As readers know, I am putting the series on again with different numbering. As today is the Feast of St. John Damascene, I am putting his entries on the blog. I hope this helps for people still confused about invincible ignorance.
I shall look at Basil, Peter Chrysologus, Gregory Nazianzus, Hilary of Poitiers Athanasius, the two Cyrils, and John Damascene, John Chrysostom, and Isidore of Seville before moving on to others closer to our own time. I have written about John of the Cross before, but I shall look at him again in the context of this series. As I have noted before, I shall end the series with a few posts on Garrigou-Lagrange, who started this series. On this day, when we may have a new pope, I shall start with St. John Damascene, who wrote among other things, a long treatise on the Faith.
Here is the beginning of the book, as a warning for those seeking perfection.
An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith.
Chapter I.—That the Deity is incomprehensible, and that we ought not to pry into and meddle with the things which have not been delivered to us by the holy Prophets, and Apostles, and Evangelists.
No one hath seen God at any time; the Only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him1406. The Deity, therefore, is ineffable and incomprehensible. For no one knoweth the Father, save the Son, nor the Son, save the Father1407. And the Holy Spirit, too, so knows the things of God as the spirit of the man knows the things that are in him1408. Moreover, after the first and blessed nature no one, not of men only, but even of supramundane powers, and the Cherubim, I say, and Seraphim themselves, has ever known God, save he to whom He revealed Himself.
God, however, did not leave us in absolute ignorance. For the knowledge of God’s existence has been implanted by Him in all by nature. This creation, too, and its maintenance, and its government, proclaim the majesty of the Divine nature1409.
This is natural law.
Moreover, by the Law and the Prophets1410 in former times and afterwards by His Only-begotten Son, our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, He disclosed to us the knowledge of Himself as that was possible for us. All things, therefore, that have been delivered to us by Law and Prophets and Apostles and Evangelists we receive, and know, and honour1411, seeking for nothing beyond these. For God, being good, is the cause of all good, subject neither to envy nor to any passion1412. For envy is far removed from the Divine nature, which is both passionless and only good. As knowing all things, therefore, and providing for what is profitable for each, He revealed that which it was to our profit to know; but what we were unable1413 to bear He kept secret. With these things let us be satisfied, and let us abide by them, not removing everlasting boundaries, nor overpassing the divine tradition1414.
And, this means false, private revelations. Those seeking perfection follow the
"divine tradition", which is the Teaching Magisterium of the Catholic Church.
How simple, yet, how difficult, it is for spiritually minded people to be disciplined, even in seeking for the life of prayer and perfection.
It is clear from John of Damascus, that Revelation, that is Scripture, and Tradition, that is the Teaching Magisterium of the Church, are the basis of our belief.
Orthodoxy first, and then the seeking of perfection...to be continued.