The temptations of Christ. A political reading (II)


In a second moment, Lucifer leads Our Lord to the pinnacle of the temple and, quoting Scripture, invites Him to throw Himself into the void, reminding Him that the angels will support Him. Once again, Christ gives us an example by refusing all temptations. On this occasion, Satan seeks to frustrate God’s salvific plans by anticipating His manifestation to the world and rejecting the redemptive sacrifice of men.

A political reading of the second temptation leads us to consider the Catholic City as a kind of eschatological aura, rather “eschatologistic” because it is a counterfeit. Faced with the obligation of the apostolate of the common good, both natural and supernatural, the devil seduces Catholics with a “sublimation” of the personal good that conceals its negation insofar as it denies the common good. Thus Catholics are led to reject the duly constituted political community and to rejoice in an immaculate city above the clouds that is already approaching. The proximity, often imminent, of this heavenly city leads to a serious neglect of our natural and supernatural duties, sacrificed with devotional or pious excuses.

It seems, then, that the Christian City is in the clouds, as rejected by St. Pius X, that is, it does not refer to the Christian perfection of the political community, but – with a Protestant flavor – to a kind of spiritual prosthesis placed over the most diverse and iniquitous regimes. In this way, it would not be a matter of achieving the upright constitution of the res publica, but of focusing exclusively on pious practices that seek to radiate personal perfection. This sophism forgets the architectural dimension of politics, as Leopoldo Eulogio Palacios has reminded us, and it is unreasonable to ignore the catalyzing capacity for good – and evil – that politics implies.  The political and social materialization of the heresy that constitutes modernity, as Ousset pointed out, does not seem to be repressed by the pursuit of the exclusively personal good for two reasons. First, because of the superior qualification derived from the political plane; second, because of the impossibility of achieving even the personal good if this is done at the expense of the common good.

The “eschatologistic” temptation of the Christian City therefore implies its negation, since it leads to the dead end of the Protestant conception of politics: its confusion with naked power through the assimilation of the moral order to the individual subjective order.

It seems that the “eschatologistic” temptation has infected practically the totality of Catholic political culture. Maritain’s “New Christendom” testifies to the subordination of religion to “politics”, the new arbiter of the tendencies in dispute derived from Americanist pluralism. Americanism as plural heresy of religion, political science as reduction of the State to a process derived from the conquest of power by the amorphous groups that constitute the ill-fated “civil society”, and personalism as liberal ideology focused on the self-determination of the individual, seem to be the pillars of the state of things that lead Catholic thought to submit to an “eschatologistic” falsification.

In this way, as in the Gospel temptations, the devil tempts Christians who, tired of the penitence involved in the desert, fix their eyes on the top of the pinnacle of the temple, hoping that it will be the angels who will correct their hopeless attitude, the logical fruit of a greed for worldly recognition supposedly compatible with Christian duties. Nothing new.     

(To be continued)

Miguel Quesada Círculo Hispalense

Translation by the Gremio San Jerónimo

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