"What is a little odd at first view in the cult of liberty is that it was non-existent before the eighteenth century. Nowhere in the great Catholic culture of medieval Europe do we find a cult of liberty."
From ........... CATHOLIC RESTORATION
Vol. v, No.1 First Quarter, 1995
Pages 35-36 [of 35-72 ]
By Father Donald F. Sanborn
LIBERTY IS a dogma of the modern world. Liberty is enthroned as one of the great goods to be cherished in life, something worth dying for.
The American War of Independence was fought for liberty's sake. World War II was fought for liberty, and was financed in part by "Liberty Bonds." For a long time our money had an image of a woman who personified liberty, and even wore a crown with the word liberty inscribed on it. This "Miss Liberty" as well wore a "Liberty Bonnet," which can also be found on the insignia of many states, including those of New York and New Jersey. In New York's harbor stands the colossal Statue of Liberty, holding a torch. The original name of this statue is "Liberty Enlightening the World." The red and white stripes of the American flag are derived from the flag of the "Sons of Liberty." Patrick Henry said, "Give me liberty or give me death."
Thomas Jefferson enthroned liberty in the Declaration of Independence by numbering it among the inalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Bill of Rights touts freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press as great goods to be guaranteed. Norman Rockwell, after the suggestion of Franklin D. Roosevelt, portrayed in art the four great freedoms:
freedom from want, freedom from fear, freedom of worship, freedom of speech.
The Declaration of Independence was heralded by the ringing of the "Liberty Bell," now a national relic and shrine.
The cherishing of freedom is very much a part of, if not the essence of, American culture. Nor is it confined to America. French money always has the word liberte engraved upon it, together with egalite [equality] and fraternite [fraternity]. Nearly every European democracy enthrones the concept of liberty in one form or other.
Since all culture must come under the scrutiny of the Catholic Faith, it is necessary to take a look at this cult of liberty which is so much a part of the American culture, and of all Western culture since the eighteenth century.
The Catholic Notion of Liberty.
What is a little odd at first view in the cult of liberty is that it was non-existent before the eighteenth century. Nowhere in the great Catholic culture of medieval Europe do we find a cult of liberty. Why, all of a sudden in eighteenth-century Europe, do we find a cult of liberty to the point of "deifying" the concept by means of an image of a glorified woman ?
A red flag should go up to any Catholic well-versed in history. The eighteenth century is the century of revolution, of freemasonry, of naturalism and rationalism. It is the century of the guillotine. It is the century of Jansenism, which besides being a form of Protestantism in the religious sphere, was a powerful political influence on the side of liberalism. In short, the eighteenth century is the century of intellectual ferment against the legitimate authority of the Church and of civil government.
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Editor - Father Donald Sanborn
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