This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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The doctrine of ‘faith alone’ as it pertains to religious activity

The doctrine of sola fide, ‘faith alone’, is based on the Cartesian dualism which separates the rational and the empirical and, whether explicitly or not, degrades the latter to the status of ‘less real’. What it states is that the essence of salvation is not in what we do but in what we think: it calls this thinking ‘faith’ but in every instance in which I have seen it enunciated it is identical to the simple intellectual assent given to a set of propositions: that man is fallen, that Christ died for our sins, etc. This assent is what ‘really matters’ and is placed over and above what we actually do, which assumes that there is a real separation between what we think and what we do.

The truth is, first of all, that mental work is still work, and to accept a proposition is an ‘action’ albeit of the rational order. It is a mental exertion as opposed to a physical one. Thus it is silly to act as if it is ‘not work’ or, in other words, not bound up with the will and the initiative of the individual, in the way that physical works are. If in fact one is ‘powerless’ to bring about salvation through action, than the rational action that is the acceptance of proposition is just as useless as the physical procedures involved in external religious rituals.

We can see this as a further development of the modern mentality, which is thoroughly materialist but at the same time exhibits a strong preference for unrealism and abstract ideas.

Part of the problem is that in the modern view, man is no longer understood according to the traditional paradigm, constituted as an imagine of the Trinity, as body-soul-spirit. The latter two terms of this trinity are hardly even understood and tend to be seen as vaguely synonymous. This modern people only think in terms of what is physical and what is not, and with man this results in his reduction to two parts, ‘mind and body’, and this is typically re-framed again as an opposition: ‘mind vs body,’ and for Christians, due to a total confusion of levels as well as conceptions, this is seen as an equivalent to the Scriptural teachings about ‘spirit vs. flesh.’ It is easy to see, given this new division, with the body painted as evil and opposed to ‘the spirit’, how so-called ‘works’ come to be despised as inferior.

If we have spent time dwelling on this it is to set the stage for a defense of the Mass as a necessary part of the Christian life, amounting to a perpetuation of the work of Christ, and that ‘faith alone’ is not enough, or is rather only ‘enough’ if we expand our notion of faith to one that requires both intellectual and physical activities.

According to the Traditional doctrine, as we have already said, man is not man unless he is embodied. Man is a body-soul union. Thus, we see why in the traditional view, what man does matters just as much as what he thinks when it comes to salvation. We cannot fully elaborate on this doctrine here, but the appropriate sections in this manual will cover the subject in detail. For now, we have gone to these lengths only in order to insist that the Mass is a ritual work that forms the necessary, concrete expression of Christian life: it is the great work that the Christian, in his office as priest of the world, performs for all mankind, and in fact all creation.

In the words of Jean Hani:

“But salvation is not effected by simple faith in Christ having died once for all. The fact of redemption needs to live int he Church from a mystical and concrete presence at each moment of duration. It is important to insist upon the point. The spiritualization of the idea of sacrifice, leading to a simple movement of personal faith in the sacrifice of Christ accomplished in illo tempore, and to the prayer of raise, which is the Protestant position, ruins not only the notion of sacrifice, but the very idea of religion, for the sacrifice celebrated hic et nunc is an essential constitutive element of all religion. In fact, such excessive spiritualization risks ending up in the rejection of all form, of every external act, which happened to later Judaism. Religion then cedes its place to an individualistic and subjectivist religious sentimentalism, in which one is occupied more with man than with God.”[1]

One need only point at here that it was Christ who instituted the rite of the Eucharist, and that it was understood as exactly that from the time of the Apostles onward, that when he said “do this in remembrance of me.”

As Hani rightly states:

“Through this rite, the Church, born of the Blood of Christ, is called to live from this blood, by dying to the world and perpetually rising with Jesus. In one and the same Great Work, Christ and the Church are united in the mystery of salvation.”[2]

[1] The Divine Liturgy, p. 24.

[2] The Divine Liturgy, p. 25.

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