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Thursday, 28 February 2013

A fond goodbye and prayers for Benedict, Pope Emeritus

This Pope is no longer pope. He is not any man we have seen for hundreds of years. He is Benedict, Pope Emeritus. I and the entire Catholic Church of true members pray for him and wish him well. We shall never forget him, even if we never see him again.

He is our brother in Christ, now entering into the life of prayer, the life of a warrior behind the scenes.

May God bless him and bring him to perfection. May he experience the great consolations in contemplation.

May we share in his intercessions for the good of the whole Church.

May we always be grateful for his gentle, yet clear, teaching.

God bless, Benedict, Pope Emeritus.

(There are 16 posts today on this Pope, today and the conclave. Take time to read, please.)

"Loving the church also means having the courage to make tough choices, suffering, having always before you the good of the church and not yourself," yesterday's quotation from Benedict.

Sede Vacante

Is that an ATM on the right?

I just watched the Swiss Guard hang up the pike and the doors are closed. The local police have now taken over the protection of the Pope.  There are three and not quite as colourful as the Swiss Guards.

Sede Vacante.

The first meeting of the Cardinals is Monday at 9:30. That will be all the 207 Cardinals.

Arriving in Castel Gandolfo and the Bells of Gandolfo

Earlier photo of the Pope at Castel Gandolfo

After about a twenty-minute ride, I am watching the Pope arriving in Castel Gandolfo. (By the way, there was a helicopter following the Pope's helicopter).

The scenes of the helicopter has really moved me, especially flying over Rome and the great monuments and his cathedral. Wow!

One cannot imagine the importance of this moment.

The countryside of Italy is so beautiful, so green.

The helicopter is about to land.

Bells are ringing in Castel Gandolfo. It is so moving, as the sun is setting.

The Pope does look more relived and relaxed coming out of the helicopter.

He radiates peace.

The Pope will give a little speech in a few minutes.

The crowd is about ten thousand according to the media.

That is more than the official number of inhabitants of Castel Gandolfo.

The secular media is really impressed by the fact that this man is so humble as to have given up his power.

These media people are moved by his humility. And, the fact that the Pope is here means that he will not be part of the voting at the conclave. This is so important.

The photos of Castel Gandolfo from the helicopter are stunning. The Pope is now on the balcony and the people are yelling wishes and clapping. He is so loved.

They will not stop clapping.

Dear Friends

I am happy to enjoy your sympathy. I give thanks for your friendship and affection.

You know this is a different day for me than other days.

I am no longer the Pope....I am just a pilgrim starting his last pilgrimage on earth. (CNN translator)

He said more, but I can write no more.

Goodbye, Holy Father and the Bells of Rome

Wow, the crowd at Castel Gandolfo has been praying the rosary while waiting for the Pope. So cool, so appropriate.

The Pope is being addressed by Soldano. Some of the Cardinals have taken off there little red caps.

This is so sad, but dignified and noble.

He is standing at the door and the Swiss Guard is there. All the people in the private square are clapping.

The helicopter can be heard behind the clapping.

How humble this man is.....

The applause is now two minutes long.

He is now in the black car which will take him to the helipad.

There are giant screens showing this to the crowd.

The Pope looks relaxed.

I am not sure how far the helicopter is from the door, it is at the Vatican train station, but I do not know how far that is.

It is such a beautiful day in Rome.

I can hear bells beginning to ring in Rome on the Vatican feed.

OK, that is really moving....the bells of Rome saying goodbye to Benedict XVI.

The Pope is now at the helipad. He just waved in his childlike way.

The Pope is not flying his own helicopter today (lol).

Here is his final tweet. 
Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives.

The helicopter is now in the air....

The sun is setting at almost the same time...

The helicopter is going to make a loop over Rome. and the bells are fantastic.

More in a few minutes....

OK, now I am getting a little emotional (remember, I am an INTJ)

I am looking at the white helicopter which is going to take about the Pope in a few minutes.

This is so unreal.

The sun is setting  It is 4:35 according to my clock in Rome.

I shall write of the Pope's leaving the Vatican and going to Castel Gandolfo.

For me, this is a personal moment as well, as this Pope has been my favourite in my lifetime.

I am old enough to have remembered the papacies of six popes.

All these papacies have been very different. The Cardinals coming to Rome must look at the great popes with which we have been blessed for over a hundred and fifty years.

Did you know that the Pope has a helicopter license and is a trained pilot. I am amazed. What an amazing man.

I am watching this on both CNN and here

To be continued....

Cardinal Dolan Interview on CNN Today

A commentator on CNN actually said  something insightful. He said that Catholics believe that God already knows who the next Pope is (of course, we know God knows everything) but it is he role of the Cardinals to find out God's choice. Interesting.

Cardinal Dolan is being interviewed on CNN, who thanked CNN for its interest.

Cardinal Dolan said it was somber and sad to talk to the Pope for the last time as Pope. Dolan also said he looks very fragile. The Pope does look frail.

The Pope's comment that he would give his complete obedience to the next Pope struck Dolan as poignant. Tweeters agreed, as that phrase went around the world this morning.

Dolan says he is on his mom's list to be the next pope.

The Cardinal said that at this point the Cardinals are grieving. Then, the Cardinals will talk about issues. He also said they look for qualities---he said he would look for a man who reminds us of Jesus.

Dolan said we call the Pope the vicar of Christ and therefore they look for the natural characteristics; these are a person who is a pastor, a savvy person who knows the Church, a great theologian who knows the history and Tradition of the Church and a person who is a good administrator. There were a few more points, but those were the ones which struck me.

Dolan said that because we are talking about a shepherd, a pastor, the new pope would have to pray; he also wants a pope who wants to trust the other cardinals and bishops. He used the term "collegiality".

The Cardinal also said the turmoil has always been in the Church, of course. We in the Church know this.

The call to purity was mentioned by the Church. Yes...

Dolan said we have to work on the Sacrament of Marriage. But, in response to a question, Dolan said that there would be no change in priests getting married. He reminded the reporter that the mission of the pope is to conserve, not to change.

Dolan said the pope can change the way the teaching is opened, or "packaged", but the main teaching does not change.

The Cardinal noted that the duty of the pope to preserve the teachings of the Church.

He said there has to be a renewal of holiness, purity and renewal in the Church.

Amen. Of course, the abuse scandals were a great part of this interview. Nothing new there....Cardinal Dolan said there are some groups which are never happy with what the Church does. He also said that what the Church is doing now is good, there is a rigour, and that is laudable.

He did say the Church can never say thank God that's over with regard to the sex abuse scandals.

Deep theological insights masked as simplicity is a paraphrase of what Cardinal Dolan said was one of  Pope Benedict's gifts to the Church.

More in a few minutes.

Two and one-half hours until the Pope arrives here

The Pope and the Cardinals are still at lunch. A day of prayer for many who love him.
Here is a photo of his home for two months, Castel Gandolfo, the summer residence of the Popes.

Video of Pope's Meeting with Cardinals

found here

text here

One of the Pope's last gifts to us; a view of the Shroud

The Pope is allowing the Shroud of Turin to be on view on March 30th.  From

At 11 am on Friday 1 March the Archbishop of Turin, Mgr. Cesare Nosiglia, who is Pontifical Custodian of the Shroud, will give a presentation of the televised Ostension of the Shroud on 30 March, the day before Easter. Nosiglia’s presentation will be given at the Metropolitan Seminary of Turin (on Via XX Settembre, 83), Italy. Two million pilgrims from all across the world walked past the Shroud at the 2010 Ostension in Turin Cathedral. Forty years after the first televised Ostension ..more on this site.

Cardinals and numbers

231 were appointed by John Paul II, but of course not all can vote because of age

90 created by Benedict XVI, but not all can vote because of age

I think, but I am not sure, that 67 of Benedict's can vote and 55 of John Paul II's.

Aarrgh and a good link

Where do the main-stream medias get these liberal priests to make commentaries? Allen, the lay biographer, is a ok, just....

Good commentary here

Pope's Address to the Cardinals This Morning

Full text may be found at this site:

Here are a few words of the Pope. And I just got the Papal blessing as well. He looks very tired.

Wonderful that Cardinal Sodano is addressing the Pope and referred to the fact that the Church will last until the End of Time.

Also, he used the story of the Road to Emmaus in saying that the Cardinals feel like their hearts were burning within them walking with you, the Pope.

The Pope is greeting all the Cardinals who are in Rome, ( not all are there), and is stating that he, too, experienced joy in working with them, "marvellous moments in the history of the Church, and also times when the world was covered by dark clouds."

"Only Christ alone can shed light on our journey...."

He is quoting Romano Guardini at the Vatican II Council. "The Church is a living institution, it is living through time...its heart is Christ...and it lives in the strength of God....we saw this yesterday."

"The Church becomes alive in the souls of people." The Pope promised his obedience to the next Pope. Wow!

"We remain united in these mysteries...serving the Church and mankind. That is something which no one can deprive us of..."

(CNN translator)

Also found here

Of course, the station is talking about Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who is in an interesting position of serving Benedict XVI AND the next Pope.

John Allen has pointed out that the Pope has a almost "photographic memory" for details of scholarship.

I know a woman in Canada who has this and wrote her doctoral thesis in nine months.

From Father Z, Pray for the Pope

partial indulgence is granted to the Christian faithful who, in a spirit of filial devotion, devoutly recite any duly approved prayer for the Supreme Pontiff (e.g., the Oremus pro Pontifice):
V. Let us pray for our Pontiff, Pope Benedict.
R. May the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and bless him upon earth, and deliver him not to the will of his enemies.

Our Father.  Hail Mary.

Let us pray.

O God, Shepherd and Ruler of all Thy faithful people, look mercifully upon Thy servant Benedict, whom Thou hast chosen as shepherd to preside over Thy Church. Grant him, we beseech Thee, that by his word and example, he may edify those over whom he hath charge, so that together with the flock committed to him, may he attain everlasting life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

If you are in London this evening....

A Quick Note from St. Bernard:Part 60 on the DoC and Perfection

I know I started the postings on St. Augustine, which will continue on Friday, but today I was reading in the sermon of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, On Detraction.

I am only going to refer to two ideas, both repetitions on this blog.

Bernard states plainly that without orthodoxy, our good works remain worthless.

Faith, and that means the True Faith, which is found in the Teaching Magisterium of the Church, forms
the basis of all good works.

Bernard goes so far as to say that only those who are orthodox can work in the Lord.

So many people start projects which flag and die. So many people begin ministries which are not exactly in God's Will but merely reflect that person's need for activity.

Bernard is clear. Orthodoxy and good works are both necessary for salvation, but orthodoxy must come first.

He also noted that if one suffers for one's own sins, that is not the same as suffering for Christ, with Christ and in Christ. Only when we are purged of sin can we suffer for Christ's sake.

Ponder these simple but true statements.

Tomorrow, back to Augustine of Hippo.

Missing the Snowdrops

In England, the snowdrops have been out for several weeks. I am missing them again this year. To miss the snowdrops is a sad thing for me.

I was born in January and in England, the snowdrop is the flower of a January baby.

Many. many years ago, more than twenty to be exact, I visited Kingston Lacy Gardens with a friend and my little son.

As this visit was in the summer, I missed the snowdrops.

I hope I get to see them at least once at Kingston Lacy. Buckfast Abbey Gardens and Grounds, especially the walk by the River Dart, is a great place for snowdrops.

A humble, small, yet brilliant flower....a little homage to it here.

Are there any readers who can tell me if the snowdrops are still blooming somewhere in the south of England?

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Blessed Roger Filcock, St. Anne Line, and Blessed Mark Barkworth

Today in the Diocese of Southwark, the feast day of Blessed Roger Filcock, Jesuit, is celebrated. It is also the feast day of St. Anne Line and  Blessed Mark Barkworth, a Benedictine.

Blessed Roger was born in Sandwich, a beautiful Medieval town and I was fortunate enough to attend a Benediction where his relics were present.

It was a wonderful little pilgriimage for me. The diocese has a pilgrimage yearly to Tyburn and then to Sandwich. Although I did not take part in the Tyburn Mass and prayers, I did attend the Benediction.

Wonderful Latin! One of the priests who led the Litany of the Saints is an Ordinariate priest. Because of Pope Benedict XVI, we have this wonderful priests and many others in England in the Church.

Blessed Roger Filcock was the confessor of Anne Line. There is something particularly barbaric about hanging, drawing and quartering a woman. Here is Blessed Roger's biography.

May they all intercede for England.

From 1sistersR4ever and #ThanksPontifex

Send it around to the whole world, is the request...........................

Great Photos of Last Audience on Link and Link to Text

UPDATE: full text of audience here.

Perfection and the Doctors of the Church Series Delayed

Until Friday....for the series...

God bless Pope Benedict XVI

In the meantime, reread this:

Not sure if this will be on television here

Pope's last audience...from La Stampa

This is a snippet of a longer article found here.

Twice the Pope cast his audience’s mind back to the day of his election – 19 April 2005 – reiterating that the commitment he took on that day was “forever”. “He who assumes the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. He belongs always and totally to everyone, to the whole Church. His life is, so to speak, totally deprived of the private sphere,” what with all the “pastoral visits”, “public encounters”, “Audiences” and “travelling” he must undertake.

His decision to resign was an easy one, the Pope admitted, but “loving the Church also means having the courage to make difficult, trying choices, having ever before oneself the good of the Church and not one’s own. “

Benedict XVI also looked back at his eight years as Pope, a time which has seen “moments joy and light, but also difficult moments.” Ratzinger evoked the image of the Church as St. Peter’s boat, one he had already used to condemn the failings of the Church ahead of the Conclave which elected him Pope. “The Lord has given us many days of sunshine and gentle breeze days in which the catch has been abundant; [then] there have been times when the seas were rough and the wind against us and the Lord seemed to sleep,” Benedict XVI said. In response to the numerous conspiracy theories and behind-the-scenes events of recent weeks, the Pope said “I have not ever felt myself alone in bearing either the joys or the weight of the Petrine ministry.”

Well, the world does not like us.....

Thanks to Damian Thompson for this link. Horrid.

Travelling, but not to Rome


Apparently, for the last view of the Pope today, the crowd around St. Peter's is huge. Well, we are witnessing daily, historical events beyond our comprehension, and all in the plan of God.

I am travelling today, but, sadly, not to Rome. Some people I know who are new converts are making their way to the Holy City for the first time as Catholics, and will stay into next week.

Many priests are making their way to Rome, and the Cardinals of the world are preparing for their first general consultative meetings.

I briefly watched some news on the television last night. My only comment-thank God for Catholic Internet news............I hope I can get the Net on my phone as I am moving about today. 

Part 59: DoC and Perfection: Augustine of Hippo

I am presenting bits of the City of God by St. Augustine. After Augustine  I shall highlight SS. Jerome and John Chrysostom, as part of the section on the Classical Doctors of the Church. Of course, those of you who have been following this, know I am not going in chronological order, but a thematic order.

The times in which we live resemble those of St. Augustine. He witnessed the fall of Rome, and his book was written to both criticize Rome, as the City of Men, and to defend the Christians, in the City of God.

More and more, we are seeing those two spheres, those two cities as separate.

The Death of Archimedes
We shall be living in the City of God within the City of Men. Augustine has much to say which will help us find perfection in this tension. I imagine two spheres, or circles, slightly overlapping, like a Venn Diagram. But, the overlap with become smaller and smaller. Augustine, being taught classical mathematics, would have known of the work of Archimedes, arguably one of the most brilliant men ever to walk this earth. The imagery of the two cities as overlapping circles, has tragically been taken over by both the wiccas and the Masons in our times. But, the original ideas of good and evil existing side by side, or the city of the Spirit existing within the city of the Flesh remains a classical distinction. 

What has this to do with perfection? We need to see ourselves as no longer in a Christian world, but as the Early Church, areas of Christianity is a huge world of paganism. We can envision the world of paganism as this famous cylinder of Archimedes and the sphere as the Christian world. The Plan of God was that all the world would live and work and have its being in His Perfection and Love. Our first parents ruined the plan, but Christ redeemed us and the world. However, sin abounds and the world of sin grows daily.

The Church will experience more and more separation, although never giving up on evangelizing, the way that will happen will change.

"See how they love one another". If this does not happen in an area, there will be no influence for good, for Christ.

Unless relationships are based on God, evangelization will fail. I cannot cover all the ideas as his description of the origin of both cities takes four books before these, but here is St. Augustine himself.



OF the bliss of Paradise, of Paradise itself, and of the life of our first parents there, and of their sin and punishment, many have thought much, spoken much, written much. We ourselves, too, have spoken of these things in the foregoing books, and have written either what we read in the Holy Scriptures, or what we could reasonably deduce from them. And were we to enter into a more detailed investigation of these matters, an endless number of endless questions would arise, which would involve us in a larger work than the present occasion admits. We cannot be expected to find room for replying to every question that may be started by unoccupied and captious men, who are ever more ready to ask questions than capable of understanding the answer. 

Yet I trust we have already done justice to these great and difficult questions regarding the beginning of the world, or of the soul, or of the human race itself. This race we have distributed into two parts, the one consisting of those who live according to man, the other of those who live according to God. And these we also mystically call the two cities, or the two communities of men, of which the one is predestined to reign eternally with God, and the other to suffer eternal punishment with the devil. This, however, is their end, and of it we are to speak afterwards. At present, as we have said enough about their origin, whether among the angels, whose numbers we know not, or in the two first human beings, it seems suitable to attempt an account of their career, from the time when our two first parents began to propagate the race until all human generation shall cease. For this whole time or world-age, in which the dying give place and those who are born succeed, is the career of these two cities concerning which we treat.

Of these two first parents of the human race, then, Cain was the first-born, and he belonged to the city of men; after him was born Abel, who belonged to the city of God. For as in the individual the truth of the apostle's statement is discerned, "that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterward that which is spiritual,"(1) whence it comes to pass that each man, being derived from a condemned stock, is first of all born of Adam evil and carnal, and becomes good and spiritual only afterwards, when he is grafted into Christ by regeneration: so was it in the human race as a whole. When these two cities began to run their course by a series of deaths and births, the citizen of this world was the first-born, and after him the stranger in this world, the citizen of the city of God, predestinated by grace, elected by grace, by grace a stranger below, and by grace a citizen above. By grace,--for so far as regards himself he is sprung from the same mass, all of which is condemned in its origin: but God,
By grace, we are strangers, and by grace we are citizens of heaven....Christ has called us to the City of God.
like a potter (for this comparison is introduced by the apostle judiciously, and not without thought), of the same lump made one vessel to honor, another to dishonor.(1) But first the vessel to dishonor was made, and after it another to honor. For in each individual, as I have already said, there is first of all that which is reprobate, that from which we must begin, but in which we need not necessarily remain; afterwards is that which is well-approved, to which we may by advancing attain, and in which, when we have reached it we may abide. Not, indeed, that every wicked man shall be good, but that no one will be good who was not first of all wicked but the sooner any one becomes a good man, the more speedily does he receive this title, and abolish the old name in the new. Accordingly, it is recorded of Cain that he built a city,(2) but Abel, being a sojourner, built none. For the city of the saints is above, although here below it begets citizens, in whom it sojourns till the time of its reign arrives, when it shall gather together all in the day of the resurrection; and then shall the promised kingdom be given to them, in which they shall reign with their Prince, the King of the ages, time without end.
Abel, without a city, represents us, those called to the City of God through baptism. Cain built a city and his city is of the flesh. These two cities exist side by side.



But the families which do not live by faith seek their peace in the earthly advantages of this life; while the families which live by faith look for those eternal blessings which are promised, and use as pilgrims such advantages of time and of earth as do not fascinate and divert them from God, but rather aid them to endure with greater ease, and to keep down the number of those burdens of the corruptible body which weigh upon the soul. Thus the things necessary for this mortal life are used by both kinds of men and families alike, but each has its own peculiar and widely different aim in using them. The earthly city, which does not live by faith, seeks an earthly peace, and the end it proposes, in the well-ordered concord of civic obedience and rule, is the combination of men's wills to attain the things which are helpful to this life. The heavenly city, or rather the part of it which sojourns on earth and lives by faith, makes use of this peace only because it must, until this mortal condition which necessitates it shall pass away. Consequently, so long as it lives like a captive and a stranger in the earthly city, though it has already received the promise of redemption, and the gift of the Spirit as the earnest of it, it makes no scruple to obey the laws of the earthly city, whereby the things necessary for the maintenance of this mortal life are administered; and thus, as this life is common to both cities, so there is a harmony between them in regard to what belongs to it. 

Obviously, we see we are in this dilemma now. We are strangers in the City of Men and if we do not feel this way or see ourselves as strangers, we are not in the Spirit.

But, as the earthly city has had some philosophers whose doctrine is condemned by the divine teaching, and who, being deceived either by their own conjectures or by demons, supposed that many gods must be invited to take an interest in human affairs, and assigned to each a separate function and a separate department,--to one the body, to another the soul; and in the body itself, to one the head, to another the neck, and each of the other members to one of the gods; and in like manner, in the soul, to one god the natural capacity was assigned, to another education, to another anger, to another lust; and so the various affairs of life were assigned,--cattle to one, corn to another, wine to another, oil to another, the woods to another, money to another, navigation to another, wars and victories to another, marriages to another, births and fecundity to another, and other things to other gods: and as the celestial city, on the other hand, knew that one God only was to be worshipped, and that to Him alone was due that service which the Greeks call latreia , and which can be given only to a god, it has come to pass that the two cities could not have common laws of religion, and that the heavenly city has been compelled in this matter to dissent, and to become obnoxious to those who think differently, and to stand the brunt of their anger and hatred and persecutions, except in so far as the minds of their enemies have been alarmed by the multitude of the Christians and quelled by the manifest protection of God accorded to them.

I write this entire perfection series because we are in these times.

We shall dissent more and more from the City of Men

This heavenly city, then, while it sojourns on earth, calls citizens out of all nations, and gathers together a society of pilgrims of all languages, not scrupling about diversities in the manners, laws, and institutions whereby earthly peace is secured and maintained, but recognizing that, however various these are, they all tend to one and the same end of earthly peace. It therefore is so far from rescinding and abolishing these diversities, that it even preserves and adopts them, so long only as no hindrance to the worship of the one supreme and true God is thus introduced. Even the heavenly city, therefore, while in its state of pilgrimage, avails itself of the peace of earth, and, so far as it can without injuring faith and godliness, desires and maintains a common agreement among men regarding the acquisition of the necessaries of life, and makes this earthly peace bear upon the peace of heaven; for this alone can be truly called and esteemed the peace of the reasonable creatures, consisting as it does in the perfectly ordered and harmonious enjoyment of God and of one another in God. When we shall have reached that peace, this mortal life shall give place to one that is eternal, and our body shall be no more this animal body which by its corruption weighs down the soul, but a spiritual body feeling no want, and in all its members subjected to the will. In its pilgrim state the heavenly city possesses this peace by faith; and by this faith it lives righteously when it refers to the attainment of that peace every good action towards God and man; for the life of the city is a social life.

Happy Augustine, at this point in the book, however, that he can envision a mutual up-building of both cities.

But, note, that he is realistic and warns us that we are, as Christians, always a "pilgrim state". We have peace by faith and by faith we live righteous, that is, just, lives.

To be continued..................

Part 58: Doctors of the Church and Perfection: St. Augustine

St. Augustine of Hippo

The Classical Doctors of the Church and Perfection

Sadly, I leave the great and sweet St. Bernard behind and move to the Doctors of the Church in the Classical Period. St. Augustine will be the focus for a few days.  May I state that he has most likely been one of the greatest influences on modern spirituality for many reasons. I cannot do him justice on this blog, what will merely highlight some ideas

By the way, before I dig in, there are now over 200 postings on perfection. I may put these into a book form, if I can find someone interested in helping me get it published. I have copious notes.

At this time, on this day in history, we should all return to Augustine's City of God. If any book of the Classical Period would give us perspective on the events of today, it is Augustine's critique of Rome and his understanding of the two cities.

To see him in the line of those who teach us how to be perfect, I shall start with this. We must acknowledge that our wills are free in order to pursue perfection. Reason and faith go together. From Book Five

Now, against the sacrilegious and impious darings of reason, we assert both that God knows all things before they come to pass, and that we do by our free will whatsoever we know and feel to be done by us only because we will it. But that all things come to pass by fate, we do not say; nay we affirm that nothing comes to pass by fate; for we demonstrate that the name of fate, as it is wont to be used by those who speak of fate, meaning thereby the position of the stars at the time of each one's conception or birth, is an unmeaning word, for astrology itself is a delusion. 

This next section is hard for many people who cannot understand that God knows all things and yet, within that Divine Knowledge and Plan, we have free will. For an adult Catholic, that is over the age of 18 or so, this means taking responsibility for our journey to holiness.

But an order of causes in which the highest efficiency is attributed to the will of God, we neither deny nor do we designate it by the name of fate, unless, perhaps, we may understand fate to mean that which is spoken, deriving it from fari, to speak; for we cannot deny that it is written in the sacred ScripturesGod has spoken once; these two things have I heard, that power belongs unto God. Also unto You, O God, belongs mercy: for You will render unto every man according to his works. Now the expression, Once has He spoken, is to be understood as meaning  immovably, that is, unchangeably has He spoken, inasmuch as He knows unchangeably all things which shall be, and all things which He will do. We might, then, use the word fate in the sense it bears when derived from fari, to speak, had it not already come to be understood in another sense, into which I am unwilling that the hearts of men should unconsciously slide. But it does not follow that, though there is for God a certain order of all causes, there must therefore be nothing depending on the free exercise of our own wills, for our wills themselves are included in that order of causes which is certain to God, and is embraced by His foreknowledge, for human wills are also causes of human actions; and He who foreknew all the causes of things would certainly among those causes not have been ignorant of our wills.

Of course, God is knowledgeable of our wills, our decisions. But He has allowed us choices, which are all included in His Will. As we have seen in the past few weeks, many people have made good and bad choices in their lives. Yet, all is in the Will of God. All.

For even that very concession which Cicero himself makes is enough to refute him in this argument. For what does it help him to say that nothing takes place without a cause, but that every cause is not fatal, there being a fortuitous cause, a natural cause, and a voluntary cause? It is sufficient that he confesses that whatever happens must be preceded by a cause. For we say that those causes which are called fortuitous are not a mere name for the absence of causes, but are only latent, and we attribute them either to the will of the true God, or to that of spirits of some kind or other. And as to natural causes, we by no means separate them from the will of Him who is the author and framer of all nature. But now as to voluntary causes. They are referable either to God, or to angels, or to men, or to animals of whatever description, if indeed those instinctive movements of animals devoid of reason, by which, in accordance with their own nature, they seek or shun various things, are to be called wills.

Silly modern philosophers and anthropologists no longer make distinctions between human actions and animal actions. Instinctive behaviour is very far from acts of the will. We are in charge, unless we have fallen into years of habitual sin.

And when I speak of the wills of angels, I mean either the wills of good angels, whom we call the angels of God, or of the wicked angels, whom we call the angels of the devil, or demons. Also by the wills of men I mean the wills either of the good or of the wicked. And from this we conclude that there are no efficient causes of all things which come to pass unless voluntary causes, that is, such as belong to that nature which is the spirit of life. For the air or wind is called spirit, but, inasmuch as it is a body, it is not the spirit of life. The spirit of life, therefore, which quickens all things, and is the creator of every body, and of every created spirit, is God Himself, the uncreated spirit. In His supreme will resides the power which acts on the wills of all created spirits, helping the good, judging the evil, controlling all, granting power to some, not granting it to others. For, as He is the creator of all natures, so also is He the bestower of all powers, not of all wills; for wicked wills are not from Him, being contrary to nature, which is from Him.

This is comforting, or should be. If we have given ourselves to Christ, then our wills slowly but surely become conformed to his.

Then, the Holy Spirit is in charge and the flowering of the virtues occurs.

As to bodies, they are more subject to wills: some to our wills, by which I mean the wills of all living mortal creatures, but more to the wills of men than of beasts. But all of them are most of all subject to the will of God, to whom all wills also are subject, since they have no power except what He has bestowed upon them. The cause of things, therefore, which makes but is made, is God; but all other causes both make and are made. Such are all created spirits, and especially the rationalMaterial causes, therefore, which may rather be said to be made than to make, are not to be reckoned among efficient causes, because they can only do what the wills of spirits do by them. How, then, does an order of causes which is certain to the foreknowledge of God necessitate that there should be nothing which is dependent on our wills, when our wills themselves have a very important place in the order of causes? Cicero, then, contends with those who call this order of causes fatal, or rather designate this order itself by the name of fate; to which we have an abhorrence, especially on account of the word, which men have become accustomed to understand as meaning what is not true. But, whereas he denies that the order of all causes is most certain, and perfectly clear to the prescience of God, we detest his opinion more than the Stoics do. For he either denies that God exists,— which, indeed, in an assumed personage, he has labored to do, in his book De Natura Deorum,— or if he confesses that He exists, but denies that He is prescient of future things, what is that but just the fool saying in his heart there is no God? 

How sad it is that we know so many people who deny that there is a God of History, One Who has entered into the lives of men and woman and does so constantly.

The atheists and agnostics act as if there was a separation between God and them, God and human activity. The Star Wars generation believes in Fate, rather than in free will.

We must not lose the fact that we are responsible for our own lives.
We must decide to follow the path of perfection, given to us in our baptismal graces.

For one who is not prescient of all future things is not God. Wherefore our wills also have just so much power as God willed and foreknew that they should have; and therefore whatever power they have, they have it within most certain limits; and whatever they are to do, they are most assuredly to do, for He whose foreknowledge is infallible foreknew that they would have the power to do it, and would do it. Wherefore, if I should choose to apply the name of fate to anything at all, I should rather say that fate belongs to the weaker of two parties, will to the stronger, who has the other in his power, than that the freedom of our will is excluded by that order of causes, which, by an unusual application of the word peculiar to themselves, the Stoics call Fate.

To be continued.....