Thursday, 31 October 2013

Reflection on Voting

A female once asked me whether I believed women should vote and she was astonished at my response. Unfortunately she never thought to ask me whether men should vote either.

Reflection on Bird Nests and Romance

There is a greater romance in bird nests than in our modern day skyscrapers. Both may have been constructed for practicality but the latter was capable of being much more.

Reflection on Beauty and Practicality

If the Renaissance virtually produced an idolatrous cult of literary refinement, our age on the other hand has fabricated an almost blasphemous regime of efficiency and practicality. While the former could appreciate an ideal of beauty, we unhappily, since it has been exiled from our realm, are bemused how to approach it. Consequently it is not a surprise that we dive in with reckless abandon when a mere semblance crosses our vision.

Reflection on Progress

To extol the virtues of progress without settling on a definitive dogmatic direction is to limp around in circles. Exhaustion would be reached before a happy conclusion is obtained.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Reflection on Politicians

Regarding politicians it is rather difficult to decide whether to accuse them of dishonesty or of incompetence is the most charitable.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Reflection on Fatherhood

One of the great tragedies of our time is the loss of understanding of fatherhood with catastrophic consequences for many a isolated young man.

Reflection on Catholic Social Teaching

It is lamentable that certain shallow populists have reduced the riches of Catholic social teaching to a sentimental socialism.

The Contempt for the Simple Believer

In the past few months I have been considering under a new light my ancestors. None of them were famous, learned or particularly significant. They simply existed. As my surname testifies, my paternal family has its origins in Ireland and therefore in Catholicism. I have come to consider my conversion to the Catholic Faith in 2008 as more of a reversion after the previous two generations unhappily abandoned it. My great grandfather, who insisted that I bear the 'traditional' male family name of Charles and soon died after he got his wish, was the last to practise and die in the Faith with a Requiem Mass and burial. Our Irish origins had no real importance to me until I started to consider the lives of my forefathers of many years ago struggling to live. Only a few members of my family are religious, none of them adhere to the Catholic Faith, so often I feel rather odd among them. My decision to convert in 2007 startled them as it seemed a rather strange step for a young man to make in today's world. At least my father now considers me as a renowned expert on matters of religion. On my father's side I am probably the most educated member we have ever had. My mother's side in the past generation has had more academic success with the earning of degrees and a cousin is currently working on her PhD. On that score I feel far more at ease in their company, as they more obviously value the importance of learning and education that my paternal family almost believes to be an aspect of snobbery at times.

 However, my paternal family exerts a certain attraction on me as they lived as Catholics. In the eyes of the world, they were nobodies. Illiterate, peasants, simple. Catholics. The Catholic Faith is the greatest treasure I have and it was given to me. I did not earn it, buy it, deserve it. By divine grace it was given to me. It presents a link to me and my forefathers who practised Catholicism even after leaving Ireland, although I am not sure when that occurred. On the surface we are rather different. I value very strongly the importance of knowledge and learning. Maybe they would have too if they had the opportunity to consider anything more than surviving and working to survive. The most important knowledge that I have has been self-taught. Whether it be my knowledge of history, the perennial philosophy or theology it has come to me by my own desire to learn and improve myself. These ancestors in Ireland were completely illiterate who had to sign their name with a X, and rather curiously our surname changed from Mulligan to Milligan during the lifetime of one man. Being unlearned, he did not even notice.

 I like to think of them performing their devotions, whether they be the rosary, the Angelus, the stations of the cross with a firm faith and a simple joy. The 'Traditional Latin Mass' was to them nothing other than the Mass. It is something I wish I could cultivate. Do not consider what I have written above about learning to be an idle boast. All men desire to know as they possess an intellect whose proper object is the truth. Furthermore, Aristotle, that prodigious mind, believed the first attitude of the philosopher to be wonder. I imagine my fathers possessing a great and firm hope in the promises of Christ as their earthly circumstances would have given them nothing to be glad about in that impoverished land. Although I do not wish to sin through romanticising their past. Here I come however to the point of this rambling post.

 Too many self-professed intellectuals, self-appointed champions of the poor and simple have scorned the honest and decent devotion of those they claim to uphold. They believe their devotions to be childish, superstitious and a relic of an ignorant age. They write books, coining new phrases that if they were honest they would be at pains to explain. They may have the alphabet after their names, but they lack the common sense and wonder that any man could attain to, peasant or cultured. It could be that these simple ancestors had a better understanding of the Faith and creation as they cherished the significance of signs and the 'sacramental' character of the world and God's action in it. They would have possessed a sense of the Faith to a far greater degree than these 'enlightened ones' who attempt to constrain the mind of the Church into a particular system which pleases them.  They trumpet the call for an authenticity in the believer which means to them the abandonment of any externals that raise the mind to God. These 'ritualisms' are a hindrance, they proclaim, to a true Christian life, as though every soul is in the illuminative state within the first instances of entering the age of reason. They do not understand the relevance of matter to the forming of a Christian spirit. It is almost as if they believe us to be angelic spirits that must flee the contamination of the physical. Are they Manicheans or mere fools?

 Let us value the honest prayer of the simple ones of Christ, not disregarding the worth of learning but to recognise that the source of truth is God Himself. It is by Faith, Hope and Charity that we attain to Him.

In Domino,

Charles Stuart

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Reflection on Heresy and Tolerance

If the Church were tolerant of heresy she would be of demonic origin.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Una Voce Mass in Torphichen, Scotland

Mass offered today at the Preceptory of the Knights of St. John in Torphichen according to the Ancient Form of the Roman Liturgy. Celebrant: Fr. Mark Morris. In Choir: Fr. John Emerson FSSP

It is the project of Una Voce Scotland to organise the celebration of the Usus Antiquior in as many pre-Reformation churches in the land as possible. One can imagine the delight of the faithful, monks and priests who used to assist at Masses at places like these to see their churches used once again for their purpose, the worship of God. They are certainly beautiful to look at, but what a joy it is for one to hear Gregorian chant expertly resounding between these ancient walls for the glory of our Lord.

Reflection on Indifference

Indifference may be the greatest wickedness.

Reflection on the Poor and the Church

How arrogant and foolish to deprive the poor man from beauty in his church and liturgy claiming it is for his benefit.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Reflection on the Saints and How we View them

The lives of the saints appear as a reproach to the minds of the wordly. Their devotion is like an insult to what we hold dear, consider fulfilling and believe to be useful to society.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Reflection on Nature

To conceive of nature as anything other than the mirror of God is to go astray.

Reflection on the Root of our Evils

A life according to "etsi Deus non daretur" is the radical principle of all our evils. Abortion, euthanasia, sodomy and promiscuity are all symptoms of the same.

Reflection on Hopelessness

Hopelessness has pervaded the culture and we consider it progress.

Reflection on Atheism and Humanism

Atheism is the abolition of any authentic humanism.

Reflection on Abortion and the Culture

The prevalence of abortion in society is the complete triumph of a culture of despair.

Reflection on Decadence and Heresy

It is far more preferable for a prelate to be decadent than a heretic.

Reflection on Utility

The reduction of all things to practical utility is to drain the human spirit.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Reflection on the Greatest Evil of our Age

The greatest evils of our age can all be reduced to a loss of the sense of God.

Reflection on Geocentrism and the Ego

As the earth has moved away from the centre of the universe, the ego has come closer and closer to it.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Reflection on Nationalisation

No nationalised industry has ever been owned by the people.

Reflection on the Liberal Catholic

The fundamental difficulty the liberal Catholic has is that he denies the social kingship of Christ. For him, the reign of Jesus is merely restricted to the emotions and a self-professed noble sentiment.

The Doctors Speak...

St. Thomas Aquinas

'Hold firmly that our faith is identical with that of the ancients. Deny this, and you dissolve the unity of the Church.''

Comment: The Catholic is intimately aware of the Church's Tradition and glorifies it. He wishes to delve more deeply into the sources of the Faith that he professes. The development of doctrine, the liturgical traditions, the works whether theological or mystical of the great minds God has raised up excite him. He expresses no worry, embarrassment, unease with what has occurred during the two-thousand years of the Faith. His heroes and icons are drawn from the great treasury that is the communion of saints in glory. He himself in the Faith is united with them. He defends the triumphs of the men and women who have honoured God with their whole souls and bodies. He finds no common cause with the enemies of the Church who attack her past to discredit her perennial teachings. Yet he recognises the sins of her members, condemning them as unworthy of the spotless Bride of Christ. He is ultimately grateful for the faith handed on to him. May he live and die in possession of that grace like those so many who walked before him in the shadow of the Cross.  

Reflection on Beauty

Let us banish the thought that beauty distracts us from virtue, for what is good living other than conformity to the divine harmony and splendour?

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Reflection on Judgement

Lack of judgement is more in keeping with the nature of dumb beasts than that of rational man.

Reflection on Tolerance

Tolerance by its very definition signifies dislike or disagreement.

Reflection on St. Augustine

In the spirituality and thought of St. Augustine we encounter the profoundly human as they are essentially theocentric.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Reflection on Scholasticism

In Scholasticism we see a profound collaboration between faith and reason. For these doctors it would be inconceivable to posit a rupture between dogma and natural truths, although both had their own spheres of operation. The scholastic recognised the ultimate foundation of all truth as God Himself.

Reflection on Modernism

The tragedy of Modernism is that is has gone beyond the heavy tomes of daring scholars and has entered our homes, schools and churches. It appears to the average Catholic as something entirely natural and self-evident.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Reflection on the Old Rite/Traditional Latin Mass

Do not go on the defensive when they ask you why you are a devotee of the Traditional Latin Mass but ask them why they have abandoned it first.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Reflection on Faith and Reason

The man of faith knows the place of reason.

Reflection on Richard Dawkins and the New Atheism

The atheism propounded by Richard Dawkins could only ever appeal to the self-satisfied bores among us.

Reflection on Condemnation

A condemnation can only come from a prior affirmation.

Convento de San Esteban, Salamanca

I saw the above picture on a Facebook page dedicated to Spanish architecture and I felt that I had to share it. The Convent of St. Stephen run by the Dominicans in Salamanca is a fantastic piece of architecture designed to show the splendour and glory of God. The area outside the church is a wonderful way to spend a warm afternoon, relaxing near this marvel. The statue is of Francisco de Vitoria, the Father of international law, who introduced the Summa Theologica to the faculty of Theology when he headed it up. A who's who of theologians of the 16th century came here to study and debate, such as Domingo de Soto, Domingo Báñez, Martín Azpilcueta, Tomás de Mercado and Francisco Suárez. A great deal of energy was spent on considering new ideas and practices of the contemporary world such as economics and international law, in particular the right of conquest and evangelisation. They combined a deep piety, profound learning and a ardent desire to analyse current issues in the light of Catholic tradition. I first came across the Salmanticenses during my reading of Father Garrigou-Lagrange in my second year of university, so I went to study in that Spanish city the next year with some excitement. I scoured the bookshops to see if I could find copies in the Castilian tongue of their works but I was to be disappointed. If you are looking for Hans Küng you would not be left wanting, yet if you wished to find something of value you would be left empty handed.

It was with some amusement and worry that I heard the response of my fellow classmates in a particular class in Salamanca. The class was about the methodology of the creation of a critical text and we came across a work by St. Vincent Ferrer, I believe it was a collection of his sermons. The lecturer was at pains to describe to the other students that Ferrer was a Dominican of Valencia, 'A Dominican, what is that?' was the reply of a few bemused students. What a great pity that students of the University of Salamanca are perplexed by Dominicans who formed the best students and teachers of the institution in the past! It highlighted to me that so many young people are completely ignorant of the past and see no value in it. That would not be so troubling if they did not attempt to form negative judgements about it.

 May the beauty of this church remind us of the contributions of the men of the past who upheld the glory of God and stretched human reason to its bounds.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Reflection on Hell

To claim that we may have reasonable hope that no one perishes is not to exalt the mercy of God but to destroy His holiness.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Reflection on Pope Francis

It is particularly worrying that when the Supreme Pontiff does enunciate some aspect of Catholic Truth we feel relieved.

Theological Shorts 4 - On the Capacity of Christ's Soul to Suffer

The following article is taken from the Compendium of Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas, section under 'Faith', 232.

It was one of the fundamental difficulties of the early Church to deal with who exactly Christ was. After all, our salvation depends on the one who saved us. Various heresies were produced that denied one aspect of Christ's person which ultimately affected the capacity of the Lord to be a competent saviour. Some claimed that He was only human, others only divine, others denied the full humanity, others the full divinity and others still the unity of His person. It is utterly vital for us to proclaim the full humanity, the full divinity (homoousios) and the unity of Christ in one subsistent hypostasis. The following article hinges on this belief and so does our salvation.

 With the Angelic Doctor we acknowledge that the human body and soul form one substance. Men are not spirits trapped in a cruel but temporary prison. We are only fully human when both exist peacefully together. As the body suffers, the soul in some way experiences this harm. We cannot forget that Christ had a created soul and created body which did not exist prior to the Incarnation. So the following reflections on His suffering depend on understanding that due to the creation nature of His human body and soul (however pure) He was capable of feeling pain. Thomas tells us that the soul can experience two kinds of suffering, 1) from the body itself, and 2) from the object. He informs us that the whole soul suffers (due to the unity between them. the soul being the form of the body) because of the suffering of the body. It follows as well that since the powers of the soul are found in the soul's essence, each of its powers suffers when the body does.

However, we must make a vital qualification here when we consider the capacity of Christ's soul to suffer harm. We have to deny that the object of suffering could cause harm to every power of His soul. The reason for this is that Christ experienced the Beatific Vision in the higher part of His soul. It would have been impossible for some object to disturb this state and cause harm. The plenitude of glory was experienced in the higher part of His soul which nothing could have diminished. Thomas continues:

 ''Therefore, the higher reason of Christ's soul, which cleaves to the eternal things that should be contemplated and consulted, had nothing adverse or contrary whereby any suffering or harm would take place.''

 So how is it that Christ could be said to suffer truly in soul if the higher part was incapable of being disturbed? We note that sense powers are vitally linked through their objects to sensible, created things, therefore pain can be transmitted to them.Strikes upon the body are felt through the nerves and the soul perceives these blows as harmful to the continuance of the whole person. As shown in the Garden, Christ was capable of suffering distress, when the knowledge of future things (the Crucifixion) caused Him internal distress and fear. The proximity of harm, and the certainty of it (He knew this in the Beatific vision and the knowledge of the mysteries that His Father infused, as well as being the Wisdom of God Himself) caused Him to sweat blood and shrink before death. The lower reason united with the sense powers perceives the harm being done to the body and proves itself adverse to it. Pain is regarded as contrary to the functioning of the body which wishes to preserve itself in tranquillity. Therefore we must admit that the suffering of the Cross proved 'odious' to His lower soul that wished to avoid the coming pain. It is for this reason that Christ asked the Father to remove the chalice of His passion from Him. Yet, we cannot forget His immediate response, 'Fiat voluntas tua!' We shall move onto an explanation of this shortly.

 There are various kinds of suffering and one such sort involves suffering out of love of someone else. We may experience pain when a loved one commits some evil or goes through their own sickness or discomfort. It is completely nature for a human being to undergo this internal pain or confusion. Christ suffered this pain on the Cross when He considered all those for whom He died. As shown in a previous article on the knowledge of Christ, it was revealed to Him all those God has had created and would create, therefore Christ knew all those souls whose sins lead to His passion and death. He suffered when He regarded their sins and their punishments, however we must make another vital distinction here. The love of neighbour for God's sake belongs to higher reason. As said above, the higher part of His soul possessed the Beatific Vision so that knowledge of the sins of men and their punishments could not have disturbed Him. In the Beatific Vision, He, like all the saints, 'knew' how Divine Wisdom and Providence operates. They are capable of seeing how individual sins and damnations fit into the plan of God thereby they feel no distress. They can reconcile how goodness and justice form one whole in the deity.

 In our case, we are unable to comprehend how the sins of our loved ones and their suffering can be reconciled with a loving God. On this account we feel distress and uncertainty, which did not plague Christ's higher reason which experienced the Beatific Vision. We cannot know of the eternal destinies of our friends and families, so we are told to pray and trust.

 Could the suffering experienced by Christ's soul lead to division? We must answer no. When we wayfarers experience emotions arising from particular unpleasant situations our responses are often immoderate and disordered. We consider how we are inconvenienced and insulted instead of how God is offended. Our anger builds up contrary to right reason and we act badly as a result. However, in the case of Christ, this was not possible. The soul of our Lord was governed with rectitude. His emotions, which could only have come from a full and true humanity, were entirely subject to right reason and did not exceed their set boundaries. Thomas continues:

 ''Rather, the lower appetite, which is subject to emotions, was moved only as much as reason directed that it should be moved''

 We must not admit any sort of disjunction in the soul of Christ was He was in possession of the Beatific Vision and He was free of any form of concupiscence. Although His soul suffered terribly from the pain inflicted on His sacred body and His soul perceived this as harm and His imagination suffered distress due to coming pain, His higher reason recognised why He had to suffer. He therefore in His higher reason willed to suffer pain for the sake of sinners, even while His lower reason linked to the senses and the awful torture inflicted on Him shrank from death. The latter shrank from death as is entirely natural, but the fear did not exceed its bounds.

In essence, the suffering did not destroy His enjoyment of the Beatific Vision nor vice versa, each part acted according to its proper function. 

Reflection on the "Neo-Catholic"

The desire of the "Neo-Catholic" to defend everything a pontiff says or does springs from a purely human loyalty. It may appear commendable but makes him look fickle regarding the Faith.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Reflection on Liberalism

Liberalism may be defined as the art of taking offence.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Reflection on Hierarchy

Men are said nowadays to oppose hierarchy but it would be more precise to claim that they oppose their place in the hierarchy.

Cardinal Ratzinger on Mass Vestments

Cardinal Ratzinger makes clear in his work 'The Spirit of the Liturgy' that liturgical vestments do not express simply the splendour of creation but convey something far more profound about our condition as wayfarers and our hope of incorruptibility. 

''The liturgical attire worn by the priest during the celebration of Holy Mass should, first and foremost, make clear that he is not there as a private person, as this or that man, but stands in place of Another - Christ. What is merely private, merely individual, about him should disappear and make way for Christ. ''It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.'' (Gal. 2:20)...It is not he himself who is important, but Christ. He makes himself the instrument of Christ, acting, not from his own resources, but as the messenger, indeed as the presence, of Another - in persona Christi, as the liturgical tradition says. Liturgical vestments are a direct reminder of those texts in which St. Paul speaks of being clothed with Christ: ''For as many of you were baptised into Christ have put on Christ'' (Gal 3:27). In the epistle to the Romans, the image is connected with the opposition between two ways of living. To those who waste their lives in immoderate eating and drinking, in debauchery and licentiousness, St. Paul shows the Christian way: ''But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires'' (Romans 13:14). In the epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians, the same idea is interpreted in an even more fundamental way in relation to the anthropology of the new man: ''Put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness'' (Eph 4:24). ''You have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator'' (Col 3:10f)...The goal is the inward renewal, his real assimilation to God...The image of putting on Christ is, therefore, a dynamic image, bearing on the transformation in Christ, and of the new community  that is supposed to arise from it. Vestments are a challenge to the priest to surrender himself to the dynamism of breaking out of the capsule of self and being fashioned anew by Christ and for Christ. They remind those who participate in the Mass of the new way that began with Baptism and continues with the Eucharist, the way that leads to the future world already delineated in our daily lives by the sacraments.
 In his two epistles to the Corinthians, St Paul gives further elaboration to the eschatological orientation of the image of clothing. In the first epistle he says: ''This perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality'' (15:53)...Paul describes the body of this earthly time as an ''earthly tent'', which will be taken down, and looks ahead to the house not made with human hands, ''eternal in the heavens''. He is anxious about the taking down of the tent, anxious about the ''nakedness'' in which he will then find himself. His hope is to be, not ''unclothed'', but ''further clothed'', to receive the ''heavenly house'' - the definitive body - as a new garment. The Apostle does not want to discard his body, he does not want to be bodiless. ..He does not want flight but transformation. He hopes for resurrection. Thus the theology of clothing becomes a theology of the body...The liturgical vestment carries this message in itself. It is a further clothing, not an ''unclothing'', and the liturgy guides us on the way to this ''further clothing'', on the way to the body's salvation in the risen body of Jesus Christ, which is the new ''house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (2 Cor 5:1)''

Reflection on Salvation

Let the Catholic seek to uphold the divine rights of God with a burning charity in his life and he shall be saved.

Reflection on Hatred for Catholic Tradition

The Catholic who expresses hatred and embarrassment towards the Church's history and traditions has practically lost the Faith.

Theological Shorts 3 - What is Evil?

The following article is taken from St. Thomas Aquinas' Compendium of Theology. I will be focussing on his section under the heading 'Faith', 115-122.

 This Theological Short is more properly philosophical as it follows a process of human reasoning alone which is open to each man whether he knows of, or accepts Christian revelation. As I taught in the previous Theological Short, certain truths available to the enquiring human mind are also revealed to us in order to safeguard us from error. Some of the truths that I will lay out here can be obtained from revelation as they consider the inherent goodness of creation which has been communicated to us from above.

 First of all it is necessary for us to realise that we do not consider evil to be a nature, a reality in its own right. We do not acknowledge a principle of evil or of darkness which exists co-eternally with
goodness, such as the Gnostics taught. We reject the possibility of a Supreme Evil existing as a counterpart to the Supreme Good. This will be shown in the following line of philosophical enquiry. The Angelic Doctor notes that a nature, a thing, a substance is either a potentiality or an actuality, what could be or what currently is. The former seeks to become perfect, that is, to become actual. All things by nature seek good properly understood. We here do not speak of, simply, moral good, but the perfection belonging to a thing as a particular thing. As something shares in actuality it shares in goodness (a perfection), that is, being considered under the aspect of desirability. To mix in a contrary, in this case, 'evil' does not lead a thing to a new perfection but rather it suffers a defect. To understand this point it is vital to realise the significance of the truth outlined above that evil is not a nature. What is produced by this unhappy mixture is not a new positive form (although it does receive a new form) but the devastation, the corruption, the corrosion of a perfection. As things seek their own good and perfection, wishing to remain secure in it, they also wish (by nature, not simply voluntarily) to avoid what destroys it. Existence itself, an actuality in the mode of being, is itself a good which 'all things desire, sharing in good perfects every nature''.

 We define genus as a class of beings, it is 'what something is'. Further we define species as 'what sort of thing it is'. Thomas asserts that the particular species is determined by a thing's form. Therefore, in the case of a moral agent (a man or an angel), the moral species, derived from their form, is obtained from the end sought out by their will.
 In natural objects or beings, the corruption of one form is related to the reception of another form. The Angelic Doctor uses the example of fire and its effect on wood. What occurs when fire touches wood is that the wood itself suffers deformation, it is warped, ultimately it loses a perfection it previously possessed. The agency of fire, a good in itself, when in contact with wood causes the latter to lose its integrity and perfection.

 As regards moral agents, we consider it to be an evil for them to seek out an end which is defective, one that is removed from a necessary perfection. Evil here derives from the privation rather than merely the object sought itself. We are told that good and evil are specific differences which distinguish a class of moral beings. 'What is perfect always belongs to the nature of good, and what is lesser always belongs to the nature of evil'.

We can not state entirely correctly that evil exists. What we truly mean is that we believe (created) good can be corrupted, that its perfection can be destroyed. It is itself in the nature of created things to be liable to such negative change, not because of an inherent defect in their creation but by the very fact of their being brought into existence out of nothing. This possibility arises from its nature's potentiality. They are contingent beings that require an agent in act to bring them into existence and to sustain them in it. This last mention of creatio ex nihilo is properly theological as it cannot be proven by human reason alone that we were created out of nothing.

 A particularly good analogy of how evil is a corruption of a perfection of a good is shown by the example of blindness. The proper object of sight is colour, however due to blindness, the thing is incapable of activating fully this sense. Blindness can occur to various degrees, that is, to a deepening level of damage or diminishing of a perfection. The eye itself, although terribly impeded in its proper function, still remains good in its nature. 'Both form and potentiality for form are good, and a potentiality is the subject of privation, just as it is the subject of a form'. The subject in which it adheres is 'necessarily good, not that is is contrary to evil, but that it is a potentiality regarding evil'.

 We must underline here that not every good, as I have implicitly stated above, can be susceptible to evil. Only those beings which may lose a perfection can. For God we must not admit the presence of evil or even the potentiality of evil as He is said to be pure act, incapable of change as this would imply imperfection, whether this be the capacity to develop perfection or the ability to be deprived of it.

 Thomas goes on to remark that an evil as a privation can not be desired in itself (only per accidens) but only inasmuch as it connected to a certain good. However we may consider this point more fully in a later article.

 Evil must be found in a particular good, it can not exist on its own. It is to be found in good as in its subject. Privation can only be found in a being and as such it must inhere in a good. We say that evil is found in something in the same sense as we say blindness is found in an eye, or more precisely 'in the subject of the power of sight'.

It is now necessary to move on to distinguish the various senses of the term 'evil' that we have been using. Usually in common speak we would define it as some outrageous act such as murder or rape, but we should not be limited to particular instances of moral evil. The key point in this article is that evil is a defect or a privation, a reduction in a subject's perfection or goodness. We may mean this in two ways, 1) its nature or 2) its operation, such as its movement towards its desired end. In the first case we can mean the aforementioned example of blindness and for the second we can speak of limping as an impediment in the operation of walking, an action which suffers from a defect. As regards moral evil, this can only be produced by a conscious and active moral agent who knows what it is doing. Its voluntary nature is essential. A forced act which is imposed from outwith such as rape does not constitute fornication or adultery. Thomas also notes that an action done out of ignorance does not count as a voluntary act as the agent is not aware of the things of which the said action consists. If a defect is done consciously by an active moral agent we speak of sin and the agent deserves punishment. 
Finally we consider evil that has the nature of punishment. The removal of a good can be imposed on a moral agent against their will in order to serve as a remedy for sin and to alter the deficient will for disordered actions. This is in itself actually a good as it hopefully brings the will to a state of justice by making punishment more unpleasant than the desire for illicit action.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Why God Permits Evil - David Bentley Hart

I came across this rather interesting quotation from a Eastern Orthodox theologian while reading a reader's guide of the Summa Theologica by Stephen J. Loughlin. It is taken from David Bentley Hart's work, 'The Doors of the Sea: Where was God in the Tsunami?'

Behold my contribution to ecumenism.

''The entire case is premised upon an inane anthropomorphism - abstracted from any living system of belief - that reduces God to a finite ethical agent, a limited psychological personality, whose purposes are measurable upon the same scale as ours, and whose ultimate ends for his creatures do not transcend the cosmos as we perceive it. This is not to say that it is an argument without considerable emotional and even moral force; but of logical force there is none. Unless one can see the beginning and end of all things, unless one possesses a divine, eternal vantage upon all of time, unless one knows the precise nature of the relation between divine and created freedom, unless one can fathom infinite wisdom, one can draw no conclusions from finite experience regarding the coincidence in God of omnipotence and perfect goodness. One may still hate God for worldly suffering, if one chooses, or deny him, but one cannot in this way ''disprove'' him.'' 

Monday, 7 October 2013

Reflection on Democracy 2

In a democracy the fool and the wise man are treated alike - and we regard ourselves as enlightened for it

Reflection on Democracy

Fear and bribery are given a respectable place in a democracy.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Reflection on Embarrassment

The liberal is terribly embarrassed about his Catholicism. He wishes it could be as gentlemanly and as proper as himself. As Augustine said, he believes not the Gospel, but himself.

Reflection about Me

By birth, a Scotsman.
By conviction, a monarchist
By the grace of God, a Catholic Christian.

Reflection on Liberty

The radical principle of liberty is the intellect. A naked voluntarism devoid of an intellectual foundation is the death of freedom.

Reflection on the Scholar

Scholarship must be united with a certain degree of asceticism as many an intellectual error is derived from a moral vice.

Reflection on Church and State

If we are to have a seamless unification of Church and state it is much more preferable to have a state that has become holy instead of a Church that has become profane.

Reflection on Reason and Sentiment

It is preferable to be crushed by reason than to be puffed up falsely by sentiment.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Reflection on Beauty with Pride

Physical beauty without humility produces a certain revulsion.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Reflection on Turning the Other Cheek

Our Lord commands us to turn the other cheek as often our response to insults and humiliations comes from a wounded pride rather than a concern for justice.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Reflection on Culture

Catholicism is the last defence of a vital and true culture.

Reflection on the Incarnation

What man could have raised himself up to the glory of heaven if heaven had not first reached down to his land to embrace and lift him up? The invisible has become visible, the incorporeal has become corporeal, the Lord has become a servant, God has become a victim, the transcendent has been touched. Verily, as Tertullian of old claimed, the flesh of Christ is the hinge of our salvation.

Et  Verbum caro factum est.

The Struggle of the Believer

''I am delighted with the law of God, according to the inward man: but I see another law in my members, fighting against the law of my mind, and captivating me in the law of sin that is in my members. Unhappy man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? The grace of God, by Jesus Christ, our Lord'' (Romans, 7:22:25)

Comment: Be comforted friends in the sure grace and assistance given to us constantly by our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. What temptation envelops us, disturbs us, accuses us! It is a certain ploy of Satan to remove from our hearts the peace of Christ. We may upon our conversion reject our former paths, but we continue to feel a particular curiosity towards them. 'Oh what I would be allowed to do if I weren't Catholic!' The Faith is not a prison, but the vehicle of our salvation on the account of the sacrifice of Christ. Regard your failings as you own weakness, consider how greater you need the grace of God which He promises us! This struggle, this fight to be free of this law of our members will continue until we breath our last, but do not become discouraged. Do not be afraid!
 To be unsure about the grace given to us by God and the possibility of His forgiveness is the worst thing that a soul could do. The burden of our sins would crush us with no opportunity for improvement. Listen to the words of the Holy Apostle as he recognises his own sins and failings, but marvel at how he extols the most gracious mercy of our Saviour, who will never abandon us in our filth.

 Repent and trust joyful in the salvation offered to us in His Holy Church.

Reflection on Evangelisation

What greater hatred of our neighbour could there be than the refusal to evangelise? Such a great selfishness to neglect to communicate to others the grace you have received!

Reflection on the Orthodoxy of our Bishops

Do not be so naive to assume that possession of apostolic orders is a sure guarantee of the Apostolic Faith.

The Doctors Speak...

Saint Jerome.

''The whole world groaned and was astonished to find itself Arian.''

Comment: That dreadful heresy, the death and destruction of our Holy Faith was held by such a great number that the most blessed Jerome could say the above without exaggeration. Does it cause you to marvel that the bishops could have held and professed this damnable blasphemy about our Lord's person? Do not be so naive to believe that the possession of apostolic orders is a sure guarantee against error. How many bishops have perished? How many are on their way? We must be constantly on our guard against the words and actions of our clergy who have so often caused offence to the Faith and confused the simple believer. It is not Catholic, far from it, to claim that it is impious, uncharitable or disobedient to question the words of our clerics. It is to their benefit and salvation that their false words do not go unchallenged. 'Who are you to judge our bishops, we owe them respect and obedience?', what a strange notion, so contrary to the Faith! Regard the history of the early Church, who founded the heresies that have plagued us? Arius, Nestorius, Severus, Apollinaris, Macedonius, Eutyches and Sabellius. All clerics. All in error. The Holy Faith exists before, above and after these men. Do not be deceived.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Reflection on Barack Obama

I tell you that Obama does not exist. A cipher. A fabrication of the liberal mind. A construction by a progressive media. A remarkably empty idol.

Reflection on the Liberal State

The modern liberal state has more control over the daily activities of its citizens than any paranoid absolutist regime of the past could possibly have dreamed of. But have we not been emancipated from their former tyranny?

Reflection on our Age and Reason

The cry of reason abounds in our age. Yet has there been a generation when such intolerable drunkenness has taken hold? Where such loud music has distracted and entranced? Our age has been characterised by a flight from reality, a fear of reason. The cry of reason has been scattered by the winds. Man is terrified of being himself.

Reflection on Modernism

Modernism is by its essence entirely naturalistic and subjective. It is the death of the Faith.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Theological Shorts 2 - The Necessity of Theology

Today's theological short is taken from the Summa Theologica, Part 1, Question 1, Article 1.

Whether besides Philosophy, Any Further Doctrine is Required?
Saint Thomas answers in the affirmative. Let us proceed along a line of argumentation to consider the boundaries and limits of both philosophy and theology. Objection 1 remarks that we must not go beyond what man is capable of. It is certainly true that the proper object of the human intellect is the essences of sensible beings. Human knowledge is said properly to be 'rational', in comparison we say that the knowledge of the angels and most eminently of God is 'intellectual'. For human beings, reason is a perfection, a quality that is essential to man, in fact it is what distinguishes man as a species from his wider genus of animal. As reasoning beings we proceed from what we know to what we are ignorant of. This is a process of imperfect knowledge, often uncertain, towards a firm grasp of truth. It is clear here that we must not ascribe this process to God as it would attribute imperfection and ignorance to Him. There is much stumbling and darkness along this path which the Angelic Doctor highlights later on in the article.
 Human beings are utterly dependant on experience to gain knowledge as it is through the senses that we come to develop an understanding of the world around us, the particulars, but also to reach a comprehension of universals. Not being angels we are unable to grasp conclusions inherent in principles, but we must proceed step by step to arrive at an end point. We may even be wrong in our destination. For the Catholic there must be no disparaging of creation as our faculties are attuned to them to arrive at knowledge. This pertains to philosophy.
 However, is it not true that philosophy does treat of God? Without a doubt. Does that mean that there is no requirement of different disciplines? Absolutely not. The justification for this negative is that theology considers God under a different light from philosophy. The material object of both sciences is God, however it is the formal object that distinguishes all disciplines. Saint Thomas remarks that both the physicist and the astronomer may reach the conclusion that the Earth is round (N.B. He wrote this in the 13th century!!!), but it is under different aspects or methods that this truth is reached. Let us apply this to philosophy and theology. Philosophy reaches a knowledge of God, such as the certainty that He exists, but this is obtained through a process of reasoning, a movement from effect to cause. Theology treats God under the formal aspect of revelation. It is founded upon the authority and certainty of God, the revealer of Himself. There are many truths that man can not apprehend by reason alone which God must show us so that we may come to know it, eg, the Incarnation, the Trinitarian nature of the Deity etc. As a corollary, supernatural mysteries can not be proven intrinsically, objections to them may be shown to be unconvincing but reason alone can not show definitively their truth value. We may know that God is, but not what He is. We 'know' the articles of revelation through Divine Faith. This surpasses the proper object of our intellects.
 The Angelic Doctor remarks that revelation is for our salvation. God even reveals truths that could have been obtained through human reason alone, such as His existence. In His gracious mercy He has revealed them to us so that our reason processes which have to cope with 'an admixture of many errors' may not condemn us entirely. Our eye must be directed to God, our end but this end surpasses our reasoning capacities. Human beings make errors in thought through tiredness, inexperience, logical fallacies, the darkening of the intellect or the inclination to sin itself. It is for our own good and His glory that God willed to reveal Himself.

We conclude that theology is a necessary discipline that is formally distinct from philosophy.

The Beauty of our Patrimony

"Nothing could better obstruct the confrontation of man with God than the notion that we "go unto the altar of God" as we would go to a pleasant, relaxing social gathering. This is why the Latin mass with Gregorian chant, which raises us up to a sacred atmosphere, is vastly superior to a vernacular mass with popular songs, which leaves us in a profane, merely natural atmosphere." - Dietrich von Hildebrand. 

Reflection on the Sacredness of the Mass

After stripping the sacred from the liturgy is it any wonder that man has discarded the holy from himself? As the public adoration of God disappeared from sight, so did the private worship of each man.

Reflection on the Roman Rite

The true Roman Rite is the greatest pearl of Western civilization, as the liturgy went so did the culture.

Reflection on Humility and the Liturgy

A practical expression of humility can be found in offering to God the most sublime liturgy possible. Does humility not recognise the absolute right of God to be adored with complete reverence and fitting dignity? It is contemptible to claim humility for a liturgy stripped of any beauty, a notion more pleasing to man's satisfaction than that of God's.

Reflection on Loving Beauty

The love of beauty must be present within each Catholic soul. We can never accept such a devilish puritanism that robs God of His glory in creation.

Reflection on the Liturgy

Liturgical pauperism treats the Incarnation as a superficial occurrence that does not consider the majesty of the One who dwelt among us. Christ was not merely a poor man but a rich man who divested Himself of His glory to bring us to His abundance.

Reflection on Popes and the Faith

How terrible to base the firmness of your faith on the pontiff of the day! You are attracted or repulsed by the personality of a man who may be dead tomorrow. No peace for those in such an error. Divine faith is based upon the authority of the one true God who reveals the truth.