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Saturday, 16 February 2013

Part 28, The Universal Doctor of the Church and Perfection

There is only one Universal Doctor of the Church and that is St. Thomas Aquinas, the last Dominican in the series, but not the least.

Among the volumes of his work, On the Perfection of the Spiritual Life will take up several posts to examine even in part.

Of course, the reason for this journey is the discovery of the Love of God and love of our neighbour. 

I cannot cover the entire book here, but only highlight some passages. I am starting with Chapter Five, as the title will explain the significance. I find both Albert and Aquinas easy to understand, but I shall break up the selections and make comments in red this time.

One may think on these rather simple sounding words, as these are profound. Ask yourself why this perfection is necessary for salvation.


The Perfection of Love of God That is Necessary to Salvation
In another way we love God with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength, if nothing in us is lacking to divine love, if there is nothing which we do not, actually or habitually, refer to God. And a precept is given concerning this divine love.

First, man should refer all things to God as his end, as the Apostle says: "Whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever else you do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Cor 10:31). One fulfills this when one orders his life to God's service, and thus all the things that he does for himself, he virtually orders to God, unless they are things that lead away from God, such as sins: thus man loves God with his whole heart.

Again, we see the movement away from sin into order in one's life. This order is both within and without.
Discipline would be implied in this order. In this order, we place all we do under God's Will. The reference to eating and drinking is not facetious, but real. All the little things we do can be done in and with God.

The eating and drinking pertain to the body, and so the body comes to love God as well as the mind and the soul

Secondly, man should subject his intellect to God, believing those things that are divinely revealed, according to the Apostle: "taking understanding captivity, unto the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor 10:5). Thus man loves God with his whole mind.

This section reminds me of the old catechism answer. Our intellect is to be formed in God. I love the phrase, which indicated that understanding is under and leads to more obedience. This is part of the formation of our consciences, which must be conformed to the Teaching of the Church. It is in the Church that we know God's Will. Belief first, understanding second...........for most people.

Thirdly, all the things a man loves, he should love in God, and universally refer all his affection to the love of God; hence the Apostle says "whether we be transported in mind it is to God, or whether we be sober, it is for you; for the charity of Christ presses us" (2 Cor. v. 13). Thus man loves God with his whole soul.

We see the progression from body to mind and to soul. This is the movement we have seen in other writers as well. This is also the form of purgation. We are cleansed of our gross sins, then the mind is purified and finally, the soul.

We love with all three.

Fourthly, man should derive all his external works, words and deeds from divine love, according to the Apostle: "Let all your things be done in love" (1 Cor 16:14), and thus a man loves God with all his strength.

Here is the most misunderstood part of perfection, for unless we love, our actions are in vain.

This is, then, the third mode of perfect divine love, to which all are bound by the necessity of precept. But the second mode is not possible to anyone in this life, unless he is at the same time a wayfarer and an enjoyer of beatitude, as was our Lord Jesus Christ

So, this mode is what we all must do for salvation. And, this is possible with grace. 

"God made me to know Him, to love Him, to serve Him in this world and in the next."

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