Recent Posts

Sunday 7 April 2013

Media silence on this is despicable

The Doctor of the Church Series and Perfection Update

I need to finish this series soon. I do not always have access to the Net. I hope you are enjoying it as well as learning much. Isidore of Seville will be completed tomorrow.

There are only a few to cover. By the way, I do not know anyone who has followed perfection in the Doctors of the Church. I would be interested in making this into a book, if someone could help me do so very soon. Thanks for thinking about this.

Here are the ones left to do. The great Jesuits, Robert Bellarmine and Peter Canisius, Alphonsus Liguori, and finishing up with John of the Cross, which is appropriate, and somewhat of a repetition, but necessary for the perfection discussion.

I shall briefly return to Garrigou-Lagrange at the end of the series.

By the way, please pray for me, as I have been very ill for two days going into a third, with respiratory problems started by an allergy to smoke from wood fires in Devon. Sadly, I cannot be around these. I actually missed Mass this morning, which is very serious for me, as I was too ill to go to Church. Thank you.

Pt. 103 in the Doctors of the Church and Perfection Series: Isidore of Seville-My Desert Island Book

A medieval rendition of Isidore on the re-population of the earth by Noah's sons

It is a stroke of genius and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that this Doctor, Isidore of Seville, who wrote on the edge of destruction his twenty volumes of classical, Catholic knowledge, that he is the patron of computer programmers, geeks, and all of us who use computers regularly.

Part of our call is to preserve civilization and spread Catholicism throughout the Net.

How wonderful we have such a great patron.

There is so much in his work that I can hardly choose which sections to highlight for the perfection series. His section on baptism is great. His section on the Names and Attributes of God is brilliant. Here is a small piece on the Trinity.

5. For this Trinity some names are appellative (appellativus), and some are proper (proprius). The proper
ones name the essence, such as God, Lord, Almighty,
Immutable, Immortal. These are proper because they
signify the very substance by which the three are one.
6. But appellative names are Father and Son and Holy
Spirit, Unbegotten and Begotten and Proceeding. These
same are also relational (relativus) because they have reference (referre, ppl. relatus) to one another. When one
says “God,” that is the essence, because he is being named
with respect to himself. But when one says Father and
Son and Holy Spirit, these names are spoken relationally,
because they have reference to one another. 7. For we say
‘Father’ not with respect to himself, but with respect to
his relation to the Son, because he has a son; likewise we
speak of ‘Son’ relationally, because he has a father; and so
‘Holy Spirit,’ because it is the spirit of the Father and the
Son. 8. This relationship is signified by these ‘appellative
terms’ (appellatio), because they have reference to one
another, but the substance itself, in which the three are
one, is not thus signified.
Hence the Trinity exists in the relational names of the
persons. Deity is not tripled, but exists in singleness, for
if it were tripled we would introduce a plurality of gods.
9. For that reason the name of ‘gods’ in the plural is said
with regard to angels and holy people, because they are
not his equal in merit.10. Concerning these is the Psalm
(81:6 Vulgate), “I have said: You are gods.” But for the
Father and Son and Holy Spirit, because of their one and
equal divinity, the name is observed to be not ‘gods’ but
‘God,’ as the Apostle says (I Corinthians 8:6): “Yetto us
there is but one God,” or as we hear from the divine voice
(Mark 12:29, etc.), “Hear, O Israel: the Lord thy God is
one God,” namely inasmuch as he is both the Trinity
and the one Lord God.

However, here is Isidore on martyrs, which is applicable to my study here on perfection. Notice that he writes both of red and green martyrdom. These are two ways to perfection.

xi. Martyrs (De martyribus) 1. ‘Martyrs’ (martyr) in
the Greek language (i.e.
) are called ‘witnesses’
(testis) in Latin, whence ‘testimonials’ are calledmartyria
in Greek. And they are called witnesses because for their
witness (testimonium) of Christ they suffered their passions and struggled for truth even to the point of death.
2. But because we call them nottestes, which we certainly
could do, using the Latin term, but rather ‘martyrs’ in
the Greek, this Greek word sounds quite familiar in the
ears of the Church, as do many Greek terms that we use
in place of Latin.
3. The first martyr in the New Testament was Stephen,
whose name in Hebrew speech is interpreted “standard,”
because in his martyrdom he was the first standard for

the imitation of the faithful. The same name is rendered
from the Greek tongue into Latin as “the crowned one,”
and this by way of prophecy, because through a certain foreseeing of the future his name signified beforehand what would come to pass, for he suffered, and
what he was called, he received. Thus ‘Stephen’ means
“crown”; he was in humility stoned, but in sublimity
4. Further there are two kinds of martyr: one in manifest passion, the other in hidden valor of the soul. Indeed,
many people, suffering the snares of the enemy and
resisting all carnal desires, because they sacrificed themselves in their hearts for almighty God, became martyrs
even in times of peace – those indeed who, if a period of
persecution had occurred, could have been martyrs.

To be continued...

Again, on the Liberal Arts and the Trivium and Quadrivium: Perfection and the Doctors of the Church-Isidore of Seville: Part 102

For many years of my life, I was involved in helping schools and one college set up Trivium and Quadrivium studies. I have taught the famous book on this subject, by Martianus Minneus Felix Capella, De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii sometimes called the  On the Seven Disciplines  or the seven liberal arts.

But, if I had to choose one book dealing with classical education to take to a desert island, it would be the Doctor of the Church St. Isidore of Seville's Etymologie. 

This work is a compilation of knowledge and definitions from the classical world, which is being lost to ennui and the lack of structure in our educational systems. For centuries, children and adolescents learned the liberal arts in order to learn how to think.

This ideal was destroyed on purpose in the 19th century by Bismarck and by Dewey, among others. 

If a Catholic has not had the benefit of a classical education, the culture of the West will die, as well as creating an impoverishment in the Church.

Tradition and Revelation formed part of this great Western tradition we called civilization. Thankfully, the Benedictine monks kept copying Isidore for the future students who would use him. Learning and the Love of God formed the basis of the Benedictine way.
Consanguinity Chart from a Medieval Etymologie

Those who cannot see the value cannot see how the discipline of the monasteries and seminaries in ancient times created men and women who not only could become holy, but think. The use of the intellect and the pursuit of holiness go together.

This entire way of life is disappearing so fast, I cannot imagine a stemming of the tide of anarchy, which is the result of a lack of thinking. Here is one small section of Isidore's work, which I shall highlight in the next few days in the perfection series.

The great problem of the 21st century is the emphais on emotion rather than thought and the notion that religion is not connected to thinking.

How wrong this is.... first take a look at this reminder of the liberal arts.

ii. The seven liberal disciplines (De septem liberalibus
disciplinis) 1. There are seven disciplines of the liberal
arts. The first is grammar, that is, skill in speaking. 
The second is rhetoric, which, on account of the brilliance
and fluency of its eloquence, is considered most necessary in public proceedings. 
The third is dialectic, otherwise known as logic, which separates the true from the
false by very subtle argumentation.
2. The fourth is arithmetic, which contains the principles and classifications
of numbers. The fifth is music, which consists of poems
and songs.3. The sixth is geometry, which encompasses
the measures and dimensions of the earth. The seventh
is astronomy, which covers the law of the stars.

For many of my readers, this list looks like a foreign curriculum. However, I have helped set up such in some schools in the States and in Canada, and my home school was based on this and the Montessori Method.

What does all this have to do with perfection?

God has given us brains to use to discover Who He Is.

Revelation and the study of Scripture is part of this journey to knowledge. But, there is more.

As Father, as Creator, as Son of God, the Incarnate One and as the Holy Spirit, God dwells in us through grace.

Our intellects are to be renewed in that grace. The Benedictines understood this by creating the oldest institution in Christian Europe, the classical educating school system.

This was created out of the ruins of Rome, and God Himself, becoming Incarnate at a particular time in history, shows us the way to be human and divine.

We cannot ignore the human in our search for perfection. The honing of the mind allows us to come to know God Himself.

One reason for the lack of holiness in the world is the destruction of thinking skills. People have fallen into New Age and Pentecostal religious experience because they have not learned that the mind is part of the way to God. We ignore learning at our own peril.

Isidore knew this. He is one of the most important Doctors of the Church for our time.

Here is another section: Isidore wrote all the knowledge he could at the time of the failing of the Roman empire. We should be doing the same-passing down knowledge for the sake of the souls of our children, and grandchildren before it is too late. All this is found here. I shall highlight more sections later pertaining to the road to unity with God. Without Isidore, we would not have had the space race to the moon, or penicillin, or Shakespeare, or Tolkien.  Without Isidore, we would not have the later Doctors of the Church, such as St. Bernard of Clairvaux, whose superb sermons used so much on this blog, are based on Cicero and other classical orators.

Out of Isidore's massive twenty volume encyclopedia  the only thing missing is musical notation, which he felt could not be written down. The Benedictines took up that challenge nicely.

The first printed map EVER in Europe was that of Isidore of Seville's, printed in 1472.

Does this mean that a simple person cannot become holy? Of course not, but the duty of the vast majority of the laity is to find God through learning. This is part of the heritage of Catholicism. To be continued...

Diagram of the phases of the moon from an old copy of Isidore

i. The Old and New Testament (De Veteri et Novo Testamento) 1. The Old Testament is so called because it
ceased when the New came. The apostle Paul reminds
us of this, saying (II Corinthians5:17): “Old things have
passed away, and behold, new things have come about.”

2. One testament is called New (Novus) because it innovates (innovare). Indeed, the only ones who come to
know it are those who are renewed (renovatus) from the
old by grace and who belong now to the New Testament,
which is the kingdom of heaven.
3. The Hebrews take the Old Testament, with Ezra
as its redactor, as consisting of twenty-two books, corresponding to the number of letters in their alphabet. They
divide these books into three classes: Law, Prophets, and
Sacred Writings. 4. The first class, Law (Lex), is taken as
being five books: of these the first is Bresith,1
which is
Genesis; second Veelle Semoth, which is Exodus; third
Vaiicra, which is Leviticus; fourth Vaiedabber, which is
Numbers; fifth Elleaddebarim, which is Deuteronomy.
5. These are the five books of Moses, which the Hebrews
call Torah (Thora), and Latin speakers call the Law. That
which was given through Moses is properly called the
6. The second class is of Prophets (Propheta), in which
are contained eight books, of which the first is Josua
Benun, called Iesu Navein Latin (i.e. the book of Joshua
‘ben Nun,’ the son of Nun). The second is Sophtim,
which is Judges; third Samuel, which is First Kings;
fourth Malachim, which is Second Kings; fifth Isaiah;
sixth Jeremiah; seventh Ezekiel; eighth Thereazar, which
is called the Twelve Prophets, whose books are taken as
one because they have been joined together since they
are short.
7. The third class is of Sacred Writings (Hagiographa),
that is, of ‘those writing about holy things’ (sacra
scribens; ....

9. We also have a fourth class: those books of the Old
Testament that are not in the Hebrew canon. Of these the
first is the Book of Wisdom, the second Ecclesiasticus;
the third Tobit; the fourth Judith; the fifth and sixth,
the books of Maccabees. The Jews hold these separate
among the apocrypha (apocrypha), but the Church of
Christ honors and proclaims them among the divine

10. In the New Testament there are two classes: first
the Gospel (evangelicus) class, which contains Matthew,
Mark, Luke, and John, and second the Apostolic (apostolicus) class which contains Paul in fourteen epistles, Peter in two, John in three, James and Jude in single
epistles, the Acts of the Apostles and the Apocalypse
(i.e. Revelation) of John. 11. The entire content of both
Testaments is characterized in one of three ways, that
is, as narrative (historia), moral instruction (mores), or
allegorical meaning (allegoria). These three are further
divided in many ways: that is, what is done or said by
God, by angels, or by humans; what is proclaimed by the
prophets about Christ and his body [that is, the Church],
about the devil and his members, about the old and the
new people, about the present age and the future kingdom and judgment.

"God is great, hang the atheist bloggers". News from Bangladesh/sensitive photo

Read this....there was another demonstration in February and four people were killed.

Help on the Perfection Series Three Out of Three

Through meditation and work, one is finally brought to the unitive stage of perfection. This is the what Bernard calls the most sublime and noble of them all. He states, "It is that of  him who, having perfectly purified his heart, desires nothing and seeks nothing of God but God Himself".

He refers to Psalm 72 here, and goes on to say that "For the soul that is such desires nothing for herself with a private affection, neither happiness nor glory nor anything else whatever, but loses herself completely in God, and has but one most eager desire, namely, that the King would bring her into His bed-chamber  that she might belong to HIm alone and enjoy His sweet caresses."

One may be afraid of this state, seeing one's imperfections and lowliness and tendency towards sin, which is why one allows God to purge one of all sin and all imperfections.

In my entire life, besides the Doctors of the Church, I have only found three priests who have understood this well enough to speak about it.

Most priests do not understand this dealing with imperfections in the Confessional. Many discourage people at the illuminative stage. It is important to have a good spiritual director or good confessor to help.

And, yet, God can work with one in many ways, including through daily meditation and Lectio Divina.

Bernard states that by gazing at the Beloved's Face, the Face of Jesus, one becomes like HIm. One is fulfilling the reason why one came into being-to become like God.

He notes the Song of Songs, 4:7 and 2:16.

He states, "Such, my brethren, is the most sweet and happy converse which a soul in these dispositions is privileged and delighted to hold with her heavenly bridegroom."

One becomes a symbol of the Church in the world as well, as the entire Church is the Bride of Christ. If each member sought the path of perfection, what a difference this would make in the Church and in the world. The contemplative nun is the sign of the Bride of Christ, the Church in the world.

Her entire life is that of learning to gaze on the Face of the Beloved, through trial, suffering, purification, illumination and finally, unity.

St. Benedict's Rule is a short-cut to perfection. Hard, yes, very, but a tried and true way, nonetheless.

I suggest that women and men read Blessed John Paul II's Congregation for the Institutes of Religious Life's Sponsa Verbi, which I share share on this blog tomorrow.

However, I want to emphasize that it is not just nuns, priests and nuns who are called to this state, but all baptized Catholics.

Help on Perfection Series Two Out of Three

I want to briefly reiterate that the Protestant idea of Christians merely relying on the righteousness of God is not only false, but limited in that a person is not seen as being capable of becoming pure, or just or righteous, something to which we are all called, but merely saved.

This is one reason why Protestantism does not understand saints and the saintliness. This is one reason why Protestants do not, for the most part, understand salvific suffering and the overflowing of good works that comes only after purification.

Without understanding that each one of us becomes purified and holy in God, through the Church, one cannot even being this walk towards perfection.

The mind and heart are limited by the false theology which basically believes that men and women are always  evil and cannot attain the mind or character of Christ to the ability to which each person was created.

Hence, the denial of the writings of the Church and the be continued....

A Help on the Perfection Series

Some commentators, like my friend CK, wanted a simple version of the perfection series and I have finally found a good description from St. Bernard of Clairvaux, my favourite saint.

He describes in his sermon "On the Different Stages in the Spiritual Life" that the purification, illuminative and unitive stages and put them into corresponding stages of personal growth. He notes that although God does not change, as His Essence is immutable, that each one of us changes in our relationship to Him

The three stages are spiritual childhood, disciple and bride.

Before those, one is what Bernard calls a "hireling", like the Prodigal Son who hire himself to others, under the eyes of the Head of the Household. One is still a slave at this point, and as one converts and changes, one's character changes as well, perceiving God in different ways. The slave is the pre-conversion stage.

One is a slave to sin and to one's own will. Bernard states that a person begins by being subject to one's own will, but rapidly falls into the slavery of sin.  One becomes a stranger in a strange land.

This, notes Bernard, is the state of the soul before Baptism-a truth denied by many people today. One becomes a slave to the prince of darkness, states Bernard, either in the state of pre-baptism, or by choice, which is voluntary sin, and then even against one's will, wherein the person is still bound by habits of sin.

He refers to the last type as the lukewarm Christians in the world, which have peaceful even happy lives but are not living up to the great call of holiness to which we are all called.

They are not seeking the things above. Fear of the Lord changes this and with conversion comes the first real stage of perfection, that of spiritual childhood. One must do do penance and as he was speaking to his novices, Bernard stated that one "blots out sins of the past" and "guards against future faults."

Purification only begins after conversion. The child is disciplined by his father, just as God disciplines His children. and this purification is formation. Bernard says that this is the stage noted in 1 Peter 2:2, when one is a little one in Christ, drinking milk and being formed. This is the age of discipline and training. A child needs consolation as well, which disappears in adulthood.

(Formation of children leads to holiness of teens and adults, by the way.)

The second stage of perfection is the stage wherein one is a disciple, calling God "Master" and "Lord". The disciples were at this stage for most of the Gospel, except for John. Christ says in John 13:13. "You call me Master and Lord, and you say well, for so I am."

The illuminative stage happens at this point. One begins to have infused knowledge of the Scriptures and understand the teachings of the Church. This is the stage of the grown-up, weaned son who works with the Father. Bernard refers to Ephesians 4:13 and Luke 2:49. Christ Himself at twelve or so knew he had to be about His Father's business and so does the person in the illuminative stage.

Prayer and work go together and the reward is that of a son, states Bernard, quoting Psalm 126, which reminds me that St. David, King, experiences these stages.

One must have a desire to go on to the last two stages, as it is so easy to stay in the childhood stage.

Most people get caught up in the excellent and good works of this stage and do not move on to the last and most precious stage, which I shall continue in the next post.

On grace and free will again

One of the themes of this blog has been the interaction of grace and free will. Thankfully, we have a long tradition of the writings of the Doctors of the Church and others on this subject.

The reason I bring it up again is that there seems to be a growing confusion on free will, the gift which makes us like God.

We were created in His image and likeness, the image being freedom and the likeness being grace. We lost the grace through Adam's sin, but kept the image, of course.

The goal of every Catholic is to regain that image, to put on the Mind of Christ and conform one's self to the teachings of the Church. Why? It is only in the Church that we have the fullness of Truth, the way to heaven and the greatest gifts of the sacraments.

If others are saved, and they are, it is through the merits of the Catholic Church, our own gained merits. If we are not growing in grace and virtue ourselves, it affects more persons than just ourselves.

It affects the world.

I reiterate this point today as many converts coming from the Evangelical and Lutheran, as well as Anglican communities do not understand this interplay of grace and will.

Grace is not a feeling. It is not a consolation. It is the sharing of God's Life. The CCC is clear on this and uses the terms interchangeably. Grace is not merely personal. It is given to the Church in history.

We need to remember that the Incarnation of Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity becoming Man changed history, as history had a focal point.

God the Father entered history in the Old Testament, with the call of Abraham, the first person to have a personal relationship with God and a covenantal relationship with God.

The Patriarchs were given grace to respond to God's generous call in preparing a People from whom would come the Messiah, and His Own Incarnated Son, Jesus Christ.

Christ comes to us in grace, in the acceptance of Him through our free wills.

Nothing would happen in the world without our wills. All inventions, history, births, politics, art, etc. come from our ability to create , like God, in freedom. We mimic Him in this creation-His is poesis and ours is mimesis.

Our freedom creates with God's grace, the movement of the Church in the world.

If the Church is weak, we have become weak both in grace and in will. If  the Church is strong, we have become strong in will and grace.

Our baptismal vows, either made by us or for us by our God-parents, begins the interplay of grace and free will.

In this interplay is our hope, only if we conform our minds and hearts to Christ, as He is conformed to the Father and the Spirit in the Trinity..

See more on the tags...

This is really crazy!

Someone noted this ad; it is FREEZING here

White House tries to stop Catholic Archdiocese from getting information.....

The lawsuit was filed on Thursday and released on a court website on Friday.
Religious organizations, individuals and corporations have filed scores of suits to block a planned mandate that employers generally include coverage of contraception in health insurance plans they offer workers.
Though the mandate has some exceptions for religious employers, the New York archdiocese, one of the largest in the United States, said it expected to incur nearly $200 million each year in penalties if it refuses to comply.

More on the above link