Gardone Riviera, Italy
Twenty-Fourth Gardone Riviera Summer Symposium
Half a Millennium of Total Depravity (1517-2017):
A Critique of Luther’s Impact on the Eve of His “Catholic” Apotheosis
27 June – 8 July 2016
Our civilization is so sick that even the best efforts to prop up its few tottering remnants manifest the pathetic illness that has step by step brought the entire structure crumbling down. The disease in question is a willful, prideful, irrational, and ignorant obsession with “freedom”. But this is a malady that gained its initial effective entry into Christendom in union with the concept of the natural world as the realm of “total depravity”.
It is crucially important that we recognize both the ultimate responsibility of this hideous willful liberty for the destruction of our Classical and Christian culture as well as the role played by the idea that “incarnated” it historically in our midst for two reasons. The first is so that we can attempt seriously to rid ourselves of their monstrous influence over our own minds, souls, and bodies. The second is because a massive attempt to masquerade the truth regarding their real character and alliance will be mounted in conjunction with the five hundredth anniversary of Martin Luther’s devastating appearance on the public scene in 2017: and this for the sake of maintaining their nefarious impact upon believers and delivering the Faith its coup de grace as a meaningful social force.
Allow me to cite Philip Hughes regarding Luther and his antecedents as a means of driving home the point that I wish to make in this brief piece:
All those anti-intellectualist, anti-institutional forces that had plagued and hindered the medieval Church for centuries, whose chronic maleficent activity had, in fact, been the main cause why—as we are often tempted to say—so little was done effectively to maintain a generally higher standard of Christian life; all the forces that were the chronic distraction of the medieval papacy, were now stabilized, institutionalized in the new reformed Christian Church. Enthronement of the will as the supreme human faculty; hostility to the activity of the intelligence in spiritual matters and in doctrine; the ideal of a Christian perfection that is independent of sacraments and independent of the authoritative teaching of clerics; of sanctity attainable through one’s own self-sufficing spiritual activities; denial of the truth that Christianity, like man, is a social thing;—all the crude, backwoods, obscurantist theories bred of the degrading pride that comes with chosen ignorance, the pride of men ignorant because unable to be wise except through the wisdom of others, now have their fling. Luther’s own special contribution—over and above the key doctrines that set all this mischief loose—is the notion of life as radically evil. (Hughes, A History of the Church, Sheed & Ward, 1949, III, 529).
Hughes eloquently stresses the central fact that our underlying problem is pre-Lutheran in origin. In other words, 1517 is not the source of our woe — any more, for that matter, than 1962 and the opening of Second Vatican Council was. All of the spiritual, intellectual, political, and social diseases that had hovered for centuries about the Camp of the Saints had gathered together, ready for injection into the lymphatic system of Catholic Christendom as one “mega malady”, already long before that date. All of these ultimately reflected a revulsion over the need for the individual and his entire environment to be corrected, perfected, and transformed under the Kingship of Christ with the aid of Faith, Grace, Reason on the one hand, and social authority, both supernatural and natural, on the other. Anyone in 1516 looking for a simple explanation for why he should reject these aids had available to him an embarrassment of arguments from a myriad of fonts indicating that the only thing that really mattered was the individual and his willful feelings; and that relying upon these alone was somehow the sole pathway to pleasing God.
Nevertheless, the conflicted mind of the Late Middle Ages clearly needed someone with the outlook and the talented rhetorical venom of a Luther effectively to inject this mega malady into the lymph of Christendom. Christian man was too aware of the reality of sin to leap directly into an adulation of his individual willfulness. Luther’s concept of the “total depravity” of the individual and the world in which he lived after Original Sin gave Everyman the pious entry into the obsession with liberty that was required. After all, it seemed so humble to argue for each believer’s personal need to rely solely on God’s grace to save him; for his need to affirm that “freedom” from “enslavement” to “the despotism” of “the Law” that allowed him to avoid a “hopeless” and ultimately spiritually arrogant attempt to bend his individual, life long, workaday thoughts and actions to fall in line with the commands of Christ.
Still, it proved to be very easy over the course of a couple of generations for this negative definition of “liberty” — a “freedom” from the Law — to be transformed, in the Enlightenment, into the means for a positive new and redemptive order of things. In short, it did not take long for a freedom from restraints upon the lawless, individual willfulness of Luther’s totally depraved mankind to be seen as the providential tool for molding unbridled human thoughts and actions into the building blocks of a new Age of Gold. In other words, the more that a freedom from restraints actually ensured that the truly sinful passions of mankind were all released in order to allow flawed individuals truly to became totally depraved, the more that that depravity was now looked upon as something intrinsically wonderful, good, and even pleasing to God.
It is precisely because this venomous attempt to build a civilization upon a freedom from efforts to fight Original Sin and its willful effects upon individuals is so tempting that it has infected almost all of us in some way or another. We almost all fall prey to the enticement simply to pick what “liberty” most appeals to our particular passion, declare it pleasing to God, willfully condemn whichever application of the same principle we find personally unacceptable when used by others, and ignore the innately poisonous nature of the entire concept. And, quite frankly, we almost all fall prey to the cynical temptation to mobilize the “total depravity” argument anew when we chuckle over the naïve, utopian vision of opponents who want to use law and authority to help make people virtuous in realms where we want “liberty”. But blithely making common cause with “liberty” in a world that did not have to be totally depraved but is making every effort to become so is riding on the back of a willful monster—with the current self-destructive appeal to religious liberty at the top of the list. It is only the positive liberty to use our Faith, Grace, our Reason, and the help of social authorities, both supernatural and natural, to correct and transform ourselves under the Social Kingship of Christ that can lead to a life worth living in this world and to eternal happiness in the next.
Sad to say, it is absolutely certain that most of our ecclesiastical leaders, foot soldiers of the Zeitgeist that they are, will turn 2017 into a year long paean to the accomplishments of Luther & Company and “all those anti-intellectualist, anti-institutional forces”; “all the crude, backwoods, obscurantist theories bred of the degrading pride that comes with chosen ignorance, the pride of men ignorant because unable to be wise except through the wisdom of others” that Philip Hughes tells us lay behind them for centuries. It is our duty as Traditionalist Catholics to steel ourselves against the lies that are to come concerning the wonderful value of such hideous, willful principles that now have “had their fling” for five hundred years. It is our duty to hammer home the evil they have caused. Because that five hundred year ignorant, willful, individualist cancer has spread everywhere throughout the lymph of Christendom into every institution and everyone’s mindset, believing Catholics should spend the next two years helping those less aware among us to gird their loins. 2017 — like 1517 — is going to be a trial for all of us. And it is an awakening to this frightful nightmare that the 24th Annual Summer Symposium of the Roman Forum will seek to assure.
Faculty, Clergy, Musicians
Dr. Miguel Ayuso Torres (University of Madrid)
Rev. Mgr. Dr. Ignacio Barreiro Carámbula (Human Life International)
James Bogle, Esq. (President of Una Voce International; author of A Heart for Europe)
Dr. Patrick McKinley Brennan (Villanova University)
To be announced (Director of Musical Program)
Dr. Danilo Castellano (University of Udine)
Rev. Bernard Danber, O.S.A.
Dr. Roberto de Mattei (European University, Rome)
Bernard Dumont (editor, Catholica, France)
Christopher A. Ferrara, J.D. (President, ACLA)
Rev. John Hunwicke (Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham)
James Kalb, Esq. (Author, The Tyranny of Liberalism)
Michael J. Matt (Editor, The Remnant)
Dr. Brian M. McCall (University of Oklahoma)
Professor John Médaille (University of Dallas)
Sebastian Morello (Benedictus College; Centre for Catholic Formation, London)
Rev. Dr. Richard Munkelt (University of Fairfield)
Dr. John C. Rao (St. John’s University)
Dr. Thomas Stark (Philosophisch-Theologische Hochschule, Austria)
John Vennari (Editor, Catholic Family News)
Each day involves two lectures (morning and pre-dinner), and Sung Mass in the Extraordinary Form (Tridentine Mass) at noon. There are no lectures on Sundays. Musical and theatrical entertainments take place in the garden of the Angeli and in the Piazza dei Caduti in the evenings after dinner. Specific schedule of lectures to come.
The full cost of the Gardone program in a double occupancy room is $2,900. This includes tuition, room and board (very ample breakfast and dinner with wine, beer, and other beverages at will; all gratuities also), transportation to and from Malpensa Airport in Milan, and a boat excursion on the lake. Single rooms are extra, their price depending upon the room concerned. A number of full and partial scholarships may be available. Preference for scholarships will be given to professors, students, clergy, and seminarians. Nevertheless, anyone who genuinely cannot afford the full tuition and believes himself to be a worthy candidate for assistance may apply.
Accommodations and the Setting
Accommodation and lectures for the Gardone program are at the Locanda agli Angeli and the Hotel Villa Sofia on Lake Garda, in the foothills of the Alps in northern Italy. Rooms are mostly doubles, with bath. A limited number of singles is also available. Both hotels are located in Gardone Sopra, a ten-minute walk from the lakefront, where free, clean beaches with a number of amenities can be found. They offer beautiful swimming pools and gardens on their premises. Meals are taken at the Angeli and at other trattorie several minutes walk away. Mass is in the parish church, also within walking distance. Arrangements to arrive earlier or stay later, at additional cost, may be made through the director.
Gardone is within easy traveling distance of Verona, Venice, Trent, Brescia, Milan, Ravenna, Pavia and Padua. In years past, participants have rented cars to tour the area, taken private and more extensive boat trips on the lake, attended the opera in Verona, and even ventured as far away as Florence. The region offers opportunities not only for swimming, but for hiking, biking, boating and scenic walks as well. The lectures are scheduled in such a way as to allow time for recreation and sightseeing.
Transportation to Italy must be arranged privately. Two shuttles (morning and afternoon) to Gardone will be provided from Malpensa airport only on June 27th, and one back to Malpensa on July 8th.
Participants arriving and leaving at different times or arriving at and leaving from different airports are responsible for making their own arrangements for getting to Gardone.
Gardone can be reached by shuttle from the airport to Milano Centrale (50 minutes), train to Brescia (50 minutes) and bus to Gardone Riviera (50 minutes), or by taxi from the airport (which can be very expensive and is best arranged through the Forum).
First time applicants only must include name, address, telephone number, e-mail, date of birth, occupation, academic degrees attained or pending, and the names and phone numbers of two references.
Application should be made as soon as possible as there are only fifty places available.
A non-refundable deposit of $500 will secure one’s reservation. Once again, space is limited, so it is advisable to send this in as soon as possible after acceptance. Payment of the remaining fee can be made by check no later than 4 May 2016. After that date, payment must be made in cash in Gardone. We have no means of handling checks in Italy. Deposits and all other payments must be made out to the Roman Forum and mailed to Dr. John C. Rao, 11 Carmine St. Apt. 2C, New York, NY 10014.
Seminar participants must eventually send us both their arrival and departure information. It is also important to let us know if you wish to arrive earlier or stay later than the scheduled symposium dates (at extra cost). We would appreciate this information by June 20th, by e-mail. A representative of the Roman Forum will meet participants at their arrival gates. Should the contact person not be found, please look for the bus driver holding a sign saying Molinari Agency, Gardone Riviera. His cell phone number will be sent to you by e-mail just before the departure date. In case of trouble, telephone the Locanda agli Angeli (from the USA, 011-39-0365-20991; from Italy, 0365-20991).
Barring the unpredictable, the weather should be sunny and quite warm/hot. We are in the foothills of the Alps, however, so one may need a sweater or light jacket for dining and sitting outside in the evening. Please also bring a light poncho or some other form of protection from a shower. If you do enjoy swimming and hiking, do not forget a bathing suit and good walking shoes. Tennis courts are available for use nearby. Access to the internet is available from the Angeli, the Villa Sofia, and throughout Gardone by means of Brescia WiFi. There at ATM machines just outside the Angeli, and at the Banco di Brescia, a short distance away from the Villa Sofia.
Gardone’s greatest difficulty is laundry. There is no laundromat in the village. Someone does stop by every day to pick up any laundry that needs to be done, to be returned the next day. Under normal circumstances, laundry costs are expensive in Italy. With the dollar-euro exchange what it now is, it may be the greatest expenditure of your trip. There will be a general orientation at cocktail hour on Monday, June 27th at the Angeli. A schedule of masses, as well as information about the Sunday boat trip and excursions during the week will be handed out at that time.
Please consider giving a tax-deductible donation to support the attendance of a speaker, a member of the clergy, a seminarian, or a student. A special thanks for support of this conference to the health care professionals at I-DOhC.
Mail all applications and send donations to:
The Roman Forum
11 Carmine Street, # 2C
New York, NY 10014
Or e-mail to email@example.com.