May Catholics Overthrow or Even Kill a Tyrant? – 9 Comments by Aquinas

Listers, may Catholics overthrow or even kill a tyrant? The answer to this question is one St. Thomas Aquinas pondered over his lifetime. In contemplating the assassination of Julius Caesar, a young Aquinas seemed to state that not only can a Catholic kill a tyrant, there are times he should be praised for it. Later in life, when writing at the request of the King of Cyprus, Aquinas takes a very different view. He praises the Early Church martyrs who were slaughtered like sheep before the Roman Emperors, and notes how their witness gave birth to the Church. Assassinations, it seems, are contrary to apostolic teaching. In the twilight of his short life, the Angelic Doctor once again addressed the issue in his Summa Theologica. In this reflection, he appears to present a more mature version of his earliest answer. He jettisons the blanket prohibition against it, but he also does not directly state anyone should be praised for it. While possibly a moral act, it is an incredibly complicated one requiring great considerations of prudence and justice.

 

Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard

 

1. Do Christians have to obey secular authorities at all?

In his Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, St. Thomas Aquinas takes up the question “Whether Christians are bound to obey secular powers, especially tyrants?” The young Aquinas’ commentary “was written between 1252 and 1256 when he was in his late twenties and a ‘bachelor,’ or apprentice professor, at the University of Paris.”1 Regarding whether or not Christians must obey secular authorities, St. Thomas Aquinas is very clear the answer is yes. The Angelic Doctor lists several scriptures for consideration:

Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to the kind and gentle but also to the overbearing.2

Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.3

Therefore one must be subject, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.4

In general, the Angelic Doctor says the following, “Obedience, by keeping a commandment, has for its [formal] object the obligation, involved in the commandment, that it be kept. Now this obligation originates in that the commanding authority has the power to impose an obligation binding not only to external but also to internal and spiritual obedience—“for conscience sake”, as the Apostle says (Rom. xiii, 5.) For power (authority) comes from God, as the Apostle implies in the same place. Hence, Christians are bound to obey the authorities inasmuch as they are from God; and they are not bound to obey inasmuch as the authority is not from God.”5

 

2. May Christians rebel against Authority gained by Violence?

Having established that Holy Scripture does in fact posit that Christians should be obedient to secular authorities, Aquinas moves on to discussing what happens if these authorities are evil. As always, the good Doctor makes several key distinctions. First, what about “defects” in the way in which a secular authority came to power? First, Aquinas states that those who are unworthy of power, but become a secular power regardless should still be obeyed. Second, however, are those who acquire power through violence or any illegitimate means. Aquinas teaches, “we say that in such a case there is no lawful authority at all. He who seizes power by violence does not become a true holder of power.”6 Consequently, since there is no legitimate authority, “anybody may repel this domination.”7 Aquinas allows the caveat here that even those secular powers gained by illegitimate means may become legitimate if there is “consent of the subjects or by a recognition being extended to him by a higher authority.”8 In this case, the illegitimate ruler would become a legitimate true ruler and would merit obedience.

 

3. May Christians disobey a Tyrant’s abuse of authority?

What if a secular authority gains his office by legitimate means but then abuses his power? Aquinas differentiates between two kinds of abuse. First, Aquinas states what has echoed in Christendom since the time of St. Augustine: an unjust law is no law. The Angelic Doctor teaches:

First, a commandment emanating from the authority might be contrary to the very end in view of which authority is instituted, i.e., to be an educator to, and a preserver of, virtue. Should therefore the authority command an act of sin contrary to virtue, we not only are not obliged to obey but we are also obliged not to obey, according to the example of the holy martyrs who preferred death to obeying those ungodly tyrants.9

The second abuse is where a secular authority issues a demand outside the scope of his power. Under this circumstances, the Christian would not be obliged to obey the command.10 Note the distinction between these two abuses. If the tyrant commands the Christian to sin, he must not obey the tyrant, while in the second case of abuse, the Christian is just not obliged to obey – but presumably may obey if prudent to do so.

 

4. Should those who Kill a Tyrant be Praised?

The scholastic method is characterized by a dialectic approach. As seen in the Sentences and in the Summa Theologica, the author will first list several “objections” or rather thoughts that are either wrong or need to be clarified. Second, there will be the “sed contra” or the body of the author’s answer on the question presented. Third, the author will then write out the necessary “replies” to the listed objections.

In his question from the Sentences, St. Thomas Aquinas lists the following objection:

If it is a legitimate and even a praiseworthy deed to kill a person, then no obligation of obedience exists toward that person. Now in the Book on Duties [De Officiis I, 8, 26] Cicero justifies Julius Caesar’s assassins. Although Caesar was a close friend of his, yet by usurping the empire he proved himself to be a tyrant. Therefore toward such powers there is no obligation of obedience.

In addressing this objection, St. Thomas Aquinas gives what is probably the most notable line of his entire answer. He replies as follows:

To the fifth argument the answer is that Cicero speaks of domination obtained by violence and ruse, the subjects being unwilling or even forced to accept it and there being no recourse open to a superior who might pronounce judgment upon the usurper. In this case he that kills the tyrant for the liberation of the country, is praised and rewarded.

The last line of the objection is noteworthy and should be compared to his later thoughts in On Kingship and the Summa Theologica. First, its the only part of the question in which he explicitly speaks of assassinating the tyrant. Second, the scholar Paul E. Sigmund observes Aquinas “seems to endorse killing a tyrant who has usurped his office (as distinct from one who has abused his power).” St. Thomas Aquinas On Politics and Ethics, Translated & Edited by Paul E. Sigmund, 24.))

 

On Kingship

 

5. Is Killing a Tyrant Against Apostolic Teaching?

In 1265, the King of Cyprus asked Thomas Aquinas to write a treatise on kingship. The work, however, was never completed – presumably due to the death of the king in 1267.11 Writing approximately a decade after his Commentary, Aquinas’ view on tyrants undergoes a shift. In Chapter Six, the Angelic Doctor takes up the question of how to limit the possibility of tyranny. According to Aquinas, a monarchy represents a better regime than a aristocracy or a polity; however, monarchies are susceptible to becoming the worst form of a regime – a tyranny. After discussing certain safeguards to place upon the power of the monarch, Aquinas addresses the issue of what to do if you already have a tyrant. The Angelic Doctor states:

If the tyranny is so extreme that it is unbearable, some have argued that it is a virtuous act for brave men to run the risk of death in order to kill a tyrant and liberate the community. We have an example of this in the Old Testament where a certain Ehud killed Eglon, the king of Moab, with the dagger on his thigh because he was oppressing the people of God – and was made a judge of the people.12

But this is not in accordance with Apostolic teaching. Peter teaches us to be subejct not only to good and temperate rulers but also to the ill-tempered. “If anyone bears undeserved suffering out of reverence for God, this is (the work of) grace.”13

In On Kingship, the Common Doctor appears to clearly state acting against a tyrant is contrary to apostolic teaching. He gives as his example the Early Church suffering under the Roman Emperors. Specifically, he notes how their peaceful witness of Christ in the face of a tyrannical Roman Emperor helped convert the world to Christ.14 Regarding Ehud, Aquinas posits that Ehud must have understood himself as acting against an “enemy king” rather than a “ruler who was a tyrant.”15 Aquinas contrasts the story of Ehud with the story of the assignation of Joas, the King of Judah. Though Joas was arguably a tyrant, those who killed the rightful king were put to death.16

 

6. Under whose Judgment is a King a Tyrant?

Another issue Aquinas has with an individual assassinating a tyrant is private judgement. Aquinas states, “it would be very dangerous for the community and for its rulers if any individual, using his private judgment could attempt to kill those in government, even when they are tyrants.”17 In other words, who determines the king is a tyrant and that tyrant deserves death? Aquinas is particularly concerned with evil men. He warns, “evil men find the rule of kings no less oppressive than that of tyrants since [King] Solomon says, ‘A wise king scatters the impious.'”18 If a king may be determined to be a tyrant worthy of assassination under private judgement, the community risks evil men killing a good king. Aquinas observes, “the more likely consequence of such presumption would therefore be to threaten the community with the loss of its king, rather than to benefit it by getting rid of a tyrant.”19 Aquinas comments in On Kingship stand in contrast to his words in the Sentences that appear to even allow the praise of one who kills a tyrant.

 

7. Do Catholics living under a Tyrant have any Recourse?

Is there an option between martyrdom and assassination? Aquinas give three possible solutions. First, though kings may not be determined to be tyrants under private judgment, they may be subject to public judgment. The Angelic Doctor notes, “if a given community has the right to appoint a ruler it is not unjust for the community to depose the king or restrict his power if he abuses it by becoming a tyrant.”20 Second, the people may appeal to a higher political authority – “if on the other hand, it is the right of a higher authority to appoint a king over certain community, then the remedy for the wickedness of the tyrant is to be sought from that authority.”21 Aquinas gives the example of how the Roman Emperor would appoint or at least allow a Jewish king, and if the Jewish king became a tyrant the Jews could appeal to Rome for aid. Third, “if no human aid is possible against the tyrant, recourse is to be made to God, the king of all, who is the help of those in tribulation.”22 In general, Aquinas holds that the people should repent and abstain from sin and hope in God.23

 

Summa Theologica

 

8. What is the Sin of Sedition?

The Angelic Doctor composed the Summa between 1265 and 1274. In this unfinished work, the Angelic Doctor once again addresses this issue of tyranny by speaking of sedition, a vice contrary to peace.24 First, Aquinas observes that sedition is a special type of sin. Sedition is analogous to war and strife insofar as it deals with aggression.25 Sedition is distinct from war and strife insofar as war most properly deals with an external foe, while sedition deals internal foes. Aquinas states, sedition is “between mutually dissentient parts of one people, as when one part of the state rises in tumult against another part.”26 Second, Aquinas asks “whether sedition is always a mortal sin?” Relying on St. Paul’s epistle to Corinth, Aquinas holds that sedition is a moral sin.27 He teaches:

Wherefore it is evident that the unity to which sedition is opposed is the unity of law and common good: whence it follows manifestly that sedition is opposed to justice and the common good. Therefore by reason of its genus it is a mortal sin, and its gravity will be all the greater according as the common good which it assails surpasses the private good which is assailed by strife.28

According to Aquinas, the sin of sedition is first and foremost in “its authors,” and secondarily, “it is in those who are led by them to disturb the common good.”29

 

9. Should those who Kill a Tyrant be Praised (Revisited)?

Pursuant to the dialectic method of the scholastics, Aquinas puts forward an objection to the idea that sedition is always a mortal sin. What is most interesting about this objection is that is sounds quite familiar – it sounds like his own comments in his Sentences. He presents the objection:

Further, it is praiseworthy to deliver a multitude from a tyrannical rule. Yet this cannot easily be done without some dissension in the multitude, if one part of the multitude seeks to retain the tyrant, while the rest strive to dethrone him. Therefore there can be sedition without mortal sin.

The objection’s use of the term praiseworthy is notable, since it calls to mind Aquinas’ comment on Cicero’s justification of Julius Caesar’s assassins: “In this case he that kills the tyrant for the liberation of the country, is praised and rewarded.” In response to this objection – an objection that is limned in his own previous thinking – Aquinas gives the following answer:

A tyrannical government is not just, because it is directed, not to the common good, but to the private good of the ruler, as the Philosopher states (Polit. iii, 5; Ethic. viii, 10). Consequently there is no sedition in disturbing a government of this kind, unless indeed the tyrant’s rule be disturbed so inordinately, that his subjects suffer greater harm from the consequent disturbance than from the tyrant’s government. Indeed it is the tyrant rather that is guilty of sedition, since he encourages discord and sedition among his subjects, that he may lord over them more securely; for this is tyranny, being conducive to the private good of the ruler, and to the injury of the multitude.30

It is interesting to read this passage in light of Aquinas’ previous answers. First, note that the blanket statement of On Kingship that rebellion against a tyrant is contrary to apostolic teaching is not present here. The answer in the Summa is more akin to the answer a young Aquinas gave in his Sentences. It might also be noted that the work in which Aquinas does not give an avenue for rebelling against a tyrannical king was also the only work written for a king. Second, similarly to certain distinction he made in his Sentences, Aquinas stresses the virtue of prudence. The relationship between prudence and justice is that of means to an end. Justice is the what, and prudence is the how. Note in his answer in the Summa he teaches that though a virtuous man may be just in rebelling against a tyrant, it may not be prudent to do so. For example, especially in the Middle East or Africa, how many times has a tyrant been deposed only to be replaced by belligerent warlords? – a tentative peace with marginal respect for human dignity replaced by full blown war and chaos? Third, it is interesting that in his Summa answer he shifts the sin of sedition from the “rebels” to the tyrant. In other words, it is the tyrant who bears the responsibility for how is actions sow strife and war among his people. Fourth, while the Summa answer is more analogous to Aquinas answer is the Sentences, it does appear more muted. In the Summa, he does not mention whether or not men who assassinate a tyrant should be praised. He leaves that qualifier in the objection but does not necessarily contradict it in his reply.31

***************

More Political Lists from St. Peter’s List

  1. Sentences: See Aquinas Commentary for historical background. In part, “The Sentences of Peter Lombard—composed in the mid-twelfth century—was largely a collection of patristic sayings covering the whole body of Christian doctrine. The Sentences was the standard theological textbook until the sixteenth century and writing a commentary on it was a rite of passage of sorts, normally completed during a professor’s first few years of teaching, during which time he lectured on the text. Aquinas’ first major theological work was such a commentary. Aquinas’ Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard (Scriptum super libros Sententiarum), was written between 1252 and 1256 when he was in his late twenties and a “bachelor,” or apprentice professor, at the University of Paris. []
  2. 1 Peter 2:18, RSV. []
  3. Romans 13:2, RSV. []
  4. Romans 13: 5, RSV. []
  5. Sentences: All quotes from the Sentences are taken from the translation posted by the Dominican House of Studies. SPL thanks them for their effort to bring the Common Doctor’s texts to the internet. []
  6. Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, II, D.44 q. 2. []
  7. Id. []
  8. Id. []
  9. Id. []
  10. Id. []
  11. Aquinas on Politics & Ethics, 14. []
  12. Judges 3:15-24; emphasis added. []
  13. Quoting I Peter 2:19. []
  14. See On Kingship, chp. 6; Aquinas on Politics & Ethics, 24. []
  15. Id. []
  16. Id., see, II Kings 14:5-6. []
  17. Aquinas on Politics & Ethics, 24. []
  18. Id. []
  19. Id. []
  20. Id. []
  21. Id. at 25. []
  22. Id. []
  23. On Kingship: It probably cannot be emphasized enough that out of the three works, the one work that does not allow for virtuous persons to rightfully rebel against a tyrant king was the work written for a king; second, Aquinas’ solutions appear to be a bit impractical. True, if the public elected the ruler the public has the authority to depose a ruler, but the ruler is now a tyrant – he is not going to leave because the populace tells him to do so. []
  24. ST. II-II.42. []
  25. Id. at 42.1. []
  26. Id. []
  27. Id. at 42.2; see II Cor. 12:20. []
  28. Id. – trans. for Summa Theologica is the Black Friar translation unless otherwise noted. []
  29. Id. []
  30. Id. at 42.2 ad. 3. []
  31. Summa Answer: There is also a consideration of how to handle the critique he set forth in On Kingship regarding private judgment not having authority to judge the king a tyrant. The Summa answer does not necessarily directly address the issue; What Does the Catechism of the Catholic Church teach? – obviously, the Catechism is not going to take up the question of whether the assassin of a tyrant should be praised, but the general framework of understanding the Church’s political philosophy is present. Most pertinent to this discussion, it clearly shows that (1) man is a political animal by nature (2) all authority is given by God (3) Christians have a duty to obey secular authority, however (4) an unjust law is no law. The Catechism does not necessarily go into detail about what a Christian should actually do when faced with an unjust law – not obey it, yes, but nothing necessarily in the proactive sense. §§ 1897-1927. []

4 Reasons Aquinas on Rights and Modern Individual Rights are Very Different

It is true that St. Thomas Aquinas speaks of certain rights, but these rights are species of the virtue of justice. They are in absolutely no manner similar to how Hobbes, Locke, or later modernity will use the term rights.

Listers, at an academic seminar studying the differences between ancient and modern thought, the concept of individual rights was presented. It was stated that the modern notion of individual rights (and even the natural right concepts of early modernity) was in direct contradiction to the Catholic doctrine of Natural Law. Individual rights were predicated upon understanding each citizen as an autonomous moral universe that had a right (read: desire) to everything as long as it did not infringe upon the autonomy of another. In contrast, Natural Law is an external standard imprinted upon all humanity participated in by reason.1 In short, the notion of individual rights is a direct rejection of Natural Law. At this point, a student raised his hand and submitted that this could not be true, because St. Thomas Aquinas spoke of individual rights. Apparently, if you ever wanted to watch a room of politically minded Thomists explode in ire, this was a good way to do it.

It is true that St. Thomas Aquinas speaks of certain rights, but these rights are species of the virtue of justice. They are in absolutely no manner similar to how Hobbes, Locke, or later modernity will use the term rights. In fact, Aquinas’ use of the term right appears synonymous with the term just; thus, many simply use the term just instead of right to avoid the modern baggage the term right imparts. The following is a brief summary of St. Thomas Aquinas’ question Of Right in his Summa Theologica.2 The reader may note that Aquinas’ use of the terms equality and right are ripe for equivocation. We must be sure to read Aquinas as Aquinas, and not import our modern definitions into his teachings. The following list seeks to clarify Aquinas, and let the Angelic Doctor speak on the virtue of justice free from modern misreadings.

 

1. Why Justice is Unique Among the Virtues

A habit is a series of actions that constitute a practice, and a good habit is called a virtue. According to Aristotle, Holy Scripture, and St. Thomas Aquinas, there are four Cardinal Virtues: prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude. Each virtue holds the soul to reason when faced with its respective object. For example, the virtue of prudence is the habit of right reasoning – it is the means by which we rationally choose good ends. The virtue of temperance holds the soul to reason in the face of something pleasurable; thus, the bar patron who decides against the proverbial “one more drink” saves himself from drunkenness through temperance. The virtue of fortitude holds the soul to reason in the face of something fearful. The soldier who holds the line against the cavalry charge has fortitude.

In these cases, virtue perfects the soldier and the patron in matters that only befit them in relation to themselves.3 The virtue of justice, however, is different. Justice “directs man in his relations with others.”4 In other words, justice is unique, because it is fundamentally relational. Justice deals with a person’s relation with his neighbor. A person may demonstrate prudence, temperance, or fortitude simply by their own actions, while a person can only demonstrate justice in relation to someone else. Aquinas says this shows a “kind of equality.”5 While the modern notion of equality has strong egalitarian undertones, equality, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, is simply the proportionate relationship of one thing to another.6 The Angelic Doctor’s notion of right hinges strongly upon his concept of equality in justice.

 

2. Understanding Right(s) According to Aquinas

Modernity is obsessed with rights language. Almost all of the ethical and political discourse in the modern West is now expressed in individual rights. The West has, without a doubt, lost its moral vocabulary. To confuse the modern notion of rights – which is little more than the desires of the autonomous moral universe of the individual – with Aquinas’ notion of what is right under the virtue of justice, would be a profound error.

The virtue of Justice is “the habit which makes men capable of doing just actions.”7 What then are just actions? Aquinas teaches that which is just is “a work that is adjusted to another person according to some kind of equality.”8 The concept of just is also expressed in the term right; thus, that which is just will also be right.9 The Angelic Doctor gives two types of rights for consideration.

Natural Right – A relation that is objectively just, where a person gives and receives that which is of equal value in return; there is a natural equality.

Positive Right – A relation that is subjectively just, where one party deems that which they receive to be satisfactory; a positive right may either be (1) a private agreement between two individuals, or (2) a public agreement where the whole community agrees.

For example, if someone inquired for how many hours should a laborer be paid who worked five hours – the objective answer is five hours. There is a natural equality between working five hours and being paid five hours. The relation here is a natural right. In contrast, if two merchants form a contract to trade ten red widgets for six green widgets, this may be subjectively just for the two parties involved. It is a positive right.

 

3. On Special Species of Rights

When Aquinas speaks of natural right and positive right, he is speaking of an agreement between two individuals, neither of whom are subject to one another. For Aquinas, this is just or right simply.10 Now, the habit of justice has as its object the just, and the just or right “depends on commensuration with another person.”11 How then do we speak of relations that seem to belong to justice but are not of equal parties?

For example, there is the relationship between a father and his son or the relationship between a master and his slave. In both cases, there is certainly a justice between both parties as they are both human beings.12 On the other hand, there is an inequality in the relationship that makes it wanting of what is perfectly just. Since justice deals with the relation of one person to another, these relations are still governed by the virtue of justice; therefore, Aquinas speaks of a parental right of the parents over the children and a dominative right of the master over the slave.

Finally, there is also the relation between the husband and the wife. Notice, that for Aquinas, the relation between the husband and wife has a greater capacity for justice than parental right or dominative right – but it still falls short of true justice shared between equals. The Common Doctor states:

A wife, though she is something belonging to the husband, since she stands related to him as to her own body, as the Apostle declares (Ephesians 5:28), is nevertheless more distinct from her husband, than a son from his father, or a slave from his master: for she is received into a kind of social life, that of matrimony, wherefore according to the Philosopher (Ethic. v, 6) there is more scope for justice between husband and wife than between father and son, or master and slave, because, as husband and wife have an immediate relation to the community of the household, as stated in Polit. i, 2,5, it follows that between them there is “domestic justice” rather than “civic.”

In conclusion, there is the what is just or right simply, and this is may be expressed between two equals in either natural right or positive right. In contrast, there are several other species of right: the parental right of parents over their children, the dominative right of masters over their slaves, and the greater domestic right between a husband and wife.

 

4. The Modern Notion of Rights

A little clarification by contrast may help display the giant intellectual chasm between Aquinas’ species of justice called rights and modern notions of the same term. Though Machiavelli arguably planted the first seeds of modernity, it was Thomas Hobbes who began the West’s obsession with rights language. In fact, in many ways, what Machiavelli did for the prince (i.e., allowing him to separate politics from ethics, virtue), Thomas Hobbes did for each individual citizen.13 In Chapter XIV: Of the First and Second Natural Laws, and of Contracts, Hobbes articulates one of the monumental shifts in ancient to modern thought: individual rights. Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, and the Catholic Church never spoke in terms of individual rights. The standard for the state and for its citizens was natural law. What was good and what was evil was not predicated upon man’s judgment, but rather by the external standard set upon him by nature. In Hobbes’ deconstruction of nature into a realm of war and chaos, he gives the West its first true taste of rights predicated upon the individual. He states:

And because the condition of man (as hath been declared in the precedent chapter) is a condition of war of everyone against everyone against everyone, in which case every one is governed by his own reason, and there is nothing he can make use of that may not be a help unto him in preserving his life against his enemies, it follows that in such a condition every man has a right to everything, even to one another’s body. And therefore, as long as this natural right of every man to everything endues, there can be no security to any man how strong or wise soever he be, of living out the time which nature ordinarily allows men to live.

It is shocking to many that the first notion of individual rights in the West is predicated upon each person’s ability to murder one another. For Hobbes, nature is chaotic and warlike, thus, each man has the unmitigated right of self-preservation – a right that went as far as to go to “everything, even to one another’s body.” Whereas Aquinas taught the natural inclinations of humanity were (1) self-preservation (2) the procreation and education of offspring and (3) to seek happiness, the good; Hobbes reduces them all to an unbridled right of self-preservation.14 The brutality of Hobbes will later be made more palatable by John Locke, and later in modernity the standard of nature will be discarded altogether – leaving each individual an autonomous moral universe brimming with manufactured rights.

Much more could be said on the transition from ancient to modern political thought, but this snippet of Hobbes simply goes to show the outrageous difference between Aquinas’ use of the term right and the modern notion of rights. The real question is, how are faithful Catholics who believe in Natural Law supposed to be virtuous in a world that defines all politics and morality in rights language? Something to ponder.

 

SPL Catechesis on the Soul & Virtue

 

  1. Natural Law: 3 Steps to Understand how Humanity Participates in Natural Law and The 6 Step Guide to Aquinas’ Natural Law in a Modern World. []
  2. ST II-II.57 []
  3. ST II-II.57.1. “On the other hand the other virtues perfect man in those matters only which befit in relations to himself.” []
  4. Id. []
  5. Id. []
  6. Id. []
  7. Id., citing the Philosopher, Aristotle, in Ethics v. 1. []
  8. Id. at a. 2. []
  9. “For this reason justice has its own special proper object over and above the other virtues, and this object is called the just, which is the same as right. Hence it is evident that right is the object of justice.” Id. at a. 1. []
  10. Id. at a. 4 []
  11. Id. []
  12. “Hence in so far as each of them is a man, there is justice towards them in a way.” Id. at a. 4, reply 2. []
  13. Machiavelli & Hobbes: For more on this claim, see 7 Introductory Catholic Thoughts on Machiavelli’s The Prince and A Catholic Guide to Thomas Hobbes: 12 Things You Should Know. []
  14. “The paragraph is notable within the Western intellectual tradition as the beginning of “rights language.” Hobbes is setting the stage for the Leviathan. Men, unable to live in the warring chaos of nature, will seek self-preservation by transferring their rights to the Leviathan. The state will be their salvation from each other and from the natural state of war and chaos.” From the Catholic Guide to Hobbes, cited above. []

On the Privilege of Being a Woman: 7 Quotes on True Femininity

When the time has come, nothing which is man made will subsist. One day, all human accomplishments will be reduced to a pile of ashes. But every single child to whom a woman has given birth will live forever, for he has been given an immortal soul made to God’s image and likeness.

Click to view it on Amazon.
Click to view it on Amazon.

Listers, what is true femininity? In her excellent short work entitled The Privilege of Being a Woman, Alice von Hildebrand deftly describes true femininity. In history, women have either been “denigrated as lower than men” or “viewed as privileged.” In Privileged, “Dr. Alice von Hildebrand characterizes the difference between such views as based on whether man’s vision is secularistic or steeped in the supernatural. She shows that feminism’s attempts to gain equality with men by imitation of men is unnatural, foolish, destructive, and self-defeating. The Blessed Mother’s role in the Incarnation points to the true privilege of being a woman. Both virginity and maternity meet in Mary who exhibits the feminine gifts of purity, receptivity to God’s word, and life-giving nurturance at their highest.”1

Alice von Hilderbrand is a Catholic philosopher and theologian, whose late husband, Dietrich von Hildebrand, was also a Catholic intellectual giant. Alice has written many works, including The Privilege of Being a WomanThe Soul of a Lion: The Life of Dietrich von Hildebrand, and an autobiography, Memoirs of a Happy Failure. Alice von Hildebrand is also a member of the Order of St. Gregory the Great.2

 

1. Like Men

“Unwittingly, the feminists acknowledge the superiority of the male sex by wishing to become like men.”

 

2. Immortal Creation

“One thing is certain: When the time has come, nothing which is man made will subsist. One day, all human accomplishments will be reduced to a pile of ashes. But every single child to whom a woman has given birth will live forever, for he has been given an immortal soul made to God’s image and likeness. In this light, the assertion of de Beauvoir that ‘women produce nothing’ becomes particularly ludicrous.”

 

3. Way to Holiness

“A woman’s way to holiness is clearly to purify her God-given sensitivity and to direct it into the proper channels.”

 

4. Harmony in the Saints

“These Saints, masterpieces of God’s grace, combine all great male virtues with female gentleness. Great female saints, while keeping the perfume of female gentleness, can show a strength and courage that sociology usually reserves to the male sex. It is typical of the supernatural that such apparently contradictory features can be harmoniously united.”

 

5. Feelings in the Noble Heart

“It is unwarranted to regard women as inferior because feelings play a central role in their lives. If the feelings vibrating in their hearts are noble, appropriate, good, legitimate, sanctioned, and pleasing to God, then they are precious jewels in God’s sight.”

 

6. Purity

“Deep down, society understands that women’s purity is a linchpin of any Christian society; nay, of any civilized society. When she betrays her mission, not only is God offended but in wounding herself spiritually she wounds the Church and society at large.”

 

7. Suffering

“Just as Christ has suffered the agonizing pains of the crucifixion in order to reopen for us the gates of heaven, so the woman has received the costly privilege of suffering so that another child made to God’s image and likeness can enter into the world.”

 

  1. Quote taken from Amazon book description. []
  2. Order of St. Gregory the Great – Wiki. []

3 Explanations on Lenten Fasting from St. Thomas Aquinas

Listers, it is easy to become caught up in the rules for fasting and abstinence during Lent. Amidst navigating rules like a meal and two small snacks that do not equal a full meal, it very important to remember the purpose behind these practices of the Church.1 St. Thomas Aquinas offers three thoughts on fasting in his Meditations for Lent, which help us to recall the interior changes intended by the exterior acts.2

 

1. We fast for three reasons.

(i) To check the desires of the flesh. So St. Paul says in fastings, in chastity, meaning that fasting is a safeguard for chastity.3 As St. Jerome says, “Without Ceres, and Bacchus, Venus would freeze,” as much as to say that lust loses its heat through spareness of food and drink.

(ii) That the mind may more freely raise itself to contemplation of the heights. We read in the book of Daniel that it was after a fast of three weeks that he received the revelation from God.4

(iii) To make satisfaction for sin. This is the reason given by the prophet Joel, “Be converted to me with all your heart, in fasting and in weeping and in mourning.”5 And here is what St. Augustine writes on the matter: “Fasting purifies the soul. It lifts up the mind, and it brings the body into subjection to the spirit. It makes the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of desire, puts out the flames of lust and the true light of chastity.”

 

2. We fast under a command.

For fasting helps to destroy sin, and to raise the mind to thoughts of the spiritual world. Each man is then bound, by the natural law of the matter, to fast just as much as is necessary to help him in these matters. Which is to say that fasting in general is a matter of natural law. To determine, however, when we shall fast and how, according to what suits and is of use to the Catholic body, is a matter of positive law. To state the positive law is the business of the bishops, and what is thus stated by them is called ecclesiastical fasting, in contradistinction with the natural fasting previously mentioned.

 

3. We fast in these times.

Fasting has two objects in view:

(i) The destruction of sin, and

(ii) the lifting of the mind to higher things.

The times self-indicated for fasting are then those in which men are especially bound to free themselves from sin and to raise their minds to God in devotion. Such a time especially is that which precedes that solemnity of Easter in which baptism is administered and sin thereby destroyed, and when the burial of Our Lord is recalled, for we are buried together with Christ by baptism into death.6 Then, too, at Easter most of all, men’s minds should be lifted, through devotion to the glory of that eternity which Christ in his resurrection inaugurated.

Wherefore the Church has decreed that immediately before the solemnity of Easter we must fast, and, for a similar reason, that we must fast on the eves of the principal feasts, setting apart those days as opportune to prepare ourselves for the devout celebration of the feasts themselves.

 

From Meditations and readings for Lent, the Thursday after Ash Wednesday.

  1. Rules for Fasting & Abstinence in Lent. []
  2. Mediations: The entire text is taken verbatim from St. Thomas Aquinas’ meditations with the titles added and the verses moved to footnotes. []
  3. 2 Cor. 6:5 []
  4. Dan. 10:2-4 []
  5. Joel 2:12 []
  6. Rom. 6:4 []

The Crusades: 3 Books Worth Reading

Listers, the following works have been chosen as excellent introductory texts to the Crusades. All three works come heavily recommended by Catholic professors and priests as superior primers on what is arguably one of the most misunderstood events in human history. All three title are available online – click the title or cover photo for link – and the blurbs and author biographies are taken verbatim from the publisher’s information.

 

1. The Glory of the Crusades

The Glory of the CrusadesHow can the Crusades be called glorious? Our modern mindset says they were ugly wars of greed and religious intolerance a big reason why Christians and Muslims today can’t coexist peacefully. Historian Steve Weidenkopf challenges this received narrative with The Glory of the Crusades. Drawing on the latest and most authentic medieval scholarship, he presents a compelling case for understanding the Crusades as they were when they happened: armed pilgrimages driven by a holy zeal to recover conquered Christian lands. Without whitewashing their failures and even crimes, he debunks the numerous myths about the Crusades that our secular culture uses as clubs to attack the Church. In place of these myths he offers men and women of faith and valor who pledged their lives for the honor of Christ s holy places. With a storyteller s gift, Weidenkopf relates the Crusades many dramas their heroes and villains, battles and sieges, intrigues and coincidences offering a vivid and engrossing account of events that, though centuries old, have profoundly affected the course of our world to the present day.

About the Author
Steve Weidenkopf is a Lecturer of Church History at the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College in Alexandria, Virginia. He has given numerous presentations and seminars on Church History, marriage and family life, human sexuality, and theology throughout the country.He served as the Director of the Office of Marriage & Family Life for the Archdiocese of Denver (2001 – 2004) and as an advisor to Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. and was an instructor at the Our Lady of the New Advent Catechetical Institute. Steve is a member of the Society for the Study of the Crusades and the Latin East – an international academic group dedicated to the field of crusading history and is also a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

Prof. Weidenkopf has also written a series of articles for Catholic Answers. The articles address the most common misconceptions about the Crusades and how to refute them.1

 

2. The New Concise History of the Crusades

The New Concise History of the CrusadesHow have the crusades contributed to Islamist rage and terrorism today? Were the crusades the Christian equivalent of modern jihad? In this sweeping yet crisp history, Thomas F. Madden offers a brilliant and compelling narrative of the crusades and their contemporary relevance. With a cry of “God wills it!” medieval knights ushered in a new era in European history. Across Europe a wave of pious enthusiasm led many thousands to leave their homes, family, and friends to march to distant lands in a great struggle for Christ. Yet the crusades were more than simply a holy war. They represent a synthesis of attitudes and values that were uniquely medieval—so medieval, in fact, that the crusading movement is rarely understood today. Placing all the major crusades within the medieval social, economic, religious, and intellectual environments that gave birth to the movement and nurtured it for centuries, Madden brings the distant medieval world vividly to life. From Palestine and Europe’s farthest reaches, each crusade is recounted in a clear, concise narrative. The author gives special attention as well to the crusades’ effects on the Islamic world and the Christian Byzantine East.

About the Author
Thomas F. Madden is professor and chair of the Department of History at Saint Louis University. A widely recognized expert on the Crusades and Christian-Muslim conflict, he has written and spoken widely on the topic in such venues as the New York Times, National Public Radio, and PBS. He is the author of A Concise History of the Crusades, which was a Washington Post Book World Rave selection, Enrico Dandolo and the Rise of Venice and The Fourth Crusade: The Conquest of Constantinople, a History Book Club selection. He is the editor of Crusades: The Illustrated History and The Crusades: The Essential Readings. He resides in St. Louis, Missouri.

 

3. The Crusades: The World’s Debate

The Crusades BellocBelloc shows that the Crusades were a titanic struggle between Christian civilization and “the Turk,” savage Mongols who had embraced Islam. He explains the practical reasons why the Crusaders initially succeeded and why they ultimately failed then he predicts the re-emergence of Islam, since Christendom failed to destroy it in the 12th century. Makes history come alive and gives a rare, true appreciation of Christendom and of our Catholic forefathers!

About the Author
Hilaire Belloc was born at St. Cloud, France, in 1870. He and his family moved to England upon his father s death, where he took first-class honors in history at Balliol College in Oxford, graduating in 1895. It has been stated that his desire was to rewrite the Catholic history of both France and England. He wrote hundreds of books on the subjects of history, economics, and military science, as well as novels and poetry. His works include The Great Heresies, Europe and the Faith, Survivals and New Arrivals, The Path to Rome, Characters of the Reformation, and How the Reformation Happened.

 

Other Recommended Reading Lists:

  1. Catholic Answer articles on the Crusades. []

Boko Haram: 15 Political Cartoons on the Militant Islamists of Nigeria

Listers, the radical Islamists of Boko Haram have terrorized, murdered, and burned their way through Nigeria. The name Boko Haram translates as Western Education is Forbidden. The Islamist militants have “killed more than 5,000 civilians between July 2009 and June 2014, including at least 2,000 in the first half of 2014, in attacks occurring mainly in northeast, north-central and central Nigeria.”1 The group gained global infamy in April 2014 by kidnapping 276 girls from Chibok, Borno.2 In early 2015 – shortly after the 12-person Charlie Hebdo massacre in France – Boko Haram burned down an entire town and slaughtered its estimated 2000 citizens.3 Shortly after what became known as the Baga Massacre, SPL released a graphic asking for the intercession of Our Lady of Africa:

SPL Our Lady of Africa

While the Baga Massacre occurred through January 3rd to the 7th in 2015, the Charlie Hebdo Shooting took place on January 7th. According to reports, the French Islamists “fired up to 50 shots while shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (Arabic for ‘God is [the] greatest’) and killed 11 people there and then a police officer in the street. They killed a French National Police officer shortly after, and 11 others were injured during the attacks. Five others died and another 11 were wounded in related shootings that followed in the Île-de-France region.”4 Unfortunately, the execution of the twelve French cartoonist overshadowed the Baga Massacre and received the lion’s share of the global media attention. In an attempt to gain awareness, the Vatican, African bishops, and other Catholic groups published articles and graphics focused on the Nigerian victims (along with mourning the Charlie Hebdo victims). One notable graphic was published by Catholic Memes, which uses the style of the Je Suis Charlie graphic to raise awareness for the Nigerian victims:

Je Suis Nigerian

The Charlie Hebdo Shooting and the Bega Massacre started 2015 in a gruesome manner. With countless Catholics and others murdered, homes razed, and parishes destroyed, the people of Nigeria and the surrounding states continue to suffer under Boko Haram. To exemplify the dire situation, in Feburary 2014 a governor of a Nigerian state opined: “Boko Haram are better armed and are better motivated than our own troops. Given the present state of affairs, it is absolutely impossible for us to defeat Boko Haram.”5 Our Lady of Africa, pray for us and the Muslims.

Political Cartoons on Boko Haram

 

Nigerian Cartoon 2

Nigeria Cartoon 1

Nigerian Cartoon 3

Nigerian Cartoon 10

Nigerian Cartoon 5

Nigerian Cartoon 11

Nigerian Cartoon 8

Nigerian Cartoon 12

Nigerian Cartoon 14

Nigerian Cartoon 13

Nigerian Cartoon 15

Nigerian Cartoon 9

Nigerian Cartoon 6

Nigerian Cartoon 4

Nigerian Cartoon 7

  1. Source – See Boko Haram. []
  2. Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping. []
  3. 2015 Baga Massacre. []
  4. Charlie Hebdo Attack. []
  5. Governor’s Statement. []

10 Really Short Prayers to Say During the Day

In his epistle to the Catholics in Thessalonica, St. Paul encouraged them to be in a constant state of prayer. He wrote, ‘Always rejoice. Pray without ceasing…’ Over the melliena since he wrote thats he Church has developed many short prayers that can be said throughout the day.

Listers, in his epistle to the Catholics in Thessalonica, St. Paul encouraged them to be in a constant state of prayer. He wrote, “Always rejoice. Pray without ceasing. In all things give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you all. Extinguish not the spirit.”1 In her attempt to follow this mandate, Holy Mother Church has over the centuries developed thousands of prayers and devotions for the Faithful to use. Along with the two public prayers of the Church – the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass & the Liturgy of the Hours – there are plenty of incredible short invocations that a Catholic can whisper under his or her breath throughout the day. Whether its right before you walk in to give a presentation and you whisper Come Holy Spirit, or right after that car narrowly misses you on the highway and with a sigh of relief you say Domine non sum dignus. The opportunity to pray throughout the day is ever-present, but often times we are not sure what to pray. The following list is a primer of the many short prayers Catholics can say throughout the day for a variety of occasions.2

 

1. Come Holy Spirit

0.63 seconds

Under the heading of Come Holy Spirit, the Catechism of the Catholic Church comments on this short invocation:

“No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.” Every time we begin to pray to Jesus it is the Holy Spirit who draws us on the way of prayer by his prevenient grace. Since he teaches us to pray by recalling Christ, how could we not pray to the Spirit too? That is why the Church invites us to call upon the Holy Spirit every day, especially at the beginning and the end of every important action.

If the Spirit should not be worshiped, how can he divinize me through Baptism? If he should be worshiped, should he not be the object of adoration?

The traditional form of petition to the Holy Spirit is to invoke the Father through Christ our Lord to give us the Consoler Spirit.23 Jesus insists on this petition to be made in his name at the very moment when he promises the gift of the Spirit of Truth.24 But the simplest and most direct prayer is also traditional, “Come, Holy Spirit,” and every liturgical tradition has developed it in antiphons and hymns.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love.

Heavenly King, Consoler Spirit, Spirit of Truth, present everywhere and filling all things, treasure of all good and source of all life, come dwell in us, cleanse and save us, you who are All Good.

The Holy Spirit, whose anointing permeates our whole being, is the interior Master of Christian prayer. He is the artisan of the living tradition of prayer. To be sure, there are as many paths of prayer as there are persons who pray, but it is the same Spirit acting in all and with all. It is in the communion of the Holy Spirit that Christian prayer is prayer in the Church.

Though Come Holy Spirit is woven throughout many Catholic prayers, one of the more popular uses is in the following invocation:

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.

V. Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created.

R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray. O God, Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise, and ever to rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.3

 

2. Thy will be done.

0.76 seconds

The short prayer thy will be done invokes the prayer our Savior taught us – the Lord’s Prayer. Though saying the invocation softly under your breadth certainly calls to mind the entirely of the Lord’s Prayer, the specific line reads in full – thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.4

 

3. My God and my all.

1.03 seconds

Deus meus et omnia! The short invocation my God and my all has a long history in the Church and currently serves as a motto within the Franciscan Order. The origin of the phrase from a Franciscan perspective comes from a story about St. Francis staying up all night in prayer. The good saint, “lifting up his eyes and hands to heaven, and saying, with great devotion and fervor: ‘My God, my God’. And so saying and weeping continually, he abode even until morning, always repeating: ‘My God, my God,’ and nothing else.”5

 

4. Domine non sum dignus.

1.51 seconds

The Domine non sum dignus prayer – Lord, I am not worthy – is a longstanding acknowledgement of one’s unworthiness to receive the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. While that is certainly its most proper context, it can be used during the week as we ask for grace or experience some unexpected mercy.

 

5. O Heart of Jesus, all for Thee.

1.73 seconds

This short petition to the Heart of Jesus certainly shares similar characteristics to the prayers uttered in the Litany to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. While this specific line is not mentioned, any of the lines within the litany could also serve as short invocations. For example:

Heart of Jesus, burning furnace of charity, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, abode of justice and love, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, abyss of all virtues, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, most worthy of all praise, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, king and center of all hearts, have mercy on us.

Many find the imagery surrounding the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus to be stunning and certainly something on which it is worthy to mediate. These short invocations – though part of a larger devotion – can be an excellent way to incorporate the Sacred Heart into your day. Praying Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us is another excellent short invocation.

 

6. O God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

1.78 seconds

The short prayer is taken directly from the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke. The passage in pertinent part reads:

The Pharisee standing, prayed thus with himself: O God, I give thee thanks that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, as also is this publican. I fast twice in a week: I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes towards heaven; but struck his breast, saying: O God, be merciful to me a sinner.6

The phrase is also incorporated into the Jesus PrayerLord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner. While worthy of an entire independent conversation, the importance of the Jesus Prayer in Eastern Christianity is analogous to the prominence of the Hail Mary in the West. In Latin, this prayer reads – Domine Iesu Christe, Filius Dei, miserere me peccatorem.

 

7. Sit nomen Dómini benedíctum!

2.00 seconds

Blessed be the Name of the Lord! According to Fisheaters, “this prayer is a reparation for blasphemy. If one hears someone take the Name of the Lord in vain, it is good to say this prayer. The response to this prayer is “ex hoc nunc, et usque in sæculum!” (“from this time forth for evermore!”) or “per ómnia saecula saeculórum” (“unto ages of ages”).”7

 

8. All you holy men and women of God, pray for us.

2.18 seconds

Along with this invocation to all of the saints, any petition to any saint serves as an excellent short prayer. Which saint should you have pray for you? Each saint has a patronage over some area in life. St. Thomas Aquinas is the patron of academics and often prayed to by students and professors alike. St. Ambrose is a patron of students but also of bee keepers and domestic animals. St. Catherina of Siena is the patron against fire, miscarriages, and sexual temptation. Do not make the mistake the protestants do. Saints are not demigods over certain aspects of Creation. Imagine you struggle with alcoholism and you have a friend who did as well but has now been sober for over twenty years. Would you not go to him for prayer? His experience and virtue in this area seasons his prayers to God. He is intimately aware of the struggles you face. So too with the patronages of the saints. Their purview is predicated according to their experiences they had in life. A student does not pray to St. Thomas Aquinas, because the Angelic Doctor is the demigod of academics. He prays to him because his experience and virtue in academics lends him an excellent soul to join the student in prayer before God. Invoking the saints and particularly your personal patron saint throughout the day is an excellent practice.

 

9. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

2.80 seconds

Do not overlook this prayer. Like all commonly used prayers, it is in danger of becoming hackneyed. Invoking the Most Holy Trinity and making the sign of the cross is an excellent way to for a Catholic to bless themselves as they go about their day.

 

10. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

3.61 seconds

A wonderful prayer from the Roman Rituale included in both litanies and in prayers used while saying the Holy Rosary.

 

***********

More on Prayer

  1. I Thess. 5:16-19, DR. []
  2. Timing of Prayers: The prayers are listed in order from shortest to longest, and the timing is certainly not scientific – unless you count sitting at a coffee shop with an iPhone timer scientific. []
  3. Latin: Veni, Sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium: et tui amoris in eis ignem accende. V. Emitte Spiritum tuum, et creabuntur. R. Et renovabis faciem terrae. Oremus. Deus, qui corda fidelium Sancti Spiritus illustratione docuisti: da nobis in eodem Spiritu recta sapere; et de eius semper consolatione gaudere. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen. []
  4. Catechism of the Catholic Church (“CCC”) on the Lord’s Prayer. []
  5. Source: The Story of Deus meus et Omnia in the Franciscan Tradition. []
  6. Luke 18:11-13, DR. []
  7. Fisheaters – A handful of the prayers in this list were adopted from the longer list of short invocations listed on the traditional Catholic site Fisheaters. []

Demons, Beer, & Breastfeeding – The Top 14 Catholic Lists of 2014

Listers, thank you for another incredible year. The popular lists of 2014 are certainly diverse. Prayers for your workday, types of demonic activity, and sacred images of breastfeeding are all among this year’s finalists. The following is the third annual “top” list in the history of St. Peter’s List (“SPL”). To compare the popular trends of 2014 to past years, see Catholic Countdown: The Top 20 Lists of 2012 and Top 10 Most Popular Catholic Lists of 2013.

 

Father Amorth, exorcist for the Diocese of Rome via Trailer - Amorth L'esorcista, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfGuu2S6DS4.
Father Amorth, exorcist for the Diocese of Rome via Trailer – Amorth L’esorcista, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfGuu2S6DS4.

14. Fr. Amorth on the 4 Types of Curses

Father Gabriele Amorth claims to have performed over 70,000 exorcisms from 1986 to 2010. The good priest serves as an exorcist for the Diocese of Rome and is the founder and honorary president of the International Association of Exorcists. He has written two books: An Exorcist Tells His Story & An Exorcist: More Stories. And yes, his favorite movie is The Exorcist. In An Exorcist Tells His Story, the good father lays out the four types of curses:

1. Black Magic – Witchcraft – Satanic Rites
2. Curses, Simply
3. The Evil Eye
4. The Spell (aka Malefice or Hex)

The exorcist explains, “Curse is a generic word. It is commonly defined as ‘harming others through demonic intervention’… In my opinion, spells and witchcraft are two different types of curses. I do not claim to give a comprehensive explanation, and I rely solely on my own experience when I defend the following forms of curses.”

 

Ordinary Form, Ad Orientem. - Southern Orders, http://southernorderspage.blogspot.com.
Ordinary Form, Ad Orientem. – Southern Orders, http://southernorderspage.blogspot.com.

13. Facing God: 10 Advantages of Ad Orientem

SPL was delighted that a liturgical list made the top 14 lists of 2014, especially this one exploring the benefits of Ad Orientem. The list explains the basics of ad orientem, lists the benefits of the ancient practice as articulated by a wonderful priest, and gives several “bonus” ad orientem memes. The list explains, “Ad Orientem is Latin for to the east and refers to the direction the priest faces during the mass. Catholic churches are traditionally built facing the East, because, as Cardinal Ratzinger taught, this direction reflects the ‘cosmic sign of the rising sun which symbolizes the universality of God.’ The priest facing the altar is also referred to as Ad Deum, which is Latin for to God… While the ancient liturgies did speak of the priest turning and “facing the people” during certain parts of the mass, the concept of celebrating the entire mass versus populum is arguably an invention of the 1970’s, an invention that stands in direct contradistinction to the Church’s ancient traditions.”

 

Musical Notation Old Book

12. Glory of Rome: 5 Latin Hymns Every Catholic Should Know

Though published in August of 2012, this list of hymns in Latin gained immense popularity in 2014. In contrast, its counterpart article covering the five English hymns every Catholic should know – which was the nineteenth most popular list in 2012 and the ninth in 2013 – failed to make the 2014 list. Moreover, the third installment of SPL’s study of hymns, a collection covering Byzantine hymns, has yet to break into any annual top list. As with the ad orientem list, SPL is delighted to see lists with a liturgical focus rise in popularity, especially one revolving around the importance of Latin.

 

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Chile.  Figura de la Virgen del Carmen de Chile, en el Templo Votivo de Maipú. La imagen fue donada por la Sra. Rosalía Mujíca de Gutiérrez el 16 de diciembre de 1956.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Chile. Figura de la Virgen del Carmen de Chile, en el Templo Votivo de Maipú. La imagen fue donada por la Sra. Rosalía Mujíca de Gutiérrez el 16 de diciembre de 1956.

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

“Modern heretics make a mockery of wearing the Scapular, they decry it as so much trifling nonsense,” says St. Alphonsus. Published during January of 2013, SPL’s list on the Brown Scapular explains the devotion, the marian history behind the practice, and the inseparable relationship between the Brown Scapular and the Holy Rosary. One of the more unique aspects of the Brown Scapular is the promise behind it. The list explains, “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.'” Though incredibly common among most Latin Mass communities, the devotion has plummeted after the Second Vatican Council and is almost non-existent among the Novus Ordo parishes. Since the list is written as a primer to the Brown Scapular, it makes an excellent way to introduce your fellow parishioners or your entire parish to this wonderful devotion.

 

Anónimo Inferno (ca. 1520)
Anónimo Inferno (ca. 1520)

10. The 6 Types of Extraordinary Demonic Activity

The wisdom of Father Amorth finds another place amongst the top lists of 2014. Published in 2011, the list categorizing different types of extraordinary demonic activity was among the first lists to be published on SPL. The good exorcist first distinguishes among ordinary and extraordinary demonic activity. The former is simply temptation, while the latter can fall into any of the six different categories listed below:

1. External Physical Pain Caused by Satan
2. Demonic Possession
3. Diabolical Oppression
4. Diabolic Obsession
5. Diabolic Infestation
6. Diabolical Subjugation, or Dependence

Fr. Amorth’s work strives to remind everyone – especially priests and bishops – that demonic activity is real, and those suffering under its effects should be able to find help within Holy Mother Church. He calls upon the Church to restore the Office of the Exorcist to every diocese, and he reminds the faithful that the best defense against the demonic is the sacramental life.

 

Mary bw banner

9. The 8 Prayers Every Catholic Should Know in Latin

Standing as the twelfth most popular list in 2012 and the seventh in 2013, the collection of fundamental Latin prayers remains a mainstay on SPL. The introduction of the list gives a brief insight into the importance of Latin in the Roman Catholic Church – In 1978 Pope St. John Paul II said, “We exhort you all to lift up high the torch of Latin which is even today a bond of unity among peoples of all nations.” Even Vatican II and Pope John XXIII lauded Latin and asked that it remain the universal language of the Church; however, today the Roman Church has turned its back on Latin and blamed it on the ever-shifting spectre or “spirit” of Vatican II. In support of Latin as the sacred language of the Latin rite, SPL collected 14 quotes on the importance of Latin in the Church, which includes many quotes from Vatican II documents and from post-Vatican II popes. Continuing in this proper understanding of Sacred Tradition, it is only fitting that the listers have a list to help them develop their use of Latin. The collected prayers are all the prayers one would need to pray the Holy Rosary in Latin.

 

Nichols Punch Meme 2

8. When Santa Punched a Heretic in the Face: 13 Memes on St. Nicholas

Published in 2013 and skyrocketing to the most popular list of that year, the SPL list on Santa Claus recounts the story of St. Nicholas slapping the heretic Arius at the Council of Nicea, AD 325. The universal draw of this story is evident in the fact this list is virtually only shared throughout Christmastime, but remains one of the most popular articles on SPL. Along with humorous memes, the list articulates the historic account of “Santa Claus.” According to the introduction, “St. Nicholas was born in AD 270 and became the Bishop of Myra in Lycia (modern day Turkey). He died on December 6, 343 leaving a legacy that would grow into a strong and multifaceted cult. He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose modern name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas, itself from a series of elisions and corruptions of the transliteration of ‘Saint Nikolaos.’ Although he is usually referred to as Sinterklaas, he is also known as De Goedheiligman (The Good Holy Man), Sint Nicolaas (Saint Nicholas) or simply as De Sint (The Saint). His reputation evolved among the faithful, as was common for early Christian saints. The actual feast day of St. Nicholas is December 6th.” Though wrapped in a lighthearted package, the list helps educate the Faithful on the actual narrative of St. Nicholas in order to better participate in the full tradition of Christmastime.

 

St. Josemaria Escriva.
St. Josemaria Escriva.

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

Published in early of 2013, this list focused on humility rose to the third most popular list of that year. As the introduction implies, the ascension of Pope Francis to the Throne of St. Peter was the main impetus for the article and for the interest surrounding the list. His Holiness Pope Francis has made the Church contemplate the virtue of humility and the qualities of true humility. St. Josemaria’s list is not an easy read. In fact, the list could operate as an examination of conscience in the area of pride. As the list states, 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.”

 

Credit: La Virgen de la Leche y Buen Parto, Facebook Group, edited.
Credit: La Virgen de la Leche y Buen Parto, Facebook Group, edited.

6. Our Lady of Milk: 20 Images of Mother Mary Nursing

Finishing as the second most popular list of 2013, the collection of images of Mother Mary nursing remains one of the most controversial lists on SPL. Despite the firestorm of opinions – whether over breastfeeding in general or nudity in Sacred Art – SPL’s original rationale for researching Our Lady of Milk remains strong – to support the beauty and importance of breastfeeding. As the 2013 introduction to the list explains: One factor was certainly the growing societal criticism of mothers who breastfed their children in public. The criticism of mothers breastfeeding had grown so loud within Western culture that even Pope Francis felt the need to publicly support mothers breastfeeding in public. The Holy Pontiff stated:

“There are so many children that cry because they are hungry. At the Wednesday General Audience the other day there was a young mother behind one of the barriers with a baby that was just a few months old. The child was crying its eyes out as I came past. The mother was caressing it. I said to her: “Madam, I think the child’s hungry.” “Yes, it’s probably time…,” she replied. “Please give it something to eat!” I said. She was shy and didn’t want to breastfeed in public, while the Pope was passing. I wish to say the same to humanity: give people something to eat! That woman had milk to give to her child; we have enough food in the world to feed everyone.”

Another factor is certainly North America’s Puritan culture being absolutely inexperienced with images of Mary’s breast. Though common in Latino/Hispanic cultures both in South America and in Europe, the images are quite foreign to many inside the United States.

 

Cardinal Burke visits the Sisters Adorers in Switzerland.
Cardinal Burke visits the Sisters Adorers in Switzerland.

5. Cardinal Burke: 15 Photos of this Wondrous Prince of the Church

As 2014 draws to a close, no other list has generated a more hate-filled, argumentative, and polarizing comment section than our simple photo gallery of His Eminence Cardinal Burke. Originally published in 2012, the list caught on fire toward the latter half of 2014 as rumors fueled expectations that Cardinal Burke would be demoted from Cardinal Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. In November of 2014, Pope Francis did in fact remove Cardinal Burke from his position and appoint him as the Cardinal Patronus of the Military Order of Malta. The traditionalist communities saw this move as nothing less than the most humiliating thing done to a Cardinal by a Pope in modern times, while the so-called progressive camps openly cheered the move as a clear papal rebuke of Cardinal Burke’s tone and style. As far as SPL goes, His Eminence Cardinal Burke is still held in utmost respect, and we agree with Pope Benedict XVI that good Cardinal is one of the best amongst the College. Hopefully, his new relationship with the Order of Malta will provide him with more time and resources to write and travel.

 

Angelus by Jean-François Millet.
Angelus by Jean-François Millet.

4. The 8 Prayers to Help You through the Workday

Another wonderful list of prayers makes it into the top lists of 2014. Published in 2012 and flying under the radar until 2014, the article submits practical prayers that could be said throughout the workday. SPL author Catherine explains, “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).” Memorize these prayers or bookmark this list on your work computer, and may the peace of Christ be with you always and everywhere.

 

Father Amorth, exorcist for the Diocese of Rome via Trailer - Amorth L'esorcista, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfGuu2S6DS4.
Father Amorth, exorcist for the Diocese of Rome via Trailer – Amorth L’esorcista, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfGuu2S6DS4.

3. The 5 Prayers Recommended by an Exorcist to Combat Evil

Without question, 2014 was a good year for the wisdom of Father Amorth. The third and final list drawn from his experience is a list of prayers that can help a person defend themselves from evil. The prayers are as follows:

1. Prayer Against Malefice from the Greek Ritual
2. Anima Christi
3. Prayer Against Every Evil
4. Prayer for Inner Healing
5. Prayer for Deliverance

In his book An Exorcist Tells His Story, Fr. Amorth stresses that the number one protection from evil is the Sacrament of Confession and the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Often times people want esoteric rituals to deliver them from evil, when in reality what they need is to become right with God. Along with regular Confession and reception of the Holy Eucharist, these prayers should be coupled with Our Lord’s Prayer and the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.

 

The Trappist Beers via Robin Vanspauwen/Bram Weyens
The Trappist Beers via Robin Vanspauwen/Bram Weyens

2. The 10 Authentic Trappist Ales

It is hard not to love beer made by monks. Originally posted in 2011 among the first wave of lists to hit SPL, the list climbed to the tenth most popular list of 2012. In 2013, the list included three new Trappist ales, and the expanded list landed at sixth in 2013. Continuing its growth in popularity, the list comes in as the second most popular list of 2014. The list explains what a Trappist ale is and the three conditions an ale must meet to be accepted into the official Trappist Association:

1. The beer must be brewed within the walls of a Trappist abbey, by or under control of Trappist monks.
2. The brewery, the choices of brewing, and the commercial orientations must obviously depend on the monastic community.
3. The economic purpose of the brewery must be directed toward assistance and not toward financial profit.

The list then goes on to summarize each individual brewery that has been accepted into the official association and makes Trappist ale.

 

A selection of the front of the St. Benedict's Medal.
A selection of the front of the St. Benedict’s Medal.

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

In 2012, the top list was a collection of original SPL graphics that were designed to fight against the HHS mandate and other government overreaches into the life of the Church. In 2013, the top list was the story of how St. Nicholas punched the heretic Arius right in the face. In 2014, the top list is a primer on the incredible history and power of the St. Benedict’s Medal. Published in 2012, the list started slow but has steadily risen as one of the primary online articles explaining the medal. In 2013, it was the fourth most popular list, and in 2014, it well outpaced the other contenders to become the most popular list on SPL in 2014.

Front
Front

It is difficult to grasp the significance of the medal until one has an understanding of all the lettering. Both the front and back of the medal are rich in symbolism. Regarding the front, the list explains: 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). The list further articulates the history of the medal, the entirety of its symbolism, and what evils the medal is used to ward against. St. Benedict, patron against poison and witchcraft, pray for us.

 

Thank you listers for an incredible year. God bless.

Charioteer of the Virtues: 6 Lessons on Prudence & her Contrary Vices

Listers, Aristotle (“the Philosopher”) defined prudence as  “right reason applied to action.”1 Similarly, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it.”2 Prudence is an indispensable part of the virtuous life. It stands as a “unique virtue” for the role it plays in both the intellectual and moral life of the virtuous person. It is also a “special virtue” for its role in guiding all virtues to their determined end. Prudence is, without any doubt, absolutely necessary to live the good life, the virtuous life.

 

SPL Catechesis on the Soul & Virtue

 

Lesson One:
Prudence Does Not Always Deal with Morality

Prudence is an intellectual virtue. The intellectual virtues are categorized as either speculative or practical. The speculative virtues perfect a person’s ability to contemplate truth. For example, the intellectual virtue of science helps to perfect a person’s ability to contemplate a specific body of knowledge. A person, a scientist, may through the habit of science perfect his understanding of botany, archeology, or astrophysics. In contrast, the practical intellectual virtues are concerned with external acts. The practical virtue of art is “nothing else but the right reason about certain works to be made.”3 Through the virtue of art, the shipwright perfects his ability to make ships. The other practical virtue is prudence. If art is the “right reason of things to be made,” then prudence is the “right reason of things to be done.”4 A shipwright may have an excellent aptness for creating ships, but that does not make him a prudent shipwright. The prudent shipwright knows what time he should rise for work, how many hours he should engage his craft, and how he should conduct himself in all his affairs.

 

Lesson Two:
Prudence is Distinct from All Other Virtues

If a shipwright crafts the finest ships to ever sail the open seas is he a moral or immoral person? The intellectual virtues do not provide a moral import. A shipwright might create the finest ships but be morally bankrupt, while a morally upstanding person may be a terrible shipwright. In the virtues that deal with morality, there are principally the Theological Virtues – faith, hope, & charity – and the Natural or Cardinal Virtues – prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude. Just as prudence is concerned with a person’s intellectual acts, so too is prudence concerned with a person’s moral acts. No other virtue shares this scope. In this context, Aquinas calls prudence a “special virtue,” because prudence is the only moral and intellectual virtue.

 

Lesson Three:
Prudence is the Auriga Virtutum

"Detail of the east gallery with busts of Virtues in Canterbury Quad, St John's College, Oxford c.1631-36." Fr. Lawrence, OP. Flickr.
“Detail of the east gallery with busts of Virtues in Canterbury Quad, St John’s College, Oxford c.1631-36.” Fr. Lawrence, OP. Flickr.

Prudence is right reason applied to action. Temperance is the virtue that moderates attraction to pleasurable goods. If a shipwright decides against the proverbial “just one more drink” and retires from the public house, has he acted prudently or with temperance? A common mistake is to regard the other virtues as simply different forms of prudence; thus, justice is prudence regarding order, temperance is prudence regarding pleasure, and fortitude is prudence regarding fear. What then is the proper relationship of prudence to the other virtues? First, prudence does not dictate the end or goal. If the determined end is that the shipwright should not have another drink, that end is determined by temperance. Second, prudence does dictate the means to achieve the end. If the shipwright determines not to have another drink, what is the most prudent means to achieve that end? – or rather, how should he now act? Is it more prudent to simply not order another ale or to leave the pub altogether? Temperance has set the end, now prudence must determine the means to that end. Aquinas quotes Aristotle in stating, “moral virtue ensures the rectitude of the intention of the end, while prudence ensures the rectitude of the means.”5 Each moral virtue sets the end according to right reason, but the means to that end is right reason in action – prudence.6 In this context, the nickname of prudence – the Auriga Virtutum, the Charioteer of the Virtues – is properly understood, because prudence “guides the other virtues by setting [the] rule and measure.”7

 

Lesson Four:
There are Different Species of Prudence

Our Servant King, St Dominic's priory church in London. Fr. Lawrence, OP. Flickr.
Our Servant King, St Dominic’s priory church in London. Fr. Lawrence, OP. Flickr.

Does prudence govern only the good of the individual or is prudence concerned with the good of others? In his Ethics, Aristotle notes that many have argued that prudence only deals with the individual’s good, because “they thought that man is not bound to seek other than his own good.”8 Aquinas holds that this view is “opposed to charity,” because charity demands we seek the good of others.9 Aquinas further holds the view is contrary to reason, because right reason “judges the common good to be better than the good of the individual.”10 Consequently under both charity and reason, prudence deals with “not only the private good of the individual, but also the common good of the multitude.”11 A philosophic principle worth committing to memory – and often used by Aquinas – is that the object of a thing determines the species of a thing. If prudence, therefore, can have as its object the good of many, the good of a few, or the good of one, there must be correlating different species of prudence. According to the Angelic Doctor, there is political prudence, which “is directed to the common good of the state.”12 Second, there is the domestic prudence, which is “directed to the common good of the home.” Third, there is prudence simply or monastic prudence, which “is directed to one’s own good.”13

 

Lesson Five:
Prudence of the Flesh

Aquinas opens his discussion with a simple syllogism. It is impossible for a man to be prudent unless he is good. No sinner is a good man. Therefore no sinner is prudent.14 There is, however, a false prudence. Virtue is “an habitual and firm disposition to do the good.”15 Prudence, as the Charioteer of Virtue, disposes a person toward a good end. What about a prudent robber? A robber that “devises fitting ways of committing robbery”?16 Aquinas posits this as a false prudence, and is the “prudence of the flesh” as described by St. Paul.17 Aquinas further submits there is a second type of prudence – an imperfect prudence. Imperfect prudence would be the shipwright who is prudent toward his particular good, shipbuilding, but lacks prudence toward the “common good of all human life.” Moreover, imagine the brilliant astrophysicists who is also an atheist. Finally, there is true and perfect prudence – the prudence that “takes counsel, judges, and commands aright in respect of the good end of man’s whole life.”18 The true and perfect prudence is prudence simply. To wit, prudence is right reason in action, and sin will always be an irrational act; therefore, sinners are not prudent.

 

Lesson Six:
Imprudence & Negligence are Special Sins

"Detail of the Rood in St Paul's church, Knightsbridge by Bodley." - Fr. Lawrence, OP. Flickr.
“Detail of the Rood in St Paul’s church, Knightsbridge by Bodley.” – Fr. Lawrence, OP. Flickr.

Imprudence is a sin and manifests in two different ways: as a privation or as a contrary.19 As a privation, a person lacks the prudence they ought to have. As a contrary, the person’s actions go directly against prudence. For example, the imprudent man who despises wise counsel.20 Where as prudence is considered a special virtue, so too is imprudence a special sin. Aquinas explains, “for just as all the virtues have a share of prudence, in so far as it directs them, so have all vices and sins a share of imprudence, because no sin can occur, without some defect in an act of the directing reason, which defect belongs to imprudence.”21 For example, if the shipwright has too many ales at the public house, is he imprudent or acting with intemperance? The shipwright is both, because intemperance has set the end and imprudence has set the means. Just as prudence is a special virtue, imprudence is a special sin.22 The second vice opposed to prudence is negligence. The virtue of solicitude is a care or concern for something, it watchfulness, and it is being alert. It is a part of prudence.23 Negligence is a lack of solicitude – it is an omission, a failure to act. Consequently, negligence is opposed to prudence, right reason applied to action, because there is no action. In this way, negligence is also a special sin as it affects the act of reason itself. The special sins are also known as general sins, because their scope extends past any particular matter. For example, lust is particularly oriented toward sexual matters, but negligence affects reason itself; thus, the vice of negligence can extend “to any kind of moral matter.”24

  1. ST. II-II.47.2 Sed Contra, citing Ethics VI 5 []
  2. CCC § 1806 []
  3. ST. I-II.57.3, see also for an extended conversation on the intellectual virtues, 8 Traditional Catholic Answers about Virtue. []
  4. Id. []
  5. II-II.47.6. Sed contra []
  6. Aquinas on Prudence as the Means: “But it belongs to the ruling of prudence to decide in what manner and by what means man shall obtain the mean of reason in his deeds. For though the attainment of the mean is the end of a moral virtue, yet this means is found by the right disposition of these things that are directed to the end.” II-II.47.7 []
  7. CCC § 1806, furthermore, “it is prudence that immediately guides the judgment of conscience. The prudent man determines and directs his conduct in accordance with this judgment. With the help of this virtue we apply moral principles to particular cases without error and overcome doubts about the good to achieve and the evil to avoid.” []
  8. II-II.47.10 – Aquinas citing Ethics, vi. 8 []
  9. Id., see Aquinas citing St. Paul, I Cor. 13:5, 10:33. []
  10. Id. []
  11. Id. []
  12. Id. a. 11. []
  13. Id. a. 11, see also a. 12, further defining political prudence. There is “legislative prudence,” which belongs to the rulers, and “political prudence,” which is “about individual actions.” Consequently, political prudence is in both the rulers and the ruled. []
  14. ST II-II.47.13, sed contra. []
  15. CCC § 1803 []
  16. II-II.47.13 []
  17. See Rom. 8:6. []
  18. Id. []
  19. II-II.53.1. []
  20. Id. []
  21. Id. a. 2 []
  22. Special Sins Under Imprudence: First, there is “thoughtlessness.” Thought, according to Aquinas, “signifies the act of the intellect in considering truth about something.” II-II.53.4. Thoughtless is the vice, the bad habit, of failing to judge rightly “those things on which right judgment depends.” Second, there is the vice of inconsistency. Aquinas teaches that inconsistency demonstrates a “withdrawal from a definite good purpose.” Id. a. 6. Aquinas reasons that a man does not step back from a previously attained good unless it is for some inordinate desire; thus, inconsistency is accomplished through a “defect of reason.” []
  23. See II-II.47.9 []
  24. II-II.54.1-2. []

Lamentabili: The 65 Errors of the Modernists Condemned by the Church

Listers, “there is no road which leads so directly and so quickly to Modernism as pride.” Pope St. Pius X fought with all of his heart and soul to defend the Church against the heresy of modernism. One of the gifts he gave Holy Mother Church was the Syllabus of Errors entitled Lamentabili Sane Exitu. As the traditionalist blog Rorate Caeli explains: “In a warm July day in 1907… the Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition (which would be renamed simply as Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office in 1908) made public a list, a new Syllabus of errors against sane Catholic doctrine, by way of the Decree Lamentabili sane exitu, approved by Pope Saint Pius X. The heresy of Modernism was going to be successfully stopped and kept under control for several decades, and the glorious history of the Catholic Church during the first half of the 20th century would be built on the foundations of those papal measures of 1907: Lamentabili, the encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis (which would be published in September of that same year), and the motu proprio Præstantia Scripturæ Sacræ (November 18, 1907).”1 As an introduction to Pope St. Pius X’s fight against modernism, SPL has gathered together 12 memes that represent the best of his quotes in Restore All Things to Christ: 12 Memes on Pope St. Pius X with Explanations & Sources.

Following Rorate Caeli, SPL has included the headnotes of “one of the most well-known commentators of the Syllabus of Lamentabili, Monsignor Franz Heiner.” The good monsignor sets the sixty-five errors into seven distinct categories. The added headnotes are below in red. In addition, SPL has inserted a few footnotes where further context and reading may help more fully discern the modernist error.


 LAMENTABILI SANE EXITU

Pius X
July 3, 1907

With truly lamentable results, our age, casting aside all restraint in its search for the ultimate causes of things, frequently pursues novelties so ardently that it rejects the legacy of the human race. Thus it falls into very serious errors, which are even more serious when they concern sacred authority, the interpretation of Sacred Scripture, and the principal mysteries of Faith. The fact that many Catholic writers also go beyond the limits determined by the Fathers and the Church herself is extremely regrettable. In the name of higher knowledge and historical research (they say), they are looking for that progress of dogmas which is, in reality, nothing but the corruption of dogmas.

These errors are being daily spread among the faithful. Lest they captivate the faithful’s minds and corrupt the purity of their faith, His Holiness, Pius X, by Divine Providence, Pope, has decided that the chief errors should be noted and condemned by the Office of this Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition.

Therefore, after a very diligent investigation and consultation with the Reverend Consultors, the Most Eminent and Reverend Lord Cardinals, the General Inquisitors in matters of faith and morals have judged the following propositions to be condemned and proscribed. In fact, by this general decree, they are condemned and proscribed.

 

I. Errors 1 to 8: Attacks to the Magisterium of the Church, to its authority, and to the obedience it is owed.

1. The ecclesiastical law which prescribes that books concerning the Divine Scriptures are subject to previous examination does not apply to critical scholars and students of scientific exegesis of the Old and New Testament.

2. The Church’s interpretation of the Sacred Books is by no means to be rejected; nevertheless, it is subject to the more accurate judgment and correction of the exegetes.

3. From the ecclesiastical judgments and censures passed against free and more scientific exegesis, one can conclude that the Faith the Church proposes contradicts history and that Catholic teaching cannot really be reconciled with the true origins of the Christian religion.

4. Even by dogmatic definitions the Church’s magisterium cannot determine the genuine sense of the Sacred Scriptures.

5. Since the deposit of Faith contains only revealed truths, the Church has no right to pass judgment on the assertions of the human sciences.

6. The “Church learning” and the “Church teaching” collaborate in such a way in defining truths that it only remains for the “Church teaching” to sanction the opinions of the “Church learning.”

7. In proscribing errors, the Church cannot demand any internal assent from the faithful by which the judgments she issues are to be embraced.

8. They are free from all blame who treat lightly the condemnations passed by the Sacred Congregation of the Index or by the Roman Congregations.

 

II. Errors 9 to 19: False exegetic propositions, opposed to the divine origin of Sacred Scripture.

9. They display excessive simplicity or ignorance who believe that God is really the author of the Sacred Scriptures.

10. The inspiration of the books of the Old Testament consists in this: The Israelite writers handed down religious doctrines under a peculiar aspect which was either little or not at all known to the Gentiles.

11. Divine inspiration does not extend to all of Sacred Scriptures so that it renders its parts, each and every one, free from every error.

12. If he wishes to apply himself usefully to Biblical studies, the exegete must first put aside all preconceived opinions about the supernatural origin of Sacred Scripture and interpret it the same as any other merely human document.

13. The Evangelists themselves, as well as the Christians of the second and third generation, artificially arranged the evangelical parables. In such a way they explained the scanty fruit of the preaching of Christ among the Jews.

14. In many narrations the Evangelists recorded, not so much things that are true, as things which, even though false, they judged to be more profitable for their readers.

15. Until the time the canon was defined and constituted, the Gospels were increased by additions and corrections. Therefore there remained in them only a faint and uncertain trace of the doctrine of Christ.

16. The narrations of John are not properly history, but a mystical contemplation of the Gospel. The discourses contained in his Gospel are theological meditations, lacking historical truth concerning the mystery of salvation.

17. The fourth Gospel exaggerated miracles not only in order that the extraordinary might stand out but also in order that it might become more suitable for showing forth the work and glory of the Word lncarnate.

18. John claims for himself the quality of witness concerning Christ. In reality, however, he is only a distinguished witness of the Christian life, or of the life of Christ in the Church at the close of the first century.

19. Heterodox exegetes have expressed the true sense of the Scriptures more faithfully than Catholic exegetes.

 

III. Errors 20 to 26: False exegetic propositions, which falsify the origin and the intrinsic value of Divine Revelation.

20. Revelation could be nothing else than the consciousness man acquired of his revelation to God.

21. Revelation, constituting the object of the Catholic faith, was not completed with the Apostles.

22. The dogmas the Church holds out as revealed are not truths which have fallen from heaven. They are an interpretation of religious facts which the human mind has acquired by laborious effort.

23. Opposition may, and actually does, exist between the facts narrated in Sacred Scripture and the Church’s dogmas which rest on them. Thus the critic may reject as false facts the Church holds as most certain.

24. The exegete who constructs premises from which it follows that dogmas are historically false or doubtful is not to be reproved as long as he does not directly deny the dogmas themselves .

25. The assent of faith ultimately rests on a mass of probabilities .

26. The dogmas of the Faith are to be held only according to their practical sense; that is to say, as preceptive norms of conduct and not as norms of believing.

27. The divinity of Jesus Christ is not proved from the Gospels. It is a dogma which the Christian conscience has derived from the notion of the Messias.

 

IV. Errors 27 to 38: Denials of the most important dogmas of Christianity, related to the Person of the Divine Redeemer, to his Divinity, to his supernatural knowledge, to the expiatory character of his sufferings, Passion, and Death, and to his bodily Resurrection.

28. While He was exercising His ministry, Jesus did not speak with the object of teaching He was the Messias, nor did His miracles tend to prove it.

29. It is permissible to grant that the Christ of history is far inferior to the Christ Who is the object of faith.

30 In all the evangelical texts the name “Son of God” is equivalent only to that of “Messias.” It does not in the least way signify that Christ is the true and natural Son of God.

31. The doctrine concerning Christ taught by Paul, John, and the Councils of Nicea, Ephesus and Chalcedon is not that which Jesus taught but that which the Christian conscience conceived concerning Jesus.

32. It is impossible to reconcile the natural sense of the Gospel texts with the sense taught by our theologians concerning the conscience and the infallible knowledge of Jesus Christ.2

33 Everyone who is not led by preconceived opinions can readily see that either Jesus professed an error concerning the immediate Messianic coming or the greater part of His doctrine as contained in the Gospels is destitute of authenticity.

34. The critics can ascribe to Christ a knowledge without limits only on a hypothesis which cannot be historically conceived and which is repugnant to the moral sense. That hypothesis is that Christ as man possessed the knowledge of God and yet was unwilling to communicate the knowledge of a great many things to His disciples and posterity.

35. Christ did not always possess the consciousness of His Messianic dignity.

36. The Resurrection of the Savior is not properly a fact of the historical order. It is a fact of merely the supernatural order (neither demonstrated nor demonstrable) which the Christian conscience gradually derived from other facts.

37. In the beginning, faith in the Resurrection of Christ was not so much in the fact itself of the Resurrection as in the immortal life of Christ with God.

38. The doctrine of the expiatory death of Christ is Pauline and not evangelical.

 

V. Errors 39 to 51: Denials of the institution of the means of salvation by Christ through his Church, particularly the Sacraments, and of their efficacy.

39. The opinions concerning the origin of the Sacraments which the Fathers of Trent held and which certainly influenced their dogmatic canons are very different from those which now rightly exist among historians who examine Christianity.

40. The Sacraments have their origin in the fact that the Apostles and their successors, swayed and moved by circumstances and events, interpreted some idea and intention of Christ.

41. The Sacraments are intended merely to recall to man’s mind the ever-beneficent presence of the Creator.

42. The Christian community imposed the necessity of Baptism, adopted it as a necessary rite, and added to it the obligation of the Christian profession.

43. The practice of administering Baptism to infants was a disciplinary evolution, which became one of the causes why the Sacrament was divided into two, namely, Baptism and Penance.

44. There is nothing to prove that the rite of the Sacrament of Confirmation was employed by the Apostles. The formal distinction of the two Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation does not pertain to the history of primitive Christianity.

45. Not everything which Paul narrates concerning the institution of the Eucharist (I Cor. 11:23-25) is to be taken historically.

46. In the primitive Church the concept of the Christian sinner reconciled by the authority of the Church did not exist. Only very slowly did the Church accustom herself to this concept. As a matter of fact, even after Penance was recognized as an institution of the Church, it was not called a Sacrament since it would be held as a disgraceful Sacrament.

47. The words of the Lord, “Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained” (John 20:22-23), in no way refer to the Sacrament of Penance, in spite of what it pleased the Fathers of Trent to say.

48. In his Epistle (Ch. 5:14-15) James did not intend to promulgate a Sacrament of Christ but only commend a pious custom. If in this custom he happens to distinguish a means of grace, it is not in that rigorous manner in which it was taken by the theologians who laid down the notion and number of the Sacraments.

49. When the Christian supper gradually assumed the nature of a liturgical action those who customarily presided over the supper acquired the sacerdotal character.

50. The elders who fulfilled the office of watching over the gatherings of the faithful were instituted by the Apostles as priests or bishops to provide for the necessary ordering of the increasing communities and not properly for the perpetuation of the Apostolic mission and power.

51. It is impossible that Matrimony could have become a Sacrament of the new law until later in the Church since it was necessary that a full theological explication of the doctrine of grace and the Sacraments should first take place before Matrimony should be held as a Sacrament.

 

VI. Errors 52 to 63: Attacks on the divine foundation of the Church, of her essential constitution, and activities.

52. It was far from the mind of Christ to found a Church as a society which would continue on earth for a long course of centuries. On the contrary, in the mind of Christ the kingdom of heaven together with the end of the world was about to come immediately.

53. The organic constitution of the Church is not immutable. Like human society, Christian society is subject to a perpetual evolution.

54. Dogmas, Sacraments and hierarchy, both their notion and reality, are only interpretations and evolutions of the Christian intelligence which have increased and perfected by an external series of additions the little germ latent in the Gospel.

55. Simon Peter never even suspected that Christ entrusted the primacy in the Church to him.3

56. The Roman Church became the head of all the churches, not through the ordinance of Divine Providence, but merely through political conditions.

57. The Church has shown that she is hostile to the progress of the natural and theological sciences.

58. Truth is no more immutable than man himself, since it evolved with him, in him, and through him.

59. Christ did not teach a determined body of doctrine applicable to all times and all men, but rather inaugurated a religious movement adapted or to be adapted to different times and places.

60. Christian Doctrine was originally Judaic. Through successive evolutions it became first Pauline, then Joannine, finally Hellenic and universal.4

61. It may be said without paradox that there is no chapter of Scripture, from the first of Genesis to the last of the Apocalypse, which contains a doctrine absolutely identical with that which the Church teaches on the same matter. For the same reason, therefore, no chapter of Scripture has the same sense for the critic and the theologian.

62. The chief articles of the Apostles’ Creed did not have the same sense for the Christians of the first ages as they have for the Christians of our time.

63. The Church shows that she is incapable of effectively maintaining evangelical ethics since she obstinately clings to immutable doctrines which cannot be reconciled with modern progress.

 

VII. Errors 64 and 65: Calls for the “reform” of the Church.

64. Scientific progress demands that the concepts of Christian doctrine concerning God, creation, revelation, the Person of the Incarnate Word, and Redemption be re-adjusted.

65. Modern Catholicism can be reconciled with true science only if it is transformed into a non-dogmatic Christianity; that is to say, into a broad and liberal Protestantism.

The following Thursday, the fourth day of the same month and year, all these matters were accurately reported to our Most Holy Lord, Pope Pius X. His Holiness approved and confirmed the decree of the Most Eminent Fathers and ordered that each and every one of the above-listed propositions be held by all as condemned and proscribed.

 

PETER PALOMBELLI, Notary of the Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition


Modernism is a most pernicious heresy, because it is not the corruption of a single orthodox belief; rather, modernism corrupts the believer’s mode of thinking, coloring everything a person believes with a heretical shade. Modernism has also been assumed into the general culture of modernity; thus, any individual born in the West is ingratiated into this heretical way of thinking – even from childhood. The worst part, however, is that since the Second Vatican Council, the Church – at least in the majority – has dropped her campaigns against modernism and has continued on as if it were a conquered thing of the past. In reality, modernism is probably the greatest threat to the Church and has claimed the majority of the faithful – not because they self-described as modernists, but because they are suffering from a disease no one has ever told them even exists. As Rorate Caeli states,  “It is painful to notice that so many of these errors (condemned by Saint Pius X under pain of excommunication, as he would expressly establish in the aforementioned motu proprio) persist to this day, and have become even dominant interpretations among ordinary Catholics, and especially among theologians, under the eyes of the successors of the Apostles: Kyrie eleison!”

 

Further Reading:

  1. Restore All Things to Christ: 12 Memes on Pope St. Pius X with Explanations & Sources
  2. 4 Steps to Understand the Crisis of Modernity
  1. Rorate Caeli: The Pascendi Centennial Year: 100 years of Lamentabili sane exitu. – All Rorate Caeli quotes are pulled from this article. []
  2. SPL Note: Errors #32-35 deal specifically with the identity of Christ and Christ’s own knowledge of that identity. For an example of an error, many held (and still hold) that Christ was not aware he was God or even aware he was the Messiah. His statements that would seem to import that he did know these realities were really Christ just speaking in faith. SPL’s HH Ambrose has written a detailed list walking the reader through St. Thomas Aquinas’ teachings on Christ’s knowledge. For example, in Scriptures, Christ as times seems to know everything, even what people are thinking, at other times, he seems to not know certain things only the Father knows, and finally, Scripture speaks of Christ “growing” in wisdom. How then do we properly speak of Christ’s knowledge as the Second Person of the Trinity with both a human and divine nature? See 8 Considerations on Whether Christ has Acquired, Infused, or Beatific Knowledge. []
  3. SPL Note: Regarding the papacy, SPL has submitted a 12 Step Biblical Guide to the Papacy & Infallibility. The list demonstrates that the Son of David, Christ the King, selecting a Vicar to watch over his Kingdom would have been an intelligible and arguably an expected move by a people, the Jews, who were expecting the return of the Davidic Kingdom. The concept of a Vicar of the Davidic Kingdom is deeply rooted in the Old Testament. []
  4. SPL Note: Unfortunately, this modernist error persists even today, and its pernicious character has led many astray. The premiere rebuke of this theory was submitted by Pope Benedict XVI in his (in)famous Regensburg Address. In short, His Holiness laid out three stages of “de-hellenization,” in which he showed the original Jewish and Greek culture that gave rise to the New Testament had been jettisoned by the West in three stages. Most important, the idea that there is a “pure” Hebrew faith apart from its historical context of a hellenized culture was a rallying cry for the Protestant Reformation – entire protestant heresies are predicated upon this modernist error. In fact, this modernist error is arguably one of the first errors and a foundation for many others. []

The West has Lost its Moral Vocabulary: 8 Traditional Catholic Answers about Virtue

What does it mean to be a good person? In modernity, the moral vocabulary of society has shifted from a virtue-based language to one of values. Virtues are rooted in reason and reflect a common moral standard for all men. Values are rooted in the individual and reflect an autonomous moral universe.

Listers, what does it mean to be a good person? In modernity, the moral vocabulary of society has shifted from a virtue-based language to one of values. Virtues are rooted in reason and reflect a common moral standard for all men. Values are rooted in the individual and reflect an autonomous moral universe. Where virtues can discuss justice as something apart from any individual, values are meaningless without the worth imported to them from the individual. A Catholic parish may be rooted in the “values of Christ,” but the local Muslim or atheist community would submit totally different value systems. In politics, one party may value “traditional marriage,” while another party may value “same-sex marriage.” In the West, political discourse has become obsessed with values generally under the guise of individual rights language; yet, is this the best moral jargon the West has to offer? The West was built upon a moral vocabulary that contemplated the soul and virtue. The following eight questions are meant to serve as an introduction to virtue in general – both moral and intellectual. The list is not meant to discuss any particular moral or political issue, but it is meant to offer a moral vocabulary rooted in reason and common to all humanity. And while it is not necessary to understand the following questions, a greater insight into the virtues may be gained by first contemplating the soul –  7 Questions on the Powers of the Human Soul Compared to Other Souls.1

 

1. What is a virtue?

A virtue is “an habitual and firm disposition to do the good.”2 Virtue cannot be reduced to a single act. A man who returns a lost wallet he found in a park may be virtuous, but a single act is not dispositive of virtue. To determine if someone is a virtuous person, often the totality of their actions are considered. The key question is – does this person have a habit of doing what is right? A habit may be defined as a series of actions that constitute a practice. The Philosopher, Aristotle, says a habit is “a disposition whereby someone is disposed, well or ill.”3 A habit that disposes someone to what is good or well for them is called a virtue. It is a good habit. A habit that disposes someone to what is evil or ill for them is called a vice. It is a bad habit. Those who have a habit of doing what is good are properly called virtuous, while those who have a habit of doing what is bad are rightly called vicious.

 

2. How does virtue or vice define a person?

If a person is labeled virtuous or vicious, the label goes beyond the content of their actions and seems to define the very person. Virtue and vice are different species of the genus of habit. A virtue is a good habit, and a is vice a bad habit. An inquiry into which genus habit should be a species under aids in unlocking the deeper nature of a person’s actions. According to Aristotle and Aquinas, habit is a species of quality. The category of quality is one of the ten categories from Aristotle’s Organon. In a broad sense, the categories articulate everything that may be an object of human apprehension. For example, a table. The category of quantity denotes how many tables there are, the category of relations denotes if it is a superior or inferior table compared to other tables, and category of place denotes where the table is, and so forth. The category of quality has four different types: first, shape (rectangular, circular, etc.), second, sense qualities (hot, cold, loud, quiet, etc.), third, capacity (a man has the capacity to run swiftly or a table to bear a great weight), and fourth, dispositions (the quality of being disposed an act). Habit is a species of quality in the fourth sense – of dispositions. Therefore, a habit, whether a virtue or vice, defines the very quality of its subject, the person, as either being disposed to good or evil.4

 

3. Can non-Catholics be virtuous?

Aristotle by Fr. Lawrence, OP. Flickr.
Aristotle by Fr. Lawrence, OP. Flickr.

The natural virtues or “human virtues” are known as “natural,” because they are naturally available to all humanity.5 Every human is a rational animal and is able to acquire the natural virtues. In other words, a person does not need to be Catholic to have the natural virtues. The natural virtues can serve as a common table of dialogue between persons of all faiths and creeds. Each person is a rational animal – meaning they are endowed with the power of the intellect in their soul. Each person has the power to rationally reflect upon their own actions, which is the basis for morality. Acting virtuously is nothing more than acting rationally. Each human – regardless of their “worldview” – is expected to act rationally and hold to the common standard of natural virtue. It is obvious, however, that though all men may acquire the natural virtues, not all men do. One key observation is that virtues are habits, not mandated instincts. The rational soul is like clay upon the potter’s wheel. The rational animal, by the power of the his or her intellect, may choose to act rationally (good) or irrationally (bad). The rational animal may form his or herself into a virtuous or vicious individual. Second, it is true that the rational soul is inclined to what is truly good and rational. All persons choose what is good. The caveat is that the mover of the soul, the power of the will, often times moves the soul toward apparent goods and not actual goods.6 Consequently, though man is a rational animal, he often makes irrational choices toward apparent goods, which can develop into vices. In fact, entire cultures or religions may suppress individuals from being virtuous by habituating them to apparent goods.

 

4. What moral virtues are available to all humanity?

The Cardinal Virtues are the natural moral virtues available to all men. Drawing from both the ancient Greek philosophical tradition and the ancient Hebrew faith of the Old Testament, the Church teaches that there are four Cardinal Virtues: prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude.7 Prudence is the “elective habit” and may be said to simply be “right reason in action.”8 Prudence is unique insofar as it is both an intellectual and moral virtue. Justice is the virtue whereby a person gives what is due to both God and neighbor.9 It is the virtue of being well-ordered. Justice has the distinction of being the highest virtue of politics or the state. Temperance is the virtue that holds the soul to reason in the face of something pleasurable that would lure it away.10 In contrast, fortitude is the virtue that holds the soul to reason in the face of something that would scare it away.11 The soldier that stands his ground despite an oncoming onslaught is engaging in fortitude. A husband or wife that holds true to their marriage vows despite the allure of adulterous sexual pleasure is engaging in temperance. These four virtues are the “cardinal” virtues, because of the “pivotal role” they hold in morality.12 The Cardinal Virtues are available to all humanity, because they are acquired virtues – meaning they may be “acquired by human effort.”13 Each rational animal, as a creature of the Creator, may acquire these moral virtues, which in turn prepare the soul “for communion with divine love.”14 For grace always perfects nature; thus, the person with great natural virtue has laid a great foundation for divine love.

 

5. Are there virtues that must be given to humanity?

Hope, Faith, & Charity by Fr. Lawrence, OP. Flickr.
Hope, Faith, & Charity by Fr. Lawrence, OP. Flickr.

The Theological Virtues are moral virtues that are given by God. While the Cardinal Virtues are natural virtues, thus they may be acquired by all rational animals; the Theological Virtues are infused virtues, which means they are infused into the individual by God. There are three Theological Virtues: faith, hope, and charity. The Virtue of Faith is that by which Catholics “believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself.”15 Truth is not a concept – it is a person, Jesus Christ, and he has wedded himself to humanity through his bride, his body, the Church. The Virtue of Faith, however, cannot be reduced to mere intellect assent. True faith is both belief and living out that belief. The Virtue of Hope is the “anchor of the soul.”16 Hope anchors the believer in virtue by instilling in him a desire for the Kingdom of God, a trust in Jesus Christ, and reliance on the Holy Spirit.17 The Virtue of Charity is the mother of all virtues. It is the virtue by which we love God for his own sake and our neighbors as ourselves.18 Just as the soul is the form of the body, Charity is the form of all virtue – it actuates the potential of virtue. It is the anima (soul) of virtue, because “the practice of all the virtues is animated and inspired by charity, which ‘binds everything together in perfect harmony.”19 Though the Theological Virtues are infused into the person by God, they are properly habits, because once they are given it is the choice of the individual to habituate himself toward the goods of faith, hope, and charity.

 

6. Are there other virtues besides the moral virtues?

Along with the moral virtues, there are the intellectual virtues. The intellectual virtues may be distinguished into two categories: the speculative virtues and the practical virtues. The power of the intellect is the hallmark power of the rational soul, and the speculative virtues help perfect the intellect’s ability to consider truth. Aquinas teaches the speculative virtues “may indeed be called virtues in so far as they confer aptness for a good work, viz. the consideration of truth (since this is the good work of the intellect).”20 There are three habits that perfect the speculative intellect: understanding, wisdom, and science. Now, the speculative intellect has as its end the consideration of truth, and truth itself is a twofold consideration. First, there is the truth that is known in itself. Aquinas submits, “what is known in itself, is as a ‘principle,’ and is at once understood by the intellect.”21 The habit that perfects the speculative intellect’s consideration of principles is the virtue of understanding. It is the “habit of principles.”22 The principles in question are known in themselves, because they are indemonstrable – they are not deduced from other truths. For example, “a whole is greater than its parts.” Moreover, there is the “first indemonstrable principle,” which is the foundation for all others – “the same thing cannot be affirmed and denied at the same time.”23 The second aspect of truth is that which is known to be true “through another.”24 In other words, it is known through the ability to reason. The virtue of wisdom contemplates the highest causes in the universe and allows the intellect to place all being in a rational order. For example, wisdom rationalizes there are living beings and non-living beings, the under living beings there are animals and plants, under animals there is the rational animal and the non-rational animals, and so forth. Science is simply a “body of knowledge,” thus, the virtue of science perfects the intellect through the study of the different bodies of knowable matter. So whereas wisdom will set everything in proper order according to the highest causes, science will study the specific and distinguished bodies of knowledge, e.g., chemistry, astronomy, zoology, botany, etc. So, as Aquinas teaches, “there are different habits of scientific knowledge; whereas there is but one wisdom.”25 One wisdom sets the order, while habits of scientific knowledge are as numerous as the potential to separate one body of knowledge from another.

 

7. Are there other intellectual virtues?

Along with the speculative virtues, there are the practical virtues of art and prudence. The virtue of art is the habit of knowing how to make things. Aquinas states, “Art is nothing else but ‘the right reason about certain works to be made.'”26 Art is understood as an operative/practical habit – in contrast with a speculative habit – for it perfects in the craftsman an “aptness to work well.”27 The second operative or practical habit is prudence. If art is the “right reason of things to be made,” then prudence is the “right reason of things to be done.”28 In the virtue of art, there is an “action passing into outward matter” to create an external object. Through the art of smithing, the blacksmith smiths a plow. In the virtue of prudence, there is an “action abiding in the agent.” Through the virtue of prudence, the blacksmith decides to start his day before dawn. Aquinas summarizes the distinction as “prudence stands in the same relation to such like human actions, consisting in the use of powers and habits, as art does to outward making: since each is the perfect reason about the things with which it is concerned.”29 Prudence is unique insofar as it is both an intellectual virtue and a moral virtue. For example, the blacksmith may make prudent choices in how to operate his smith, while he also may make prudent choices in how to treat his family. Prudence perfects reason, which is necessary in both intellectual and moral matters.30

 

8. Why are the intellect virtues not moral virtues?

Holy Virtue by Fr. Lawrence, OP. Flickr. - "The Latin inscription reads: 'We shall attain the excellence of virtue with the grace of God and the effort of our will.'"
Holy Virtue by Fr. Lawrence, OP. Flickr. – “The Latin inscription reads: ‘We shall attain the excellence of virtue with the grace of God and the effort of our will.'”

If a man is a great botanist does that make him a moral or immoral person? Neither – the acumen of the intellectual virtues, save prudence, does not have a direct moral import. A person may be incredibly intelligent and also vicious at the same time. The intellect does, however, have an indirect moral consideration. For example, the blacksmith has the habit of scientific knowledge needed to smith, and he knows the art of smithing. The moral consideration is what the blacksmith wills to do with the knowledge and art he has. He may create brittle plows and sell them to cheat patrons of their money. He may create the finest swords in the region and donate them to those fighting on the front lines. The moral consideration is not the knowledge itself, but what the soul wills to do with the knowledge. For example, when the will moves the soul to use knowledge for a just or charitable purpose, then the act is a moral act.31

 

  1. Published on All Saints Day 2014 – All you holy men and women of God, pray for us. []
  2. Catechism of the Catholic Church (“CCC”) § 1803 []
  3. Habits: For more on habits and the source for the given quotes, see ST I-II.49.1-2 []
  4. The Categories: A quick sketch of Aristotle’s Categories found in his work, Organon. (1) Substance – that which cannot be predicated of anything else; thus, this particular man or this particular chair; note that while the accidents of the substance may change (e.g., the chair becomes rough or changes color), if the substance changes it forfeits existence (e.g., a human is a human, it cannot change to anything more or less than a human). (2) Quantity (3) Relation – things can be inferior or superior to others, etc. (4) Quality – as described above (5) Place – a substance may be here or there (6) Time – the table is one day old or hundred days old (7) Position – the table is upright or overturned (8) State (or Condition) – the table is in this or that condition (9) Action – to produce a change, e.g., a man may run or kick (10) Affection – to receive an act or to be acted upon, e.g., the table is kicked by the man. []
  5. CCC § 1804 []
  6. ST.II-I.8.1 []
  7. CCC §§ 1805-11 []
  8. CCC § 1806 []
  9. Id. at § 1807 []
  10. Id. at § 1809 []
  11. Id. at § 1808 []
  12. Id. at § 1805 []
  13. Id. []
  14. Id. []
  15. Id. at § 1814 []
  16. Id. at § 1820 []
  17. Id. at §§ 1817-18 []
  18. Id. at §§ 1822-29 []
  19. Id. at § 1827, citing Col 3:14. []
  20. ST. I-II.57.1 []
  21. Id. at a. 2 []
  22. Id. []
  23. Indemonstrable Principles: I-II.94.2 – for example, “Hence it is that, as Boethius says… certain axioms or propositions are universally self-evident to all; and such are those propositions whose terms are known to all, as, “Every whole is greater than its part,” and, “Things equal to one and the same are equal to one another.” But some propositions are self-evident only to the wise, who understand the meaning of the terms of such propositions: thus to one who understands that an angel is not a body, it is self-evident that an angel is not circumscriptively in a place: but this is not evident to the unlearned, for they cannot grasp it.” SPL discusses indemonstrable principles in the list The 6 Step Guide to Aquinas’ Natural Law in a Modern World.” []
  24. Id. at a. 2 []
  25. Id. []
  26. Id. at a. 3. []
  27. Id. []
  28. Id. at a. 4, cf. Metaph. ix, text. 16 []
  29. Id. at a. 3-4 []
  30. Id. at a. 5. []
  31. Id. at a. 1. []

Restore All Things to Christ: 12 Memes on Pope St. Pius X with Explanations & Sources

“Further, whilst Jesus was kind to sinners and to those who went astray, He did not respect their false ideas, however sincere they might have appeared.” – Pope St. Pius X

Listers, Pope St. Pius X was a tireless defender of the Catholic faith who retained – despite his many battles – a very Eucharistic and pastoral heart. “Perhaps nowhere in the history of the Church is there a better example of a man possessed of so many of the saintly virtues—piety, charity, deep humility, pastoral zeal, and simplicity—than in… St. Pius X. Yet the parish priest of Tombolo, who remained a country priest at heart throughout his life, faced the problems and evils of a strife-torn world with the spiritual fervor of a crusader. The inscription on his tomb in the crypt of the basilica of St. Peter’s gives the most eloquent testimony to a life spent in the service of God.”1 It reads:

Born poor and humble of heart,
Undaunted champion of the Catholic faith,
Zealous to restore all things in Christ,
Crowned a holy life with a holy death.

Pope St. Pius X led the Church in an incredible spiritual crusade against modernism. He also brought about great fruits in the Church by promoting Marian devotions, daily reception of the Holy Eucharist, and faithful parish-based catechesis. The following memes give a glimpse into the teachings of this great saint. In order to better understand the memes, we’ve provided the context and sources (or lack thereof) for each meme, so that those interested in moving from the milk to the meat of his teachings may easily do so. May all Catholics work to restore all things to Christ, the motto of Pope St. Pius X.

 

1. The Shortest Way to Heaven

The full quote reads as follows, “Holy communion is the shortest and surest way to Heaven. There are others, innocence, for instance, but that is for little children; penance, but we are afraid of it; generous endurance of the trials of life, but when they come we weep and ask to be spared. Once for all, beloved children, the surest, easiest, shortest way is by the Eucharist. It is so easy to approach the holy table, and there we taste the joys of Paradise.”2

 

Pius X Meme Shortest

 

2. Kindness is for Fools

It is widely reported that Pope St. Pius said the following in response to those who asked him to “go soft” on the Modernists: “Kindness is for fools! They want them to be treated with oil, soap, and caresses but they ought to be beaten with fists! In a duel you don’t count or measure the blows, you strike as you can! War is not made with charity, it is a struggle a duel. If Our Lord were not terrible he would not have given an example in this too. See how he treated the Philistines, the sowers of error, the wolves in sheep’s clothing, the traitors in the temple. He scourged them with whips!”

 

Pius X Meme Punch

 

3. The Unchangeable

The quote “Absolute truth is unchangeable!” in widely attributed to Pope St. Pius X. Something close to this statement is found in the Oath Against Modernism. The text reads, “the absolute and immutable truth preached by the apostles from the beginning may never be believed to be different, may never be understood in any other way.”3

 

Pius X Meme Absolute Truth

 

4. Progress of Dogma is Corruption

The meme quote is actually two separate quotes. First, the “progress” quote comes from Lamentabili Sane, and reads it context: “With truly lamentable results, our age, casting aside all restraint in its search for the ultimate causes of things, frequently pursues novelties so ardently that it rejects the legacy of the human race. Thus it falls into very serious errors, which are even more serious when they concern sacred authority, the interpretation of Sacred Scripture, and the principal mysteries of Faith. The fact that many Catholic writers also go beyond the limits determined by the Fathers and the Church herself is extremely regrettable. In the name of higher knowledge and historical research (they say), they are looking for that progress of dogmas which is, in reality, nothing but the corruption of dogmas.” The second part of the meme is drawn from the Oath Against Modernism (1910), which reads, “Therefore, I entirely reject the heretical’ misrepresentation that dogmas evolve and change from one meaning to another different from the one which the Church held previously.” The English translation differs slightly from the one in the meme, but remains faithful to the Latin underneath.4

 

Pius X Meme Doctrine

 

5. The So-Called “Spirit of Vatican II”

Setting aside all of the problems with the Second Vatican Council itself, many of the so-called “reforms” of the modernists are championed under the banner of the “Spirit of Vatican II.” The reason the modernists must appeal to the “spirit” is because their agendas cannot be found in the actual text of Vatican II. Many things the Church has suffered in the name of Vatican II are nowhere in the texts of Vatican II. The so-called “Spirit” of Vatican II has become a rallying cry for those submitting the post-conciliar Church constitutes a “New Catholicism.”

 

Pius X Meme Vatican II

 

6. The Road that Leads to Jesus Christ

In the first year of his pontificate, 1903, His Holiness Pope Pius wrote, “Now the way to reach Christ is not hard to find: it is the Church. Rightly does Chrysostom inculcate: “The Church is thy hope, the Church is thy salvation, the Church is thy refuge.” (Hom. de capto Euthropio, n. 6.) It was for this that Christ founded it, gaining it at the price of His blood, and made it the depositary of His doctrine and His laws, bestowing upon it at the same time an inexhaustible treasury of graces for the sanctification and salvation of men. You see, then, Venerable Brethren, the duty that has been imposed alike upon Us and upon you of bringing back to the discipline of the Church human society, now estranged from the wisdom of Christ; the Church will then subject it to Christ, and Christ to God.” In 1954, at the canonization of Pope St. Pius X, his succesor Pope Pius XII wrote, “He solemnly announced the programme of his pontificate in his very first Encyclical (E supremi of Oct. 4, 1903) in which he declared that his only aim was “to re-establish all things in Christ” (Eph. 1:10), that is, to sum up, to restore all things to unity in Christ. But where is the road that leads to Christ, he asked himself, looking in compassion at the hesitating, wandering souls of his time. The answer, valid yesterday as well as today and always, is: the Church! His primary aim then, unceasingly pursued till death, was to make the Church ever more effectually suitable and ready to receive the movement of souls toward Jesus Christ.”5

Pius X Meme Church

 

7. The Apostolic Faith

The meme quote is taken from the Oath Against Modernism. Another translation from the Latin into English reads, “Fourthly, I sincerely hold that the doctrine of faith was handed down to us from the apostles through the orthodox Fathers in exactly the same meaning and always in the same purport.”6

 

Pius X Meme Apostles

 

8. Opposed Relativism

Known as “Hipster Pope St. Pius X,” the meme combines the hipster notion of being the first to do something before it becomes mainstream with Pope St. Pius X’s ever-vigilant battle against modernism in the early 1900’s. In his famous encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, the good Pontiff fought against relativism in the popular modernist philosophies of his day. Whether speaking of modernity or modernism, one of the undeniable effects has been modern man’s lack of faith in reason’s ability to know.7

 

Pius X Meme Hipster

 

9. Jesus did not Respect False ideas

Writing to the French bishops in the autumn of 1910, His Holiness St. Pope Pius X wrote, “Further, whilst Jesus was kind to sinners and to those who went astray, He did not respect their false ideas, however sincere they might have appeared. He loved them all, but He instructed them in order to convert them and save them.” On a similar note, he also stated, “But Catholic doctrine tells us that the primary duty of charity does not lie in the toleration of false ideas, however sincere they may be, nor in the theoretical or practical indifference towards the errors and vices in which we see our brethren plunged, but in the zeal for their intellectual and moral improvement as well as for their material well-being.”8

 

Pius X Meme Boss

 

10. Traditionalists are the True Friends

In Notre Charge Apostolique, Pope St. Pius X wrote to the French bishops, saying, “Let them be convinced that the social question and social science did not arise only yesterday; that the Church and the State, at all times and in happy concert, have raised up fruitful organizations to this end; that the Church, which has never betrayed the happiness of the people by consenting to dubious alliances, does not have to free herself from the past; that all that is needed is to take up again, with the help of the true workers for a social restoration, the organisms which the Revolution shattered, and to adapt them, in the same Christian spirit that inspired them, to the new environment arising from the material development of today’s society. Indeed, the true friends of the people are neither revolutionaries, nor innovators: they are traditionalists.”9

 

Pius X Meme Friends

 

11. Fight the Modernists

Like the above quote on fighting the modernists, it is widely reported that Pope St. Pius said the following in response to those who asked him to “go soft” on the Modernists: “Kindness is for fools! They want them to be treated with oil, soap, and caresses but they ought to be beaten with fists! In a duel you don’t count or measure the blows, you strike as you can! War is not made with charity, it is a struggle a duel. If Our Lord were not terrible he would not have given an example in this too. See how he treated the Philistines, the sowers of error, the wolves in sheep’s clothing, the traitors in the temple. He scourged them with whips!”

 

Pius X Meme Fists

 

12. Modernism is the Fruit of Pride

In his encyclical “Against the Modernists,” St. Pope Pius X makes several comments about modernism and pride. He comments on the modernists – many of whom are inside the Church – saying, “Finally, and this almost destroys all hope of cure, their very doctrines have given such a bent to their minds, that they disdain all authority and brook no restraint; and relying upon a false conscience, they attempt to ascribe to a love of truth that which is in reality the result of pride and obstinacy.” The good Pontiff speaks of pride the most, however, under the subsection “The Cause of Modernism.” The quote at hand is taken from this section, “No, truly, there is no road which leads so directly and so quickly to Modernism as pride.”10

 

Pius X Meme Modernism Pride

 

Listers, if you have a source for some of the attributed quotes above or want to add another source for clarity, please comment below with the citation. Thank you. 

  1. Pope Pius X biography is made available by the generosity of EWTN – St. Pius X. On a different note, this listed was published the day Pope Paul VI was raised to Blessed Paul VI. []
  2. Pius X to the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, A SHORT BIOGRAPHY OF POPE ST. PIUS X by F.A. FORBES, NEW AND REVISED EDITION, 1954, Originally Published 1918, with Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur. Source. []
  3. The Oath Against Modernism – English. []
  4. Lamentabili Sane is available online at Papal Encyclicals Online, and the Oath of Modernism is available in both English and Latin. Thank you to two listers who helped track down this piecemeal quote, Paul A. Copenhagen and Alejandro Usma Díaz. Both posted helpful links and explanations on our Facebook page. Thank you. []
  5. Pope Pius X’s quote comes from his encyclical E Supremi, while Pope Pius XII’s quote is taken from his homily at the canonization of Pope St. Pius X. The entire homily is available online curtesy of Rorate Caeli. []
  6. The Oath Against Modernism in English. []
  7. In Pope St. John Paul II’s famous encyclical Fides et Ratio, he states, “Here the pronouncements of Pope Saint Pius X are pertinent, stressing as they did that at the basis of Modernism were philosophical claims which were phenomenist, agnostic and immanentist.” The project of modernity has been and will continue to be the emancipation of the human will from God, nature, history, and reason. Though modernity fancies itself the age of reason, it has actually reduced the radius of reason and has in many ways abandoned reason all together. For more on the development of modernity (and its difference from modernism) see The Four Steps to Understand the Crisis of Modernity. []
  8. Notre Charge Apostolique, “Our Apostolic Mandate,” given by Pope Pius X to the French Bishops, August 15, 1910. []
  9. Notre Charge Apostolique, “Our Apostolic Mandate,” given by Pope Pius X to the French Bishops, August 15, 1910. []
  10. The entirety of his comments on modernism are found in paragraph 40 of Pascendi Dominici Gregis, his primary encyclical against the modernists given in 1907. []

7 Questions on the Powers of the Human Soul Compared to Other Souls

 1. What is a soul?

The soul is the principle of life. Aquinas defines the soul as “the first principle of life in those things which live.”1 In Latin, the word for soul is anima, from which English derives words like animated and animation – to have an anima is to be animated. In contrast, something that does not have a soul, like a table, is considered an inanimate object. It is therefore held that all living corporeal things are animated by a soul. “Living things” is, however, not limited to humans, but includes plants and animals as well. Consequently, plants and animals must also have souls, because they are alive. The question raised is what type of soul does a plant have? What type of soul does an animal have? And how are these souls different than the soul of the rational animal – the human?

 

2. What type of soul does a plant have?

Plants are living beings—they are animated by an anima, a soul; however, is the soul that animates a plant the same soul that animates animals or humans? One consideration is what type of “powers” the life of a plant demonstrates. The Latin word for power is potentia. The term potentia is underneath the English word potential, because if an entity can act on its potential then it has the power to do the act. If there is no potential there is no power. So what is the potential of life in a plant? Imagine a large oak tree. The oak has the power to reproduce via its acorns, it has the power to grow as demonstrated by it moving from acorn to a large oak, and it has the ability to nourish itself via its leaves and deep roots. The ability to reproduce, the generative power, is how the plant soul gains existence. The ability to grow, the augmentative power, is how the oak grows according to its proper size or quantity. The ability to nourish, the nutritive power, allows the soul of the oak to preserve its existence.2 These powers are rooted in the soul of the plant, which is called the vegetative soul. Note that the three powers are able to be distinguished from one another because they all act toward a different object. Imagine still that there is a beehive in the large oak or a horse grazing nearby. The bees and the horse are also alive, but they seem to have powers that go beyond simple growth and preservation.

 

3. What type of soul does an animal have?

Horse, Feliciano Guimarães, Flickr.
Horse, Feliciano Guimarães, Flickr.

Animals are animated by the sensitive soul. First, animals have the ability to reproduce (generative power), grow (augmentative power), and nourish (nutritive power) as plants do. A horse, however, may reproduce quite differently than an oak tree. Though the powers act toward the same end, the matter of the body the soul acts upon may have a very different means to that end. For example, the sensitive soul typically demonstrates the power of locomotion – to be able to move; however, the tiny wings of the buzzing bee are quite different than the taunt muscles of a galloping horse. Another power that distinguishes the vegetative soul of the plant from the sensitive soul of the animal is its namesake power – the senses. Unlike the oak, the horse is well aware of the world around it. The horse can see, taste, hear, smell, and touch. These five powers under the particular sense act toward a particular object. The power of taste knows the flavor of grass, and the power of sight knows the rolling green hills. The eye, however, only knows its own object. The eye can distinguish between green hills and a blue sky, but it cannot distinguish between green grass and sweet grass. Since every power is distinguished according to its own object, there must be something common to all the senses that distinguishes between all the sense objects; moreover, not only is it able to distinguish between the objects, what is green and what is sweet, but also able to combine the senses into one harmonious sense perception. The power that perceives all the external senses is called the common sense. A horse, much like a dog, may start to associate certain perceptions and remember them; thus, the sensitive soul may also have the power of memory. A dog may even recall what it has perceived through its senses at night in a dream; thus, the sensitive soul may have the power of imagination. In short, animals demonstrate a degree of knowledge, though it is the lowest form of knowledge in Creation.3

 

4. What type of soul does a human have?

There is something uniquely remarkable about the human soul. Aquinas observes that the sensitive souls of animals are driven by natural impulses or instincts. A deer darts at a strange sound, and a colony of bees builds a hive. Humans, however, are different. Like the bees, humans seek shelter, but with one crucial difference. The bees have the natural impulse to build the same hive over and over again. Humanity, however, does not build the same shelter over and over. Humanity has risen from huts to penthouse apartments. How? Humanity is able to reflect upon the shelter as a shelter and the art of making a shelter. Humans can contemplate the very art of shelter construction and may reason about different materials and techniques. A bee does not know itself as a hive-maker or reflect upon the art of hive-making. A bee is a slave to its instincts. A human, however, is a rational animal, and it is in rationality that it can reflect upon the world. The human’s ability to reflect upon his or herself as a person and upon the actions that person takes sets the human apart from the other animals. The ability to reflect is rooted in the hallmark power of the human soul – the intellect. Unlike any other power, the intellect may know itself. It is precisely in this self-reflection, that mankind is able to reason. Humans have a rational soul. Consequently, the ability of humanity to reflect upon its actions is the basis for all morality. Unlike the deer that darts at a sound, a person can reflect upon their actions. Maybe it is more rational to stand and fight, like a soldier fighting alongside his comrades. The reflection upon actions serves as the foundation of moral inquiry, and in this context there are four primary powers of the rational soul to consider: the senses, the passions, the will, and the intellect.4

 

5. What are the passions?

The passions are movements of the soul. A passion could be an immediate inclination toward a sense object. For example, a person is walking down the road and they sense warm buttery bread and immediately feel drawn toward the bakery. There is a movement in the soul toward the bread. A passion could also be an aversion to a sense object. A person walking down the road turns the corner and sees a large snarling hound. The immediate reaction is a movement of the soul away from the sense object. Passions are movements of the soul that affect the soul. A person could feel fearful all day due to an upcoming test. A person could feel joy all day due to an upcoming dinner party. Note in both cases that the person is not stating, “there is a test coming up, I choose to be fearful” or “there is a dinner party coming up, I choose to be joyful.” Rather, it is the object affecting the soul in a different way – either an inclination toward an object or a aversion from an object. Typical passions include love, hatred, desire, fear, joy, sadness, and anger.5 Aquinas places both the senses and the passions in what he refers to as the sense appetite of the soul, which simply means there exists an inclination toward an object apprehended by the senses.

 

6. What is the will?

Whiskey Shots Kirti Poddar Flickr.
Whiskey Shots Kirti Poddar Flickr.

The will is the mover of the soul. According to the Angelic Doctor, “the will is a rational appetite.”6 An appetite is an inclination toward a good; thus, the rational appetite of the will moves the soul toward things that are good. Following Aristotle, Aquinas agrees that all men seek the good.7 If, however, all men use their will to seek the good, why does it appear that humanity so often chooses what is evil and self-destructive? Does an alcoholic will the good when he reaches for another drink? Does a suicide victim choose the good when he takes his own life? Aristotle and Aquinas would both agree on the caveat that while all men seek the good, it is not necessary that the goods they seek be actual goods in truth – only that the person’s will sees the object as an apparent good. The will moves the soul of the alcoholic toward the next drink, because he believes the drink to be a good. The drink, in turn, is affecting his soul. The alcoholic has a developed a passion toward the drink and is now inclined toward it. If, however, the alcoholic tried to remain sober, note that there would be a struggle between his will wanting to move his soul toward what is truly rational, and his passion moving his soul toward the sense object of alcohol. When speaking of the soul and morality, the questions of whether the passions will enslave the will to their inclinations or the will will discipline the passions into a rational order lays at the heart of moral inquiry and act. The rational soul is able to reflect upon its own actions and is so charged with choosing the rational and moral act.

 

7. What is the intellect?

The intellect is the power of the soul to understand. The intellect may be divided into two powers. First, every rational soul has the power of the passive intellect. The passive intellect is the potential for the soul to understand the intelligible. It is a receptive power. The second power, the active intellect, is the power that allows the intellect to abstract the form from the intelligible thing and understand it. For example, a person who has never seen a horse has the passive power to understand what a horse is. If the person then sees a horse, the active intellect allows the soul to abstract from the horse the intelligible form of the horse. For the mind does not take in the actual material horse, but it does take in an intelligible form of it. If the person goes back and tells his friends about the horse, he is recalling that intelligible form through the power of memory. If he theorizes that there must be black horses and brown horses and even horses with wings, he is using the power of his imagination. What if the person pondered whether or not you could eat a horse? Could you hunt a horse for sport? Could you tame it? The person’s power to reflect upon what is a proper act toward the horse, a moral act, is powered by reason. Is reason then a power of the intellect? No. Reason is a movement from one truth to another in order to understand. The person faced with a horse could reason the horse was a living being, an animal, a horse, and even a certain species of horse. Reason allows the mind to come to understand a truth. The intellect, however, simply knows the truth attained. Reason is not a power of the intellect, the reason is to the intellect as movement is to rest.8

  1. Aquinas’ Summa Theologica, ST I-I.75.1 []
  2. ST.I-I.78.2 []
  3. Aquinas on Common Sense, ST I, 78, 4, ad.2. []
  4. The Rational Soul: Following Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas gives five genera of powers in the rational soul: vegetative, sensitive, appetitive, locomotion, and intellectual. Note that the higher souls take on the powers of the lower souls: plants have the vegetative powers, animals have vegetative and sensitive powers, and humans have vegetative, sensitive, and intellectual powers. Aquinas refers to these souls as higher and lower based on the object of the their powers. The vegetative powers – which characterize the vegetative soul – have only the body as their object. The sensitive powers go outside the body and have as their object sensible things. The intellectual powers go even further to have as their object universal being. Another consideration is that the ability for man to reflect, the power of the intellect, is in a real way the Imago Dei in man – the image of God. It allows us to create and to be moral. A final consideration here is that the art by which man learns to reflect better – to reason more properly – is logic. Aquinas gives a brief summary of the difference between animals and the rational animal as an introduction to logic in the prologue of his commentary on Aristotle’s Organon. []
  5. CCC § 1772 []
  6. ST.II-I.8.1 []
  7. Id., citing “the Philosopher says (Ethic. i, 1) that ‘the good is that which all desire.'” []
  8. Reason & Intellect: Boethius gave the analogy that the reason was to the intellect what time was to eternity. []

47 Questions & Answers on the Sacrament of Matrimony from the Late Nineteenth Century

The Sacrament of Matrimony is the Sacrament which unites a Christian man and woman in lawful marriage.

Listers, the following lesson is taken from the Baltimore Catechism. The Baltimore Catechism was the standard catechism for 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 it simplifies even the most complex theological questions. All the lists taken from the Baltimore Catechism may be found here.

 


 

Baltimore Catechism No. 3
LESSON TWENTY-SIXTH
On Matrimony

 

Q. 1005. What is the Sacrament of Matrimony?

A. The Sacrament of Matrimony is the Sacrament which unites a Christian man and woman in lawful marriage.

 

Q. 1006. When are persons lawfully married?

A. Persons are lawfully married when they comply with all the laws of God and of the Church relating to marriage. To marry unlawfully is a mortal sin, and it deprives the souls of the grace of the Sacrament.

 

Q. 1007. When was marriage first instituted?

A. Marriage was first instituted in the Garden of Eden, when God created Adam and Eve and made them husband and wife, but it was not then a Sacrament, for their union did not confer any special grace.

 

Q. 1008. When was the contract of marriage raised to the dignity of a Sacrament?

A. The exact time at which the contract of marriages was raised to the dignity of a Sacrament is not known, but the fact that it was thus raised is certain from passages in the New Testament and from the constant teaching of the Church ever since the time of the apostles. Our Lord did not merely add grace to the contract, but He made the very contract a Sacrament, so that Christians cannot make this contract without receiving the Sacrament.

 

Q. 1009. What is the outward sign in the Sacrament of Matrimony, and in what does the whole essence of the marriage contract consist?

A. The outward sign in the Sacrament of matrimony is the mutual consent of the persons, expressed by words or signs in accordance with the laws of the Church. The whole essence of the marriage contract consists in the surrender by the persons of their bodies to each other and in declaring by word or sign that they make this surrender and take each other for husband and wife now and for life.

 

Q. 1010. What are the chief ends of the Sacrament of Matrimony?

A. The chief ends of the Sacrament of matrimony are:

To enable the husband and wife to aid each other in securing the salvation of their souls; To propagate or keep up the existence of the human race by bringing children into the world to serve God; To prevent sins against the holy virtue of purity by faithfully obeying the laws of the marriage state.

 

Q. 1011. Can a Christian man and woman be united in lawful marriage in any other way than by the Sacrament of Matrimony?

A. A Christian man and woman cannot be united in lawful marriage in any other way than by the Sacrament of Matrimony, because Christ raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament.

 

Q. 1012. Were, then, all marriages before the coming of Christ unlawful and invalid?

A. All marriages before the coming of Christ were not unlawful and invalid. They were both lawful and valid when the persons contracting them followed the dictates of their conscience and the laws of God as they knew them; but such marriages were only contracts. Through their evil inclinations many forgot or neglected the true character of marriage till Our Lord restored it to its former unity and purity.

 

Q. 1013. What do we mean by impediments to marriage?

A. By impediments to marriage we mean certain restrictions, imposed by the law of God or of the Church, that render the marriage invalid or unlawful when they are violated in entering into it. These restrictions regard age, health, relationship, intention, religion and other matters affecting the good of the Sacrament.

 

Q. 1014. Can the Church dispense from or remove these impediments to marriage?

A. The Church can dispense from or remove the impediments to marriage that arise from its own laws; but it cannot dispense from impediments that arise from the laws of God and nature. Every lawmaker can change or excuse from the laws made by himself or his equals, but he cannot, of his own authority, change or excuse from laws made by a higher power.

 

Q. 1015. What is required that the Church may grant, when it is able, dispensations from the impediments to marriage or from other laws?

A. That the Church may grant dispensations from the impediments to marriage or from other laws, there must be a good and urgent reason for granting such dispensations. The Church does not grant dispensations without cause and merely to satisfy the wishes of those who ask for them.

 

Q. 1016. Why does the Church sometimes require the persons to whom dispensations are granted to pay a tax or fee for the privilege?

A. The Church sometimes requires the persons to whom dispensations are granted to pay a tax or fee for the privilege: That persons on account of this tax be restrained from asking for dispensations and may comply with the general laws; That the Church may not have to bear the expense of supporting an office for granting privileges to a few.

 

Q. 1017. What should persons who are about to get married do?

A. Persons who are about to get married should give their pastor timely notice of their intention, make known to him privately whatever they suspect might be an impediment to the marriage, and make sure of all arrangements before inviting their friends.

 

Q. 1018. What timely notice of marriage should be given to the priest, and why?

A. At least three weeks notice of marriage should be given to the priest, because, according to the laws of the Church, the names of the persons about to get married must be announced and their intended marriage published at the principal Mass in their parish for three successive Sundays.

 

Q. 1019. Why are the banns of matrimony published in the Church?

A. The banns of matrimony are published in the Church that any person who might know of any impediment to the marriage may have an opportunity to declare it privately to the priest before the marriage takes place and thus prevent an invalid or unlawful marriage. Persons who know of such impediments and fail to declare them in due time are guilty of sin.

 

Q. 1020. What things in particular should persons arranging for their marriage make known to the priest?

A. Persons arranging for their marriage should make known to the priest whether both are Christians and Catholics; whether either has been solemnly engaged to another person; whether they have ever made any vow to God with regard to chastity or the like; whether they are related and in what degree; whether either was ever married to any member of the other’s family and whether either was ever godparent in baptism for the other.

 

Q. 1021. What else must they make known?

A. They must also make known whether either was married before and what proof can be given of the death of the former husband or wife; whether they really intend to get married, and do so of their own will; whether they are of lawful age; whether they are sound in body or suffering from any deformity that might prevent their marriage, and lastly, whether they live in the parish in which they ask to be married, and if so, how long they have lived in it.

 

Q. 1022. What is particularly necessary that persons may do their duty in the marriage state?

A. That persons may do their duty in the marriage state, it is particularly necessary that they should be well instructed, before entering it, in the truths and duties of their religion for how will they teach their children these things if they are ignorant of them themselves?

 

Q. 1023. Can the bond of Christian marriage be dissolved by any human power?

A. The bond of Christian marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power.

 

Q. 1024. Does not a divorce granted by courts of justice break the bond of marriage?

A. Divorce granted by courts of justice or by any human power does not break the bond of marriage, and one who makes use of such a divorce to marry again while the former husband or wife lives commits a sacrilege and lives in the sin of adultery. A civil divorce may give a sufficient reason for the persons to live apart and it may determine their rights with regard to support, the control of the children and other temporal things, but it has no effect whatever upon the bond and spiritual nature of the Sacrament.

 

Q. 1025. Does not the Church sometimes allow husband and wife to separate and live apart?

A. The Church sometimes, for very good reasons, does allow husband and wife to separate and live apart; but that is not dissolving the bond of marriage, or divorce as it is called, for though separated they are still husband and wife, and neither can marry again till the other dies.

 

Q. 1026. Has not the Church sometimes allowed Catholics once married to separate and marry again?

A. The Church has never allowed Catholics once really married to separate and marry again, but it has sometimes declared persons apparently married free to marry again, because their first marriage was null; that is, no marriage on account of some impediment not discovered till after the ceremony.

 

Q. 1027. What evils follow divorce so commonly claimed by those outside the true Church and granted by civil authority?

A. The evils that follow divorce so commonly claimed by those outside the true Church and granted by civil authority are very many; but chiefly: A disregard for the sacred character of the Sacrament and for the spiritual welfare of the children; The loss of the true idea of home and family followed by bad morals and sinful living.

 

Q. 1028. Which are the effects of the Sacrament of Matrimony?

A. The effects of the Sacrament of Matrimony are:

To sanctify the love of husband and wife;
To give them grace to bear with each other’s weaknesses;
To enable them to bring up their children in the fear and love of God.

 

Q. 1029. What do we mean by bearing with each other’s weaknesses?

A. By bearing with each other’s weaknesses we mean that the husband and wife must be patient with each other’s faults, bad habits or dispositions, pardon them easily, and aid each other in overcoming them.

 

Q. 1030. How are parents specially fitted to bring up their children in the fear and love of God?

A. Parents are specially fitted to bring up their children in the fear and love of God:

By the special grace they receive to advise and direct their children and to warn them against evil;
By the experience they have acquired in passing through life from childhood to the position of parents. Children should, therefore, conscientiously seek and accept the direction of good parents.

 

Q. 1031. To receive the Sacrament of Matrimony worthily is it necessary to be in the state of grace?

A. To receive the Sacrament of Matrimony worthily it is necessary to be in the state of grace, and it is necessary also to comply with the laws of the Church.

 

Q. 1032. With what laws of the Church are we bound to comply in receiving the Sacrament of Matrimony?

A. In receiving the Sacrament of matrimony we are bound to comply with whatever laws of the Church concern Matrimony; such as laws forbidding solemn marriage in Lent and Advent; or marriage with relatives or with persons of a different religion, and in general all laws that refer to any impediment to marriage.

 

Q. 1033. In how many ways may persons be related?

A. Persons may be related in four ways. When they are related by blood their relationship is called consanguinity; when they are related by marriage it is called affinity; when they are related by being god-parents in Baptism or Confirmation, it is called spiritual affinity; when they are related by adoption, it is called legal affinity.

 

Q. 1034. Who has the right to make laws concerning the Sacrament of marriage?

A. The Church alone has the right to make laws concerning the Sacrament of marriage, though the state also has the right to make laws concerning the civil effects of the marriage contract.

 

Q. 1035. What do we mean by laws concerning the civil effects of the marriage contract?

A. By laws concerning the civil effects of the marriage contract we mean laws with regard to the property or debts of the husband and wife, the inheritance of their children, or whatever pertains to their temporal affairs. All persons are bound to obey the laws of their country when these laws are not opposed to the laws of God.

 

Q. 1036. Does the Church forbid the marriage of Catholics with persons who have a different religion or no religion at all?

A. The Church does forbid the marriage of Catholics with persons who have a different religion or no religion at all.

 

Q. 1037. Why does the Church forbid the marriage of Catholics with persons who have a different religion or no religion at all?

A. The Church forbids the marriage of Catholics with persons who have a different religion, or no religion at all, because such marriages generally lead to indifference, loss of faith, and to the neglect of the religious education of the children.

 

Q. 1038. What are the marriages of Catholics with persons of a different religion called, and when does the Church permit them by dispensation?

A. The marriages of Catholics with persons of a different religion are called mixed marriages. The Church permits them by dispensation only under certain conditions and for urgent reasons; chiefly to prevent a greater evil.

 

Q. 1039. What are the conditions upon which the Church will permit a Catholic to marry one who is not a Catholic?

A. The conditions upon which the Church will permit a Catholic to marry one who is not a Catholic are:

That the Catholic be allowed the free exercise of his or her religion;
That the Catholic shall try by teaching and good example to lead the one who is not a Catholic to embrace the true faith;
That all the children born of the marriage shall be brought up in the Catholic religion. The marriage ceremony must not be repeated before a heretical minister. Without these promises, the Church will not consent to a mixed marriage, and if the Church does not consent the marriage is unlawful.

 

Q. 1040. What penalty does the Church impose on Catholics who marry before a Protestant minister?

A. Catholics who marry before a Protestant minister incur excommunication; that is, a censure of the Church or spiritual penalty which prevents them from receiving the Sacrament of Penance till the priest who hears their confession gets special faculties or permission from the bishop; because by such a marriage they make profession of a false religion in acknowledging as a priest one who has neither sacred power nor authority.

 

Q. 1041. How does the Church show its displeasure at mixed marriages?

A. The Church shows its displeasure at mixed marriages by the coldness with which it sanctions them, prohibiting all religious ceremony at them by forbidding the priest to use any sacred vestments, holy water or blessing of the ring at such marriages; by prohibiting them also from taking place in the Church or even in the sacristy. On the other hand, the Church shows its joy and approval at a true Catholic marriage by the Nuptial Mass and solemn ceremonies.

 

Q. 1042. Why should Catholics avoid mixed marriages?

A. Catholics should avoid mixed marriages:

Because they are displeasing to the Church and cannot bring with them the full measure of God’s grace and blessing;
Because the children should have the good example of both parents in the practice of their religion;
Because such marriages give rise to frequent disputes on religious questions between husband and wife and between their relatives;
Because the one not a Catholic, disregarding the sacred character of the Sacrament, may claim a divorce and marry again, leaving the Catholic married and abandoned.

 

Q. 1043. Does the Church seek to make converts by its laws concerning mixed marriages?

A. The Church does not seek to make converts by its laws concerning mixed marriages, but seeks only to keep its children from losing their faith and becoming perverts by constant company with persons not Catholics. The Church does not wish persons to become Catholics merely for the sake of marrying Catholics. Such conversions are, as a rule, not sincere, do no good, but rather make such converts hypocrites and guilty of greater sins, especially sins of sacrilege.

 

Q. 1044. Why do many marriages prove unhappy?

A. Many marriages prove unhappy because they are entered into hastily and without worthy motives.

 

Q. 1045. When are marriages entered into hastily?

A. Marriages are entered into hastily when persons do not sufficiently consider and investigate the character, habits and dispositions of the one they intend to marry. It is wise to look for lasting qualities and solid virtues in a life-long companion and not to be carried away with characteristics that please only for a time.

 

Q. 1046. When are motives for marriage worthy?

A. Motives for marriage are worthy when persons enter it for the sake of doing God’s will and fulfilling the end for which He instituted the Sacrament. Whatever is opposed to the true object of the Sacrament and the sanctification of the husband and wife must be an unworthy motive.

 

Q. 1047. How should Christians prepare for a holy and happy marriage?

A. Christians should prepare for a holy and happy marriage by receiving the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist; by begging God to grant them a pure intention and to direct their choice; and by seeking the advice of their parents and the blessing of their pastors.

 

Q. 1048. How may parents be guilty of great injustice to their children in case of marriage?

A. Parents may be guilty of great injustice to their children in case of marriage by seeking the gratification of their own aims and desires, rather than the good of their children, and thus for selfish and unreasonable motives forcing their children to marry persons they dislike or preventing them from marrying the persons chosen by the dictates of their conscience, or compelling them to marry when they have no vocation for such a life or no true knowledge of its obligations.

 

Q. 1049. May persons receive the Sacrament of Matrimony more than once?

A. Persons may receive the sacrament of Matrimony more than once, provided they are certain of the death of the former husband or wife and comply with the laws of the Church.

 

Q. 1050. Where and at what time of the day should Catholics be married?

A. Catholics should be married before the altar in the Church. They should be married in the morning, and with a Nuptial Mass if possible.

 

Q. 1051. What must never be forgotten by those who attend a marriage ceremony in the Church?

A. They who attend a marriage ceremony in the Church must never forget the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, and that all laughing, talking, or irreverence is forbidden then as at other times. Women must never enter into the presence of the Blessed Sacrament with uncovered heads, and their dress must be in keeping with the strict modesty that Our Lord’s presence demands, no matter what worldly vanity or social manners may require.

Hermeneutic of Continuity: Pope Benedict XVI’s 10 Step Guide to Vatican II

On one side is the hermeneutic of continuity that seeks to implement Vatican II in fidelity to Sacred Tradition, while on the other side there is the hermeneutic of discontinuity that proclaims a “new Catholicism” has risen divorced from any adherence to the “pre-Vatican II Church.”

Listers, in 2005 His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI gave a Christmas address to the Roman Curia that sparked a “Holy Revolution.” The good pontiff’s comments were received as “epoch-making” by many of those faithful to Sacred Tradition.1 At the heart of his address is the juxtaposition of the post-Vatican II Church. On one side is the hermeneutic of continuity that seeks to implement Vatican II in fidelity to Sacred Tradition, while on the other side there is the hermeneutic of discontinuity that proclaims a “new Catholicism” has risen divorced from any adherence to the “pre-Vatican II Church.”

In 2013, His Holiness Pope Francis appeared to lend support to the hermeneutic of continuity. In a letter, the pope stated, “The best hermeneutics of the Second Vatican Council” have been done by Archbishop Agostino Marchetto. The archbishop is viewed as a disciple of Pope Benedict XVI’s hermeneutic of continuity, as His Eminence Cardinal Koch has stated, Archbishop Marchetto has “taken up and deepened the hermeneutic of reform supported by Pope Benedict XVI.” Archbishop Marchetto is the author of The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: A Counterpoint for the History of the Council – a seminal work on Vatican II that critiques those schools of thought that attempted (and still attempt) to erect a “new Catholicism.”2

 

Pope Benedict XVI sits during the traditional exchange of Christmas greetings to the Curia at the Vatican
As the prophetic nature of Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy unfolds, it clear we owe him many apologies.

 

The following is the entirety of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI’s comments on the Second Vatican Council organized into “steps” by St. Peter’s List.3

 

1. The Difficulty of Vatican II

The last event of this year on which I wish to reflect here is the celebration of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council 40 years ago. This memory prompts the question: What has been the result of the Council? Was it well received? What, in the acceptance of the Council, was good and what was inadequate or mistaken? What still remains to be done? No one can deny that in vast areas of the Church the implementation of the Council has been somewhat difficult, even without wishing to apply to what occurred in these years the description that St Basil, the great Doctor of the Church, made of the Church’s situation after the Council of Nicea: he compares her situation to a naval battle in the darkness of the storm, saying among other things: “The raucous shouting of those who through disagreement rise up against one another, the incomprehensible chatter, the confused din of uninterrupted clamouring, has now filled almost the whole of the Church, falsifying through excess or failure the right doctrine of the faith…” (De Spiritu Sancto, XXX, 77; PG 32, 213 A; SCh 17 ff., p. 524).

We do not want to apply precisely this dramatic description to the situation of the post-conciliar period, yet something from all that occurred is nevertheless reflected in it. The question arises: Why has the implementation of the Council, in large parts of the Church, thus far been so difficult?

 

2. The Two Contrary Hermeneutics

Well, it all depends on the correct interpretation of the Council or – as we would say today – on its proper hermeneutics, the correct key to its interpretation and application. The problems in its implementation arose from the fact that two contrary hermeneutics came face to face and quarrelled with each other. One caused confusion, the other, silently but more and more visibly, bore and is bearing fruit.

On the one hand, there is an interpretation that I would call “a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture”; it has frequently availed itself of the sympathies of the mass media, and also one trend of modern theology. On the other, there is the “hermeneutic of reform”, of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God.

 

3. Hermeneutic of Discontinuity (Rupture)

The hermeneutic of discontinuity risks ending in a split between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church. It asserts that the texts of the Council as such do not yet express the true spirit of the Council. It claims that they are the result of compromises in which, to reach unanimity, it was found necessary to keep and reconfirm many old things that are now pointless. However, the true spirit of the Council is not to be found in these compromises but instead in the impulses toward the new that are contained in the texts.

These innovations alone were supposed to represent the true spirit of the Council, and starting from and in conformity with them, it would be possible to move ahead. Precisely because the texts would only imperfectly reflect the true spirit of the Council and its newness, it would be necessary to go courageously beyond the texts and make room for the newness in which the Council’s deepest intention would be expressed, even if it were still vague.

In a word: it would be necessary not to follow the texts of the Council but its spirit. In this way, obviously, a vast margin was left open for the question on how this spirit should subsequently be defined and room was consequently made for every whim.

The nature of a Council as such is therefore basically misunderstood. In this way, it is considered as a sort of constituent that eliminates an old constitution and creates a new one. However, the Constituent Assembly needs a mandator and then confirmation by the mandator, in other words, the people the constitution must serve. The Fathers had no such mandate and no one had ever given them one; nor could anyone have given them one because the essential constitution of the Church comes from the Lord and was given to us so that we might attain eternal life and, starting from this perspective, be able to illuminate life in time and time itself.

Through the Sacrament they have received, Bishops are stewards of the Lord’s gift. They are “stewards of the mysteries of God” (I Cor 4: 1); as such, they must be found to be “faithful” and “wise” (cf. Lk 12: 41-48). This requires them to administer the Lord’s gift in the right way, so that it is not left concealed in some hiding place but bears fruit, and the Lord may end by saying to the administrator: “Since you were dependable in a small matter I will put you in charge of larger affairs” (cf. Mt 25: 14-30; Lk 19: 11-27).

These Gospel parables express the dynamic of fidelity required in the Lord’s service; and through them it becomes clear that, as in a Council, the dynamic and fidelity must converge.

 

4. Hermeneutic of Continuity (Reform)

The hermeneutic of discontinuity is countered by the hermeneutic of reform, as it was presented first by Pope John XXIII in his Speech inaugurating the Council on 11 October 1962 and later by Pope Paul VI in his Discourse for the Council’s conclusion on 7 December 1965.

Here I shall cite only John XXIII’s well-known words, which unequivocally express this hermeneutic when he says that the Council wishes “to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion”. And he continues: “Our duty is not only to guard this precious treasure, as if we were concerned only with antiquity, but to dedicate ourselves with an earnest will and without fear to that work which our era demands of us…”. It is necessary that “adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness…” be presented in “faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine, which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another…”, retaining the same meaning and message (The Documents of Vatican II, Walter M. Abbott, S.J., p. 715).

It is clear that this commitment to expressing a specific truth in a new way demands new thinking on this truth and a new and vital relationship with it; it is also clear that new words can only develop if they come from an informed understanding of the truth expressed, and on the other hand, that a reflection on faith also requires that this faith be lived. In this regard, the programme that Pope John XXIII proposed was extremely demanding, indeed, just as the synthesis of fidelity and dynamic is demanding.

However, wherever this interpretation guided the implementation of the Council, new life developed and new fruit ripened. Forty years after the Council, we can show that the positive is far greater and livelier than it appeared to be in the turbulent years around 1968. Today, we see that although the good seed developed slowly, it is nonetheless growing; and our deep gratitude for the work done by the Council is likewise growing.

 

5. The Church & the Modern Era

In his Discourse closing the Council, Paul VI pointed out a further specific reason why a hermeneutic of discontinuity can seem convincing.

In the great dispute about man which marks the modern epoch, the Council had to focus in particular on the theme of anthropology. It had to question the relationship between the Church and her faith on the one hand, and man and the contemporary world on the other (cf. ibid.). The question becomes even clearer if, instead of the generic term “contemporary world”, we opt for another that is more precise: the Council had to determine in a new way the relationship between the Church and the modern era.

This relationship had a somewhat stormy beginning with the Galileo case. It was then totally interrupted when Kant described “religion within pure reason” and when, in the radical phase of the French Revolution, an image of the State and the human being that practically no longer wanted to allow the Church any room was disseminated.

In the 19th century under Pius IX, the clash between the Church’s faith and a radical liberalism and the natural sciences, which also claimed to embrace with their knowledge the whole of reality to its limit, stubbornly proposing to make the “hypothesis of God” superfluous, had elicited from the Church a bitter and radical condemnation of this spirit of the modern age. Thus, it seemed that there was no longer any milieu open to a positive and fruitful understanding, and the rejection by those who felt they were the representatives of the modern era was also drastic.

In the meantime, however, the modern age had also experienced developments. People came to realize that the American Revolution was offering a model of a modern State that differed from the theoretical model with radical tendencies that had emerged during the second phase of the French Revolution.

The natural sciences were beginning to reflect more and more clearly their own limitations imposed by their own method, which, despite achieving great things, was nevertheless unable to grasp the global nature of reality.

So it was that both parties were gradually beginning to open up to each other. In the period between the two World Wars and especially after the Second World War, Catholic statesmen demonstrated that a modern secular State could exist that was not neutral regarding values but alive, drawing from the great ethical sources opened by Christianity.

Catholic social doctrine, as it gradually developed, became an important model between radical liberalism and the Marxist theory of the State. The natural sciences, which without reservation professed a method of their own to which God was barred access, realized ever more clearly that this method did not include the whole of reality. Hence, they once again opened their doors to God, knowing that reality is greater than the naturalistic method and all that it can encompass.

 

6. Three Great Themes of Vatican II

It might be said that three circles of questions had formed which then, at the time of the Second Vatican Council, were expecting an answer. First of all, the relationship between faith and modern science had to be redefined. Furthermore, this did not only concern the natural sciences but also historical science for, in a certain school, the historical-critical method claimed to have the last word on the interpretation of the Bible and, demanding total exclusivity for its interpretation of Sacred Scripture, was opposed to important points in the interpretation elaborated by the faith of the Church.

Secondly, it was necessary to give a new definition to the relationship between the Church and the modern State that would make room impartially for citizens of various religions and ideologies, merely assuming responsibility for an orderly and tolerant coexistence among them and for the freedom to practise their own religion.

Thirdly, linked more generally to this was the problem of religious tolerance – a question that required a new definition of the relationship between the Christian faith and the world religions. In particular, before the recent crimes of the Nazi regime and, in general, with a retrospective look at a long and difficult history, it was necessary to evaluate and define in a new way the relationship between the Church and the faith of Israel.

These are all subjects of great importance – they were the great themes of the second part of the Council – on which it is impossible to reflect more broadly in this context. It is clear that in all these sectors, which all together form a single problem, some kind of discontinuity might emerge. Indeed, a discontinuity had been revealed but in which, after the various distinctions between concrete historical situations and their requirements had been made, the continuity of principles proved not to have been abandoned. It is easy to miss this fact at a first glance.

 

7. An Example of True Reform

It is precisely in this combination of continuity and discontinuity at different levels that the very nature of true reform consists. In this process of innovation in continuity we must learn to understand more practically than before that the Church’s decisions on contingent matters – for example, certain practical forms of liberalism or a free interpretation of the Bible – should necessarily be contingent themselves, precisely because they refer to a specific reality that is changeable in itself. It was necessary to learn to recognize that in these decisions it is only the principles that express the permanent aspect, since they remain as an undercurrent, motivating decisions from within. On the other hand, not so permanent are the practical forms that depend on the historical situation and are therefore subject to change.

Basic decisions, therefore, continue to be well-grounded, whereas the way they are applied to new contexts can change. Thus, for example, if religious freedom were to be considered an expression of the human inability to discover the truth and thus become a canonization of relativism, then this social and historical necessity is raised inappropriately to the metaphysical level and thus stripped of its true meaning. Consequently, it cannot be accepted by those who believe that the human person is capable of knowing the truth about God and, on the basis of the inner dignity of the truth, is bound to this knowledge.

It is quite different, on the other hand, to perceive religious freedom as a need that derives from human coexistence, or indeed, as an intrinsic consequence of the truth that cannot be externally imposed but that the person must adopt only through the process of conviction.

The Second Vatican Council, recognizing and making its own an essential principle of the modern State with the Decree on Religious Freedom, has recovered the deepest patrimony of the Church. By so doing she can be conscious of being in full harmony with the teaching of Jesus himself (cf. Mt 22: 21), as well as with the Church of the martyrs of all time. The ancient Church naturally prayed for the emperors and political leaders out of duty (cf. I Tm 2: 2); but while she prayed for the emperors, she refused to worship them and thereby clearly rejected the religion of the State.

The martyrs of the early Church died for their faith in that God who was revealed in Jesus Christ, and for this very reason they also died for freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess one’s own faith – a profession that no State can impose but which, instead, can only be claimed with God’s grace in freedom of conscience. A missionary Church known for proclaiming her message to all peoples must necessarily work for the freedom of the faith. She desires to transmit the gift of the truth that exists for one and all.

At the same time, she assures peoples and their Governments that she does not wish to destroy their identity and culture by doing so, but to give them, on the contrary, a response which, in their innermost depths, they are waiting for – a response with which the multiplicity of cultures is not lost but instead unity between men and women increases and thus also peace between peoples.

The Second Vatican Council, with its new definition of the relationship between the faith of the Church and certain essential elements of modern thought, has reviewed or even corrected certain historical decisions, but in this apparent discontinuity it has actually preserved and deepened her inmost nature and true identity.4

 

8. Underestimating the Modern Era

The Church, both before and after the Council, was and is the same Church, one, holy, catholic and apostolic, journeying on through time; she continues “her pilgrimage amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God”, proclaiming the death of the Lord until he comes (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 8).

Those who expected that with this fundamental “yes” to the modern era all tensions would be dispelled and that the “openness towards the world” accordingly achieved would transform everything into pure harmony, had underestimated the inner tensions as well as the contradictions inherent in the modern epoch.

They had underestimated the perilous frailty of human nature which has been a threat to human progress in all the periods of history and in every historical constellation. These dangers, with the new possibilities and new power of man over matter and over himself, did not disappear but instead acquired new dimensions: a look at the history of the present day shows this clearly.

In our time too, the Church remains a “sign that will be opposed” (Lk 2: 34) – not without reason did Pope John Paul II, then still a Cardinal, give this title to the theme for the Spiritual Exercises he preached in 1976 to Pope Paul VI and the Roman Curia. The Council could not have intended to abolish the Gospel’s opposition to human dangers and errors.

On the contrary, it was certainly the Council’s intention to overcome erroneous or superfluous contradictions in order to present to our world the requirement of the Gospel in its full greatness and purity.

 

9. Engagement with Modern Reason

The steps the Council took towards the modern era which had rather vaguely been presented as “openness to the world”, belong in short to the perennial problem of the relationship between faith and reason that is re-emerging in ever new forms. The situation that the Council had to face can certainly be compared to events of previous epochs.

In his First Letter, St Peter urged Christians always to be ready to give an answer (apo-logia) to anyone who asked them for the logos, the reason for their faith (cf. 3: 15).

This meant that biblical faith had to be discussed and come into contact with Greek culture and learn to recognize through interpretation the separating line but also the convergence and the affinity between them in the one reason, given by God.

When, in the 13th century through the Jewish and Arab philosophers, Aristotelian thought came into contact with Medieval Christianity formed in the Platonic tradition and faith and reason risked entering an irreconcilable contradiction, it was above all St Thomas Aquinas who mediated the new encounter between faith and Aristotelian philosophy, thereby setting faith in a positive relationship with the form of reason prevalent in his time. There is no doubt that the wearing dispute between modern reason and the Christian faith, which had begun negatively with the Galileo case, went through many phases, but with the Second Vatican Council the time came when broad new thinking was required.

Its content was certainly only roughly traced in the conciliar texts, but this determined its essential direction, so that the dialogue between reason and faith, particularly important today, found its bearings on the basis of the Second Vatican Council.

 

10. Powerful Renewal of the Church

This dialogue must now be developed with great openmindedness but also with that clear discernment that the world rightly expects of us in this very moment. Thus, today we can look with gratitude at the Second Vatican Council: if we interpret and implement it guided by a right hermeneutic, it can be and can become increasingly powerful for the ever necessary renewal of the Church.5

  1. Terminology: The phrase “epoch-making” is borrowed from Rorate Caeli, read their comments from January 2006 – The Epoch-Making Speech: A Summary of Contents. The phrase “Holy Revolution” was part of a broader consideration of changes Pope Benedict XVI made to the Roman Curia. []
  2. Pope Francis & Vatican II: Father Z wrote a blog explaining the key Vatican players in both camps – the camp stressing continuity and the other stressing discontinuity – entitled, STOP THE PRESSES: Bad news for liberals who have hijacked Pope Francis! The traditional Catholic blog Rorate Caeli also noted Pope Francis’ statement and called to remembrance Pope Benedict XVI’s “epoch-making” 2005 speech regarding the proper interpretation of Vatican II. The British paper the Catholic Herald held Pope Francis had fervently declared his support for Benedict XVI’s vision of the Church, and has issued a clear rejection of the so-called ‘Spirit of Vatican II’. Related to this discussion, Pope Francis also made interesting comments on progressivism, stating, “spirit of adolescent progressivism” according to which “any move forward and any choice is better than remaining within the routine of fidelity.” Some are reading this as a slam of the progressive movement within the Church. []
  3. Full Document: Those interested in reading the entire document may find it here: 2005 Christmas Address to the Roman Curia. []
  4. Commentary on Religious Liberty: “In the case of religious freedom, there was simply a change of POLICY towards the modern State, which was wrongly interpreted by most as a change of metaphysical Truth by the Church, something which no Council could ever do.” – Rorate Caeli, Day Two Commentary, 12/23/2005. []
  5. Rorate Caeli Articles: In revisiting Pope Benedict XVI’s address, SPL found the following Rorate Caeli articles especially helpful for both theological commentary and historic context. The articles stretch from immediately after the address was delivered in 2005 to early 2006, unless otherwise noted: (1) Vatican II at 40 – An Explosive Speech (2) Day Two – Religious Liberty (3) The Audience (4) Vatican II: Jewish People (5) Further Commentary on Religious Liberty (6) Liberal & Conservative Reactions (7) Summary of Articles (8) Pope Francis’ Comments, 11/14/2013. []

5 Prayers Recommended by an Exorcist to Combat Evil

My Lord, you are all powerful, you are God, you are Father. We beg you through the intercession and help of the archangels Michael, Raphael and Gabriel, for the deliverance of our brothers and sisters who are enslaved by the evil one. All saints of Heaven, come to our aid.

Exorcist Tells His StoryListers, Father Gabriele Amorth claims to have performed over 70,000 exorcisms from 1986 to 2010. The good priest serves as an exorcist for the Diocese of Rome and is the founder and honorary president of the International Association of Exorcists. He has written two books: An Exorcist Tells His Story & An Exorcist: More Stories. And yes, his favorite movie is The Exorcist.1

In his book An Exorcist Tells His Story, Fr. Amorth lists the following prayers to help combat evil; however, Fr. Amorth and many other priests have stressed that the number one protection from evil is the Sacrament of Confession and the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Often times people want esoteric rituals to deliver them from evil, when in reality what they need is to become right with God.2 Along with regular Confession and reception of the Holy Eucharist, these prayers should be coupled with Our Lord’s Prayer and the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.

 

Prayers of Deliverance

1. Prayer Against Malefice from the Greek Ritual

Kyrie eleison. God, our Lord, King of ages, All-powerful and All-mighty, You Who made everything and Who transform everything simply by Your will. You Who in Babylon changed into dew the flames of the ‘seven-times hotter’ furnace and protected and saved the three holy children. You are the doctor and the physician of our soul. You are the salvation of those who turn to You. We beseech You to make powerless, banish, and drive out every diabolic power, presence, and machination; every evil influence, malefice, or evil eye and all evil actions aimed against Your servant [name of person/s]. Where there is envy and malice, give us an abundance of goodness, endurance, victory, and charity. O Lord, You Who love man, we beg You to reach out Your powerful hands and Your most high and mighty arms and send the angel of peace over us, to protect us, body and soul. May he keep at bay and vanquish every evil power, every poison or malice invoked against us by corrupt and envious people. Then, under the protection of Your authority may we sing, in gratitude, ‘The Lord is my salvation; whom should I fear? I will not fear evil because You are with me, my God, my strength, my powerful Lord, Lord of peace, Father of all ages.”

Yes, Lord our God, be merciful to us, Your image, and save your servant [name of person/s] from every threat or harm from the evil one, and protect him/her by raising him/her above all evil. We ask You this through the intercession of our Most Blessed, glorious Lady, Mary ever Virgin, Mother of God, of the most splendid archangels and all Your saints. Amen!

 

2. Anima Christi

Soul of Christ, sanctify me; Body of Christ, save me; Blood of Christ, inebriate me; Water from the side of Christ, wash me; Passion of Christ, strengthen me; O good Jesus, hear me; within Thy wounds, hide me; let me never be separated from Thee; from the evil one, deliver me; at the hour of my death, call me and bid me come to Thee, that with Thy saints, I may praise Thee forever and ever. Amen.

 

3. Prayer Against Every Evil

Spirit of our God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Most Holy Trinity, Immaculate Virgin Mary, angels, archangels, and saints of heaven, descend upon me. Please purify me, Lord, mold me, fill me with yourself, use me.

Banish all the forces of evil from me, destroy them, vanish them, so that I can be healthy and do good deeds.

Banish from me all spells, witchcraft, black magic, malefice, ties, maledictions, and the evil eye; diabolic infestations, oppressions, possessions; all that is evil and sinful, jealously, perfidy, envy; physical, psychological, moral, spiritual, diabolical aliments.

Burn all these evils in hell, that they may never again touch me or any other creature in the entire world.

I command and bid all the power who molest me – by the power of God all powerful, in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior, through the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary – to leave me forever, and to be consigned into the everlasting hell, where they will be bound by Saint Michael the archangel, Saint Gabriel, Saint Raphael, our guardian angels, and where they will be crushed under the heel of the Immaculate Virgin Mary. Amen.

 

4. Prayer for Inner Healing

Lord Jesus, You came to heal our wounded and troubled hearts. I beg You to heal the torments that cause anxiety in my heart; I beg You, in a particular way, to heal all who are the cause of sin. I beg You to come into my life and heal me of the psychological harms that struck me in my early years and from the injuries that they caused through my life.

Lord Jesus, You know my burdens. I lay them all on Your Good Shepherd’s Heart. I beseech You – by the merits of the great, open wound in Your heart-to heal the small wounds that are in mine. Heal the pain of my memories, so that nothing that has happened to me will cause me to remain in pain and anguish, filled with anxiety.

Heal, O Lord, all those wounds that have been the cause of all the evil that is rooted in my life. I want to forgive all those who have offended me. Look to those inner sores that make me unable to forgive. You Who came to forgive the afflicted of heart, please, heal my own heart.

Heal, my Lord Jesus, those intimate wounds that cause me physical illness. I offer You my heart. Accept it, Lord, purify it and give me the sentiments of Your Divine Heart. Help me to be meek and humble.

Heal me, O Lord, from the pain caused by the death of my loved ones, which is oppressing me. Grant me to regain peace and joy in the knowledge that You are the Resurrection and the Life. Make me an authentic witness to Your Resurrection, Your victory over sin and death, Your living presence among us. Amen.

 

5. Prayer for Deliverance

My Lord, you are all powerful, you are God, you are Father. We beg you through the intercession and help of the archangels Michael, Raphael and Gabriel, for the deliverance of our brothers and sisters who are enslaved by the evil one. All saints of Heaven, come to our aid.

From anxiety, sadness and obsessions, we beg You. Free us, O Lord.
From hatred, fornication, envy, we beg You, Free us, O Lord.
From thoughts of jealousy, rage, and death, we beg You, Free us, O Lord.
From every thought of suicide and abortion, we beg You, Free us, O Lord.
From every form of sinful sexuality, we beg You, Free us, O Lord.
From every division in our family, and every harmful friendship, we beg You, Free us, O Lord.
From every sort of spell, malefic, witchcraft, and every form of the occult, we beg You,
Free us, O Lord.

Lord, You Who said, “I leave you peace, My peace I give you,” grant that, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, we may be liberated from every evil spell and enjoy your peace always. In the name of Christ, our Lord. Amen.


Please remember the best defense against evil is a well-ordered and holy soul. Regular confession and reception of the Holy Eucharist is a person’s greatest refuge. Also remember these prayers for deliverance should be coupled with Our Lord’s Prayer and the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.

 

More on Father Amorth & Evil

The 4 Types of Curses
The 6 Types of Extraordinary Demonic Activity

  1. For citations and more information on Fr. Amorth, visit Fr. Gabriele Amorth. []
  2. Amorth, Fr. Gabriel. An Exorcist Tells His Story 1999, San Francisco. Ignatius Press, pp. 199-203. []

The Daughters of Lust: 5 Questions on How They Pervert the Soul

Lust is a vice that can easily consume a person’s soul. The consequences are dire. Our Lady of Fatima proclaimed, ‘more souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason.’ Understand the vice of lust and her daughters so that the Catholic soul may stand guard against them.

Listers, if a person invites lust into his heart, the daughters of lust will soon follow and nest deep within it. A vice is not a single act. Both vice and virtue are habits. Habits are described by both Aristotle and Aquinas as a species of the category of “quality,” and qualities are difficult to change. When a person habituates themselves to the evil that is lust, that repetitive action changes the quality of their soul. Lust is a vice that can easily consume a person. The consequences are dire. Our Lady of Fatima proclaimed, “more souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason.”1 Understand the vice of lust and her daughters so that the Catholic soul may stand guard against them.

 

1. What are the Daughters of Lust?

St. Thomas Aquinas relies on the authority of Pope St. Gregory the Great to enumerate the so-called daughters of lust. In his Books of Morals, Pope St. Gregory speaks of pride as the Queen of Sins who after conquering a heart invites her generals to dwell within it. The generals of the queen of sins, according to Gregory the Great, are the seven capital vices: (1) vain glory, (2) envy, (3) anger, (4) melancholy, (5) avarice, (6) gluttony, (7) lust. In turn, once one of the capital vices enters the heart, it calls forth its army of corresponding sins. Aquinas speaks of the army of lust as the daughters of lust. According to Pope St. Gregory the Great, the capital vice of lust spawns eight daughters:

  1. Blindness of mind
  2. Thoughtlessness [Inconsiderateness]
  3. Inconstancy
  4. Rashness [Precipitation]
  5. Self-love
  6. Hatred of God
  7. Love of this World [Affection for this present world]
  8. Abhorrence or Despair of a Future World [Dread or despair of that which is to come]

The capital vice of lust and her corresponding daughters convince the conquered heart to continue to engorge itself on pleasurable goods, especially sexual pleasures.

 

2. What are the powers of the soul?

A man passes by a bakery and smells the sweet buttery scent of fresh baked bread. Immediately, he feels an attraction toward the bread, but he chooses to continue on passed the bakery. What drama has unfolded in the man’s soul? The soul is composed of lower and higher powers. In the lower powers is the sense appetite. The sense appetite comprehends a sensible good through the senses and inclines the soul toward that good. The man apprehended fresh bread and his sense appetite moved him toward it; however, the man did not follow the movement of his appetite. It is the higher powers of the soul – reason and the will – that should order the lower powers; thus, the man’s inclination toward the bread was controlled by his reason and will.2 So too does this order of the soul occur with goods characterized by sexual pleasure. The soul apprehends the good through the senses and is inclined toward the sexual pleasure, but reason and will must order the inclination according to virtue. The capital vice of lust exists when there is a perversion of the relationship between the higher and lower powers of the soul toward a sexual pleasure.

 

3. How do the Daughters of Lust disorder the soul?

St. Thomas Aquinas explains how the vice of lust and her daughters disorder the soul.

When the lower powers are strongly moved towards their objects, the result is that the higher powers are hindered and disordered in their acts. Now the effect of the vice of lust is that the lower appetite, namely the concupiscible, is most vehemently intent on its object, to wit, the object of pleasure, on account of the vehemence of the pleasure. Consequently the higher powers, namely the reason and the will, are most grievously disordered by lust.

The sense appetite or lower appetite of the soul is generally divided into two parts: the concupiscible appetite and the irascible appetite. The former, concupiscence, is the soul’s inclination toward things which are pleasant and an aversion toward those things which are unpleasant. Consequently, the man’s concupiscible appetite would both draw him toward the sweet smell of fresh bread and push him away from the sordid stench of a sewer. Note also that the initial reaction to the object in question is often involuntary. The irascible appetite may draw the soul toward an arduous good (a good that is difficult to obtain) or may push the soul away from an evil that is difficult to escape. Consequently, the irascible appetite may spark in the soul a surge of courage to conquer an evil or it may spark fear if it is an evil from which the soul should flee.3

Lust deals with a disorder of the concupiscible appetite. Specifically, the concupiscible appetite’s inclination toward a sexual pleasure. In general, as Aquinas stated, lust disorders the soul by having the lower power of the concupiscible appetite toward a sexual pleasure overrun the higher powers of reason and the will. Below are the specifics on how each daughter of lust corresponds to a darkening of the will and reason.

 

4. How do the Daughters of Lust pervert reason?

The Angelic Doctor lays out four different ways reason acts and how, if corrupted by lust, a daughter of lust perverts the act.

(1) Now the reason has four acts in matters of action. First there is simple understanding, which apprehends some end as good, and this act is hindered by lust, according to Daniel 13:56, “Beauty hath deceived thee, and lust hath perverted thy heart.” On this respect we have “blindness of mind.”

(2) The second act is counsel about what is to be done for the sake of the end: and this is also hindered by the concupiscence of lust. Hence Terence says (Eunuch., act 1, sc. 1), speaking of lecherous love: “This thing admits of neither counsel nor moderation, thou canst not control it by counseling.” On this respect there is “rashness,” which denotes absence of counsel, as stated above (Question 53, Article 3).

(3) The third act is judgment about the things to be done, and this again is hindered by lust. For it is said of the lustful old men (Daniel 13:9): “They perverted their own mind . . . that they might not . . . remember just judgments.” On this respect there is “thoughtlessness.”

(4) The fourth act is the reason’s command about the thing to be done, and this also is impeded by lust, in so far as through being carried away by concupiscence, a man is hindered from doing what his reason ordered to be done. [To this “inconstancy” must be referred.] [The sentence in brackets is omitted in the Leonine edition.] Hence Terence says (Eunuch., act 1, sc. 1) of a man who declared that he would leave his mistress: “One little false tear will undo those words.”

In short, (1) understanding is perverted by blindness of mind (2) asking for counsel is perverted by rashness (3) judgment is perverted by thoughtlessness and (4) the command to act is perverted by inconstancy.4

 

5. How do the Daughters of Lust pervert the will?

The Universal Doctor lays out how the will submitting to lust spawns the daughters of lust.

(1) On the part of the will there results a twofold inordinate act. One is the desire for the end, to which we refer “self-love,” which regards the pleasure which a man desires inordinately, while on the other hand there is “hatred of God,” by reason of His forbidding the desired pleasure.

(2) The other act is the desire for the things directed to the end. With regard to this there is “love of this world,” whose pleasures a man desires to enjoy, while on the other hand there is “despair of a future world,” because through being held back by carnal pleasures he cares not to obtain spiritual pleasures, since they are distasteful to him.

Note that not all pleasurable goods are disordered, but if man seeks pleasurable goods in an inordinate manner he becomes selfish. In turn, selfishness leads to a hatred of God and his order of creation. Similarly, the man who wills inordinate pleasurable goods simultaneously demonstrates a love of this world and his despair of the future world to come.

Lastly, note that a vice is not a single act. A vice is a habit and a habit is a species of quality – specifically the quality of a man’s soul, and both Aristotle and Aquinas agree that a quality is difficult to change. Therefore, the more lust is allowed to pervert the soul, the greater it will entrench itself and the more the daughters of lust will nest.

  1. Fatima Quote: Read the cited quote and more about Our Lady of Fatima at 4 Things You Must Know about Our Lady of Fatima. []
  2. Further Reading on the Powers of the Soul: For those interested, please consult a Thomistic explanation of the sense appetite, the Catholic Encyclopedia article on Concupiscence, and St. Thomas Aquinas’ explanation of the power of sensuality. []
  3. Concupiscible & Irascible: Aquinas further categorizes these appetites into different passions. The term passion means something that acts upon the soul in distinction to the will first moving the soul toward an object; thus, if a man sees a beautiful woman he may be struck with a passion that affects his soul and inclines the soul toward the woman. Aquinas lists specific passions for each appetite. Under the concupiscible appetite, he lists love (good as such) and hatred (evil as such), desire (good is absent) and aversion (evil is absent), joy (good is present) and sadness (evil is present). Under the irascible appetite, he lists hope (an absent but attainable good) and despair (an absent an unattainable good), courage (a conquerable evil), fear (an unconquerable evil), and anger (present evil). For more see Concupiscence and the Sense Appetite. []
  4. Are All Sexual Acts Lustful? – The obvious answer is no, but Aquinas’ answer is worth reading – especially when attempting to explain the movement of the soul toward pleasurable goods which are in fact good and virtuous. He states, “A sin, in human acts, is that which is against the order of reason. Now the order of reason consists in its ordering everything to its end in a fitting manner. Wherefore it is no sin if one, by the dictate of reason, makes use of certain things in a fitting manner and order for the end to which they are adapted, provided this end be something truly good.” For more on lust in general, visit Lust & the Common Good. []

The Real Presence: 13 Memes on the Holy Eucharist

Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.

Listers, the Holy Eucharist is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Many of the following memes focus on the sixth chapter of St. John’s Gospel, which is often referred to as the “Eucharistic Discourse.”1 It is the cornerstone passage on understanding how the faithful participate in Christ’s eternal sacrifice. Take time to read the passage and note how Christ continually pushes back against the crowd. When He claims to be the bread of life, the crowd murmurs against him. Christ responds with an even more bold statement and receives even more criticism. Finally, Christ claims:

Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.

For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him.

After Christ commands his disciples must eat his flesh and drink his blood, a unique situation arises. Scripture notes, “After this many of his disciples went back; and walked no more with him.” Christ makes no attempt to pull these sheep back into the fold by clarifying to them that his statements were metaphorical; rather, he lets the literal interpretation – which would be scandalizing for any Jew of that time – stand. Second, even Christ’s chosen twelve are dumbfounded. Note the reaction of the leader of the disciples, St. Peter, when Christ asks them if they too will leave: “And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God.” It is their faith in Christ as the Son of God that anchors them to his side, despite the gravity and troubling nature of the discourse they just received.

In the end, the Eucharistic Discourse becomes one of the most important sections of Scripture. It should be a mainstay for all Catholics and a source of contemplation Catholics return to often. If you have not read it, please take the time to do so.2

 

14 Memes on the Holy Eucharist

 

Eucharist Adoration Meme

 

Eucharist Meme 8

 

Eucharist Meme 7

 

Eucharist Meme 4

 

Eucharist Meme 9

 

Eucharist Meme 1

 

Eucharist Meme 2

 

Eucharist Meme 6

 

Eucharist Meme 5

 

Eucahrist

 

Eucharist Meme 14

 

Eucahrist Meme 15

 

Eucharsit Meme Cartoon

  1. Eucharistic Discourse: All Scripture citations are taken from the Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible. While the entirety of John six is important for context, the Eucharistic Discourse is generally considered to be verses 31-71. []
  2. Eucharistic Discourse Sources: Catholic Answers has an article entitled, What Catholics Believe About John 6 and another entitled, Christ in the Eucharist. Both are helpful. The excellent blog Shameless Popery has a meticulous article explaining why Christ was being literal in John six. SPL has a basic but foundational list on the Eucharist entitled, 46 Basic Questions on the Holy Eucharist taken from the Baltimore Catechism. []

The Queen of Sin: 10 Things Catholics Need to Know

For when the Queen of Sins has fully possessed a conquered heart, she surrenders it immediately to seven principal sins, as if to some of her generals, to lay it waste.

Listers, the Queen of Sin conquers the hearts of men and surrenders them to her generals. It is a war of vice and virtue. No individual, however, becomes virtuous or vicious because of a single act. Both virtue and vice are habits. The Philosopher, Aristotle, defines a habit as “a disposition whereby someone is disposed, well or ill.” Those habits which habituate the person toward the good, are called virtues. Those habits that dispose the person to evil are called vices. A person’s habits define who they are. Following Aristotle, Aquinas notes that habits are a species of quality. In this light, the Philosopher states, “a habit is a quality which it is difficult to change.”1

To change the quality of the soul is difficult. It is a difficulty that has served as a classic inspiration for tradition Catholic literature and commentary. One immediately thinks of the battle of the pagan gods against Christianity in Psychomachia or the journey of Dante the Pilgrim in The Divine Comedy. In this tradition stands Pope St. Gregory the Great’s The Books of the Morals: An Exposition on the Book of Blessed Job. The work is often cited in St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica treatment of vice and virtue. In the selection below, Pope St. Gregory explains the hierarchy and methodology of the vices.2

 

1. The Queen of Sin

Pope St. Gregory the Great explains, “For the tempting vices, which fight against us in invisible contest in behalf of the pride which reigns over them, some of them go first, like captains, others follow, after the manner of an army. For all faults do not occupy the heart with equal access. But while the greater and the few surprise a neglected mind, the smaller and the numberless pour themselves upon it in a whole body.”3

For when pride, the queen of sins, has fully possessed a conquered heart, she surrenders it immediately to seven principal sins, as if to some of her generals, to lay it waste. And an army in truth follows these generals, because, doubtless, there spring up from them importunate hosts of sins.

The Saint continues, “Which we set forth the better, if we specially bring forward in enumeration, as we are able, the leaders themselves and their army. For pride is the root of all evil, of which it is said, as Scripture bears witness; Pride is the beginning of all sin. [Ecclus. 10, 1] But seven principal vices, as its first progeny, spring doubtless from this poisonous root, namely, (1) vain glory, (2) envy, (3) anger, (4) melancholy, (5) avarice, (6) gluttony, (7) lust. For, because He grieved that we were held captive by these seven sins of pride, therefore our Redeemer came to the spiritual battle of our liberation, full of the spirit of sevenfold grace.”4

“But these several sins have each their army against us….”5

 

2. The Army of Vain Glory

Along with listing the vices spawned from the capital vices, Pope St. Gregory also explains how each vice – once rooted in the heart – attempts to lead it into madness. He explains, “But the leaders are well said to exhort, the armies to howl, because the first vices force themselves into the deluded mind as if under a kind of reason, but the countless vices which follow, while they hurry it on to every kind of madness, confound it, as it were, by bestial clamour.”6

“For vain glory is wont to exhort the conquered heart, as if with reason, when it says, Thou oughtest to aim at greater things, that, as thou hast been able to surpass many in power, thou mayest be able to benefit many also.”

Vain Glory

  • Disobedience
  • Boasting
  • Hypocrisy
  • Contentions
  • Obstinacies
  • Discords
  • Presumptions of novelties

 

3. The Army of Envy

“Envy is also wont to exhort the conquered heart, as if with reason, when it says, In what art thou inferior to this or that person? why then art thou not either equal or superior to them? What great things art thou able to do, which they are not able to do! They ought not then to be either superior, or even equal, to thyself.”

Envy

  • Hatred
  • Whispering
  • Detraction
  • Exultation at the misfortunes of a neighbour
  • Affliction at his prosperity

 

4. The Army of Anger

“Anger is also wont to exhort the conquered heart, as if with reason, when it says, The things that are done to thee cannot be borne patiently; nay rather, patiently to endure them is a sin; because if thou dost not withstand them with great indignation, they are afterwards heaped upon thee without measure.”

Anger

  • Strifes
  • Swelling of mind
  • Insults
  • Clamour
  • Indignation
  • Blasphemies

 

5. The Army of Melancholy

“Melancholy is also wont to exhort the conquered heart as if with reason, when it says, What ground hast thou to rejoice, when thou endurest so many wrongs from thy neighbours? Consider with what sorrow all must be looked upon, who are turned in such gall of bitterness against thee.”

Melancholy

  • Malice
  • Rancour
  • Cowardice
  • Despair
  • Slothfulness in fulfilling the commands
  • Wandering of the mind on unlawful objects

 

6. The Army of Avarice

“Avarice also is wont to exhort the conquered mind, as if with reason, when it says, It is a very blameless thing, that thou desirest some things to possess; because thou seekest not to be increased, but art afraid of being in want; and that which another retains for no good, thou thyself expendest to better purpose.”

Avarice

  • Treachery
  • Fraud
  • Deceit
  • Perjury
  • Restlessness
  • Violence
  • Hardnesses of heart against compassion

 

7. The Army of Gluttony

“Gluttony is also wont to exhort the conquered heart, as if with reason, when it says, God has created all things clean, in order to be eaten, and he who refuses to fill himself with food, what else does he do but gainsay the gift that has been granted him.”

Gluttony

  • Foolish mirth
  • Scurrility
  • Uncleanness
  • Babbling
  • Dulness of sense in understanding

 

8. The Army of Lust

“Lust also is wont to exhort the conquered heart, as if with reason, when it says, Why enlargest thou not thyself now in thy pleasure, when thou knowest not what may follow thee? Thou oughtest not to lose in longings the time thou hast received; because thou knowest not how speedily it may pass by. For if God had not wished man to be united in the pleasure of coition, He would not, at the first beginning of the human race, have made them male and female.”

Lust

  • Blindness of mind
  • Inconsiderateness
  • Inconstancy
  • Precipitation
  • Self-love
  • Hatred of God
  • Affection for this present world
  • Dread or despair of that which is to come

 

9. Vices that Beget Other Vices

After listing the armies of each capital vice, Pope St. Gregory the Great explains that some of the vices are so intimately connected that there is a great danger of them spawning their counterpart. He teaches:

  • “But they are, each of them, so closely connected with other, that they spring only the one from the other. For the first offspring of pride is vain glory, and this, when it hath corrupted the oppressed mind, presently begets envy. Because doubtless while it is seeking the power of an empty name, it feels envy against any one else being able to obtain it.”7
  • “Envy also generates anger; because the more the mind is pierced by the inward wound of envy, the more also is the gentleness of tranquillity lost. And because a suffering member, as it were, is touched, the hand of opposition is therefore felt as if more heavily impressed.”
  • “Melancholy also arises from anger, because the more extravagantly the agitated mind strikes itself, the more it confounds itself by condemnation; and when it has lost the sweetness of tranquillity, nothing supports it but the grief resulting from agitation.
  • “Melancholy also runs down into avarice; because, when the disturbed heart has lost the satisfaction of joy within, it seeks for sources of consolation without, and is more anxious to possess external goods, the more it has no joy on which to fall back within.
  • “But after these, there remain behind two carnal vices, gluttony and lust. But it is plain to all that lust springs from gluttony, when in the very distribution of the members, the genitals appear placed beneath the belly. And hence when the one is inordinately pampered, the other is doubtless excited to wantonness.”

Pope St. Gregory the Great’s emphasis on the vice of melancholy is unique and merits close consideration. Modernity is uniquely marked by a melancholic spirit. Whether its suicide being praised as man’s one true choice in life or the prevalence of suicide amongst the general public, the vice has rooted itself deep in the heart of modern man.

 

10. Solider of God

Pope St. Gregory the Great ends his chapter by extolling the Solider of God. He specifically lauds the soldier’s ability to smell the scent of the vices, which is certainly an analog for the virtue of prudence. He states: “But the soldier of God, since he endeavours skillfully to pursue the contests with vices, smells the battle afar off; because while he considers, with anxious thought, what power the leading evils possess to persuade the mind, he detects, by the sagacity of his scent, the exhortation of the leaders. And because he beholds the confusion of subsequent iniquities by foreseeing them afar off, he finds out, as it were, by his scent the howling of the army.”

  1. Habits: For more on habits and the source for the given quotes, see ST I-II.49.1-2 []
  2. Virtues & Values: Since Vatican II the Church has fallen into the modernist trap of speaking in terms of value. Values are subjective and carry the only the worth an individual wills them to have. A man may value golf or a woman’s right to abortion. One reason modern society cannot be moral is that it lacks language to even discuss morals. In contrast, virtues are characterized by an objectivity that a person can habituate themselves to good or evil. []
  3. Moral. Book XXXI, Chapter XLV. (Paragraph 87 []
  4. The numbering of the vices is an addition by SPL. []
  5. The listing of the armies is located in paragraph 88. []
  6. All quotes on how the vices lead the heart into further madness are taken from paragraph 90. []
  7. Order the Sins Spawn in the Heart – paragraph 89, numbering added by SPL for clarity. []

4 Steps to Understand the Crisis of Modernity

Though each modern philosopher worked toward his own end, they all contributed to the grand project of modernity – the emancipation of the human will from all externalities. It is not God, nature, or history that grants this life value. It is the human will.

Listers, modernity developed as a rejection. Though each modern philosopher worked toward his own end, they all contributed to the grand project of modernity – the emancipation of the human will from all externalities. It is not God, nature, or history that grants this life value. It is the human will. The following list views modernity through the lens of political philosophy and maps a step by step development of how modern man slowly lost faith in reason. The primary source for this list is an essay entitled “The Three Waves of Modernity” by Leo Strauss. Strauss was a political philosopher who almost single handedly returned these questions of modernity to academia. Though not a Catholic, Strauss’ critique of modernity has resonated with the faithful and serves as an excellent starting point to discuss the problems of modernity.1 One note of caution. Modernity and modernism are distinct concepts. Modernity is a historical term indicating the post-medieval world. Modernism is a Catholic term indicating an amalgamation of principles that are in error. For example, all men born in modernity would be moderns, but only those who follow modernism would be modernists. This list is a primer on how modernity developed and why it is now in crisis.

 

1. The First Wave of Modernity

Machiavelli Statue at the Uffizi, Italy.
Machiavelli Statue at the Uffizi, Italy.

The project to emancipate the human will from all externalities begins with an exiled Italian politician named Niccolo Machiavelli (d. 1527). Machiavelli advocated an abandonment of the old “imagined republics” of the pre-moderns. The imagined republics were, inter alia, Aristotle’s polis governed by nature and nature’s virtues – prudence, justice, temperance, & fortitude – and the Kingdom of God as articulated in Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. In the West, particularly after St. Thomas Aquinas, nature and divine revelation were seen as compatible and formed one ordered cosmological whole. The state or polis existed so that all men may live well and live virtuously. Under Machiavelli, however, two radical concepts were constructed. First, he jettisoned any cosmological ordered whole in favor of treating different sciences as isolated bodies. For example, for Aristotle or Aquinas their writings on politics are unintelligible without their writings on ethics. In contradistinction, Machiavelli held “political life proper is not subject to morality.”2 Second, Machiavelli reinterpreted virtue. No longer was virtue a good habit, but rather it was the cunning ability to gain and maintain power within the political sphere.3

What Machiavelli did for the prince, Thomas Hobbes (d. 1679) did for all citizens. Continuing the emancipation of the human will from all externalities, Hobbes held that nature imported no morality to man. The pre-modern world under Aquinas held that nature granted humanity three innate inclinations: (1) self-preservation (2) procreation and the education of offspring and (3) an inclination to seek the good. In contrast, Hobbes held that nature gave to man only the inclination of self-preservation; thus, where the pre-moderns saw nature as a moral standard, Hobbes saw nature as a chaotic clash between the right of self-preservation of individuals. In short, the man’s natural state is a state of war. In this context, Hobbes developed two key concepts for modernity. First, Western political speech began to favor speaking of individual rights rather than the external standard of natural law; and second, Hobbes laid the foundation for the West’s obsession with equality. Note, however, that Hobbes’ focus on equality is set within his belief that nature is a state of war. In this context, Hobbes believed all men are equal because all men have the ability to murder one another. Murder was the great equalizer and served as the foundation of modern notions of equality. On a final note, it is critical to understand that in this Hobbesian nature of war and chaos, humanity’s salvation lies in granting its power of self-preservation to the state, the Leviathan. It is the state that will be man’s salvation.4

 

2. The Second Wave of Modernity

A 1766 portrait of Rousseau wearing an Armenian costume by Allan Ramsay.
A 1766 portrait of Rousseau wearing an Armenian costume by Allan Ramsay.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (d. 1778) ushered in a “radicalization of the Hobbesian concept of the state of nature.”5 The pre-moderns taught that man was by nature a rational and political animal. Under Hobbes, man became a pre-political animal only seeking society to escape a nature of war and chaos. Under Rousseau, man is not even a rational animal by nature. According to Rousseau, man’s “state of nature is subhuman or prehuman,” because rationality was actually an acquired trait.”6 For Rousseau, man’s natural state is twofold. First, he is interested in self-preservation. Second, he holds a natural repugnance to “seeing any sentient being, especially our fellow man, perish or suffer.”7 Rousseau’s concept of repugnance is not charity or compassion, but simply the belief “that could be me.” Rousseau went as far to claim that neither marriage nor familial ties are natural to man. Any notion of charity is simply a sustained pity toward a particular person. For example, a mother does not nurse her baby out of love but simply to relieve the pain in her swollen breasts.

Any reinterpretation of nature demands a reinterpretation of virtue. For Rousseau, human nature is by and large a malleable concept; thus, what is and is not virtuous is also malleable. In this context, Rousseau continued modernity’s aim to emancipate the human will from all externalities by submitting his concept of the “General Will.” In short, Rousseau attempted to establish virtue by a consensus of the general public.8 The General Will produces a rational society under the belief that all things generally willed by the public must be rational.9 Virtue and reason become subject to democratic rule. Another furtherance of modernity is found in Rousseau’s treatment of history. Oddly, while Rousseau advocated his narrative of man’s natural state, he also stated that his version of human nature “perhaps never existed.”10 Under Rousseau, Western man begins to treat human history as a narrative free from an external control – nature or God. Most notably, history is seen as a malleable tale of the human will than the narrative of God’s people.11

 

3. The Third Wave of Modernity

Drawing by Hans Olde from the photographic series, The Ill Nietzsche, mid-1899.
Drawing by Hans Olde from the photographic series, The Ill Nietzsche, mid-1899.

Friedrich Nietzsche (d. 1900) heralded the third and final wave of modernity. The suspicions the second wave voiced concerning history are confirmed as Nietzsche declares history is meaningless.The only purpose of history is to show that history is purposeless. There is no transcendent truth – nature or God – that connects the historical eras of humanity; thus, each historical period and their inhabitants are severed from one another. For example, modern man studying the Scriptures or ancient Greece is meaningless. All apparent ideals and truths are simply “human creations or projects” encapsulated within that specific time period. If God, nature, and history are all meaningless, what is left for modern man? The will.

The project of modernity to emancipate the will from all externalities – God, nature, and history – comes to a zenith in the Nietzschean concept of the Uber-man. With God, nature, and history all cast aside as meaningless, the third wave is marked by a type of nihilism. Nietzschean nihilism, however, sees the canvas of life wiped clean and primed for creativity. Nietzsche believed “a living thing seeks above all to discharge its strength – life itself is [a] will to power.”12 Nietzschean nihilism is not a relaxed relativism. In a world where all value is simply a human project, there will arise individuals who take advantage of reality. The individuals are called Uber-men. First, the Uber-man will shed the effect the concepts of God, nature, or history attempt to place on him. Second, the Uber-man will realize the world is a blank canvas upon which he can impose his creative will. At the end of the third wave, human will stands liberated from not only God, nature, and history but from reason itself. The creativity of the human will is the source of all value.

 

4. Modernity in Crisis

The crisis of modernity is exemplified in the fact that “modern western man no longer knows what he wants” and has lost all “faith in reason’s ability to validate its highest aims.”13 For modern man, reason can no longer discern any meaning from God, nature, or history. Value in the modern world is a human project. Overall, modernity came into existence as a rejection. It posits nothing new, just an ever growing privation of humanity’s belief that reason can perceive the world around it. Even when a modern philosopher thought he was solving the problems of modernity, he was actually contributing to the slow atrophy of reason.

As the three waves demonstrate, it is not difficult to imagine that Catholicism stands as the complete antithesis to modernity’s project to emancipate the human will. Though this list approaches modernity from the science of political philosophy, there are a few observations worth sharing on the relationship between the modern philosophers and Catholicism. First, every modern thinker had to set aside Catholicism in order to submit their own belief system. Catholicism – especially Scholasticism under St. Thomas Aquinas – stood as a bastion of support that God, nature, and history were all harmonious and rational. Under the waves of modernity, Catholicism was ridiculed and mocked, but it was never philosophically engaged. For example, Hobbes jeers transubstantiation and Scholasticism as difficult to understand but never attempts to prove them wrong. The second observation is that the rejection of Catholicism leads to the rise of modern myths. Rousseau is a classic example of this methodology. Rousseau jettisons Catholicism in favor of his noble savage concept and then predicates his views of reason and nature upon it. He then, however, turns around and claims that his noble savage narrative need not even be true. The three waves demonstrate that modernity is in crisis, because modernity developed as a rejection and now no one knows what – or even how – to believe in anything.

  1. A Further Comment on Strauss: Faithful institutions such as the University of Dallas and Ave Maria University rely heavily on Strauss’ critique of modernity, but not necessarily on his solutions. Strauss is not a Catholic and consequently did not see faith and reason as harmonious. If anything, he found Athens and Jerusalem to be at odds, while Catholicism sees faith and reason as one in Rome. In short, Strauss offers excellent critiques of modernity, of which Catholicism has the solutions. []
  2. Strauss, 86. []
  3. Machiavelli & Modern Science: The Spirit of Machiavelli is seen in two other first wave philosophers – Rene Descartes (d. 1650) and Francis Bacon (d. 1626). Broadly speaking, both thinkers agreed with Machiavelli that nature was not a moral standard; rather, nature was something to be conquered, vexed, and unlocked. In short, modern science began to view an individual’s health as their highest good. Man becomes the master of nature and his conquest will aid in his self-preservation. []
  4. Quotes & Citations for Thomas Hobbes: SPL has written an extensive Catholic guide to Thomas Hobbes, which is littered with quotes and citations. []
  5. Strauss, 90 []
  6. Strauss, 90 []
  7. Jean-Jacques Rousseau. First & Second Discourse (Indianapolis: Hackett), 35. []
  8. Strauss, 91. []
  9. Strauss, 91. []
  10. Historicism: Under the second wave the concept of “historicism” begins to take root. Human history sheds the external controls of God and nature. There is no natural law inherent in men and there is no divine story coming to an end. It is just human history. This first brand of historicism is referred to as theoretical historicism. []
  11. Kant: Another second wave philosopher is Immanuel Kant (d. 1804). In short, Kant attempts to handle modernity’s problem of jettisoning nature but needing morality; thus, Kant radicalizes the human will into a universal compass for morality. In Kant’s famous categorical imperative, he states, “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.” Consequently, Kant establishes “universal legislation” predicated upon man’s rationality. The “moral laws” of man are “no longer understood a natural laws,” but rather “reason replaces nature” as humanity is now “radically liberated from the tutelage of nature.” Strauss, 92. []
  12. Friedrich Nietzsche. Trans. Walter Kaufman. Beyond Good and Evil. (New York: Vintage Books, 1966), 21. []
  13. Strauss, 81-82. []