Saturday, March 29, 2008

I Took The "How Reformed Are You Quiz".....

Not surprisingly, here is the result:

Consult your elders immediately and ask for counsel. If you don't have elders, find the nearest conservative Presbyterian church and call the pastor. Your soul may be in jeopardy or at the very least in need of some doctrinal rehabilitation.

Take it yourself here!

p.s. When it gets to the part about inviting people to take the quiz in order to see your results, simply click on "cancel" towards the right and it will bypass the whole invitation requirement.

"It Is Impossible For Us Not To Speak"

Today's reading from the Acts of the Apostles tells us that Peter and John could not not speak about Christ:

"Whether it is right in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges. It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard."

St. Dominic was also reported to be constantly speaking about God in his travels from city to city with his fellow friar preachers.

How much do you speak about God in your everyday conversations?

Sunday, March 23, 2008


This was in the news today:

[Nancy] Pelosi's visit to the Dalai Lama in Dharmsala, India, on Friday was the first by a major foreign official since the protests broke out. The Democratic leader said if people don't speak out against China's oppression in Tibet, "we have lost all moral authority to speak on behalf of human rights anywhere in the world."

I would argue that Pelosi lost all moral authority to speak on behalf of human rights anywhere in the world when she supported the legalization of killing babies in the United States.

...but hey, what do I know?

Christ Is Risen!

Happy Easter!

Last night's Easter Vigil Mass also marked the glorious occasion of the second anniversary of both my wife and my entrance into the Catholic Church!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Augustine On The Old Testament Canon

“He will be the most expert investigator of the Holy Scriptures who has first read all of them and has some knowledge of them, at least through reading them if not through understanding them. That is, he should read those that are said to be canonical…The whole canon of the Scriptures on which we say that this consideration of the step of knowledge should depend is contained in the following books: the five books of Moses, that is Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy; one book of Josue, one of Judges, one short book called Ruth which seems rather to pertain to the beginning of Kings; then the four books of Kings and two of Paralipomenon [Chronicles]….Job, Tobias, Esther, Judith, two books of Machabees, and two books of Esdras…Then there are the Prophets, among which are on book of the Psalms of David, and three books of Solomon: Proverbs, the Canticle of Canticles, and Ecclesiastes. For those two books, one of which is called Wisdom and the other Ecclesiasticus, are said to be Solomon’s through a certain similitude, since it is consistently said that they were written by Jesus son of Sirach. Nevertheless, since they have merited being received as authoritative, they are to be numbered among the prophetic books. The remainder are those books called Prophets in a strict sense, containing twelve single books of Prophets joined together. Since they have never been separated, they are thought of as one. The names of the Prophets are Osee, Joel, Amos, Abdias, Jonas, Micheas, Nahum, Habacuc, Sophonias, Aggeus, Zacharias, and Malachias. Then there are four books of four major Prophets: Isaias, Jermias, Daniel, Ezechiel. The authority of the Old Testament ends with these forty-four books.”

-St. Augustine in On Christian Doctrine, Book II, Chapt. 8.

Philippians 2:6-11

I received the following question:

todays (palm sunday) second reading was: Philippians 2:6-?
my question is this--> if someone were to read that (specifically verse 6), they may say "see? this proves Jesus was not divine, since he was 'in the form of God', and 'did not regard equality with God something to be grasped' ".
how would you respond to that?

Here is my response:

What Saint Paul is doing here in these verses is showing the stages of the Second Person of the Trinity. He was in the "the form of God." Being in the "form" of God implies that one is God. We see in this verse that Paul adds the word "though" before "he was in the form of God." Meaning, although he was God. And then Paul tells us what follows. He "did not count equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied himself, talking the form of a servant." Here we see Paul stating that although Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity is God and hence equal with God, He humbled Himself and took on our human nature, thus taking the form of a servant. This is the Incarnation. Paul tells us that Christ suffered and died in His human nature. Therefore, for His obedience, God exalted Christ again. This doesn't mean that the Second Person of the Trinity changed or was any less exalted than before. It means that Christ's humanity which He took on was exalted andglorified, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!

St. Paul is clearly extolling Christ as God in these verses. He does it by showing the three stages of the Mystery. 1) Christ pre-existed. 2) He became Incarnate. 3) His human nature is gloried and exalted and Christ the Second Person of the Trinity is now seated at the right hand of the Father.

Damascene On Transubstantiation

"To the divinity is truly united the body that was born of the Blessed Virgin, not in the sense that the body which ascended into heaven comes down again, but in the sense that the bread and wine are changed into God's body and blood. If you ask how this takes place, it is sufficient for you to know that it is done by the Holy Spirit, in the same way that our Lord took flesh from the Holy Mother of God and made it subsist in Himself. We apprehend and understand no more than that God's word is true and efficacious, and can do all things. But the way it was done is simply beyond our powers of investigation. This much may be said without misgiving: just as bread by eating, and wine and water by drinking, are naturally changed into the body and blood of him who eats and drinks, and do not become a body different from the living body that existed before, so the bread that had previously been placed on the table, and also the wine and water, are converted into the body and blood of Christ by the invocation and coming of the Holy Spirit, in a manner that exceeds the powers of nature. Once this action has been performed, there are no longer two substances, but one and the same."

-St. John Damascene in De fide orthodoxa.

Friday, March 14, 2008

"All Presence Of Christ Is Presence Of His Sacrifice"

"A theology of the eucharistic presence that does not involve the sacrifice, that does not effect the synthesis of the presence and the sacrifice, should acknowledge its failure: it is not a true theology of the presence."

-F.X. Durrwell in The Eucharist: Presence of Christ.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Bravo For Bishop D'Arcy

Here is another post for that "fundie" website to spew their vitriol at me simply because I disagree with their liberal ways:

There is an article here about Bishop D'Arcy's condemnation of the V-monologues that the President of Notre Dame plans to allow (again!) on their campus. I had to read this awful play as an undergrad Theatre major at Florida State for my "Gender, Race, and Performance" class. Unfortunately, I was the only one in the class who raised objections about the play and its denigration of women. For those who have not read it (which is a good thing), it basically defines a woman by her vagina. How, I ask, is that upholding a women's dignity? How is that liberating of a woman? It does not liberate, but further confines a woman, stripping her of all dignity that is owed to her by virtue of being a creature of God! Our culture has become so sex-obsessed that it only sees the world and humanity through the lens of sexual power and dominance. As we move further and further away from God, we slide ever deeper into the abyss of immorality and licentiousness, and closer to Satan.

This kind of demonic influence can only be overcome through prayer and fasting. I am in full support of Bishop D'Arcy that this play has no place on a Catholic University and is in direct contradiction of Ex Corde Ecclesiae:

It will be interesting to see if Bishop D'Arcy follows up with any ecclesiastical discipline for the President if he decides to go through with allowing the play on campus.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Union Of Heaven And Earth

"In the union of the Holy Spirit with [Mary], not only do we have the love of two beings; in one of the two we have all the love of the Trinity itself; and in the other we have all of creation's love. Hence, in this union heaven and earth meet; all of heaven with all of earth, the totality of divine eternal love with the plenitude of created love. It is the true summit of love."

-St. Maximilian Kolbe

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Anything Less Is Not The Eucharist, And Hardly A Sacrament

“The Fathers, and again St. Cyril of Alexandria in particular, refer us to the Holy Eucharist. Here we come in contact with the entire spiritualized Body of the Lord, which bears in Itself the source of all life. Here we eat the Bread of eternal life, which makes us one body and blood with Christ; here we are verily lifted to the fountain of life, one body with the Body of the God-Man. ‘He that eateth My flesh and drinketh my blood hath everlasting life’ (John 6:55). In virtue of the fact that the Body of the Lord, animated by the life-spirit of God, saturates our body and soul with the fullness of the divine life and Spirit, we are placed within the wondrous orbit of the inner life of the Trinity. As St. Thomas says, in the Eucharist we drink God’s life as it were from the very source. We are now no longer far from God. We have come quite close to Him; God in His very substance is nearer to us than we are to ourselves.”

-Julius Tyciak in Life in Christ.

The Splendor Of Grace

Grace is not a mere gift. It is God communicating His very life to us. Our creation by God is gratuitous. Grace is more. Much more. Grace moves us from a relation of slave and Creator to son and Father. Hence, it can only be given through Christ. His grace allows us to be sons with the Son and cry out to God, "Abba, Father!"

“Christian life is not mere friendship with God, not mere favor or acceptance. No, there are mysteries aglow here! Theology speaks with shy reverence and reserve of a ‘partaking in the divine nature.’ She sees in the life of grace an assimilation, a real, supernatural communion with God, which she calls physico-mystical…Grace is the appearing of God’s life in us. Created grace is the reflection of the uncreated grace which is God Himself. It is more than an elevation of being: since God gives Himself to the soul for its own, the soul is gripped by the heavenly notes that peal forth the canticle of grace within it. Grace is a vibrating in unison, a trembling and smouldering of the creature together with the divine music, holy and eternal, which rises in the august silence, the bright-darkness of the godhead; it rests truly therefore on a mysterious presence of God in us…With Cyril [of Alexandria] the Greek Fathers evolve a profound doctrine: that the sharing in God’s nature, the supernatural assimilation with God, grows as it were out of the insertion of our being in the life, the bosom of God. The Fathers recognize the full splendor of grace as a mysterious life-giving union of our being with the infinitely glorious life of God.”

-Julius Tyciak in Life in Christ.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Obama Is An Antichrist

Peter Leithart in his book, The Kingdom and the Power, has this to say about Satanic influences in the world:
"If we focus our attention on sensational incidents like the grizzly slaughter at Matamoros or the pop-occultism of New Age humanism, however, we may miss the larger point. Most of the iceberg remains submerged. Satanic influence does not always appear so blatantly evil. Often, as Hannah Arendt has noted, evil can seem perfectly banal. Satan can appear disguised as an angel of light. He can also wear the disguise of a state legislator who fights to keep abortion 'safe and legal'..."

This describes perfectly the underlying satanic agenda of Sen. Obama. He may seem all smooth and hip on the outside, but the things he advocates and says are nothing short of demonic. But, unless you think this is merely an ad hominem attack on Obama, consider his actions. For example, in Illinois there was a bill proposed in 2003 that would have banned killing an infant outside the womb who had survived an abortion. Even the notorious pro-death group, National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), supported the ban. Obama, on the other hand blocked the bill from being passed!

But it gets worse. Listen to what Obama had to say to NARAL after his losses to Clinton in Ohio and Texas:

“In 1973 alone white doctors aborted roughly 400,000 African-American fetuses. Those people would be 35-years-old this year, and would have been eligible to run for the presidency. But they didn’t make the cut, so to speak. I did. I’m a survivor and that’s the kind of person we need in the White House advocating the pro-choice cause.”

Did you catch that? Those babies aborted 35 years ago "didn't make the cut, so to speak." Obama is gloating about other babies being murdered by abortion and the fact that he did not. How absolutely sick, twisted, and demonic is this man?!

"Children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come; therefore we know that it is the last hour." (1 Jn 2:18)

Update: It seems that the quote above from Obama is from a satirical blog. Good. It's to Obama's credit that this horrible remark didn't actually come from his mouth. This does not change the fact that Obama is an antichrist. I thought he was an antichrist before I found the quote. Why? Because anyone who advocates the death of a baby is against Christ and thus an antichrist. Abortion is murder no matter what way you look at it. Besides, it is not a stretch of the imagination to believe that Obama would actually say such a thing considering his stance on abortion and his 2003 vote in support of infanticide, which even NARAL had the decency to oppose.

I also see that this post has made it on a website that has quotes from supposed "fundies" (which basically means anyone whom they disagree with, anyone who is an orthodox Christian, anyone who opposes murdering babies, or anyone who supports traditional family values). If that is what it means to be a "fundie", then by all means guilty as charged!

They also have a link on the site that says "Please support animal rights." Seems that for them animals have more rights than humans.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

What Does Grace Do?

“Grace joins the creature so closely to God that the soul, while it is in the state of grace, cannot be separated from God by any barrier of guilt. Grace, which bridges the infinite gap yawning between the creature and the divine nature, spans the still greater fissure caused by the upheaval of sin. By transforming man from a bondsman to a child of God, grace makes him also a friend of God, since God cannot but stand in a relation of friendship with His children as long as they remain His children. For this reason grace is called both gratia sanctificans (sanctifying grace) because it completely does away with all sinful disorder, and gratia gratum faciens (grace which renders one pleasing) because it makes the creature so pleasing in God’s sight that God myst deal with him as His friend and child.”

-Matthias Scheeben in The Mysteries of Christianity.

The Nature Of Christian Justification

“The mystery of the original state leads us on to the mystery of the state of grace characteristic of Christianity. But for that very reason Christian justification must be considered in terms of its opposition of the mystery of sin. However, the sin that Christian justification is meant to destroy cannot be regarded simply according to its natural side, as the derangement of the natural order. Sin must here be regarded according to the mysterious character it possesses in its opposition to the supernatural order of grace, particularly the grace of the original state. In this connection the state of sin is more than a disorder of the will. It is a complete estrangement and separation of man from God as his supernatural end, and is met with on God’s part not by a simple displeasure—involving disfavor in the moral sense—but by a forcible ejection from the state of the children of God, a stripping away of the supernatural raiment of grace. To join together again the severed strands of the supernatural bond with God, no mere change of the direction of man’s will can suffice. If man is to be reunited to God as his Father, God Himself must raise him up again to His side, and through the Holy Spirit must pour forth into man’s heart a filial love for Himself. If the sinner is to be freed from God’s disfavor, it will not at all suffice for God to cover up the sinful deed with the cloak of forgetfulness, and simply to remit the guilt in response to the sinner’s repentance. To forgive the sin fully, God must again confer on man that favor and grace which He had bestowed on him before he sinned. God must again draw man up to His bosom as His child, regenerate him to new divine life, and again clothe him with the garment of His children, the splendor of His own nature and glory. Only thus can justification completely and perfectly exterminate the sin as it exists concretely in its mysterious character. Therefore justification itself, which does away with so mysterious an evil, must be recognized as a supernatural mystery. Accordingly the mystery of sin, as also the mystery of original justice, looks to justification as a third mystery, which destroys the first and restores the second.”

-Matthias Scheeben in The Mysteries of Christianity.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Dialogue Between A Christian And A Saracen

A Christian was asked by a Saracen: Whom do you say is the cause of good and evil?
The Christian replied: We say that no one but God is the cause of all good, but not evil.
Saracen. Then whom do you say is the cause of evil?
Christian. The Devil, who is such by his own decision, and also we men.
Saracen. By virtue of what?
Christian. By virtue of our free will.
Saracen. What? You mean to say you have free will and can do anything you wish?
Christian. I was created by God with a will that is free. I may act well or badly, that is, I may do good or evil; if I do evil, I am punished by the Law of God, but if I do good I do not fear the Law, but I am rewarded and obtain mercy from God. Adam, the first man, was likewise created by God with free will, but the Devil deceived him and he sinned, so God cast him down from his proper status. But perhaps you will ask, in an effort to thwart me, ‘What are the goods and evils of which you speak?’ The goods are the glorification of God, prayer, almsgiving, and the like, and the evils are fornication, robbery, murder, and the like. Now if you want to make God the cause of evil as well as good, He appears, in your view, unjust, which He is not. For if God enjoined the fornicator to fornicate, the robber to rob, and the murderer to murder, as you say, then they deserve a reward, for they have done the will of God, and your lawgivers seem to be liars and your books false when they command us to whip the fornicator and robber and kill the murderer.
Then the Saracen asked: Do you say that a Christian who does the will of God is good or evil?
But the Christian, knowing his craftiness, replied: I know what you are getting at.
Saracen. Then you may tell it to me.
Christian. You want to ask me, ‘Did Christ suffer by His will or not?’ And if I answer you, ‘He suffered by His will,’ you will reply, ‘Be off! Then honor the Jews, for they did the will of your God.’
Saracen. Yes, that is most assuredly what I wanted to ask you, and if you have anything to say on this matter I should like to hear it.
Christian. You use the word ‘will’; I would be inclined to say ‘permission,’ ‘subsistence,’ and ‘forbearance.’
Saracen. How could you demonstrate this?
Christian. If you or I are sitting or standing, can either of us rise or be moved without the power and will of God?
Saracen. By no means.
Christian. And when God said, ‘Thou shalt not rob, fornicate, or murder,’ He clearly did not want us to rob, fornicate, or murder?
Saracen. Clearly not, for if He had wanted that, He certainly would not have said, ‘Thou shalt not rob, fornicate, or murder.’
Christain. Glory be to God, for then you agree with me and are saying precisely what I want to say. We are in accord that none of us can rise or be moved without God, and that God does not want us to rob, fornicate, or murder. Therefore if I should rise up and go and rob or fornicate or murder, what do you call that? Is it God’s ‘will,’ or would ‘permission,’ ‘subsistence,’ and ‘forbearance’ be better words? The truth of the matter is that God, although He could have intervened, agreed to the Crucifixion, and used it, by permitting it, against sin. But when He wishes to cause repentance, He punishes; He did this against the Jews also, for after a little while He aroused Titus, Vespasian, and the Greeks against them, and put down their insolence.
Saracen. What do you call Christ?
Christian. He is called the Word of God and many other things in our Scripture. What does your Scripture call Him?
Saracen. The Spirit and Word of God.
Christian. Does your Scripture consider that the Word of God was created or uncreated?
Saracen. It was uncreated.
Christian. But whatever is not created but uncreated is God. And if you were to answer me, ‘Created,’ I should ask you further, ‘Then who created the Word and Spirit of God?’
Saracen. What if I should answer that God Himself created them?
Christian. Then you would be forced to say that before God created His Spirit and Word He had neither the Spirit nor the Word. I say that I believe in only one Word of God which is uncreated, namely Christ, but of course I do not mean the Scripture itself when I say the ‘Word of God’ here.
Saracen. I would like to know how you can say that God came down into the womb of a woman.
Christian. Very well. Let us make use of your Scripture as well as mine. Your Scripture says that God cleansed Mary beforehand above all womankind, and that the Spirit and Word of God came down to her. And my Gospel says, ‘The Holy Spirit will come down upon thee and the power of the Most High will overshadow thee.’ Thus it seems that the two have one and the same meaning. But it should be noted that because of the state of our intellects the Scripture uses the words ‘come down upon’ tropologically.
Saracen. What is the meaning of ‘tropologically’?
Christian. ‘Tropologically’ means ‘figuratively,’ or ‘by analogy.’…
Saracen. If Christ was God, how is it that He ate and drank and slept and was crucified and died, and all the rest?
Christian. Because the Word of God, who created all things, as both my Scripture and yours attest, created Him from the flesh of the Holy Virgin, a perfect man, endowed with life and intellect. He ate, drank, and slept. But the Word of God itself did not eat, drink, or sleep, nor was it crucified, nor did it die, but it was the flesh which Christ took on from the Holy Virgin that was crucified. Christ had a dual nature united in one by the hypostatic union; a fourth person was not added to the Trinity after the ineffable union of the Incarnation.
Saracen. Suppose I were wounded in a part of my flesh, and the wounded flesh contracted, leaving a scar, and in the scar an infection developed; who would have created that?
Christian. All creatures were created during the first week. God created man also during these days, and ordered him to propagate and fill the earth. However, after the Original Sin, the earth was condemned to bring forth thorns and thistles; then also our flesh was condemned, and it brings forth lice and worms to this day.
Saracen. To turn to another matter, who is the greater among you, he who sanctifies or he who is sanctified?
But the Christian, knowing his hostile questioning, replied: I understand what it is you want to know.
Saracen. Well, if you do, answer me.
Christain. If I say to you, ‘He who sanctifies is greater than he who is sanctified,’ you will immediately respond, ‘Be off! Then worship John the Baptist, who certainly baptized and sanctified your Christ.’
Saracen. That is obviously what I would have said to you.
The Christian answered with an allegory. Suppose you go out with your slave to the bath to wash, and he washes and cleans you; whom would you say is the greater, that poor and penniless slave of yours or you yourself, whom he has washed?
Saracen. I would say that I myself, who own, am greater than he whom I own.
Christian. I give thanks to God for your reply. You should know, then, that John the Baptist, ministering to Christ as a slave and servant in the holy baptism in the Jordan in which my Savior was baptized, broke the heads of those dragons and bad demons who were lying in the caves there.
At this the Saracen marveled greatly, and, having nothing to answer the Christian, went away and debated with him no further.

-St. John Damascene, translated by J. Kritzeck in Anne Fremantle, A Treasury of Early Christianity (Mentor Books, 1953).

Book Alert!

Ignatius Press rocks! I just found out that they are bring James T. O'Conner's "The Gift of Infallibility" back into print. This is an amazing book that should be read by all who wish to understand the Church's teaching on Papal Infallibility! It not only gives Bishop Gasser's relatio on Vatican I's Pastor Aeternus, but it also has O'Conner's brilliant commentary on it. This book was outrageously expensive before, but when it is republished in May 2008, it will be only $11.53, which is highly affordable.

Pre-order it today!
p.s. Can you guys over at Ignatius bring Scheeben's Nature and Grace back into print? Please...

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Read The Old Testament Like The Church Fathers

That is the premise of Robert Louis Wilken's great new article in the March 2008 issue of First Things. He says that the way the Fathers read Scripture, specifically the OT, was by using allegory. Yet this was not to the detriment of the plain (or literal) meaning of the text. What the Fathers understood is that the OT must be interpreted in light of Christ, Whom it points to. But an allegorical reading of the OT was not the invention of the Fathers. Rather, it was the way the NT writers read Scripture. All of history is Christo-centric. Likewise with Scripture. Sadly, in the modern age of historical-critical methods which serve as the primary (if not the only) manner of Biblical interpretation, we have forgotten the allegorical sense of Scripture. Biblical scholars no longer read the OT in terms of types that point to NT fulfillments in Christ. I believe this is to their detriment and the reason why we have so much shoddy scholarship these days. We need to take a lesson from the Fathers and relearn how to do exegesis: through Christo-centric lenses.

I would link to the article, but since it just came out, it is not available to non-subscribers on line yet. Which is why you should subscribe to them! In the meantime here is an excerpt to wet your appetite:

"The task of an interpreter is to help the faithful look beyond the surface, to highlight a word here, an image there, to find Christ unexpectedly, to drink at the bountiful spring whose water is ever fresh. Though early Christian exegesis may on first reading appear idiosyncratic and arbitrary, it arose within the life of the Church and was practiced within a tradition of shared beliefs and practices, guided by the Church's faith as expressed in the creed. Exegesis was not about novelty but about finding the triune God in new and surprising places within the Scriptures."

Monday, March 03, 2008

The Natural Desire To See God

“Question 12 of the First Part of the Summa asks how God can be known by us and its first article asks: Can any created intellect see God in his essence? The ultimate end of man resides in the activity of his highest faculty, intellect; if a created intellect could never see the essence of God, either it would never attain happiness or its happiness lies elsewhere, which is against the faith. Man has a natural desire to know the cause when he knows the effect that elicits his wonder. But if the human intellect cannot attain the first cause of things, a desire of nature would be vain. So it must be said that the blessed see the essence of God. Cajetan suggests a twofold difficulty with this.

The first is as such and ad hominem. For it does not seem true that the created
intellect naturally desires to see God, since nature does not give to a thing an
inclination to that which the whole strength of that nature cannot reach. A sign
of this is that nature gives organs to each power that it puts into the soul.
And in On the Heavens it is said that if the stars had the power to progress
nature would have given them appropriate organs. It seems to imply therefore
that nature gives the desire for the divine vision and that it cannot give the
requisites for that vision, namely, the light of glory. And in St. Thomas’s
teaching, as we saw in the first article of this work, man is ordered to
happiness, not naturally, but obedientally. Therefore…

The second dubium is that, granting the argument, the conclusion does not follow. All that one can infer from the premises is that man can know the first cause, that is, knowledge of God as the cause of things seems naturally desired, but not to see his essence.

Cajetan resolves the first doubt by distinguishing between considering the rational creature absolutely and as ordered to happiness. ‘If he is considered in the first way, his natural desire does not extend beyond the capacity of nature, and in this sense I concede that he does not naturally desire the vision of God absolutely in himself. But if he is considered in the second way, thus he naturally desires the vision of God, because thus he knows some effects, as of grace and glory, whose cause is God, as God is in himself absolutely, not as the universal agent. Effects being known, it is natural for any intellect to desire knowledge of the cause.’ The desire for the vision of the divine essence, although it is not natural in the first sense, is natural in the second sense, supposing the revelation of such effects, and that is why Thomas says in III Summa contra gentes, caput 50, that the desire of the created intellectual nature would be inane if he could not see God. In this theological work, Cajetan adds, in which things are considered not absolutely, but as ordered to happiness, it is a properly theological conclusion that the vision of God is naturally desired.

Feingold draws attention to an apparent emendation of this explanation later in Cajetan’s commentary on IaIIae, q. 3, a. 8.

In Cajetan’s commentary on I-II, q.3, a. 8, on the other hand, the natural
desire to see God does not come directly from man’s elevation to a supernatural
destiny (as for de Lubac), or from the possibility of such a perfection
(Scotus), or from the revelation of supernatural effects of God (Cajetan’s
earlier solution). It comes simply from having an intellectual nature with a
natural desire to know the essence of a cause, having seen its effect. This
produces a natural desire to see God in anyone who considers that there must be
a (hidden) First Cause of all effects. The desire depends on a consideration of
things that can be naturally known, and does not depend upon being ordered to a
supernatural end. This view is the only one that is in harmony with the texts of
St. Thomas.

-Ralph McInerny in Praeambula Fidei: Thomism and the God of the Philosphers.

Contra De Lubac

“There has been some dissent from this received opinion about Cajetan and the Thomistic school. At the time of Surnaturel, de Lubac was severely challenged and, as we have seen, silenced. But he outlived his critics or they fell out of fashion and he emerged in the postconciliar Church as a surviving hero whose teaching on the supernatural and negative assessment of the whole Thomistic school became part of postconciliar lore. Eventually, as de Lubac himself ruefully observed in the second edition of his Memoire, he himself was pushed aside. It is a melancholy thought that the refutation of de Lubac’s position had to wait his relative eclipse.

Of course, a charge of such magnitude has to be carefully assessed. But by many it wasn’t. Like its formulator, they were predisposed to believe the worst about the Thomistic tradition. Presumably the doctrine attributed to Cajetan could be found in his writings. But this is just where the difficulties begin. Florent Gaboriau, not for the first time, has countered the de Lubac view in Thomas d’Aquin en dialogue, the book that reprints the Boulnois article as well as Gaboriau’s critique and a reply from Boulnois that prompted Gaboriau to write his book. Where, Gaboriau wants to know, did Cajetan write the things attributed to him by de Lubac et sequaces eius? A historical charge must repose on evidence. But Gaboriau is unable to find any texts of the great commentator that say what he is said to have said. Or, when accurate, what is attributed to him as an aberration is pure Thomism, for example, the notion of ‘pure nature.’ ‘Let me add that in fact the idea of a purus homo is not strange to Cajetan, but if one complains of that in him, it would appear that Saint Thomas too must be reproved. The phrase occurs not only in the biblical commentaries but in his masterpiece, the phrase repeated three times in the same article.’”

-Ralph McInerny in Praeambula Fidei: Thomism and the God of the Philosphers.

The Nuptials Between Mary And The Holy Spirit: A Model For The Marriage Of Nature With Grace

“Is there not a remarkable similarity between the marriage of nature with grace and the nuptials of Mary, the Virgin Mother, with the Holy Spirit? No resemblance is more deeply grounded than this, and nothing is more significant for grasping the grandeur of Christianity. The Virgin Mother, as the Church says, poured forth the eternal Light into the world; she bore the Son of God in His human nature and conceived Him in her womb. Through grace the Son of God is to be born again in human nature, not in physical unity of person, but in a moral, personal union, by a real image of His divine light and a real sharing of His divine life. The hypostatic union is the ideal, as well as the principle and end of the union by grace. It is the principle, because by it the Godhead is brought close to all mankind in inseparable union; the fullness of divinity was united with one individual of human nature, to be communicated to all others by participation. It is the end, because the true God-man must be the Head and King of all men who have been made to share in the divine nature through Him, and they must all be associated with Him for the greater glorification of His majesty.

The manner in which the divine nature in the person of the Word was wedded with human nature in the womb of the Virgin Mother corresponds in all details with the manner in which God wishes to be united in grace with nature as it exists in every man. Human nature could have been imparted to the Son of God by creation. In that case no mother would have been needed. But because He wished to be born in human nature, the Holy Spirit had to be joined in a nuptial union with a human mother. She had to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in this work; God could not form a man who was to be born into the human race without her, and she could not give birth to the Godman without God. She was the immaculate soil that the Holy Spirit was to overshadow like a cloud and to make fruitful with the dew of His power.

From eternity He had chosen her to be His bride, and awaited with ardent love the time when He could give Himself to her. And she, on her side, illuminated and incited by His grace, yearned as no other creature could for the infinitely exalted union of God with mankind. But this yearning was joined with deepest humility, for she was well aware of the infinite distance between God and herself; she knew that she could not merit that stupendous favor, and she did not consider herself worthy to see the sublime mystery fulfilled in her.

Then the Holy Spirit sent word to her through an angel and invited her to be His spouse. Although her consent did not decide God to decree the mystery, God was pleased to await her consent, that the nuptials might be celebrated with free love on her part, too. ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord,’ she said, ‘be it done to me according to thy word’ (Luke 1:38). As an obedient, humble maid, she assented to the word that conveyed her Lord’s request to her to become His mother. With the same sense of lowliness, the same consciousness of her nothingness with which she regarded herself as unqualified and unworthy of so august a union with supreme Goodness, she humbly subjected herself to God’s precious love, and yielded herself to be raised to the highest pinnacle of dignity, to cooperate with God’s greatest work.

Thus is accomplished the chaste marriage of the purest and most responsive creature with the all-pure and all-holy God. The dew and the power of the Holy Spirit flow down upon this receptive soil, to impart to it a divine fruitfulness and to cause the heavenly blossom to spring forth from the root of Jesse. The divine light in undiminished fullness falls on her as on an untarnished mirror, to be born by her and to be poured out by her into all the world.

Mary was a virgin before the marriage, because she had received no other seed, had taken to herself no alien light. She is a virgin in the union, because she suffers no hurt in her own life by receiving the divine seed, but on the contrary flowers forth into a higher life; she is not stained by the heavenly light, but is purified and transfigured with celestial beauty. She remains a virgin after the nuptial union, because she, having born the most perfect fruit and having been flooded with the very source of light, nevermore can or may receive another seed, another light.

Can there be a greater similarity, can a more perfect parallel be drawn out, than between the marriage of the Virgin with the Holy Spirit and that of nature and grace? The resemblance is so striking and clear in all details that we do not have to pursue the comparison in its individual traits. On both sides the analogy is evident: the height and depth, the infinite and the finite, heaven and earth are joined in a most astonishing and intimate union. Both mysteries alike are sublime and wonderful: ‘Which is more tremendous, which is more amazing: that God gives Himself to earth, or that He gives you to heaven; that He Himself enters into association with flesh, or that He grants you fellowship with divinity?” (St. Peter Chrysologus) The two mysteries are closely related; because of this relationship, both are the starting point, the center, and the goal of the entire supernatural economy of Christianity.”

-Matthias Scheeben in Nature and Grace.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Partakers Of The Divine Nature

“But if we have truly been made partakers of the divine nature and have become closely akin to it by the fact that our supernature raises up to it, we have been taken into the ambit of its life; then God immediately and in His own nature, as He is in Himself, becomes the object of our activity. Then, illuminated by His light, we shall know Him by coming into His presence; we shall no longer be limited to seeing Him as He is mirrored in creation. Permeated by God’s fire and elevated to kinship with Him, we shall embrace Him directly with our love; for we shall love Him as God who communicates His nature to us, not merely as the Creator of our nature. Our confidence will be directed exclusively to God Himself as He is in His own divine might which transcends all creation, that might by which He leads us toward an end that no created power can attain or hinder, by which He wills to bring us to the possession of Him in His divine glory; and thus we shall repose on the heart of our Father. In a word, if we are made partakers of the divine nature, our lives and our activity must be specifically similar to God’s. Therefore our activity must have the same specific, formal object that characterizes the divine activity. The divine essence must be the immediate object and motive determining supernatural activity in our own lives.”

-Matthias Scheeben in Nature and Grace. (They really ought to republish this book!)

Obediential Potency

"Now it must be born in mind that in the human soul, as in every creature, there is a double passive power: one in comparison with a natural agent; --the other in comparison with the first agent, which can reduce any creature to a higher act than a natural agent can reduce it, and this is usually called the obediential power of a creature."

-St. Thomas Aquinas, IIIa, q. 11, a. 1.

"...nature, while not aspiring to the supernatural by its own forces, is capable of reaching the supernatural through the influence and operation of another, higher nature. This is obediential potency, which is actuated under the guidance of a higher being to which unreserved obedience is given."

-Matthias Scheeben in Nature and Grace.

What's In A Name?

In 457 AD, the Monophysite Timothy the Cat was elected Patriarch of Alexandria.
He was succeeded by another Monophysite named Peter the Hoarse.
Peter the Hoarse was immediately run out of town by the Imperial authorities and replaced by Timothy of the White Turban, who happened to be a proponent of Chalcedon.