Wednesday 2 July 2014
Garrigou-Lagrange reminds us of some basic truths:
Because God is intelligent and good, he gives all people the grace of salvation. Natural law tends to a rational end. Our natural end is heaven or hell, with rewards of punishments in the afterlife.
Whether people believe in the afterlife or not does not change the truth. The problem with many Catholics is that they simply do not believe. They have lost faith. They do not see that their lives have a purpose in this life and in the next. They think all religions are the same, or that the fullness of truth is not in the Catholic Church, but in some odd pan-religion.
Catholics no longer think like Catholics for the most part, but as Protestants. Some have a rebellious spirit which means they think it is right and good to contradict Church teaching. Few understand obedience.
When will Catholics understand that the road to perfection is locked with a gate marked, “Orthodoxy”.
Orthodoxy is rational.
Orthodoxy is not arcane or hidden knowledge, but free and not difficult to discover.
Orthodoxy clears the mind, the soul, the heart so that one can receive grace to step onto the road to holiness.
Orthodoxy is the foundation for the life of virtues and the fruition of the gifts of the spirit.
Over the past three years, I have written on perfection and the seeking of perfection. Some people have thought that this great search is optional. Others have thought it is impossible.
Some people think is it a selfish endeavor (?), as if the seeking of perfection is merely for self-help, or some personal gain.
No, the pursuit of perfection is the pursuit for God, Who Is Perfection. We become like God, participating in the Divine Nature, through grace. When we seek perfection, we are seeking God.
I am meditating on Moses and Elijah today.
When Moses had to flee from
, into Sinai, he was not
seeking God. He was being drawn to God by God. God was calling him to purgation
and perfection. Purgation came in the
long weeks in the desert, before he came upon the daughters of Jethro. Purgation
continued in his long days in the desert as a husband and then, father.
Purgation came to him in the encounter with God in the Burning Bush. Fire has
always been a sign of purging. Burning metals makes them purer. Boiling water
kills germs. Fire of purgation is the great symbol, if not the reality, of
Before the Presence of God in the Burning Bush, Moses was faced with his own imperfections, his own limitations. This encounter with God began a long working out of Moses’ perfection.
We tend to think of Moses’ activity and role in freeing the people from
of setting the People of God free, as the culmination of his perfection. No, it
is part of his own purification. Egypt
When Moses had to return time after time to speak with Pharaoh, Moses had to learn to rely on God more and more. He spent hours in prayer, listening, trying to understand the plan of God, which he finally did.
In Sinai, Moses became more and more perfected. He was separated for some time from his wife. The Jewish tradition, and I accept this, is that Moses, once having encountered the Living God, chose a celibate life.
He become God’s own person, and in that process, became not only a great friend of God, but more and more like God.
By the time Moses walked up the mountain to receive the Commandments, He was in a state of Illumination and then
with God. In the Jewish tradition, when
Moses died, St. Michael and Satan fought over his body. Why? Why was the body
Moses appeared with Christ in the Transfiguration with the prophet Elijah, who left this earth in a fiery chariot. Therefore, Moses was in heaven body and soul. This could only have happened if Moses, through purgation, reached a height of perfection which allowed this unusual privilege.
The Transfiguration reveals Christ in glory, with Moses and Elijah. Those two men had to be in glory to join Christ.
The road to perfection varies with each person. The road to perfection involves purification of the senses and the soul. That these two men were present on
indicates that they
had been set aside for a special role in the Church. Mount
These men had found God, and they had been found by God, as examples for us on the road to perfection.
Their entire lives were centered on the One they loved. God called Moses and Elijah to reach a level of perfection, to share in the Divine Nature is a unique and special manner.
This level of perfection is union with God as much as a person can experience on this earth. That these two men were taken up to heaven body and soul also makes us think of our own destiny, which is eternal life, finally when our souls and bodies are united.
The road to perfection is not a self-centered focus, but the seeking of Love, Who Is a Person.
The seeking of perfection is the seeking for God Himself.
The Transfiguration was an event not merely for Peter, James, and John, but for us, who have been given sanctifying grace, just as Moses and Elijah were granted a special grace.
Now, this grace is not only for two or three select men or women, but for all. This is God’s desire that all men and women are saved, that they all respond to grace. Not all will do so, which is their tragedy.
Garrigou-Lagrange writes that the seeking of perfection, which is our job on earth, takes daily focus.
Do not let moments pass by and pay attention to graces, daily.
We are witnessing the passing of an era. There is, perhaps for the first time in history, four generations who simply do not understand each other and who have completely different foci of being.
At the top, are the members of the generation who lived through World War II and many who fought in that war. These people totally believe in the American Dream and have great investment in
. They still think one can
get ahead by merit, and that one can trust the governments of the world. Not
many are cynical, thank God, but some, sadly, have in their great old age,
fallen into cynicism. America
The next generation are the Boomers, who have had the benefit of classical education and who are much more individualistic than their parents. They still have confidence, but are losing this in the new world order, which some see coming. Many who never thought they would live in poverty, as they are highly education, do so now. This generation has watched the implosion and have not trusted governments since the Viet Nam War.
Following them are the most conformist of all generations, the Me Generation or Gen X. They grew up in very small families, unlike the Boomers, and had it all from Day One.
They are the generation of entitlement and experienced the dumbing down of education and most cultural norms. They go with the flow and seem to be the most consumerist, as well as materialistic.
The generation at the bottom of this list, the Millennials, have proven to be the most individualistic and introverted of any generation in the last one hundred years. They grew up in broken families, or families of one or two, have individualistic tendencies, and see the rot. 40% of this generation in the States are minorities, mostly Latinos and Latinas, with a desire to break with their Gen X parents, who they see as living shallow and unfilled, as well as, tragically, uncommitted lives.
All these people do not communicate, or if so, with difficulty. The WWII generation does not understand the Boomers, or the Millenials, and in some ways, can identify with the Gen Xers more readily, as both generations think that things and money will make them happy.
The Boomers see that these things do not, as many of their members live in poverty.
The Millennials believe that the world will see a great catastrophe and are not into global government, despite loving global communication.
Sadly, these people do not talk to each other about real things. As long as conversations dwell on things and status, some people will be marginalized.
Consumerism is the drug of Americans, and the Gen Xers and WWII generation still run after the Golden Calf, the fleshpots of
. Too many are futilitarians and seek only what
is useful to be comfortable. A point in
fact to support this is the glorification of science and medicine, over the
higher sciences of philosophy and theology. In Egypt , most people think that
those involved in the sciences of chemistry, physics, computers, are more
intelligent and more “useful” than those who study philosophy and theology. America
Herein is one great difference among these generations. The adoration of the atheistic scientists can be seen on television and in popular magazines. This gross idolatry of those who are useful because they are in the newer sciences separates the Millennials from the Gen Xers.
Theology and philosophy might not be making a huge comeback, as now, the largest growing group of graduating college seniors are either in business or in the sciences.
But, the younger ones are getting more interested in rationality, in ideas, in discovering who they are and where they are going.
The tide may be changing, not a huge tide, but one nonetheless.
Garrigou-Lagrange may be the greatest Thomist of the 20th Century. His book,
, must be read. I have referred to it
about a month ago, and there are too many superb passages to go through the
entire book. Providence
The book is a meditation on God, Who He Is. The author’s starting point in the long discussion on providence is the understanding, as far as we can now, of the Nature of God and the nature of human beings.
I have taken so many notes on this book, I really do not know where to begin.
Let me concentrate on one idea today. Garrigou-Lagrange writes that holiness is the life of grace in its perfection.
As I have written many posts on grace, one can follow the tags on those sections. The Dominican notes that sanctifying grace is the participation in the Divine Nature. Knowing this, how can anything turn against grace, freely?
Garrigou-Lagrange makes it clear that it is completely rational to trust in God and to follow Him. So why is it that more people do not follow God, if we are all rational human beings? How is it that humans more and more turn against natural law and their own human consciences?
The fulfillment of our desire is only God. Love is the answer to all we really need.
Garrigou-Lagrange reminds us that God has a right to be loved by us.
We seek the real good, we desire more than we can see and find on this earth. The entire argument for God involves not only His Attributes, but an understanding of our won nature as human.
As I wrote last year on another blog, the new evangelization must start with the basic questions-who is man, who is woman, where are we going, what is the end of life, why do we exist and so on.
But, in order to evangelize at this level, one must have some knowledge of self and Who God Is.
Herein lies the problem….