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Sunday 19 January 2014

Goodbye Ireland's Ethics

"80% of respondents agree corruption is part of the business culture in Ireland."

The morally bankrupt nation...Ireland.

The Dark Night vs.Despair

I have written before on the difference between the Dark Night of the Soul, when no consolations are felt or seen by the person involved, and despair.

The two states are completely different. In despair, hope is gone. Faith is gone. Love has been destroyed.

In the Dark Night, one hopes and works out of faith without any assurance of salvation and without clarity of sight.

Faith and hope are operative in the Dark Night. In the Dark Night, especially that of the soul, one makes acts of faith and hope over and over and over.

One suffers intensely in the Dark Night, but in faith.

To be continued....

On Despair Three

Sometimes, it is the voice of reason which snaps someone out of despair. St. Peter had the grace of repentance.

Aquinas is clear that despair is a serious sin. Here is another snippet from the Summa.

There is a pattern, a paradigm of action and thought which leads to despair.

Mortal sin, rationalization of those sins, and finally a turning away of the theological virtues given in baptism. I suggest to those who are evangelizing or talking with people in despair, that the fact that this sin is directly against God and His goodness would be a good topic of conversation. Those who have despaired need to find the real God, not the God of their imaginations. And, they need to know that God has forgiven them.

To reject over and over the forgiveness of God, won by Jesus on the Cross, is the sin of despair.

Whether despair is the greatest of sins?

  Objection 1: It would seem that despair is not the greatest of sins. For there can be despair without unbelief, as stated above (Article [2]). But unbelief is the greatest of sins because it overthrows the foundation of the spiritual edifice. Therefore despair is not the greatest of sins.
  Objection 2: Further, a greater evil is opposed to a greater good, as the Philosopher states (Ethic. viii, 10). But charity is greater than hope, according to 1 Cor. 13:13. Therefore hatred of God is a greater sin than despair.
  Objection 3: Further, in the sin of despair there is nothing but inordinate aversion from God: whereas in other sins there is not only inordinate aversion from God, but also an inordinate conversion. Therefore the sin of despair is not more but less grave than other sins.
  On the contrary, An incurable sin seems to be most grievous, according to Jer. 30:12: "Thy bruise is incurable, thy wound is very grievous." Now the sin of despair is incurable, according to Jer. 15:18: "My wound is desperate so as to refuse to be healed." [*Vulg.: 'Why is my wound,' etc.] Therefore despair is a most grievous sin.
  I answer that, Those sins which are contrary to the theological virtues are in themselves more grievous than others: because, since the theological virtues have God for their object, the sins which are opposed to them imply aversion from God directly and principally. Now every mortal sin takes its principal malice and gravity from the fact of its turning away from God, for if it were possible to turn to a mutable good, even inordinately, without turning away from God, it would not be a mortal sin. Consequently a sin which, first and of its very nature, includes aversion from God, is most grievous among mortal sins.
   Now unbelief, despair and hatred of God are opposed to the theological virtues: and among them, if we compare hatred of God and unbelief to despair, we shall find that, in themselves, that is, in respect of their proper species, they are more grievous. For unbelief is due to a man not believing God's own truth; while the hatred of God arises from man's will being opposed to God's goodness itself; whereas despair consists in a man ceasing to hope for a share of God's goodness. Hence it is clear that unbelief and hatred of God are against God as He is in Himself, while despair is against Him, according as His good is partaken of by us. Wherefore strictly speaking it is more grievous sin to disbelieve God's truth, or to hate God, than not to hope to receive glory from Him.
   If, however, despair be compared to the other two sins from our point of view, then despair is more dangerous, since hope withdraws us from evils and induces us to seek for good things, so that when hope is given up, men rush headlong into sin, and are drawn away from good works. Wherefore a gloss on Prov. 24:10, "If thou lose hope being weary in the day of distress, thy strength shall be diminished," says: "Nothing is more hateful than despair, for the man that has it loses his constancy both in the every day toils of this life, and, what is worse, in the battle of faith." And Isidore says (De Sum. Bono ii, 14): "To commit a crime is to kill the soul, but to despair is to fall into hell."

On Despair Two

One of the great weaknesses of modern catechesis in the past thirty years has been the emphasis on emotional religious experience or faith based on experience of some emotional event. This has led to many people chasing after new age religions and false private revelations.

Despair is, therefore, seen as a result of depression or melancholia, rather than a deadly sin. It is part of the appetites in so far as it starts in feeling, but as Catholics, we are called to overcome our feelings with grace and  hope.

In other words, one's judgement is tainted by passion or habit of sin and, therefore, one cannot make a good judgment regarding God and His Mercy

Here is Aquinas on this point.

 I answer that, Unbelief pertains to the intellect, but despair, to the appetite: and the intellect is about universals, while the appetite is moved in connection with particulars, since the appetitive movement is from the soul towards things, which, in themselves, are particular. Now it may happen that a man, while having a right opinion in the universal, is not rightly disposed as to his appetitive movement, his estimate being corrupted in a particular matter, because, in order to pass from the universal opinion to the appetite for a particular thing, it is necessary to have a particular estimate (De Anima iii, 2), just as it is impossible to infer a particular conclusion from an universal proposition, except through the holding of a particular proposition. Hence it is that a man, while having right faith, in the universal, fails in an appetitive movement, in regard to some particular, his particular estimate being corrupted by a habit or a passion, just as the fornicator, by choosing fornication as a good for himself at this particular moment, has a corrupt estimate in a particular matter, although he retains the true universal estimate according to faith, viz. that fornication is a mortal sin. In the same way, a man while retaining in the universal, the true estimate of faith, viz. that there is in the Church the power of forgiving sins, may suffer a movement of despair, to wit, that for him, being in such a state, there is no hope of pardon, his estimate being corrupted in a particular matter. In this way there can be despair, just as there can be other mortal sins, without belief.
  Reply to Objection 1: The effect is done away, not only when the first cause is removed, but also when the secondary cause is removed. Hence the movement of hope can be done away, not only by the removal of the universal estimate of faith, which is, so to say, the first cause of the certainty of hope, but also by the removal of the particular estimate, which is the secondary cause, as it were.
  Reply to Objection 2: If anyone were to judge, in universal, that God's mercy is not infinite, he would be an unbeliever. But he who despairs judges not thus, but that, for him in that state, on account of some particular disposition, there is no hope of the Divine mercy.
   The same answer applies to the Third Objection, since the Novatians denied, in universal, that there is remission of sins in the Church.

To be continued

On Despair

I have written on all the capital sins several times. Just follow the tags and labels. But, today, a reader asked me to do a post on the sin of despair.

This is the ultimate sin. The reject of Revelation and Tradition, the rejection of grace. Despair is a hopelessness which results in doubting or not believing that God is God.

Here is a snippet from St. Thomas Aquinas on despair. I shall write more about this sin later. It leads to many other sins and is a result of pride, at root. Despair means that one has an incorrect and even malicious view of God.

Despair is not an emotion, although emotions can lead to despair. Despair is an act of the will.

Judas hung himself out of despair, rather than humbling himself and asking for God's forgiveness, as Peter did after denying Christ.
Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry, Folio 147v - Judas Hangs Himself the Musée Condé, Chantilly.

Whether despair is a sin?

  Objection 1: It would seem that despair is not a sin. For every sin includes conversion to a mutable good, together with aversion from the immutable good, as Augustine states (De Lib. Arb. ii, 19). But despair includes no conversion to a mutable good. Therefore it is not a sin.
  Objection 2: Further, that which grows from a good root, seems to be no sin, because "a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit" (Mt. 7:18). Now despair seems to grow from a good root, viz. fear of God, or from horror at the greatness of one's own sins. Therefore despair is not a sin.
  Objection 3: Further, if despair were a sin, it would be a sin also for the damned to despair. But this is not imputed to them as their fault but as part of their damnation. Therefore neither is it imputed to wayfarers as their fault, so that it is not a sin.
  On the contrary, That which leads men to sin, seems not only to be a sin itself, but a source of sins. Now such is despair, for the Apostle says of certain men (Eph. 4:19): "Who, despairing, have given themselves up to lasciviousness, unto the working of all uncleanness and [Vulg.: 'unto'] covetousness." Therefore despair is not only a sin but also the origin of other sins.
  I answer that, According to the Philosopher (Ethic. vi, 2) affirmation and negation in the intellect correspond to search and avoidance in the appetite; while truth and falsehood in the intellect correspond to good and evil in the appetite. Consequently every appetitive movement which is conformed to a true intellect, is good in itself, while every appetitive movement which is conformed to a false intellect is evil in itself and sinful. Now the true opinion of the intellect about God is that from Him comes salvation to mankind, and pardon to sinners, according to Ezech. 18:23, "I desire not the death of the sinner, but that he should be converted, and live" [*Vulg.: 'Is it My will that a sinner should die . . . and not that he should be converted and live?' Cf. Ezech. 33:11]: while it is a false opinion that He refuses pardon to the repentant sinner, or that He does not turn sinners to Himself by sanctifying grace. Therefore, just as the movement of hope, which is in conformity with the true opinion, is praiseworthy and virtuous, so the contrary movement of despair, which is in conformity with the false opinion about God, is vicious and sinful.

  Reply to Objection 1: In every mortal sin there is, in some way, aversion from the immutable good, and conversion to a mutable good, but not always in the same way. Because, since the theological virtues have God for their object, the sins which are contrary to them, such as hatred of God, despair and unbelief, consist principally in aversion from the immutable good; but, consequently, they imply conversion to a mutable good, in so far as the soul that is a deserter from God, must necessarily turn to other things. Other sins, however, consist principally in conversion to a mutable good, and, consequently, in aversion from the immutable good: because the fornicator intends, not to depart from God, but to enjoy carnal pleasure, the result of which is that he departs from God.
  Reply to Objection 2: A thing may grow from a virtuous root in two ways: first, directly and on the part of the virtue itself; even as an act proceeds from a habit: and in this way no sin can grow from a virtuous root, for in this sense Augustine declared (De Lib. Arb. ii, 18,19) that "no man makes evil use of virtue." Secondly, a thing proceeds from a virtue indirectly, or is occasioned by a virtue, and in this way nothing hinders a sin proceeding from a virtue: thus sometimes men pride themselves of their virtues, according to Augustine (Ep. ccxi): "Pride lies in wait for good works that they may die." In this way fear of God or horror of one's own sins may lead to despair, in so far as man makes evil use of those good things, by allowing them to be an occasion of despair.
  Reply to Objection 3: The damned are outside the pale of hope on account of the impossibility of returning to happiness: hence it is not imputed to them that they hope not, but it is a part of their damnation. Even so, it would be no sin for a wayfarer to despair of obtaining that which he had no natural capacity for obtaining, or which was not due to be obtained by him; for instance, if a physician were to despair of healing some sick man, or if anyone were to despair of ever becoming rich.

 to be continued...

Any readers really clever at finding books?

For over twelve years, in my twenties and thirties, the English version of Raissa's Journal was my constant companion. As usual, along the way as part of evangelization, I passed it on to someone.

I cannot find an English version under 250 USA dollars.

If any reader can find one, let me know. If one is very conversant in French, one can find the French version for about 29.99 USA dollars.  I can read French, but would prefer the English version.

I believe Raissa Maritain is a saint and should be canonized. Would you join me in praying to her for my needs and plans? Thanks.


Seminarian at The Church of the Nativity

Thanks to a reader in Poole

New Provision for Sunday Mass in Bournemouth

7 JANUARY 2014

We are delighted to announce that, commencing from Sunday, 19 January, there will be a Low Mass offered on a monthly basis at Our Lady Immaculate Church, Seamoor Road, Bournemouth, BH4 9AE at 7.00 pm. The Mass will be preceded by confessions at 6.00 pm.
The Latin Mass Society is indebted to the work of our local members who petitioned for the Mass and to Bishop Egan (pictured, right) who has extended provision to Bournemouth. Mass will be offered by Fr Glaysher from the Isle of Wight.

Good News, indeed!