8 Considerations on Whether Christ had Acquired, Infused, or Beatific Knowledge

The knowledge of God’s essence, the infused intelligible species, and the acquired phantasms all flow harmoniously within the knowledge of Christ. The efficient cause of humanity’s perfection maintains his human perfection.

A Word of Caution
In his epistle to I Corinthians, St. Paul writes, “I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready, for you are still of the flesh.” The following Thomistic contemplation on the knowledge of Christ is meat. SPL has written extensively on St. Thomas Aquinas and the majority of our lists are written in such a way that any Catholic may pick them up and glean some wisdom from our Common Doctor. The following consideration on Christ’s knowledge is a deeply scholastic reflection that presupposes a good deal of familiarity with Aquinas. Those wanting a quality introduction to the Angelic Doctor can reference Pope Benedict XVI Introduction to St. Thomas Aquinas or see our introduction to the distinction between knowledge and wisdom or read our primer on the Queen of the Sciences. That said, we begin what is really in itself a primer on the subject of Christ’s knowledge.

 

Introduction

The Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451) infallibly declared that Christ was one person with two distinct natures: a human nature and a divine nature. The Tome of Pope Leo – a letter articulating Pope Leo’s position on Christology – was read at the Council. The pontiff states, “therefore in the entire and perfect nature of very man was born very God, whole in what was his, whole in what was ours.”[1] Furthermore, predicated upon the dogma of the two natures of Christ, the Third Council of Constantinople (A.D. 680) confessed, “two natural wills in Him and two natural operations.”[2] The implicit import of affirming two natural operations within Christ is that “there are in Christ two modes of knowledge, one divine (common to the three Persons of the Trinity) and the other human, in Christ’s human intellect.”[3] Without a genuine human operation and mode of knowledge, Christ’s rational soul would be ineffectual. Moreover, Christ’s role as Savior appears to necessitate true human knowledge insofar as that knowledge “is the basis for his free human decisions and consequently of his capacity to merit salvation for us.”[4] However, the divine nature in Christ necessitates a divine knowledge, which would seem to intimate that Christ held the Beatific Vision. Returning to the Tome of Pope Leo, the pontiff submits what has now been entitled the Communication of Properties or Idioms. He states, “each of the natures retains its proper character without defect; and as the form of God does not take away the form of a servant, so the form of a servant does not impair the form of God.”[5] The words of Pope Leo have become the Christological standard in understanding the properties of Christ. It stands then that the knowledge of Christ presents the theologian with a particular dilemma: how can Christ have true human knowledge and possess the Beatific Vision? Likewise, how can one person be both acquiring knowledge in a genuine human mode and truly possess the perfection of human knowledge in the Beatific Vision? Can Christ be simultaneously moving toward an end and in possession of the end? In navigating the question of Christ’s knowledge, the Catholic intellectual tradition has posited three modes of knowledge: acquired, infused, and beatific. Turning more particularly to the Thomistic tradition, in following the standard of Pope Leo, St. Thomas strives to show how Christ held all three forms of knowledge without imposing a defect on the human or divine nature.

 

1. On Acquired Knowledge

Acquired knowledge is knowledge which “a man comes to know through his own efforts.”[6] It is the natural epistemic method of human persons. In Disputed Questions on Power, St. Thomas examines in detail the mode of acquiring knowledge. He states at first there is the “thing which is understood” or rather the intelligible object.[7] Secondly, there is the “intelligible species, by which the intellect comes to be in act.”[8] The intelligible species is the form of the thing extracted from the object, “by which the intellect comes to be in act,” and is “considered as a principle of the action of the intellect.”[9] It is the “first act,” that leads to the “second act” of actually comprehending the object. The intelligible species is impressed into the mind as first act, thus the intelligible species “comes to be in act through some form” – the form extracted from the object – “which must be the principle of the action.”[10] The “second act” is that which finds its end, its term in forming a concept. The “conception of the intellect” – which is never the object itself, but always in the mind – is the conceptual form from the understanding of the object.[11] As St. Thomas explains, “the conception of the intellect is ordered to the thing understood as to an end: for the intellect forms in itself a concept of the thing that it might know the thing understood.”[12] The conception of the intellect may be seen clearly in the distinction of the interior word and the exterior word. St. Thomas states, “The conception of the intellect in us is properly called a ‘word’ for this is what is signified by an exterior word.”[13] In human speech, a word does not “signify the intellect itself” nor does it signify the “intelligible species,” but the spoken word signifies the interior or inner word – that is the conception of the intellect, “by mediation of which it is referred to the thing [the original intelligible object].”[14]

For the sake of clarity, it may advisable for us to place St. Thomas’ cognitional theory within a basic example. A person sees the tree and the intelligible species of the tree is impressed on their mind. St. Thomas considers this the first act. The second act is the person’s intellect understanding the intelligible species of the tree. The understanding of the intelligible species forms a concept of the tree in the intellect, which is the term or end of the second act. The individual then has an “inner word” of the tree, which then can be spoken as the “exterior word.” The spoken word or exterior word then mediates the understanding of the individual’s conception of the original tree to the other individual.

 

2. Agent & Possible Intellect

The Angelic Doctor’s cognitional theory brings to the surface two modes of the intellect: the agent or active intellect and the possible or passive intellect. In examining the rational soul of men, St. Thomas observes the soul “is in potentiality to knowing intelligible things,” and “it is like a tablet on which nothing is written.”[15] However, the human intellect is capable of learning and thus the possible intellect is the potency to understand. The agent or active intellect is then operation by which the possible intellect is moved to act. As St. Thomas avers, “the proper operation of the active intellect is to make intelligible species in act.”[16] Abstracting intelligible species, the agent intellect reduces the possible intellect into act, by what it sees in the phantasm or intelligible material object.[17] The extracted intelligible species from the phantasm becomes a habit informing the intellect. The habit is formed because the agent intellect also reduces the understanding into the concept and that concept is habitually called upon for understanding.

 

3. Whether there is Beatific Knowledge in Christ

With a basic understanding of St. Thomas cognitional theory natural to man, we may turn to the knowledge of Christ. In light of the fact that that which is higher orders that which is lower, the beatific knowledge of Christ must be treated prior to any of the two lower forms of knowledge. The beatific vision, the vision of the blessed, or the “science of vision” are all univocal terms that refer to the knowledge of one who has seen God in his essence. St. John refers to the beatific vision when he says that the faithful departed will see God “as he is.”[18]

The Trinity Icon
The Trinity Icon

Turning to the biblical tradition within St. John’s Gospel, Christ’s relationship with the Father appears to be in a beatific manner. Christ says, “not that anyone has seen the Father except him who is from God; he has seen the Father,” and furthermore, he states “but you have not known [the Father]; I know him.”[19] Moreover, St. John records, “he who comes from heaven is above all. He bears witness to what he has seen and heard.”[20] These passages seem to “put it beyond doubt that the revelatory power of Christ originated not in a revelation made to him nor in his faith, but in the direct knowledge he has of the Father.”[21] If Christ did not have the beatific vision then he would need faith, but “Scripture is notably silent” about Christ’s faith.[22] In fact, Christ is “never depicted as a believer,” but is rather shown as “someone who knows God intimately and directly.”[23] St. Thomas predicates his philosophical argument upon Scripture’s affirmation of Christ’s direct knowledge of God. Referring to St. John’s Gospel, St. Thomas notes that Christ “knew God fully, even as He was man.”[24] St. Thomas observes that all men have their teleological end in God and therefore man “is in potentiality to the knowledge of blessed.”[25] It is by the “humanity of Christ” that “men are brought to this end” of Beatific Vision.[26] Here St. Thomas argues what is commonly called the principle of perfection: “hence it was necessary that the beatific knowledge” should “belong to Christ pre-eminently, since the cause ought always to be more efficacious than the effect.”[27] According to this principle, if there was a time when Christ did not possess the end or rather the beatific vision, then the end that humanity is brought to could not be derivative of Christ’s humanity. However, since humanity is brought to the end by the humanity of Christ, then it seems necessary for Christ’s humanity to have the perfection of the efficient cause. However, could it be stated that Christ’s beatific knowledge is only necessitated after the Resurrection, because “from that point onwards Christ’s humanity effectively leads men to heaven”?[28] In spite of this claim, Christ must be seen as “mediator, the one who unites men to God” could be lacking the mediation required to bring man to God at any time.[29] If there was a privation of mediation in Christ, then “he would have needed mediation,” but this cannot be as he is the “first and only mediator.”[30] According to St. Thomas, it stands then that the biblical tradition and scripturally predicated philosophical principles reveal Christ to have knowledge that is in the manner of the blessed.

 

4. On the Manner of Christ’s Beatific Knowledge

What then is Christ’s comprehension of the Divine Essence? St. Thomas posits that the soul of Christ could not fully comprehend the Divine Essence.[31] In holding to Christ as one person with two distinct natures, Christ’s soul would have limitations proper to a created soul. As St. Thomas avers, “it is impossible for any creature to comprehend the Divine Essence,” because “the infinite is not comprehended by the finite.”[32] Returning to St. Leo’s communication of idioms, is Christ’s inability to grasp the Divine Essence fully a defect between the natures? No defect is inferred to the Divine nature as all questions of Christ’s knowledge are rooted in his humanity. To argue Christ’s divine nature or the Word did not have beatific vision would be ad absurdum. Regarding the human nature, there is no defect, because Christ’s soul is perfected according to its natural capacity. Therefore, Christ’s human nature comprehends the Divine Essence according to the natural perfection of the human soul, which is the perfection needed in order for him to be the efficient cause of humanity’s reaching the beatific end.

Christ as Judge, a selection from the Sistine Chapel.
Christ as Judge, a selection from the Sistine Chapel.

What then is the knowledge that Christ comprehends? St. Thomas addresses this issue in two ways. First, Christ knows “whatsoever is, will be, or was done, said, or thought, by whomsoever and at any time.”[33] “In this way,” St. Thomas states, “it must be said that the soul of Christ knows all things in the Word.”[34] The Angelic Doctor predicates his view upon the “dignity” of Christ and his role as “Judge.”[35] As he says, “no beatified intellect fails to know in the Word whatever pertains to itself,” and thus to the position of Christ as Judge “all things to some extent belong, inasmuch as all things are subject to Him.”[36] Therefore it is necessary for one “appointed Judge of all by God” to have the knowledge of all in order to judge perfectly. However, Christ has been placed Judge over a reality in act, not over all realities in potential. In this light, St. Thomas makes his second statement: “to such things as are in potentiality, and never have been nor ever will be reduced to act,” it appears “some of these are in the divine power alone, and not all of these does the soul of Christ know in the Word.”[37] If Christ’s soul could “comprehend all that God could do,” then it would appear he would be able to comprehend the Divine Essence, simply.[38] St. Thomas states, “every power is known from the knowledge of all it can do,” but the finitude of Christ’s soul cannot comprehend the infinitude of God’s power. However, could Christ’s finite soul comprehend the finite power of creatures? St. Thomas says that Christ does comprehend the power of creatures, because in comprehending the Word “the essence of every creature” is comprehended.[39] Furthermore, to comprehend the essence is to comprehend the “power and virtue and all things that are in the power of the creature.”[40] It stands then, St. Thomas posits Christ’s beatific knowledge as necessary to his role as Judge and must know all things – including the potentialities of creatures – in order to judge perfectly.

 

5. Whether Christ had any knowledge besides the Beatific?

St. Thomas submits three reasons why Christ must have knowledge other than beatific or rather created knowledge. Firstly, predicated upon the belief  that Christ’s unadulterated human nature has a true rational soul, it is fitting for Christ to have a possible intellect. “Now what is in potentiality is imperfect unless reduced to act,” and Christ must have “a perfect human nature, since the whole race was to be brought back to perfection by its means.”[41] Again, Christ’s role as mediator and the principle of perfection necessitate Christ’s perfection in being the efficient cause of man’s perfection. All human perfections must be present within Christ’s humanity. Furthermore St. Thomas’ second point reveals if the beatific knowledge rendered Christ’s rational soul ineffectual, Christ’s human nature would suffer defect.[42]  Thirdly, “some created knowledge pertains to the nature of the human soul, viz. that whereby we naturally know first principles.”[43] It stands then that predicated upon Christ’s necessity to be perfectly human, he must have knowledge other than the beatific.

 

6. On Christ’s Infused Knowledge

Infused knowledge is not ascertained by the intelligible species being extracted from the intelligible object, but rather by the intelligible species being infused directly into the intellect by God. The cognitional mode of divine fusion appears to be demonstrated best by the biblical prophets, whose prophecies are not the product of human reason. Did Christ have this infused knowledge? St. Thomas quotes St. Paul, that in Christ “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”[44] First however it must be shown why if Christ has beatific knowledge is not infused knowledge superfluous? St. Thomas observes that the mode of “cognition by infused species includes no opposition to beatific cognition.”[45] The opposite of the beatific vision is faith. As St. Thomas states, “the essence of faith [is] to have reference to the unseen,” whereas beatific knowledge is gleaned by one who has seen God’s Essence.[46] The prophets, while having infused knowledge, would still have to have faith, for they have not seen God; while Christ who has seen the Divine knowledge, maintains beatific and infused knowledge without the need of faith.

Again St. Thomas appeals to the necessity of Christ’s human perfection in all things and posits that Christ must have infused knowledge perfectly. Therefore, “the Word of God imprinted upon the soul of Christ” the “intelligible species of all things to which the possible intellect is in potentiality.”[47] However, it would seem that there is now a contradiction between the beatific and infused knowledge of Christ. As matter cannot have two simultaneous forms, neither “can the soul receive a double knowledge at once” or rather simultaneously receive a perfect and imperfect intelligible form.[48] However, St. Thomas posits a distinction between the modes. The beatific knowledge is “not by a species,” because the Divine Essence is not known by an intelligible form or species.[49] The “Divine Essence is a form exceeding the capacity of any creature whatsoever,” and thus the intelligible species cannot be fully comprehended. Infused knowledge however does use intelligible species, for God imprints the intelligible species to the possible intellect. Therefore, in knowledge of the Divine Essence there is nothing competitive with the human intellect comprehending intelligible species “proportioned to its nature.”[50]

Fr. Raymond Brown has observed, “each of the four Gospels attributes to Jesus the ability to know what is in other’s minds, to know what is happening elsewhere, and to know the future.”[51] Certainly not exhausting the examples, it can be noted that Christ knew the past of the woman at the well, the details of St. Peter’s betrayal, and, of course, foretells of his own death and resurrection.[52] Returning to the concept of the perfection of Christ’s humanity, “it is very fitting that he should have grace in the highest degree.”[53] Further, the “Holy Spirit reposes in Christ with all his gifts and in all his fullness.”[54] It appears then that with the Thomistic arguments and the Scriptural evidence there “is no reason to deny that Christ has infused knowledge.”[55]

 

7. On the Acquired Knowledge of Christ

Holding to the same principle of perfection, it appears that Christ must have acquired knowledge in order to avoid defect. As adumbrated, acquired knowledge denotes an active intellect, and thus to deny Christ acquired knowledge is to render a part of Christ’s soul ineffectual. The Angelic Doctor avers “what has not its proper operation is useless” and as mentioned above the operation of the active intellect is to “to make intelligible species in act, by abstracting them from phantasms.”[56] Therefore St. Thomas claims, “it is necessary to say” that Christ has acquired knowledge via the proper operation of the active intellect.[57]

"Christ in the Temple"  by Heinrich Hofmann, a selection.
“Christ in the Temple” by Heinrich Hofmann, a selection.

In spite of this claim, it would seem that Christ acquiring any knowledge would be in direct contradiction with the beatific and infused modes of knowledge. How can it be said that Christ knew the intelligible species of all things past, present, and future and grew in knowledge? Whereas Scripture has seemingly affirmed Christ’s beatific knowledge in seeing God face to face and Christ’s infused or prophetic knowledge, it also affirms that Christ acquired knowledge. The clearest example is in St. Luke’s Gospel: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.”[58] The tortuous nature of the question of Christ’s knowledge is exemplified in the “great theologians like St. Bonaventure, Scotus, Suarez, and even St. Thomas in his earlier works, denied that Christ had genuinely acquired knowledge.”[59] While these theologians generally predicated their view upon “dignity of the Word made flesh,” it appears via an ineffectual active intellect to submit a defect in the rational soul of Christ.[60] In a holding to Pope Leo’s principle, St. Thomas recants his former view and posits “it must be said that in Christ there was acquired knowledge, which is properly knowledge in a human fashion.”[61] The objection is put forward that “nothing can be added to what is full” and thus “the power of Christ’s soul was filled with intelligible species divinely infused.”[62] St. Thomas notes that neither the beatific nor infused cognitional mode utilizes phantasms in order to extract an intelligible species, thus “it behooved [Christ’s knowledge] to be also perfected with regard to phantasms.”[63] St. Thomas is illuminating the fact that without acquired knowledge Christ would lack phantasms, which Christ must have or he lacks a natural function of the rational soul.

What then is the role of an active intellect upon a possible intellect, which by infused knowledge, reveals all possible intelligible species? In other words, what does it practically mean for Christ to acquire knowledge? It is here that St. Thomas de-mythologizes Christ’s beatific knowledge. Beatific and infused knowledge “produce the whole all at once” and therefore they were immediate and perfect “in the beginning.”[64] However, acquired knowledge “does not produce the whole at once, but successfully” and therefore “by this knowledge Christ did not know everything from the beginning.”[65] Further, St. Thomas observes St. Luke’s passage records that Christ “increased in knowledge and age together.”[66] In accordance with holding to a perfect human nature, Christ’s beatific and infused knowledge could only be in proportion to the faculties of Christ’s rational soul. Christ’s acquisition of phantasms and human limitations reveal the certain “perfection appropriate to age” and “experience available.”[67] It seems St. Thomas’ theory does not offer a defect to either nature. A cup that is perfectly filled with water still only holds its given amount, albeit perfectly. In this light, Christ’s humanity growing in knowledge is predicated upon his age, i.e. the development of his intellect. If the limitation is ignored, it could be argued that Christ’s humanity would be cognizant of the beatific and infused knowledge regardless of the soul’s capacity, e.g., Christ could be cognizant in utero, which is ad absurdum. It is then that there was a proper habit of the active intellect in extracting the “intelligible species from phantasms.”[68] However, the habit of infused knowledge would “be there from the beginning” and be “perfect infused knowledge of all things.”[69] Therefore, whatever intelligible species Christ’s active intellect abstracted from the phantasm, was already found perfectly by the actualization of the infused knowledge upon the possible intellect – in accordance with the capacity of Christ’s age specificity and human limitation. St. Thomas’ theory would account for how Christ was found to wise even at a young age – e.g., in the temple – but still be able to grow in wisdom. In this, St. Thomas holds together the divine knowledge and faculties proper to human cognition without conferring a defect on either one.

 

8. Beatific, Infused, and Acquired Harmony

In accordance with Pope Leo’s communication of idioms at Chalcedon and the two distinct operations of Third Constantinople, St. Thomas holds together a genuine human mode of cognition with beatific knowledge. The knowledge of God’s essence, the infused intelligible species, and the acquired phantasms all flow harmoniously within the knowledge of Christ. The efficient cause of humanity’s perfection maintains his human perfection.

 


 

Bibliography

Books

Aquinas, St. Thomas. Trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province. Vol. IV Summa Theologica III  (New York: Benziger Bros., 1948)

Levering, Matthew. Christ’s Fulfillment of Torah & Temple: Salvation According to Thomas Aquinas. (Notre Dame: ND Press, 2002)

Ocariz, F. L.F. Mateo Seco, & J.A. Riestra. The Mystery of Jesus Christ. (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1991)

Schaff, Philip & Henry Wallace, Eds. Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers: The Seven Ecumenical Councils. Vol. 14 (Peabody: Hendrickson Pub., Inc., 2004)

 

Handouts

St. Thomas Aquinas. Disputed Questions on Power, Q. VIII, a.1.


[1] Schaff, Philip & Henry Wallace, Eds. Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers: The Seven Ecumenical Councils. Vol. 14 (Peabody: Hendrickson Pub., Inc., 2004), 255.

[2] Aquinas, St. Thomas. Trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province. Vol. IV Summa Theologica III  (New York: Benziger Bros., 1948), III.18.1

[3] Ocariz, F. L.F. Mateo Seco, & J.A. Riestra. The Mystery of Jesus Christ. (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1991), 149.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Schaff, 255.

[6] Ocariz, 150.

[7] St. Thomas Aquinas. Disputed Questions on Power, Q. VIII, a.1. Class Handout.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] ST III.9.1 – n.b. St. Thomas differs from John Locke’s “blank tablet” insofar as the Angelic Doctor holds to that tablet being formed by first principles.

[16] ST III.9.4

[17] Phantasm – the image in the imagination, the form of an object in the imagination; the active intellect can extract the intelligible species from both an understood material object or an imagine object, i.e., phantasm

[18] I John 3:2, RSV

[19] John 6:46; 8:55. RSV. Emphasis added.

[20] John 3:32. RSV. Emphasis added.

[21] Ocariz, 153.

[22] Ibid., 154.

[23] Ibid.

[24] III.9.2; cf. John 8:55

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid.; cf. Heb. 2:10

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid., 155.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid.

[31] III.10.1

[32] Ibid.

[33] III.10.2

[34] Ibid.

[35] Ibid.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Ibid.

[40] Ibid.

[41] III.9.1

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid.

[44] III.9.3. – Col. 2:3

[45] Ibid.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Ibid.

[48] III.9.3 – the beatific being perfect and the infused being imperfect

[49] Ibid.

[50] Ibid.

[51]Levering, Matthew. Christ’s Fulfillment of Torah & Temple: Salvation According to Thomas Aquinas. (Notre Dame: ND Press, 2002), 32.

[52] Ocariz, 153. – Jn 4:17-18; Mk 14:18-21, 27-31, Lk 22:31-39; Mt 12:39-41, Lk 11:29-32; Other examples: Jn 1:47-49, 11:14; Mk 9:33-35; Mt 24:1ff; Mk 13:5ff

[53] Ibid.

[54] Ibid., cf. Is II:1-3

[55] Ibid.

[56] III.9.4

[57] Ibid.

[58] Luke 2:52

[59] Ocariz, 150.

[60] Ibid.

[61] III.9.4

[62] Ibid. Obj.2

[63] Ibid. Ad.2

[64] III.12.2.Ad.2

[65] Ibid.

[66] Ibid.

[67] Ocariz, 152.

[68] III.12.2

[69] Ibid.

13 Videos from the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph

13 excellent videos from a faithful, young, and vibrant community of Dominican men. St. Dominic, pray for us.

Dominican crest Listers, laudare – benedicere – praedicare. What is a Dominican? According to the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph, “The Order of Preachers, also known as the Dominicans, was founded by St. Dominic de Guzman (1170-1221), a Spanish priest who was struck by the need for preaching the true faith in light of the rampant heresy he encountered while travelling in southern France… Gradually he attracted men to join him in his task of preaching, and began the process of formally establishing the Order of Preachers. On December 22, 1216, Pope Honorius III formally approved the new Order, and Dominic served as the Master or superior of the entire Order until his death in 1221.”

“The Dominican friars of the Province of St. Joseph were founded in 1806 by Edward Dominic Fenwick, O.P., an American who had joined the English Province of the Order as a young man during its exile in Belgium. Fenwick eventually returned to the United States with the dream of establishing the Order in his native land. Due to the shortage of priests in the western states, Fenwick first established the province in Kentucky, and soon extended the ministry to Ohio. In the mid-nineteenth century, the province began ministering on the East Coast while continuing its presence in Ohio and Kentucky. In the first decades of the twentieth century, two educational institutions were established: in 1906, the Dominican House of Studies in Washinton, DC, and in 1917 Providence College in Rhode Island.”1

 

Support the Province of St. Joseph Online

 

Many of the listers may recognize Dominicana from our list of 12 Catholic Blogs Worth Your Time. Along with the aforementioned links, we have greatly enjoyed following Pius OP on Twitter and browsing his blog: Ubi Spiritus Domini Ibi Libertas. The Dominicans will always have a special place here at SPL. Many of our staff attended Ave Maria University; there we studied alongside the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in our graduate courses and watched as they served the community with joy and wisdom. And of course, SPL is dedicated to a Dominican, the Common Doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas.2 Fr. James Schall, SJ, has said that the ills of our time may be defined by the absence of a single book: “This book is the Summa Theologiae of Thomas Aquinas, the philosopher and theologian of the Middle Ages, the absence of whose presence has defined our modernity.”3 It is also impossible to speak of the Dominicans without speaking of Our Lady. It was to St. Dominic that the Queen of Heaven appeared and taught him how to pray the Holy Rosary, Her Psalter.4 SPL has written extensively on both St. Thomas Aquinas and the Holy Rosary. That said, the Dominican  tradition is rich and diverse and the following videos are from the men who are living out this good and holy vocation. Please watch and share the list with others so that more and more people may know the good these men of God do.5

 

Dominican Province of St. Joseph

1. Five Paths to the Priesthood

Five Paths to the Priesthood chronicles the very different journeys of five Dominican Friars to the moment of their ordination as priests of Jesus Christ and what this has meant to them in their new lives as servants of the people of God.

 

2. Leaving All Things Behind

“LEAVING ALL THINGS BEHIND” is a Dominican vocation video from the Dominican Province of St. Joseph, the Eastern Province in the United States of America. Filmed at St. Gertrude Priory in Cincinnati, Ohio in August of 2010. This video has footage of the largest class of Novices in 44 years for this province (21 men enter our novitiate in 2010).

 

3. An Icon of New Evangelization

“The Catholic Center at NYU: An Icon of New Evangelization” introduces the new space designated for the spiritual and intellectual formation of 18,000 Catholic students at New York University — and the mission of the Dominican friar chaplains, missionaries, and students who have, in the most secular city in the world, picked up their cross.

 

4. March for Life 2013

The Dominican presence at the 2013 march for life in Washington D.C. The video follows Bro. Edmud McCullough OP, former FOCUS Missionary and other friars.

 

5. All Saints Vigil 2012

The All Saints Vigil is an annual event that draws over four hundred young people from the DC and North Virginia area. The following video is a time-lapse from the Dominican Priory of the Immaculate Conception. Those wishing to hear the schola from the All Saints Vigil: Dominican House of Studies Schola Videos.

 

6. De Profundis

It is an annual tradition at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington DC that in November, the month when the Church remembers the dead, the Student Brothers visit the nearby cemetery of our deceased brethren and pray for them. During the rest of the year, Dominican Friars join in praying the De Profundis each night, before entering the refectory, with the names of the deceased for the day being read aloud.

 

7. The Grace of Preaching

Excerpt from a talk on Dominican Preaching given at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. on February 14, 2009. Fr. Dominic Legge, O.P., is a member of the Eastern Dominican Province and teaches theology at Providence College. The complete talk was 45 min. in length and can be viewed at the Province of St. Joseph.

 

8. EWTN Live – Dominican Life

EWTN Global Catholic Television Network: EWTN Live with Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J. interviewing Fr. Benedict Croell, OP and Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, OP,PhD on the Dominican religious life.

 

9. The Dominican Order – 1964 Vocation Film Excerpts

Excerpts from “And the world looks at us”, a 1964 Dominican Province of Saint Joseph vocation film written by Fr. Dominic Rover, O.P., and narrated by Dana Elcar. The original film was 28 min in length. The scenes included here were filmed at St. Stephen Priory in Dover, MA, the Dominican House of Studies, Washington, D.C., and St. Dominic Church, Washington, D.C.6

 

10. Friars Go Christmas Caroling

Archbishop Augustine DiNoia OP joined some friars of the Dominican House of Studies (& a couple of the Nashville Dominican Sisters) in Washington DC to go caroling and pass out holy cards with a message of Hope to help prepare DC’ers for Christmas. A little of the New Evangelization! The Lord seems to be touching the guy in the blue coat.

 

11. Dominican Friars Caroling Lo How a Rose

Archbishop Augustine DiNoia OP on his recent trip back from Rome, joined some of the friars of the Dominican House of Studies (& a couple of the Nashville Dominican Sisters) in Washington DC to go caroling and pass out holy cards with a message of Hope to help prepare DC’ers for Christmas. A little of the New Evangelization!

 

12. The Famous “Meeting of Bananas” in Chinatown

The Dominicans are chalking this one up to the “New Evangelization.” The Dominicans did not film this encounter, but according to the person who did film it: “Left work at 9:00 p.m. and bump into the choir of the Dominican Friars singing on a corner of Gallery Place Chinatown, Washington D.C. It’s December and Christmas is around the corner… when suddenly a heard of bananas arrived. Watch what happens.”

 

13. Totus Tuus

Some of the student brothers practice Totus Tuus, a song dedicated to Our Lady and the motto of Bl. John Paul II. The Dominican Province of St. Joseph, the Eastern Province in the United States has it’s House of Studies in Washington DC across the street from the Catholic University of America and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

 

Interested in becoming a Dominican? Contact Fr. Benedict Croell, OP, the vocations director (here) and follow OP Vocations on Twitter or check out their blog Order of Preachers Vocations.

 

  1. Dominican HistoryRead more about the overall history of the Order of Preachers. []
  2. AQUINAS: Those who want to begin to examine the writings of this saint may reference Queen of the Sciences: 4 Questions to Understand the Throne of Theology and Think Like a Catholic: 7 Questions on the Four Laws. []
  3. Fr. James Schall SJ Quote: Modern Man has Lost His Way []
  4. ROSARY: SPL’s John Henry has written a couple excellent lists on the Holy Rosary, including: Regina Sanctissima: 6 Things All Catholics Should Know About the Rosary and Virgin Potens: 8 Pope Comment on the Holy Rosary. []
  5. VIDEOS: Much thanks to Fr. Benedict Croell, OP, who selected the presented videos. Be sure to check out the Dominican Youtube channel Dominican Friars and the website Kindly Light – a project of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph that has done various documentaries that have appeared on Catholic TV. []
  6. 1964: From the archives of the Dominican Theological Library  the Dominican House of Studies, Washington, D.C.; Audio lectures by Fr. J.F. Hinnebusch on the history of the Dominican Order are available. []

The Golden Calf & Our Catholic Mass: 3 Reasons Man Cannot Invent the Liturgy

“[Liturgy] cannot spring from imagination, our own creativity – then it would remain just a cry in the dark or mere self affirmation.” – Cardinal Ratzinger

Spirit of the LiturgyListers, “man himself cannot simply ‘make’ worship.” This is the opening line of arguably the two most powerful paragraphs in Cardinal Ratzinger’s The Spirit of the Liturgy. SPL has previously promoted this seminal work in The 2 Books by Cardinal Ratzinger that Will Change Your Life. While that list focuses on the greater context in which the book is written – the Queen of the Sciences and the role of the liturgy – this list presents a small but potent pericope.

Cardinal Ratzinger reads the Golden Calf episode in Exodus 32 not as the people of Israel rebelling against God directly, but rather after losing hope in Moses, the people decided to worship God in their own way. The beginning of the chapter lays out the mindset of the Israelites, especially verses 4-5.

 

1 When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron, and said to him, “Up, make us gods, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” 2 And Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off the rings of gold which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. 4 And he received the gold at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, and made a molten calf; and they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” 6 And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

 

The good Cardinal uses this chapter to discuss the distinction between the liturgy given by God and the liturgy created by man. As a point of caution, it is too easy for a Catholic reader to superficially acknowledge the Cardinal’s words as a condemnation of Protestantism. While they do condemn those who fabricate their own faith, Cardinal Ratzinger’s purpose in writing the work is to show Catholics what a proper “spirit of the liturgy” should be.

The Catholic liturgy is not in danger of being hijacked by Protestants; it was and still is in danger of being made protestant by Catholics.

 

The following presents the text verbatim (pp. 21-23) with supplemented enumerated titles and  highlighted quotes.

 

"Worshipping the Golden Calf." - Fucas van Leyden, a selection.
“Worshipping the Golden Calf.” – Fucas van Leyden, a selection.

1. What Man Cannot Make

“Man himself cannot simply ‘make’ worship. If God does not reveal himself, man is clutching empty space. Moses says to Pharaoh: “[W]e do not know with what we must serve the Lord” (Ex 10:26). These words display a fundamental law of all liturgy. When God does not reveal himself, man can, from the sense of God within him, build altars ‘to the unknown god’ (cf. Acts 17:23). He can reach out toward God in his thinking and try to feel his way toward him.”

[Liturgy] cannot spring from imagination, our own creativity – then it would remain just a cry in the dark or mere self affirmation.

“But real liturgy implies that God responds and reveals how we can worship him. In any form, liturgy includes some kind of ‘institution’. It cannot spring from imagination, our own creativity – then it would remain just a cry in the dark or mere self affirmation. Liturgy implies a real relationship with Another, who reveals himself to us and gives our existence a new direction.”

 

The Golden Calf 3

2. The Golden Calf

“In the Old Testament there is a series of very impressive testimonies to the truth that the liturgy is not a matter of ‘what you please.’ Nowhere is this more dramatically evident than in the narrative of the golden calf (strictly speaking, ‘bull calf’). The cult conducted by the high priest Aaron is not meant to serve any of the false gods of the heathen. The apostasy is more subtle. There is no obvious turning away from God to the false gods. Outwardly, the people remain completely attached to the same God. They want to glorify the God who led Israel out of Egypt and believe that they may very properly represent his mysterious power in the image of a bull calf. Everything seems to be in order. Presumably even the ritual is in complete conformity to the rubrics. And yet it is a falling away from the worship of God to idolatry.”

Worship is not longer going up to God, but drawing God into one’s own world. He must be there when he is needed, and he must be the kind of God that is needed. Man is using God, and in reality, even if it is not outwardly discernible, he is placing himself above God.

“This apostasy, which outwardly is scarcely perceptible, has two causes. First there is a violation of the prohibition against images. The people cannot cope with the invisible, remote, and mysterious God. They want to bring him down into their own world, into what they can see and understand. Worship is no longer going up to God, but drawing God into one’s own world. He must be there when he is needed, and he must be the kind of God that is needed. Man is using God, and in reality, even if it is not outwardly discernible, he is placing himself above God.

 

"The Golden Calf" - Tissot
“The Golden Calf” – Tissot

3. Banal Self-Gratification

“This gives us a clue to the second point. The worship of the golden calf is a self-generated cult. When Moses stays away for too long, and God himself becomes inaccessible, the people just fetch him back. Worship becomes a feast that the community gives itself, a festival of self-affirmation. Instead of being worship of God, it becomes a circle closed in on itself: eating, drinking, and making merry. The dance around the golden calf is an imagine of this self-seeking worship. It is a kind of banal self-gratification. The narrative of the golden calf is a warning about any kind of self-initiated and self-seeking worship.”

Worship becomes a feast that the community gives itself, a festival of self-affirmation.

“Ultimately, it is no longer concerned with God but with giving oneself a nice little alternative world, manufactured from one’s own resources. Then liturgy really does become pointless, just fooling around. Or still worse, it becomes an apostasy from the living God, an apostasy in sacral disguise. All that is left in the end is frustration, a feeling of emptiness. There is no experience of that liberation which always takes place when man encounters the living God.”

St. Josemaria’s 17 Signs of a Lack of Humility

Humility is a virtue which we all ought to develop to bring ourselves in greater conformity with Christ as we seek ‘to temper and restrain the mind, lest it tend to high things immoderately.’

Listers from the moment our Holy Father Pope Francis stepped onto the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s square, his manners and style were hailed as humble. Humility is a virtue which we all ought to develop to bring ourselves in greater conformity with Christ as we seek “to temper and restrain the mind, lest it tend to high things immoderately.”1

Mother of Fair Love, a gift of Josemaría Escrivá to the University of Navarra: John Paul II stated: “Love for our Lady is a constant characteristic of the life of Josemaría Escrivá.” – Wikipedia

 

Below is an excerpt from the writings of St. Josemaria which can help us identify a lack of humility in ourselves.

 

Allow me to remind you that among other evident signs of a lack of humility are:

  1. Thinking that what you do or say is better than what others do or say
  2. Always wanting to get your own way
  3. Arguing when you are not right or — when you are — insisting stubbornly or with bad manners
  4. Giving your opinion without being asked for it, when charity does not demand you to do so
  5. Despising the point of view of others
  6. Not being aware that all the gifts and qualities you have are on loan
  7. Not acknowledging that you are unworthy of all honour or esteem, even the ground you are treading on or the things you own
  8. Mentioning yourself as an example in conversation
  9. Speaking badly about yourself, so that they may form a good opinion of you, or contradict you
  10. Making excuses when rebuked
  11. Hiding some humiliating faults from your director, so that he may not lose the good opinion he has of you
  12. Hearing praise with satisfaction, or being glad that others have spoken well of you
  13. Being hurt that others are held in greater esteem than you
  14. Refusing to carry out menial tasks
  15. Seeking or wanting to be singled out
  16. Letting drop words of self-praise in conversation, or words that might show your honesty, your wit or skill, your professional prestige…
  17. Being ashamed of not having certain possessions…

St. Josemaria, pray for us!

The Way, The Furrow, The Forge by St. Josemaria Escriva
Buy “The Way, The Furrow, The Forge (Single Volume Edition)” by St. Josemaria Escriva on Amazon.

  1. Summa Theologicae, Secunda Secundae Question 161 []

Quotes from Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, on 7 Moral Issues

In 2009, Bergoglio said that extreme poverty and the “unjust economic structures that give rise to great inequalities” are violations of human rights and that social debt is “immoral, unjust and illegitimate.”

Listers, habemus papam Franciscum. The world was stunned and the pundits proved wrong as the Argentinian Jesuit walked out on the Loggia of St. Peter’s. In a soft but strong voice, Pope Francis gave his first words as the Vicar of Christ:

 

Brothers and sisters good evening.

You all know that the duty of the Conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems that my brother Cardinals have gone almost to the ends of the earth to get him… but here we are. I thank you for the welcome that has come from the diocesan community of Rome.

First of all I would like to say a prayer pray for our Bishop Emeritus Benedict XVI. Let us all pray together for him, that the Lord will bless him and that our Lady will protect him…

And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and the people, this journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood. My hope is that this journey of the Church that we begin today, together with the help of my Cardinal Vicar, may be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city.

And now I would like to give the blessing. But first I want to ask you a favour. Before the Bishop blesses the people I ask that you would pray to the Lord to bless me – the prayer of the people for their Bishop. Let us say this prayer – your prayer for me – in silence…

I will now give my blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will.1

 

The world waits to see how the pontificate of Pope Francis will shape the world and the Catholic Church. Below are his comments as a Prince of Church on several different moral issues.

Screenshot from the Vatican Site shortly after the election of Pope Francis.

1. Abortion

Abortion is without a doubt one of the greatest moral evils within modernity. As the “Advocate of Christian Memory,” a pope must take up the mantle of defending the culture of life – a defense the Early Church held against the pagans of Rome.

 

He once called abortion a “death sentence” for unborn children, during a 2007 speech and likening opposition to abortion to opposition to the death penalty.

In an October 2, 2007 speech Bergoglio said that “we aren’t in agreement with the death penalty,” but “in Argentina we have the death penalty. A child conceived by the rape of a mentally ill or retarded woman can be condemned to death.”2

 

Notice he does not flench on abortion being a “death penalty” for those conceived in rape. Though a child may be conceived by horrid means, that individual child’s life is still innocent and untouched by that evil. God help America if we believe the worth of a child is articulated by the means of its conception.

 

2. On Receiving the Eucharist

The Cardinal speaks on the worthiness to receive communion regarding those who support grave evils.

 

The new Pope referred to abortion and communion, saying “we should commit ourselves to ‘eucharistic coherence’, that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive holy communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated. This responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors, and health professionals.”3

 

Pope Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, also wrote on the worthiness of a Catholic to receive communion when he was a Cardinal in the CDF.

 

The Cardinal washing the feet at a maternity hospital in 2005.

3. Euthanasia

Notice the Cardinal’s distinction between the apparent and institutionalized euthanasia and the “clandestine euthanasia.”

 

The new pontiff also denounced euthanasia and assisted suicide, calling it a “culture of discarding” the elderly.

“In Argentina there is clandestine euthanasia. Social services pay up to a certain point; if you pass it, ‘die, you are very old’. Today, elderly people are discarded when, in reality, they are the seat of wisdom of the society,” he said “The right to life means allowing people to live and not killing, allowing them to grow, to eat, to be educated, to be healed, and to be permitted to die with dignity.”4

 

More may be read on euthanasia at the National Catholic Bioethics Center and for a theological and natural law argument against suicide SPL provides a list from St. Thomas Aquinas.

 

4. Homosexuality

Hopefully the acute language and highly quotable phrases the Cardinal used to denounce homosexuality will appear in his pontificate as well. He refers to the bill legalizing homosexual marriage as a “machination of the Father of Lies” and that homosexual marriage was a “dire anthropological throwback.”

 

He has affirmed church teaching on homosexuality, including that men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity and that every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. Though equating the pursuit of their equal rights as the devil’s work . He strongly opposed legislation introduced in 2010 by the Argentine Government to allow same-sex marriage, calling it a “real and dire anthropological throwback”. In a letter to the monasteries of Buenos Aires, he wrote:

“Let’s not be naïve, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”

He has also insisted that adoption by homosexuals is a form of discrimination against children. This position received a rebuke from Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who said the church’s tone was reminiscent of “medieval times and the Inquisition”.5

 

Rorate Caeli has been kind enough to publish the letter Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, wrote to the Carmelite Nuns of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires regarding the bill to legalize homosexual marriage in its full text.

 

The Vatican News header on the day of the election of Pope Francis.

5. On Poverty

The Pope’s proclivity towards austerity and his work with the downtrodden and sick will most likely translate to poverty being a central pillar of this Jesuit papacy. Just prior to being raised to the Office of St. Peter, the Cardinal wrote a tremendous lenten letter that threaded social ills, the spirituality of lent, and the hope of Christ together in a powerful manner. His comments on poverty and the social injustices that create it are a constant theme of his writings.

 

In 2009, Bergoglio said that extreme poverty and the “unjust economic structures that give rise to great inequalities” are violations of human rights and that social debt is “immoral, unjust and illegitimate.” During a 48-hour public servant strike in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Bergoglio observed the differences between, “poor people who are persecuted for demanding work, and rich people who are applauded for fleeing from justice.”6

 

The Cardinal has also commented on how extreme poverty is a violation of human rights.

 

Social debt is “immoral, unjust and illegitimate,” the cardinal said, emphasizing that this is especially true when it occurs “in a nation that has the objective conditions for avoiding or correcting such harm.” “Unfortunately,” he noted, it seems that those same countries “opt for exacerbating inequalities even more.”

Argentineans have the duty “to work to change the structural causes and personal or corporate attitudes that give rise to this situation (of poverty), and through dialogue reach agreements that allow us to transform this painful reality we refer to when we speak about social debt,” the prelate said.

Cardinal Bergoglio said the challenge to eradicate poverty could not be truthfully met as long as the poor continue to be dependents of the State. The government and other organizations should instead work to create the social conditions that will promote and protect the rights of the poor and enable them to be the builders of their own future, he explained.7

 

It is impossible to mention Jesuit from South America and not inquire where this Cardinal turned Pope stands on Liberation Theology. His official biographer comments:

 

“Is Bergoglio a progressive — a liberation theologist even? No. He’s no third-world priest. Does he criticize the International Monetary Fund, and neoliberalism? Yes. Does he spend a great deal of time in the slums? Yes,” [Bergoglio’s authorized biographer, Sergio Rubin] said.

Bergoglio has stood out for his austerity. Even after he became Argentina’s top church official in 2001, he never lived in the ornate church mansion where Pope John Paul II stayed when visiting the country, preferring a simple bed in a downtown building, heated by a small stove on frigid weekends. For years, he took public transportation around the city, and cooked his own meals.8

 

As the first pope from Latin America and the first non-European pope since one from Syria almost 1200 years ago, it is expected that this Holy Roman Pontiff will speak out against poverty and speak for the downtrodden in a way not seen in some time.

 

6. On Children

The Cardinal speaks candidly about some of the more vulgar and to outsiders largely  unknown abuses of children in South America.

 

Bergoglio noted that “the most mentioned word in the Aparecida Document is ‘life’, because the Church is very conscious of the fact that the cheapest thing in Latin America, the thing with the lowest price, is life.”

The cardinal called the abuse of children “demographic terrorism,” and blasted Argentine society for tolerating their exploitation. “Children are mistreated, and are not educated or fed. Many are made into prostitutes and exploited,” he said. “And this happens here in Buenos Aires, in the great city of the south. Child prostitution is offered in some five star hotels: it is included in the entertainment menu, under the heading ‘Other’.”9

 

On a similar note, the Cardinal has addressed sex trafficking – a grave crime that normally targets the young and vulnerable.

 

“In our city there are people committing human sacrifice, killing the dignity of these men and these women, these girls and boys that are submitted to this treatment, to slavery. We cannot remain calm.” …. The cardinal urged his fellow citizens to report “breeding grounds for submission, for slavery,” “altars where human sacrifices are offered and which break the will of the people,” asking that “everyone do what they can, but without washing their hands of it, because otherwise we are complicit in this slavery.”10

 

Shifting to a more positive story, the Cardinal is recorded explaining to children the Gospel and its call to serve the poor.

 

During his homily, he encouraged children to “seek after Jesus” and to find Him by “opening your hearts,” participating in the Sacrament of Holy Communion and seeing Him in those in need.

“Who told us that we can find Jesus in those most in need?” the cardinal asked. “Mother Teresa,” the children shouted in response.

“And what did Mother Teresa have in her arms? A crucifix? No. A child in need. So, we can find Jesus in each person who is in need,” he said.

After noting that very few children raised their hands when asked if they read the Gospel, Cardinal Bergoglio encouraged the children to say to their priests, “Father, teach me the Gospel.”

He also reminded them that the strength for encountering Jesus “is in the family, in mom and dad.” The cardinal then invited the children to stand up and give “a big round of applause to the Virgin Mary.”11

 

Regarding children, the Cardinal from Argentina has presided over so-called “Children’s Masses.” The subject of children will be a theme of Pope Francis’ pontificate as he seeks to heal Holy Mother Church and restore her credibility in the wake of the global sex abuse scandal.

Pope Francis, then Cardinal, riding public transport.

 

7. On Politics

According to St. Thomas Aquinas, politics is the “noble science,” the highest practical science constituted by human reason, and a moral science. Pope Francis spent a good deal of time in Argentina fighting against the modernist reforms of the government. Moreover, within the Church the spectre of liberation theologies that conflate Christ’s justice with Marxist principles was (and still is) a constant presence in Latin America. The Cardinal is reported to have rejected these views, as aforementioned in the On Poverty section.

 

“To those who are now promising to fix all your problems, I say, ‘Go and fix yourself.’ . . . Have a change of heart. Get to confession, before you need it even more! The current crisis will not be improved by magicians from outside the country and nor will [improvement] come from the golden mouth of our politicians, so accustomed to making incredible promises.”12

 

Listers, pray for Pope Francis and that he will hear God’s call to rebuild Christ’s Church.

  1. Full Text of Pope Francis’ first words as the Vicar of Christ. []
  2. Lifenews.com []
  3. Lifenews.com []
  4. Lifenews.com []
  5. Wikipedia: Pope Francis . Catechism of the Catholic Church Paragraph 2358 ^ InfoBae.com ^ Padgett, Tim (18 July 2010). “The Vatican and Women: Casting the First Stone”. TIME. Retrieved 13 March 2013. ^ Goñi, Uki (July 15, 2010). “Defying Church, Argentina Legalizes Gay Marriage”. Retrieved March 13, 2013. ^ Allen, Jr., John L. (March 3, 2013). “Papabile of the Day: The Men Who Could Be Pope”. National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved March 13, 2013. []
  6. Wikipedia: Pope Francis ^ “Extreme poverty is also a violation of human rights, says Argentinean cardinal”. Catholic News Agency. 1 October 2009. Retrieved 13 March 2013. ^ “Argentines protest against pay cuts”. August 8, 2001. Retrieved March 13, 2013. []
  7. CNA: Extreme poverty is also a violation of human rights, says Argentinean cardinal []
  8. Washington Times []
  9. LifeSiteNews.com []
  10. Sex Trafficking Quote – Source []
  11. CNA: Cardinal’s teaches to Children []
  12. First Things: Politics Quotes []

8 Notable Videos from His Eminence Cardinal Burke

“Our observance of liturgical law is a fundamental expression of love of Christ and of the Church.” – Cardinal Burke, Divine Love Made Flesh

Cardinal Burke on SPL

Cardinal Burke: 10 Photos of this Wondrous Prince of the Church
Cardinal Burke at Notre-Dame de Fontgombault: 21 Photos
The Dignity of the Eucharistic Celebration: 8 Teachings from Cardinal Burke

 

VIDEOS

1. Call to Martyrdom by Cardinal Burke

2-22-13

 

2. At Clear Creek Monastery

12-14-12

His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke Visits Clear Creek Monastery in the Diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma and celebrates Mass.

 

3. Cardinal Burke on LCWR

8-9-12

On The World Over with Raymond Arroyo, Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura (Vatican Supreme Court), spoke to the controversy surrounding the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and the Vatican’s intervention with LCWR. He further discussed the conference’s right to exist.

 

4. The Call of Beauty

7-6-12

Five years after Pope Benedict liberalized the celebration of the traditional Latin Mass, now known as the extraordinary form, U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke reflects on its significance for the universal church.

 

5. On neglected traditions post-Vatican II

6-25-12

Today’s “First Take: Vatican” hears from the former archbishop of St. Louis, Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, on the revival of traditional devotions.

 

6. On the SSPX

6-15-12

Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, talked to CNS about the ongoing reconciliation talks with the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X.

 

7. Cardinal Burke’s Book Recommendations

7-28-11

Cardinal Burke speaks on books at Loome Booksellers, part II may be found here.

 

8. On Abortion and Voting

10-27-10

The video is a selection of Cardinal-designate Raymond Burke in a 25 minute interview on October 20, 2010 discussing the obligations of Catholics when voting. The full video is available here.

The 2 Books by Cardinal Ratzinger that Will Change Your Life

“Politics is the realm of reason – not of a merely technological, calculating reason, but of moral reason, since the goal of the state, and hence the ultimate goal of all politics, has a moral nature, namely, peace and justice.”

Listers, if Catholics are to live a life of virtue then there are two primary sciences – bodies of knowledge – all Catholics should study: the “Noble Science” and the “Queen of the Sciences.” The corpus of writings from Cardinal Ratzinger is as vast and as it is impressive. An excellent survey of his writings can by found in Abram’s The 6 Books of Pope Benedict XVI Every Catholic Should Read. The list at hand takes a different approach.

A Unique Review: Why were these works chosen?
It is typical of a positive book review to go into great detail lauding the message and delivery of the particular author. For the review at hand, we take a different approach and presuppose that Cardinal Ratzinger’s works are brimming with solid Catholic erudition and strike with a clear and orthodox Catholic tone. The purpose of the review is to step back from the works and truly understand the overall sciences in which they are written. It is to move the reader from thinking of works as well written on this or that subject, to understanding that different bodies of knowledge are not isolated from each other. In fact, the word we use for understanding the proper ordering of knowledge is wisdom. The higher bodies of knowledge – higher sciences – order the lower ones; thus, if one truly grasps the importance of a higher science and can study an excellent work on that science, it will have “trickle down” effect on all the other areas in their life. It is in this focus that we must first explain the science and then suggest a work by Cardinal Ratzinger.

The Noble Science

According to Aristotle’s Politics, man is by nature a political animal. It is by nature that humans gather together and form political bodies. Human political order begins with the household and the natural relationship between a husband and a wife. Built upon the natural order of the family, society grows from the village and then to the self-sufficient city. This concept of the”city” is known as the polis, which is a philosophical term referring to any political body under a single government, i.e., a socially and economically differentiated political community. For Aristotle, the polis is as natural to humanity as the forest is to the earth. Man, his household, his communities, are all natural sub-political parts of the polis. Aristotle posited that any person who could live without the polis must be either a beast or a god. The polis is natural to man and man needs the polis. He needs community and order. The order that the polis gives man allows man to live and live well.

Aristotle, The Louvre – via Wikicommons Sting aka Eric Gaba

How then should the polis be ordered? Since the polis is a natural institution populated by political animals, man, as the rational animal, must reflect upon nature and act according to reason. When man acts according to his reason, according to what is most properly natural to him as the rational animal, then these acts become habits and good habits are referred to as virtues. Aristotle claims that the virtue that belongs to the polis is justice, because justice is the virtue of proper order. As Aristotle says, “just as man is the best of animals when completed, when separated from law and adjudication he is the worst of all.” It is in the polis that man is able to live well, because it gives an architectonic order to all the areas of man’s life. It is the polis man finds a natural completion, which is in practicality the “greatest of goods.” This is why politics is referred to as the “Noble Science.”1

In his introduction to the Politics, St. Thomas Aquinas lays out a brief explanation of why politics is the Noble Science. There are two primary categories of sciences: the speculative and the practical. The speculative sciences are ordered toward the “knowledge of truth,” the contemplation of “natural things,” while the practical sciences are ordered toward a work – things made by man -that imitate nature. Within the practical sciences, there are things man will make that are ordered according to a specific use, e.g., a ship or a house, and a things specific use is ordered toward a specific good, e.g., ships for sailing; however, man can also make things which have as their specific end the ordering man himself, e.g., laws. The things that have their end in the proper ordering of man come together as a whole in the polis and since the end is always greater than the means the polis is “therefore necessarily superior to all the other wholes that may be known and constituted by human reason.” Aquinas’ statement has two parts: the polis is superior to all other wholes and is the greatest whole constitute by human reason. Following Aristotle, we see that the first claim is because the polis gives order to all other areas of man’s life and the second claim is become the order of the polis is derived by human reason contemplating nature, i.e., natural law and the virtues.2

Within practical science there are the mechanical sciences that deal with an agent acting upon an external matter, e.g., a smith or a shipwright. In distinction to the mechanical sciences there are the moral sciences. The moral sciences deal with the actions that remain with the agent, e.g., deliberating, willing, choosing, etc. The political science is therefore a moral science, because it is concerned with the ordering of men and their actions. Aquinas concludes, “If the most important science, then, is the one that deals with what is most noble and perfect, of all the practical sciences political science must necessarily be the most important and must play the role of architectonic science with reference to all the others, inasmuch as it is concerned with the highest and perfect good in human affairs.” The order of the polis – its laws, et al. – is derived from nature or natural law, man’s habitual obedience to these natural and rational laws is virtue, and the natural virtues are prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude.

Yet, how does one apply the timeless truths of natural law and virtue to a modernist world that was born out of an explicit rejection of Catholicism? It is one thing to speak of the polis and another to apply it to a liberal democracy. One of the defining attributes of St. Thomas Aquinas was his ability to engage his era and all its ills and imperfections. As Catholics living within modernity, how do we work for a proper polis? Cue Cardinal Ratzinger. Values in a Time of Upheaval is a short and often overlooked work of political brilliance. St. Peter’s List has previously called attention to this work by including it in our 6 Books for a Proper Introduction to Catholic Political Thought. For a student of Catholic political thought, a collection of politically orientated essays by the ironclad mind of Cardinal Ratzinger – now Benedict XVI, Bishop Emeritus of Rome – is a godsend. The text is a compilation of essays and speeches given by the illustrious Cardinal over the span of several decades. It is a short work that lends itself to a brief but fruitful reading. The reason it will “change your life” is it comments on the Catholic understanding of the Noble Science couched in a world given over to modernist theory and praxis. To what degree Cardinal Ratzinger did or did not adhere to St. Thomas Aquinas is not the question put forth here. The genius of the work is that it is a bridge between the principles of Catholic political thought and the world around us. It challenges the reader to engage the polis by going into great detail on the role of a Catholic citizen within an Enlightenment based democracy. In his own words:

“The state is not itself the source of truth and morality […] Nor can it produce truth via the majority.”

 

“In place of utopian dreams and ideals, today we find a pragmatism that is determined to extract from the world the maximum satisfaction possible. This, however, does not make it pointless to consider once again the characteristics of the secular messianism that appeared on the world stage in Marxism, because it still leads a ghostly existence deep in the souls of many people, and it has the potential to emerge again and again in new forms.”

 

“Politics is the realm of reason – not of a merely technological, calculating reason, but of moral reason, since the goal of the state, and hence the ultimate goal of all politics, has a moral nature, namely, peace and justice.”

 

“The totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century promised us that they would set up a liberated, just world – and they demanded hecatombs of victims in this cause.”

One dichotomy that exemplifies the problem Catholicism has with modern political thought is the notion of individual rights. As the good Cardinal mentions several times in his work, the rights of an individual are seen in the modern West as autonomous moral universes that often clash with one another. Rights have become little more than desires and products of the unadulterated human will. In contradistinction, the Catholic tradition never focused on rights at all – it focused on someone external to the individual citizen, natural law. Just skimming this particular dialogue – individual rights v. natural law – pours forth a host of explanations and answers on why Catholicism is at such odds with the world around it. Those more interested in Cardinal Ratzinger’s work can reference SPL’s collection of political quotes from the work: 29 Quotes on Political and Religion by Cardinal Ratzinger. One of the best treatises on a Catholic’s response to living in a modernist democratic regime was a document composed by the CDF under the good Cardinal entitled: Doctrinal Note: The Participation of Catholics in Politica Life. Moreover, proper Catholic political thought has been a mainstay topic at SPL and a catalogue of our lists on the subject can be found at The Educated Catholic Voter: 10 Lists on the Catholic Citizen. As Catholics may we study the highest whole of human reason, the Noble Science, so that we may live well ordered lives and work toward a society where all may live well.

 

Theology, Stanza della Segnature by Raphael

The Queen of the Sciences

If politics is the noble and architectonic science of human affairs, how does a Catholic approach politics and theology? In the time of Augustine until the thirteenth century nature and natural law sat in a jarring juxtaposition with the revealed truth of God. In fact, many theologians proposed that there were two truths: one of nature and one of divine revelation – a traditional Islamic answer. The Church was then given a gift: the Common Doctor St. Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas proposed that faith and reason were and must always remain in harmony with one another. Grace is not isolated from nature, is it not a replacement of nature, and it is not contradictory to nature. In essence, grace perfects nature; thus, if you have a science based on nature, say politics, and a science based on grace, say theology, then the science of theology should perfect and elevate the natural science of politics. In this light, theology – more truly the unerring Sacred Doctrine of the Catholic Church – is the “Queen of the Sciences” that perfects all other sciences by properly ordering them according to the virtues.

However, what does it mean when we say a higher science orders the lower?

The official “Sede Vacante” stamp following Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation.

Imagine the construction of a house. There is a plumber to handle the plumbing and a carpenter for the carpentry. And though these two arts are distinct, the two artisans must work together. Even if both workers excel within their own field, the overall order of the home will suffer if they are not in harmony.

However, neither plumbing nor carpentry can speak to how the home must be built as a whole. What is needed is a higher principle that can order both plumbing and carpentry to the proper goal of building a home. The principle is architecture; therefore, while the plumber and the carpenter may be wise concerning the principles of their respective arts, it is the architect who is wise concerning the order of the house. He is the wisest concerning the house, because his wisdom orders the lower principles according to the higher. In his own words, St. Thomas Aquinas states, “For since it is the part of a wise man to arrange and to judge, and since lesser matters should be judged in the light of some higher principle, he is said to be wise in any one order who considers the highest principle in that order.” According to St. Augustine, “order is the appropriate disposition of things equal and unequal, by giving each its proper place.” As seen with the architect, wisdom is knowledge properly ordered, and the wise must have the prudence to do it.

The highest cause, the Uncaused Cause, the cause the universe and its order, is God. Theology – more specifically the Sacred Doctrine of the Catholic Church – is the architectonic study that is most properly wisdom, because the “knowledge of divine things” sheds light on the appropriate order of all other things. Now, let us be clear. God is not only known through his self-revelation in Jesus Christ and in Scripture, but also in the imprint of the Creator upon Creation. Hence, the Catholic Church finds herself guarding and elucidating both Sacred Scripture and Nature. Certain truths, like the Trinity or the Incarnation of Jesus Christ had to be revealed to us, because they are above human wisdom. Other truths, such as the natural virtues, were discernible by human reason. These revealed and discerned truths are guaranteed by Christ and His Church and compose the Sacred Doctrine that orders all things and is rightly called the Queen of the Sciences.

The examples are endless, because Sacred Doctrine orders everything from our souls to our finances. However, say a technological break through leads to a scientifically astonishing surgical procedure. Now say that technology is used for abortions. Just as the carpenter cannot speak to the proper order of a home as a whole, neither can science – as much as it tries – speak to the whole order of existence. We see this particularly in its inability to speak on moral order. It is not that science is necessarily deficient, but rather its judgments are limited by its empirical purview. Much like the plumber and carpenter, it begs for a higher principle to order its steps.

Our world is saturated by debates that fall directly into this dialogue. Whether it be stem cell research, gay marriage, education, or abortion, differing guiding principles are in steep competition. There is always a “highest principle” at work, but unfortunately many see that principle as the unhindered human will. How then does the Spirit of the Liturgy relate to this concept of the Queen of the Sciences? At first glance there appears a disconnect between the focus of the the Sacred Doctrine of the Catholic Church as the Queen of the Sciences and Cardinal Ratzinger’s work on the Liturgy; however, the acute connection between the two is that for most Catholics it is precisely in the liturgy that they are catechized. It is in the liturgy that they see and believe and have their minds ordered toward the understanding that God and his wisdom is the highest principle. Our post-Vatican II world is suffering what is arguably the most comprehensive catechetical crisis since the Reformation and Catholics will never be well catechized and never succeed at a “New Evangelization” until the liturgy is brought back into a “hermeneutic of continuity” with the overall Sacred Tradition of the Church. Attempting to evangelize before one is well catechized puts the cart before the horse. What Holy Mother Church needs is a liturgical reform – and arguably a reverent liturgy that truly reflects the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass would be the greatest evangelical tool. In this belief, we turn to the work of Cardinal Ratzinger.

SPL’s John Henry writes, “Spirit of the Liturgy is in my opinion a book that all Christians of the True Faith should not only own but read often. Cardinal Ratzinger served as one of the chief theologians for the Second Vatican Council; thus, he possesses the ability to show the ‘liturgical development along the path sketched out by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council.'”3 There is a famous book with the same title written by Romano Guardini that the good Cardinal uses as his inspiration:

“My purpose here is to assist this renewal of understanding of the Liturgy. Its basic intentions coincide with what Guardini wanted to achieve. The only difference is that I had to translate what Guardini did at the end of the First World War, in a totally different historical situation, into the context of our present-day questions, hopes and dangers. Like Guardini, I am not attempting to involve myself with scholarly discussion and research. I am simply offering an aid to the understanding of the faith and to the right way to give faith it’s central form of expression in the Liturgy.” – Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

John continues, “this work can be understood by all: scholars, theologians, historians, parish priests, religious, and most important of all the laity. Cardinal Ratzinger uses historical, biblical, philosophical thought in order to express what Catholic worship is was and should be.” The Cardinal’s work is considered an instant classic by those working to restore the liturgy of the Catholic Church. Arguably one of the most poignant passages is his comment on the Golden Calf pericope in the Old Testament:

“But the real liturgy implies that God responds and reveals how we can worship him. In any form, liturgy includes some kind of ‘institution’. It cannot spring from imagination, our own creativity – then it would remain just a cry in the dark or mere self-affirmation…”

“No where is this more dramatically evident than in the narrative of the golden calf… the cult conducted by the high priest Aaron is not meant to serve any of the false gods of the heathen. The apostasy is more subtle. There is no obvious turning away from God to the false gods. Outwardly, the people remain completely attached to the same God. They want to glorify the God who led Israel out of Egypt and believe that they may very properly represent his mysterious power in the image of a bull calf.”

Ratzinger’s reading of the Golden Calf episode is unique insofar as it is often read as a complete turning away from the God of Israel and modern readers condemn the Israelites as abandoning the true God; however, the Cardinal states that it is more subtle. It is not a complete abandonment, but rather the Israelites with their high priest were attempting to worship the true God of Israel as they saw fit. This reading turns the story from one modern Christianity normally  passes over in judgement of the Israelites to one capturing the very heart of modernist Christianity. It echoes the core of all protestantism and unfortunately resonates in much of today’s Catholic population. The Cardinal sums up his reading by stating, “the worship of the golden calf is a self-generated cult,” and “the narrative of the golden calf is a warning about any kind of self-initiated and self-seeking worship.”

This is but a glimpse of the profound liturgical insight found within Cardinal Ratzinger’s work. Within an understanding of the Queen of the Sciences and her all encompassing order, read The Spirit of the Liturgy with an eye towards renewing the mainstay of all Catholic catechesis and evangelism: the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

 

Why these works will change your life
We return to our original premise, that these two works by Cardinal Ratzinger will change your life. The why is now better understood. Yes, it is because the good Cardinal writes in an acute and clear manner and always bears the mark of orthodoxy, but it is also because you – as the reader – will have a greater appreciation for the sciences in which the works are written. The Cardinal’s ideas and quotes will find fertile ground within the wisdom of the reader, because the reader will know the architectonic ordering affect that both the Noble Science and the Queen of the Sciences have on their life. Understanding the order of knowledge allows one to be truly wise and order their lives in an holistic Christ-like manner.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Common Doctor of the Universal Church, pray for us.
St. Thomas More, patron of statesmen and politicians, pray for us.
Mother Mary, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us.

  1. ARISTOTLE: Further comments on Aristotle’s Politics may be found at The Political Animal and the Philosopher King and Understanding Aristotle: 22 Definitions from the Politics. []
  2. AQUINAS: The Angelic Doctor’s commentary on Aristotle’s Politics may be found at Aquinas’ Introduction to the Politics. []
  3. Quote take from The Catholic Answer []

In Defense of the Papacy: 9 Reasons True Christians Follow the Pope

“And I will place on his should the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him like a peg in a sure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his father’s house.”

Listers, glory and honor to God for giving us the grace of the papacy. The Pope is the “Advocate of Christian Memory” and he holds the King’s people to the King’s laws until our Savior returns. Each year on February 22nd the Church celebrates the Cathedra Petri – the Chair of St. Peter.

This feast brings to mind the mission of teacher and pastor conferred by Christ on Peter, and continued in an unbroken line down to the present Pope. We celebrate the unity of the Church, founded upon the Apostle, and renew our assent to the Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, extended both to truths which are solemnly defined ex cathedra, and to all the acts of the ordinary Magisterium.

The feast of the Chair of Saint Peter at Rome has been celebrated from the early days of the Christian era on 18 January, in commemoration of the day when Saint Peter held his first service in Rome. The feast of the Chair of Saint Peter at Antioch, commemorating his foundation of the See of Antioch, has also been long celebrated at Rome, on 22 February. At each place a chair (cathedra) was venerated which the Apostle had used while presiding at Mass. One of the chairs is referred to about 600 by an Abbot Johannes who had been commissioned by Pope Gregory the Great to collect in oil from the lamps which burned at the graves of the Roman martyrs. — New Catholic Dictionary1

To commemorate this holy feast day SPL brings you a defense of the papacy with references to Scripture, the Western Church Fathers, the Eastern Church Fathers, and of course, the Medieval Popes.

 

The article addresses the following questions:

  1. Did St. Peter hold any primacy amongst the Twelve Apostles?
  2. Did Christ charge St. Peter with the office of the papacy?
  3. Did St. Peter exercise his ministry from Rome?
  4. What about the controversy of Sts. Peter and Paul?
  5. Did the papacy continue after St. Peter and if so, to whom?
  6. Did the Early Church speak of a hierarchal Church with bishops?
  7. What of those who started their own “churches”?
  8. What did the Eastern Early Church Fathers say about the Petrine Ministry?
  9. Are all people subject to the papacy?

 

The following list is certainly not exhaustive. The Scripture studies alone could fill up volumes and a proper study of Church history is a lifetime of academic work; however, we’ve catalogued a quality sampling of sources with biblical and textual citations in order that you may be able to defend or maybe even discover for the first time the grace of the papacy.

 

Holy Scripture

1. St. Peter was Prince of the Apostles

“Prince of the Apostles” means that St. Peter held a certain primacy over the other eleven. Understanding St. Peter’s unique position among the twelve and the unique ministries he exercised lays an excellent groundwork for a discussion of Christ’s founding of the Papacy. There are three primary topics of focus for exploring the biblical articulation of the primacy of the Petrine ministry.

 

St. Peter’s Place of Primacy Among the Twelve

Sts. Peter, James, and John are a special group of disciples that are allowed to witness the Transfiguration2 and accompany Christ to the Mount of Olives.3 In each event, St. Peter, the Rock, is singled out. At the Mount of Olives, Christ finds all three asleep, but it is St. Peter he addresses. During the Transfiguration, it is St. Peter who speaks for the disciples. In St. Luke 5:1-11, Christ calls his first disciples, and the first is Simon Peter. According to Cardinal Ratzinger, the “call of Peter appears as the original pattern of apostolic vocation par excellence.”4 Every time the disciples are listed, St. Peter is listed first.5 Furthermore, when referring to the disciples, sometimes only St. Peter is mentioned by name, e.g., “And Simon and those who were with him,” and “Now Peter and those who were with him”.6 St. Peter is the only one to try to walk on the water (Mt 14:28ff) and he is the one that brings up the famous question of how many times we must forgive.7 Even St. Peter’s shadow was an instrument of healing.8

 

Significance of the Name Change

While it was common for Rabbis to give nicknames or new surnames to their disciples, e.g., the Sons of Zebedee as the “Sons of Thunder,” it was uncommon to change a disciple’s first name. Christ gives Simon the new name “Peter” or Kephas (or Cephas) meaning rock.9 In the Old Testament, God changing someone’s name denoted a special calling, a new vocation, e.g., Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, etc. St. Peter’s name change denotes that he will have a special vocation among the twelve. Obviously Christ was also referred to as the Rock, because he is the foundation of all things. However, in the rabbinical tradition, Abraham was also referred to as a rock: “Look to the rock from which you were hewn… look to Abraham your father” .10 Cardinal Ratzinger comments:11

Abraham, the father of faith, is by his faith the rock that holds back chaos, the onrushing primordial flood of destruction, and thus sustains creation. Simon, the first to confess Jesus as the Christ and the first witness of the Resurrection, now becomes by virtue of his Abrahamic faith, which is renewed in Christ, the rock that stands against the impure tide of unbelief and its destruction of man.

 

The Papal Office Given to St. Peter by Christ

After the Resurrection, Christ appears to the Twelve and has a unique conversation with St. Peter. Christ, the Shepherd, asks St. Peter three times if he loves him. St. Peter responds yes all three times – presumably this passage should reflect his three denials. Christ also tell St. Peter and Peter alone: feed my lambs, tend my sheep, and feed my sheep. As the Vicar of Christ, St. Peter must care for the flock.12 In Lk 22:31-34, two major Petrine themes are evident. First, Satan has taken a special interest in St. Peter. He will fail, but will repent. Second, after St. Peter has “turned again” to Christ, Jesus commissions him to “strengthen the brethren.” Another mission given only to St. Peter.

In Matthew 16:13-20, the most famous unique call is given to St. Peter: to be the foundation of the Church and to exercise the authority of keys of the kingdom. The office given to St. Peter is that of the Vicar within the Davidic Kingdom. The Vicar governs in the King’s stead, according to the King’s rules, while the King is gone.13 St. Peter is the Vicar of Christ, the Pope.

 

Concluding Thoughts and Suggested Reading

For all of this information plus a brief handling of the relationship between Sts. Peter and Paul, please reference 13 Biblical Reasons St. Peter is the Prince of the Apostles. The page citations and Scripture references for this section are taken from Cardinal Ratzinger’s Called to Communion, which was featured in The 6 Books by Pope Benedict XVI All Catholics Should Read.

A selection from “Christ’s Charge to Peter,” Raphael (1515)

2. Jesus Christ Founded the Papacy

According to Holy Scripture, the Office of the Papacy was instituted by Jesus Christ. In fact, he was the only person who had the authority to create such a position. SPL’s article 10 Biblical Reasons Christ Founded the Papacy discusses the following questions:

  1. What type of kingdom did Christ intend to bring?
  2. What role did Christ intend for Saint Peter?
  3. What is the biblical backing for St. Peter’s role in accordance with the Davidic Kingdom?
  4. What is the position and what is its purpose?
  5. What does the Catechism of the Catholic Church say about St. Peter and the Papacy?
  6. But in Greek, St. Peter’s name is Petros and Christ says, “upon this petra,” so Christ was not referring to St. Peter, was he?
  7. Isn’t Christ The Rock?
  8. I am a Christian, how can I follow both Christ and the Pope?
  9. How can I have a personal relationship with Christ and have a “middle man,” the Pope?
  10. Scripturally, what would be the overall reason Christ would want a Vicar for his Church?

We will address the first three questions here, because they lay out a proper biblical understanding of the Office of the Papacy.

 

1. What type of kingdom did Christ intend to bring?

Jesus Christ was descended from King David and referred to as “Son of David”14. King David was promised a descendent who would not only “rule forever,” but would sit on “David’s throne” forever15; thus, any conversation of what is and what is not properly intended by Christ, regarding his Kingdom, must be couched within the template of the Davidic Kingdom16.

 

2. What role did Christ intend for Saint Peter?

In the district of Caesarea Philippi, Christ asks his disciples “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” St. Peter responds, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus then says to St. Peter:

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Christ’s intention for the role of St. Peter within the kingdom is twofold: Christ changed Simon Bar-jona’s name to Peter meaning rock and he will be a foundation for Christ’s kingdom on earth, the Church, and secondly, St. Peter is given the “keys of kingdom,” which come with great authority17. It is important to note this is one of the few times Christ ever mentions the “Church.”

 

3. What is the biblical backing for St. Peter’s role in accordance with the Davidic Kingdom?

If Christ is giving St. Peter a role within his Church, his kingdom of God on earth, then it must be part of the Davidic Kingdom. The symbols of authority given to St. Peter are the “keys of the kingdom.” Looking to the Old Testament, it is clear that Christ is rewording a passage from Isaiah that speaks of a position within the Davidic Kingdom:

And I will place on his should the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him like a peg in a sure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his father’s house.

Here a position within the Davidic Kingdom is described which has the key of authority to open and close, and is considered a position of security and authority when the King is away. Christ, who will sit on David’s throne forever, is using an Old Testament verse to elucidate a New Testament Kingdom position.

 

A section of the “Martyrdom of St. Peter” by Leonello Spada (1576–1622)

Early Church

3. St. Peter Exercised his Ministry from Rome

Bl. John Henry Newman said it best: “To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.” History paints an overwhelming picture of St. Peter’s apostolic ministry in Rome and this is confirmed by a multitude of different sources within the Early Church. Catholic Encyclopedia states:

“In opposition to this distinct and unanimous testimony of early Christendom, some few Protestant historians have attempted in recent times to set aside the residence and death of Peter at Rome as legendary. These attempts have resulted in complete failure.”

Protestantism as a whole seeks to divorce Christianity from history by rending Gospel message out of its historical context as captured by our Early Church Fathers. One such target of these heresies is to devalue St. Peter and to twist the authority of Rome into a historical mishap within Christianity. To wit, the belief has as its end the ultimate end of all Catholic and Protestant dialogue – who has authority in Christianity?

The article 11 Reasons the Authority of Christianity is Centered on St. Peter and Rome is a sampling of the praise of and adherence to the Petrine Ministry – The Papacy. While the list gives three quality examples of Scripture connecting St. Peter with Rome, we will look here at a few choice quotes from the Early Church.

 

Taught in the Same Place in Italy

Bishop Dionysius of Corinth, in his letter to the Roman Church in the time of Pope Soter (165-74), says:

“You have therefore by your urgent exhortation bound close together the sowing of Peter and Paul at Rome and Corinth. For both planted the seed of the Gospel also in Corinth, and together instructed us, just as they likewise taught in the same place in Italy and at the same time suffered martyrdom” (in Eusebius, Church History II.25).

 

St. Peter Announced the Word of God in Rome

In his “Hypotyposes” (Eusebius, Church History IV.14), Clement of Alexandria, teacher in the catechetical school of that city from about 190, says on the strength of the tradition of the presbyters:

“After Peter had announced the Word of God in Rome and preached the Gospel in the spirit of God, the multitude of hearers requested Mark, who had long accompanied Peter on all his journeys, to write down what the Apostles had preached to them” (see above).

 

Come to the Vatican and See for Yourself

The Roman, Caius, who lived in Rome in the time of Pope Zephyrinus (198-217), wrote in his “Dialogue with Proclus” (in Eusebius, Church History II.25) directed against the Montanists:

“But I can show the trophies of the Apostles. If you care to go to the Vatican or to the road to Ostia, thou shalt find the trophies of those who have founded this Church.”

By the trophies (tropaia) Eusebius understands the graves of the Apostles, but his view is opposed by modern investigators who believe that the place of execution is meant. For our purpose it is immaterial which opinion is correct, as the testimony retains its full value in either case. At any rate the place of execution and burial of both were close together; St. Peter, who was executed on the Vatican, received also his burial there. Eusebius also refers to “the inscription of the names of Peter and Paul, which have been preserved to the present day on the burial-places there” (i.e. at Rome).

 

Sts. Peter and Paul, pray for us.

4. The Early Church on Sts. Peter and Paul

“Many modern day academics enjoy setting St. Peter and St. Paul in enmity with one another,” states SPL author Catherine, “however, the over emphasis of Galatians 2:11-14 by modern scholarship fails to acknowledge that even though they had a disagreement their mission of spreading the Gospel was the same. In this spirit, I present to you five reflections by members of the early church on the mutual impact that St. Peter and Paul had on the early church. Prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit to let St. Peter and St. Paul’s example of faithfulness unto death be your focus today and everyday.” Out of Catherine’s excellent list, we will focus on one particular passage by St. Irenaeus:

Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meeting; [we do this, I say] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; also [by pointing out] the faith they preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.
Against Heresies 3.3.2.

Along with the above quote, the other four passages from the Early Church demonstrate the Fathers focusing on Sts. Peter and Paul as brothers in the faith and fellow martyrs – not enemies vying for power within the Church. For a more biblical focus of the relationship between Sts. Peter and Paul see the above-mentioned list on St. Peter as Prince of the Apostles.

 

Crucifixion of St. Peter – Masaccio, AD 1426

5. The First Popes of the Catholic Church

In cataloguing the first ten popes of the Catholics Church, SPL hoped to address a few misconceptions. The first would be that the office of the papacy was simply given to St. Peter and then closed upon his death. The necessity of a Vicar of Christ with the Keys of Kingdom is present until the King returns and the Keys are returned to him. Secondly, we hoped to address the pernicious error that the papacy is a historical fiction within the Early Church and it did not materialize until medieval times. For our purposes, we’ll select the two popes that followed St. Peter from The First 10 Popes of the Catholic Church.

 

Pope St. Linus (67-76)

All the ancient records of the Roman bishops which have been handed down to us by St. Irenaeus, Julius Africanus, St. Hippolytus, Eusebius, also the Liberian catalogue of 354, place the name of Linus directly after that of the Prince of the Apostles, St. Peter. These records are traced back to a list of the Roman bishops which existed in the time of Pope Eleutherus (about 174-189), when Irenaeus wrote his book “Adversus haereses”. As opposed to this testimony, we cannot accept as more reliable Tertullian’s assertion, which unquestionably places St. Clement (De praescriptione, xxii) after the Apostle Peter, as was also done later by other Latin scholars (Jerome, Illustrious Men 15). The Roman list in Irenaeus has undoubtedly greater claims to historical authority. This author claims that Pope Linus is the Linus mentioned by St. Paul in his 2 Timothy 4:21. The passage by Irenaeus (Against Heresies III.3.3) reads:

After the Holy Apostles (Peter and Paul) had founded and set the Church in order (in Rome) they gave over the exercise of the episcopal office to Linus. The same Linus is mentioned by St. Paul in his Epistle to Timothy. His successor was Anacletus.

We cannot be positive whether this identification of the pope as being the Linus mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:21 goes back to an ancient and reliable source, or originated later on account of the similarity of the name.

 

Pope St. Anacletus (Cletus) (76-88)

The second successor of St. Peter. Whether he was the same as Cletus, who is also called Anencletus as well as Anacletus, has been the subject of endless discussion. Irenaeus, Eusebius, Augustine, Optatus, use both names indifferently as of one person. Tertullian omits him altogether. To add to the confusion, the order is different. Thus Irenaeus has Linus, Anacletus, Clement; whereas Augustine and Optatus put Clement before Anacletus. On the other hand, the “Catalogus Liberianus”, the “Carmen contra Marcionem” and the “Liber Pontificalis”, all most respectable for their antiquity, make Cletus and Anacletus distinct from each other; while the “Catalogus Felicianus” even sets the latter down as a Greek, the former as a Roman.

 

The Martyrdom of Saint Clement c. 1480

6. The Apostles Appointed Bishops

The Early Church was the Early Catholic Church. First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians is an orthodox window into the infancy of the Church (AD 97) and particularly into the structure of the Church. The Early Church is not an ambiguous or mysterious time. It is a well recorded period with a great number of writings from the Early Church Fathers. Clement lived in Rome only a stone’s throw away from the Coliseum. He is seen as a successor to St. Peter and is considered the fourth Pope of Rome, following St. Peter, St. Linus and St. Anacletus.

Chapter XLII outlines a clear theology of succession from Christ to the Apostles to the Bishops of the Church. As an early Christian, how do you know if you belonged to the true Church? Well, does your community have a bishop? Did your bishop come from the Apostles who came from Christ our Lord who came from God the Father? It should be stressed this epistle is dated AD 97.

“The apostles have preached the gospel to us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ [has done so] from God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God, and the apostles by Christ. Both these appointments, then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God. Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe. Nor was this any new thing, since indeed many ages before it was written concerning bishops and deacons. For thus says the Scripture in a certain place, I will appoint their bishops in righteousness, and their deacons in faith.”

 

In Chapter XLIV, St. Clement shuts the book on any doubt that the apostles chose and declared men to lead as bishops after their death. It is apostolic succession in a clear and practical manner articulated in AD 97.

“Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry. We are of opinion, therefore, that those appointed by them, or afterwards by other eminent men, with the consent of the whole church, and who have blamelessly served the flock of Christ, in a humble, peaceable, and disinterested spirit, and have for a long time possessed the good opinion of all, cannot be justly dismissed from the ministry. For our sin will not be small, if we eject from the episcopate those who have blamelessly and holily fulfilled its duties. Blessed are those presbyters who, having finished their course before now, have obtained a fruitful and perfect departure [from this world]; for they have no fear lest any one deprive them of the place now appointed them. But we see that you have removed some men of excellent behaviour from the ministry, which they fulfilled blamelessly and with honour.”

It is important to note the universal authority in which Pope St. Clement I is writing. One cannot miss how early in the life of the Church this writing is and how the Church is already a hierarchal body that respects the teachings of the Bishop of Rome. Pope St. Clement I even commands the Corinthians at one point – this note and other are commented on in The Apostles Appointed Bishops: 9 Teachings from St. Clement AD 97.

 

The Schismatics of Dante’s Inferno by Gustave

7. Those Who Start Their Own Church Follow the Voice of Satan

The Pope as the Vicar of Christ and as the Advocate of Christian Memory stands as tent peg holding down the Universal Church of Christ, and no list on Church unity would be complete without the (in)famous epistle of St. Cyprian, AD 250.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is not returning to our world for a harem of “churches.” There is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and it was founded by Christ and charged by him to St. Peter and the Apostles. However, there are now and always have been those groups that attempt to rend Christ from his Church – to recreate that which God gave us, the Church. In AD 250, St. Cyprian wrote an outstanding work entitled On the Unity of the Church. The epistle focuses especially on the topic of schism and those who would set themselves up as Church leaders and/or start their own “churches.” Without question, these groups are proto-protestant groups and the saint’s arguments apply just as much to our modern schismatic and heretical groups as they did to his ancient schismatic groups.18

 

The New Way of Satan

“He [Satan] has invented heresies and schisms, whereby he might subvert the faith, might corrupt the truth, might divide the unity. Those whom he cannot keep in the darkness of the old way [paganism], he circumvents and deceives by the error of a new way [schism/heresy]. He snatches men from the Church itself; and while they seem to themselves to have already approached to the light, and to have escaped the night of the world, he pours over them again, in their unconsciousness, new darkness.”

 

Upon This Rock

“There is easy proof for faith in a short summary of the truth. The Lord speaks to Peter, saying, “I say unto thee, that thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” And again to the same He says, after His resurrection, “Feed my sheep.”

 

Can the Spouse of Christ Be Adulterous?

“The spouse of Christ cannot be adulterous; she is uncorrupted and pure. She knows one home; she guards with chaste modesty the sanctity of one couch. She keeps us for God. She appoints the sons whom she has born for the kingdom. Whoever is separated from the Church and is joined to an adulteress, is separated from the promises of the Church; nor can he who forsakes the Church of Christ attain to the rewards of Christ. He is a stranger; he is profane; he is an enemy. He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his mother.”

 

Those Who Start Their Own Church Vomit Poison

“These are they who of their own accord, without any divine arrangement, set themselves to preside among the daring strangers assembled, who appoint themselves prelates without any law of ordination, who assume to themselves the name of bishop, although no one gives them the episcopate; whom the Holy Spirit points out in the Psalms as sitting in the seat of pestilence, plagues, and spots of the faith, deceiving with serpent’s tongue, and artful in corrupting the truth, vomiting forth deadly poisons from pestilential tongues; whose speech doth creep like a cancer, whose discourse forms a deadly poison in the heart and breast of every one.”

 

Priests and Sacrifice

“What sacrifices do those who are rivals of the priests think that they celebrate? Do they deem that they have Christ with them when they are collected together, who are gathered together outside the Church of Christ?”

Without a doubt this epistle of St. Cyprian is one of the most quotable letters of the Early Church Fathers. For more commentary and more unabashed Catholic quotes visit Those Who Start Their Own Church Follow the Voice of Satan: 11 Teachings from St. Cyprian AD 250.

 

St. John Chrysostom, pray for us.

8. The Eastern Fathers Supported the Petrine Ministry

Often times the papacy is misunderstood a “characteristic” of Western Christianity. In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth. The Catholic Church embraces the Eastern Catholic Churches along with the Roman Church and they are united in doctrine under the Holy Father, the Pope. SPL has catalogue an extensive collection of quotes from the Eastern Church Fathers supporting the Petrine Ministry.

St. Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem (d. A.D. 638)

“Teaching us all orthodoxy and destroying all heresy and driving it away from the God-protected halls of our holy Catholic Church. And together with these inspired syllables and characters, I accept all his (the pope’s) letters and teachings as proceeding from the mouth of Peter the Coryphaeus, and I kiss them and salute them and embrace them with all my soul … I recognize the latter as definitions of Peter and the former as those of Mark, and besides, all the heaven-taught teachings of all the chosen mystagogues of our Catholic Church.” – Sophronius, Mansi, xi. 461

 

St. Theodore the Studite of Constantinople (d. 826)

Writing to Pope Leo III:

Since to great Peter Christ our Lord gave the office of Chief Shepherd after entrusting him with the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, to Peter or his successor must of necessity every novelty in the Catholic Church be referred. [Therefore], save us, oh most divine Head of Heads, Chief Shepherd of the Church of Heaven. (Theodore, Bk. I. Ep. 23)

 

Sergius, Metropolitain of Cyprus (649)

Writing to Pope Theodore:

O Holy Head, Christ our God hath destined thy Apostolic See to be an immovable foundation and a pillar of the Faith. For thou art, as the Divine Word truly saith, Peter, and on thee as a foundation-stone have the pillars of the Church been fixed. (Sergius Ep. ad Theod. lecta in Sess. ii. Concil. Lat. anno 649)

 

SPL has listed over 50 quotes of the Eastern Church Fathers: The Early Church in Jerusalem Followed the Pope: 7 Quotes from History, Constantinople: 25 Quotes from the Eastern Fathers on the Petrine Ministry, and Rome is the Apostolic Throne: 24 Quotes from Alexandria, Antioch, and Cyprus.

 

St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, Vicar of Christ, pray for us.

Medieval

9. All Human Creatures Are Subject to the Pope

The following is a short compilation of quotes taken from previous Ecumenical Pontiffs of Rome: “Outside the Church there is no hope for salvation.” These quotes show us the confidence that our previous Bishops of Rome have had in their authority given by God Himself to be the Vicar of Christ here on Earth. As St. Augustine said, “Rome has spoken, the case is closed.”

“The universal Church of the faithful is one outside of which none is saved.”
Pope Innocent III, ex cathedra, Fourth Lateran Council (1215 AD)

 

“We declare, say , define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”
Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam (1302 AD)

 

“You see, dearly beloved sons and venerable brothers, how much vigilance is needed to keep the disease of this terrible evil from infecting and killing your flocks. Do not cease to diligently defend your people against these pernicious errors. Saturate them with the doctrine of Catholic truth more accurately each day. Teach them that just as there is only one God, one Christ, one Holy Spirit, so there is also only one truth which is divinely revealed. There is only one divine faith which is the beginning of salvation for mankind and the basis of all justification, the faith by which the just person lives and without which it is impossible to please God and to come to the community of His children.[Rom 1; Heb 11; Council of Trent, session 6, chap. 8.] There is only one true, holy, Catholic church, which is the Apostolic Roman Church. There is only one See founded in Peter by the word of the Lord,[St. Cyprian, epistle 43.] outside of which we cannot find either true faith or eternal salvation. He who does not have the Church for a mother cannot have God for a father, and whoever abandons the See of Peter on which the Church is established trusts falsely that he is in the Church.[St. Cyprian,de unitat. Eccl.] Thus, there can be no greater crime, no more hideous stain than to stand up against Christ, than to divide the Church engendered and purchased by His blood, than to forget evangelical love and to combat with the furor of hostile discord the harmony of the people of God.[St. Cyprian, epistle 72.]”
Blessed Pope Pius IX, Singulari Quidem

Happy Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, listers. More medieval quotes on the papacy can be found at All Human Creatures Are Subject to the Pope.

  1. Introduction to the Chair of St. Peter – SOURCE []
  2. Mark 9:2-8 []
  3. Mark 14:33 []
  4. Called to Communion, by Cardinal Ratzinger, 54 []
  5. Matt 10:2-4; Mk 3:16-19; Lk 6:14-16; Acts 1:13 []
  6. Mk 1:36; Lk 9:32 []
  7. Mt 18:21 []
  8. Acts 5 []
  9. John 1:42; Mt 16 []
  10. Is 51:1-3 []
  11. 56 []
  12. John 21 []
  13. Is. 22 []
  14. Matt 1:1-2; 9:27-29; Mk 10:47, 48 []
  15. I Chron 17:14; Ps 89:35-36; Luke1:31 []
  16. cf. Is. 9:6-7; 11:1-3; Jer 33:14-15, 17, 19-21, 26; Ps 132:10-14, 17; Luke 1:31-33, 68-71; II Tim 2:8; Rev 5:5, 22:16; Rom 1:3 []
  17. Matt 16:13-20 []
  18. Novatian: Another impetus of the epistle was the first “anti-pope” who attempted to claim he was holier than the rest of the Church and claimed moral superiority, especially in not wanting to ever extend forgiveness to sins post-baptism. []

In Defense of Holy Images: 8 Pearls of Wisdom from St. John Damascene

Listers, in the Eastern churches, the First Sunday of the Great Fast celebrates the triumph of holy images. It commemorates the end of two separate periods of iconoclasm, which took place within the space a nearly hundred years. During the iconoclastic period of Byzantine history, images of Christ, the Virgin Mary, the Angels, and the Saints were consigned to the fire on the charge that they led to idolatry. Known as the Sunday of Orthodoxy, the Byzantine liturgy boldly proclaims the triumph of the Church against every false doctrine, and a celebration of the proclamation of faith on the veneration of holy images at the Synod of Constantinople in 842.

Eastern Catholicism on SPL

St. John Damascene was a monk from Damascus, and from his monastery of Mar Saba near Jerusalem, he wrote in defense of the veneration of images. Because iconoclasm, or the destruction of icons, had become official imperial policy since the edict of Emperor Leo III in 726, any cleric, monastic, or layman who refused to abide by the edict was punished severely. Imprisonment, exile, and even martyrdom was the fate of those who defended the Church’s longstanding tradition of sacred images. Seeing the travail of the Church in Constantinople and Asia Minor, the humble monk from Damascus wrote three treatises in defense of holy icons and their veneration. Because he was outside the borders of the Empire, he was able to criticize imperial policy, and speak on behalf of those who were unable or unwilling to do so. [1]

Selection from John of Damascus, icon from Damascus (Syria), 19th c., attributed to Iconographer Ne’meh Naser Homsi. – Wikipedia

Although this work is worth reading in its entirety, in celebration of the Triumph of Holy Images, here are eight pearls of wisdom from St. John Damascene in defense of sacred images:

 

1) “It is the custom of the wicked and primordially evil serpent (I mean the devil), to fight in many ways against mankind, formed in the image of God; and, through this opposition, to bring about his death.” [2]

2) “Certain men have arisen, saying that it is not necessary [or forbidden] to make images of the saving miracles and sufferings of Christ, and the brave deeds of the Saints against the devil, setting them up to be gazed upon, so that we might glorify God and be filled with wonder and zeal.” [3]

3) “Does any one who has divine knowledge and spiritual understanding not recognize that [iconoclasm] is a ruse of the devil? For he does not want his defeat and shame to be spread abroad, nor the glory of God and his saints to be recorded.” [4]

4) “If we make an image of God who in His ineffable goodness became incarnate and was seen upon earth in the flesh, and dwelt among men, assuming the nature, density, form, and color of flesh, we do not go astray. For we long to see His form, but as the divine Apostle says, ‘now we through a mirror, dimly.’ … For the intellect, greatly fatigued, is unable to pass beyond physical things.” [5]

5) “I am emboldened to depict the invisible God, not as invisible, but as he became visible for our sake, by participation in flesh and blood. I do not depict the invisible divinity, but I depict God made visible in the flesh.” [6]

6) “When you see the Bodiless become man for your sake, then you may depict the figure of a human form; when the Invisible becomes visible in the flesh, then you may depict the likeness of something seen.” [7]

7) “Of old, Israel neither set up temples in the name of men, nor celebrated their memorial—for human nature was still under the curse, and death was condemnation, therefore they were enjoined that one who even touched the body of a dead man was to be reckoned unclean—but now, since the divinity has been united without confusion to our nature, as a kind of life-giving and saving medicine, our nature has been truly glorified and its very elements changed into incorruption. Therefore, temples are raised for [the Saints] and images engraved.” [8]

8) “Since our being is twofold [that is, composite], fashioned of soul and body…just as [through] words perceived by the senses we hear with bodily ears, and understand what is spiritual, so through bodily vision we arrive at spiritual contemplation. For this reason, Christ assumed body and soul, since mankind consists of body and soul; therefore baptism is likewise twofold, of water and the Spirit; as well as communion and prayer and psalmody, all of them twofold, bodily and spiritual, and offerings of light and incense.” [9]

 

In his arguments against iconoclasm, the Damascene made clear that it the veneration of icons, and the use of sacred images in architecture and worship was not idolatry, but rather a recognition that God uses the physical to make known the intelligible. Just as God the Son took to himself a human form, in order to make the truth of the Father known to man in a way most proper to him, so also does iconography serve to raise the mind to spiritual realities by means of the physical. Far from being a peripheral concern, therefore, sacred images are part and parcel of the authentic Christian worldview; their use and function within the life of the Church is bound up with the mystery of the Incarnation, in which the invisible Word of God became visible, and the incomprehensible Logos of the Father took to Himself a human nature.

The bane of iconoclasm was so tempting to the Imperial court that there were two separate persecutions carried out under official auspices. The first was ended under the patronage of the Empress Irene at the Seventh Ecumenical Council at Nicæa in 787, and the second under the reign of Empress Theodora at the Synod of Constantinople in 842, which dealt the final blow to iconoclasm in the East. To this day, both Byzantine Catholic and Orthodox churches commemorate this event on the First Sunday of the Great Fast, proclaiming the triumph of the Church against the heresies which had plagued it during the first millennium. Let us therefore celebrate the incarnational nature of our Catholic faith, treasuring her art, and through it lift our minds and hearts upwards to Christ, His Holy Mother, and the Saints and Angels in heaven; for indeed, Christ is in our midst: he is now, and ever shall be!

 


 

[1] John Damascene, Three Treatises on the Divine Images, trans. Andrew Louth (New York: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2003), Introduction pp. 7-9. All quotes from St. John, some of which have been slightly modified, are taken from this work unless otherwise indicated.

[2] Ibid., III p. 81.

[3] Ibid., p. 82.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid., p. 86.

[7] Ibid., pp. 88-89.

[8] Ibid., p. 91.

[9] Ibid., p. 93.

Fasting and Abstinence: 6 Basic Questions and Answers on Lent

“Abstinence laws consider that meat comes only from animals such as chickens, cows, sheep or pigs — all of which live on land.”

Listers, Lent is a penitential season within Holy Mother Church and all Catholics are called to participate. For various reasons there is always a spectre of confusion around the time of Lent regarding the requirements of fasting and abstinence asked of all Catholics pursuant to Canon Law. Since the Catholic Church allows the local bishops’ conferences to articulate and command the details of the overall prescribed rule, it is good for us within the United States to turn to the USCCB. The following series of questions is taken from the USCCB’s resources on Lent and is presented in full with supplemented numerical titles. SPL has also published The Idiot’s Guide to Fasting and Abstinence, which includes citations to Canon Law and Sacred Tradition.

Other Lists from the USCCB

 

1. On the 40 Days of Lent

Q. Why do we say that there are forty days of Lent? When you count all the days from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, there are 46.

A. It might be more accurate to say that there is the “forty day fast within Lent.” Historically, Lent has varied from a week to three weeks to the present configuration of 46 days. The forty day fast, however, has been more stable. The Sundays of Lent are certainly part of the Time of Lent, but they are not prescribed days of fast and abstinence.

 

2. On the Sundays within Lent

Q. So does that mean that when we give something up for Lent, such as candy, we can have it on Sundays?

A. Apart from the prescribed days of fast and abstinence on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and the days of abstinence every Friday of Lent, Catholics have traditionally chosen additional penitential practices for the whole Time of Lent. These practices are disciplinary in nature and often more effective if they are continuous, i.e., kept on Sundays as well. That being said, such practices are not regulated by the Church, but by individual conscience.

 

3. On the guidelines for abstinence from meat

Q. I understand that all the Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence from meat, but I’m not sure what is classified as meat. Does meat include chicken and dairy products?

A. Abstinence laws consider that meat comes only from animals such as chickens, cows, sheep or pigs — all of which live on land. Birds are also considered meat. Abstinence does not include meat juices and liquid foods made from meat. Thus, such foods as chicken broth, consomme, soups cooked or flavored with meat, meat gravies or sauces, as well as seasonings or condiments made from animal fat are technically not forbidden. However, moral theologians have traditionally taught that we should abstain from all animal-derived products (except foods such as gelatin, butter, cheese and eggs, which do not have any meat taste). Fish are a different category of animal. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, (cold-blooded animals) and shellfish are permitted.

 

The Crucifixion. Icon by Theophanes the Cretan (16th century, Stavronikita monastery, Mount Athos). – Wikipedia, Great Lent

4. On the heart of penitential practice

Q. I’ve noticed that restaurants and grocery stores advertise specials on expensive types of fish and seafood on Fridays during Lent. Some of my Catholic friends take advantage of these deals, but somehow I don’t feel right treating myself to the lobster special on Fridays during Lent.

A. While fish, lobster and other shellfish are not considered meat and can be consumed on days of abstinence, indulging in the lavish buffet at your favorite seafood place sort of misses the point. Abstaining from meat and other indulgences during Lent is a penitential practice. On the Fridays of Lent, we remember the sacrifice of Christ on Good Friday and unite ourselves with that sacrifice through abstinence and prayer.

 

5. On the rules for fasting

Q. I understand that Catholics ages 18 to 59 should fast on Ash Wednesday and on Good Friday, but what exactly are the rules for these fasts?

A. Fasting on these days means we can have only one full, meatless meal. Some food can be taken at the other regular meal times if necessary, but combined they should be less than a full meal. Liquids are allowed at any time, but no solid food should be consumed between meals.

 

6. On age and other requirements

Q. Are there exemptions other than for age from the requirement to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday?

A. Those that are excused from fast and abstinence outside the age limits include the physically or mentally ill including individuals suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes. Also excluded are pregnant or nursing women. In all cases, common sense should prevail, and ill persons should not further jeopardize their health by fasting.

6 Books by Pope Benedict XVI Every Catholic Should Read

With the announcement of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, we wanted to share with you part of his lasting legacy as a theologian and teacher. In the history of the popes, it is hard to find anyone as easy to read and understand.

Listers with the announcement of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, we wanted to share with you part of his lasting legacy as a theologian and teacher. In the history of the popes, it is hard to find anyone as easy to read and understand. His writings are, moreover, a beautiful blend of timeless and timely teaching, and at the center of all of his writings is the ever present search for the “Face of Christ” in his own personal relationship with Christ.

 

Pope Benedict XVI on SPL:

 

1. Introduction to Christianity

Possibly the most important book to understanding the thinking of Pope Benedict XVI, this is also the oldest book in this list. Originally written in 1968, this work is the most time-specific writing in this list, but the timelessness of Ratzinger’s “narrative Christology” reveals a process of encountering Christ in our own time and present situation while rooting that encounter within the walls of the Church.

 

 

 

2. Called to Communion

In this work Ratzinger explores the fundamental nature of the Church and its relation to today’s world. The first four chapters explore the origin of the Church, papal primacy, the relationship between the universal and particular Church, and the nature of the priesthood. In the fifth chapter, which is maybe the most relevant to us today, Ratzinger discusses the nature of reform, i.e. the necessity of institutional and juridical means to help the Church speak and act in the era in which She finds herself. On this matter he says, “Reform is ever-renewed ablatio—removal, whose purpose is to allow the nobilis forma, the countenance of the bride, and with it the Bridegroom himself, the living Lord, to appear.” This emphasis on personal encounter is an element of Evangelism found throughout his writings.

 

3. Jesus of Nazareth Vol. I

The most important of the series, this exegetical work lays out, in his foreword, his preferred methodology for the interpretation of scripture, which is ultimately a search for a personal relationship with Christ. This work, like the others in the series, sets an example for how to read and study Scripture. Simply titled, “Jesus of Nazareth,” Pope Benedict clearly leaves behind any search for the Second Person of the Trinity separate from the humanity of Christ. It is a culmination of a life of searching for a relationship with an historical figure who is both God and Man.

 

 

4. The Spirit of the Liturgy

The original title of this book in its original language, “The Spirit of the Liturgy: an Introduction,” indicates more about its relation to the work that inspired it, namely, “The Spirit of the Liturgy” by Romano Guardini. Ratzinger admits in the preface that Guardini’s work was fundamental to much of his own formation with regard to liturgy, which is ultimately the greatest possible encounter we have in this world with the God for whom we seek and long. Ratzinger again roots his ideas in Sacred Scripture and draws out from them the principles that define Christian worship.

 

 

5. Jesus of Nazareth Vol. II — Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection

The second part to his opus, “Jesus of Nazareth,” Pope Benedict XVI continues to explore the “figure and message of Jesus.” Christ’s figure and message culminate in the decisive events that surround His death and resurrection. These events are in themselves an expression of His message. In another way, they are the final word on the “figure” of Jesus and therefore the culmination and conclusion to the first part.

 

 

 

6. Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives

In his own words, His Holiness describes his book,  “It is not a third volume, but a kind of small ‘antechamber’ to the two earlier volumes on the figure and the message of Jesus of Nazareth.” Since the infancy narratives are not a source of Christ’s message, they do not fall into the purview of the earlier two volumes. It is a third part that, in a limited way, helps us to see and encounter the figure of Jesus. The Holy Father writes, “My hope is that this short book, despite its limitations, will be able to help many people on their path toward and alongside Jesus.”

 
Listers, check out Pope Benedict XVI to browse our complete catalogue of lists that reference the beloved “German Shepherd.”

The 24 Theses of St. Thomas Aquinas with Citations and Commentary

“He (Thomas Aquinas) enlightened the Church more than all the other Doctors together; a man can derive more profit from his books in one year than from a lifetime spent in pondering the philosophy of others.” – Pope John XXII (Consistorial of 1318), quoted in Doctoris Angelici

Listers, “with the decree Postquam sanctissimus of 27 July 1914, Pope St. Pius X declared that 24 theses formulated by ‘teachers from various institutions … clearly contain the principles and more important thoughts’ of Thomas. Principal contributors to the Church’s official statement of the ’24 Theses’ of Thomism include include Dominican philosopher and theologian Edouard Hugon of the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum and Jesuit philosopher theologian Guido Mattiussi of the Pontifical Gregorian University.”1 The 24 Theses of St. Thomas Aquinas come after Pope Leo XIII’s famous encyclical Aeterni Patris – summarized by SPL’s list The Sun that Warms the World – calling for a restoration of Christian philosophy by turning the Church toward St. Thomas Aquinas. In 1914, St. Pope Pius X  declared the Motu Proprio Doctoris Angelici – summarized by the SPL list The Patrimony of Wisdom  – correcting misgivings among Italy and the adjacent islands about their use – or lack thereof – regarding the Angelic Doctor.

“He (Thomas Aquinas) enlightened the Church more than all the other Doctors together; a man can derive more profit from his books in one year than from a lifetime spent in pondering the philosophy of others.” – Pope John XXII (Consistorial of 1318), quoted in Doctoris Angelici.

It should be noted that since this is pre-Vatican II there are many who would claim these theses are irrelevant and compose only the larger devotion to St. Thomas Aquinas that Vatican II discarded. The errors of this view have been catalogued in SPL’s list Vatican II Did Away with Aquinas? – 4 References that Prove Otherwise. To wit, Vatican II stated Aquinas by name as a timeless resource for seminarians, universities, and the Church as a whole. Of course, there is the ubiquitous Vatican II spectre of what the Council said and what happened after the Council.2

Finally, please nota bene that these theses were forged from the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas and promulgated by Holy Mother Church, but they are not written by the Angelic Doctor. Moreover, the commentary is supplemented by the Dominican P. Lumbreras, O.P., S.T.Lr., Ph.D and the citations added for reference.3

Sacred Congregation of Studies

Decree of Approval of some theses contained in the Doctrine of St. Thomas Aquinas and proposed to the Teachers of Philosophy

Sacred Congregation of Studies
Datum Romae, die 27 iulii 1914.

B. Card Lorenzelli, Praefectus
Ascensus Dandini, a Secretis
L + S.

AFTER OUR MOST HOLY LORD Pope Pius X by His Motu Proprio Doctoris Angelici, of June 29, 1914, salubriously prescribed that in all schools of philosophy the principles and major pronouncements [maiora pronuntiata] of Thomas Aquinas be held in a holy manner, not a few masters from diverse Institutions proposed some theses [theses] for this Sacred Congregation to examine, which they themselves had been accustomed to hand down and defend as required according to the chief principles of the saintly teacher, especially in the subject of metaphysics.

This Sacred Congregation, having duly examined the aforementioned theses and having presented them to our most holy lord, by the mandate of the same, His Holiness, replies that they plainly contain those principles and major pronouncements of the holy Doctor.

Moreover, these are:

 

ONTOLOGY

I. Potency and act so divide being [ens], that whatever is, either is a pure act, and/or coalesces necessarily out of potency and act, as (its) first and intrinsic principles.4

Commentary: Every actual subsisting being—inanimate bodies and animals, men and angels, creatures and Creator—must be either Pure Act—a perfection which is neither the complement of Potency, nor the Potency which lacks further complement—or Potency mixed with Act—something capable of perfection and some perfection fulfilling this capacity. This statement is true both in the existential and in the essential order. In each of these orders the composition of Act and Potency is that of two real, really distinct principles, as Being itself; intrinsic to the existing being or to its essence; into which, finally, all other principles can be resolved, while they cannot be resolved into any other.

 

II. Act, as perfection, is not limited but by potency, which is a capacity for perfection. Hence in the order in which an act is pure, in that same (order) it exists as naught but unique and unlimited; but where it is finite and multiple, it has fallen into a true composition with potency .5

Commentary: Since Act means perfection, perfection belongs to Act by reason of itself; imperfection, then, by reason of something else. Limits, therefore, belong to Act but on account of Potency. Consequently, if an Act is pure, it is perfection without limits, and gives no ground for distinction and multiplicity. On the contrary, any finite or manifold Act is mixed with Potency: for it is only as subjected in Potency that it is limited and multiplied according to the capacity of the subject.

 

III. On which account, the one God, One and Most Simple, subsists in the absolute reckoning of ‘being’ [esse] itself, all other things which participate in ‘being’ itself, have a nature which restricts (their) ‘to be’ [esse], and (their) essence and ‘to be’ are established by really distinct principles.6

Commentary: If there is any being, the actuality of whose existence—for existent means actual—is not received into the potentiality of essence, such a being subsists of itself, because it is perfection without limits; it is unique, because it excludes composition of any kind; it is the most simple Being: God. All other things, the actuality of whose existence is received into the potentiality of the essence, participate in existence according to the capacity of the essence, which limits in this way the actuality of existence. Essence and existence hold in them the place of Potency and Act in the existential order, and are two real and really distinct principles, which intrinsically constitute the compound, the existing being, in the order of existence.

 

IV. Being [ens], which is denominated from “to be”, is not said of God and creatures univocally, yet neither (is it said) entirely equivocally, but analogically, by an analogy both of attribution and of proportionality.7

Commentary: If the actuality of existence is in God a Pure Act and is in creatures an Act mixed with Potency, Being cannot be predicated of God and creatures in an identical way: God is self-existing, creatures have their existence from God. Still, because the effect in some manner reproduces its cause, Being does not belong to God and creatures in a totally different sense. Being, as predicated of God and creatures is an analogous term. Its analogy is first that of attribution, since Being appertains to creatures as far as they have it from God, to whom it appertains by essence; and is secondly that of proportionality, since the actuality of existence is intrinsic to God and creatures as existing beings.

 

V. Moreover, in every creature there is a real composition of the subsisting subject with the forms, or accidents, (which have) been added secondarily: but if there were not really received in an distinct essence a ‘to be’, this (composition) could not be understood.8

Commentary: The compound of essence and existence is itself the subject or Potency of a further complement or Act: this Act or complement is but an accidental perfection. The new composition is a real one, as the addition itself is real. It can be observed in every creature. Bodies have quantity, spirits have faculties and operations upon which, furthermore, quality follows; every creature has some relation to the Creator. But this real composition of accidents and subsisting compound lacks a philosophical basis if we put aside the composition of essence and existence. The subsisting being cannot be the subject of accidental Act except in so far as it is Potency; but existence is not Potency. The actuality, then, of existence and that of accident come together in the same substantial essence only because this essence is a Potency really distinct from both Acts.

 

VI. Apart from absolute accidents, there is also the relative (accident),or (that which) regards something [ad aliquid]. For though “regarding something” does not signify according to its own reckoning anything inherent in anything, yet in things it often has a cause, and for that reason a real entity distinct from (its) subject.9

Commentary: In addition to the absolute accidents—which modify the subject in itself—there is a relative accident—which affects the subject with respect to something else. The proper nature of predicamental relation consists in the very habitude to something else; relation, as relation, does not indicate inherence in something, but reference toward something. We may think of a merely logical relation. This is not always the case. For often we have a real subject, and a real and distinct term, and a real foundation, no one of which, however, is that very habitude which relation means.

 

VII. A spiritual creature is entirely simple in its essence. But there remains within it a composition of essence with a ‘to be’ and of substance with accidents.10

Commentary: The essence of angels is only Act, for the actuality of the form is not received into the potentiality of matter. Angels, indeed, are but intellectual substances, since to understand is a wholly immaterial operation. The last statement of the thesis has already been justified.

 

 

COSMOLOGY

VIII. On the other hand, a corporeal creature, is in regard to (its) very essence, composed of potency and act; which potency and act, in the order of essence, are designated by the names of “matter” and “form”.11

Commentary: Besides the composition in the existential and accidental order, bodies are composed also in the order of essence. Bodies, indeed, are extended and active, divisible and yet one, multiplied in individuals while keeping specific unity, subject to substantial changes, which by different and often contrary successive properties are made known. Consequently, there must be in bodies an intrinsic principle as the basis of extension, division, numerical multiplicity, the permanent subject of the substantial change; and another intrinsic principle as the foundation of the activity, unity, specific likeness, the successive phases of the change. The first principle, passive, undetermined, incomplete, potential, the root of extension, the support of the substantial change, is material and substantial. The second, active, determining, completing, term of the substantial change, is substantial and formal. Matter and form, then, constitute the essence of bodily substance: neither one is an essence, a substance, a body: each is but a part of the compound, which is a single essence, a single substance, a single body.

 

IX. Neither of these parts has ‘being’ through itself, nor is produced and/or corrupted through itself, nor is it posited in a predicament, except reductively as a substantial principle.12

Commentary: Since existence is the Act of essence, neither matter nor form can be granted an existence of its own; the existence belongs to the compound. And because production brings things into existence, and destruction deprives them of it, the term of production or destruction is likewise the compound. Finally, since matter and form are substantial principles, they cannot be collocated among accidents. But neither can they be placed directly in the category of substance, for it is the complete substance, which is classed there. They fall, then, into the category of substance by reduction, as principles of substance, as substantial Potency and substantial Act.

 

X. Even though extension into integral parts is consequent to corporeal nature, yet the same (thing) for a body to be a substance and to be a quantum. Indeed a substance is indivisible according to its reckoning, not indeed after the manner of a point, but after the manner of that which is outside the order of dimension. But the quantity, which grants extension to a substance, really differs from the substance, and is an “accident” of true name.13

Commentary: To have integral parts—homogeneous, distinct and outside of each other, united together at the extremities—is a proper sequence of matter, one of the essential principles of body. Still, body as a substance implies only essential parts, matter and form—heterogeneous, within each other, united together by compenetration. Substance, of itself, is indifferent to any quantity, and may even exist, miraculously, without any quantity. It is, then, of itself indivisible: not simply as a point—unextended by privation, —but as something devoid of dimension—unextended by negation. Substance is indebted to quantity for its integral parts; but as there is a real distinction between subject-of-existence and extended-into-parts, between the persevering support of successive quantities and these quantities in succession, substance is not really identical with quantity. Faith teaches us that in the Holy Eucharist the substance of bread disappears, but not its quantity. Quantity, therefore, is a genuine accident.

 

XI. The principle of individuation, that is, of numerical distinction — which cannot be in pure spirits — of one individual from another in the same specific nature, is matter marked by quantity.14

Commentary: The principle of individuation cannot be the essence, for Peter is not humanity; nor some extrinsic mode added to the composite substance, for this mode, if accidental, cannot constitute an individual which is a substance and substantially differs from other individuals, and, if substantial, cannot be received but into some already constituted individual substance; nor the existence, for existence actualizes, does not modify reality and is received, moreover, into a substance which is an individual substance. Though that principle must be intrinsic to the substance, it is not the form, because form is a principle of specific and common unity rather than of numerical multiplicity and incommunicability. This principle is matter. Yet not matter of itself, since of itself it is undetermined and capable of being in this and that individual, while the principle of individuation is a determining principle, and renders the subject incommunicable. Matter, as subjected to quantity, is such a principle. For, as related to quantity, it is conceived as divisible into homogeneous parts, and, as related to this quantity, it is conceived as incapable of some other quantity, and, then, as incommunicable to anything else related to different quantity. It is because pure spirits are not composed of matter and form, but are simple forms, Act only which exhausts by itself all the perfection of the essential order, that they cannot be multiplied in the same species: the individuals, indeed, would differ on account of their form, and a difference on the part of the form makes a difference in the species.

 

XII. By the same quantity there is brought about, that the body is circumscriptively in a place, and (that) it can be, in this manner, in only one place under whatsoever potency.15

Commentary: Since quantity makes a body to be extended, and, thus, to have its parts outside of each other, it makes the whole body to occupy some place so that each part of the body occupies a different portion of the place. We have, therefore, some commensuration of the dimensions of the body with the dimensions of the place; and this we call a circumspective presence. But just on account of this commensuration quantity makes a body to be incapable of circumscriptive presence in more than one place; for the dimensions of the body are equal, not greater than the dimensions of the first place, and, since those dimensions are exhausted by this place, it is not possible for the same body to occupy simultaneously a second place. This impossibility is, therefore, a metaphysical one: not even by a miracle can we conceive of any such bilocation.

 

 

PSYCHOLOGY

XIII. Bodies are divided in a twofold manner: for certain ones are living, certain ones have no part of life. In living (things), that in the same subject there be had a moving part and a moved part, the substantial form, designated by the name of “soul”, requires an arrangement of organs, or heterogeneous parts.16

Commentary: Not all bodies are endowed with life: but some are. As living bodies, they have within themselves the principle and the term of their movement. This is to be understood, not as if the whole body, or one and the same part of the body, were both the mover and the moved, but that by nature one part is ordained to give and another part to receive the motion. The different parts, then, must be arranged into some hierarchy, and must be coordinated, not only as regards the whole, but even with respect to each other: all the parts, accordingly, cannot be homogeneous. The soul, substantially informing the organism, informs all the parts, and each of them according to the function each has in the whole.

 

XIV. Souls of the vegetable or sensible subsist through themselves not at all, nor are they produced through themselves, but are only as the principle by which the living (thing) is and lives, and since these depend upon matter according to their whole selves, with the composite corrupted, they are, by that very (fact), corrupted per accidens.17

Commentary: The substantial form does not subsist in the organic bodies of plants and irrational animals, because it has no operation independent of matter; it is but a principle of substance. A principle, however, that, in giving matter the complement wanted by matter for making up the compound—which properly exists and lives—is called the principle of existence and life. Its relation to production and destruction has been previously explained.

 

XV. Contrariwise, a human soul, which is created by God when it can be infused into a sufficiently disposed subject, and (which) according to its nature is incorruptible and immortal, subsists through itself.18

Commentary: The human soul, independent of material conditions for some of its operations, is by itself a simple and complete substance. It is, then, produced from nothing, or created, and created by God, as we shall see. Naturally ordained to inform the human body, it is created when infused into the body. But, since the reception of any form presupposes a convenient disposition in the receiving matter, the infusion of the human soul implies a sufficient disposition of the human body. Such a disposition is not likely to be found in a body recently formed: vegetative and sensible souls would precede the human soul, as the servants precede the master for preparing a lodging worthy of him. Being simple, the human soul cannot be directly destroyed. Being subsisting, it can neither be destroyed indirectly upon the destruction of the compound.

 

XVI. The same rational soul is so united to (its) body, that it is the unique substantial form of the same, and through it a man has (the ability) to be man and animal and a living (creature) and a body and a substance and a being. The soul, therefore, gives man every essential grade of perfection; furthermore, it communicates to (its) body the act of being whereby it itself is.19

Commentary: Every one is aware of the intrinsic and mutual influence, which exists in man between body and soul. Their union is not accidental. Body and soul come together as two constituent principles of a single nature, that of man. The human soul, the substantial form of body, gives matter, the substantial potency of soul, the first substantial act. By itself, then, it informs and determines the undetermined matter to a particular species. It gives to the compound all the perfection, which is implied in this species. And it is subsisting; it communicates its existence directly to the compound, indirectly to the body.

 

XVII. From the human soul there emanate by natural result the faculties of this twofold order, organic and inorganic: the prior ones, to which the senses pertain, are subjected in the composite, the posterior ones (are such) in the soul alone. Therefore, the faculty of the intellect is intrinsically independent from an organ.20

Commentary: The immediate principles of operation are distinct from the soul: they are accidents, as the operations themselves. But their root is the soul, for they are vital faculties, and the soul is the principle of life. They are divided into two classes, according to the mode in which they spring from the human soul; subsisting by itself, and the form of body. In the latter case we have those faculties whose act is performed by means of bodily organs. Not only the vegetative faculties, but the sensitive likewise, are among them; for their object is extended. As organic faculties, they have for their subject the animated organism, which is neither the soul alone, nor the body alone, but the compound. There are some other faculties whose operations are far above matter, and, accordingly, cannot be subjected in the organism, even as animated: they are termed inorganic and are subjected in the soul alone. Intellect is such a faculty. Though extrinsically dependent on the imagination and indirectly on the organism, it is intrinsically independent of them.

 

XVIII. Intellectuality necessarily follows immateriality, and thus, indeed, that that grades of intellectuality are also according to the grades of elongation from matter. The adequate object of intellection is commonly being itself [communiter ipsum ens]; but in the present state of union (of body/soul) the proper (object) of the human intellect is contained in the quiddities abstracted from material conditions.21

Commentary: Intellectuality means ability to reproduce in oneself the forms of the objects known, without any injury to the proper form. Matter determines forms to be but in this individual: no form can be known except as abstracted from matter; no subject can be intelligent except as independent of matter. A greater intellectuality corresponds to a greater immateriality, and, since matter stands for potency, to a greater act. In the summit of intellectuality the Pure Act is fixed; next, the Act mixed with Potency in the order of existence; then, the Act mixed with Potency in the very order of essence. A form cannot be reproduced except in so far as it is. Being is knowable in itself, and everything is knowable in so far as it is being. Still, the mode of operation is according to the mode of being, and since the being of our soul, in the present condition, communicates with the body, the connatural object of our knowledge is now the forms taken from the matter.

 

XIX. We accept cognition from sensible things. But since a sensible (thing) is not intelligible in act, besides the intellect, formally understanding, there must be admitted an active power in the soul, which abstracts intelligible species from phantasms.22

Commentary: Our knowledge proceeds, at present, from sensible things. This gives a reason for the union of soul and body. Upon the injury of some organs our mental operation becomes impossible; nor is it by chance that this is associated with sensible images. A sensible image, however, is not intelligible; for intelligible means immaterial. The intellect, which properly understands is a passive faculty: it receives the intelligible forms, and does not make the forms to be intelligible. The abstractive faculty, notwithstanding, belongs to the soul alone, for it brings its object to the realm of the immaterial. It is, moreover, an intellectual faculty, for its function is to make something intelligible. It is called the active intellect.

 

XX. Through these species we directly cognize universals; we attain to singulars by sense, as much as also by the intellect through a conversion towards the phantasms; but we ascend to a cognition of spiritual (things) through analogy.23

Commentary: Since matter individualizes the forms, the forms become universal when abstracted from matter: it is the universal, then, we know directly. The singular implies material conditions and is known directly by the senses, dependent on matter themselves, and indirectly by the intellect, which, in taking the universal from the individuals, perceives the individuals, which offer the universal. Starting from the material abstracted essences we arrive at the nature of pure spirits. We affirm of those spirits some positive perfections noticed in the inferior beings, and these we affirm of them in a higher degree, while we deny of them some, or all, the imperfections to which those perfections were associated in the material objects.

 

XXI. The will follows, not precedes, the intellect, (and) itl necessarily desires that which is presented to it as a good (which) fulfils (its) appetite on every side, but it chooses freely among the many goods, which are proposed (to it) as to be desired by the mutable judgment. Hence, choice follows the last practical judgment; but the will effects which is the last.24

Commentary: Will is not prior but posterior to the intellect, in dignity, in origin, in acting. The posteriority in acting is chiefly intended here. Every act of the will is preceded by an act of the intellect; for the act of the will is a rational inclination, and while inclination follows a form, rational inclination follows the intellectually apprehended form. The intellect, in presenting to the will some apprehended good, moves it as to the specification of its act. If the presented good is the absolute or universal good, the will desires it of necessity. If it is good mixed with evil, relative or particular good, it is partially attractive and partially repulsive. The will may desire it, or may not. Once the intellect has settled on the practical excellency of some particular good, the will must accept such an object. Yet, it is the will, which freely committed itself to the determination of the intellect; it is the will, which freely sustained the intellect in its unilateral consideration; and it is the will, which freely wants the process not to be submitted to a further revision.

 

 

THEODICY

XXII. We neither perceive God’s ‘Being’ by an immediate intuition, nor do demonstrate it a priori, but (we do) a posteriori, that is, through those (things) which have been made, with an argument drawn from effects to (their) Cause; namely, from things which are moved to the principle of their movement and the First Immovable Mover; from the progression of mundane things from causes that are subordinate to one another [inter se], to the First Uncaused Cause; from the corruptibles which hold themselves equally to ‘being’ and ‘not being’, to the absolutely necessary Being; from those which are, live, (and) understand more and less according to the lesser perfections of being, living, (and) understanding, to Him who is most of all Intelligent, most of all Living, most of all a Being; finally, from the order of the universe to the separated Intellect which has ordered and arranged things and directs (them) to an end.25

Commentary: Since the proper object of our intellect is the essences of material things, it is clear we have no immediate intuition of God’s spiritual essence, and, consequently, neither of His existence. Since the notion we have of His essence is an abstract notion, the existence implied in that notion belongs to the essential order and in no way to the actual. Still, we can demonstrate His existence with a rigorous demonstration, which goes from the effects to their ultimate cause. St. Thomas furnishes five proofs, already classical. Things are in movement; whatsoever is moved is moved by something else; above the moved-movers is some immovable-mover. Things are efficient causes of others; they are not the efficient cause of themselves; outside the caused-causes is some uncaused-cause. Some beings did not always exist, some will not always exist: their existence is not essential to them; above beings, which do not exist of necessity, is a necessary being. Things are more or less perfect than others; the less perfect has not in itself the reason of that perfection; above things, which are limited in their perfection is some being supremely perfect. Things which lack intelligence act for some end; an intelligent being only could adapt and direct them to this end; there is an universal governing intelligence.

 

XXIII. The Divine Essence, through this that it is identified with the exercised actuality of its own ‘To Be’, or through this that It Itself is subsistent ‘Being’, is rightly proposed to us in Its own, as if metaphysical, reckoning, and through this It exhibits to us the same reckoning of Its own Infinity in perfection.26

Commentary: Nothing in the Divine Essence itself can have the character of a constituent, for the Divine Essence is most simple. It is only according to our mode of understanding that we may ask which among the different perfections attributed to God is conceived as first, so as to distinguish God from creatures and to give ground to all the other divine perfections. That first perfection is the real identity of essence and existence: the subsisting being. By that God is distinct from creatures. In that is based any other perfection belonging to Him; for existence means act, and existence which is not received into essence means act without potency, perfection without limits.

 

XXIV. God is distinguished from all finite things, by the very purity of His ‘Being’. From this there is first inferred, that the world could not have proceeded from God but through (an act of) creation; next (there is likewise inferred), that the creative virtue, by which a per se being, inasmuch as (it is) a being, is first attained, is also not miraculously communicable to any finite nature; finally, that no created agent influences the ‘to be’ of any effect whatsoever, except by a motion accepted from the First Cause.27

Commentary: God’s essence is God’s existence; God is distinct from creatures whose essence is potency for existence. The world proceeds from God as the contingent from the necessary being. It proceeds by means of creation, for no emanation is possible in the pure act. Since creation implies the production of being from non-being, it is contradictory to suppose a creature exercising any causality in creation; it could not exercise that causality which belongs to the principal cause, for being is an universal effect, above the proportion consequently of any particular cause; not that causality which belongs to the instrumental cause, for there is nothing presupposed to creation upon which the instrument could exercise its efficiency. Finally, since every agent, by its act, moves toward the effect, this movement cannot be conceived independently of the first mover. The agent depends on God for its existence, for its powers, for the conservation of that existence and of these powers. It depends also on God for the very exercise of these powers. Because in exercising these powers the agent passes from Potency to Act, its faculties do not move except in so far as they are moved; there must be a motion coming from the immovable mover. This motion is received into the agent previously to the agent’s motion; it is properly called pre-motion. And since it moves the agent to the exercise of its powers, it is properly called physical pre-motion.

 

Given at Rome, July 27, 1914.

B. Cardinal Lorenzilli, Prefect
Ascensus Dandini, a Secretis
L+S.

  1. Since the official document seems to be lacking from what the Vatican currently offers online, we consulted a Franciscan archive that produced the most prominent English translation by Hugh McDonald alongside the Latin text  – though “substantially revised” by Br. Alexis Bugnolo; secondly, a professor’s personal University of Arizona page that includes the supplemental citations (originally found here) that we present in the article and a link to the French text of Fr. Edouard Hugon, O.P.’s Les vingt-quatre theses thomistes. It also displays the commentary SPL included from the Dominican P. Lumbreras, O.P., S.T.Lr., Ph.D. The opening quote comes from an article on Thomism. []
  2. Aquinas & Vatican II: A more pressing question is what is the state of this document post-Vatican II? The Council did call for Aquinas to be at the center of Catholic learning, but without any clear [or any at all] standards against which to judge Catholic academia’s adherence to the Angelic Doctor it is a moot command. The Pre-Vatican II document at hand did try and give strict principles, but even then those who stood against Aquinas took them as the bare minimum and extracted them from the greater articulation of Thomism. The result was a tortured presentation of the Common Doctor. []
  3. For sources, see footnote #1, supra. []
  4. [Summa Theologiae, Iª q. 77 a. 1; Sententia Metaphysicae, lib. 7 l. 1 et lib. 9 l. 1 et l. 9] []
  5. [Summa Theologiae, Iª q. 7 a. 1 et a. 2; Contra Gentiles, lib. 1 cap. 43; Super Sent., lib. 1 d. 43 q. 2] []
  6. [Summa Theologiae, Iª q. 50 a. 2 ad 3; Contra Gentiles, lib. 1 cap. 38 et cap. 52 et cap. 53 et cap. 54; Super Sent., lib. 1 d. 19 q. 2 a. 2; De ente et essentia, cap. 5; De spiritualibus creaturis, a. 1; De veritate, q. 27 a. 1 ad 8] []
  7. [Summa Theologiae, Iª q. 13 a. 5; Contra Gentiles, lib. 1 cap. 32 et cap. 33 et cap. 34; De potentia, q. 7 a. 7] []
  8. [Summa Theologiae, Iª q. 3 a. 6; Contra Gentiles, lib. 1 cap. 23; Contra Gentiles, lib. 2 cap. 52; De ente et essentia, cap. 5] []
  9. [Summa Theologiae, Iª q. 28 a. 1] []
  10. [Summa Theologiae, Iª q. 50 a. 1 ff.; De spiritualibus creaturis, a. 1] []
  11. [De spiritualibus creaturis, a. 1] []
  12. [Summa Theologiae, Iª q. 45 a. 4; De potentia, q. 3 a. 5 ad 3] []
  13. [Contra Gentiles, lib. 4 cap. 65; Super Sent., lib. 1 d. 37 q. 2 a. 1 ad 3; Super Sent., lib. 2 d. 30 q. 2 a. 1] []
  14. [Contra Gentiles, lib. 2 cap. 92 et cap. 93; Summa Theologiae, Iª q. 50 a. 4; De ente et essentia, cap. 2] []
  15. [Summa Theologiae, IIIª q. 75; Super Sent., lib. 4 d. 10 q. 1 a. 3] []
  16. [Summa Theologiae, Iª q. 18 a. 1 et a. 2 et q. 75 a. 1; Contra Gentiles, lib. 1 cap. 97; Senten De anima] []
  17. [Summa Theologiae, Iª q. 75 a. 3 et q. 90 a. 2; Contra Gentiles, lib. 2 cap. 80 et cap. 82] []
  18. [Summa Theologiae, Iª q. 75 a. 2 et q. 90 et q. 118; Contra Gentiles, lib. 2 cap. 83 ff.; De potentia, q. 3 a. 2; Sententia De anima, a. 14] []
  19. [Summa Theologiae, Iª q. 76; Contra Gentiles, lib. 2 cap. 56 et cap. 68 et cap. 69 et cap. 70 et cap. 71; Sententia De anima, a. 1; De spiritualibus creaturis, a. 3] []
  20. [Summa Theologiae, Iª q. 77 et q. 78 et q. 79; Contra Gentiles, lib. 2 cap. 72; Sententia De anima, a. 12 ff.; De spiritualibus creaturis, a. 11] []
  21. [Summa Theologiae, Iª q. 14 a. 1 et q. 74 a. 7 et q. 89 a. 1 et a. 2; Contra Gentiles, lib. 1 cap. 59 et cap. 72 et lib. 4 cap. 2] []
  22. [Summa Theologiae, Iª q. 79 a. 3 et a. 4 et q. 85 a. 6 et a. 7; Contra Gentiles, lib. 1 cap. 76 ff.; De spiritualibus creaturis, a. 10] []
  23. [Summa Theologiae, Iª q. 85 et q. 86 et q. 87 et q. 88] []
  24. [Summa Theologiae, Iª q. 82 et q. 83; Contra Gentiles, lib. 2 cap. 72 ff.; De veritate, q. 22 a. 5; De malo, q. 11] []
  25. [Summa Theologiae, Iª q. 2; Contra Gentiles, lib. 1 cap. 12 et cap. 31 et lib. 3 cap. 10 et cap. 11; De veritate, q. 1 et q. 10; De potentia, q. 4 et q. 7] []
  26. [Summa Theologiae, Iª q. 4 a. 2 et q. 13 a. 11; Super Sent., lib. 1 d. 8 q. 1] []
  27. [Summa Theologiae, Iª q. 44 et q. 45 et q. 105; Contra Gentiles, lib. 2 cap. 6 et cap. 7 et cap. 8 et cap. 9 et cap. 10 et cap. 11 et cap. 12 et cap. 13 et cap. 14 et cap. 15 et lib. 3 cap. 6 et cap. 7 et cap. 8 et cap. 9 et lib. 4 cap. 44; De potentia, q. 3 a. 7] []

Preparing for Lent: 9 Liturgical Gems from the Byzantine East

“Seeing the dignity to which the humble are raised, and the deep abyss into which the proud fall, let us imitate the virtue of the Publican, and despise the sins of the Pharisee.”

Listers, the season of Lent is fast approaching. Our brethren in the East call the period of Lent the “Great Fast,” or alternatively, “Great Lent.” It is the most important of the four fasting seasons in the Eastern churches, since it is the preparation for the feast of feasts, namely Pascha, or Easter. In the Byzantine rite, the period of Great Lent is preceded by four Sundays (five in the Slavic reckoning), during which the faithful prepare themselves for the asceticism, prayer, and repentance which accompanies the Fast. The first of these is the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee, followed by the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, the Sunday of the Last Judgment, and then and then the Sunday of Forgiveness.

These last two Sundays are called “Meatfare” and “Cheesefare” Sundays respectively, since the one marks the end of the eating of meat two weeks before Lent, and the other the end of the consumption of dairy products one week before. The Monday after the Sunday of Forgiveness (known as “Clean Monday”) heralds the beginning of the Great Fast proper, after which time wine, oil, and fish, are allowed only on certain days, meat and dairy being excluded altogether. The particulars of the Great Fast are as ancient as they are fascinating, and while certainly meriting their own study, in this list we will be focusing on some of the more general virtues of Lent extolled in the East. In particular, we will cover nine Byzantine liturgical gems of wisdom to gaze upon, as we prepare to enter into the spiritual arena of the Fast. A quote from the hymns of the Byzantine liturgy will be provided, either extolling a particular virtue or repudiating the vice which must be rooted out in order to possess it [1]:

 

1) Self-Control

The virtue of self-control, as practiced through fasting and temperance in food and drink, is of paramount importance to the Eastern church. According to the Damascene, the passion which this virtue seeks to destroy is that of gluttony, which is considered one of the three chief passions [2], as it was the act of eating the forbidden fruit by which Adam and Eve transgressed the divine Commandment:

“Adam was deprived of the delights of Paradise by the bitterness of the fruit; his gluttony made him reject the commandment of the Lord. He was condemned to work the earth from which he himself had been formed; by the sweat of his brow, he had to earn his bread to eat. Therefore, let us learn self-control, so that we do not have to weep before the gates of Paradise; rather, let us strive to enter therein.” [3]

Through fasting and abstinence, we refrain from good things, in order to more easily concern ourselves with better things. In the Byzantine monastic tradition, abstinence from meat is a reminder of the blessed condition of Adam and Eve before the Fall, where they walked with God, and lived an angelic life of contemplation and grace.

And yet, it is not simply enough to fast or abstain. The key to success in the attainment of self-control, as the Fathers warn us, is that it must be practiced in concert with the other virtues. For as Chrysostom teaches, even the demons fast, being by nature incorporeal; while prayer—as well as all the other virtues of a life lived in communion with God—is obviously neglected by them.

 

2) Holy Desire

This is a zeal for God, a longing for Him, and a confident hope and longing for the blessings of the world to come. The vice which this virtue seeks to destroy is that of unchastity, by directing the intellect away from the transitory things of this world, and to the promises of the future life of blessedness:

“O beloved Paradise, beauty of Springtime and divinely created abode, unending joy and delight, the glory of all the just, the enchantment of the prophets, and the dwelling-place of the saints, by the rustling of your leaves, implore the Creator of the universe to open the gates that I have closed by my fault; let me partake of the Tree of Life, and share the joy that I once found in you.” [4]

 

3) Almsgiving

Compassion for the poor, as the Damascene teaches, fights against the vice of avarice. This vice is the one which, according to the ascetic Fathers, is the root of all evil: [5]

“Driven by his love of money, Judas the traitor cunningly planned to sell you, O Lord, the Treasure of life; in his frenzy, he hastened to the impious ones and said: ‘What will you give me, if I will deliver him to you to be crucified?” [6]

 

4) Charity

In addition to almsgiving, the goodwill and love for all, as exemplified in the virtue of charity fights against the vice of anger. But whoever who seeks the salvation of their neighbor does not have the luxury of harboring rancor or malice, but rather seeks their good, both in reference to their life on earth, and eternal life in heaven:

“O faithful, let us vie with each other in zeal, and let us seek to do good. Let us live together in humility, and may our hearts sigh with tears and prayer so that we may obtain forgiveness from God.” [7]

 

5) Joy

Although Great Lent is a time of sadness and sorrow for sins, it is a “bright sadness,” because the benevolent Father waits in earnest for the return of His prodigal children. The spiritual joy which comes from God allows us to vie against the vice of worldly dejection, which arises when we find that our efforts go unrecognized and unheralded by the world, or when we are even rejected by it on account of our faith. This divine joy also serves as a healing balm for those who despair of the mercy of God on account of their sins:

“O faithful, let us discover the power of the divine mystery. The Prodigal came back from his sin and returned to his father’s house; in his lovingkindness his father came out to meet him and kissed him. He restored him to the glory of his house, and prepared a mystical banquet on high. He killed the fatted calf so that we might share in his joy; the joy of the Father who offers in love, and the joy of the Lamb who gives himself for us; for He is Christ, the Savior of our souls.” [8]

 

6) Patience

Constant vigilance and perseverance, with continual thanksgiving to God, fights against the vice of self-love. While avarice is considered the root of all evil by the Fathers, the inordinate love of the body and its pleasures is considered the “mother of vices,” to be striven against mightily during the Great Fast: [9]

“The arena of virtues is now open! Let all who wish to begin training now enter! Prepare yourselves for the struggle of the Fast; those who strive valiantly shall receive the crown! Let us put on the armor of the Cross to combat the Enemy, taking faith as our unshakable rampart. Let us put on prayer as our breastplate, and charity as our helmet. As our sword, let us use fasting, for it cuts out all evil from our hearts. Those who do this shall truly receive the crown format he hands of Christ, the almighty One, on the day of judgment.” [10]

 

7) Prayer

As was mentioned above, any increase in discipline must be accompanied by increased prayer, marked by a spirit of true compunction, humility, and interior stillness. This virtue combats the vice of arrogance, which ascribes progress to the self rather than to God. In prayer, one remembers that all good comes ultimately from God Himself, and in humility the Christian acknowledges that all he has is a gift from the Creator of all things:

“Let us fall down before God in prayer and tears; with deep sighs, let us imitate the humility of the Publican which lifted him up, so that we may sing in faith: ‘Blessed are you, O Lord, God of our fathers.'” [11]

 

8) Humility

Although the demons keep vigil in the sense that they do not sleep, and fast in the sense that they do not eat, the virtues of prayer and especially humility make the Christian soul a frightful bane for them to behold. The Damascene, therefore, proscribes this virtue as a remedy against pride. The believer should refrain from judging or despising anyone, emulating the repentant Publican rather than the boastful Pharisee. We must therefore consider ourselves as the “least of all” among our fellow human beings. [12]

“Seeing the dignity to which the humble are raised, and the deep abyss into which the proud fall, let us imitate the virtue of the Publican, and despise the sins of the Pharisee.” [13]

 

9) Repentance

Although not included in Damascene’s list, it is of course naturally implied, being part and parcel with the other Lenten virtues. Indeed, without true repentance, the other virtues are no longer meritorious. Confession of sin, tears of compunction, and good works are all radiant jewels in the crown of repentance, lauded in the Byzantine liturgy as the “queen of virtues”:

“O faithful, let us purify ourselves with repentance, the queen of virtues. Behold, it brings us an abundance of blessings. It dresses the wounds of passions, it reconciles sinners with the Master. Therefore, let us embrace it with joy, and cry out to Christ our God: ‘You are risen from the dead; keep us free from condemnation, for we glorify you as the only sinless One.” [14]

And so, with our minds firmly fixed on these virtues—and on God, who is the Source of all that is good—let us begin the “bright sadness” of Lent, cleaving firmly to Christ in faith and in love. May God create in us a clean heart, and the governance of His Holy and Life-giving Spirit, that we may enter worthily into the mystery of Our Lord’s Passion and Resurrection.

***

 

Born in Charleston, S.C., Brian Battersby is a recent graduate from the M.A. program in Theology from Ave Maria University. Originally a convert from Protestantism, he was confirmed into the Church at the Easter Vigil in 2005. In addition to theology, he also has a great love of the liturgy, sacred music, the Church Fathers (especially John Damascene), and the Byzantine East. He currently resides with his beautiful wife in North Carolina.

 

Footnotes:

[1] The list itself is taken from an ascetical work of St. John Damascene, On the Virtues and the Vices (Philokalia, vol. II, p. 338). In addition to writing superb theological treatises, he also composed beautiful liturgical hymns, for which he is somewhat less known in the West. It was he who wrote the famous Canon of Pascha, a work in honor of the Resurrection. It is fittingly called the “Golden Canon” in the Eastern churches, both on account of the magnificence of its imagery and the sublimity of its Subject. Western Christians may already be familiar with this monumental work through the English hymn The Day of Resurrection, a translation of the Canon of Pascha from the original Greek into English verse by the John M. Neale, an Anglican cleric of the nineteenth century.

[2] Theodoros the Great Ascetic, A Century of Spiritual Texts, Philokalia, vol. II, p. 26.

[3] Canon for the Sunday of Forgiveness, Ode 1.

[4] Sticheron from the Vespers of Forgiveness Sunday.

[5] John Damascene, On the Virtues and the Vices, Philokalia, vol. II, 335; cf. 1 Timothy 6:10.

[6] Second Sessional Hymn from Matins of Great and Holy Wednesday.

[7] Canon of the Publican and the Pharisee, Ode 3.

[8] Sticheron from the Vespers of Forgiveness Sunday.

[9] John Damascene, On the Virtues and the Vices, Philokalia, vol. II, 335.

[10] Sticheron from Matins of Forgiveness Sunday.

[11] Canon of the Publican and Pharisee, Ode 7.

[12] John of Damascus, On the Virtues and the Vices, Philokalia, vol, II, p. 338.

[13] Canon of the Publican and Pharisee, Ode 1.

[14] Matins Doxastikon for the Sunday of Judgment.

8 Spiritual Maxims from Saint John of the Cross

“The way of faith is sound and safe, and along this souls must journey on from virtue to virtue, shutting their eyes against every object of sense and a clear and particular perception.” – St. John of the Cross

Listers, St. John of the Cross is the great Mystic Doctor of the Church. Along with St.Theresa of Ávila he founded the Discalced Carmelites, and this reform is only one aspect of his work in the Counter-Reformation. His reform of the Carmelite order was opposed by many within the order and eventually led to his imprisonment by the religious community in Toledo. There he composed the great part of many of his poems. He is still considered to be one of if not the pre-eminent poets of the Spanish language. His insight into the spiritual life makes him one of the most fascinating and important saints for all Catholics.

In honor of the Year of Faith, SPL is sharing eight of his twenty Spiritual Maxims on Faith. The Spiritual Maxims are a collection of quotes written by St. John of the Cross, and selected by him, from his various writings. In compiling these maxims, he prays:

Oh my Lord, Thou lovest discretion, and light, but love, more than all the other operations of the soul; so then let these maxims furnish discretion to the wayfarer, enlighten him by the way, and supply him with motives of love for his journey. Away, then, with the rhetoric of the world, sounding words and the dry eloquence of human wisdom, weak and delusive, never pleasing unto Thee.

The Spiritual Maxims on Faith

 

17. The way of faith is sound and safe, and along this souls must journey on from virtue to virtue, shutting their eyes against every object of sense and a clear and particular perception. ~A. ii. 16, 13.

 

18. When the inspirations are from God they are always in the order of the motives of his law, and of the faith, in the perfection of which the soul should ever draw nearer and nearer to God. ~L.F. Stanza iii. sec.29.

 

19. The soul that travels in the light and verities of the faith is secured against error, for error proceeds ordinarily from our own proper desires, tastes, reflections, and understanding, wherein there is generally too much or too little; and hence the inclination to that which is not seemly. ~D.N. ii. 16, 2.

 

20. By the faith the soul travels protected against the devil, its strongest and craftiest foe; and St. Peter knew of no stronger defence against him when he said: “Resist him, strong in faith.” ~D.N. xxi. 4, 5.

 

21. The soul that would draw near unto God and unite itself with Him, must do so by not comprehending rather than by comprehending, in utter forgetfulness of created things; because it must change the mutable and comprehensible for the immutable and the incomprehensible, Who is God. ~A. iii. 4, 3.

 

22. Outward light enables us to see that we may not fall; it is otherwise in the things of God, for there it is better not to see, and the soul is in greater security.

 

23. It being certain that in this life we know God better by what he is not then by what he is, it is necessary, if we are to draw near unto him, that the soul must deny, to the uttermost, all that may be denied of its apprehensions, both natural and supernatural. ~A. iii. 1, 1.

 

24. All apprehension and knowledge of supernatural things cannot help us to love God so much as the least act of living faith and hope made in detachment from all things. ~A. iii. 7, 4.

 

Taken from: St. John of the Cross, The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, Vol. II. Trans. David Lewis. New York: Cosimo Classics, 2007.

Index of abbreviations:
A. – The Ascent of Mount Carmel
L. F.  – The Living Flame of Love
D. N. – The Dark Night of the Soul

 

This list was compiled by Abram Muenzberg, who writes at Men Like Wine, with the help of St. John of the Cross and David Lewis.

6 Things You Should Know about the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

“The Scapular is a practice of piety which by its very simplicity is suited to everyone, and has spread widely among the faithful of Christ to their spiritual profit.” – Pope Pius XII

Listers, have you ever contemplated where the title of the Virgin Mary, “Our Lady of Mt Carmel” came from? Do you find it odd that some traditional Roman Catholics wear their Brown Scapular 24/7? Hopefully this list will help address some of the questions concerning devotion to the Brown Scapular.

“If I should say anything that is not in conformity with what is held by the Holy Roman Catholic Church, it will be through ignorance and not through malice.”
– St Teresa of Avila

A 1996 doctrinal statement approved by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments states that “Devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel is bound to the history and spiritual values of the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel and is expressed through the scapular. Thus, whoever receives the scapular becomes a member of the order and pledges him/herself to live according to its spirituality in accordance with the characteristics of his/her state in life.”

 

1. St Simon Stock

Saint Simon Stock was born in England and was a Prior General of the Brothers of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel who had their origins in Palenstine. Some of the brothers relocated to Europe in the early 13th century and became a mendicant order (mendicants live solely on alms). There are various controversies surrounding the vision of Our Lady that St. Simon had, one account goes as follows:

“St. Simon was an Englishman, a man of great holiness and devotion, who always in his prayers asked the Virgin to favour his Order with some singular privilege. The Virgin appeared to him holding the Scapular in her hand saying, ‘This is for you and yours a privilege; the one who dies in it will be saved.'”1

This goes without saying, the original context of this promise was for those who preserved in their vocation as Carmelites. In the 16th century, the Carmelites began distributing Brown Scapulars to the laity and became a very popular sacramental.

 

2. Who is Our Lady of Mt Carmel?

Simply put, Our Lady of Mt Carmel is the Virgin Mary. It was a title bestowed upon Her because She is the patroness of the Carmelite order. The first Carmelites lived on Mt Carmel in the Holy Land and were hermits in the 12th century. They built a chapel in honour of The Virgin and entitled it: “Our Lady of the Place”.

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, OCD, a revered authority on Carmelite spirituality, wrote that devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel means:

“Our Lady wants us to resemble her not only in our outward vesture but, far more, in heart and spirit. If we gaze into Mary’s soul, we shall see that grace in her has flowered into a spiritual life of incalcuable wealth: a life of recollection, prayer, uninterrupted oblation to God, continual contact, and intimate union with him. Mary’s soul is a sanctuary reserved for God alone, where no human creature has ever left its trace, where love and zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of mankind reign supreme. […] Those who want to live their devotion to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel to the full must follow Mary into the depths of her interior life. Carmel is the symbol of the contemplative life, the life wholly dedicated to the quest for God, wholly orientated towards intimacy with God; and the one who has best realized this highest of ideals is Our Lady herself, ‘Queen and Splendor of Carmel’.”

 

3. Promises of wearing the Scapular

On July 16th 1251 the Blessed Mary made this promise to Saint Simon Stock: “Take this Scapular, it shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger and a pledge of peace. Whosoever dies wearing this Scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.” She continues, “Wear the Scapular devoutly and perseveringly. It is my garment. To be clothed in it means you are continually thinking of me, and I in turn, am always thinking of you and helping you to secure eternal life.” Partial indulgence granted by Pope Benedict XV to those who devoutly kiss their scapular.

Amongst the myriad of miracles attributed to the Brown Scapular, there are a few more famous occurrences:

In May 1957, in Westenboden, Germany, an entire row of houses had caught fire. The inhabitants of one of the houses fixed a scapular to the front door of their home. Five hours later, 22 homes on the block had burnt to the ground. Yet amidst the destruction, the home with the scapular attached to it stood unharmed. This miracle was witnessed by hundreds of people.

Three holy men devoted to the scapular, Pope Bl. Gregory X, St. Alphonsus Liguori, and St. John Bosco, all died wearing the scapular. When their graves were opened years later, the bodies and vestments had decayed but their scapulars remained perfectly intact.

In November of 1955, a plane carrying 27 passengers crashed in Guatemala. All the passengers died except for one young girl. She related that when the plane was going down, she clutched her scapular and cried out to Our Lady for help. She was burnt and her clothes were tattered and burnt as well, but the girl was overall unharmed and her scapular free from any burns.2

 

4. The Rosary and the Scapular Are Inseparable

In order to obtain the graces and promises recieved from wearing the Scapular, one should wear it devoutly. In other words, under the usual conditions, i.e. state of grace (Go to Confession regularly!!), be properly invested/enrolled by a Catholic priest, pray either the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary or 5 decades of the Most Holy Rosary daily. Novenas to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel are optional but highly recommended to show the Mater Dei that we Her most lowly and undeserving servants have faith in Her most powerful protection and intercession.

 

5. Saintly Quotes on Brown Scapular

Pope Pius XII stated:
“Let it [the Brown Scapular] be your sign of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which We are particularly urging in these perilous times.”

Pope Pius XII went so far as to say:
“The Scapular is a practice of piety which by its very simplicity is suited to everyone, and has spread widely among the faithful of Christ to their spiritual profit.”

In our own times, Pope Paul VI said:
“Let the faithful hold in high esteem the practices and devotions to the Blessed Virgin … the Rosary and the Scapular of Carmel” and in another place referred to the Scapular as that which is “so highly recommended by our illustrious predecessors.”

St. Alphonsus tell us:
“Modern heretics make a mockery of wearing the Scapular, they decry it as so much trifling nonsense.”

 

6. Our Lady: Prayers, Lists, and More

1. Prayer to Our Lady of Mount. Carmel
2. Litany of Intercession to Our Lady of Mount Carmel
2. Investiture of the Brown Scapular in English and Latin
3. Nossa Senhora do Rosário de Fátima: 4 Things You Must Know About Our Lady of Fatima
4. Virgo Potens: 8 Quotes by Roman Pontiffs on the Holy Rosary

Many more lists of quotes and prayers may be found via the SPL threads of Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, and the Rosary. An exhaustive list of the articles by John Henry may be found here including the very popular Domestic Church: 7 Steps to a Proper Catholic Home and the controversial All Human Creatures are Subject to the Pope.

  1. Medieval Devotion to Mary among the Carmelites, Fr Carroll, O.Carmel []
  2. Stories were taken from Garment of Grace by the Slaves of the Immaculata. Vienna , OH; 1991 []

Modern Man Has Lost His Way: 13 Comments on the Western Heritage of Christ and Socrates

“The controversy as to the relations between Pope and Emperor, stripped of its non-essentials, was a controversy as to the end and purpose of life on earth.” – J.W. Allen

Listers, Father James V. Schall S.J. is one of the preeminent Catholic political thinkers of our time. Fr. Schall’s “The Point of Medieval Political Philosophy” is found within his collection of excellent essays entitled The Mind That Is Catholic: Philosophical & Political Essays (p. 151-161). SPL highly recommends the work and has previously recommended the erudition of Fr. Schall in the list 6 Books for a Proper Introduction to Catholic Political Thought. The essay focuses on Catholicism’s heritage and belief that Faith and Reason are harmonious – an orthodox claim not found in Judaism or Islam.1 The problem is that this heritage of faith and reason that built the West is now no longer found in modern man. Fr. Schall’s essay is an excellent and brief commentary on what modern man can learn from the medieval political mind.

SPL has selected various quotes, provided titles, and in certain cases provided footnotes with commentary and/or lists for further reading. All quotes are taken from the essay and are attributed to Fr. Schall unless otherwise cited.

 

1. Socrates and Christ

“We should… formally receive as European citizens every new generation, at an adequate time, and during the ceremony present to each youth a copy of a book bearing the text from Plato describing the death of Socrates, and from the Gospels, describing the death of Christ, not merely because they are the two spiritual fathers of Europe but because they both perished at the hands of the state.” – Spanish philosopher Salvador de Madariage, receiving the International Charlemagne Peace Prize

 

2. Political Realism

“All medieval thinkers had read their Augustine, who told them not to be surprised if such dire events as the killing of Socrates and of Christ should happen again and again in this world, in their very midst, in their very cities. Boethius, who was killed by an emperor, and Sir Thomas More, who was killed by a king, at the far ends of the middle ages, can be said to stand as proof of this possibility. The Augustinian heritage of “political realism” has prepared us for what ought not to happen but still does happen among us.”2

 

3. Political Animals

“Medieval men came later to read Aquinas, who told them that the state, while it could indeed be ruled by wicked men and be configured in distorted regimes, also, as Aristotle maintained, had something positive to accomplish, by and for honorable men in and about this world. Man was a political animal, even in the Fall, even before the Fall. The polity was not simply or primarily the result of original sin, even though that sin had plenty to do with how it appeared among us and why there were recurring disorders that the state could not seem effectively to remedy.”3

 

4. Pope and Emperor

“The controversy as to the relations between Pope and Emperor, stripped of its non-essentials, was a controversy as to the end and purpose of life on earth.” – J.W. Allen

 

5. Man Both Belongs to and Transcends the Politics

“Medieval political philosophy is the effort to think properly about politics when man, in his one given being, both belongs to and transcends the civitas, the civil community. […] For medieval thinkers, politics had a place within overall intellectual order. But it did not form the intellectual order itself.”

 

6. What is Philosophy?

“Philosophy itself is the effort to understand, by the unaided power of the human intellect, what is, in its causes and its wholeness.”

 

7. The Erroneous Two Truths Theory

“The famous ‘two truths theory’ in Arabic and late medieval theory sought to propose a workable solution for any problems between revelation and reason whereby the two could ‘contradict’ each other; that is, though contradictory, both could be true. This move, however, split the integrity of the human mind in two. Medieval theory, including medieval political philosophy, at its best, however, found enough reason in revelation and enough perplexing lacunae in reason to lead it to suspect that the whole includes both in some coherent order.”4

 

8. A Block to Islam’s Progression

“One of those blocks (that prevent the ‘Middle East from entering the mainstream of modernity’) is the orthodox tenet that the Koran and the scriptures contain all the knowledge required to deal with the problems of contemporary society.” – Arnold Beichman of Milton Viorst

 

9. Islam Is a Political Religion

“For Christianity, revelation is not a substitute for experience or for the books of the political thinkers about the proper rule of the city. The Koran, on the other hand, is conceived to be a description of the best city or regime. All regimes not embodying its strictures are held to be inferior. That is, revelation is a law.”

 

10. The Silence of the Muslim Philosopher

“For the Muslims, the law has replaced politics, so that the philosopher has to become a strictly private man in order to survive. Unlike Socrates, the philosopher is not killed by the state; rather he is simply reduced to silence or irrelevance.”

 

11. Catholic Mystery, Not Uncertainty

“Medieval theory did not consider the human mind every to match or comprehend the divine mind and its relationship through eternal law to the order of things. There was a certain contentment with mystery, but a mystery that was bathed in light and not confusion. All intelligence, including human intelligence, was able to know after its own manner.”5

 

12. The End of Medieval Thinking

“The transition from William of Occam and Marsilius of Padua to Hobbes marks the end of medieval thinking. The divine will, presupposed to nothing but itself, presupposed to no divine reason in Occam and Marsilius, becomes political will in Hobbes, again a will presupposed to nothing but itself.”

 

13. The Most-Telling Absence

“This book is the Summa Theologiae of Thomas Aquinas, the philosopher and theologian of the Middle Ages, the absence of whose presence has defined our modernity.”6

  1. Faith and Reason: An example of this claim would be that both Judaism and Islam are law based religions – both political religions – while Catholicism is a religion of dogmas (and properly understand as transpolitical). The latter requires a harmony of faith and reason to ascertain the truth of the dogma, while the former requires only obedience to the law. This observation is a classic understanding and has been expressed by both Fr. Schall and the Jewish philosopher Leo Strauss. []
  2. Further Reading: While St. Augustine gifted the idea of “political realism” to Catholicism, his own political thought had a significant gap – nature and natural law. SPL has addressed this lacuna in Augustinian political thought in the list The Enchanted Forest: 6 Political Teachings from St. Augustine. Furthermore, SPL has also catelogued many of St. Thomas More’s prayers in the list Lets Kill All the Lawyers. []
  3. Further Reading: Understanding Aristotle, his political thought, and his contribution to Western Civilization has become a main topic on SPL (An exhaustive list of articles with Aristotle here). The most pertinent list to understand Fr. Schall’s comments is Political Animals and the Philosopher King: 9 Thoughts from Book One of Aristotle’s Politics. []
  4. Two Truths Theory: Particularly with the dawn of Aristotle, both Catholicism and Islam struggled to understand the relationship of reason and faith. The struggle was epitomized with Aristotle’s rational articulation of nature as an enclosed system of laws, i.e., natural law. Before Aquinas, Averroes, the Islamic philosopher, submitted a “two truths theory” – one truth of revelation and one truth of reason. []
  5. Mystery & Uncertainty: The medieval mind’s mystery bathed in light may be seen in how the Incarnation is at its heart a mystery, but by the light of reason men have contemplated and explored the mystery – even thought there is mystery, man may know certain things with certainty   The modern mind sees the mystery within Catholicism and misuses it to bathe the entire religion in uncertainty, unraveling dogmas and sacred tradition. []
  6. Further Reading: SPL has written extensively on Aquinas (click here) and on the subject of law (click here); however, the best starting point for a thomistic understanding of law is Law and the Common Good: 9 Introductory Catholic Questions. Enjoy. []

Is It Not Unjust to Punish Us for the Sins of Adam and Eve? – 25 Questions on Our First Parents

“This sin is called original because it comes down to us from our first parents, and we are brought into the world with its guilt on our soul.”

Listers, the following lesson is taken from the Baltimore Catechism. The Baltimore Catechism was the standard catechism of teaching the faith and catechizing children from 1885 to Vatican II. Its basic question-and-answer approach is the most natural learning style for the human mind and simplifies even the most complex theological questions. All the lists taken from the Baltimore Catechism may be found here. The following is part II of how SPL has broken down the Baltimore Catechism’s lesson on our first parents. The first part can be found at Could the Soul “Evolve” from Inferior Animals? – 16 Questions on Adam and Eve.

 

Baltimore Catechism No. 3 – Lesson 5

LESSON FIFTH
On our First Parents and the Fall – Part II

 

Q. 249. Did Adam and Eve remain faithful to God?

A. Adam and Eve did not remain faithful to God, but broke His command by eating the forbidden fruit.

 

Q. 250. Who was the first to disobey God?

A. Eve was the first to disobey God, and she induced Adam to do likewise.

 

Q. 251. How was Eve tempted to sin?

A. Eve was tempted to sin by the devil, who came in the form of a serpent and persuaded her to break God’s command.

 

Q. 252. Which were the chief causes that led Eve into sin?

A. The chief causes that led Eve into sin were: (1) She went into the danger of sinning by admiring what was forbidden, instead of avoiding it. (2) She did not fly from the temptation at once, but debated about yielding to it. Similar conduct on our part will lead us also into sin.

 

Q. 253. What befell Adam and Eve on account of their sin?

A. Adam and Eve, on account of their sin, lost innocence and holiness, and were doomed to sickness and death.

 

Q. 254. What other evils befell Adam and Eve on account of their sin?

A. Many other evils befell Adam and Eve on account of their sin. They were driven out of Paradise and condemned to toil. God also ordained that henceforth the earth should yield no crops without cultivation, and that the beasts, man’s former friends, should become his savage enemies.

 

Q. 255. Were we to remain in the Garden of Paradise forever if Adam had not sinned?

A. We were not to remain in the Garden of Paradise forever even if Adam had not sinned, but after passing through the years of our probation or trial upon earth we were to be taken, body and soul, into heaven without suffering death.

 

Q. 256. What evil befell us on account of the disobedience of our first parents?

A. On account of the disobedience of our first parents, we all share in their sin and punishment, as we should have shared in their happiness if they had remained faithful.

 

Q. 257. Is it not unjust to punish us for the sin of our first parents?

A. It is not unjust to punish us for the sin of our first parents, because their punishment consisted in being deprived of a free gift of God; that is, of the gift of original justice to which they had no strict right and which they willfully forfeited by their act of disobedience.

 

Q. 258. But how did the loss of the gift of original justice leave our first parents and us in mortal sin?

A. The loss of the gift of original justice left our first parents and us in mortal sin because it deprived them of the Grace of God, and to be without this gift of Grace which they should have had was to be in mortal sin. As all their children are deprived of the same gift, they, too, come into the world in a state of mortal sin.

 

Q. 259. What other effects followed from the sin of our first parents?

A. Our nature was corrupted by the sin of our first parents, which darkened our understanding, weakened our will, and left in us a strong inclination to evil.

 

Q. 260. What do we mean by “our nature was corrupted”?

A. When we say “our nature was corrupted” we mean that our whole being, body and soul, was injured in all its parts and powers.

 

Q. 261. Why do we say our understanding was darkened?

A. We say our understanding was darkened because even with much learning we have not the clear knowledge, quick perception and retentive memory that Adam had before his fall from grace.

 

Q. 262. Why do we say our will was weakened?

A. We say our will was weakened to show that our free will was not entirely taken away by Adam’s sin, and that we have it still in our power to use our free will in doing good or evil.

 

Q. 263. In what does the strong inclination to evil that is left in us consist?

A. This strong inclination to evil that is left in us consists in the continual efforts our senses and appetites make to lead our souls into sin. The body is inclined to rebel against the soul, and the soul itself to rebel against God.

 

Q. 264. What is this strong inclination to evil called, and why did God permit it to remain in us?

A. This strong inclination to evil is called concupiscence, and God permits it to remain in us that by His grace we may resist it and thus increase our merits.

 

Q. 265. What is the sin called which we inherit from our first parents?

A. The sin which we inherit from our first parents is called original sin.

 

Q. 266. Why is this sin called original?

A. This sin is called original because it comes down to us from our first parents, and we are brought into the world with its guilt on our soul.

 

Q. 267. Does this corruption of our nature remain in us after original sin is forgiven?

A. This corruption of our nature and other punishments remain in us after original sin is forgiven.

 

Q. 268. Was any one ever preserved from original sin?

A. The Blessed Virgin Mary, through the merits of her Divine Son, was preserved free from the guilt of original sin, and this privilege is called her Immaculate Conception.

 

Q. 269. Why was the Blessed Virgin preserved from original sin?

A. The Blessed Virgin was preserved from original sin because it would not be consistent with the dignity of the Son of God to have His Mother, even for an instant, in the power of the devil and an enemy of God.

 

Q. 270. How could the Blessed Virgin be preserved from sin by her Divine Son, before her Son was born?

A. The Blessed Virgin could be preserved from sin by her Divine Son before He was born as man, for He always existed as God and foresaw His own future merits and the dignity of His Mother. He therefore by His future merits provided for her privilege of exemption from original sin.

 

Q. 271. What does the “Immaculate Conception” mean?

A. The Immaculate Conception means the Blessed Virgin’s own exclusive privilege of coming into existence, through the merits of Jesus Christ, without the stain of original sin. It does not mean, therefore, her sinless life, perpetual virginity or the miraculous conception of Our Divine Lord by the power of the Holy Ghost.

 

Q. 272. What has always been the belief of the Church concerning this truth?

A. The Church has always believed in the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin and to place this truth beyond doubt has declared it an Article of Faith.

 

Q. 273. To what should the thoughts of the Immaculate Conception lead us?

A. The thoughts of the Immaculate Conception should lead us to a great love of purity and to a desire of imitating the Blessed Virgin in the practice of that holy virtue.

Could the Soul “Evolve” from Inferior Animals? – 16 Questions on Adam and Eve

The Garden of Paradise was a large and beautiful place prepared for man’s habitation upon earth. It was supplied with every species of plant and animal and with everything that could contribute to man’s happiness.

Listers, the following lesson is taken from the Baltimore Catechism. The Baltimore Catechism was the standard catechism of teaching the faith and catechizing children from 1885 to Vatican II. Its basic question-and-answer approach is the most natural learning style for the human mind and simplifies even the most complex theological questions. All the lists taken from the Baltimore Catechism may be found here.

 

Baltimore Catechism No. 3 – Lesson 5

LESSON FIFTH
On our First Parents and the Fall – Part I

 

Q. 233. Who were the first man and woman?

A. The first man and woman were Adam and Eve.

 

Q. 234. Are there any persons in the world who are not the descendants of Adam and Eve?

A. There are no persons in the world now, and there never have been any, who are not the descendants of Adam and Eve, because the whole human race had but one origin.

 

Q. 235. Do not the differences in color, figure, etc., which we find in distinct races indicate a difference in first parents?

A. The differences in color, figure, etc., which we find in distinct races do not indicate a difference in first parents, for these differences have been brought about in the lapse of time by other causes, such as climate, habits, etc.

 

Q. 236. Were Adam and Eve innocent and holy when they came from the hand of God?

A. Adam and Eve were innocent and holy when they came from the hand of God.

 

Q. 237. What do we mean by saying Adam and Eve “were innocent” when they came from the hand of God?

A. When we say Adam and Eve “were innocent” when they came from the hand of God we mean they were in the state of original justice; that is, they were gifted with every virtue and free from every sin.

 

Q. 238. How was Adam’s body formed?

A. God formed Adam’s body out of the clay of the earth and then breathed into it a living soul.

 

Q. 239. How was Eve’s body formed?

A. Eve’s body was formed from a rib taken from Adam’s side during a deep sleep which God caused to come upon him.

 

Q. 240. Why did God make Eve from one of Adam’s ribs?

A. God made Eve from one of Adam’s ribs to show the close relationship existing between husband and wife in their marriage union which God then instituted.

 

Q. 241. Could man’s body be developed from the body of an inferior animal?

A. Man’s body could be developed from the body of an inferior animal if God so willed; but science does not prove that man’s body was thus formed, while revelation teaches that it was formed directly by God from the clay of the earth.1

 

Q. 242. Could man’s soul and intelligence be formed by the development of animal life and instinct?

A. Man’s soul could not be formed by the development of animal instinct; for, being entirely spiritual, it must be created by God, and it is united to the body as soon as the body is prepared to receive it.2

 

Q. 243. Did God give any command to Adam and Eve?

A. To try their obedience, God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of a certain fruit which grew in the garden of Paradise.

 

Q. 244. What was the Garden of Paradise?

A. The Garden of Paradise was a large and beautiful place prepared for man’s habitation upon earth. It was supplied with every species of plant and animal and with everything that could contribute to man’s happiness.

 

Q. 245. Where was the Garden of Paradise situated?

A. The exact place in which the Garden of Paradise — called also the Garden of Eden — was situated is not known, for the deluge may have so changed the surface of the earth that old landmarks were wiped out. It was probably some place in Asia, not far from the river Euphrates.

 

Q. 246. What was the tree bearing the forbidden fruit called?

A. The tree bearing the forbidden fruit was called “the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”

 

Q. 247. Do we know the name of any other tree in the garden?

A. We know the name of another tree in the Garden called the “tree of life.” Its fruit kept the bodies of our first parents in a state of perfect health.

 

Q. 248. Which were the chief blessings intended for Adam and Eve had they remained faithful to God?

A. The chief blessings intended for Adam and Eve, had they remained faithful to God, were a constant state of happiness in this life and everlasting glory in the next.

  1. SPL Note on Evolution: It should be remembered that the Baltimore Catechism was published in 1885 – science has made significant headway in the area of evolution since then. []
  2. SPL Note on Evolution II: Assume that evolution is an undeniable scientific fact, even with that granted the soul cannot “evolve;” thus, there would have to be a moment in time where God went from guiding evolution via nature to divinely intervening to create man with an immortal soul capable of free will – for holiness or sin. This moment in time and the story surrounding it is most certainly the Adam and Eve story. []

EUCHARIST: 46 Basic Questions on the Source and Summit of the Catholic Life

When we say the Sacrament which contains the Body and Blood, we mean the Sacrament which is the Body and Blood, for after the Consecration there is no other substance present in the Eucharist.

Listers, the following lesson is taken from the Baltimore Catechism. The Baltimore Catechism was the standard catechism of teaching the faith and catechizing children from 1885 to Vatican II. Its basic question-and-answer approach is the most natural learning style for the human mind and simplifies even the most complex theological questions.

 

The following list is composed of four previous SPL lists on the Eucharist:
This Is My Body: 10 Questions to Help Explain the Holy Eucharist
Transubstantiation: 10 Questions on the Substance of the Holy Eucharist
Do This in Memory of Me: 7 Questions on the Eucharist
21 Questions on Why the Eucharist Was Given to Man

 

Baltimore Catechism No. 3

LESSON TWENTY-SECOND
On the Holy Eucharist

 

Q. 869. What does the word Eucharist strictly mean?

A. The word Eucharist strictly means pleasing, and this Sacrament is so called because it renders us most pleasing to God by the grace it imparts, and it gives us the best means of thanking Him for all His blessings.

 

Q. 870. What is the Holy Eucharist?

A. The Holy Eucharist is the Sacrament which contains the body and blood, soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ under the appearances of bread and wine.

 

Q. 871. What do we mean when we say the Sacrament which contains the Body and Blood?

A. When we say the Sacrament which contains the Body and Blood, we mean the Sacrament which is the Body and Blood, for after the Consecration there is no other substance present in the Eucharist.

 

Q. 872. When is the Holy Eucharist a Sacrament, and when is it a sacrifice?

A. The Holy Eucharist is a Sacrament when we receive it in Holy Communion and when it remains in the Tabernacle of the Altar. It is a sacrifice when it is offered up at Mass by the separate Consecration of the bread and wine, which signifies the separation of Our Lord’s blood from His body when He died on the Cross.

 

Q. 873. When did Christ institute the Holy Eucharist?

A. Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, the night before He died.

 

Q. 874. Who were present when our Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist?

A. When Our Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist, the twelve Apostles were present.

 

Q. 875. How did our Lord institute the Holy Eucharist?

A. Our Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist by taking bread, blessing, breaking, and giving to His Apostles, saying: “Take ye and eat. This is my body”; and then, by taking the cup of wine, blessing and giving it, saying to them: “Drink ye all of this. This is my blood which shall be shed for the remission of sins. Do this for a commemoration of me.”

 

Q. 876. What happened when our Lord said, “This is my body; this is my blood”?

A. When Our Lord said, “This is my body,” the substance of the bread was changed into the substance of His body; when He said, “This is my blood,” the substance of the wine was changed into the substance of His blood.

 

Q. 877. How do we prove the Real Presence, that is, that Our Lord is really and truly present in the Holy Eucharist?

A. We prove the Real Presence — that is, that Our Lord is really and truly present in the Holy Eucharist:

By showing that it is possible to change one substance into another;
By showing that Christ did change the substance of bread and wine into the substance of His body and blood;
By showing that He gave this power also to His Apostles and to the priests of His Church.

 

Q. 878. How do we know that it is possible to change one substance into another?

A. We know that it is possible to change one substance into another, because:

God changed water into blood during the plagues of Egypt.
Christ changed water into wine at the marriage of Cana.
Our own food is daily changed into the substance of our flesh and blood; and what God does gradually, He can also do instantly by an act of His will.

 

Q. 879. Are these changes exactly the same as the changes that take place in the Holy Eucharist?

A. These changes are not exactly the same as the changes that take place in the Holy Eucharist, for in these changes the appearance also is changed, but in the Holy Eucharist only the substance is changed while the appearance remains the same.

 

Q. 880. How do we show that Christ did change bread and wine into the substance of His body and blood?

A. We show that Christ did change bread and wine into the substance of His body and blood:

From the words by which He promised the Holy Eucharist;
From the words by which He instituted the Holy Eucharist;
From the constant use of the Holy Eucharist in the Church since the time of the Apostles;
From the impossibility of denying the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist, without likewise denying all that Christ has taught and done; for we have stronger proofs for the Holy Eucharist than for any other Christian truth.

 

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has been an advocate of returning to a kneeling posture while receiving the Holy Eucharist.

 

Q. 881. Is Jesus Christ whole and entire both under the form of bread and under the form of wine?

A. Jesus Christ is whole and entire both under the form of bread and under the form of wine.

 

Q. 882. How do we know that under the appearance of bread we receive also Christ’s blood; and under the appearance of wine we receive also Christ’s body?

A. We know that under the appearance of bread we receive also Christ’s blood, and under the appearance of wine we receive also Christ’s body; because in the Holy Eucharist we receive the living body of Our Lord, and a living body cannot exist without blood, nor can living blood exist without a body.

 

Q. 883. Is Jesus Christ present whole and entire in the smallest portion of the Holy Eucharist, under the form of either bread or wine?

A. Jesus Christ is present whole and entire in the smallest portion of the Holy Eucharist under the form of either bread or wine; for His body in the Eucharist is in a glorified state, and as it partakes of the character of a spiritual substance, it requires no definite size or shape.

 

Q. 884. Did anything remain of the bread and wine after their substance had been changed into the substance of the body and blood of our Lord?

A. After the substance of the bread and wine had been changed into the substance of the body and blood of Our Lord, there remained only the appearances of bread and wine.

 

Q. 885. What do you mean by the appearances of bread and wine?

A. By the appearances of bread and wine I mean the figure, the color, the taste, and whatever appears to the senses.

 

Q. 886. What is this change of the bread and wine into the body and blood of our Lord called?

A. This change of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Our Lord is called Transubstantiation.

 

Q. 887. What is the second great miracle in the Holy Eucharist?

A. The second great miracle in the Holy Eucharist is the multiplication of the presence of Our Lord’s body in so many places at the same time, while the body itself is not multiplied — for there is but one body of Christ.

 

Q. 888. Are there not, then, as many bodies of Christ as there are tabernacles in the world, or as there are Masses being said at the same time?

A. There are not as many bodies of Christ as there are tabernacles in the world, or as there are Masses being said at the same time; but only one body of Christ, which is everywhere present whole and entire in the Holy Eucharist, as God is everywhere present, while He is but one God.

 

Q. 889. How was the substance of the bread and wine changed into the substance of the body and blood of Christ?

A. The substance of the bread and wine was changed into the substance of the body and blood of Christ by His almighty power.

 

Q. 890. Does this change of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ continue to be made in the Church?

A. This change of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ continues to be made in the Church by Jesus Christ through the ministry of His priests.

 

Adoration

 

Q. 891. When did Christ give His priests the power to change bread and wine into His body and blood?

A. Christ gave His priests the power to change bread and wine into His body and blood when He said to the Apostles, “Do this in commemoration of Me.”

 

Q. 892. What do the words “Do this in commemoration of Me” mean?

A. The words “Do this in commemoration of Me” mean: Do what I, Christ, am doing at My last supper, namely, changing the substance of bread and wine into the substance of My body and blood; and do it in remembrance of Me.

 

Q. 893. How do the priests exercise this power of changing bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ?

A. The priests exercise this power of changing bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ through the words of consecration in the Mass, which are words of Christ: “This is my body; this is my blood.”

 

Q. 894. At what part of the Mass does the Consecration take place?

A. The Consecration in the Mass takes place immediately before the elevation of the Host and Chalice, which are raised above the head of the priest that the people may adore Our Lord who has just come to the altar at the words of Consecration.

 

LESSON TWENTY-THIRD
On the Ends for Which the Holy Eucharist Was Instituted

 

Q. 895. Why did Christ institute the Holy Eucharist?

A. Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist:

To unite us to Himself and to nourish our soul with His divine life.
To increase sanctifying grace and all virtues in our soul.
To lessen our evil inclinations.
To be a pledge of everlasting life.
To fit our bodies for a glorious resurrection.
To continue the sacrifice of the Cross in His Church.

 

Q. 896. Has the Holy Eucharist any other effect?

A. The Holy Eucharist remits venial sins by disposing us to perform acts of love and contrition. It preserves us from mortal sin by exciting us to greater fervor and strengthening us against temptation.

 

Q. 897. How are we united to Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist?

A. We are united to Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist by means of Holy Communion.

 

Q. 898. What is Holy Communion?

A. Holy Communion is the receiving of the body and blood of Christ.

 

Q. 899. Is it not beneath the dignity of Our Lord to enter our bodies under the appearance of ordinary food?

A. It is not beneath the dignity of Our Lord to enter our bodies under the appearance of ordinary food any more than it was beneath His dignity to enter the body of His Blessed Mother and remain there as an ordinary child for nine months. Christ’s dignity, being infinite, can never be diminished by any act on His own or on our part.

 

Q. 900. Why does not the Church give Holy Communion to the people as it does to the priest under the appearance of wine also?

A. The Church does not give Holy Communion to the people as it does to the priest under the appearance of wine also, to avoid the danger of spilling the Precious Blood; to prevent the irreverence some might show if compelled to drink out of a chalice used by all, and lastly, to refute those who denied that Our Lord’s blood is present under the appearance of bread also.

 

Q. 901. What is necessary to make a good Communion?

A. To make a good Communion it is necessary to be in the state of sanctifying grace and to fast according to the laws of the Church.

 

Q. 902. What should a person do who, through forgetfulness or any other cause, has broken the fast necessary for Holy Communion?

A. A person who through forgetfulness or any other cause has broken the fast necessary for Holy Communion, should again fast and receive Holy Communion the following morning if possible, without returning to confession. It is not a sin to break one’s fast, but it would be a mortal sin to receive Holy Communion after knowingly breaking the fast necessary for it.

 

Q. 903. Does he who receives Communion in mortal sin receive the body and blood of Christ?

A. He who receives Communion in mortal sin receives the body and blood of Christ, but does not receive His grace, and he commits a great sacrilege.

 

Q. 904. Is it enough to be free from mortal sin to receive plentifully the graces of Holy Communion?

A. To receive plentifully the graces of Holy Communion it is not enough to be free from mortal sin, but we should be free from all affection to venial sin, and should make acts of lively faith, of firm hope, and ardent love.

 

Q. 905. What is the fast necessary for Holy Communion?

A. The fast necessary for Holy Communion is the abstaining from food, alcoholic drinks and non-alcoholic drinks for one hour before Holy Communion. Water does not break the fast.

 

 

Q. 906. Does medicine taken by necessity or food taken by accident break the fast for Holy Communion?

A. Medicine does not break the fast; food taken by accident within one hour before Communion breaks the fast.

 

Q. 907. Is any one ever allowed to receive Holy Communion when not fasting?

A. To protect the Blessed Sacrament from insult or injury, or when in danger of death, Holy Communion may be received without fasting.

 

Q. 908. Is the Holy Communion called by any other name when given to one in danger of death?

A. When the Holy Communion is given to one in danger of death, it is called Viaticum, and is given with its own form of prayer. In giving Holy Communion the priest says: “May the body of Our Lord Jesus Christ guard your soul to eternal life.” In giving Holy Viaticum he says: “Receive, brother (or sister), the Viaticum of the body of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which will guard you from the wicked enemy and lead you into eternal life.”

 

Q. 909. When are we bound to receive Holy Communion?

A. We are bound to receive Holy Communion, under pain of mortal sin, during the Easter time and when in danger of death.

 

Q. 910. Is it well to receive Holy Communion often?

A. It is well to receive Holy Communion often, as nothing is a greater aid to a holy life than often to receive the Author of all grace and the Source of all good.

 

Q. 911. How shall we know how often we should receive Holy Communion?

A. We shall know how often we shall receive Holy Communion only from the advice of our confessor, by whom we must be guided, and whom we must strictly obey in this as well as in all matters concerning the state of our soul.

 

Q. 912. What is a spiritual Communion?

A. A spiritual communion is an earnest desire to receive Communion in reality, by which desire we make all preparations and thanksgivings that we would make in case we really received the Holy Eucharist. Spiritual Communion is an act of devotion that must be pleasing to God and bring us blessings from Him.

 

Q. 913. What should we do after Holy Communion?

A. After Holy Communion we should spend some time in adoring Our Lord, in thanking Him for the grace we have received, and in asking Him for the blessings we need.

 

Q. 914. What length of time should we spend in thanksgiving after Holy Communion?

A. We should spend sufficient time in Thanksgiving after Holy Communion to show due reverence to the Blessed Sacrament; for Our Lord is personally with us as long as the appearance of bread and wine remains.

 

Q. 915. What should we be particular about when receiving Holy Communion?

A. When receiving Holy Communion we should be particular:

About the respectful manner in which we approach and return from the altar;
About our personal appearance, especially neatness and cleanliness;
About raising our head, opening our mouth and putting forth the tongue in the proper manner;
About swallowing the Sacred Host;
About removing it carefully with the tongue, in case it should stick to the mouth, but never with the finger under any circumstances.

8 Prayers to Help You through the Workday.

Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved…
From the desire of being extolled …
From the desire of being honored …
From the desire of being praised …

Listers, Ora et Labora (“Pray and Work” to the layman), the motto of the Benedictine order shouldn’t just be used for those called to the consecrated life, but it needs to be ascribed for all Catholics in every walk of life, especially those in the workforce. I recently entered into the realm of the working mother, and I can honestly say that I have never been so busy in all my life. Being a working mother I have discovered that balancing the various duties I have between work and home can drive a woman to the point of screaming at the top of her lungs “SERENITY NOW!!!!” (If you are a Seinfeld fan you know what I am talking about).

I realize that this is not a original revelation, but I certainly never had to experience it firsthand until now. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, and I really love being a wife and mother, but in between the sales reports, the housecleaning, the emails, the volunteering at my boys’ school, the texts, the cooking, the phone calls, etc. I found it hard to be present in the moment without wondering what I have to do next. I found that my prayer life suffered heinously because even if I made time to pray I worried about all the other tasks I had to do while I prayed. This is not the best mindset to have when trying to have quiet time with God. Clearly my priorities were out of order, because I was treating prayer time as something I squeezed into my schedule rather than making prayer the centerpiece of my existence. Quite simply, I was not living a liturgical life, and I suffered for it. I started looking into prayers that I could incorporate throughout the day to keep me focused on God. Here is what I found (This prayer list is constantly growing, so if you have any recommendations, LISTERS, please list them):

1. To Start Your Day: “Good Morning, Heavenly Father”

Offering your day up to the Lord is an exceptional way to start your day. I try to say this along with the Angelus when I wake up, so that I start my day with a humble heart

Thank You dear Lord,
for protecting and preserving me during the night
and for giving me this new day.
Good morning Heavenly Father,
and thank you for the glory of the sun.
And thank you for the health I have to get my duty done.
I shall devout the hours of this golden day to You,
by honoring Your Holy Name in everything I do.
I shall pursue my daily art without complaint or fear
and spend my every effort to be friendly and sincere.
I know there have been many days that I have wiled away.
But this is one that I will try to make Your special day.
And so once more,
Good Morning Heavenly Father.
And please depend on me
because I want to honour you for all eternity.

Amen.

2. For the Commute: The Rosary

I know that it doesn’t sound like the typical venue for praying the Rosary, but praying the Rosary while driving is a very good thing (just don’t shut your eyes). Instead of filling my head with a bunch lyrics about “calling somebody maybe?” or other such drivel, the Rosary is immensely helpful to start my workday with the Gospel. Also, it helps me from screaming at the so-and-so in the black sedan who just cut me off! If you don’t know how to pray the Rosary, here is a helpful pdf brought to you be by newadvent.org:

3. For When You Sit Down at Your Desk: A Prayer for Success

I just heard about this prayer while I was at sales conference of all places. It struck me as precisely what I need to say when I sit down at my computer to begin my work. It is extremely beautiful. My favorite part is “Show me how to give my best, and let me not despise the toil that is necessary to complete it.” Here are the words:

Almighty God, whose hands hold all matters of life,
give me grace of success in the work that I do.
Help me to give it the careful thought
and the strict attention that will lead to success.
Watch over me and govern my actions,
that I may not mar its perfection.
Show me how to give my best,
and let me not despise the toil that is necessary to complete it.
Make my life a successful one,
in that every duty you give to me,
I do it well.
Give me the blessing of your help and guidance,
and suffer me not to fail.
In Jesus’ name.

Amen.

4. Throughout the day: The Angelus

Odds are most of you, listers, know this prayer by heart, but if you are new to the Catholic world, this is a prayer that will change your life. The Angelus is a prayer that focuses on the Incarnation. It is said three times a day: 6 am, Noon, and 6 pm, so that you can begin, continue, and end your day with Incarnation as the focus of your day. You may find it Latin in SPL’s 8 Prayers Everything Catholic Should Know in Latin and in English here.

5. In Times of Chaos: The Serenity Prayer

I know this prayer is written by Protestant Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take it for our own nor does it mean that words are less true. I use this now and then when everything seems to be going wrong, and when all I want to do is punch a hole through the screen of my laptop. Here are the words:

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Amen.

6. To Help to Admit when You Have Made a Mistake: The Humility Prayer

Robert Burns says in his poem “To a Mouse” “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Nothing can be more true yet more irksome to someone who is a perfectionist. I have quite the talent of being organized and take pride that my work is precise and consistent. However, with my tight schedule I do make mistakes. So, when my usually consistent work doesn’t pass muster or if I let something slip through the cracks, I find it hard to admit that I had made a mistake. The old pointer finger is just itching to blame someone else for my own flawed humanity. The Humility Prayer has become my go-to prayer to inoculate me from the folly of pride. Here are the words:

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved…
From the desire of being extolled …
From the desire of being honored …
From the desire of being praised …
From the desire of being preferred to others…
From the desire of being consulted …
From the desire of being approved …
From the fear of being humiliated …
From the fear of being despised…
From the fear of suffering rebukes …
From the fear of being calumniated …
From the fear of being forgotten …
From the fear of being ridiculed …
From the fear of being wronged …
From the fear of being suspected …

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I …
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease …
That others may be chosen and I set aside …
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

7. A Prayer for the End of the Day

Eternal Father,
I desire to rest in Thy Heart this night.
I make the intention of offering to Thee
every beat of my heart,
joining to them as many acts of love and desire.
I pray that even while I am asleep,
I will bring back to Thee souls that offend Thee.
I ask forgiveness for the whole world,
especially for those who know Thee and yet sin.
I offer to Thee my every breath and heartbeat
as a prayer of reparation.

Amen.

8. A Prayer to St. Joseph, the Patron Saint of Workers

I am now including a prayer to the Patron Saint of Workers, Saint Joseph. Afterall, no list about work would be complete without him. I think that it is often hard for us “look at our work with the eyes of faith.” I believe if we looked at our work in this way, whatever it may be, then perhaps we might do a better job.

Joseph, by the work of your hands
and the sweat of your brow,
you supported Jesus and Mary,
and had the Son of God as your fellow worker.

Teach me to work as you did,
with patience and perseverance, for God and
for those whom God has given me to support.
Teach me to see in my fellow workers
the Christ who desires to be in them,
that I may always be charitable and forbearing
towards all.

Grant me to look upon work
with the eyes of faith,
so that I shall recognize in it
my share in God’s own creative activity
and in Christ’s work of our redemption,
and so take pride in it.

When it is pleasant and productive,
remind me to give thanks to God for it.
And when it is burdensome,
teach me to offer it to God,
in reparation for my sins
and the sins of the world.

Amen

St. Joseph the Worker, Pray for us!

 

More SPL Lists on Prayer
8 Prayers Every Catholic Should Know in Latin
3 Prayers for Catholic Lawyers
4 Prayers Before You Receive the Eucharist
More lists on prayer…

18 Questions on Angels Answered by the Church

Angels could appear by taking bodies to render themselves visible for a time; just as the Holy Ghost took the form of a dove and the devil took the form of a serpent.

Listers, the following lesson is taken from the Baltimore Catechism. The Baltimore Catechism was the standard catechism of teaching the faith and catechizing children from 1885 to Vatican II. Its basic question-and-answer approach is the most natural learning style for the human mind and simplifies even the most complex theological questions. SPL has reproduced 29 Questions Explaining Indulgences, 46 Questions to Help Explain the Sacraments,and What Is Meant By the “End of Man” and 10 other Questions.

SPL recently published four lists with questions explaining the Eucharist:

The following is the second part of the Creation section. The first pertains to Creation as a whole and the second pertains to angels.

 

Baltimore Catechism No. 3

LESSON FOUR
On Creation – Part II

 

Q. 215. How may God’s creatures on earth be divided?

A. God’s creatures on earth may be divided into four classes:

Things that exist, as air;
Things that exist, grow and live, as plants and trees;
Things that exist, grow, live and feel, as animals;
Things that exist, grow, live, feel and understand, as man.

 

Q. 216. What are angels?

A. Angels are pure spirits without a body, created to adore and enjoy God in heaven.

 

Q. 217. If Angels have no bodies, how could they appear?

A. Angels could appear by taking bodies to render themselves visible for a time; just as the Holy Ghost took the form of a dove and the devil took the form of a serpent.

 

Q. 218. Name some persons to whom Angels appeared.

A. Angels appeared to the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph; also to Abraham, Lot, Jacob, Tobias and others.

 

Q. 219. Were the angels created for any other purpose?

A. The angels were also created to assist before the throne of God and to minister unto Him; they have often been sent as messengers from God to man; and are also appointed our guardians.

 

Q. 220. Are all the Angels equal in dignity?

A. All the Angels are not equal in dignity. There are nine choirs or classes mentioned in the Holy Scripture. The highest are called Seraphim and the lowest simply Angels. The Archangels are one class higher than ordinary Angels.

 

Q. 221. Mention some Archangels and tell what they did.

A. The Archangel Michael drove Satan out of heaven; the Archangel Gabriel announced to the Blessed Virgin that she was to become the Mother of God. The Archangel Raphael guided and protected Tobias.

 

Q. 222. Were Angels ever sent to punish men?

A. Angels were sometimes sent to punish men. An Angel killed 185,000 men in the army of a wicked king who had blasphemed God; an Angel also slew the first-born in the families of the Egyptians who had persecuted God’s people.

 

Q. 223. What do our guardian Angels do for us?

A. Our guardian Angels pray for us, protect and guide us, and offer our prayers, good works and desires to God.

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Q. 224. How do we know that Angels offer our prayers and good works to God?

A. We know that Angels offer our prayers and good works to God because it is so stated in Holy Scripture, and Holy Scripture is the Word of God.

 

Q. 225. Why did God appoint guardian Angels if He watches over us Himself?

A. God appointed guardian Angels to secure for us their help and prayers, and also to show His great love for us in giving us these special servants and faithful friends.

 

Q. 226. Were the angels, as God created them, good and happy?

A. The angels, as God created them, were good and happy.

 

Q. 227. Did all the angels remain good and happy?

A. All the angels did not remain good and happy; many of them sinned and were cast into hell, and these are called devils or bad angels.

 

Q. 228. Do we know the number of good and bad Angels?

A. We do not know the number of the good or bad Angels, but we know it is very great.

 

Q. 229. What was the devil’s name before he fell, and why was he cast out of heaven?

A. Before he fell, Satan, or the devil, was called Lucifer, or light-bearer, a name which indicates great beauty. He was cast out of heaven because through pride he rebelled against God.

 

Q. 230. How do the bad Angels act toward us?

A. The bad Angels try by every means to lead us into sin. The efforts they make are called temptations of the devil.

 

Q. 231. Why does the devil tempt us?

A. The devil tempts us because he hates goodness, and does not wish us to enjoy the happiness which he himself has lost.

 

Q. 232. Can we by our own power overcome the temptations of the devil?

A. We cannot by our own power overcome the temptations of the devil, because the devil is wiser than we are; for, being an Angel, he is more intelligent, and he did not lose his intelligence by falling into sin any more than we do now. Therefore, to overcome his temptations we need the help of God.

10 Basic Questions on Creation

“The chief creatures of God are angels and men.”

Listers, the following lesson is taken from the Baltimore Catechism. The Baltimore Catechism was the standard catechism of teaching the faith and catechizing children from 1885 to Vatican II. Its basic question-and-answer approach is the most natural learning style for the human mind and simplifies even the most complex theological questions. SPL has reproduced 29 Questions Explaining Indulgences, 46 Questions to Help Explain the Sacraments,and What Is Meant By the “End of Man” and 10 other Questions.

SPL also recently published four lists with questions explaining the Eucharist:
This Is My Body: 10 Questions to Help Explain the Holy Eucharist
Transubstantiation: 10 Questions on the Substance of the Holy Eucharist
Do This in Memory of Me: 7 Questions on the Eucharist 
21 Questions on Why the Eucharist Was Given to Humanity

 

Baltimore Catechism No. 3

LESSON FOUR
On Creation – Part I

 

Q. 206. What is the difference between making and creating?

A. “Making” means bringing forth or forming out of some material already existing, as workmen do. “Creating” means bringing forth out of nothing, as God alone can do.

 

Q. 207. Has everything that exists been created?

A. Everything that exists except God Himself has been created.

 

Q. 208. Who created heaven and earth, and all things?

A. God created heaven and earth, and all things.

 

Q. 209. From what do we learn that God created heaven and earth and all things?

A. We learn that God created heaven and earth and all things from the Bible or Holy Scripture, in which the account of the Creation is given.

 

Q. 210. Why did God create all things?

A. God created all things for His own glory and for their or our good.

 

Q. 211. Did God leave all things to themselves after He had created them?

A. God did not leave all things to themselves after He had created them; He continues to preserve and govern them.

 

Q. 212. What do we call the care by which God preserves and governs the world and all it contains?

A. We call the care by which God preserves and governs the world and all it contains His providence.

 

Q. 213. How did God create heaven and earth?

A. God created heaven and earth from nothing by His word only; that is, by a single act of His all-powerful will.

 

Q. 214. Which are the chief creatures of God?

A. The chief creatures of God are angels and men.

 

Q. 215. How may God’s creatures on earth be divided?

A. God’s creatures on earth may be divided into four classes:

Things that exist, as air;
Things that exist, grow and live, as plants and trees;
Things that exist, grow, live and feel, as animals;
Things that exist, grow, live, feel and understand, as man.

 

Drink coffee and cheat Satan. Click the picture to view the SPL Store.

7 Things You Must Know about St. Benedict’s Medal

“Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux” (The Holy Cross be my light), written downward on the perpendicular bar; the initial letters of the words, “Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux” (Let not the dragon be my guide).

1. The Story of St. Benedict

From Fisheaters:

St. Benedict of Nursia, Italy (A.D. 480-543), the twin brother of St. Scholastica, is considered to be the Father of Western monasticism, and his “Rule of St. Benedict” came to be the basis of organization for many religious orders (his own Order has its cradle at Monte Cassino, Italy, about 80 miles South of Rome).

At any rate, in order to understand the symbolism of the Medal, you must know of this event in St. Benedict’s life: he’d been living as a hermit in a cave for three years, famous for his holiness, when a religious community came to him after the death of their abbot and asked Benedict to take over. Some of the “monks” didn’t like this plan and attempted to kill him with poisoned bread and wine. Just as St. John the Divine was miraculously saved from being poisoned, when St. Benedict made the sign of the Cross over these things, he came to know they were poisoned, so he toppled the cup and commanded a raven to carry off the bread.

 

2. The Jubilee Medal of St. Benedict

Front

Back

 

The Catholic Encyclopedia Explains:

FRONT
One side of the medal bears an image of St. Benedict, holding a cross in the right hand and the Holy Rule in the left. On the one side of the image is a cup, on the other a raven, and above the cup and the raven are inscribed the words: “Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti” (Cross of the Holy Father Benedict). Round the margin of the medal stands the legend “Ejus in obitu nostro praesentia muniamus” (May we at our death be fortified by his presence).

 

 

BACK
The reverse of the medal bears a cross with the initial letters of the words: “Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux” (The Holy Cross be my light), written downward on the perpendicular bar; the initial letters of the words, “Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux” (Let not the dragon be my guide), on the horizontal bar; and the initial letters of “Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti” in the angles of the cross. Round the margin stand the initial letters of the distich: “Vade Retro Satana, Nunquam Suade Mihi Vana — Sunt Mala Quae Libas, Ipse Venena Bibas” (Begone, Satan, do not suggest to me thy vanities — evil are the things thou profferest, drink thou thy own poison). At the top of the cross usually stands the word Pax (peace) or the monogram I H S (Jesus).

 

3. The History of the Jubilee Medal

The Catholic encyclopedia recounts:

The medal just described is the so-called jubilee medal, which was struck first in 1880, to commemorate the fourteenth centenary of St. Benedict’s birth. The Archabbey of Monte Cassino has the exclusive right to strike this medal. The ordinary medal of St. Benedict usually differs from the preceding in the omission of the words “Ejus in obitu etc.”, and in a few minor details. (For the indulgences connected with it see Beringer, “Die Ablässe”, Paderborn, 1906, p. 404-6.)

The habitual wearer of the jubilee medal can gain all the indulgences connected with the ordinary medal and, in addition:

(1) All the indulgences that could be gained by visiting the basilica, crypt, and tower of St. Benedict at Monte Cassino (Pius IX, 31 December, 1877)

(2) A plenary indulgence on the feast of All Souls (from about two o’clock in the afternoon of 1 November to sunset of 2 November), as often as (toties quoties), after confession and Holy Communion, he visits any church or public oratory, praying there according to the intention of the pope, provided that he is hindered from visiting a church or public oratory of the Benedictines by sickness, monastic enclosure or a distance of at least 1000 steps. (Decr. 27 February, 1907, in Acta S. Sedis, LX, 246.) Any priest may receive the faculties to bless these medals.

 

4. The Ancient Origins of the Medal

The Catholic Encyclopedia recounts:

It is doubtful when the Medal of St. Benedict originated. During a trial for witchcraft at Natternberg near the Abbey of Metten in Bavaria in the year 1647, the accused women testified that they had no power over Metten, which was under the protection of the cross. Upon investigation, a number of painted crosses, surrounded by the letters which are now found on Benedictine medals, were found on the walls of the abbey, but their meaning had been forgotten.

Finally, in an old manuscript, written in 1415, was found a picture representing St. Benedict holding in one hand a staff which ends in a cross, and a scroll in the other. On the staff and scroll were written in full the words of which the mysterious letters were the initials. Medals bearing the image of St. Benedict, a cross, and these letters began now to be struck in Germany, and soon spread over Europe. They were first approved by Benedict XIV in his briefs of 23 December, 1741, and 12 March, 1742.

 

Click to view St. Benedict’s Medal on Amazon.

5. The Medal Wards Against

1. To destroy witchcraft and all other diabolical and haunting influences;
2. To impart protection to persons tempted, deluded, or tormented by evil spirits;
3. To obtain the conversion of sinners into the Catholic Church, especially when they are in danger of death;
4. To serve as an armor against temptation;
5. To destroy the effects of poison;
6. To secure a timely and healthy birth for children;
7. To afford protection against storms and lightning;
8. To serve as an efficacious remedy for bodily afflictions and a means of protection against contagious diseases.

 

6. How to use the medal

1. On a chain around the neck;
2. Attached to one’s rosary;
3. Kept in one’s pocket or purse;
4. Placed in one’s car or home;
5. Placed in the foundation of a building;
6. Placed in the center of a cross.

The use of any religious article is intended as a means of reminding one of God and of inspiring a willingness and desire to serve God and neighbor. It is not regarded as a good luck charm or magical device.1

 

Click to view St. Benedict’s Crucifix Necklace on Amazon.

7. The Cross of the Happy Death

The excellent Catholic source Fisheaters explains:

This Crucifix is known as “The Cross of a Happy Death” not only because of the exorcizing properties of the Medal and the image of Christ’s Body, but because of St. Benedict’s particular patronage based on his death. Pope St. Gregory the Great (A.D. ca. 540-604) describes his passing in his Dialogue:

Six days before he left this world he gave orders to have his sepulchre opened, and forthwith falling into an ague, he began with burning heat to wax faint; and when as the sickness daily increased, upon the sixth day he commanded his monks to carry him into the oratory, where he did arm himself receiving the Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ; and having his weak body holden up betwixt the hands of his disciples, he stood with his own hands lifted up to heaven; and as he was in that manner praying, he gave up the ghost.

A plenary indulgence is granted under the usual conditions to one who, at the hour of his death, kisses, touches, or otherwise reverences the Crucifix, and commends his soul to God.


Other Popular Lists on SPL

  1. Section #6 & #7 “Saint Benedict Medal“ []

21 Questions on Why the Holy Eucharist Was Given to Humanity

The Holy Eucharist remits venial sins by disposing us to perform acts of love and contrition. It preserves us from mortal sin by exciting us to greater fervor and strengthening us against temptation.

Listers, the following lesson is taken from the Baltimore Catechism. The Baltimore Catechism was the standard catechism of teaching the faith and catechizing children from 1885 to Vatican II. Its basic question-and-answer approach is the most natural learning style for the human mind and simplifies even the most complex theological questions. SPL has also reproduced 29 Questions Explaining Indulgences, 46 Questions to Help Explain the Sacraments,and What Is Meant By the “End of Man” and 10 other Questions.

The following list is the fourth installment of questions explaining the Eucharist:
This Is My Body: 10 Questions to Help Explain the Holy Eucharist
Transubstantiation: 10 Questions on the Substance of the Holy Eucharist
Do This in Memory of Me: 7 Questions on the Eucharist

 

Baltimore Catechism No. 3

LESSON TWENTY-THIRD
On the Ends for Which the Holy Eucharist Was Instituted

 

Q. 895. Why did Christ institute the Holy Eucharist?

A. Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist:

To unite us to Himself and to nourish our soul with His divine life.
To increase sanctifying grace and all virtues in our soul.
To lessen our evil inclinations.
To be a pledge of everlasting life.
To fit our bodies for a glorious resurrection.
To continue the sacrifice of the Cross in His Church.

 

Q. 896. Has the Holy Eucharist any other effect?

A. The Holy Eucharist remits venial sins by disposing us to perform acts of love and contrition. It preserves us from mortal sin by exciting us to greater fervor and strengthening us against temptation.

 

Q. 897. How are we united to Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist?

A. We are united to Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist by means of Holy Communion.

 

Q. 898. What is Holy Communion?

A. Holy Communion is the receiving of the body and blood of Christ.

 

Q. 899. Is it not beneath the dignity of Our Lord to enter our bodies under the appearance of ordinary food?

A. It is not beneath the dignity of Our Lord to enter our bodies under the appearance of ordinary food any more than it was beneath His dignity to enter the body of His Blessed Mother and remain there as an ordinary child for nine months. Christ’s dignity, being infinite, can never be diminished by any act on His own or on our part.

 

Q. 900. Why does not the Church give Holy Communion to the people as it does to the priest under the appearance of wine also?

A. The Church does not give Holy Communion to the people as it does to the priest under the appearance of wine also, to avoid the danger of spilling the Precious Blood; to prevent the irreverence some might show if compelled to drink out of a chalice used by all, and lastly, to refute those who denied that Our Lord’s blood is present under the appearance of bread also.

 

Q. 901. What is necessary to make a good Communion?

A. To make a good Communion it is necessary to be in the state of sanctifying grace and to fast according to the laws of the Church.

 

Q. 902. What should a person do who, through forgetfulness or any other cause, has broken the fast necessary for Holy Communion?

A. A person who through forgetfulness or any other cause has broken the fast necessary for Holy Communion, should again fast and receive Holy Communion the following morning if possible, without returning to confession. It is not a sin to break one’s fast, but it would be a mortal sin to receive Holy Communion after knowingly breaking the fast necessary for it.

 

Q. 903. Does he who receives Communion in mortal sin receive the body and blood of Christ?

A. He who receives Communion in mortal sin receives the body and blood of Christ, but does not receive His grace, and he commits a great sacrilege.

 

Q. 904. Is it enough to be free from mortal sin to receive plentifully the graces of Holy Communion?

A. To receive plentifully the graces of Holy Communion it is not enough to be free from mortal sin, but we should be free from all affection to venial sin, and should make acts of lively faith, of firm hope, and ardent love.

 

Q. 905. What is the fast necessary for Holy Communion?

A. The fast necessary for Holy Communion is the abstaining from food, alcoholic drinks and non-alcoholic drinks for one hour before Holy Communion. Water does not break the fast.

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Q. 906. Does medicine taken by necessity or food taken by accident break the fast for Holy Communion?

A. Medicine does not break the fast; food taken by accident within one hour before Communion breaks the fast.

 

Q. 907. Is any one ever allowed to receive Holy Communion when not fasting?

A. To protect the Blessed Sacrament from insult or injury, or when in danger of death, Holy Communion may be received without fasting.

 

Q. 908. Is the Holy Communion called by any other name when given to one in danger of death?

A. When the Holy Communion is given to one in danger of death, it is called Viaticum, and is given with its own form of prayer. In giving Holy Communion the priest says: “May the body of Our Lord Jesus Christ guard your soul to eternal life.” In giving Holy Viaticum he says: “Receive, brother (or sister), the Viaticum of the body of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which will guard you from the wicked enemy and lead you into eternal life.”

 

Q. 909. When are we bound to receive Holy Communion?

A. We are bound to receive Holy Communion, under pain of mortal sin, during the Easter time and when in danger of death.

 

Q. 910. Is it well to receive Holy Communion often?

A. It is well to receive Holy Communion often, as nothing is a greater aid to a holy life than often to receive the Author of all grace and the Source of all good.

 

Q. 911. How shall we know how often we should receive Holy Communion?

A. We shall know how often we shall receive Holy Communion only from the advice of our confessor, by whom we must be guided, and whom we must strictly obey in this as well as in all matters concerning the state of our soul.

 

Q. 912. What is a spiritual Communion?

A. A spiritual communion is an earnest desire to receive Communion in reality, by which desire we make all preparations and thanksgivings that we would make in case we really received the Holy Eucharist. Spiritual Communion is an act of devotion that must be pleasing to God and bring us blessings from Him.

 

Q. 913. What should we do after Holy Communion?

A. After Holy Communion we should spend some time in adoring Our Lord, in thanking Him for the grace we have received, and in asking Him for the blessings we need.

 

Q. 914. What length of time should we spend in thanksgiving after Holy Communion?

A. We should spend sufficient time in Thanksgiving after Holy Communion to show due reverence to the Blessed Sacrament; for Our Lord is personally with us as long as the appearance of bread and wine remains.

 

Q. 915. What should we be particular about when receiving Holy Communion?

A. When receiving Holy Communion we should be particular:

About the respectful manner in which we approach and return from the altar;
About our personal appearance, especially neatness and cleanliness;
About raising our head, opening our mouth and putting forth the tongue in the proper manner;
About swallowing the Sacred Host;
About removing it carefully with the tongue, in case it should stick to the mouth, but never with the finger under any circumstances.