Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Reflection on the Purpose of this Blog

However many articles I write all effort spent would be worth it if only one soul were to convert upon reading this blog. After all, a single soul in the state of grace is objectively greater than all of the marvels of nature combined. 

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

On the Eternal Procession of the Holy Ghost

A Short Lecture on Book One of the Sentences, Distinction XII, Chapter 1.

Whether the Holy Spirit proceeds first or more fully from the Father than from the Son

The following explanation is of divine faith and must be upheld by all Catholics. The very question hinges on an impermissible lack of sound understanding of the Holy Trinity, where an all too creaturely perception has undermined true comprehension (in as far as we are able) of the immanent processions.
 Saint Augustine did teach that the Holy Ghost proceeds ''principaliter'' from the Father and it is well known that the Greek Fathers preferred to stress that the Third Person proceeds per filium.Yet these profound explanations of the notional acts are not to be held as contrary to the faith as dogmatically defined by the Catholic Church.

 The Council of Florence in Laetentur Caeli (1439) decrees:

''Therefore, in the Name of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, with the approval of this sacred universal Council of Florence, we define that this truth of faith must be believed and received by all Christians, and so all must profess that the Holy Spirit is eternally from the Father and the Son, and He has his essence and His subsistent being at once from the Father and the Son, and He proceeds eternally from both as from one principle and one spiration''.

 The careful observer will notice that the present tense is used which will enable us to cast off any notions that are based upon a creaturely mode of signification. We are not to hold that the Holy Ghost has proceeded and now remains dormant as though there was a once when He began to proceed and an instant when He received His rest. The argument raised by Peter Lombard attributed to the heretic is based on such a flawed understanding. The human mind has its proper object in the essences of created things and therefore in order to reach higher we must use analogies and similitudes in our attempts to grasp the hem of the sacred mysteries. The crux of the heretic's logic is that the Son must first proceed in order for the Holy Ghost to proceed. This needs further distinction. If we are to assert that the Son is dependent on His Father for the possession of His subsisting divine essence so that He may spirate the Holy Ghost in union as one principle with Him, we may concede. In explanation, we are not to hold any temporal notion or sense of locomotion in this immanent notional act. The Son receives the entire Divine Essence from the Father not in the passage of time but as the eternal now. There is no transition of the Son's entering into possession of the divine nature and the second notional act of spiration. It is beyond our understanding to contemplate how this marvellous generating of the Word can ''occur'' in the eternal instant but this is to be accepted in faith and love.

An impure human understanding of this will lead to the following line of argumentation. In order for the traveller to pass from milestone B to milestone C he is required to journey from A to B. We can see here that not only in there a transition in time but one that is imperfect and dependent on other factors for the man to proceed from one stage to the next. The two notional acts of generation and spiration are never to be considered thus. There is no lapse of time, there is no ''becoming'', there is no before so that there may be an after. If we are to declare a priority, this is to be held as a ''principium'' or ''arche'' at most. There can be no priority of time so that potentiality and restriction pollutes the pure act of the deity. The Father is the source of the Trinity and the Holy Ghost can only proceed from the Son because the Latter has received the perfect and complete divine nature but we are forbidden to admit of a pause. In Their possession of eternity, there is no before and after. All is sublime enjoyment of Their glory and goodness, without decay, increase or mutation.

 In conclusion, let us note the words of the Doctor of Grace:

 ''In that highest Trinity, which is God, there are no intervals of time by which it may be shown, or at least asked, whether the Son was first born of the Father, and afterwards the Holy Spirit proceeded from both of Them...Can we therefore ask whether the Holy Spirit had already proceeded from the Father when the Son was born, or whether the Spirit had not yet proceeded and, after the birth of the Son, proceeded from both? It is absolutely impossible to raise such questions where nothing is begun in time in order to be completed at a later time. And so let him who can understand the begetting of the Son from the Father outside time also understand the procession of the Holy Spirit from both outside time.''

Monday, 28 July 2014

Is God the Cause of Evil?

A Short Lecture on the Sentences - Book One, Distinction XLVI, Chapter 3
''Whether evils things are done by God's will or against His will''

It is of divine faith that we assert that nothing can come to pass unless God positively ordains it or at least permits it. One may marvel at God's providence concerning both the lowliest creature to the structuring of the galaxy but the matter of evil and God's acceptance at least of it is an opaque mystery in itself and is much more challenging for the mind to grasp.
 Like many theological issues, the Church has set out for us clear parameters to guide the study of special dogmatics to a deeper comprehension of the sacred mysteries. Our two bounderies are the following:

1) All is under the dominion of God. Nothing can escape His providence
2) God can in no way be considered the author of evil.

These two articles are irreducible and it is forbidden for the Catholic theologian of sound mind to go beyond these parameters.

All that occurs in creation can not be contrary to the will of God
Evil is evidently present in creation
Therefore God is in some way responsible for evil.

I distinguish the major. If we are to assert that nothing created can violate the decrees of divine providence, I concede. If we are to state that deficient actions as regards the deficiency are proximately caused by divine premotion, then I deny.
 Let the minor be granted.
 The conclusion is invalid due to the distinction given in the major.

 As the motor power in an animal is not responsible for the weakness in the leg causing it to limp, then neither is God responsible for the malice in the human will. It is out with the proper and adequate object of God's will to love and cause evil. The ''physical'' and ''positive'' act must be caused by God, otherwise the human will would remain totally indifferent and paralysed in potentiality. All thoughts and actions, however great or small, are subject to the divine will. God not only creates and upholds but He turns each intellect and will however He decrees. The most excellent part of man, created in the image of God, is entirely subject to Him. This is a universal truth admitting of no exception. It is also true that God can convert all wills unto Himself, purifying all deficiencies and overcoming all obstacles by His efficacious will. As the Divine Apostle says, ''Who  shall resist His will?'' (Romans, 9:9)There is no simultaneous concurrence as the Molinists assert, where God is dependent on the consent of His creatures and His will is practically equal in weight to theirs. The human will is subordinated to the divine decree which moves man to his natural end (which He intimately knows as He is the author of human nature) sweetly, powerfully and yet without violence.Why this does not occur in the majority of instances is a mystery to be revealed only to the blessed in their glory. For now, let us state with St. Augustine of Hippo, that God saw it more fitting that evil should exist so that good may come out of than that no evil should exist at all.

 God must not be seen as a benevolent passive player in the drama of human existence. We must proclaim His lordship over all creatures and all acts, instead of relegating Him to some helpful but limited anthropomorphized agent. It is in some sense good that evils are done, not in themselves as they grievously offend God, but rather they are conducive to the perseverance of the saints and the greater humility of the penitents. The experience of wickedness may turn man to God in pursuit of justice and holiness.

 In conclusion:

1) God is the Creator and sustainer of all that is.
2) All is subject to His providence and none can resist His will.
3) All that is good is positively ordained by Him.
4) What is evil, in its physical aspect is willed by Him
5) What is evil, in its deficient aspect is permitted by God for a higher purpose.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

On The Seventh Sunday After Pentecost

Being, movement and perfection are all under the dominion of the providence of God. No creature, however lowly or however magnificent can remove itself from the intimate and steady hand of Divine Providence.
 The Aristotelian philosophical principle of the real distinction between act and potency is of immense value to us and serves as a great aid to elucidating the divine motion upon all created being. No act, however insignificant can be performed without at least the natural concurrence of God. No agent is unable to rouse itself to movement without the exercise of God's motion upon their natures. Ignoring this truth would reduce all action and change to absurdity where no sufficient external causality could account for an outbreak of direction less transition without purpose. This natural concurrence is due to man's nature  and God owes it to Himself to assist nature as a whole to attain to its purpose as designed and implemented by His liberality in creating everything ex nihilo. This demonstrates that all thought, willing and acting can only be actualised by the consent and motion of God. Let us not confuse this with the higher inspiration of the Holy Ghost, or the formal participation in the divine nature of habitual grace or the transient participation in the same that is actual grace. Grave theological errors have been committed by the lack of due distinction between the orders of grace and nature. Yet gratitude should be shown for both.

 If we were to imagine the possibility of a completely natural state of creation, where Adam has no higher gift of divine life in his soul where his end is the purely nature knowledge and love of God above all things, he would still be utterly dependent upon his Creator for his being and movement. He would have all his faculties untainted by sin and the loss of original justice in grace, where these powers would be directed with rectitude to goodness. Yet after all this he would still require the assistance of God for any movement whatsoever.

 Let us then consider how much more imperative is the grace that is given for man in a fallen world to attain to holiness. We speak here not of general divine motion upon nature to reduce its potentiality to act but grace that is substantially supernatural not just modally. Without grace, the sinner may still be orientated towards universal good as his human nature is not destroyed, and he may attain to knowledge concerning the material world around him, but he is utterly incapable of raising himself beyond this. This is not to say that unfallen Adam could have elevated himself by pure will and discipline to the domain of the supernatural. The human soul has an obediential capacity to participation in the divine life which far excels the proper objects of its faculties yet is not entirely repugnant to its nature.

Oh happy fault that merited us so great a redeemer! With the School of Salamanca, I state sin was permitted by God for the greater good of the Incarnation. Slaves are to become sons and heirs too. Where sin abounded, grace abounded even more. Mercy and justice were the wounds of our Lord. Although the baptised may have entered into a formal participation in divine life (baptism being the seed of glory whose culmination is the beatific vision), the intellect is still darkened and the will remains vitiated. However, in this redeemed world, even greater helps are given to man than was available to Adam. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is greater than the worship in Eden. The Incarnation is far superior to when God 'walked' in the garden with our first parents. Striving through pain and vicious temptation with these magnificent supernatural graces man can attain to greater holiness than Adam possessed before his sin.Through these actual graces and the possession of sanctifying grace man comes to know his subjection to God in both the natural and the supernatural spheres and he is glad of it. He recognises the mercy and bountiful goodness that has been shown to him. He marvels not that some are damned but that any at all have been elected for glory.

 His faculties and his body are understood now to be in the service of his Redeemer and Lord. Of his own, belongs sin. To God, belongs his virtue. Even when he was astray from God, the latter was near to him. To echo Saint Augustine, that doctor of grace, God was nearer to him than he was to himself! His thoughts although at least generally moved by God was not concerned with God. By the infusion of the theological virtue of faith, he begins to view matters not in the shadow of practicality but in the light of eternity. He comes to acknowledge humbly his vast plans and triumphs are as straw being blown towards the pit.

As he journeys along the path of spirituality, he can only respond with gratitude to the saving mercy of Jesus Christ on the Cross. His labours of sanctity can never now be seen as burdensome but rather as a joy and a free offering to almighty God. O clap your hands, all ye nations: shout unto God with the voice of joy!Who is God but our Father and Protector? His past deeds disgust him and by continual actual graces he resists the curiosity to consider what his life could now be like etsi Deus non daretur. No more will he be enclosed within himself but will deny himself and serve as Christ served according to the will of the Father.

 He shall live for God as Jesus died for him. 

Friday, 25 July 2014

Reflection on the Reception of Holy Communion

A well disposed reception of Holy Communion is sufficient to attain to great sanctity. One receives not a salutary instrument on the way to holiness but the end Who is Holiness Himself. 

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Reflection on Inequality

Inequality is the root of every natural and participated supernatural order and goodness. It is a metaphysical truth that all that exists outwith the Divine Trinity. 

Friday, 18 July 2014

Reflection on Fascism

Fascism being of a revolutionary character is more in keeping with a "progressive" mentality than that of the traditionalist who is often derided as being an adherent of the former. 

Thursday, 17 July 2014

An Early Witness to Clerical Celibacy

Pope Siricius, 384-399.

Directa ad decessorem to Bishop Himerius of Tarragona. (10th February 385)

''For We have learned that many priests of Christ and deacons, long after their consecrations, have begotten offspring either from their own marriages or from shameful unions, and they defend their offense under the pretext that one reads in the Old Testament that the authority to procreate was accorded to the priests and ministers...Why was it also required that the priests live in the temple away from their homes during the year of their service? Evidently, so they could not have carnal intercourse with their wives, in order that they might render an offering acceptable to God, resplendent with purity of conscience.
 Whence, the Lord Jesus, when He had enlightened us by His coming, also testifies in the Gospel that He came to fulfill the law, not to destroy it (Mt 5:17). And so He wished the form of the Church, who is His spouse, to shine with the splendor of chastity, so that, on the Day of Judgement, when He comes again, He may be find  her ''without spot or wrinkle'' (Eph 5:27). By the indissoluble law of these rules we are all bound, priests and deacons, in order that, from the day of our ordination, we may hand over both our hearts and our bodies to temperance and chastity, so that we may be pleasing to the Lord our God in these sacrifices that we daily offer''

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Reflection on Euthanasia

In polite society we are expected to oppose suicide but promote assisted suicide, as though the presence of a pillow would sanctity the latter. 

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Reflection on Forming Civilisation

Egalitarianism could never create a civilisation to be proud of. Any spark of genius or profound originality, in the true sense, with its attendant notion of superiority, can only be regarded as suspicious or threatening. 

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Reflection on Big Brother

Welfarism is the benign mask of a modern big brother state. 

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Reflection on Christendom

Christendom is to be defined analogously as the perpetuation of the Incarnation in the socio-political order. It is nothing other than to live under the ever present reign of Christ. 

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Reflection on the Value of History

It is preferable to be a medieval accretion than a modern concoction. 

Friday, 4 July 2014

Reflection on the Hermeneutic of Continuity

If we are to assert that the Second Vatican Council is in complete harmony with the pre-conciliar magisterium, I must be free to simply ignore its significance. 

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Reflection on the Counter Revolution

It is not sufficient to aim to convert isolated hearts and minds when as soon as they breach the threshold of their household they are overpowered by the enemies of Christ. A counter-revolution that extends not only to private thoughts but rather to literature, music, entertainment of all stripes, education and the market place is urgently required. No sphere of human activity should ever be entirely "profane". 

Reflection on Transubstantiation and Redemption

Transubstantiation not only re-presents the mystery of our redemption but is also in some analogous way reminiscent of how created man is united and graciously raised to the divine nature. 

Reflection on Gratitude

Gratitude is the most fitting sort of praise. When united to the Eucharistic sacrifice, man is unable not to be saved.