Friday, 31 December 2010

The Grace to Pray


I wish to write a short clarification about a matter that annoys me terribly that I have heard or read recently a few times. I would be unwilling to attribute this grave error to heresy, but simply as laxity in theology or lack of due diligence in speech and word.
Too often people will state that God would grant man grace if he were to will it, or that you should pray and God will then come and assist you. The first part is erroneous and the second is ambiguous.
No man can will or do anything truly good without the grace enabling him to carry it out, which as the term 'grace' signifies, is freely given without any consideration of our merits. The divine will is not forced into acting because we have done something worthy of reward independent of His vital assistance. As Saint Augustine states in the Perseverance of the Saints, such a case would be not be 'grace', but the due bestowal of a reward for a work.

Saint Thomas elaborates on this matter in considering the meritorious nature of true prayer:

''...like any other virtuous act, is efficacious in meriting, because it proceeds from charity as its root, the proper object of which is the eternal good that we merit to enjoy. Yet prayer proceeds from charity....As to its efficacy in impetrating, prayer derives this from the grace of God to Whom we pray, and Who instigates us to pray. Wherefore Augustine says, He would not urge us to ask, unless He were willing to give; and Chrysostom (Thomas attributes this text to him, not found in his corpus currently) says: He never refuses to grant our prayers since in His loving-kindness He urged us not to faint in praying. Neither prayer nor any other virtuous act is meritorious without sanctifying grace. And yet even that prayer which impetrates sanctifying grace proceeds from some grace, as from a gratuitous gift, since the very act of praying is a gift of God, as Augustine states.'' II-II Q83, A16.

In addition as Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange at pains to emphasis in his wonderful work, 'Providence', states, the principle of merit is not itself merited. Sanctifying grace is normally infused at Baptism, where we are plunged into the death of Christ and made a new creation, both of which we have no natural right to. All is of grace and mercy.

''Let us therefore love God, because God first hath loved us.'' (I John 4:19)

Random Thought

I have never known a man to have more Gods than an atheist.

Against the Faith Movement 1

I believed erroneously that this fanciful theory of the Scotists and supported by the Faith Movement would play no more part on this blog, concerning the Incarnation of the Logos irrespective if man had sinned or not. Having been 'assured' that their position is more than pure unjustified speculation about a hypothetical situation, but rather concerns the eternal plan of God, which they dare to presume to have knowledge of even thought it has not been publicly revealed to man, I must write more. It is my plan now to critique some articles written by the Faith Movement's founder, Fr. Edward Holloway to highlight certain fallacies and mistakes in his thinking on this question, yet extracting what is truly good about some of his beliefs.
I take the first article titled, 'The Son of Man: A Meditation Upon Psalm 8' which was the editorial in their magazine for July/August 1983.

In a recent discussion, where my interlocutor was visibly annoyed by my intransigence, it was mentioned that matter was not superfluous in the plan of God, and Holloway states, 'for matter is not meaningless if it too can be brought near to the Divine through the flesh of the Word made flesh'. After all 'Christ, the Eternal Word of the Father, holds the primacy over all things, because in Him they were all decreed and created. In Him they all cohere together in unity like a great equation of life and being'. However pious this sounds, and it certainly comes from the Sacred Scriptures, especially from Saint Paul's letter to the Ephesians, yet there is a fundamental problem with his application of it. In Hebrews 1:2, it is stated that through Jesus Christ, God created the universe. Now, we know that the initial act of creation must occur with time and not in time, consequently there is no before or after with God, Who abides in eternal bliss in the ever-present now Who sees all things at a glance. Therefore when it states that the cosmos was created through Jesus Christ, it can only mean through the Word (Who before the Incarnation in time, was pure spirit), who is the same Person Who descended to earth as Jesus Christ according to His assumed humanity. It refers to the hypostasis, the subsistent reality of the Second Person, as through Whom all things were made. Furthermore, as God the Eternal Father knows Himself and accordingly His effects through the Word, it is through that same Word that man comes to know God. As this eternally existing Logos, along with the Father and the Spirit, He Who Is, man can come to know God intimately, passing to the stage of perfection steadily. If man had overcome the trial of Satan in the Garden, man's love for God would have been manifested, even though in a wonderful condition, he would have joyfully and gratefully accepted his state under God in justice. I believe it was 'necessary' for a trial to be placed before man. This was certainly fitting and God the Just One permitted Satan, who exists still under the sway of the Logos to tempt our first parents. It is according to the nature of man to be man.
Along with Saint Anselm of Canterbury, I state that the only barrier to entry into Heaven and the Blessed Vision of the divine essence is our state of sin. He writes, 'The remission of sins, therefore, is something absolutely necessary for man, so that he may arrive at blessed happiness'. Anything else that the Christ came for such as to teach, or to rule concern our absolution from sin, while correcting our waywardness, illuminating our darkened intellect, and healing our vitiated will, is connected with our fall from the original position of union (yet short of that hoped for in eternity) with God.
Let us return to his statement that matter is not trivial in the creation of God, as he rightly notes that man is a substantial unity of body and soul. It is of the Faith that man's corporal nature will not simply be discarded as a mistake or an irretrievable or failed experiment on the part of God. At the end of time, the same flesh will take on a spiritual quality to reflect and mirror the soul which will shine through in an unspeakable fashion and at the same time, the flesh will find its fulfilment.
To a priest yesterday evening I stated that the Incarnation without sin, although a lovely thought, would be unnecessary, as there nothing inadequate in the creation of the first man. Certainly a movement is required with respect to man, a progress in union with God, but that is according to his nature although a divine gift. When I say 'according to his nature', I refer not to the inherent capability of man who has a right to it, but rather as God is His only end and fulfilment, for Whom he was only created. Even though the Word became flesh to save that which was lost, no ontological change can occur on the part of man. The real dialectic that Father emphasised is not between matter and spirit (or matter/spirit versus pure spirit, in the case of man and the angels) but rather between created and uncreated. However, this is, I believe, a further problem for their position, as it would place, rightly, the angels on the side of man. Would it not be necessary for God, to unite Himself with an angelic nature in order to divinise it? To raise it up further into the life of God? Man may be unique on earth as being made in the image of God, although his likeness to the divine has been defaced, however it is the angels that contain the most affinity to God, with vastly superior intelligences to man. Holloway and his current followers would have further difficulty if they were to accept the Thomist view that the each angel must be its own species as there can no be material differences between them. Even though the angels are most like God, there was an opportunity for them to undergo a movement or the will, some instance of decision to be made before experiences the Beatific Vision, which is incomprehensible for us in this valley of tears. The angel is on the side of creation. Although pure spirit, there is a insurmountable gulf between it and God, therefore it follows that it would be 'fitting' for the divine to unite Himself in some way with the angelic nature. Yet, Holloway states that they 'are divinised by the communion with their totally spiritual natures of the knowledge of God and love of God. The totality of God's gift of being, God's spiritual being , is poured upon the angels directly', this I can consent to. However, next he writes, 'Pure Spirit upon pure spirits. There is no matter in between to hinder the direct work of God, so to say', and this is another area where his errors lie. As I have previously noted, the angels have a closer affinity to God as spirits, yet and crucially so, the divine nature of God is of a fundamentally different 'quality' to that of these creatures. Before God, they are not even worth a grain of sand.
So what is the purpose of matter if it did not need to be 'divinised'? Simply for it to be matter created good in essence by the good God, it in fact remains so, as created, even when assumed by the Descent of the Logos. There is no confusion as Chalcedon states in the hypostatic union. It is not swallowed up or consumed, but remains matter and in that sense, infinitely inferior to the divine nature that assumes it.
On a side note, with Saints Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, I must note that the matter and spirit chosen from all eternity to be the flesh and soul of the Incarnate Christ was elected without on claim on their part. It was according to the mercy and goodness of God, Who had no obligation to elect man to salvation by sending His Son, that this particular matter and spirit, before the ages was chosen for the Deity to dwell bodily.
Matter was created through the Logos Who is the Archtype of all creation, visible and invisible. Matter is not at the far end of an emanation of the One which has no likeness whatsoever to the pure spirit of God. Our corporal nature is the physical manifestation of the interior and essential goodness and beauty of God. It is through this condition that we are capable of relating to others and approaching them. Through the harmony of soul and flesh if man had not fallen, it would have been taken up with the latter to the divine communion of life and love of the Holy Trinity.

*In a later article I wish to develop this point, by further considering their arguments*

To be continued.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

A Christmas Meditation 1


''Misit verbum suum, et sanavit eos, et eripuit eos de interitionibus eorum.'' (Ps 107:20)

There is much one can write concerning this sacred time in our liturgical calender, yet I was unable to fix my mind on anything in particular to sketch a meditation upon. No clear idea entered my mind until this afternoon, when I came across a passage from an Eastern Orthodox theologian, Vladimir Lossky, and this opened up a series of thoughts in my mind, so I have decided to type some out, more or less at random, take whatever is good in it and ascribe honour to God, Who is blessed forever.

In the English language, it is very unfortunate that our term 'salvation' denotes a negative concept. One may often imply 'salvation from something', or have some idea of this. Unlike German (das Heil) or the Latin tongue (salus), English will force the unreflective to adopt this notion. In those other two languages, the term 'salvation' includes a 'wholeness', or 'health', a completion. In our case, it is salvation from hell, we preach.
Our salvation has to consist of more than a Descent of the Logos so that man who be prevented from degrading himself more fully, irrevocably (although, this certainly plays some role). In fact, the katabasis of the Second Person of the most merciful Trinity, enable mans to enter into the divine life of trinitarian love by grace and participation. The kenosis of Jesus our Lord, leads to our fullness. As the Servant of God, Archbishop Sheen used to say, while we came to live, He came to die. This was the purpose of the Incarnation so that we may be absolved from sin, and enter into our Master's joy.
By the assumption of the Sacred Humanity, elected from all eternity by a gratuitous decree of mercy, through and only through the Holy Virgin, the process of man's healing and restoration commences. As Saint Irenaeus wonderful describes, Christ, the Second and true Adam, recapitulates the life of the first, binding up the bounds through His humble obedience to the Father's decree, where Adam strayed.
This salvation is applied to our souls through the laver of regeneration, and the continual renewal of the inner man by the Paraclete, so that we may come to the lot of the saints in light. God in no way simply wishes to declare us just in His Sight, without us truly becoming conformed to the likeness of His Son through Whom we are adopted. Through humility and piety, the soul is stregthened by His graces and blessings, while the Holy Trinity dwells within man freely.
Humility shown, par excellence, in the Incarnation of God, was a favourite theme in the preaching and writings of Saint Augustine of Hippo, and through our frequent meditations on the Descent, let us practice this with ever-increasing ferver. No man can enter heaven unless he be cleansed of all arrogance, which brought the Light Bearer low. By recognising the need for a Saviour, this is the first step.
What we have in the Nativity Scene, is not merely a sentimental image, which allows us to experience a glow within our breast, rather one for which we must have an unbounded gratitude. God although merciful, was in no way, obligated to send His Son to die on behalf of sinful men. The clay that rose up against its Potter, deserved nothing more than to be tossed aside in His just anger. Yet He chose to do so for us.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Random Thought

The lover of self does not love himself enough.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Random Thought

Christ offers us a way through suffering, not around it.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Latin Doctor Quote Of The Day


Saint Ambrose:


''As the modesty of Mary is a pattern for the imitation of all maidens, so also is her humility. She went to see Elizabeth, like one cousin going to visit another, and as the younger to the elder. Not only did she first go, but she first saluted Elizabeth. Now, the purer a virgin is, the humbler ought she to be. She will know how to submit herself to her elders. She that professeth chastity ought to be a very mistress of humility. Lowly-mindedness is at once the very ground in which devotion groweth, and the first and principal rule of its teaching. In this act of the Virgin then we see the greater going to visit and to succour the lesser Mary to Elizabeth, Christ to John.''

Random Thought

Could there be anything more foolish than to declare on the basis of 'reason' that the intelligence of man is produced arbitrarily?

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

A Definition of the Soul


According to Joseph Ratzinger:


''Soul is nothing other than man's capacity for relatedness with truth, with love eternal' (Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life)

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Random Thought

There would be no surer sign of reprobation than passing through this life without trial.

Quick Reflection


Tonight in reciting Vespers, I came across a particular line that seems to me to be very apt for our era:

''Quia non relínquet Dóminus virgam peccatórum super sortem justórum: * ut non exténdant justi ad iniquitátem manus suas.''- (Or) ''For the Lord will not leave the rod of sinners upon the lot of the just: * that the just may not stretch forth their hands to iniquity.''

It is important that we recognise the fact that our surrounding culture is not without import. Man, and most especially his children, can not simply refrain from being influenced by trends in society, by pretending it does not exist. The effect on 'public opinion', or more correctly, those who decree with greater force and 'certainty' than any Pope could, what the populace believe or should believe in order to truly exist as a civilised nation can not be understated. The language that they use often has the intention to shut down all possible rebuttal to their claims to truth, through labelling dissenters as irrational or acting contrary to progress. Yet, when pressed, they are unable to state unequivocally of what this so-called 'amelioratisation' of the human condition consists They only utter with fury, vague transcendental values of 'justice', 'equality' and 'liberty'. Which begs the simple question, 'What the heck do you do with them?' Liberty to do what? Equality of what? These implicitly contain philosophical criteria which the world is often suspicious of, whereas these positions they hold dear are completely unfounded on the basis of atheistic secularism. Let us not be deputed by their falsehoods.
The disastrous attempt to mechanicalise humanity has resulted in a de-humanization and objectification of the person. The sceptre of the wicked has been exalted over man who blindly embraces their pretensions of 'hope'. I believe that the worse thing is not for man to be fallen, but for man to think himself upright, while he actually crawls on his knees in the dirt.
Through Filioque , I do not wish to engage in political theory, but we as Catholics must acknowledge the fundamental animosity of the 'world' to our Faith. A simple attempt to situate Christianity within the dominant worldview (which has been tried constantly since the Council) will merely prove futile and will dilute the Church of her force and destroy the salvation she offers by the Precious Blood of Christ.
May the good Lord protect us from falling into their traps and modes of thinking. Let us present the true Faith of our Saviour with great joy, offering up prayers at all times for sinners, so that as many as possible may enter into our Master's joy.

Random Thought

What prevents us from committing graver sins, is often not lack of malice, but lack of opportunity or courage.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Urgent Prayer Request

I ask with gratitude in advance, for prayers for the cousin of a dear friend of mine, who has attempted to commit suicide. Her condition seems to be stable at the moment, although the next day will be crucial. May she recover soon and taste the sweet mercy of our God.

Our Lady, Health of the Sick and Refuge of Sinners, pray for her.

A Question for the Faith Movement and Their Adherents.

If the chief end of man is to rest in God, what profit will it be for God to become man if our deification is not applied, but remains in principle? If grace can be resisted (in whatever mode), the effects of the Cross may possibly remain fruitless, and any incarnation would be in vain. After all, you would end up with God as man, and man as a beast...

In itself, the gracious mercy of God in descending the womb of the Theotokos in order to die is not enough.

REPOST: Saint Augustine on Divine Election





The great Doctor's doctrine of predestination is often unpalatable to our modern era where a vague, superficial hope of salvation for all men without even the necessary metanoia on man's part dominates Catholic thought. The Augustinian scholar, Gerald Bonner regarded the last period of the Bishop of Hippo's life as having been a terrible mistake, preferring for him to have toned down his ever-increasing 'harshness' against the heretic Julian, in favour of a more balanced and 'compassionate' theory on such a mystery.
However uncompromising it may seem to some, the Saint's position is, for the most part at least, compatible with the Catholic Faith, regardless of the horror some may have in likening it to Calvin's.

First of all, we must state that God is under no obligation to save any man whatsoever. In creating us as Lord, He does not assume a 'moral responsibility' to man in the same sense that we have to each other. He is Lord of life and death, the Holy One in our midst. Especially as a consequence of man falling from his state of union with God, we find ourselves in a perilous situation, where hearts are hardened, evil is openly promoted and defended, and man is left with an aberrant attachment to his foul misery. The true mystery is that He elects to save even a remnant of sinful man:

'There was one lump of perdition out of Adam to which only punishment was due; from this same lump, vessels were made which are destined for honour. For the potter has authority over the same lump of clay (Romans 9:21). What lump? The lump that had already perished, and whose just damnation was already assured. So be thankful that you have escaped! You have escaped the death certainly due to you, and found life, which was not due to you. The potter has authority over the clay from the same lump to make one vessel for honour and another for contempt...(They) have deserved nothing good; but the potter has authority over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel for honour, and the other for contempt'


As we heard from the divine Paul on Sunday, let us rejoice for the hope to which we have been called. As so chosen, He called them, so called, He justified them, so justified, He glorified them.

Even though, as blessed Augustine states the Lord is supreme and no one may argue with his just decree, 'Who are you who argues with God?' (Romans 11:33), man's condition is far more complex than the seemingly capriciousness of God's will Who (arbitrarily) elects one man (on no basis of foreseen merit) while passivly opting out of decreeing eternal glory for another. Man possesses a will that is free in some sense, yet severely subject to the effects of our initial apostasy from justice. But it is of Catholic Faith that we acknowledge the presence of a free will in man, which is inalienable to his constitution. Contrary to Calvin, who wrote, 'For not all are created in equal condition; but eternal life is foreordained for some, and eternal damnation for others. Therefore, as any person has been directed to one or the other of these ends, we speak of him or her as predestined to life or to death'. The later aspect of this quotation is where the error lies. God predestines no one to eternal shame. If He truly wishes for the salvation of all, His 'desire' must exceed a 'pious hope' or sentimentality.
Yet why does He elect one man to grace, while passing over another, who like the first is in no more need of eternal damnation. Both are sinners and deserving of punishment. It may be, that God could be said to love one man more than other. We should not understand this in the sense that God comes to 'appreciate' a value of a person's actions, enticing Him to grant bliss.After all, the goodness of man only consists in the fact that He has been brought forth from nothing by the lavish mercy and goodness of God, sharing in some way in His life. If the former were true, salvation would not be considered a grace or a mercy, but a debt due to the performance of a worthy deed. If we say that God loves one more than another, we must understand by this that He, justly and without any whim in volition, elects for one to a higher and more fitting (to a rational being) end than another. He hates nothing of His own making. However, if we wish not to err, a judgement on our part must be withheld out of reverence for His most holy decrees.
I truly believe that if God willed to bring about the salvation of man, He would do so. Surely, Stuart, you must posit the pivotal element in man, his will, for consideration? God can drag no man to heaven, His love would burn rather than console.
Certainly I consent to this interjection. Yet, as He foresees all conditions of men, their free decisions as efficient causes, the situation He places them in, the fact that nothing happens on the face of the earth that His will does not permit (or least His permissive will), we must assert that all could have been saved. Whether you assent to the position of the Thomists, Molinists or any other school, one must approbate the truth that God is sole master of the cosmos, His will being unfrustrated. The 'mode' of His salvation remains the mystery. For the Molinist, one may say that grace becomes efficacious simply as the free will consents. We see the transition from sufficient to efficacious by the approval of the will of man. Such a view seems to have 'common sense' behind it, yet it is no more 'compassionate' in bringing more men to salvation than does, Thomism (or Augustinianism). Or for the Thomist, the free will consents as the grace is intrinsically efficacious.
We are left with the conundrum however why God does not organise events in such a way that a person be more disposed to accepting the grace? A child brought up in the fear of the Lord, with saintly parents, a devout holy parish priest, the reception of baptism and living in a time without utter scandal in the Church, is more likely to endure faithfully to the end than the average person.
Lastly, I will insert an extract from Augustine on the issue of the so-called 'irrestible grace', which I prefer to call efficacious for the sake of not been misunderstood, or as being labelled a Calvinist. Although I have read the term 'assault' used for God's activity in approaching man, converting the will to Himself (operating grace), we must do away with any notion of 'unjustified violence' which destroys the liberty of man. On a side note, our free will is only given so that man may freely love and choose to serve the Good. Saint Thomas Aquinas states rightly, that the souls of the elect in paradise do not turn from their bliss, (unlike in Origenism, before falling to earth) as they have achieved the end they long for. The intellect was created purely for coming to know God with a joy that even surpasses all expectation.

The Doctor of Grace continues:

'Now two kinds of assistance are to be distinguished. On the one hand, there is an assistance without which something does not come about, and on the other there is the assistance by which something does come. We cannot live without food, but the fact that food is available will not keep people alive if they want to die. But in the case of blessedness, when it is bestowed on people who are without it they become perpetually blessed. Now Adam was created upright, in a state of good; he was given the possibility of not sinning, the possibility of not dying, the possibility of not losing that state of good: and in addition, he was given the assistance of perseverence, not so that by this assistance it might come about that he should in fact persevere, but because without it he could not persevere through his own will. Now in the case of the saints who are predestined to the kingdom of God by the grace of God, the assistance of perseverence which is given is not that (granted to the first man), but that kind which brings the gift of actual preseverence. It is not just that they cannot persevere without this gift; once they have received this gift, they can do nothing except persevere.'.

Yet, one must recognise the truth that one man may come to 'salvation' temporally, then fade from the Faith and an upright life, as Ezechial says, he will die for his sins. As noted here, sufficient grace was given to Adam yet he denied himself the fruits of it. This, I believe, is given to all men by God Who wills the salvation of all. Such is the mystery of the will and providence of God, to Whom be power and glory for ever in the Holy Church.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Morality as Mere Instrumentality?

As part of my Moral Philosophy course, I have been reading some Thomas Hobbes and a contemporary proponent of contractualism, David Gauthier. There are a number of issues that have been raised in these writings and should cause some concern to the Catholic Christian. I will frequently on Filioque elude to, and explicitly state a few of some beliefs on deification and it is pertinent that I relate it to this topic.
In Hobbes, human kind is constituted by a desire for self-preservation and a hope for a comfortable life. But in the 'state of nature', which is war of all against war, man is unable to rest secure, without the fear of being attacked, his goods stolen or his life ruthlessly taken. To counter this miserable state of suspicion and mistrust (a living beside, but not as a community), man makes a social contract with those around him, so that he may pursue his desires which is the final cause of such negotiation. Through the contract he will have to constrain and restrict himself in maximising his utility so that his 'neighbour' may obtain his good, i.e his self-preservation and a comfortable life, and in turn his fellow man will permit him the same. The rules and conventions which are produced, could never truly be called morality as they exist (human-manufactured) for the sole purpose of reaching the selfish requirements of man. This is rightly called 'instrumentality'.
For the Christian, the commandments of God are not impediments to fruitful living, nor are they simply to be endured. Rather, they are a fundamental aspect of the constitution of the true human person. They reflect the unity, harmony, justice and love of the Lord. Man by following these 'commands', does not bind himself to a mere duty that he must perform for the sake of said duty, but it is through striving to attain love and the focus on Christ, Who supremely did the Father's will, that man is made like to God. The laws which state that man must serve God above all else, no matter what emotional attachments he possesses, manifest the truth that humanity can only properly delight in the God Who made it.
Can we say that the commandments are ends in themselves? Not particularly, but they have their force and coherence as reflections of the harmony of the intra-Trinitarian life. By clinging to these statutes, man is led away (often unwillingly at first) from the diverse concerns and preocupations that threaten his wholeness, to Him that is Life, the Source of all being. But neither can we say that the laws of God are merely to be used as stepping stones. The faithful son of God fulfills these commands by a complete subjection to God, and it is only through this that the dictates can be accomplished. These commands cannot simply be altered to meet present demands or modified to the latest trend as it is through them that the human person is conformed to Christ Who is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow. An essential part of this adherence is the complete delivery of oneself to God. In the social contract, although it is wise ('practically prudent') to remain faithful to your covenants, the heart of man may stand aloof, cursing inwardly. Such is not acceptable for the son of God, as the Creator knows the depths of man's being and our incessant grumbling. Man being willfully torn asunder can never hope to share in the divine life.

'Lord, who shall be admitted to your tent and dwell on your holy mountain? He who does no wrong to his brother, who casts no slur on his neighbour...he who keeps his pledge come what may...such a man will stand firm for ever.' (Ps 14/15)

Saint Charles Borromeo - 3 Cl.


Bishop, Confessor.
Saint Charles, Cardinal Archbishop of Milan, was one of the greatest and holiest prelates of the years when the great Council of Trent was being completed and its enactments put into execution. He reformed the clergy and renewed the spirit of the monasteries in his diocese. He died A.D. 1584.

Collect:

Ever keep Thy Church, O Lord, we beseech Thee, under the abiding protection of St Charles, Thy Confessor and Bishop: that as his watchful care over his flock won him glory, so his intercession may always make us fervent in Thy love. Through our Lord...

'Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord...'
'This is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord setteth over his family...'

Random Thought

Each day we must die to ourselves, by clinging to Life.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

A Necessary Incarnation?


I have continued to think about this issue recently and I am growing increasingly opposed to the position of the Faith Movement that the Logos would have descended even if man had not sinned. The end of man is to rest in God, his source and purpose, and the Incarnation as the result of the Fall occurs as the necessary and efficient cause for this blessedness to occur. Out of His boundless mercy, the Divine Father sent His Son to assume human nature in the womb of the Holy Virgin and offer up a Sacrifice to the glory and praise of the One Who begot Him, in the Spirit. God may have pardoned man by numerous other ways, but knew that this particular course of action would be the most fitting - showing the seriousness of the offense committed and the great pity of God. It may seem pious to assert that Christ, through Whom all things are made and Who contains the logoi of all creation would have united Himself to a human nature, but I firmly believe this notion to be erroneous. I would not go so far as to regard this position as 'blasphemous', but I worry that this view may represent man for the sake of man, as opposed to man for God.

Furthermore, contrary to what I have heard, in the position of original justice, man would not require baptism (to make us sons of God) or Communion (to nourish us).

1) In baptism we descend into the tomb of Christ. Yet the Logos as pure spirit would not have been able to die, or if He did Descend even if man had not sinned, no cleansing would be required as the grace of sanctification would have been present anyway (if not, man would not have been in any form of union with God). Without these essential aspects, this 'baptism' would not be such.

2) In Communion, which is consecrated at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, is truly the Body and Blood of Christ, without would not be able to occur if the Son of the Father did not assume our nature. And even if He did, there would be no sin for the Sacrifice to be offered up for, and without this element, it would not be the Mass. However, it would have been necessary for man to receive grace to persevere in the primordial union with the Holy Trinity.


Next theoretical question, would the propagation of the human species occur through sexual relations if man had not sinned....?

Friday, 29 October 2010

Latin Doctor Quote Of The Day


Saint Augustine of Hippo:

'The blessed life should be sought, and requested from God. The nature of blessedness has been much discussed by many people; but why should we go to many people and much explanation? In the Scripture of God it is put briefly and truly: 'Blessed is the people whose God is the Lord'. In order that we may be of that people, and attain to contemplation of Him, and to everlasting life with him, 'The end of the commandment is charity from a pure heart, and good conscience and unfeigned faith'. In the same Trinity, hope is put in place of good conscience. Faith, then, and hope and charity lead to God the man that prays, the man, that is, who believes, hopes and desires, and gives heed to what he is requesting from the Lord in the Lord's prayer'.

Comment: Through the divine light of the Holy Spirit, man who is inflamed with true charity which urges him on to a intimate union with the Trinitarian communion of life. Our blessedness in this can only find fulfilment in everlasting life, yet even today, our salvation is being realised as that same Paraclete Who descended on Peter and the others in the Cenacle, continues to animate man in sanctity and transforms the Sacred Gifts at the Holy Oblation. Our salvation is not a past event, so let us through prayer come to the communion of love that Christ shed His Precious Blood for.

...of the Greek Variety


Saint Mark the Ascetic:

'To recall past sins in detail inflicts injury on the man who hopes in God. For when such recollection brings remorse it deprives him of hope; but if he pictures the sins to himself without remorse, they pollute him again with the old defilement'.

Comment:

When I read this a few days ago in the Philokalia, I was astounded. I had regarded the frequent recollection of past sins as a pre-requisite for growing in the love of the Lord. Yet, such a practice requires a great deal of vigilance and discrimination, as the conjuring up of past sins may not be for the purpose of cleansing the soul and bringing a man to true repentance, but as some 'acceptable' method of delighting in previous offenses. And when man returns mentally to the 'scene of the crime', Satan will utilise such an opportunity to inflame in man the passions that led to the fault. Let us practice frequent examination of conscience - this is necessary - but we must do so with prudence and fear of God.

'A New Creation'


We must guard constantly against the notion that baptism is merely a rite of initiation, or passage through which one has to go. It is not a formal 'declaration' that one is a Christian nor does it simply represent the cleansing of sins that have already been forgiven. So what actually occurs in the person who approaches this laver of regeneration?

Alan Brown commenting on the thought of John Zizioulas writes:

'Within the mode of fallen existence, says Zizioulas, human beings come to exist through the communion of erotic love, a generative communion through which the human being constituted thereby suffers from the two 'passions' of 'ontological necessity' and 'individualism'. According to the first passion, man is 'inevitably tied to natural instinct', and so is bound by the necessities of nature and as such is not ontologically free. According to the second passion, men 'affirm their identity as separation from (and hence opposition to) other unities'; it is because men are atomized from each other in this way that they express their freedom over and against each other in a war of all against all. Thus the inabilities of human beings to attain true personhood to which the existentialists point have, says Zizioulas, their root in the situation of fallen human existence - not in human existence per se. And insofar as their analyses of fallen human existence, says Zizioulas, they are entirely correct: inasmuch as man remains constituted ontologically by the 'biological hypostasis', he is unable to attain the true ontological freedom (in the existentialists' sense). But what the patristic location of such analyses within the mode of being of fallen existence shows is that these inabilities of man to attain true personhood stem from the mode of his birth. As such, what man needs to attain true personhood is a 'new birth', a birth 'from on high'.
This 'new birth', says Zizioulas, is attained precisely in baptism, where God 'hypostasises' the person according to God's way of being'. In baptism, says Zizioulas, man is hypostasized with a different hypostasis from that of biological existence. He is hypostasized with 'the hypostasis of ecclesial existence'

As all in summed up in Christ, the Son of the Father, man being baptised into His Death, overcomes such a division. Only in Him is found true personhood and relationality, the uniquely beloved of the Father. The Logos containing the logoi of all creation, allows man to return to his source and rejoice in God's invitation to love and communion with the divine life. On such a view, man is unable to be opposed to the 'other' as an impediment to his 'liberty', but he comes to acknowledge the unrepeatable neighbour as a child of the Eternal Father. Through his cleansing in the font, man arrives at a new mode of being, a new creation is relation to God and to man in the Body of Christ. He truly becomes free by becoming a child of the Father, Who brought forth His beloved Son and all through his own freedom, which man becomes to participate in his 'ecclesial existence'.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Some Thoughts for the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost




From the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew, 22:15-21.

It is interesting how this passage from Sacred Writ is often used and frequently abused. Contrary to common perception, the the Catholic Faith does not teach the separation of Church and state. Such is a masonic belief and does not belong to the Church at all. As is recorded in Scripture, all that has been created comes from the Father through the Logos and by the power of the Holy Spirit, and exists for the glory of God. Man is invited to share in that communion of freedom and love, overcoming the 'biological necessities' of life belonging to our fallen condition. Since all has been created through Christ and for Christ, there should remain no inch, no state of experience that remains unconsecrated to His majesty. He reigns over every institution, nation and grouping, which must glorify Him in accordance with His will as revealed to the Church.

''The foundation of this power and dignity of Our Lord is rightly indicated by Cyril of Alexandria. "Christ," he says, "has dominion over all creatures, a dominion not seized by violence nor usurped, but his by essence and by nature." His kingship is founded upon the ineffable hypostatic union. From this it follows not only that Christ is to be adored by angels and men, but that to him as man angels and men are subject, and must recognize his empire; by reason of the hypostatic union Christ has power over all creatures. But a thought that must give us even greater joy and consolation is this that Christ is our King by acquired, as well as by natural right, for he is our Redeemer. Would that they who forget what they have cost their Savior might recall the words: "You were not redeemed with corruptible things, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled." We are no longer our own property, for Christ has purchased us "with a great price"; our very bodies are the "members of Christ.'' (Quas Primas, Pope Pius XI, 13)

Accordingly, as Catholic Christians, such a great gratitude must arise in our hearts, pierced by the nails that held Him fast to the Cross, that no offering can possibly be considered 'excessive'. Man can claim no true merit before God and owes his whole being to the freely willed creation of God.
The commandments of Christ are not burdensome. They may, and must, fly in the face of the conventions of the secular sphere, but this can never allow us to conjure up excuses for our service to Christ. The Christian may attend the offering of the Holy Oblation on Sunday, yet every moment of his day, each day, must be consecrated to God. A self-willed impediment and a contraction to our service of the Lord is not merely in-authentic or inconsistent, but a fundamental ingratitude for the spilling of the Precious Blood. In his covenant relationship with the Father through Christ, man is in no position to offer compromises or conditions to his worship. Too often when one is asked about one's religion, if 'Catholic' is the answer, instantly the inquirer assumes that such is the case simply as they were baptised as an infant and their Catholic identity barely surpasses certain idiosyncratic hand motions, peculiar devotions and an embarrassment over the prohibition of contraception. But what is actually offered in union with Christ through His Body, the Holy Church? What we are given is a new mode of being, to become a co-heir with Christ, a temple of the Holy Spirit and a priest in fallen creation. How many of realise the dignity of the Christian?
This may be considered acceptable in the 'private' sphere, in the home and the family. Yet what about when one departs from the bosom of the household? Particularly in the political arena, we often leave our faith in the hall. A refusal to offer God His due in all creation will automatically result in a depreciation in the honour given on a Sunday. God cannot be manipulated for our own 'ends', but must be adored in simplicity and humility. Our politicians, although they may become unpopular for it or lose vital votes, must adhere to the law of God. Our voting must also be conditioned by our Catholic Faith as through our baptism and confirmation, so are called to serve Christ in the world and witness to His redeeming work. Let no aspect of society remain soiled and separate from Christ our Master and Lord. Our salvation depends on it.
We must remember that the whole hypostasis of the Logos descended by the power of the Paraclete to the womb of the glorious and immaculate Virgin. What are we willing to give back to Him?

Sunday, 24 October 2010

The Tropos of the Human Person


I would like to think a great deal more about this, but I wish to present a passage from Met. John of Pergamon from his 'Being and Communion':

''The essential thing about a person lies precisely in his being a revelation of truth, not as 'substance' or 'nature' but as a 'mode of existence'. This profound perception of the Cappadocian Fathers shows that true knowledge is not a knowledge of the essence or the nature of things, but of how they are connected within the communion-event. While ekstasis signifies that a person is a revelation of truth by the fact of being in communion, hypostasis signifies that in and through this communion a person affirms his own identity and his particularity; he supports his own nature in a unique way. The person is the horizon within which the truth of existence is revealed, not as simple nature subject to individualisation and recombination but as a unique image of the whole and the ''catholicity' of a being. In this way, if one sees a being as a person, one sees in him the whole of human nature. Thus to destroy a human person is to commit an act of murder against all humanity...The mystery of being a person lies in the fact that here otherness and communion are not in contradiction but coincide. Truth as communion does not lead to the dissolving of the diversity of beings into one vast ocean of being, but to the affirmation of otherness in and through love. The difference between this truth and that of 'nature in itself' lies in the following: while the latter is subject to fragmentation, individualisation, conceptualisation, comprehension etc, the person is not. So in the context of personhood, otherness is incompatible with division'.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Liberty through Conformity

Recently I have been troubled by a number of assertions concerning the Christian's motivation to love and serve the Lord, simply as a path to avoid fiery torment where the worm does not die. Once Christianity is reduced to mere ethical imperatives, all force and coherence have been lost. It becomes one system of morality amongst many -less strenuous - forms that fails to offer the human person anything other than the vague hope of security and happiness beyond present experience.
We must recognise that our obedience to the commandments of Christ, does not enslave man, binding him to a foreign and unbearable set of rules, but offers the hope that man become one with Christ in His Holy Church. Our allegiance to Him, Who loved us first, should never be seen as a threat to true human progress, but the actualisation of authentic personhood in Christ, the 'catholic man' of the Father. The outward adherence to the 'dictates' of the Church is not enough, as it is written, 'These people honour Me with their lips but theirs hearts are far from me', a fundamental change - a metanoia - must occur in the depths of the human existence and relationality. With the Incarnate Logos, baptised into His Death, man encounters the marvellous nature of communion with the Blessed Trinity, the Source and Spring of all Life and Goodness. What is offered is not simply a way out of Hell, as our rather negative term 'salvation' implies, but the opportunity by the divine grace and the Precious Blood of communing with God in love, whereby one finds the fulfillment of all desire.
We must rid ourselves of the notion of Heaven as a place of rolling green hills, cloud-like sheep, white cottages and country gardens, where the sun sheds pleasant rays in the morning. Such a concept of Heaven is frankly ridiculous and will fail to impel man to come to Christ and His Church. Man, by the Spirit Who constitutes this Holy Assembly, becomes animated by love, which is his true fundamental orientation, and is made open towards the God Who created all out of love, and to his fellow man who is no longer seen as a threat by the 'other' in union. By this blessed state, man comes to know in some manner the depths of the love of God which passes all understanding and rejoices in a way that the world cannot give. The reward of love in this life in Love Himself. It is erroneous to say that God 'loves' man for the sake of Heaven (or to circumvent the burning sulphur), when it is God Who is Heaven. To Him be glory and praise in His Holy Church now and forever. Amen

Saturday, 16 October 2010

News From The Middle East Synod

From John L. Allen:

''Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, which has a large community of Christians belonging to various Eastern churches from the Middle East, said he would not be opposed if those Eastern churches decided to ordain more married priests in North America.Both Vigneron and Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto also said, however, that bishops from Eastern churches do not seem to have a consensus on such a move.

The comments came during a press conference today organized by the Catholic Near East Welfare Association and the Canadian Catholic media network “Salt and Light.”

Yesterday, Archbishop Antonios Aziz Mina, a Coptic prelate from Egypt, argued in favor of extending the practice of married priests in the Eastern churches during the Oct. 10-24 Synod of Bishops for the Middle East.

“Since the 1930s there has been a ban on the ordination of and the practice of the ministry by married priests outside the territories of the Patriarchy and the ‘Historically Eastern regions,’ Mina said.

“I think, in line with whatever the Holy Father decides, that the time has come to take this step in favor of the pastoral care of the Eastern faithful throughout the diaspora,” he said.

Asked what he thinks about that, Vigneron said he would be inclined to defer to what the bishops of the Eastern churches recommend.

“The question is what will help the bishops, priests and the members of the Eastern churches in the expansion,” Vigneron said, adding that some Eastern Catholics prefer the term “expansion” to “diaspora.”

“If it helps them, it would be fine,” Vigneron said, referring to the ordination of married priests for the Eastern churches. “If they feel it’s not helpful, I would pay most attention to that.”

Since the issue arose in the synod, Vigneron said he’s talked to several Eastern bishops about it, and “they don’t all have the same view.”
Asked directly if he would worry that more married priests in the Eastern churches might call into question the obligation of celibacy for Roman Catholic priests, Vigneron said, “I would not.”

Collins said that it’s a “complex issue” and that “there’s not a common view” among the Eastern bishops.

Vigneron added that he’s not sure the ordination of married priests for the Eastern churches in America and elsewhere would require special papal permission, since, he said, the bishops of those churches often say “they already have that authority under the Code of Canon Law for the Eastern churches.”

Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa, Canada, who’s not participating in the synod but who took part in today’s press conference, said that in some cases, exposure to married Eastern priests can cause confusion among Roman Catholics in the West.

“We have some chaplains in our Catholic high schools who are married priests from the Ukranian church,” Prendergast said, speaking of Ottawa. “The children obviously know that, and it can become a difficulty or a tension point.”

Vigneron and Collins took much the same position on another idea floated yesterday in the synod, which is allowing the Patriarchs of the Eastern churches to exercise jurisdiction over communities outside their traditional territory. Both said the Eastern bishops themselves appear to be divided on the issue.

Monsignor Robert Stern, secretary general of the CNEWA, who’s also participating in the Synod for Bishops, said he’s picked up a variety of opinions during the coffee breaks.

“Some say it’s good that the authority [of the patriarchs] is restricted, because their culture is in the Middle East, and they wouldn’t understand the Canadian or American point of view,” he said.

“Others argue that if they’re never exposed to those points of view, how will they ever broaden their perspective?” Stern said.

Yet another proposal floated yesterday was for a “bank” of priests willing to serve for three months to a year in the Middle East, as a partial remedy to chronic shortages of clergy. Both Vigneron and Collins said they’re in favor of allowing their priests to serve, but expressed doubt that a “bank” is the best way to go about it.

Collins said a priest’s decision to serve on an overseas mission is always "deeply personal,” and perhaps can’t be organized or structured in terms of a “bank” available to go anytime and anyplace. Vigneron expressed skepticism that three months to a year would really allow a priest enough time to absorb the culture and the language in order to be effective.

Vigneron said that a joining a religious order such as the Franciscans, which already has a significant presence in the region, would be a “more well understood and easier way” for a priest wanting to serve in the Middle East.

On the broader question of whether the synod can do anything to arrest the emigration of Christians out of the Middle East, Stern said that the issue “isn’t in the hands of the church.”

The decisions by Christians to stay or go, he said, depend on “politics, peace and justice, class and social discrimination, [and] extremism,” all of which aren’t really in the power of the church to control.

Vigneron suggested that the synod may nevertheless be able to make a contribution at the level of raising consciousness, and not just on behalf of Christians but all the peoples of the region.

“The pastors of the church can speak to people of good will to invite them to take a stance on behalf of human rights,” he said. “The truth of human dignity doesn’t belong just to the Christian community. It’s vital and important for all people of the Middle East.”

“The Christian community,” Vigneron said, “can invite others to stand with us on the basis of the truth of the dignity of the human person.”''


Comment: On the question of removing an obligation to celibacy for priest belonging to the Eastern sui iuris Churches within 'Latin territory', I am generally divided. I understand that in the East, there is a tradition of married parish clergy, but I do not believe that this should be more than a matter of toleration, rather than promotion. Of course, it is legitimate to adhere to one's traditions and this issue requires serious consideration...and much prayer.
As marriage must be entered into prior to Holy Orders, one has to wonder whether many Western women will be willing to marry a candidate for the priesthood, considering the wide use of contraception and immoral sexual practices in our lands?

The Quest For Human Unity

Even though modern man stumbles throughout life, latching onto one desire after another in a pursuit with an unknown destination, from the depths of his being he sighs for a true communion. The moral life and the ontological uniqueness of man cannot simply be reduced to a mere deliberation between prudential self-interest, but must refer to the very relational nature that constitutes his being. The men and women one passes on the street have to be recognised as existing as images of God, not as loose arbitrary bundles of social interactions and ephemeral connections to serve some economic or convenient purpose.
For a true union to be actualised, an ekstasis must occur when the 'same' reaches out and embraces the other as a unique and unrepeatable person, upon which no value can be placed. As soon as a price is placed upon your neighbour as a tag, a definition and an objectification occurs. This attitude results in a relativisation of man who may be manipulated and exploited to serve a higher goal, or to reap a harvest of perishable goods. The human person is unable to be saved through such behaviour. God came to redeem personally, and the ascent to God only develops through a personal approach which is constituted by freedom and love. The Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, 'the bond of peace' unites man in the one Church, which is nothing other than the redeemed human race in union with our Mediator and High Priest through charity, and any attempt to cultivate growth outwith of this vine is doomed to fail.

October 15 - Santa Teresa de Avila - 3 Cl.


Virgin, Doctor.
The seraphic St. Teresa, born at Avila (Spain) at the age of 18 entered the convent of St. Mary of Mount Carmel. As the Reformer of the Carmelites, she re-established the primitive observance of their ancient Rule. On account of her invaluable works on mystical theology, she may be considered one of the greatest Doctors of the Church. She died A.D. 1582.

Collect:

Graciously hear us, O God our Saviour, and grant that as we rejoice in the festival of blessed Teresa, Thy Virgin, so we may be nourished by her heavenly teaching, and grow in loving devotion towards Thee. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity...


Nada turbe,
Nada te espante,
todo se pasa,
Dios no se muda;
la paciencia
todo lo alcanza;
quien a Dios tiene
nada le falta:
Sólo Dios basta

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

...of the Greek Variety


Saint Basil of Caesarea:

'I have not known a woman and yet I am not a virgin'

Comment: It is often not through lack of ill will that we refrain from a particular offense against God, but most likely it is as a result of lack of opportunity or courage. It is not sufficient for a man to abstain from an external sinful act but exist in an impure state. Christ wishes for each part of us, that is, all of us, to be consecrated to His honour and He is not to be fooled.

The True Nature of Man and his Communion - Some Thoughts

This year I am following another course in moral philosophy at university and I have been quite troubled by a number of hesitations in proclaiming a moral truth unambiguously. We may often baulk at a particular manifestation of what we in civil society commonly title 'wrongdoing' yet we are hard-pressed to justify our insistence coherently and efficaciously. There seems to be no safe passage from the uncertain atheistic secular mindset that rejects objective value while at the same time projecting the vague transcendental principles of Liberty, Equality and Choice. As Catholic Christians, we are able to assert heartily to these three yet we are not without a foundation, a concrete basis. We may contemplate value in the cosmos as a reflection of the intra-Trinitarian glory and communion of love and as priests through our baptism, gather up the fragments of a broken world and offer them through Christ to the adoration of the Blessed Trinity.
On the other hand, a world produced randomly, a matter of chance (however 'fortuitous it may appear) possesses no intrinsic worth and is therefore ripe for manipulation, exploitation and deformation. Man in his angst, struggles to 'define' himself in the midst of uncertainty, arbitrariness without purpose, and finishes up consuming himself in his fight for survival. He views the other as his 'original sin' to utilise a phrase from Sartre, his 'hell', the Other is reduced to a threat to his liberty and preservation. Difference is viewed suspiciously and results in division. Such a state of affairs leads us directly to a confrontation between an individual's 'self-interest' and his 'duty/obligation' to those who inhabit the space around him that he must endure.
We have but one end, and that is in the beatific vision of God, our Origin and Hope. Human society must exist in a mode of being reflective of this intra-Trinitarian communion of life and love, of distinct Persons but Who are constituted by unique relations. The Father, the Source of the Godhead brings forth willingly the hypostasis of the Son and breaths forth the Spirit, yet one cannot be imagined without the other. Such must be our attitude and behaviour on a created level, and a failure to actualise this will harm ourselves irreparably. In the Person of the Son, Who comes to us willingly and in obedience to the Father's decree, man becomes capable of finding the other in this one divine hypostasis, realising authentic communion and brotherhood. As we all know, movements which fail to be centered on the Descent of the Logos and His Supreme Oblation are destined to failure. They often degrade man and consider him as a product of the market place, an economic unit, or at best, an individual with biological requirements that must be attained. Only in Christ, does man find his truth, his nature, his personhood.

For this I am indebted to Met. John D. Zizioulas.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

...A Month Later

I have had in the past month a few difficulties in using this site, first of all, the tendency of my internet router to overheat and make a strange squealing sound, and my ever-present inertia. I have returned to university since then which has even further limited my time, but I hope to resume blogging this week. I have had much time to reflect on a few issues so, Deo volente, something worthwhile may appear.

Pax Vobis,

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

My Hopes...


Tomorrow our small nation will welcome the Vicar of Christ, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on a state visit to the United Kingdom. The very notion of a state visit has resulted in a great deal of ire and fanatical moral panic. In some sense, I am delighted at this outcry. The Cross which the Holy Father proclaims presents a challenge to a country 'imprisoned in its wickedness' and forces it to truly consider the nature of man and its purpose in existing. Catholic Christianity is not soothing, consoling the sinner in his misery that he is free and authentically human. The Gospel does not appeal to those who seek a sprightly answer to particular difficulties or queries, but attacks the fundamental presumptions and axioms of the human person in order to clear away the accumulated filth gathered through the centuries and reveal the human person in his true dignity. Such a newly found dignity is that which only becomes actualised in union with Christ, the Head of the Church, 'the perfect form of the image of the Father', 'in Him we live, move and have our being'. Man only finds his uniqueness and purpose in relation to the God Who created him and called him to share in the Trinitarian Communion of love and life. Man cut off from this essential element of humanity reduces himself to nothingness and is only ascribed a value based upon a consensus of certain members of society. Instead of being seen as a creature willed into existence, his worth is solely dependent upon either his comeliness of appearance or economic productivity. What is truly wretched is not this state that man has descended to, but how he jealously guards such a pitiable position and laments that he is still held back from lowering himself further. 'Progress!' they clamour.
Before the human person can embrace the goodness and mercy of God, and live in Him as his nature requires for authenticity, he has to reject what he has always assumed and believed to be true. In our current climate, it is considered in accordance with right reason and humanity to murder the unborn without any qualms and to pervert the ends and purpose of sexuality or marriage all in the name of liberty. Yet, the Roman Pontiff will come with the blessing of the Most High and will point out He Who is our Way, our Purpose, our Liberty and our Freedom. This message will not make comfortable hearing, yet why should truth be rejected simply as you believe you will be 'inconvenienced'? We in Scotland have forsaken the Faith handed on to us so that we may wander off in pursuit of fulfilment, yet it is always better in the Father's house.
I really do hope that we will see the humility, love and humanity of Joseph Ratzinger on his visit to our wee country and will reject facile classifications and see Christ Who is our only hope.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Some Questions To Consider

From a recent Lectio Divina on the Holy Gospel according to Luke, 8:4-15 (the sower going out to sow).

I wish to note some of the thoughts that occurred to me on this matter which I consider to concern predestination and grace (among others):

- The seed is sown generously
- For some, it does not settle. There have no true faith to embrace it.
- Let's say: Someone is grieving over a terrible incident in their lives, and God grants grace to bring them to faith in Him through this tragedy, yet because of their anger they reject His grace. Could not God has given it in more appropriate and favourable circumstances?
- God is not however bound to offer grace at all. Gratia dona gratis.. It is essentially a gift, the Good Lord is under no obligation to infuse it.
- Is it given deliberately to those who are not only unwilling to accept it, but to those who are unable to accept it? They are existing in poor soil or on the path. God is not ignorant nor negligent, so He must allow the word to come to those who are not disposed to receiving it.
- Does He allow men to remain incapable of receiving the seed?
-The ground needs tending. Only God can prepare the soul to grow in sanctity or to come to Him at all. Does He refrain from acting thus? Men on their own cannot bear true fruit without the divine initiative.
-Is His grace irresistable? Producing so great a delight in the will, that it cannot possibly fail to receive humbly?
-If the seed was sown in other situations, it would have borne fruit. Yet God permits souls to depart from Him while He leads others to Heaven. It is obvious that certain circumstances would render a person more favourable to accepting divine assistance and would allow them more easily to reject evil? (By being brought up in a holy and devout household etc).

I offer and cannot offer any solutions, but here is a starting point...

Chasubles

I have been reading a very dry, yet extremely informative book by the liturgical scholar Archdale A. King, 'The Liturgy of the Roman Church', where he vents his annoyance of the 'guitar-shaped' chasubles, that so many of us traditionalists love (I not being one of them). Vestments like:



...depart radically from the ancient style which King deplores. Raymond James writes scathingly of this sort by saying, 'Let us be as Roman as possible always, but in artistic matters let us look to Rome's good artistic periods...Skimped chasubles, gold braid and lace are not Roman, they are 18th century bad taste.' Ouch.

I much prefer:




But I suppose it is all a matter of taste eh...

This is certainly to be condemned regardless:




Unless you're an Anglican...

...of the Greek Variety


Saint John Chrysostom:

'Work is not shameful; idleness is. If work were shameful, Paul would not have worked and he would not have boasted of it. The origin of all the miseries which have fallen on humanity lies in the fact that many people have reckoned it an honour not to have any occupation and have thought work degrading. Paul was not ashamed to hold a needle in his hand to sew skins together to make tents, even if he was talking to important people. He had learned his trade when he was a boy, and he did not cease to practise it when he grew up, despite the fact that God had initiated him into his unfathomable mysteries'

Comment: Toil and labour were introduced into this world as a punishment for sin, yet our Lord did not lack wisdom is decreeing this penalty for man. By humble submitting to this, man allows himself to regain the divine likeness by loving God through suffering and difficulty. By entrusting ourselves to him faithful, no matter how menial the task may be deemed by society, we imitate the example of the Logos Who worked tirelessly with Saint Joseph in a carpenter's shop.

On Reforming the Catholic Church Today

Glory be to our Lord Christ!

A poll conducted by the BBC recently discovered that 49% of Catholics interviewed believed that the Holy Father should drop his (in fact, the Latin Church's) insistence on clerical celibacy in light of the sexual abuse scandals. Now, we must ask whether such a measure would be beneficial to the Church's mission, which is to perpetuate the Incarnation and bring the Redemption wrought by Christ's Precious Blood to all nations. Will a relaxing of discipline allow the Church to fully witness to the salvific work of God and make it effective in the lives of mankind? The simple answer is no.

What must be done is a return to the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ and an embrace of her teachings and her disciplines in their fullness. The Catholic Church (thankfully) is not founded as a democracy, otherwise she would have consumed and mutilated herself by impatiently attempting to conform to the prevailing trends in society. However, in a short period of time, these 'absolute values' of the world will be classed as outmoded and contrary to the judgment of right-minded and rational people. If we as a modern, technical and 'humane' society have progressed such a great deal in the past 50 or so years, could we even contemplate the marvellous nature of our country in another hundred years time? Will not our current 'truths' be decried as preposterous and Medieval? Let us not latch on to the latest novelty for the mere sake of it being 'new'. It must be noted however that not all developments must be rejected out of hand without due consideration, we must be careful not to throw out the wheat with the chaff.

Many have commented that if the Church does not alterate her doctrines and practices, there will not be a Church to worship in shortly. We are being warned that great multitudes will depart from her bosom as the Sacrament of Salvation is not fulfilling their needs. What should we do? Let them go. Our Blessed Lord said that 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God' (Lk 9:62) and 'anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me' (Mt 10:38). Such are hard (dare we say, harsh?) demands that require the conversion and consecration of the whole person to Christ Who descended to save all men and all of man. Let not an itch of your being remain cut off from Christ. Let your words be the words of Christ, your thoughts be of Christ, and your actions be of Christ. A recommitment to our Divine Lord especially to the Holy Sacrifice and to His Most Holy Mother Mary will allow us to be conformed to His likeness, resulting in an unconditional renunouncement of ourselves to our Lord. Do we not say at Compline, 'Into Your hands Lord, I commend my spirit'? Why do we idly recite those precious words of the Crucified and then retire to our beds without a single change of heart, of true repentence and desire for sanctity? The soul who verily acknowledges his debt to the God Who created, sustains and has redeemed him counts nothing as too much. 'Oh but it is too hard' we lament and blubber. Yes it is, for you. We must listen attentively to the words of our Lord to the Divine Apostle, Paul, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' (2 Cor 12:9) He, as the fashioner of human nature, knows exactly what we are capable and by His grace and illumination He allows man to live a divine life. A life free of disordered passions and worries of the ephemeral sort.

This will shrink the Church, they cry. Certainly. Yet, we must remember that few souls will enter and savour the Beatific Vision for all eternity anyway. Our Way is in the steps of our Master Who has went before us and He promised His chosen ones nothing less than sorrow, persecution and repudiation in return for eternal felicity. Is the servant greater than the Master? (Jn 13:16). Let us not be blinded by secular oppression and accept a Gospel other than the one 'entrusted once for all to the saints'(Ju 1:3). The Church cannot witness to the Redemption of the Incarnate Logos by attenuating her commitment to her Bridegroom and the salvation of souls. So if it has to be that men walk away sad from her like the rich man (Lk 18:23), or those gathered around our Lord as He spoke of the necessity of eating His flesh and drinking His blood who departed at this 'hard teaching' (Jn 6:60), so be it. However, I would greatly prefer that we educate our children in the Faith and hand it on to them whilst leading a holy and cheerful life, in willing obedience to Christ and His Church. By our example to our friends, family and extended society, let us become channels of grace for this darkened time and with the Apostle may we say honestly, 'I feel as if I'm going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives.' (Gal 4:19).

Prayer Request


I ask for you all to pray for three young men who will be commencing their seminary life and formation in some time soon. Let us pray that they will receive a truly Catholic formation, with a strong emphasis on the Sacred Liturgy and theology. Our Church is in urgent need of faithful, intellectually capable and holy priests to perpetuate the Incarnation and bring the redemption wrought by our Redeemer's Precious Blood to their flock.

Their names are:

Mark Miles
Christian de Lisle
Gary Dench.


Please offer daily prayers for them and all other Catholic seminarians that they may be conformed to the likeness of Christ, our High Priest.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Latin Doctor Quote Of The Day


Saint Bernard:

''And so too, my brothers, I tell you that to this very day it is evident that the words of Jesus are spirit and truth to some people, and for that reason they follow him. To others, His words seem hard, and they seek elsewhere a consolation that can only end in misery''


Comment:
It would be foolish for a sick man to discard the directives of a doctor, if he wished to become well again. Would it not also be madness to reject the counsel of the Author of human nature if we wish to become satisfied and eternally happy? Such revelation of God through Christ is too often seen as an infringement upon liberty, yet it is only in Him that man can scatter the bands that chain him to perversity. I have a great distaste for the values and principles of this world, however I lack the trust in His divine Goodness to prostrate myself fully at His feet and enter life. I acknowledge the futility of earthly seeking, but I struggle to step across that threshold to the city of God.

Monday, 6 September 2010

One For Stephen...

Let us note some articles of truth which should enlighten Hawking:

1) For something to be it must either exist through itself or be brought into existence and sustained by another. It has to be sustained as there is no reason for it to exist and its essence and existence must be held together.

2) If the universe came into being at one point, it is not therefore eternal.

3) As it is not eternal, it is subject to change and decay.

4) There is nothing of the 'essence' of the universe that necessitates its existence. Otherwise it would be eternal. It would simply BE, rather than Becoming.

5) Therefore, the universe is situated in time and space. Otherwise it would remain as it is, rather than being changed and altered frequently. Outside time and space, it would not be subject to certain factors that would cause it to actualise a potentiality which would be impossible as it would be the Supreme. As it came into being, it is not the Supreme.

6) It is accordingly constrained by what it occupies and does not exist independently from them.

7) No thing could possibly cause itself. God exists necessarily as His essence is the same as His existence (He does not create Himself!). This is because, in order to act as the Supreme Good (or whatever) from which all good (or whatever) derives (which they do), it must exist (even if nothing else did). For something to cause itself, it would have to exist prior to this 'creation' which contradicts itself.

8) The laws of gravity are properties of space, and therefore describe what goes on within this space. It is not independent of this. These properties must be caused by another

9) The universe can only be caused by an external agent who brought it forth out of nothing. Nothing can not form itself into something, as it would lack all capability to do such a thing. Ultimately it would lack existence.

10) God created the universe...

Latin Doctor Quote Of The Day


Pope Saint Leo the Great:

'The blessedness of seeing God is rightly promised to those who are pure of heart. For the eye that is filled with dirt cannot see the brightness of true light; what is joy to the clear, shining mind is punishment to the mind which is stained. Let the darkness of the empty things of this world be set aside and the eyes of the soul be cleansed of all the filth of sin so that the inward sight may enjoy in peace the wonderful vision of God'.

Comment: Within the divine simplicity, there is no change or alteration. He Who Is exists through Himself and rejoices in His own eternal felicity. But fallen man is dragged around by the various waves of passion and emotion, leading to insecurity and confusion. However, the saint clings to God as his only refuge and transforms these disordered loves to the glory of the Undivided and Most Holy Trinity. As he increases in likeness to that Ineffable Holiness, he is impelled to reach higher and higher, purifying himself by the divine light and grace, never satisfied with the state of mediocrity. The beauty of God is revealed to him, and in fact, he sees within himself, this glory reflected and he cries out for the Archtype with ever greater confidence. On the other hand, the reprobate only sees in God, opposition, demands, and a state that could never be attained. He is repulsed by such a height which makes him dizzy. Like the unguarded eye glancing at the sun, he turns away and rots in his pride.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Just a thought

Maybe I should post some pictures of birds (of the feathery variety) to generate more interest...

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Some Remarks for this Sunday's Gospel


From the Holy Gospel according to Luke (7:11-16):

- It is Jesus Himself Who comes to the gate where he is met by dead human nature, dead in grace and good works. This mass of humanity heading towards the grave would have decayed further if the Divine Physician had not provided His assistance.

- Faith is of the divine initiative, man can do nothing, he cannot rouse itself up to God. God must first love us and call us to Himself. This does not mean that human free-will is negated, but that authentic choice is only liberated by His call and grace. 'They that carried it stood still', the carriers of the bier did not resist His healing action, which allowed its efficacy to manifest itself in curing the young man. Only at His hand does human nature return to wholeness. Man may recover physical health through his own natural processes without recourse to medicine, yet grace is not part of the gift of nature, but accords with the mystery hidden in God. It is not something that we can apply when it suits us. It must be given.

- It is interesting that our Divine Lord will often heal bodies not simply by willing it (which would accomplish the same effect) but often engages in human action. He will speak, touch, use spittle etc to bestow grace and mercy in a human manner. In our holy religion, the flesh is not deemed evil, but by the assumption of flesh (the 'hinge of salvation' according to Tertullian) by the Logos, it is transformed and glorified. Our composite, dual nature is not a punishment but an essential element of our humanity. By His Cross, Jesus reconciled men to God, and by founding His Catholic Church, He reconciles men to men. Our Lord by His ineffable power may have chosen to bring men to Him and salvation by appearing to individuals to enlighten them in heavenly things, yet as He acts in accordance with what it most fitting, He chose from all eternity to establish His Church to perpetuate the Incarnation and bring the redemption wrought by His Most Precious Blood to the ends of the earth. The Church carries out her mission, faithful to her Bridegroom by healing men through the Sacraments and sacred rites and symbols.

- It is said that our Lord cured 'being moved with mercy towards her'. He has compassion, yet it is He Who has been offended and will be pierced by sin. He was rejected, yet He wishes to accept and console. Even though we have all too often spurned His mercy, He pursues us with burning love so that we may be converted. We have departed from life, so He becomes our Physician.

- 'Arise!' (Surge). That is, Do not remain where you are, fickle in thought and deed. Turn to Me, and I will give you true rest. I am the One you seek, the One you long for. Only in Me do you find true life, depart from Me and you will return to the dust without hope.

Whether the First Man Was Created in Grace?

P1, Q 95, A1.

So far we have examined according to the thought of Saint Thomas Aquinas whether Adam saw God through His Divine Essence and whether he knew all things. Now we must consider spiritual constitution of Adam in regards to his soul and its possession of grace.
The Angelic Doctor affirms that our first parent was created in grace, but first states a number of objections to this position. First of all, the Divine Apostle contrasts dramatically the state of Adam and Christ when he writes, 'The first Adam was made into a living soul; the last Adam (that is, Jesus our Lord) into a quickening spirit' (1 Cor. 15:45), accordingly Christ alone was made in grace. Since the soul is animated (that is, given true life) by grace, and no such mention is said of the condition of Adam, it implies that he was not made in grace.
2) Further 'evidence' for this position may be taken from an unknown writer (was thought to be Augustine) who stated, 'Adam did not possess the Holy Ghost', and the objection runs that, 'whoever possesses grace, has the Holy Ghost'. 3) The Doctor of Grace also explains that, 'God so ordered the life of the angels and men, as to show first what they could do by free will, then what they can do by His grace, and by the discernment of righteousness'. Therefore, the initial condition of man was one of free will which possessed authentic liberty and only after the Fall did God infuse men with grace. 4) One may also say that, for man to possess grace he must consent to the divine initiative, and since one is unable to consent to one's creation, grace would have been infused without agreement, which is contrary to what we believe concerning grace. Other objections may be stated, but we must proceed to how Saint Thomas answers such positions and how he elucidates the truth.
Saint Thomas states, 'man and angel are both ordained to grace' and since the angels were designed in such a condition, which the Bishop of Hippo affirms when he says, 'God at the same time fashioned their nature and endowed them with grace'. It follows therefore, that the rational creature of the earth possessed grace as well. Justice requires that the lower is subject to the higher or to the superior. Creatures must acknowledge their dependence upon the Lord, realising the ontological chasm that exists between them. Furthermore, the soul, in which the imago Dei consists, is therefore more conformed to the likeness of God than corporeal matter, so in justice, the body will exist in subjection to the soul, as servant to master. 'God made man right' (Eccles. 7:30) which requires that no such disorder, chaos or irrationality reign as this is proper to the state of banishment, of sin and shame. In Eden, all things were ordered to the glory of God, conducting a harmony of praise to His Divine Goodness whereby our first parents shared in some sense in the life of God. Reason which is the correct and truthful ordering of men to God, necessitates the subordination of the body to soul, not in the manner of bridling the passions, but allowing physical matter to exist according to its nature. Saint Thomas confirms that such an arrangement and perfect symphony to the majesty of God 'was not from nature; otherwise it would have remained after sin'. As a direct result of the Fall, grace was banished by the soul, signified by the casting out from the Garden, into the unknown and the dangerous. The discord and infirmity caused, turns man away from his Source of being and reduces him to corruption and death, spiritual as well as physical. Let us realise the great confusion and distress the first sin caused man, in himself, in relation to the other and with God. Both our parents were shamed at their nakedness, which they have not previously noticed. When God accuses Adam of eating the fruit he blames it on his wife (actually he refers culpability to God as Adam states 'the woman You placed with me), who in turn assigns the fault to the 'serpent'. Accordingly, 'the primitive subjection by virtue of which reason was subject to God, was not merely a natural gift, but a supernatural endowment of grace; for it is not possible that the effect should be of greater efficiency than the cause'. One must note here that the Angelic Doctor is following the Greek Fathers in asserting that the natural of man remains untouched after the Fall.
Saint Augustine also states, 'as soon as they (Adam and Eve) disobeyed the Divine command, and forfeited Divine grace, they were ashamed of their nakedness, for they felt the impulse of disobedience in the flesh, as though it were a punishment corresponding to their own disobedience'. The grace that fled from their souls resulting in that discord which far removed them from that orginal state of peace, unity and harmony. The lower powers rose up against their master and caused embarrassment and confusion.
Now let us return to the objections stated earlier.

1) Saint Paul means in that statement, 'that there is a spiritual body, if there is an animal body, inasmuch the spiritual life of the body began in Christ, who is the 'firstborn from the dead', as the body's animal life began in Adam'. From His Glorious Resurrection from the dead, which no man had even done before (it is certain that men had been raised from the dead, however they would soon perish again), His Sacred Body shown forth in majesty, there was no need for food or drink, no threat of pain or discomfort, as these are associated with the life of fallen man. It follows that Adam although possessing a spiritual soul, did not come into possession of a spiritual body. It was not the appointed time.
2) Saint Augustine clarifies when he writes, 'he (Adam) did not possess the Holy Ghost, as the faithful possesses Him now', as those in possession of the Sanctifier, Who dwells in our hearts, making us into a spiritual offering to the glory of God and joins us together in unity in the Church, permits us to enter perpetual felicity after our death immediately.
3) The Angelic Doctor explains, 'Augustine does not assert that angels or men were created with natural free-will before they possessed grace; but that God shows first what their free-will could do before being confirmed in grace, and what they acquired afterwards by being so confirmed.'
4) It must be stated that not all graces to be infused are in conjunction with the will of the human person. Infants are baptised even when they are unable to consent to this bath of regeneration, and with which faith, hope and charity are poured into their hearts.

September 3 - Saint Pius X - 3 Cl.


One for the 'Lefebvrists'...

Pope, Confessor.

Joseph Sarto was born at Riese in Venetia on June 2, 1835. He was successively curate, parish priest, bishop of Mantua, patriarch of Venice. He was elected Pope on August 4, 1903. As chief pastor of the Church he realised to the full the value of the liturgy as the prayer of the Church and spared no effort to propagate the practice of frequent and daily Communion. He died on August 20, 1914 and was canonised on May 29, 1954.

Collect:

O God, who to safeguard Catholic faith and to restore all things in Christ, didst fill the Supreme Pontiff, Saint Pius, with heavenly wisdom and apostolic fortitude: grant in Thy mercy: that by striving to fulfill his ordinances and to follow his example, we may reap eternal rewards. Through the same...


'Come, children, hearken to me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord'
'Even so we speak, not as pleasing men but God...for neither have we used at any time the speech of flattery...'

"Truly we are passing through disastrous times, when we may well make our own the lamentation of the Prophet: "There is no truth, and there is no mercy, and there is no knowledge of God in the land" (Hosea 4:1). Yet in the midst of this tide of evil, the Virgin Most Merciful rises before our eyes like a rainbow, as the arbiter of peace between God and man. " - His Holiness Pope Saint Pius X