must be judged, condemned, and punished is the deed when it is visible, it is “active”, it leads to imitation, it is the example, the seed of other deeds, it corrupts: what must be condemned is scandal in all forms, in all classes, and this is the healthy principle of a truly traditional ethic that maintains the privilege of the conscience in action as God’s privilege, and represses the infraction not because the motives are condemned, but to prevent the repetition, the example.
And since there is a vast range in the intensity of the propagation of an offense, i.e., in the immortality of a deed, a truly civil society should adopt all those natural, external, brutal, repressive measures that punish, from the death penalty up to the torture and flogging, but they do not judge, in beating the man, what he has that is the most external, i.e., the flesh.
A truly civil society, readopting all the old measures of physical, outward coercion, returns to the truth of the traditional river-bed, obeys scrupulously God’s truth, and at the same time enriches the number of true, real reasons for action, creating a game, an alternation, a reciprocity between the crime and the punishment, fruitful in sensations beneficial to life, fertile in expansions and the surpassing of the brutal fact. Capital punishment, the various types of torture publicly inflicted with their tragedy, are always considerably effective and instructive and they can even determine true sources of purification, positive complexes, whose importance does not elude those who are equipped with sense and truly constructive imagination and not esthetically and softly deviators. But there is another consideration of a deeper order: the crime has degrees integrally subordinated to human passionate nature, i.e. to the darkest complex that dominates ordinary men undisputedly: it is therefore necessary that hierarchically or analogously proportionate penalties correspond to these levels, penalties determinate by an impersonal justice that strikes in the flesh, abstracting from any experimental character: thus only a reward and a rectification reaching a balance is established; this is the indicator of a true and proper traditional society.
The Priests can and must be blamed only if they fail at their task through total or partial incomprehension of traditional truths: their existence, on the purely exterior side, i.e., from the moral point of view, is reprehensible when it offers matter for scandal and then only if they submit to a tribunal that can be constituted only by men belonging to their caste. In fact from what has been said thus far, it results that real knowledge, i.e., integrative and realizing, belongs to the contemplative, and not the active life. The relationship between contemplation and action is of the greatest importance for the maintenance of the traditional idea because their imbalance constitutes a rupture, a hierarchical inversion, a veritable deviation that, prolonged for centuries, was the origin of the current abjection of the West. Contemplation stands to action in the same relationship as the divine to the human, the sacred to the profane, the eternal to the ephemeral, since their range is distinct and cleanly circumscribed by the two different types of activity. In contemplation there is an activity of a special order that is accomplished in the eternal place, beyond time and space in the sphere of transcendent truths, in an apparent retreat and in an interiorization that in reality are a veritable translation from the human to the divine and a cancellation of the human so that only the divine remains in its absolute autonomy.
In this sense, contemplation and revelation are synonyms because the divine truth can be revealed only in man becoming a temple, i.e., the refuge itself of the truth, the empty temple of humanity founded on earth and elevated to heaven in a verticality symbolically reflecting the lifting up of all being to the totalization of the higher states for their inclusive and intensive integration.
If in the Primordial Tradition the world itself was the temple, with the successive degeneration of humanity, the sacred enclosure was established to separate the sacred from the profane and maintain the distinction between the two orders in the way that the higher directs and guides the lower. The temple is the symbol and more than a symbol, it is the place of peace, of absolute interiority where, every individuality is denied, annulled, or distanced from every human dross, the realization of the divine is accomplished, the theophanic cycle of all its effective fullness.
Whoever contemplates—and contemplation is only of the divine order, therefore it must be judged absolutely inappropriate to any order, especially to the esthetic order which is visibly inferior—not only separates himself from others, but from himself, that which is the essential, and it empties his heart making it the center of his being where the Invisible Presence is manifested in a progressive irradiation whose levels are without end and constitute the hierarchy of divine stages. This term therefore cannot be, nor must be, applied to another that is not the real, effective achievement of higher states not passively glimpsed as though from the outside, but actively realized in one’s interiority of the great temple which is the purified heart, cleansed, made a receptacle of light, the holy chalice where the divine mystery is completed. Everything that is purely and clearly human—like art in the profane sense and philosophy especially in the modern meaning—is excluded from the contemplative field that is the divine and not human life, reality and not illusion, truth and not ignorance. Philosophy that is an impaired wisdom and art that is a purely exterior infatuation for their very degeneration, are excluded from contemplative life and represent an artificial interstructure that the current abjection established between contemplation and action, small spurious world where weakness and imbecility produced by the ignorance of external things is depleted.
If contemplation is therefore reserved to the Priests who are the bearers of divine wisdom, what will be the relationship between the contemplative and active life? It is identical to that which rules the divine order and the human order: the active life must be oriented in accordance with a vision that can be determined only by those who live contemplatively, In fact, if man and the world in themselves are nothing when separated from their cause and not put back in it, i.e., in God, they acquire instead quite another meaning when they are integrated in the real order because they represent the same place where one of the divine possibilities is fulfilled. Reflect attentively on this: the contemplative life is a larger circle that includes in it a smaller one, the active life, the integration of these two modes constitute the traditional unity. Affirming the superiority of the contemplative life, we postulate the necessity of the active life provided that the latter is included in it, i.e., it remains hierarchically subordinated in order to shape it and procure for it all its operative efficacy. One, contemplation, works in the eternal, the other, action, works in the ephemeral, which is the symbol of the eternal: one, contemplation, is the domain of the sacred, the other, action, is the domain of the profane that becomes sacred only if it receives light from the former. To be more explicit: the contemplative returning to life properly called, i.e., to external existence, sees it under another aspect, different from that of the common man, therefore it is logical and natural that he seeks to consider it not as separate from the divine truth, but as effective preparation for that, the vestibule, the pre-position that rules and determines a final development realized only in the place of pure contemplation.
The harmony between contemplation and action is necessary for the complete integration of human possibilities so that man could be truly such, rich in every development, judge of his own destiny, capable of elevating himself from earth to heaven in a progressive expansion of all his faculties. But that is possible only if contemplation dominates action: in the reverse case we have the hierarchical revolution, the annulment of the traditional axis, the impoverishment of man demasculinized, made ugly, victim of all those inferior forces on which he can have the upper hand only if he is guided by the spirit of God.
It is up to the Priests, besides, to act so that the spirit of God reigns in the world and sustains the forces of man and truly dignifies him because man is everything with God, nothing without God, and his action deprived of any traditional content is a groping in the lower darkness, a wicked shadow among wicked shadows, sterile bedroom activities [fornicatoria] that impels him from illusion to illusion, from error to error in the great detrital riverbed, the hellish, subhuman, ghostly, and lemuric world.
But if instead the active life is regulated along the traditional axis, as a rite, then all the apparent imbalances are annulled while counterbalancing each other, all the varieties of human espression and deviations are arranged and are resolved in an integrative homogeneity. It is necessary to insist on what men have completely forgotten in the collapse of all traditional values: the active life is so much richer the more it is subordinated to the contemplative life, because in a truly traditional society there is an amplification of human possibilities, an infinitely more fertile development of their most various activities, in the modern world, they are completely wasted. For a law of analogy that regulates the parallelism of the two orders, we will say that the more intense the contemplative life is, the richer is the active life, as much as God is exalted, so much more is man valued, and that in a truly traditional society, everything profane is something sacred in fieri [pending] and all aberrations are recomposed in the equilibrium between the divine and the human, love and hate, wisdom and ignorance, war and peace, virtue and vice, good and evil, in a full, integral, oceanic confluence, are harmonized, surpassed, and twinned, in the great traditional river-bed.
But because this takes place, it is necessary for the Priests to truly be the supreme club-bearers and that their life be purely contemplative, as the bearers of divine truths, the great fee men of the eternity that they keep watch on the bastions of time, intermediaries between the higher and lower waters, between the divine and the human, between the cosmic and the hyperuranium [where the Platonic ideas reside], knowers of the light that is the only light emanating from God.