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The Saint of Love, One

A re-post...................................
Sunday, 19 August 2012

The Saint of Love--a mini-series

St. Bernard of Clairvaux is my favourite saint and Dante puts him high in heaven, Beatrice leaving Dante in the hands of the mystic saint. St. Bernard is, in my mind, the Saint of Love. He asks Mary, Queen and Mother, to allow Dante the Poet to see the Beatific Vision. I am placing the entire section of the Canto here.
Over the next two days, I shall look at St. Bernard's views on Love, Who is a Person.

Here are the verses from The Divine Comedy:

"O virgin mother, daughter of thy Son,
humble beyond all creatures and more exalted;
predestined turning point of God's intention;

Thy merit so ennobled human nature
that its divine Creator did not scorn
to make Himself the creature of His creature.

The Love that was rekindled in Thy womb
sends for the warmth of the eternal peace
within whose ray this flower has come to bloom.

Here to us, thou art the noon and scope
of Love revealed; and among mortal men,
the living fountain of eternal hope.

Lady, thou art so near God's reckonings
that who seeks grace and does not first seek thee
would have his wish fly upward without wings.

Not only does thy sweet benignity
flow out to all who beg, but oftentimes
thy charity arrives before the plea.

In thee is pity, in thee munificence,
in thee the tenderest heart, in thee unites
all that creation knows of excellence!

Now comes this man who from the final pit
of the universe up to this height has seen,
one by one, the three lives of the spirit.

He prays to thee in fervent supplication
for grace and strength, that he may raise his eyes
to the all-healing final revelation.

And I, who never more desired to see
the vision myself that I do that he may see It,
add my own prayer, and pray that it may be

enough to move you to dispel the trace
of every mortal shadow by thy prayers
and let him see revealed the Sum of Grace.

I pray the further, all-persuading Queen,
keep whole the natural bent of his affections
and of his powers after his eyes have seen.

Protect him from the stirrings of man's clay;
see how Beatrice and the blessed host
clasp reverent hands to join me as I pray."

The eyes that God reveres and loves the best
glowed on the speaker, making clear the joy
with which true prayer is heard by the most blest.

Those eyes turned then to the Eternal Ray,
through which, we must indeed believe, the eyes
of others do not find such ready way.

And I, who neared the goal of all my nature,
felt my soul, at the climax of its yearning,
suddenly, as it ought, grow calm with rapture.

Bernard then, smiling sweetly, gestured to me
to look up, but I had already become
within myself all he would have me be.

Little by little as my vision grew
it penetrated faintly through the aura
of the high lamp which in Itself is true.

What then I saw is more than tongue can say.
Our human speech is dark before the vision.
The ravished memory swoons and falls away.

As one who sees in dreams and wakes to find
the emotional impression of his vision
still powerful while its parts fade from his mind -

just such am I, having lost nearly all
the vision itself, while in my heart I feel
the sweetness of it yet distill and fall.

So, in the sun, the footprints fade from snow.
On the wild wind that bore the tumbling leaves
the Sybil's oracles were scattered so.

O Light Supreme who doth Thyself withdraw
so far above man's mortal understanding,
lend me again some glimpse of what I saw;

make Thou my tongue so eloquent it may
of all Thy glory speak a single clue
to those who follow me in the world's day;

for by returning to my memory
somewhat, and somewhat sounding in these verses,
Thou shalt show man more of Thy victory.

So dazzling was the splendor of that Ray,
that I must certainly have lost my senses
had I, but for an instant, turned away.

And so it was, as I recall, I could,
the better bear to look, until at last,
my Vision made one with the Eternal Good.

Oh grace abounding that had made me fit
to fix my eyes on the eternal light
until my vision was consumed in It!

I saw within Its depth how It conceives
all things in a single volume bound by Love,
of which the universe is the scattered leaves;

substance, accident, and their relation
so fused that all I say could do no more
than yield a glimpse of that bright revelation.

I think I saw the universal form
that binds these things, for as I speak these words
I feel my joy swell and my spirits warm.

Twenty-five centuries since Neptune saw
the Argo's keel have not moved all mankind,
recalling that adventure, to such awe

as I felt in an instant. My tranced being
stared fixed and motionless upon that vision,
even more fervent to see in the act of seeing.

Experiencing that Radiance, the spirit
is so indrawn it is impossible
even to think of ever turning from It.

For the good which is the will's ultimate object
is all subsumed in It; and, being removed,
all is defective which in It is perfect.

Now in my recollection of the rest
I have less power to speak than any infant
wetting its tongue yet at its mother's breast;

and not because that Living Radiance bore
more than one semblance, for It is unchanging
and is forever as it was before;

rather, as I grew worthier to see,
the more I looked, the more unchanging semblance
appeared to change with every change in me.

Within the depthless deep and clear existence
of that abyss of light three circles shown -
three in color, one in circumference;

the second from the first, rainbow from rainbow;
the third, an exhalation of pure fire
equally breathed forth by the other two.

But oh how much my words miss my conception,
which is itself so far from what I saw
than to call it feeble would be rank deception!

O Light Eternal fixed in Itself alone,
by Itself alone understood, which from Itself
loves and glows, self-knowing and self-known;

that second aureole which shone forth in Thee,
conceived as a reflection of the first -
or which appeared so to my scrutiny -

seemed in Itself of Its own coloration
to be painted with man's image. I fixed my eyes
on that alone in rapturous contemplation.

Like a geometer wholly dedicated
to squaring the circle, but who cannot find,
think as he may, the principle indicated -

so did I study the supernal face.
I yearned to know just how our image merges
into that circle, and how it there finds place;

but mine were not the wings for such a flight.
Yet, as I wished, the truth I wished for came
cleaving my mind in a great flash of light.

Here my powers rest from their high fantasy,
but already I could feel my being turned -
instinct and intellect balanced equally

as in a wheel whose motion nothing jars -
by the Love that moves the sun and other stars.

Just so you know how much I like Bernard

And, there are more on this blog--re-post and take time to appreciate one who I think truly is one of the greatest saints of our Church.Tuesday, 20 August 2013

A Compendium of Supertradmum on St. Bernard of Clairvaux

26 Feb 2013
I am sure that readers can tell by now that I cannot write enough on my favourite male saints, Bernard of Clairvaux. I hope you have received his insights and experiences of God with the pleasure and amazement with which I ...
20 Mar 2013
St. Bernard of Clairvaux on the Knights Templar. Posted by Supertradmum · Prologue TO HUGH, KNIGHT OF CHRIST AND MASTER OF CHRIST'S MILITIA: ...
23 Feb 2013
Therefore, when I read St. Bernard of Clairvaux and some of his commentators, one of the things which comes across very clearly is that he understands the progress of holiness as explained in these few words. Know, love ...
22 Feb 2013
Part 47: DoC: St. Bernard of Clairvaux, continued, and perfection. Posted by Supertradmum. Those of us who are workaholics have the hardest time with meditation and contemplation. But, was there ever a man busier than St.

24 Feb 2013
Words for the Papabile from St. Bernard of Clairvaux: Part 51: DoC. Posted by Supertradmum. If I remember, the subject of my discourse. to your Excellency was to be Consideration. And certainly. the matter to which I have ...
19 Aug 2012
Can you imagine in the cold and damp monastery of Clairvaux, in the refectory or monastery church, St. Bernard reading to his monks an exposition of The Song of Songs? I wonder at his audacity as well as his mystic insights ...
23 Nov 2012
The reason I encourage reading is that is the first step on the chair to Contemplation as taught by St. Bernard of Clairvaux. We must read the right books, however. Some people get bogged down in conversion stories. That is ...
28 Feb 2013
I know I started the postings on St. Augustine, which will continue on Friday, but today I was reading in the sermon of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, On Detraction. I am only going to refer to two ideas, both repetitions on this blog.

23 Nov 2012
Here is the quotation from St. Bernard of Clairvaux, from a homily of his at Easter. "We look for God where He is not to be found, or rather, we do not look for Him where He is chiefly to be found; hence, all the confusion, all the ...
21 Feb 2013
As those of you who read my blog know, St. Bernard of Clairvaux is my favourite saint. I discovered him when in a particularly Romantic period of my life was unfolding and he captured my imagination as well as my intellect.
24 Feb 2013
Part 52: DoC: Bernard of Clarivaux and the Perfection of Love. Posted by Supertradmum. From St. Bernard of Clairvaux on Love from Sermon 83 on the Canticle of Canticles. Love is sufficient of itself, it gives pleasure by itself ...
26 Feb 2013
Posted by Supertradmum. On this blog, I have already referred to the sermons of St. Bernard of Clairvaux on the Song of Songs, or. Canticle of Canticles. These sermons may be considered his masterpiece as a Doctor of the ...

29 Aug 2012
St. Bernard of Clairvaux has a fascinating sermon on two aspects of love regarding St. John and St. Peter. St. Bernard, in St. Peter and St. John, XLI, In Joannic Evang; Tract CXXIV. Bernard says the Peter loved Christ more ...
20 Jan 2013
St. Bernard of Clairvaux would have made an excellent 21st century psychologist He understood human nature and nurture. He understood the workings of the soul, the psyche. He understood the need for the seeking of ...
23 Dec 2012
As the year comes to an end soon, and the Feast of St. John is upon us after Christmas, I want to revisit a strange saying of St. Bernard of Clairvaux He has a fascinating sermon on two aspects of love regarding St. John and ...
04 Feb 2013
All the members of St. Bernard of Clairvaux's immediate family are either Blesseds or Saints, including his father and mother. Here they are listed, plus a cousin and in-law.

07 May 2012
St. Bernard of Clairvaux created a movement of love outside himself, because he was in love with Christ. So too were St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila. St. Maximilian Kolbe and many, many other witnesses to the Faith.
21 Nov 2012
Bernard of Clairvaux's famous sermon on the meeting of Christ and Mary Magdalen in the Garden highlights the theme I have here and in the previous post on the Presence of Christ within us. Bernard states that Mary was ...
07 Apr 2013
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 ...
29 Jan 2012
I do not have my works of St. Bernard of Clairvaux with me, but I can paraphrase one of his sayings: There is rejoicing in heaven when a bad man becomes good, but how much more rejoicing is there when a good man ...

27 Aug 2012
I have been reading the Sermons of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, specifically on the Feeding of the Five Thousand. Without going into great detail, one of the points St. Bernard makes, which has been made by many saints, is that ...
19 Aug 2012
St. Bernard of Clairvaux is my favourite saint and Dante puts him high in heaven, Beatrice leaving Dante in the hands of the mystic saint. St. Bernard is, in my mind, the Saint of Love. He asks Mary, Queen and Mother, to allow ...
12 Dec 2012
St. Bernard of Clairvaux in his great sermons on the Bride in the Song of Songs, notes that the Church is Christ's Bride. Many of the so-called womynpriests are also liberals in other ways. The Anglican Church, which has ...

18 Feb 2013
Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, Bede the Venerable, Peter Damian, Gregory the Great, and the reformer of the Benedictine Order, Bernard of Clairvaux. So, although the Franciscans claim they have the most, I count more ...
27 Aug 2012
Like the works of St. Thomas Aquinas, or Augustine, the writings of Bernard of Clairvaux give us endless spiritual milk to drink on these points. In his sermon, On Humility and Patience, Bernard writes this, “Some endure ...
15 Feb 2013
St. Bernard of Clairvaux and his family were in the highest echelons of their society. They owned great tracts of land, at least on castle, and had labourers, as well as house staff and so on. St. Bernard gave up his inheritance, ...
28 Dec 2012
Bernard of Clairvaux had seven-hundred monks and lay brothers at the peak of the monastery's history, which allows for a steady stream of visitors. We need more vocations to the religious life. There are two young ones in the ...

04 Dec 2012
St. Bernard of Clairvaux cooperated with grace. So did St. Paul and St. Peter. Yesterday was the feast day of St. Francis Xavier, a saint who learned the Ignatian method of prayer. Pray that God's Perfect Will be done in your life ...
09 Dec 2012
St. Bernard of Clairvaux writes that great men ask God for great things. Moses, Joshua, David, Daniel, and many others asked God for great things, including the revelation of the Glory of God. We do not ask because we are ...
20 Jul 2013
2 comments: Corax said... Dear Supertradmom How do guys like myself relate to this whilst still being masculine? 20 July 2013 00:12 · Supertradmum said... Read SS. Bernard of Clairvaux and John of the Cross. Good night.
07 Jun 2013
9) Christ the Bridegroom calls us to the stages of understanding that each one of us must experience, as explained, for example, by Bernard of Clairvaux; these stages are knowing one is a child of a loving Father; that one is ...

Bernard of Clairvaux and Humility Continued

The Rule of St. Benedict, also referred to many times on this blog, is one of the bases of Bernard's treatise. The other bases are St. Augustine and the Sermon of the Mount, specifically, the Beatitudes, (not the Happytudes, sorry, JB).

The other base is a look at The Descending Steps of Pride. As Bernard points out, one learns from one's sins as well as from grace.

The Twelve Steps of Humility as listed by Bernard can be put side-by-side The Descending Steps of Pride, which is Bernard's scheme. All the phrases are Bernard's. Comments in parenthesis are mine.

Benedict first, Pride second: B for Benedict; P for Pride

B. Always to show the humility in one's heart, in one's bearing, keeping the eyes lowered.

P. Curiosity; when the eyes and other senses attend to what is not one's concern.

B. That a monk should speak few and reasonable words and with a moderate voice.

P. Levity of mind, known by words that bespeak unreasonable joy and sadness.

B. Not to be over-ready to laugh (and, for my regular readers, you can remember a great back and forth on this point on this blog)

P. Silly mirth, with over-much laughing.

B. To keep silent till one is questioned.

P. Boasting and too much laughing.

B. The keep to the common rule of the monastery.

P. Singularity, proud esteem of one's own ways. (Subjectivism is a result of this.)

B. To believe and admit that one is less than others.

P. Self-assertion; believing one is holier than others.

B. To confess and to believe that one is unworthy and useless for anything.

P. Presumption: meddling with everything. (What we call in England, "Church ladies".)

B. To confess one's sins.

P. Defending one's sins.

B. To hold fast to patience amidst hard and rough things for the sake of obedience.

P. Hypocritical confession, which can be tested by harsh reproof (Padre Pio did this.)

B. To submit to superiors in all obedience.

P. Rebellion against superiors and brethren.

B. Not to love one's own will.

P. Freedom in sin.

B. In the fear of God to be constantly on the watch against sin.

P. The habit of sin.

The first two, states Bernard, start outside the monastery. But, we are all called to these steps of perfection.

To be continued....

Bernard of Clairvaux and Humility

This sounds like an echo, but those of you who have followed this blog know how much I love Bernard of Clairvaux. I literally "fell in love" with him in graduate school, when I discovered his treatises on Divine Love and the Song of Songs.

Much of my personal formation is owing to St. Bernard, and I hope he takes mercy on me for my feeble efforts.

I have many posts on him, and as I am reading him again, I shall dedicated several posts on this books.

I shall get back to you all. I hope you fall in love with the soul of this great Doctor of the Church.

Paul Revere would have been busted...

Coming to a country near you

Lynda, a faithful reader and commentator and friend of mine in Ireland, sent this to me today.

EU Proposal to Monitor "Intolerant" Citizens

by Soeren Kern <>
October 28, 2013 at 5:00 am

 "There is no need to be tolerant to the intolerant" — European Framework
National Statute for the Promotion of Tolerance, Article 4

"The supra-national surveillance that it would imply would certainly be a
dark day for European democracy." — European Dignity Watch

While European leaders are busy expressing public indignation over reports
of American espionage operations in the European Union, the European
Parliament is quietly considering a proposal that calls for the direct
surveillance of any EU citizen suspected of being "intolerant."

Critics say the measure -- which seeks to force the national governments of
all 28 EU member states to establish "special administrative units" to
monitor any individual or group expressing views that the self-appointed
guardians of European multiculturalism deem to be "intolerant" -- represents
an unparalleled threat to free speech in a Europe where citizens are already
regularly punished
<> for
expressing the "wrong" opinions, especially about Islam.

The proposed European Framework National Statute for the Promotion of
> was recently presented to
members of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee
> of
the European Parliament, the only directly-elected body of the European

The policy proposal was drafted by the European Council on Tolerance and
on> (ECTR), a non-governmental organization established in Paris in 2008 by
the former president of Poland, Aleksander Kwasniewski, and the president of
the European Jewish Congress, Moshe Kantor.


Lars Hedegaard was acquitted by the Danish Supreme Court in 2012 on charges
of "hate speech" for critical comments he made about Islam.

The ECTR -- which describes itself as a "tolerance watchdog" that "prepares
practical recommendations to governments and international organizations on
improving interreligious and interethnic relations on the continent" --
includes on its board more than a dozen prominent European politicians,
including former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar.

The ECTR first presented its proposal for a Europe-wide Law on Tolerance to
the European Parliament in November 2008 as part of the European Week of
Tolerance that marked the 70th anniversary of the Kristallnacht, a night of
anti-Semitic violence that began the Jewish Holocaust in Germany.

After five years of lobbying in Europe's halls of power, the ECTR proposal
appears to be making headway, as evidenced by the European Parliament's
recent decision to give the group a prominent 45-minute time slot to present
its proposal to the Civil Liberties committee on September 17.

Also known as the "Model Statute for Tolerance," the ECTR's proposal was
presented as part of the EU's ongoing work towards a new "Equal Treatment
Directive" (ETD) that would vastly expand the scope of discrimination to all
sectors of life in both the public and private spheres.

Critics of the ETD, currently being negotiated within the Council of the
European Union <>, say
the directive seeks to establish an ill-conceived concept of "equal
treatment" as a horizontal principle governing the relationships between all
and everyone, thus interfering with the right of self-determination of all

According to European Dignity Watch
>, a civil rights watchdog based in Brussels,

        The principles of freedom of contract and the freedom to live according to
one's personal moral views are in danger of being superseded by a newly
developed concept of 'equality.' It would undermine freedom and
self-determination for all Europeans and subject the private life of
citizens to legal uncertainty and the control of bureaucrats. It is about
governmental control of social behavior of citizens. These tendencies begin
to give the impression of long-passed totalitarian ideas and constitute an
unprecedented attack on citizens' rights.

When viewed in the broader context of the ETD, the ECTR document
> is so audacious in scope,
while at the same time so vague in defining its terminology, that critics
say the proposal, if implemented, would open a Pandora's Box of abuse,
thereby effectively shutting down the right to free speech in Europe.

According to Section 1 (d), for example, the term "tolerance" is broadly
defined as "respect for and acceptance of the expression, preservation and
development of the distinct identity of a group." Section 2 (d) states that
the purpose of the statute is to "condemn all manifestations of intolerance
based on bias, bigotry and prejudice."

An explanatory note to Section 2 states: "Religious intolerance is
understood to cover Islamophobia" but it provides no definition at all of
"Islamophobia," a term
<> invented by
the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1990s. If taken to its logical conclusion,
Section 2 would presumably ban all critical scrutiny of Islam and Islamic
Sharia law, a key objective
<> of Muslim
activist groups for more than two decades.

The document also declares that "tolerance must be practiced not only by
governmental bodies but equally by individuals." Section 3 (iv) elaborates
on this: "Guarantee of tolerance must be understood not only as a vertical
relationship (government-to-individuals) but also as a horizontal
relationship (group-to-group and person-to-person). It is the obligation of
the government to ensure that intolerance is not practiced either in
vertical or in horizontal relationships."

According to Section 4 (f) (i) of the document: "There is no need to be
tolerant to the intolerant. This is especially important as far as freedom
of expression is concerned." Section 5 (a) states: "Tolerance (as defined in
Section 1(d)) must be guaranteed to any group, whether it has long-standing
societal roots or it is recently formed, especially as a result of migration
from abroad."

Section 6 states: "It goes without saying that enactment of a Statute for
the Promotion of Tolerance does not suffice by itself. There must be a
mechanism in place ensuring that the Statute does not remain on paper and is
actually implemented in the world of reality."

An explanatory note to Section 6 (a) states: "Members of vulnerable and
disadvantaged groups are entitled to a special protection, additional to the
general protection that has to be provided by the Government to every person
within the State." Another note adds: "The special protection afforded to
members of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups may imply a preferential
treatment. Strictly speaking, this preferential treatment goes beyond mere
respect and acceptance lying at the root of tolerance."

Section 6 (b) demands that every one of the 28 member states of the EU "set
up a special administrative unit in order to supervise the implementation of
this Statute." An explanatory note adds: "The special administrative unit
should preferably operate within the Ministry of Justice (although the
Ministry of the Interior is another reasonable possibility)."

Section 6 (c) calls for the establishment of a "National Tolerance
Monitoring Commission as an independent body -- composed of eminent persons
from outside the civil service -- vested with the authority to promote
tolerance." An explanatory note adds: "The independent Commission will be
empowered to express its views regarding implementation of the Statute by
all concerned. Implementation in this context includes (but is not limited
to) the imposition of penal sanctions."

Section 7 (a) states: "The following acts will be regarded as criminal
offences punishable as aggravated crimes: Incitement to violence against a
group and group libel. "Group libel" is broadly defined as: "defamatory
comments made in public and aimed against a group or members thereof with a
view to inciting to violence, slandering the group, holding it to ridicule
or subjecting it to false charges."

Section 7 (b) states that "Juveniles convicted of committing crimes listed
in paragraph (a) will be required to undergo a rehabilitation program
designed to instill in them a culture of tolerance." Paragraph 7 (e) states
that "victims of crimes listed in paragraph (a) will have a legal standing
to bring a case against the perpetrators, as well as a right to redress."
Paragraph 7 (f) states that "free legal aid will be offered to victims of
crimes listed in paragraph (a), irrespective of qualification in terms of

Section 8 states that "the government shall ensure that (a) Schools, from
the primary level upwards, will introduce courses encouraging students to
accept diversity and promoting a climate of tolerance as regards the
qualities and cultures of others." An explanatory note adds: "It is very
important to start such courses as early as possible in the educational
program, i.e. in elementary school. Yet, these courses must be offered also
at higher levels of education, up to and including universities."

Section 9 (a) states: "The government shall ensure that public broadcasting
(television and radio) stations will devote a prescribed percentage of their
program to promoting a climate of tolerance." Section 9 (b) adds: "The
government shall encourage all privately owned mass media (including the
printed press) to promote a climate of tolerance." Section 9 (c) states:
"The government shall encourage all the mass media (public as well as
private) to adopt an ethical code of conduct, which will prevent the
spreading of intolerance and will be supervised by a mass media complaints

The document, if adopted by the European Parliament in its current form,
would -- among other problems -- establish a right to a freedom from hurt
feelings at the expense of the freedom of speech and expression. In
practical terms, critics say, the highly subjective definition of terms and
concepts such as "tolerance," "discrimination," "vulnerable," and
"disadvantaged," amounts to a legal straitjacket that would encourage
frivolous litigation aimed at silencing individuals and groups, or at
finding circumlocutions that appear to avoid violating these principles.

"Faith-based groups and schools, adherents of a particular religion or even
just parents who want to teach their children certain moral values would all
be put under general suspicion of being intolerant," according to European
Dignity Watch

"Even worse, if enshrined as EU policy, such language also could lead to the
possibility that charges are brought on unclear or even without legal
grounds. The chilling result of this would be the dramatic diminution (and
possible disappearance) of the fundamental freedom of expression --
individuals and groups would censor themselves, afraid that they might be
prosecuted for expressing their own personal moral views," the NGO argues in
a statement.

"The authors of this proposed statute -- under the aegis of an international
NGO for tolerance and reconciliation -- have invited the Civil Liberties,
Justice and Home Affairs Committee to endorse it as a legal project. But not
only would an adoption of this statute at the national level of the European
states be a significant step backward," the statement concludes, "but the
supra-national surveillance that it would imply would certainly be a dark
day for European democracy."

        Soeren Kern <> is a Senior Fellow at the New
York-based Gatestone Institute <>. He is
also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de
Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook

Hmmm a query from the trenches...

Is anyone else in the Iowa-Illinois Quad-City area having Net problems? This is the fourth day of interrupted service.

Mercy vs. Judgement

Many Catholics have been confused by statements in the media attributed to our Pope regarding judgment and sin.

I have been talking with two Catholics who are very confused on the two ideas of Judgment and Mercy.

The problem, again, is the inability to think in terms of objectivity.

As I wrote in the perfection series, the saints learn to be objective.

Objective thinking means, simply, standing back and looking at one's own sins. A person learns mercy through objectivity, not subjectivity.

St. Bernard, in The Steps of Humility and Pride, writes this.

"The Son of God, the Word and Wisdom of the Father, mercifully assumed to himself human reason, the first of our powers. He found it oppressed by the flesh, held captive by sin, blinded by ignorance, distracted by outward things. He raised it by his might, taught it by his wisdom, drew it to things interior. More wonderfully still, he delegated it his own power to Judge. To judge is the proper act of Truth and in this it shared when out of reverence for the Word to which it joined it became accuser, witness and judge against itself. 

Humility had been born from the union of the Word with human reason. Then the Holy Spirit lovingly visited the second power, the will; he found it rotten with the infection of the flesh, but already judged by reason.

Gently he cleansed it, made it burn with affection, made it merciful until, like a skin made pliable with oil it would spread aborad the heavenly oil of love even to its enemies. The union of the Holy Spirit with the human will give birth to charity."

There is more which I shall highlight later. If one is not being objective with one's self and others, one is not pursuing holiness. As long as Catholics are stuck in the subjective, they cannot move into the levels of holiness demanded by God for salvation and in order to avoid purgatory.

We can judge, ourselves and objective actions. Not to do so shows a tendency to self-deceit.

Do not listen to sound bites or the media. Listen to the wisdom of the Church.

To be continued...

Meat vs. Cookies

Those who have followed my blog for years know that I have a "thing" about Catholic thinking. Few Catholics think like Catholics. Just follow the tags and labels.

Also, I have a thing about basing one's faith life on private revelations. Just follow the tags and labels.

Here is the problem I met yesterday.

A very good Catholic lady wanted to make a point about salvation in a conversation we were having. All her references were saints personal and fallible visions. She did not reference the Catechism, the Doctors of the Church, the Encyclicals or any of the doctrines or dogmas of the Faith.

This emphasis on getting knowledge from personal, private revelations reveals an immaturity of spirit and a serious anti-intellectualism, (another theme on this blog), which undermines the new evangelization.

We must evangelize from reason not feeling.

We cannot feed cookies and cake to the starving. They need meat. If we have a constant diet of cookies and cake, we would be anemic and diabetic. We would not be able to think properly about issues which face us daily.

For an adult to just eat cookies instead of meat may possibly be a sin.






Necessary Re-Post

Monday, 16 September 2013

On The False Dichotomy of Head Knowledge and Heart Knowledge And The Heresy of Fideism

I have written some posts on this topic of reason and faith before, but I am going to write a few more today. I want to avoid Pascal et co. and the Post-Moderns if I can in this short discussion. But, rather, concentrate on Fideism as it reveals itself in Catholic circles as a direct influence from Calvinism rather than Lutheranism, although there is a connection. I shall also avoid, at this stage, Fénelon & Bossuet.

I have long suspected great Calvinistic influences in both Irish and English Catholicism with regard to this argument about the difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge. The errors are rooted in anti-intellectualism, Jansenism (which greatly influence Irish Catholics), and the seeking of experiential religion, or Enthusiasm. I taught several classes on Johnathan Edwards in the past and presented him as a mystical Enthusiast. In one of my boxes in Illinois, I have his fascinating biography which proves this point. George M. Marsden's life of Edwards is worth reading. Marsden also wrote Fundamentalism and American Culture. Another classic book of this ilk is The Puritan Dilemma: The Story of John Winthrop by  Edmund Morgan, which I taught, and other books, such as Ronald Knox's Enthusiam, which, someone in their enthusiasm stole from me....amazing. If some nice reader would like to buy this for me, I would greatly appreciate it. But, read it first....

As far as I can ascertain, the first person to make the huge mistake of separating knowledge into heart and head was the heretic, Johnathan Edwards. And Fideism, the heresy, existed before Kant.  In fact, the famous Johnathan Edwards in one of his sermons, Divine and Supernatural Light, states clearly that God cannot be found by reason, when he was referring to a specific gift of light, 

This light, and this only, has its fruit in a universal holiness of life. No merely notional or speculative understanding of the doctrines of religion will ever bring to this. But this light, as it reaches the bottom of the heart, and changes the nature, so it will effectually dispose to a universal obedience. It shows God's worthiness to be obeyed and served. It draws forth the heart in a sincere love to God, which is the only principle of a true, gracious, and universal obedience; and it convinces of the reality of those glorious rewards that God has promised to them that obey him.

Edward's faulty thinking, which is what a heresy is, can be seen in this snippet.

But if we take reason strictly -- not for the faculty of mental perception in general, but for ratiocination, or a power of inferring by arguments -- the perceiving of spiritual beauty and excellency no more belongs to reason, than it belongs to the sense of feeling to perceive colours, or to the power of seeing to perceive the sweetness of food. It is out of reason's province to perceive the beauty or loveliness of any thing: such a perception does not belong to that faculty. Reason's work is to perceive truth and not excellency. It is not ratiocination that gives men the perception of the beauty and amiableness of a countenance, though it may be many ways indirectly an advantage to it; yet it is no more reason that immediately perceives it, than it is reason that perceives the sweetness of honey: it depends on the sense of the heart. -- Reason may determine that a countenance is beautiful to others, it may determine that honey is sweet to others; but it will never give me a perception of its sweetness.

The teaching of the Catholic Church is quite different. And, too often, I have heard silly sermons on the difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge. Here are some helps from the Catholic Encyclopedia.

The heresy of Fideism denies that "the power of unaided human reason to reach certitudeaffirms that the fundamental act of human knowledge consists in an act of faith, and the supreme criterion of certitude is authority." Edwards was a Fideist.  But, so are many, many Catholics. They do not understand that the intellect is involved in Faith.

... "it must be noted that authority, even the authority of God, cannot be the supreme criterion of certitude, and an act of faith cannot be the primary form of human knowledge. This authority, indeed, in order to be a motive of assent, must be previously acknowledged as being certainly valid; before we believe in a proposition as revealed by God, we must first know with certitude that God exists, that He reveals such and such a proposition, and that His teaching is worthy of assent, all of which questions can and must be ultimately decided only by an act of intellectual assent based on objective evidence. Thus, fideism not only denies intellectual knowledge, it logically ruins faith itself."

The strong anti-intellectualism of the charismatics and other groups has led to Fideism. Several popes have condemned this heresy.

In 1348, the Holy See proscribed certain fideistic propositions of Nicholas d'Autrecourt (cf. Denzinger, Enchiridion, 10th ed., nn. 553-570). In his two Encyclicals, one of September, 1832, and the other of July, 1834, Gregory XVI condemned the political and philosophical ideas of Lamenais. On 8 September, 1840, Bautain was required to subscribe to several propositions directly opposed to Fideism, the first and the fifth of which read as follows: "Human reason is able to prove with certitude the existence of God; faith, a heavenly gift, is posterior to revelation, and therefore cannot be properly used against the atheist to prove the existence of God"; and "The use of reason precedes faith and, with the help of revelation and grace, leads to it." The same proposition were subscribed to by Bonnetty on 11 June, 1855 (cf. Denzinger, nn. 1650-1652). In his Letter of 11 December, 1862, to the Archbishop of Munich, Pius IX, while condemning Frohschammer's naturalism, affirms the ability of human reason to reach certitude concerning the fundamental truthsof the moral and religious order (cf. Denzinger, 1666-1676). And, finally, the Vatican Council teaches as a dogma of Catholic faith that "one true God and Lord can be known with certainty by the natural light of human reason by means of the things that are made" (Const., De Fide Catholicâ", Sess. III, can. i, De Revelatione; cf. Granderath, "Constitutiones dogmaticae Conc. Vatic.", Freiburg, 1892, p. 32 cf. Denzinger, n. 1806).

As to the opinion of those who maintain that our supernatural assent is prepared for by motives of credibility merely probable, it is evident that it logically destroys the certitude of such an assent. This opinion was condemned by Innocent XI in the decree of 2 March, 1679 (cf. Denzinger, n. 1171), and by Pius X in the decree "Lamentabili sane" n. 25: "Assensus fidei ultimo innititur in congerie probabilitatum" (The assent of faith is ultimately based on a sum of probabilities). Revelation, indeed, is the supreme motive of faith in supernatural truths, yet, the existence of this motive and its validity has to be established by reason

The Pope Emeritus gave excellent talks on the use of reason. Here are selections from his November 21, 2012 speech on this subject. I highly suggest reading the entire address from here.  One must remember that faith is not the enemy of reason and reason is not the enemy of faith. There should be no antagonism between these two gifts.

The Catholic faith is therefore reasonable and fosters trust in human reason as well. The First Vatican Council, in the Dogmatic Constitution Dei Filius, said that reason is able to know with certainty that God exists through the Creation, whereas the possibility of knowing “easily, with complete certainty and without error” (DS 3005) the truths that concern God in the light of grace, belongs to faith alone. The knowledge of faith, moreover, is not in opposition to right reason. Blessed Pope John Paul II, in fact, in his Encyclical Fides et Ratio, sums it up in these words: “human reason is neither annulled nor debased in assenting to the contents of faith, which are in any case attained by way of free and informed choice” (n. 43).

In the irresistible desire for truth, only a harmonious relationship between faith and reason is the right road that leads to God and to the person’s complete fulfilment. This doctrine is easily recognizable throughout the New Testament. St Paul, in writing to the Christians of Corinth, maintains, as we have heard: “Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles” (1 Cor 1:22-23). God in fact did not save the world with an act of power, but through the humiliation of his Only-Begotten Son. Measured in human parameters, the unusual ways of God clash with the demands of Greek wisdom. And yet, the Cross of Christ has a reason of its own which St Paul calls: ho logos tou staurou “the word of the cross” (1 Cor 1:18). Here the term logos means both the word and reason and, if it alludes to the word, it is because it expresses verbally what reason works out.....

At the same time, God, with His grace, illuminates reason and opens up new horizons, immeasurable and infinite. Therefore, faith is a continuous stimulus to seek, never to cease or acquiesce in the inexhaustible search for truth and reality....Intellect and faith are not foreign or antagonistic to divine Revelation, they are both prerequisites for understanding its meaning, for receiving its authentic message, for approaching the threshold of the mystery. The Catholic faith is therefore rational and also nurtures trust in human reason....Knowledge of faith, furthermore, is not contrary to reason. In the irresistible desire for truth, only a harmonious relationship between faith and reason can show the correct path to God and to self-fulfilment.
Another reason for which it is rational to believe is this: if science is a valuable ally of faith in our understanding of God's plan for the universe, faith also directs scientific progress towards the good and truth of mankind, remaining faithful to that original plan....This is why it is vital for man to open himself to faith, and to know God and His plan for salvation through Jesus Christ. The Gospel establishes a new humanism, an authentic 'grammar' of humankind and reality".