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Saturday 16 March 2013

Athanasius on Monday

Sorry, will not get to the great Doctor of the Church, Athanasius until Monday. Did you know his relics are in Cairo? Hmmmm.

Relics of St. Athanasius in St. Marks's Cathedral in Cairo and Thanks, Wiki

On Intrinsic vs. Objective Disorders

Modern psychology has replace spirituality in seminaries and other places of formation for years and years and years.

One of the results of this confusion of the methods of psychology with spirituality is that too many people judge what it means to be a person, and an individual, in purely psychological terms.

Recently, on some sites on line (Catholic Bandita-a great site; and others) there has been a discussion of homosexuality, including lesbianism, as a disorder which is "intrinsic".  I, for one, took exception to this definition and wrote a short answer to a post. Here is something similar to what I put on the blog, but I want to develop this idea from here.

Firstly,  intrinsic disorder is a medical term for a protein absorption and amino acid dysfunction. As to homosexuality, the soul and spirit are disordered. She should not be using the term "intrinsic".

Object disorder is not intrinsic disorder.

When the CCC states that homosexuality is an inclination, which is objectively disordered, this does not mean intrinsic. Intrinsic means that something has a quality or state of being by nature, by being part of the essential human being.

If a person states this, they are declaring two things: one that people are born with a sinful nature which is not redeemable; and two, that one must be homosexual by the fact of being, which the Church has never stated.

Tendencies toward sin, or even weaknesses in body and soul are not intrinsic but results of Original Sin, removed in baptism and giving the person a chance to be a child of God, as I wrote yesterday

Objective means outside one's being but real, such as an objective perception or objective view; we sin objectively against God's commands,and a disorder which is objective can be changed, (I can objectively become more holy, for example)
wherein an intrinsic one cannot be, by definition.

Now, carrying on from here, I want to ignore political discussions, a la Maritain and others, on the distinction between the person and the individual. 

Not that I disagree with those discussions, but that is not the focus of this post.

As most of you know, I have been writing on perfection here for over a year.

One of the reasons I have done this is to clarify the goal of our person-hood. the real end of our journey here on earth. Only the perfect see God. We have been told by Christ Himself that we must be perfect even as our Heavenly Father is perfect.

Becoming perfection is the call to each person in the world, and most intimately, to the Catholic who is baptized and confirmed.

So, taking the end of our existence, which is to be with God in a state of perfection, this means that we allow God to perfect us.

That is one of the reasons why I have written on this over and over and over.

What has this to do with a comment on "intrinsic disorder"?

After baptism, when each one of us is made a child of God and heir of heaven, we are intrinsically changed forever. We are in God's Life, we are partakers of His Nature. We have the Indwelling of the Holy Trinity.

Here is a passage and then I want to look at a second one.

For the forgiveness of sins . . .
1263 By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin.66 In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam's sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God.

1264 Yet certain temporal consequences of sin remain in the baptized, such as suffering, illness, death, and such frailties inherent in life as weaknesses of character, and so on, as well as an inclination to sin that Tradition calls concupiscence, or metaphorically, "the tinder for sin" (fomes peccati); since concupiscence "is left for us to wrestle with, it cannot harm those who do not consent but manfully resist it by the grace of Jesus Christ."67 Indeed, "an athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules."68

"A new creature"

1265 Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte "a new creature," an adopted son of God, who has become a "partaker of the divine nature,"69 member of Christ and co-heir with him,70 and a temple of the Holy Spirit.71

1266 The Most Holy Trinity gives the baptized sanctifying grace, the grace of justification:
- enabling them to believe in God, to hope in him, and to love him through the theological virtues;
- giving them the power to live and act under the prompting of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of the Holy Spirit;
- allowing them to grow in goodness through the moral virtues.
Thus the whole organism of the Christian's supernatural life has its roots in Baptism.

OK, now we are on the same page with regard to our nature being bound to the Divine Nature of God.

If you cannot accept that, do not bother to read on...but if you do, prepare yourself for joy.

The CCC continues a bit farther in this section:

An indelible spiritual mark . . .

1272 Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, the person baptized is configured to Christ. Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ. No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation.83 Given once for all, Baptism cannot be repeated.

Each one of us is changed forever in baptism. We are intrinsically like Christ and we are called to become more and more like Him.

St. Bernard's quote, which those of you who read this blog know by heart, is that we were made in the image and likeness of God, but lost the likeness. Baptism, and sanctifying grace restores the likeness.

Do we sin? Yes. Do we have tendencies to sin? Yes. Are some of these tendencies severe? Yes.

But these are NOT who we are in Christ. And, to say so is, simply, heresy. To say that instrinsically we are wedded to serious disorders is to deny the grace, the efficacy of baptism.

This ideal of perfection does not come without pain and suffering. God gives us all crosses, which are either the results of our sins repeated and repeated, or other reasons, But, we do not have to identify with our sins.

This is one reason I have never been peaceful with some people labelling themselves homosexual or lesbian. To do so is to identify with an "objective disorder".

What does the CCC mean by that? Here is the well-known passage:

Chastity and homosexuality

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

An important distinction is being made here: one, the actions are intrinsically disordered,that is, these are evil. Actions can be so against nature that the essential nature of the act is always, without distinction, evil.

This is not to say the person is intrinsically evil or that the person has an intrinsic  that is, essential evil. But, actions are extrinsic, that is, something we decide to do with our will and with our minds, souls and bodies. Choice is extrinsic-we make choices, we are NOT choices.

The inclination is objectively disordered  that is, it is outside the spiritual person-hood of the individual, extrinsic, not intrinsic. 

This is a hugely important distinction. All sin is extrinsic. We all fall short of perfection.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

We must not identify with sin or evil tendencies or object disorder. We are more than those. We are made in the image of God and we have been given His likeness in baptism.

In the old catechism, those who were unbaptized were called "slaves of Satan". That is still not intrinsic, as all humans are made in the image and likeness of God-but the unbaptized are not children of God or heirs of heaven, except by an exceptional grace. They are not walking in grace.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

And for your comfort, more on the baptismal seal.....

1273 Incorporated into the Church by Baptism, the faithful have received the sacramental character that consecrates them for Christian religious worship.84 The baptismal seal enables and commits Christians to serve God by a vital participation in the holy liturgy of the Church and to exercise their baptismal priesthood by the witness of holy lives and practical charity.85

One is not doomed to a life of serious sin.

1274 The Holy Spirit has marked us with the seal of the Lord ("Dominicus character") "for the day of redemption."86 "Baptism indeed is the seal of eternal life."87 The faithful Christian who has "kept the seal" until the end, remaining faithful to the demands of his Baptism, will be able to depart this life "marked with the sign of faith,"88 with his baptismal faith, in expectation of the blessed vision of God - the consummation of faith - and in the hope of resurrection.

Perfection leads us to that Blessed Vision....

Next week, I shall write about integrity in person-hood.

Excellent Article

Make sure you all read this...a Dominican with the heart and head of Dominic.

The is horrible, horrible...

From None Today

Psalm 44 (45)
The King's bride

Armed with the justice which is the power of God, let us prove ourselves with great patience.
Listen, my daughter, and understand;
  turn your ears to what I have to say.
Forget your people, forget your father’s house,
  and the king will desire you for your beauty.
  He is your lord, so worship him.
The daughters of Tyre will bring you gifts;
  the richest of your subjects will beg you to look on them.
How great is the king’s daughter, within the palace!
  She is clothed in woven gold.
She will be taken to the king in coloured garments,
  her maidens will escort her to your presence.
In gladness and rejoicing they are brought
  and led to the house of the king.
Instead of your fathers you will have sons:
  you will make them rulers over all the world.
I will remember your name
  from generation to generation.
And so your people will do you honour
  for ever and for ever.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
  as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
  world without end.

From NCR this morning....

The new pope concluded the audience with the journalists by offering his apostolic blessing -- in silence.
"Not everyone present belongs to the Catholic faith and others do not believe," the pope said.
“I respect the conscience of each one of you”, he continued, “knowing that each one of you is a Child of God. May God bless you."

My comments in blue...
As kids we used to say, "Is the sky blue? Is rain wet? Is the Pope Catholic?"

For the word of the cross, to them indeed that perish, is foolishness; but to them that are saved, that is, to us, it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18 DR

But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumblingblock, and unto the Gentiles foolishness: I Corinthians 1:23 DR

For I am not ashamed of the gospel. For it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and to the Greek. Romans 1:16 DR

Moving Away from the Tradition of the Church

Some Anglicans are having a Women Bishops Conference today. Not so slowly, that religious denomination is moving away from Tradition and Scripture, which we call Revelation.

Sadly, this will split the Anglican Church. I hope some Anglicans consider the Ordinariate. Please pray for this day and these brothers and sister is Christ, who are not following Christ.

A series of links for you...


Sharing an interesting entry on purgatory from another view

Interesting article on purgatory from the Jewish Encyclopedia on line....just sharing! And, hello Lutherans, Catholics did not make up Purgatory!

Post 90: DoC: Gregory "The Theologian" and Perfection continued

I do not think comments are necessary here. Gregory is called "The Theologian". However, he was also known for his poetry. Tomorrow, I shall share some of his poetry.

No one has yet discovered or ever shall discover what God is in his nature and
essence. As for a discovery some time in the future, let those who have a mind to it
research and speculate. The discovery will take place, so my reason tells me, when
this God-like, divine thing, 

I mean our mind and reason, mingles with its kin,
when the copy returns to the pattern it now longs after. This seems to me to be the
meaning of the great dictum that we shall, in time to come, “know even as we are
known.” (Unitive State)

But for the present what reaches us is a scant emanation, as it were a small beam from a great light 

(Illumination/Illuminative State)

which means that anyone who “knew” God or whose
“knowledge” of him has been attested in the Bible, had a manifestly more brilliant
knowledge than others not equally illuminated. This superiority was reckoned
knowledge in the full sense, not because it really was so, but by the contrast of
relative strengths.

And a convenient answer to our Protestant brethren, who do not necessarily believe in perfection....

To Whom was that Blood offered that was shed for us, and why was It shed? I
mean the precious and famous Blood of our God and High priest and Sacrifice.
We were detained in bondage by the Evil One, sold under sin, and receiving
pleasure in exchange for wickedness. Now, since a ransom belongs only to him
who holds in bondage, I ask to whom was this offered, and for what cause?
If to the Evil One, fie upon the outrage! If the robber receives ransom, not only
from God, but a ransom which consists of God Himself, and has such an illustrious
payment for his tyranny, a payment for whose sake it would have been right for
him to have left us alone altogether.

But if to the Father, I ask first, how? For it was not by Him that we were being
oppressed; and next, On what principle did the Blood of His Only begotten Son
delight the Father, Who would not receive even Isaac, when he was being offered
by his Father, but changed the sacrifice, putting a ram in the place of the human

Is it not evident that the Father accepts Him, but neither asked for Him nor
demanded Him; but on account of the Incarnation, and because Humanity must be
sanctified by the Humanity of God, that He might deliver us Himself, and
overcome the tyrant, and draw us to Himself by the mediation of His Son, Who
also arranged this to the honour of the Father, Whom it is manifest that He obeys

On November 27, 2004, those relics (of Gregory) (along with the remains of John Chrysostom), were returned to Istanbul by Pope John Paul II, with the Vatican retaining a small portion of each. They are now in a place of honor at the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George in the Phanar (from wiki). With the problems of Islamists burning monasteries and some churches in Turkey at this time, I wish those relics had stayed in Rome.

Modern Silifke,  place of ancient Seleucia ad Calycadnum

Part 89: DoC and Perfection: Gregory of Nazianzus

The Orations, from which I took the last post and this one, are phenomenal works. These are found on the above link.

We moderns think we are so much more intelligent than ancient peoples. Silly idea. The sublime writings of Gregory on the Trinity provide beautiful meditations.

But, here, I am concentrating on perfection. I wonder is St. Teresa got her image of the Mansions from Gregory as well as the Scriptures? Comments in blue....

VIII. And yet, O talkative Dialectician, I will ask thee one small question,24 and answer thou me, as He saith to Job, Who through whirlwind and cloud giveth Divine admonitions.25 Are there many mansions in God's House, as thou hast heard, or only one? Of course you will admit that there are many, and not only one. Now, are they all to be filled, or only some, and others not; so that some will be left empty, and will have been prepared to no purpose? Of course all will be filled, for nothing can be in vain which has been done by God. And can you tell me what you will consider this Mansion to be? Is it the rest and glory which is in store There for the Blessed, or something else?-No, not anything else. Since then we are agreed upon this point, let us further examine another also. Is there any thing that procures these Mansions, as I think there is; or is there nothing?-Certainly there is-What is it? Is it not that there are various modes of conduct, and various purposes, one leading one way, another way, according to the proportion of faith, and these we call Ways? 

I hope you, dear readers, find the repetition of the possibility, as well as the call, to perfection in all the writers so far comforting? 

This persistent thread shows us all that we are called to this journey and we miss out on what it means to be truly human if we do not respond to grace and knowledge.

Must we, then, travel all, or some of these Ways ... the same individual along them all, if that be possible; or, if not, along as many as may be; or else along some of them? And even if this may not be, it would still be a great thing, at least as it appears to me, to travel excellently along even one.-"You are right in your conception."-What then when you hear there is but One way, and that a narrow one,26 does the word seem to you to shew? That there is but one on account of its excellence. For it is but one, even though it be split into many parts. And narrow because of its difficulties, and because it is trodden by few in comparison with the multi-trade of the adversaries, and of those who travel along the road of wickedness. "So I think too." Well, then, my good friend, since this is so, why do you, as though condemning our doctrine for a certain poverty, rush headlong down that one which leads through what you call arguments and speculations, but I frivolities and quackeries? Let Paul reprove you with those bitter reproaches, in which, after his list of the Gifts of Grace, he says, Are all Apostles? Are all Prophets? etc.27

Oration 16 in the Pennsylvania University Museum
The reference to Paul underlines the great respect all the Doctors have for the Apostle to the Gentiles. But, what is noted is the use of Paul for the way to perfection-the response to grace.

IX. But, be it so. Lofty thou art, even beyond the lofty, even above the clouds, if thou wilt, a spectator of things invisible, a hearer of things unspeakable; one who hast ascended after Elias, and who after Moses hast been deemed worthy of the Vision of God, and after Paul hast been taken up into heaven why dost thou mould the rest of thy fellows in one day into Saints, and ordain them Theologians, and as it were breathe into them instruction, and make them many councils of ignorant oracles? Why dost thou entangle those who are weaker in thy spider's web, if it were something great and wise? Why dost thou stir up wasps' nests against the Faith? Why dost thou suddenly spring a flood of dialectics upon us, as the fables of old did the Giants? Why hast thou collected all that is frivolous and unmanly among men, like a rabble, into one torrent, and having made them more effeminate by flattery, fashioned a new workshop, cleverly making a harvest for thyself out of their want of understanding? Dost thou deny that this is so, and are the other matters of no account to thee? Must thy tongue rule at any cost, and canst thou not restrain the birthpang of thy speech? Thou mayest find many other honourable subjects for discussion. To these turn this disease of thine with some advantage. Attack the silence of Pythagoras,28 and the Orphic beans, and the novel brag about "The Master said." Attack the ideas of Plato,29 and the transmigrations and courses of our souls, and the reminiscences, and the unlovely loves of the soul for lovely bodies. Attack the atheism of Epicurus,30 and his atoms, and his unphilosophic pleasure; or Aristotle's petty Providence, and his artificial system, and his discourses about the mortality of the soul, and the humanitarianism of his doctrine. Attack the superciliousness of the Stoa,31 or the greed and vulgarity of the Cynic.32 Attack the "Void and Full" (what nonsense), and all the details about the gods and the sacrifices and the idols and demons, whether beneficent or malignant, and all the tricks that people play with divination, evoking of gods, or of souls, and the power of the stars. And if these things seem to thee unworthy of discussion as petty and already often confuted, and thou wilt keep to thy line, and seek the satisfaction of thy ambition in it; then here too I will provide thee with broad paths. Philosophize about the world or worlds; about matter; about soul; about natures endowed with reason, good or bad; about resurrection, about judgment, about reward, or the Sufferings of Christ. For in these subjects to hit the mark is not useless, and to miss it is not dangerous. But with God we shall have converse, in this life only in a small degree; but a little later, it may be, more perfectly, in the Same, our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory for ever. Amen.

This is the language aimed even at the New Agers and Atheists of our own time. What a fantastic orator is this great saint. I hope you smile in recognition of the vanities of human errors which he lists here.

How modern he sounds to us. To be continued.....

Part 88: DoC: Gregory Nazianzus and Perfection

If it had been permitted to Paul to utter what the Third Heaven... contained, and his own advance, or ascension, or assumption thither, perhaps we should know something more about God's Nature, if this was the mystery of the rapture. But since it was ineffable, we too will honour it by silence. Thus much we will hear Paul say about it, that we know in part and we prophesy in part.... This and the like to this are the confessions of one who is not rude in knowledge,...who threatens to give proof of Christ speaking in him, the great doctor and champion of the truth. Wherefore he estimates all knowledge on earth only as through a glass darkly,... as taking its stand upon little images of the truth. Now, unless I appear to anyone too careful, and over anxious about the examination of this matter, perhaps it was of this and nothing else that the Word Himself intimated that there were things which could not now be borne, but which should be borne and cleared up hereafter,' and which John the Forerunner of the Word and great Voice of the Truth declared even the whole world could not contain. Found here

Gregory of Nazianzus is considered one of the greatest orators of the Church. He, like the Doctors we have seen here is glimpses. wrote a great deal on the Holy Spirit and the Trinity.

What always strikes me about the Doctors of the Church is how comfortable and consistent they are in discussing lofty, mysterious yet possible perfection.

Silence follows the unitive state experience, of course.

To be continued......

Catch-up List on the Doctors of the Church Series

So far, I have dipped into the writings of these great men women, Doctors of the Church, in the series.

Hildegard of Binen
Therese of Lisieux
Teresa of Avila
Catherine of Siena
Augustine of Hippo
Albert the Great
Ephraim the Syrian
Gregory the Great
John of Avila
Lawrence of Brindisi
Anthony of Padua
Bernard of Clairvaux
Thomas Aquinas
Basil the Great
Francis de Sales
Bede the Venerable
John of Damascus
Peter Damian
Hilary of Poitiers
Leo the Great
Anselm of Canterbury

Next, will be Gregory Nazianzus, and, then, the great Athanasius. Stayed tuned.