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Saturday 20 April 2013

More on Tamerlane

The siege of Smyrna (December 1402) saw the armies of Tamerlane capture the last Christian stronghold on the mainland of Anatolia. Tamerlane's campaign in Anatolia was actually directed against the Ottoman Sultan Bayazid, who he defeated and captured at Ankarain July 1402. With the Ottoman army eliminated, Tamerlane's men then ravaged Anatolia, reaching Smyrna towards the end of the year.

Smyrna had been captured from the Turks by the Knights of St. John (the Hospitallers) in 1344, and since then had resisted a number of Ottoman assaults, so when Tamerlane offered to leave them alone in return for a heavy tribute the Knights refused. In July Smyrna had been garrisoned by 200 knights under the command of Inigo of Alfaro. Since then Buffilo Panizzatti had been sent to strengthen the defences, but the Hospitallers had underestimated Tamerlane's abilities as a besieger.

The siege only lasted for fifteen days. During that time Tamerlane's men blocked the harbour entrance with stones, preventing any more reinforcements from arriving, while the walls were pounded by siege engines and undermined. Finally, in December 1402 the city fell to an assault. As was almost always the case when he took a city by storm, Tamerlane ordered a massacre of the population and destroyed the fortifications.
Tamerlane soon disappeared from Anatolia, and died only three years later. Smyrna was soon reoccupied by the Ottomans, who recovered from the disaster at Ankara with remarkable speed.

Spot the Problems Time


Can people read?  From AP a snippet and I am sure there are more people involved in this.

President Barack Obama said the nation owes a debt of gratitude to law enforcement officials and the people of Boston for their help in the search. But he said there are many unanswered questions about the Boston bombings, including whether the two men had help from others. He urged people not to rush judgment about their motivations.

The breakthrough came when a man in a Watertown neighborhood saw blood on a boat parked in a yard and pulled back the tarp to see a man covered in blood, authorities said. The resident called 911 and when police arrived, they tried to talk the suspect into getting out of the boat, said Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis.
"He was not communicative," Davis said.
Instead, he said, there was an exchange of gunfire - the final volley of one of the biggest manhunts in American history.

And, the Telegraph this morning...Mr Obama and his intelligence community know the threat from al-Qaeda affiliates, but have chosen to downplay it to the US public.

And I hope you looked at the video I had on --jihad.

And the FBI interviewed the dead brother TWO YEARS ago.

The Last Perfection Post: On the Beatific Vision

This is the last post on perfection. I cannot write anymore at this point in my life. But, I shall start one on the perfection of the Patriarchs and Prophets soon.

My comments are blue, as usual. Found at this link.


At the beginning of this work, (1) we stated that the life of grace is the beginning of eternal life, according to the traditional formula: "Grace is the seed of glory." It is essentially the same life in its basis, in spite of two differences: here on earth we know God only in the obscurity of faith, not in the evidence of vision, and although we hope to possess Him inamissibly some day, we can while on earth lose Him by mortal sin. In spite of these two differences relating to faith and hope, it is the same essentially supernatural life: sanctifying grace, received in the very essence of the soul, and infused charity, received in the will, should last forever, and with them the infused moral virtues and the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost. The summit of the normal development of the life of grace is, therefore, the beatific vision received after death. By way of conclusion, we shall briefly discuss this vision of heaven and its normal prelude on earth in the truly purified soul.

We have all we need for holiness. In our day and age, it is simply too easy to take the lesser route and avoid the hard route. When we push off responsibility for our own growth and fall into false theories of blaming other things, events or people for our sins, we depart from the path of discernment. 


We shall sum up here what St. Thomas teaches on this point in the Summa. (2)
If God had created us in a purely natural state with a mortal body and an immortal soul, but without the supernatural life of grace, even then our last end, our beatitude, would have consisted in knowing God and loving Him above all else, for our intellect is made to know the truth, and especially the supreme Truth, and our will is made to love and will good, and especially the sovereign Good.
If we had been created without the supernatural life of grace, the final reward of the just would have been to know God and to love Him, but they would have known Him only from without, so to speak, by the reflection of His perfections in creatures, as the greatest philosophers of antiquity knew Him. Without a doubt, we would have known Him in a more certain manner without admixture of errors, but by abstract knowledge, through the intermediary of things and of limited concepts in the mirror of creatures. We would have known God as the first cause of spirits and bodies, and we would have enumerated His infinite perfections known analogically by their reflection in the created order. Our ideas of the divine attributes would have remained, we have said, like squares of mosaic incapable of reproducing perfectly the spiritual physiognomy of God without hardening it. This abstract and mediate knowledge would have let many obscurities subsist, in particular in regard to the intimate harmonizing of the divine perfections. We would always have asked ourselves how infinite goodness and the divine permission of evil are able to harmonize, how infinite justice and infinite mercy can accord intimately. The human intellect would not have been able to forbear saying: If I could only see this God, who is the source of all truth and goodness, of the life of creatures, and of intellects and wills! This desire would have remained conditional and inefficacious if we had been created in a purely natural state.

But, in reality, the infinite mercy of God has raised us to supernatural life, whose full flowering is called not only the future life, but eternal life, because it is measured by the single instant of immobile eternity. Preaching the beatitudes at the very beginning of His ministry, our Lord tells us: "Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven." (3) To the Samaritan woman He says: "He that shall drink of the water that I will give him, shall not thirst forever; but the water that I will give him, shall become in him a fountain of water springing up into life everlasting." (4) In His sacerdotal prayer, Christ says: "Now this is eternal life: that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent." (5) St. Paul explains this statement to us by saying: "We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known." (6)And St. John adds: "We shall be like to Him, because we shall see Him as He is." (7)

We are letting people act in a subhuman manner. Men and women no longer see themselves as spiritual beings. But, we are called to the most intimate union with God, that of a Bride and Bridegroom. This is possible only in the life of grace.

The Church has defined that this revealed doctrine means an immediate vision of the divine essence without the intermediary of any creature previously known.(8) In other words, by the gaze of our intellect supernaturally strengthened by the light of glory, we shall see God better than we see with our eyes of flesh the persons with whom we speak, for we shall see Him clearly as an object closer to us than we are to ourselves. Here on earth we know especially what God is not: we know that He is not material, changing, limited; we shall then see Him as He is in His Deity, in His infinite essence, in His intimate life common to the three Persons. Grace is a participation of this essence and life since it will give us to see Him thus immediately as He sees Himself, to love Him as He loves Himself, to live eternally by Him.

Can you imagine seeing God as He is, as He sees Himself? Not totally, as we are not God, but as much as He created us to be. One must be still to experience the Still Point of the Turning World.

St. Thomas explains this revealed doctrine by stating (9) that between God and us there will not be even the intermediary of an idea, for no created idea can represent such as it is in itself, the pure, intellectual, eternally subsistent being that is God and His infinite truth, or His limitless love. We shall not be able to express our contemplation by any word, even by any interior word, just as a man is rendered incapable of speech when absorbed by the sight of a sublime and indescribable spectacle.

We need to have down time for this type of growth. This is one of the most interesting and beautiful paragraphs in Garrigou-Lagrange.

This immediate vision of the divine essence immensely surpasses all the created concepts of the divine perfections that we can have here on earth. We are called to see all the divine perfections intimately harmonized, identified in the eminence of the Deity, or the inner life of God; to see how the tenderest mercy and the most inflexible justice proceed from one and the same infinitely generous and infinitely holy love, from an eternal love of the supreme Good, which is, to be sure, intimately diffusive of self (the principle of mercy), but which also has a right to be loved above all (the principle of justice). 

We shall see how mercy and justice are united in all the works of God, how eternal love is identical with the sovereign good always loved, how divine wisdom is identical with the first truth always known, and how all these perfections harmonize and are but one in the very essence of Him who is.

This is not poetry, but reality. This is truly sublime.

We shall also see the infinite fecundity of the divine nature in the three divine Persons; the eternal generation of the Word, "splendor of the Father and figure of His substance." We shall gaze upon the ineffable procession of the Holy Ghost, term of the common love of the Father and of the Son, the bond uniting Them eternally in the most absolute diffusion of Themselves. The supreme Being is essentially diffusive of Itself in the intimate life of God, and freely bestows Its riches by means of creation and by our gratuitous elevation to the life of grace. Thus will be verified St. Paul's words: "Whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of His Son; that He might be the first-born amongst many brothers." (10) From all eternity God has an only Son to whom He communicates all His divine nature; He gives Him to be "God of God, light of light." He has willed to have other sons, adopted sons, to whom He communicates a participation in His nature, sanctifying grace in the essence of their souls, and from this grace proceed in their higher faculties the light of glory and inadmissible charity. Thus, St. Thomas says, "by the incarnation of the Son we receive adoptive sonship in the likeness of His natural sonship." (11)

So, we are called to be one in the Trinity, experiencing the Beatific Vision. 

We shall also contemplate immediately the intimate and indissoluble union of the person of the Word and of the humanity of the Savior. We shall see thereby all the splendor of the divine maternity of Mary, of her mediation, the price of the salvation of souls, and the unlimited riches of these words so quickly uttered: "The eternal life of the elect."

How wonderful to think that eternity consists of experiencing and meditating on the most beautiful ideas and people ever created. Love is the center of our being for all eternity.

No one can tell the joy that will be born in us of this absolutely immediate vision, which will be like a spiritual fusion of our soul, of our intellect, and of the divine essence, an uninterrupted transforming union, an intimate and perfect communion that nothing will ever be able to lessen.

Love is the answer to all this beauty happiness. 

The love which will result from this vision will be so pure and strong a love of God that nothing will ever be able to diminish it. This love will be sovereignly spontaneous, but no longer free; it will be superior to liberty, ravished by the sovereign Good. By this love we shall rejoice especially that God is God, infinitely holy, just, and merciful; we shall adore all the decrees of His providence in view of the manifestation of His goodness, and we shall subordinate ourselves completely to Him. We shall enter into His beatitude, according to the words of our Savior in the parable of the talents: "Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." (12)

We can form some idea of the activity of the saints in heaven by the radiation of their lives on earth, such as it appears, for example, in our day in the numerous graces obtained through the intercession of Mary in the sanctuary at Lourdes, or through the prayer of a St. Teresa of Lisieux.

How lovely that Garrigou-Lagrange mentions Mary and the Little Flower, both great saints of Love.


If sanctifying grace is the seed of eternal life in us, what follows as a result? First of all, that sanctifying grace, called "the grace of the virtues and the gifts," is "much more excellent," as St. Thomas says,(13) than the graces gratis datae, like the gift of miracles, that of tongues, or prophecy which announces a contingent event. These graces are, so to speak, exterior; they give us signs of the divine life, but they are not themselves the divine life shared in us.

Now, it is from the grace of the virtues and the gifts received by all at baptism, and not from graces gratis datae and extraordinary graces that, as we have seen, the infused contemplation of the mysteries of faith proceeds. This contemplation is an act of living faith, illumined by the gifts of understanding and wisdom. It is not, therefore, an essentially extraordinary favor like prophecy or the gift of tongues, but is found in the normal way of sanctity.

This is experiencing heaven on earth, which is possible for us all. 

The truth of this conclusion becomes even more apparent if we observe that sanctifying grace, being essentially ordained to eternal life, is likewise ordained to the normal and immediate prelude of the beatific vision. Is not this prelude precisely the eminent exercise of infused faith illumined by the gifts of wisdom and understanding, that is, the infused contemplation of the divine goodness and its radiation, together with perfect charity and the ardent desire for the beatific vision? 

Three points here are that one must have allowed for the purification of the intellect and the will to come to contemplation. Second, that infused knowledge and contemplation of the Attributes follows; three, charity, therefore, naturally proceeds from that contemplation.

On earth this ardent desire is found in its full perfection only in the transforming union. Therefore this union does not appear to be outside the normal way of sanctity, especially if one considers, not so much a given individual soul, but the human soul and, in it, sanctifying grace considered in itself, as the seed of glory.

It is a human process to become more fully human and it is through sanctifying grace that we follow the normal way of sanctity. One becomes what one was intended to be by God.
The ardent desire for God is only too rare on earth, even in consecrated souls; and yet if there is a good to which the Christian should ardently aspire, evidently it is the eternal possession of God. To attain it, he should desire an ever deeper faith, a firmer confidence, a purer and stronger love of God, virtues which are found precisely in the transforming union. 

This is all gift, but the gift given to all the baptized. The life of virtues comes to a fullness in unity, as does the gifts. 

Thus this union appears, in profoundly humble and fully purified souls, as the immediate prelude of the beatific vision. There must, in fact, be some proportion between the intensity of the desire and the value of the good desired; in this case the value of the good being infinite, it could not be too greatly desired. Consequently it is not fitting that this infinite good should be granted to a soul that does not yet desire it ardently. The more purified the soul is, the more it aspires to the possession of God, and if at death the soul's desire is not as ardent as it should be, this is a sign that it needs additional purification, that of purgatory.

Do we really desire God? Do we really want to be with Him more than anything else? Purgatory is so logical. Only the perfect see God.

The dogma of purgatory, then, throws a new light on the present question. Purgatory is a punishment which supposes a sin that could have been avoided and an insufficient satisfaction that could have been complete if we had better accepted the trials of the present life. It is certain that no one will be detained in purgatory except for sins he could have avoided or for negligence in making reparation for them. Therefore normally we should, like the saints, undergo our purgatory in this life while meriting, while growing in love, instead of after death without meriting.

We can ask God for purgatory on earth. We can beg Him to grant us our purgation NOW instead of after our death. There is much merit in this.

Therefore sanctifying grace, which is of itself ordained to eternal life, is also ordained to such perfection that the soul may receive the light of glory immediately after death without passing through purgatory. This disposition to enter heaven immediately after death supposes a complete purification, analogous at least to that of souls that are about to leave purgatory and have a very ardent desire for God. According to St. John of the Cross, this complete purification is normally found on earth only in those who have courageously endured the passive purifications of the senses and the spirit, which prepare the soul for intimate union with God.(14) 

And this does take courage and strong willing.

This reason confirms all that we have said and shows that the passive purifications are indeed in the normal way of sanctity, like the close union with God for which they prepare. Evident also is the degree of sanctity in question in the expression "the normal way of sanctity"; that sanctity is meant which permits the soul to enter heaven immediately after death.

Teachers, including pastors, should be telling all that the normal way is NOT purgatory after death but purgation in life. Why this is not happening, I have a few ideas concerning this, but that is for another discussion.

Such is, we believe, the teaching of St. John of the Cross, which admirably preserves and explains the traditional doctrine on this point, in particular that of the great spiritual writers who preceded him. To grasp the meaning and import of this teaching, souls must doubtless be considered not only as they are, but as they should be. Now, it is the work proper to spirituality to remind souls incessantly of what they should be that they may go beyond what they are.

Honesty and humility are absolute necessities. These virtues involve putting on the Mind of Christ and conforming one's self to God's Will is all things.

This lofty doctrine also conforms perfectly to what St. Thomas tells us not only about the nature of grace, the seed of glory, but also about the beatitudes and the imitation of Jesus Christ,(15) the virtues of the purified soul,(16) the higher degree of humility,(17) patience,(18) the spirit of faith,(19) confidence in God, and charity.(20)

St. Thomas, St. Albert the Great, St. Bonaventure, and after them St. John of the Cross and St. Francis de Sales (21) found this teaching in the fathers who spoke of the relations of contemplation and perfect love, in St. Paul himself, and in the Gospel.

Go back and read some of these snippets in my series. Follow the tags.

 St. Paul delights in saying: "That which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation [if it is well borne], worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory." (22) He gives us the ardent desire for it by reminding us that we have received the "pledge of the Spirit," (23) or the pledge and foretaste of eternal life. And our Lord Himself says to us: "If any man thirst, let him come to Me, and drink. . . . Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." (24) "He that hath My commandments and keepeth them; he it is that loveth Me. And he that loveth Me, shall be loved of My Father; and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him." (25) This secret manifestation of Christ to the faithful soul is truly the prelude of eternal life; it is found especially in the highest of the eight beatitudes: "Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers. . . . Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake." (26) These beatitudes are, says St. Thomas, the highest acts of the virtues and the gifts; there is in them "a kind of imperfect inchoation of future happiness." (27) Even here on earth, the fruits of these merits begin to appear, and they contain a savor of eternal life, or a foretaste of the joy of the elect.

Can you imagine what the Church would be like if we all cooperated with these graces? The entire world be take notice of the virtues and joys of being a Catholic.

And for the modern person, the next section will prove to be both interesting and familiar. Psychology has been the sad substitute for spiritual theology in seminaries and other forms of formations. The Church must change this. Although there may be useful overlaps, psychological language and models cannot take the place of spiritual theology in the formation of priests, nuns, and deacons. Psychological portfolios are no substitute for teaching people how to pray in the process of perfection.


We call attention to a good work by Father Gabriel of St. Magdalen, C.D., which appeared in the Acta Academiae Romanae S. Thomae (1939):- "De indole psychologica theologiae spiritualis." This article, we believe, contains the most exact statement that has been made on this subject following two recent controversies: that between Father Stolz, O.S.B., and M. Penido on whether the psychological consideration of the facts of the interior life belongs to the domain of spiritual theology; and that between Jacques Maritain and Father T. Deman on the relation of spiritual theology with theology as such.

Father Gabriel answers these two questions as follows:
I. In reality spiritual theology as it exists today implies a psychological study of the facts of the interior life, but a study made in a manner notably different from that of St. Teresa, who is almost solely descriptive, and from that of St. John of the Cross, who interprets these facts theologically in order to show what the evolution of the life of grace in a completely faithful soul is and ought to be.
2. This psychological study may be scientific, and it becomes so when it establishes universal psychological laws, for example, on the relations of purifying aridity and union with God.

3. This study becomes theological when these laws find their superior basis in fixed theological principles. Such is the character of the psychological consideration of the spiritual life in the work of St. John of the Cross, in particular when he establishes the necessity of the passive purification of the senses and then that of the spirit to attain the intimate and perfect union with God, which is the culminating point of the evolution of the life of grace in perfect souls. (Thus fixed theological conclusions are reached.)

4. The psychological study of the facts of the life of the soul, although necessary even to moral theology in the tracts on human acts, the passions, the virtues in general and in particular, and the gifts of the Holy Ghost, is particularly requisite for spiritual theology, which considers the development of the interior life and its different phases even to perfect union. Consequently spiritual theology preserves the same concepts of grace, faith, confidence, charity, contemplation, and so on, as does moral theology, such as St. Thomas considers it. Nevertheless in spiritual theology these concepts are in closer relation with the concrete development of the interior life: for example, the concept of infused contemplation with the successive phases of the night of the senses, the night of the spirit, and perfect union. As a result we are led, not to admit a specific distinction between theology as conceived by St. Thomas and spiritual theology, but to see in the latter a function of theology, which, without being a science subordinated to theology, depends essentially on its principles.

Father Gabriel thus admits, as we do, that spiritual theology is an application of theology which determines the nature of the intimate union of the soul with God and the means (the acts, trials, graces) which lead to this union. It thus establishes, according to fixed theological principles, juxtaposed with the experience of the saints, the superior laws of the life of grace.

This is the point of view we took in the introduction and in the course of this work. Spiritual theology is, we said - designedly using a very general term - an application of theology, an application which is still in the domain of the universal, and on which depend the art of direction and the prudence of the director, which is the particular, contingent, and final application to a given person rather than to another.(1)

We also stated that spiritual theology is a branch of theology, or one of its integral parts (ratione materiae); (2) but although it has a less extended domain than moral theology as conceived by St. Thomas, it is the highest of its applications or its branches, for its end is to lead souls to intimate union with God. By it theology returns to its point of departure, to its eminent source, to divine revelation contained in Scripture and tradition. Spiritual theology, as a matter of fact, studies what should be the infused contemplation of revealed mysteries and the divine union resulting from this contemplation. In a word, it shows what the normal prelude of eternal life should be. Thereby the cycle of sacred science is completed.

From this point of view, spiritual theology presumes a thoroughly profound knowledge of dogmatic theology and of moral theology, which are the two parts of a single science that is eminently speculative and practical, like "the impression of the science of God in us." (3) Thereby the superior unity of theology is maintained, and we see ever better how it realizes what the Vatican Council says: "Reason also, illumined by faith, when it seeks zealously, piously, and soberly, attains through the gift of God some understanding of the mysteries, and that a most fruitful one, now from the analogy of those which it knows naturally, now from the interrelation of those mysteries with the ultimate end of man." (4)

(To be read from the bottom up)

Unitive life of the perfect
◊ full◊ extraordinary, e.g., with the vision of the Blessed Trinity
◊ weak
◊  ordinary
• eminent contemplative form
• apostolic form
◊ initial◊ not very continual union, often interrupted
Illuminative life of proficients
◊ full infused contemplation
◊ extraordinary or accompanied by visions, revelations
◊ ordinary
clearly contemplative form
 active form, or form or.ained to action, e.g., gift of wisdom under practical form
◊ weak◊ transitory acts of infused contemplation (d. The Dark Night, Bk. I, chap. 9)
◊ initial◊ passive purification of the senses more or less well borne (initial infused contemplation)
Purgative life of beginners
◊ full or generous◊ fervent souls pious and devout souls
◊ weak◊ tepid or retarded souls, not without relapses
◊ initial◊ first conversion or justification


Sad Photo

I am convinced there are more people involved than these two.

Rising Restrictions on Religion

Perfection and Garrigou-Lagrange: Thomas Aquinas again: The "Error of Perspective"

My comments are in blue, as usual.

St. Thomas adds that this is why the abbot Moses says (Conferences of the Fathers, Bk. I, chap. 7): "Fasts, vigils, meditation on Holy Scripture, penury, and the loss of all one's wealth are not perfection but means to perfection, since not in them does perfection consist, but by them one attains it" (6) more rapidly and more surely. (7) 

This is why the contemplative orders are a short-cut to perfection.

A man can be voluntarily poor for other than a religious motive, through philosophical scorn of wealth, for example; likewise one, can be poor for love of God, as St. Francis was, but this is not indispensable to perfection. Thus a soul may reach sanctity in the married state without the effective practice of the counsels, but on condition that it have the spirit of the counsels, which is the spirit of detachment from worldly goods for love of God.

This is an important point. One may and, of course, can reach holiness in any state.

All this shows that perfection lies principally in the more and more generous fulfillment of the supreme precept, which has 'no limit. No one can find a limit in the statement in Deuteronomy: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with thy whole strength," (8) and not by halves. In other words, all Christians to whom this precept is addressed, must, unless they already have the perfection of charity, at least tend toward it, each according to his condition, whether it be in the married state or in the sacerdotal life or in the religious state

Tending towards perfection is what we all must do according to our vocations and placing in the world. God calls each one of us to this walk.

For all, it is not only better to tend toward this perfection of charity, it is a duty identical with that of continually advancing toward heaven where the love of God will reign fully, a love which nothing will any longer be able to destroy or render tepid.

The next section is important. We do not know to what degree we are called to achieve. That is why we must trust in God and continue with God on our way.

As this heading declares, the doctrine, that the supreme precept has no limit, is greatly confirmed if we consider that the end in question here is not an intermediary end, such as health, but the last end, God Himself, who is infinite good. If a sick person desires health without limitations, with greater reason we should desire the love of God, without limiting our desire to a certain degree. We do not know the degree to which God wishes to lead us and will lead us if we are faithful and generous. St. Thomas says: "Never can we love God as much as He ought to be loved, or believe and hope in Him as much as we should." (9) In contrast to the moral virtues, the theological virtues do not consist essentially in a happy mean: their object, their formal motive, their essential measure is God Himself, His infinite truth and goodness.

This paragraph is important. There is no such thing as limited love, or the middle road. The goal is, of course, God Himself and His Love. People say there are "holy" pagans. However, if a pagan is not concentrating on loving God for Himself alone, he has not entered the way of perfection. Read the next section carefully for an understanding of why so many of the Fathers of the Church did not think that "good" pagans would go to heaven.

We are far from the aurea mediocritas of which Horace spoke. As an Epicurean, he even seriously reduced the golden mean of the moral virtues. The truly golden mean of these virtues is not only that of selfish calculation, which, without love of virtue, avoids the disadvantages of vices that are opposed to each other; the truly golden mean is already a summit, that of right reason and of virtuous good loved for itself, over and above the useful and the delectable. But this summit has not an infinite elevation; it is the reasonable rule determining the measure of our acts in the use of exterior goods and in our relations with our fellow men

Right reason dictates that we love our fellow men, but to be perfect, we must do this for the sake of God Himself.

For example, in the presence of certain dangers we must be courageous and even not fear death if our country is in danger; but to expose ourselves to death without a just motive would not be courage but temerity. Moreover, there are some sacrifices that our country cannot rightly require of us. Our country is not God, and consequently cannot demand that we love it above all else, sacrificing to it our Christian faith, the practice of the true religion, and our eternal salvation. Such a course of action would be an excessive love of country.

There is a misunderstanding about this in some people. for example, some religious fanatics see love of a nation as the same as the love of God. This is not necessarily true.

But, over and above the moral virtues, the theological virtues, which have God immediately as their object and motive, cannot essentially consist in a golden mean

There is no via media, as dear Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman came to know.

We cannot love God too much, believe too greatly in Him, hope too much in Him; we can never love Him as much as He should be loved

St. Francis said that his God never said "enough." We can say "no". Let us not say "no".

Thus we see more clearly that the supreme precept has no limit. It asks us all ever to strive here on earth for a purer and stronger love of God.

This takes effort and decision making on our part daily. We must try to persevere. 

If hope is the mean between despair and presumption, this is not because the presumptuous man hopes too greatly in God, but because he displaces the motive of hope by hoping for what God could not promise, such as pardon without true repentance. Likewise, credulity does not consist in believing too greatly in God, but in believing what is only human invention or imagination as if it were revealed by Him. (10)

I cannot emphasize this paragraph enough. One must not let one's imagination to go astray.

We cannot believe too strongly in God, or hope too greatly in Him, or love Him too much. To forget, as the Epicureans do, that the rational, golden mean is already a summit, and to wish to make the theological virtues consist essentially in a golden mean as the moral virtues do, is characteristic of mediocrity or tepidity, erected into a system under pretext of moderation. Mediocrity is a mean between good and evil and, indeed, nearer evil than good. The reasonable, golden mean is already a summit, that is, moral good; the object of the theological virtues is infinite truth and goodness. This truth has at times been brought into relief by the comparison between the mediocre man and the true Christian.(11)

Indeed, moderation can be evil, and avoid standing up for the good. Mediocrity was hated by Christ Himself, who said: But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, not hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth. Revelation 3:16. DR


Finally, another reason why the precept of love has no limit is found in the fact that we are travelers on the way to eternity, and that we advance by growing in the love of God and of our neighbor. 

This journey does not end. It keeps going until the day we die. And, as noted here, this journey is an obligation, not an option.

Some Catholics think that the search for perfection is something one can do without. No, it is not. We offend God by not pursuing perfection.

Consequently our charity ought always to grow even to the end of our journey. Not only is this a counsel, that is, something better, but an obligation. Moreover, a soul here on earth not desirous of growing in charity would offend God. The road to eternity is not made to be used as a place for rest or sleep, but rather to be traveled. For the traveler who has not yet reached the obligatory end or term of his pilgrimage, progress is commanded and not only counseled, just as a child must grow, according to the law of nature, under pain of becoming a dwarf, a deformed being.(12) Now, when it is a question of advancing toward God, it is not by the movement of our bodies that we advance, but rather spiritually, by the steps of love, as St. Gregory the Great says, by growth in charity which ought to become a purer and stronger love. This is what we ought especially to ask in prayer; this is the import of the first petitions of the Our Father.

Does it follow that a person who does not yet fulfill the precept perfectly, transgresses it? Not at all; for, as St. Thomas says, "To avoid this transgression, it is enough to fulfill the law of charity to a certain extent as beginners do.

"The perfection of divine love falls entirely (universaliter) within the object of the precept; even the perfection of heaven is not excluded from it, since it is the end toward which one must tend, as Augustine says (De perfectione justitiae, chap. 8; De Spiritu et littera, chap. 36). But a person avoids the transgression of the precept by putting into practice a little love of God.

Love God as much as you can and are able to do.

"Now, the lowest degree of the love of God consists in loving nothing more than God or contrary to God or equal with God, and he who has not this degree of perfection in no wise fulfills the commandment. There is another degree of charity which cannot be realized in this life and which consists in loving God with all our strength, in such a way that our love always tends actually toward Him. This perfection is possible only in heaven, and therefore the fact that a person does not yet possess it, entails no transgression of the commandment. And, in like manner, the fact that a person has not attained the intermediate degrees of perfection, entails no transgression, provided only that he reaches the lowest degree." (13)

But evidently he who remains in this lowest degree does not fulfill the supreme commandment in all its perfection: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with all thy strength and with all thy mind."

Do we realize that seeking perfection is not an option? This call is a "precept"

It would be an error to think that only imperfect charity is of precept, and that only the degrees of this virtue superior to the lowest degree are of counsel. They fall under the precept, if not as something to be realized immediately, at least as that toward which we must tend.(14) Thus, by virtue of the law of his development, a child must grow in order to become a man, otherwise he would not remain a child, but would become a deformed dwarf. The same is true in the spiritual life.(15) The law of growth has serious demands. If the divine seed, placed in us by baptism, does not develop, it runs the risk of dying, of being choked out by weeds, as we read in the parable of the sower. In the spiritual life these abnormal souls are certainly not the true mystics, but the retarded and the lukewarm.

Hard words, which are ignored by most teachers, spiritual directors, and priests...why?

Perfection is an end toward which all must tend, each according to his condition. This capital point of spiritual doctrine, forgotten by some modern theologians, was highlighted in 1923 by Pius XI in his encyclical Studiorum ducem, in which he presents St. Thomas to us as the undisputed master not only of dogmatic and moral theology, but also of ascetical and mystical theology. Pius XI draws particular attention to the doctrine of the Angelic Doctor, namely, that the perfection of charity falls under the supreme precept as the end toward which every Christian must tend according to his condition in life.(16)

This seeking of perfection, and the desire to love God, is THE call of our life.

That same year Pius XI, in another encyclical, recalled the fact that St. Francis de Sales taught the same doctrine.(17)

I looked at Francis de Sales, earlier in the series...

Three consequences, which we shall develop farther on, result from this doctrine: (I) In the way of salvation, he who does not advance, goes back. Why is this so? Because it is a law that one must always advance, under penalty of becoming a retarded soul, just as a child who does not develop as he should, becomes abnormal.

1) If one is not progressing, one is sliding back-this is a "law" of spiritual growth.

 (2) The progress of charity should indeed be more rapid in proportion as we approach nearer to God, who draws us more strongly. Thus the movement of a falling stone is so much the more rapid as the stone approaches the earth which attracts it. (3) Lastly, since such is the loftiness of the first precept, assuredly actual graces are progressively offered to us proportionate to the end to be attained, for God does not command the impossible. He loves us more than we think. In return, we must give Him our love.

As with a stone in gravity, if we start the journey towards perfection, we shall grow more and more quickly in grace.

When we have succeeded in loving Him with all our heart, even with an affective love, we must love Him with all our soul, with an effective love, with all our strength, when the hour of trial strikes for us, and finally, with all our mind, progressively freed from the fluctuations of the sensible faculties

This movement of the spirit must break away from going forward and moving back-a sad but all too common occurrence. I go forward and I go back. Only with God's grace can I continue to go forward.

that, henceforth spiritualized, we may become truly "adorers in spirit and in truth."

And, Adoration is a sure way of becoming perfect. Take time to go forward...

All this doctrine shows that sanctification must not be too greatly separated from salvation, as is done by those who say: "I shall never become a saint; it is enough for me to be saved." This statement contains an error of perspective. Progressive sanctification is, in reality, the way of salvation. In heaven there will be only saints, and, in this sense of the word, each of us must strive for sanctity.

To be saved, or to think that one only wants to be saved is not enough. 

This is the penultimate post on perfection. I shall have one more.