27 October 2010

Emperor Karl von Habsburg: The Peacemaker

By Br. Nathan Cochran, O.S.B.
Source: http://www.emperorcharles.org/index.html

Resting in the arms of his beloved wife, his breathing labored, he prays: “My Jesus, Thy Will be done—Jesus.” With these words he takes his last breath, and gently meets his Lord and Savior. His lingering illness and suffering is over. The torment of betrayal and rejection is over.

It is shortly after noon, on Saturday, April 1, 1922. His name is Karl, a humble, mortal man facing the end of his life with dignity. To his fellow countrymen, he is . . . .  

His Majesty, Karl, Emperor of Austria and Apostolic King of Hungary

Childhood & Early Adulthood
c. 1903
On August 17, 1887, a son is born to Archduke Otto and Archduchess Maria Josefa in their family home in Persenbeug, Austria. He is named Karl Franz Josef Ludwig Hubert Georg Otto Maria. He is the couple’s firstborn, and he is greeted with joy and thanksgiving. The Imperial House of Austria rejoices in the birth of Emperor Franz Josef’s grandnephew, but the rest of the empire barely takes notice—as the newest archduke is far down the line of succession. It is not yet known that a series of tragedies and events will alter his destiny, and that of the empire.

Karl’s childhood is simple and wholesome. He is tutored and attends school at the Schottengymnasium in Vienna. He is taught the Catholic faith, and loves to practice it. He becomes known as a kind and compassionate child, who performs various chores and tasks in an effort to raise money to give to the poor and buy gifts for those around him.

As he grows, it becomes apparent that he will follow in his father’s footsteps and become a military man. At the age of 16 Karl is commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Imperial Army. He is known as an intelligent and thoughtful young man, someone who is totally loyal and dependable. He is an inspiration to his fellow soldiers and works his way up the ranks, earning various promotions. He is consciously groomed for his future role in the empire, but it is thought that he will not succeed to the throne until after his uncle and father have both reigned—perhaps thirty or forty years in the future.

04 October 2010

Of Animals & Angels

HUMAN NATURE is the only essence which shares commonality with all other beings. With the inanimate, we share physical existence; with plants, the abilities of propagation and vegetation; with animals, the capacities of appetites and emotions as well as the ability to sense and to move; and with Divine and angelic beings, the powers to think with our intellect and to act with our will.

Those lower parts of our nature, which we have in common with living creatures on earth, are directed to the natural good of man, and each has its own particular end or goal being striven after. But the higher parts of our soul, which we have in common with God and make us into His image and likeness, yield a supernatural capacity and activity.

Our reason and volition give us the abilities to participate in the life of God. If used incorrectly, the intellect will become darkened and the will weakened, and the emotions and passions will usurp the authority of the higher powers. If used correctly, however, the superior powers dominate what is beneath them, and, consequently, command the life of man to a life of virtue.

Thus, the natural life of man is ordered to the furtherance of the supernatural life of the soul, and this is also called placing our life under right reason. Only with God’s continual assistance are we able to make proper use of the intellect and will, and under His inspiration and guidance, our everyday finite actions are transformed into that which has an infinite value and merit.

So important are the intellect and will that without them, man would not be a rational being. He would be reduced to the level of animals which do not have the capacity of reasoning but act according to instinct. We implicitly understand this when a man does not think before acting and just does what he feels like. Such a man is oftentimes called an “animal” or a “beast,” for he acts in the likeness of an animal instead of the likeness of God.

Yet, by using the intellect and will wisely and according to the dictates of their Creator, a human person can be likened to the angels who continually see the face of God and perpetually do His will. Being made a little lower than the angels who do not have a body, we have the potential of being likened to them by placing the lower nature under right reason. The effect is that we then rise up above the natural level of our existence, closer to the level of the angels and apart from the level of the animals.