Moral Briefs – Chapter LXXVIII – Wherein Nature Is Opposed

cover of the ebook 'Moral Briefs' by Father John Henry StapletonCertain excesses, such as we have already alluded to, however base and abominable in themselves and their effects, have nevertheless this to their credit that, while violating the positive law of God, they respect at least the fundamental laws of nature, according to which the universe is constructed and ordered. To satisfy one’s depraved appetites along forbidden but natural lines, is certainly criminal; but an unnatural and beastly instinct is sometimes not satisfied with such abuse and excess; the passion becomes so blinded as to ignore the difference of sex, runs even lower, to the inferior order of brutes. This is the very acme of ungodliness.

There are laws on the statute books against abominations of this sort; and be it said to the shame of a Christian community, said laws find an only too frequent application. Severe as are the penalties, they are less an adequate punishment than a public expression of the common horror inspired by the very mention of crimes they are destined to chastise. To attain this depth of infamy is at one and the same time to sin and to receive the penalty of sin. Here culminates repeated violence to the moral law. When one is sated with ordinary lusts and is bent on sweeping the whole gamut of mundane experiences and excitations, that one invariably descends to the unnatural and extraordinary, and lives a life of protest against nature.

Saint Paul confirms this. According to him, God, in punishment for sin delivers over people to shameful affections, to a reprobate sense; he suffers them to be a hell unto themselves. And nature seldom fails to avenge herself for the outrages suffered. She uses the flail of disease and remorse, of misery and disgust, and she scourges the culprit to the verge of the grave, often to the yawning pit of hell.

People shudder at the very thought of such unmentionable things: but there are circles in society in which such sanctimonious shuddering is a mighty thin veil of hypocrisy. Infinitely more common, and little, if any, less unnatural and abominable are the crimes that are killing off the old stock that once possessed the land and making the country dependent for increase of population on the floods of immigration. The old Puritan families are almost extinct; Boston is more Irish than Dublin. The phenomenon is so striking here that it is called New Englandism. Why are there so few large families outside the Irish and Canadian elements? Why are there seen so few children in the fashionable districts of our large cities? Why this blast of sterility with which the land is cursed? Look behind the phenomenon, and you will find the cause; and the finding will make you shudder. And if only those shudder who are free from stain, the shuddering will be scarcely audible. Onan and Malthus as household gods are worse than the gods of Rome.

Meanwhile, the unit deteriorates alongside the family, being given over to a reprobate sense that is centered in self, that furnishes, against all law, its own satisfactions, and reaps, in all justice, its inevitable harvest of woe. To what extent this vice is common it would serve no purpose to examine; students of criminology have more than once made known their views on the matter. The character of its malice, both moral and physical, needs no comment; nature is outraged. But it has this among its several features; the thralldom to which it subjects its victim has nothing outside itself to which it may be compared. Man’s self is his own greatest tyrant; there are no tortures so exquisite as those we provide for ourselves. While therefore we reprove the culprit, we commiserate with the unfortunate victim, and esteem that there is none more worthy of sympathy, conditioned, of course, on a state of mind and soul on his part that seeks relief and freedom; otherwise, it were pity wasted.

We have done with this infernal category of sin and filth. Yet we would remark right here that for the most part, as far as they are general and common, these excesses are the result of one cause; and that cause is everyday systematic Godlessness such as our public schools are largely responsible for. This system is responsible for a want of vital Christianity, of a lack of faith and religion that penetrates the human fibre and makes God and morality a factor in every deed. Deprived of this, youth has nothing to fall back on when the hour of temptation comes; and when he falls, nothing to keep him from the bottom of the pit.

It is impossible to put this argument in detail before the Christian and Catholic parent. If the parent does not see it, it is because that parent is deficient in the most essential quality of a parent. Nothing but the atmosphere of a religious school can save our youth from being victims of that maelstrom of impurity that sweeps the land. And that alone, with the rigid principles of morality there inculcated, can save the parents of tomorrow from the blight and curse of New Englandism.