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Thursday 21 March 2013

Perfection and Reality 3

And, He always knew Who He Was, the Son of God.

So, too, we are the adopted heirs, the daughters and sons of God.

That is part of our integrity and reality

Perfection and Reality Continued...

On this principle of finality depends the first principle of practical reason and of morality. It runs thus: "Do good, avoid evil." It is founded on the idea of good, as the principle of contradiction on the idea of being. In other words: The rational being must will rational good, that good, namely, to which its powers are proportioned by the author of its nature. [141].

All these principles are the principles of our natural intelligence. They are first manifested in that spontaneous form of intelligence which we call common sense, that is, the natural aptitude of intelligence, before all philosophic culture, to judge things sanely. Common sense, natural reason, seizes these self-evident principles from its notion of intelligible reality. But this natural common sense could not yet give these principles an exact and universal formulation. [142].

Why is it that people are merely reacting to leadership as saviors instead of working out plans for themselves? How have we become so PASSIVE in our appropriation of reality?

It may be because of the bombardment of news, input, knowledge, BUT WITHOUT ANY PHILOSOPHICAL FRAMEWORK.

Natural intelligence presupposes that objects and subjects are separate from each other and that one is capable of judgement; that is, standing back and examining cause and effect.

So many people merely react, like billiard balls on a table after one is hit.

Where is free will in this constant reaction....? Why is the will frozen, or underdeveloped? Are you remembering that when each one of us die, we face God alone?

Are you, dear reader, really making choices in your life? Are you seeking or complacent in your knowledge?

To be continued....

Perfection and Reality

I want to go back to Garrigou-Lagrange in this study of perfection for a few posts and then move on to Cyril of Jerusalem. I want to stress the necessity, as I have before, of objectivity in the spiritual life, The only way one can be objective is to face reality honestly with integrity.

In this meantime, chew on this meaty statement from Garrigou-Lagrange on the use of our intellect, from his study on reality. I am very concerned  by the fact that so many people can only argue from feelings and perception and not from logic. We have been given the capacity, the ability to use our intellect in matters of faith and morals. To do less is not to be an adult in the Faith.

A few days ago, I said I would write something on integrity, the connection to love and honesty.

Here is a beginning of this discussion.

REALITY—A Synthesis Of Thomistic Thought


St. Thomas, following Aristotle, teaches that the intelligible being, the intelligible reality, existing in sense objects is the first object of the first act of our intellect, i. e.: that apprehension which precedes the act of judging. Listen to his words: "The intellect's first act is to know being, reality, because an object is knowable only in the degree in which it is actual. Hence being, entity, reality, is the first and proper object of understanding, just as sound is the first object of hearing." [123] Now being, reality, is that which either exists (actual being) or can exist (possible being): "being is that whose act is to be." [124] Further, the being, the reality, which our intellect first understands, is not the being of God, nor the being of the understanding subject, but the being, the reality, which exists in the sense world, "that which is grasped immediately by the intellect in the presence of a sense object." [125] Our intellect, indeed, is the lowest of all intelligences, to which corresponds, as proper and proportioned object, that intelligible reality existing in the world of sense. [126] Thus the child, knowing by sense, for example, the whiteness and the sweetness of milk, comes to know by intellect the intelligible reality of this same sense object. "By intellect he apprehends as reality that which by taste he apprehends as sweet." [127].

In the intelligible reality thus known, our intellect seizes at once its opposition to non-being, an opposition expressed by the principle of contradiction: Being is not non-being. "By nature our intellect knows being and the immediate characteristics of being as being, out of which knowledge arises the understanding of first principles, of the principle, say, that affirmation and denial cannot coexist (opposition between being and non-being): and other similar principles." [128] Here lies the point of departure in Thomistic realism.

Thus our intellect knows intelligible reality and its opposition to nothing, before it knows explicitly the distinction between me and non-me. By reflection on its own act of knowledge the intellect comes to know the existence of that knowing act and its thinking subject. Next it comes to know the existence of this and that individual object, seized by the senses. [129] In intellective knowledge, the universal comes first; sense is restricted to the individual and particular.

If we do not  use universals to apply to particulars, we may not be using the gift of Prudence.

A bit later, the writer notes this.

This limited moderate realism of Aristotle and Aquinas is in harmony with that natural, spontaneous knowledge which we call common sense. This harmony appears most clearly in the doctrine's insistence on the objective validity and scope of first principles, the object of our first intellectual apprehension. These principles are laws, not of the spirit only, not mere logical laws, not laws merely experimental, restricted to phenomena, but necessary and unlimited laws of being, objective laws of all reality, of all that is or can be.

There may be two generations of people who have no common sense, who cannot objectify. This is dangerous. Very.

Without the realization of the real world as separate from one's perceptions, a person cannot grow in perfection...this is the sin of the Pharisees-to persist in one's own reality after being faced with the Truth.

Why do people lie to themselves? For comfort? Out of fear?

To be continued...

 Matthew 5:20-26 
Jesus said to his disciples: 

'If your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.
'You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors:
You must not kill; and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court.
But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court; if a man calls his brother "Fool" he will answer for it before the Sanhedrin; and if a man calls him "Renegade" he will answer for it in hell fire. 

So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering. 
Come to terms with your opponent in good time while you are still on the way to the court with him, or he may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison. I tell you solemnly, you will not get out till you have paid the last penny.'

Two Feasts for Benedict

Today is a huge Benedictine feast, the day of Benedict's death and his entry into heaven.

Here is my favorite painting of this event.

Happy feast day, all Benedictines and Cistercians.
It is in the Beuronesian style and is called The Ascent of St. Benedict.

I have seen this in Missouri.

On monks, caskets and cronyism--a victory for the Benedictines

ACLU supports gender selection and death of Down's babies

The Battle/ The War

We have a phrase in the Midwest:
"If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."

As Catholics, we sometimes forget we are in a war. This is not my idea, but that of Christ, Paul, the Early Church Fathers, the Doctors of the Church and so on.

Christ has won the War-by His Passion and Death, by His Resurrection, we are freed from the punishment earned by our first parents.

We have been given life. We are redeemed, as is all creation, through the Cross.

The War is won, but like the last days of WWII, like in the mop-up leading to the capture of Berlin, many battles must be won to get to the goal.

It may seem like we put out one fire and another pops up. I feel like this as a blogger.

However, we have won the War, but we cannot get complacent.

No resting until all the captives have been set free.

No taking time off until the camps of hostages are opened and all are free.

This is our job as baptized Catholics.

The War is not over yet, although it has been won. This is why I blog.

There will be some casualties. But,

Philippians 1:6

Being confident of this very thing, that he, who hath begun a good work in you, will perfect it unto the day of Christ Jesus.

God Bless the Young Conservatives

Just for fun, a cool site on sunken cities...

A short thought from Cyril of Alexandria: Part 98: DoC and Perfection

Alexandria on the map in ancient times

On Zephaniah 3:14-20 from here and my comments in blue.
Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion, shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!
[...] As far as the deeper meaning of this passage is concerned, it clearly commands Jerusalem to rejoice exceedingly, to be especially glad, to be joyful wholeheartedly as its sins are wiped out through Christ.The spiritual and holy Zion – that is, the Church, the holy multitude of believers – is justified in Christ and only in him.
Only the Church is holy and therefore, if we are with the Church, we have a chance for holiness.
By him and through him we are also saved as we escape from the harm of the invisible enemies, for we have a Mediator who was incarnated in our form, the King of all, who is the Word of God the Father.Thanks to him, we have been delivered from the powers of evil.

If we allow God to purify us, we shall be freed from evil.
The Word of God is the armour of good will, the peace, the wall, the one who bestows incorruption, the arbiter of crowns, who has ended the war of the incorporeal Assyrians and made void the schemes of the demons. Do not fear, O Zion, let not your hands grow weak.
God wants the Church, the new Zion, to be strengthened by the grace of Christ.
[...] We have heard Christ himself renewing this ancient prophecy when he says that,you will have affliction in this world but have confidence, for I have overcome the world.
However, we shall suffer. There is no way around this....
For now he is in our midst as a strong warrior who gives victory we have no excuse to be feeble handed and weak kneed. Now we too can be confident that Christ who is the all-powerful God in our midst can redeem and save those who believe in him.
We must look to Christ and not to men.
For he dwells in our hearts through the Spirit and he has given us a spiritual and worthy joy.Why had the Holy Spirit been given us except in order to be our delight and joy and the grounds of our spiritual happiness?
St. Therese, the Little Flower, expressed that she had "unfelt joy"; we look not for consolation, but for inner peace and confidence in God despite all ills.
When Christ gave us joy through the Holy Spirit he renewed us by his own love. [...] He indeed laid down his own life and was numbered for our sake among the dead. Although by nature he was Life, he returned to life and renewed our nature in newness of life and restored it to its first likeness:  if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. For it pleased our God and Father to restore all things in him.
This restoration is real, not merely a cover-up or imputing. We are made new in Christ and the Father restores all things to Christ. We, too, become new creations, if we cooperate with grace.
Therefore Christ gathered together those who had been smashed up by sin, those Satan had torn apart and enfeebled, and, although they didn’t know what was happening, he brought them back to enter the straight paths of the way of justice.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on Zephaniah 43-44 (PG 71:1013-1017); tr Pluscarden;  from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Sunday of the 28th Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1.
Tomorrow, I begin to look at Cyril of Jerusalem...

The language of politics and the Church: the Mind of Christ

By the way, some cardinal and bishops have been very quiet in the past week and some have been commenting regularly.

I am concerned about language being used.

For at least 50 years, the language regarding positions in the Church has changed.

For centuries, the Church described or defined people and ideas in two ways: orthodox or unorthodox.
Or, if you prefer, true or false; revealed or heretical; evil or good.

These terms served us well for a long time.

In the past week, I have seen terms such as "progressive", "centrist", "leftist", "right", "reactionary", "liberal" and "traditional".

Such terms are political and not theological or religious in meaning.

That such terms are being used consistently to described movements in the Church reveal the great problems of division within the Church.

Did Benedict have a vision of  the universal Church which was so unique that the majority of cardinals did not share it? I think not.

I remind Catholics and other readers that men who pray are not the same as men who do not pray.

Men who live a life of self-denial, asking God for purification and perfection are not necessarily the same as men who think politically.

With regard to Church teaching, thinking politically is NOT putting on the m
Mind of Christ.

Seminarians should not think politically,

Priests should not think politically.

Bishops should not think politically.

Cardinals should not think politically.

Until we have truly holy men of God leading the Church, we shall have to rely more and more on the Truth of the Teaching Magisterium of the Church.

Do not fall into political thinking. Think like Christ, and if you do not know how to do that, pray for His Holy Spirit to purify your mind and heart.

The Mind of Christ is to be found in the Gospels and in the Tradition of the Church; in the Creed and in the teachings of the Councils; in the statements from the Chair of Peter.

The Mind of Christ is usually not found in interviews or television sound bites.

We have had warnings from some good men about modernism in the Church. Modernism is the great heresy of the last 150 years.  Check out the definitions. Pay attention.

To stay with Rome does not mean being confused. It means learning what is the Mind of Christ.

The Mind of Christ is not socialism, or compromise on moral issues. Christ has not changed. His teachings have not changed.

Learn your faith. That is your duty as adult Catholics. Anything less will endanger your immortal soul.

Pray for Pope Francis. Pray.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). 

Part 97: DoC and Perfection: Cyril of Alexandria

More excellent Cyril...

And, do not think that these Doctors of the Church just sat around and prayed and thought all day.

They cut wood, drew water, harvested fields, travelled around Europe and Asia, reformed seminaries and monasteries, created dioceses and churches, had their own parishes. wrote lots of pastoral letters and sermons, advised Popes. ran around Europe and Asia some more stomping out heresies, some went into exile or were imprisoned or both, taught, .....and what do you do?

Our Lord Jesus Christ teaches us that to those who choose to love Him and to those who do His commandments the promise of His revelation is given.
To them,… and not to those who are otherwise minded and who do the contrary, He has conveyed this useful lesson in the words: He that hath My commandments and keepil eth them, he it is that loveth Me. 

This may sound repetitious, but one FIRST must be both orthodox and obedient. 
And a man has His commands when he has received the faith, and, laying it to heart, has let into his inmost soul the unpolluted and unmistakeable teaching of the Gospel commandments. 

What we lost in Original Sin is redeemed by grace. Natural law becomes supernaturalized.
And he fulfils them by carrying them out into actuality, and by making haste to distinguish himself by the light of his actions.Such a man then is perfect and wholly wedded to righteousness, a shining light by his faith and conduct, who has witness borne him of his holiness after the pattern of Christ.

Now, we are seeing a description of the perfect man, as we have in the past looking at Abraham.

Notice that Cyril uses the word "light". This is the enlightenment state, following purgation.
[...] A man of this sort again, God the Father will surely love, and no less also the Son will love him. For as He is of the same Substance, so also has He the same Will as His Father.[...] To those who are thought worthy of the Divine love He promises that He will give a glorious reward and that He will crown them with exceeding great blessings.I will manifest Myself unto him, He says.

God loves this person as He Loves Himself. The promised reward is the Beatific Vision.
To the pure in heart the mystery of the Godhead will be clearly revealed, and Christ gives them light, illuminating the path of every duty by His Spirit, and unveiling Himself and making Himself visible as it were by the ineffable torchlight of the soul.

All the Doctors of the Church refer to the same process. Purity of heart then illumination.

God becomes more visible and can reveal Himself more directly to the person who is illuminated and free from the habits of sin.

And those who have made their choice once for all are blessed and worthy of all admiration.And I think the prophet David was a man after this sort when he says, I will hear what the Lord God will say in me. 

Obviously, David was not always perfect and had to go through purgation. That he was in a state of illumination is clear by the psalms. He is a man the Church states, by quoting Scripture, has the heart of God. This statement has a two-fold meaning: one is that God possesses his heart and two, that his heart is like that of God's, full of love.

But, again, notice, a choice is involved. To be made perfect one must choose the hard way-out of one's comfort zone.
And so is also St Paul when he exhorts us, saying, If ye seek a proof of Christ that speaketh in me; For Christ speaks of things concerning Himself in His Saints by His Spirit, and reveals other mysteries besides.

In this Illuminative state, God opens up Himself to us in new way. It is as if the two were lovers, trusting each other, talking about their own selves, dreams, and loving by just being in the presence of the other. The more we love, the more we get love in return.
Therefore it is true that knowing these things well, the Saints sometimes say, Unto us God revealed them through the Spirit.And they sometimes say, But we have the mind of Christ, meaning, by His mind, His Spirit.

So many people doubt or question Garrigou-Lagrange's idea that God wants all of us to seek perfection. His ideas are validated by the Doctors of the Church. And, here, in this last section, we see that those who are perfected have the mind of Christ, and finally, union.

To be continued....
Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on John, book 10. Thanks to Mark for the link.