Self-sufficiency

The consuming desire of most human beings is deliberately to plant their whole life in the hands of some other person. I would describe this method of searching for happiness as immature. Development of character consists solely in moving toward self-sufficiency.

We are all weak, finite, simple human beings, standing in the need of prayer. None need it so much as those who think they are strong, those who know it not but are deluded by self-sufficiency.

Nationalism has two fatal charms for its devotees: it presupposes local self-sufficiency, which is a pleasant and desirable condition, and it suggests, very subtly, a certain personal superiority by reason of one's belonging to a place which is definable and familiar, as against a place which is strange, remote.

Happiness... must be some form of contemplation. But, being a man, one will also need external prosperity; for our nature is not self-sufficient for the purpose of contemplation, but our body also must be healthy and must have food and other attention. Still, we must not think that the man who is to be happy will need many things or great things... for self-sufficiency and action do not involve excess, and we do noble acts without ruling earth and sea.

The activity of philosophic wisdom is admittedly the pleasantest of virtuous activities; at all events the pursuit of it is thought to offer pleasures marvelous for their purity and their enduringness, and it is to be expected that those who know ill pass their time more pleasantly than those who inquire. And the self-sufficiency that is spoken of must belong most to the contemplative activity.

Freedom is the greatest fruit of self-sufficiency.

Prejudice and self-sufficiency, naturally proceed from inexperience of the world, and ignorance of mankind.

The hearer of myth, regardless of his level of culture, when he is listening to a myth, forgets, as it were, his particular situation and is projected into another world, into another universe which is no longer his poor little universe of every day. . . . The myths are true because they are sacred, because they tell him about sacred beings and events. Consequently, in reciting or listening to a myth, one resumes contact with the sacred and with reality, and in so doing one transcends the profane condition, the "historical situation." In other words one goes beyond the temporal condition and the dull self-sufficiency which is the lot of every human being simply because every human being is "ignorant" — in the sense that he is identifying himself, and Reality, with his own particular situation. And ignorance is, first of all, this false identification of Reality with what each one of us appears to be or to possess.

The market economy is not everything. It must find its place in a higher order of things which is not ruled by supply and demand, free prices and competition. It must be firmly contained within an all-embracing order of society in which the imperfections and harshness of economic freedom are corrected by law and in which man is not denied conditions of life appropriate to his nature.

The best I can tell you in that way is that IÂ’m much more at ease with fellow-Catholics than I am with heathens or Protestants. One has so many basic assumptions in common that thereÂ’s so much that doesnÂ’t need saying, and when youÂ’re talking to even the most amusing and intelligent heathen you suddenly find that something youÂ’ve said has no meaning at all to them.

May we be wise — prayerfully wise — in the electing of those who would lead us. May we select only those who understand and will adhere to constitutional principles. To do so, we need to understand these principles ourselves… We should understand the Constitution as the founders meant that it should be understood. We can do this by reading their words about it, such as those contained in the Federalist Papers. Such understanding is essential if we are to preserve what God has given us.