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Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Thomas Aquinas in the Present Age of Nice

My generation was raised with more manners than the present youth. We knew how to act in various social settings. We were kind and considerate to the old and very young, women and babies.  But, we also knew when to speak clearly about truth and nonsense. Perfection does not come to those who are squeamish. I suggest a good look at this, unfortunately grainy take, from Jesus of Nazareth.

I published this article in January of this year, on the 9th, under the same title; and I am posting it again. It was part of the beginning of the series on Perfection.

I taught college in the late 70s and 80s, was a stay at home mom for many years, and went back into the classroom in the late 90s, until 2010. In a period of eleven years, the difference in the ability of the students to make decisions struck me as apocalyptic. Since 1996, when I re-entered academia, until 2010, when I left the classroom, my observations included the fact that my students has no moral framework from which to decide right or wrong. The heresy of relativism had changed two generations of minds, so that the rational ability to chose virtue over pleasure, depravity, sin was gone. Without reason, none of us can be truly virtuous. Thomas Aquinas in his sections on virtue in the Summa, notes that, natural reason perfected leads to virtue. Virtue cannot be developed or lived without the perfection of natural reason. Intellectual and moral virtues assumes, as we know in the teaching of the Catholic Church, an ability to reason, set usually at the age of seven. At that age, traditionally, children begin to establish a perception of good and evil, virtue and vice, which allows them to chose. Now, the passions come into play here, but that is not the emphasis of this post.

If a child is being raised in complete relativism, with no basis for judgement, such as the Ten Commandments, the Laws of the Church, the conscience will lack that reasonable ability which can be perfected. When was the last time you heard a sermon on the virtues and the life of virtue?

Knowledge leads to action, unless one lives in the knee-jerk world of the passions unbridled. Knowledge is partly built upon natural law, a concept denied by our Post-Modernist atheists and Christians. Revelation, that is the Old and New Testaments, builds on natural law, and the Tradition of the Catholic Church builds on Revelation. Reason is capable of absorbing these teachings, as we are rational beings. The monkey wrench in the machine is this "nice" attitude that all "values" are equal and that passions may be followed without rules-anarchy of the mind and will.

My former students on the whole did not have parents who raised them with any consequences or rules. Most of them were making up rules for relationships and life goals as they went along. Poor things. Like the Existentialist who sees life as pain because there is no meaning unless one creates that meaning, these young people just lurch from one idea of popular Post-Modernist narcissism to the next.

Our present Pope is the Pope of Reason, and he has written and spoken of the rational aspect of humanity, and the beauty of the overlap of reason and Faith-the pillars of the formation of a moral framework, leading to the perfection of reason, which is virtue.

Many arguments on line have been criticized for not being nice, or lacking tact.

My generation was raised with manners, but we never used this word "tact"to criticize strong feelings regarding heaven, hell, or the four last things.

Some Millenials do not want to hear the Truth unless is comes in a nice package. Here are a few quotations upon which to meditate for my young friends. I do not address you, but your teachers and priests in these phrases; consider the world in which we live and listen carefully. This is God speaking.

Thou blind Pharisee, first make clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, that the outside may become clean. Matthew 23:26

Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you are like to whited sepulchres, which outwardly appear to men beautiful, but within are full of dead men's bones, and of all filthiness. Matt. 23:27