Sunday, 27 October 2013

Pope Pius XI - Feast of Christ the King

Pope Pius XI

Taken from the encyclical Quas Primas.


14. Let Us explain briefly the nature and meaning of this lordship of Christ. It consists, We need scarcely say, in a threefold power which is essential to lordship. This is sufficiently clear from the scriptural testimony already adduced concerning the universal dominion of our Redeemer, and moreover it is a dogma of faith that Jesus Christ was given to man, not only as our Redeemer, but also as a law-giver, to whom obedience is due.[24] Not only do the gospels tell us that he made laws, but they present him to us in the act of making them. Those who keep them show their love for their Divine Master, and he promises that they shall remain in his love.[25] He claimed judicial power as received from his Father, when the Jews accused him of breaking the Sabbath by the miraculous cure of a sick man. "For neither doth the Father judge any man; but hath given all judgment to the Son."[26] In this power is included the right of rewarding and punishing all men living, for this right is inseparable from that of judging. Executive power, too, belongs to Christ, for all must obey his commands; none may escape them, nor the sanctions he has imposed. 
15. This kingdom is spiritual and is concerned with spiritual things. That this is so the above quotations from Scripture amply prove, and Christ by his own action confirms it. On many occasions, when the Jews and even the Apostles wrongly supposed that the Messiah would restore the liberties and the kingdom of Israel, he repelled and denied such a suggestion. When the populace thronged around him in admiration and would have acclaimed him King, he shrank from the honor and sought safety in flight. Before the Roman magistrate he declared that his kingdom was not of this world. The gospels present this kingdom as one which men prepare to enter by penance, and cannot actually enter except by faith and by baptism, which, though an external rite, signifies and produces an interior regeneration. This kingdom is opposed to none other than to that of Satan and to the power of darkness. It demands of its subjects a spirit of detachment from riches and earthly things, and a spirit of gentleness. They must hunger and thirst after justice, and more than this, they must deny themselves and carry the cross. 
16. Christ as our Redeemer purchased the Church at the price of his own blood; as priest he offered himself, and continues to offer himself as a victim for our sins. Is it not evident, then, that his kingly dignity partakes in a manner of both these offices? 
17. It would be a grave error, on the other hand, to say that Christ has no authority whatever in civil affairs, since, by virtue of the absolute empire over all creatures committed to him by the Father, all things are in his power. Nevertheless, during his life on earth he refrained from the exercise of such authority, and although he himself disdained to possess or to care for earthly goods, he did not, nor does he today, interfere with those who possess them. Non eripit mortalia qui regna dat caelestia.[27] 
18. Thus the empire of our Redeemer embraces all men. To use the words of Our immortal predecessor, Pope Leo XIII: "His empire includes not only Catholic nations, not only baptized persons who, though of right belonging to the Church, have been led astray by error, or have been cut off from her by schism, but also all those who are outside the Christian faith; so that truly the whole of mankind is subject to the power of Jesus Christ."[28] Nor is there any difference in this matter between the individual and the family or the State; for all men, whether collectively or individually, are under the dominion of Christ. In him is the salvation of the individual, in him is the salvation of society. "Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved."[29] He is the author of happiness and true prosperity for every man and for every nation. "For a nation is happy when its citizens are happy. What else is a nation but a number of men living in concord?"[30] If, therefore, the rulers of nations wish to preserve their authority, to promote and increase the prosperity of their countries, they will not neglect the public duty of reverence and obedience to the rule of Christ. What We said at the beginning of Our Pontificate concerning the decline of public authority, and the lack of respect for the same, is equally true at the present day. "With God and Jesus Christ," we said, "excluded from political life, with authority derived not from God but from man, the very basis of that authority has been taken away, because the chief reason of the distinction between ruler and subject has been eliminated. The result is that human society is tottering to its fall, because it has no longer a secure and solid foundation."[31] 
19. When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony. Our Lord's regal office invests the human authority of princes and rulers with a religious significance; it ennobles the citizen's duty of obedience. It is for this reason that St. Paul, while bidding wives revere Christ in their husbands, and slaves respect Christ in their masters, warns them to give obedience to them not as men, but as the vicegerents of Christ; for it is not meet that men redeemed by Christ should serve their fellow-men. "You are bought with a price; be not made the bond-slaves of men."[32] If princes and magistrates duly elected are filled with the persuasion that they rule, not by their own right, but by the mandate and in the place of the Divine King, they will exercise their authority piously and wisely, and they will make laws and administer them, having in view the common good and also the human dignity of their subjects. The result will be a stable peace and tranquillity, for there will be no longer any cause of discontent. Men will see in their king or in their rulers men like themselves, perhaps unworthy or open to criticism, but they will not on that account refuse obedience if they see reflected in them the authority of Christ God and Man. Peace and harmony, too, will result; for with the spread and the universal extent of the kingdom of Christ men will become more and more conscious of the link that binds them together, and thus many conflicts will be either prevented entirely or at least their bitterness will be diminished. 
20. If the kingdom of Christ, then, receives, as it should, all nations under its way, there seems no reason why we should despair of seeing that peace which the King of Peace came to bring on earth - he who came to reconcile all things, who came not to be ministered unto but to minister, who, though Lord of all, gave himself to us as a model of humility, and with his principal law united the precept of charity; who said also: "My yoke is sweet and my burden light." Oh, what happiness would be Ours if all men, individuals, families, and nations, would but let themselves be governed by Christ! "Then at length," to use the words addressed by our predecessor, Pope Leo XIII, twenty-five years ago to the bishops of the Universal Church, "then at length will many evils be cured; then will the law regain its former authority; peace with all its blessings be restored. Men will sheathe their swords and lay down their arms when all freely acknowledge and obey the authority of Christ, and every tongue confesses that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father."[33]

Propers for the Feast of Christ the King

INTROIT (Apoc. 5:12, 1:6)
Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive powers and divinity and wisdom and strength and honor. To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. 
. 1. Give to the King, O God, Thy judgment, and to the King's Son Thy justice.V. Glory be . . .
Almighty and everlasting God, who has willed to restore all things in Thy beloved Son, the King of all creation, mercifully grant that all the families of nations scattered by the wound of sin may become subject to His most gentle rule. Who liveth and reigneth in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. 

EPISTLE (Col. 1:12-20)

Brethren: Giving thanks to God the Father, who hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love, In whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For in him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers. All things were created by him and in him. And he is before all: and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he may hold the primacy: Because in him, it hath well pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell: And through him to reconcile all things unto himself, making peace through the blood of his cross, both as to the things that are on earth and the things that are in heaven.
GRADUAL (Ps. 71:8, 11) 
He shall rule from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth. 

 And all kings of the earth shall adore Him, and all nations shall serve Him. 

Alleluia, alleluia! V. (Dan. 7:14)

His power is an everlasting power which shall not be taken away; and His kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. Alleluia! 

GOSPEL (St. John 18:33-37)

At that time, Pilate therefore went into the hall again and called Jesus and said to him: "Art thou the king of the Jews?" Jesus answered:"Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or have others told it thee of me?"Pilate answered: "Am I a Jew? Thy own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee up to me. What hast thou done?" Jesus answered: "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now my kingdom is not from hence." Pilate therefore said to him: "Art thou a king then?" Jesus answered: "Thou sayest that I am a king. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice."

Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the Gentiles for Thy inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for Thy possession.

To Thee, O Lord, we present this Victim, offered for man's reconciliation. Grant, we beseech Thee, that He whom we now immolate in this sacrifice may Himself, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, grant to all nations the gifts of unity and peace. Who with Thee liveth and reigneth in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.

The Lord shall sit as King forever; the Lord will bless His people with peace. 


Having received the food of immortality, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that we who are proud to fight under the banners of Christ the King, may one day reign in the eternally with Him in heaven. Who with Thee liveth and reigneth in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Tradition: An Authority Worthy of Submission

St. Thomas discusses in the Summa the changeability of human laws, pointing out that any change in custom is naturally disturbing to men. This principle is recognized universally by scholars and theologians, Catholic or not. Custom and habit are not meant to be broken, and man is a naturally habitual creature. Novelty is by its nature disturbing to men. For this reason, St. Thomas and St. Augustine, and other Fathers of the Church, point out that any change in custom, even if it is beneficial in some way, will be psychologically disturbing to men - and likely spiritually disturbing as well, in the context of the Catholic tradition. For this reason, custom ought not to be changed, in general.

But there seems to be more to what St. Thomas says of this subject. In the context of law, a custom isn't simply a habitual practice of the people, but something which is formally and officially sanctioned or imposed by a higher authority. This adds a further dimension to the problem. In such a context, where custom is protected by law and founded on authority, when such a custom is changed, the consequent disturbance is even greater. Not only is there the natural disturbance which results from any novelty whatever, but there is also the disturbance which results from being subject to an authority which fluctuates and contradicts itself for no apparently reason of necessity. An authority which is inconsistent in this way appears to be incompetent, to be ignorant of what it is seeking to achieve, or how to achieve it. Hence, St. Thomas says that "when a law is changed, the binding power of the law is diminished, in so far as custom is abolished." This is immensely important: authority and law cannot be separated from custom and habit if they are to retain the binding character which is proper to them. Custom is not simply advantageous to the people, being the habitual practice, but advantageous also to those in authority over the people.

The consequences of this principle are likewise immensely important. When authority fluctuates and is inconsistent, one can only imagine how the people will react. It will be chaos. And indeed, in the current crisis in the Church today, this is exactly what one may see. Take, for an obvious example, the problem of liturgical abuse: the reason that so many in the Church do not follow the rules which the Church has laid down for the celebration of the liturgy is likely because the Church herself seems not to know what it is she wants. This is the reason for the widespread lack of discipline and even of sound doctrine among the priests and bishops of the Church. When authority fluctuates, the people slowly and subconsciously begin to succumb to the Protestant rule of private judgment, since there is no norm which presents itself as consistent or reliable enough to be followed with benefit.

This is one reason why tradition is so important: it provides consistency. Even if tradition itself is founded on the authority of the Church, and so, technically speaking, the Church does possess the legal right to introduce changes, nonetheless the Church must still exercise prudence. And reason itself reveals that the most prudent authority will also be, to the greatest extent possible, the most consistent. This means that, as best as possible, continuity with the past will be preserved. The logical consequence of this is the preservation of tradition, as the rule and norm of ecclesiastical authority. Therein lies the solution to virtually all of the Church's problems today.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Dr. Ronald McArthur - R.I.P.

Just a few days ago, Dr. Ronald McArthur, the founding president of Thomas Aquinas College (whereat I am currently studying), passed from this life and was committed to the hands of the Lord. I never new Dr. McArthur well; I saw him only upon a few occasions, and he ceased teaching at the college soon before I arrived here as a freshman. But he is, in a way, a kind of father or grandfather to me, and to so many hundreds of other people. Thomas Aquinas College is his work, and the people it has produced - and there are so many of them - owe so much to him. Please pray for the repose of his soul, for the comfort and consolation of his family, and for the whole TAC community.

A couple reflections on the life of Dr. McArthur: 

Propers for the Twenty-Second Sunday After Pentecost

INTROIT (Apoc. 5:12, 1:6)
Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive powers and divinity and wisdom and strength and honor. To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever.
Ps. 1. Give to the King, O God, Thy judgment, and to the King's Son Thy justice.
V. Glory be . . .

Almighty and everlasting God, who has willed to restore all things in Thy beloved Son, the King of all creation, mercifully grant that all the families of nations scattered by the wound of sin may become subject to His most gentle rule. Who liveth and reigneth in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.

EPISTLE (Col. 1:12-20)
Brethren: Giving thanks to God the Father, who hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love, In whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For in him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers. All things were created by him and in him. And he is before all: and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he may hold the primacy: Because in him, it hath well pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell: And through him to reconcile all things unto himself, making peace through the blood of his cross, both as to the things that are on earth and the things that are in heaven.

GRADUAL (Ps. 71:8, 11)
He shall rule from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.
V. And all kings of the earth shall adore Him, and all nations shall serve Him.

Alleluia, alleluia! V. (Dan. 7:14)
His power is an everlasting power which shall not be taken away; and His kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. Alleluia!

GOSPEL (St. John 18:33-37)
At that time, Pilate therefore went into the hall again and called Jesus and said to him: "Art thou the king of the Jews?" Jesus answered: "Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or have others told it thee of me?" Pilate answered: "Am I a Jew? Thy own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee up to me. What hast thou done?" Jesus answered: "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now my kingdom is not from hence." Pilate therefore said to him: "Art thou a king then?" Jesus answered: "Thou sayest that I am a king. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice."

Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the Gentiles for Thy inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for Thy possession.

To Thee, O Lord, we present this Victim, offered for man's reconciliation. Grant, we beseech Thee, that He whom we now immolate in this sacrifice may Himself, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, grant to all nations the gifts of unity and peace. Who with Thee liveth and reigneth in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.

The Lord shall sit as King forever; the Lord will bless His people with peace.

Having received the food of immortality, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that we who are proud to fight under the banners of Christ the King, may one day reign in the eternally with Him in heaven. Who with Thee liveth and reigneth in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Propers for the Twenty-First Sunday After Pentecost

INTOIT Esth. 13:9, 10-11
All things depend on Your will, O Lord, and there is no one who can resist Your will. For You have made all things, heaven and earth, and all things that are under the canopy of heaven. You are the Lord of all.
Ps. 118:1. Blessed are they who are undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.
V. Glory be . . .

Keep Your family under Your continual care, O Lord. Shelter it with Your protection from all adversity, that it may be zealous in doing good for the honor of Your name. Through our Lord . . .

EPISTLE Eph. 6:10-17
Brethren, be strengthened in the Lord and in the might of his power. Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil.
For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.
Therefore, take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day and to stand in all things perfect. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth and having on the breastplate of justice: And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. In all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one. And take unto you the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God).

GRADUAL Ps. 89:1-2
O Lord, You have been our refuge through all generation.
V. Before the mountains were made, or the earth was formed, from eternity to eternity You are God.

Alleluia, alleluia! V. Ps. 113:1.
When Israel went out from Egypt, the house of Jacob fled from a barbarous people. Alleluia!

GOSPEL Matt. 18:23-35
At that time, Jesus spoke to his disciples this parable: "The kingdom of heaven likened to a king, who would take an account of his servants. And when he had begun to take the account, one as brought to him, that owed him ten thousand talents. And as he had not wherewith to pay it, his lord commanded that he should be sold, and his wife and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. But that servant falling down, besought him, saying: 'Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.' And the lord of that servant being moved with pity, let him go and forgave him the debt.
"But when that servant was gone out, he found one of his fellow-servants that owed him an hundred pence: and laying hold of him, he throttled him, saying: 'Pay what thou owest.' And his fellow-servant falling down, besought him, saying: 'Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.' And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he paid the debt.
"Now his fellow servants seeing what was done, were very much grieved, and they came, and told their lord all that was done. Then his lord called him: and said to him: 'Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all the debt, because thou besoughtest me: Shouldst not thou then have had compassion also on thy fellow servant, even as I had compassion on thee?' And his lord being angry, delivered him to the torturers until he paid all the debt. So also shall my heavenly Father do to you, if you forgive not every one his brother from your hearts."

There was a man in the land of Hus, whose name was Job, simple and upright, and fearing God. Satan asked that he might tempt him, and power was given Satan from the Lord over Job's possessions and his flesh; and Satan destroyed all his substance and his children, and afflicted his body with a grievous ulcer.

SECRET O Lord, graciously accept this offering which You in Your boundless mercy instituted to atone for our sins and to restore salvation to us. Through our Lord . . .

COMMUNION ANTIPHON Ps. 118:81, 84, 86
My soul looks to Your salvation, and in Your word have I hoped. When will You come in judgment for those who persecute me? The wicked have persecuted me; help me, O Lord my God.

We have eaten at the banquet of immortality, O Lord. May we cherish with a pure heart this Food which we have received through our lips. Through our Lord . . .

Friday, 11 October 2013

Garrigou-Lagrange on the Nature of Faith

Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange

Here is some good traditional theology on the nature of faith. The concept of faith these days is not often very clearly defined or explained. It is often described in such a way that gives the impression of it being merely a thing of sentiment - which essentially boils down to the Modernist understanding of faith; whereas the traditional understanding of faith is that it is a supernatural virtue of the intellect. Garrigou-Lagrange here discusses the nature of faith with a theological precision worthy of St. Thomas himself. This passage is taken from his book, Reality - A Thomistic Synthesis.


The theological virtues and their acts, like faculties, virtues, and acts in general, are specifically proportioned to their formal object. The profound import of this principle went unrecognized by Scotus and by the Nominalists and their successors, as is clear from the controversies which, from the fourteenth century onwards, have never ceased.

Faith, says St. Thomas, [1191] has as its material object all truths revealed by God, but chiefly the supernatural mysteries not accessible to any natural intelligence human or angelic. But the formal object of faith, its formal motive of adherence, is God's veracity, [1192] which presupposes God's infallibility. [1193] The veracity here in question is that of God as author, not merely of nature, but of grace and glory, since the revealed mysteries, the Trinity, for example, and the redemptive Incarnation, are essentially supernatural. Let us quote the saint's own words:

"Faith, considered in its formal object, is nothing else than God, the first truth. For faith assents to no truth except in so far as that truth is revealed. Hence the medium by which faith believes is divine truth itself. [1194] Again: "The formal object of faith is the first truth, adherence to which is man's reason for assenting to any particular truth." [1195] Once more: "In faith we must distinguish the formal element, i. e.: the first truth, far surpassing all the natural knowledge of any creature; and second, the material element, i. e.: the particular truth, to which we adhere only because we adhere to the first truth." [1196] Lastly: "The first truth, as not seen but believed, is the object of faith, by which object we assent to truths only as proposed by that first truth." [1197].

Thomists, explaining these words, note that the formal object of any theological virtue must be something uncreated, must be God Himself. Neither the infallible pronouncements of the Church nor the miracles which confirm those pronouncements are the formal object of faith, though they are indispensable conditions. Faith, therefore, being specifically proportioned to a formal object which is essentially supernatural, must itself be essentially supernatural. Again we listen to Thomas.

"Since the act by which man assents to the truths of faith is an act beyond man's nature, he must have within, from God, the supernatural mover, a principle by which he elicits that act." [1198] And again: "The believer holds the articles of faith by his adherence to the first truth, for which act he is made capable by the virtue of faith." [1199].

In other words the believer, by the infused virtue of faith and by actual grace, adheres supernaturally to the formal motive of this theological virtue, in an order which transcends all apologetic arguments, based on evident miracles and other signs of revelation. His act of adherence is not discursive, but simple, since all through it is one and the same act. That act can be expressed in three ways: [1200] I believe God who reveals, [1201] I believe what has been revealed concerning God, [1202] I believe unto God. [1203] But by these three expressions, says St. Thomas, [1204] we designate, not different acts of faith, but one and the same act in different relations to one and the same object, as, we may add in illustration, the eye, by one and the same act of vision, sees both light and color.

Faith, therefore, has a certitude essentially supernatural, surpassing even the most evident natural certitude, whether that of wisdom, of science, or of first principles. [1205] God's authority claims our infallible adherence in an order far higher than apologetic reasoning, which is prerequired for credibility, i. e.: that the mysteries proposed by the Church are guaranteed by signs manifestly divine, and are therefore evidently credible. Even for the willingness to believe, [1206] actual grace is prerequired.

This essential supernaturalness of faith is not admitted by Scotus, nor the Nominalists, nor their successors. Scotus says that the distinction of grace from nature is not necessary, but contingent, dependent on the free choice of God, who might have given us the light of glory as a characteristic of our nature, [1207] since a natural act and a supernatural act can each have the same formal object. [1208] Neither is infused faith necessary by reason of a supernatural object, because the formal object of theological faith is not higher than acquired faith. [1209] Lastly, the certitude of infused faith is based on acquired faith in the veracity of the Church, which veracity is itself founded on miracles or other signs of revelation. Otherwise, so he claims, we would regress to infinity. This same doctrine is upheld by the Nominalists. [1210] Thence it passes to Molina, [1211] to Ripalda, [1212] and with slight modification to de Lugo [1213] and to Franzelin. [1214] Vacant [1215] shows clearly wherein this theory differs from Thomistic teaching.

Thomists reply as follows: The formal motive of infused faith is the veracity of God, the author of grace, and this motive, inaccessible to any natural knowledge whatsoever, must be attained by an infused virtue. If acquired faith, which even demons have, were sufficient, then infused faith would not be absolutely necessary, but would be, as the Pelagians said, a means for believing more easily. Against the Pelagians the Second Council of Orange defined the statement that grace is necessary even for the beginning of faith, for the pious willingness to believe.

Resting on the principle that habits are specifically differentiated by their formal objects, Thomists, since the days of Capreolus, have never ceased to defend the essential supernaturalness of faith, and its superiority to all natural certitude. On this point Suarez [1216] is in accord with Thomists, but with one exception. To believe God who reveals, and to believe the truths revealed concerning God, are for him two distinct acts, whereas for Thomists they are but one.

Thomists are one in recognizing that the act of infused faith is founded [1217] on the authority of God who reveals, and hence that God is both that by which and that which we believe, [1218] as light, to illustrate, is both that by which we see, and that which is seen, when we see colors. [1219] But this authority of God can be formal motive only so far as it is infallibly known by infused faith itself. Were this motive known only naturally, it could not found a certitude essentially supernatural.

We may follow this doctrine down a long line of Thomists. Capreolus [1220] writes: "With one and the same act I assent, both that God is triune and one, and that God revealed both truths. By one and the same act I believe that God cannot lie, [1221] and that what God says of Himself is true." [1222] Cajetan [1223] writes: "Divine revelation is both that by which (quo) and that which (quod) I believe. Just as unity is of itself one without further appeal, so divine revelation, by which all else is revealed, is accepted for its own sake and not by a second revelation. One and the same act accepts the truth spoken about God and the truthfulness of God who speaks." [1224] "This acceptance of the first truth as revealing, and not that acquired faith by which I believe John the Apostle, or Paul the Apostle, or the one Church, is the ultimate court of appeal. The infused habit of faith makes us adhere to God as the reason for believing each and every revealed truth. 'He that believeth in the Son of God hath the testimony of God in himself.'" [1225] This same truth you will find in Sylvester de Ferraris, [1226] in John of St. Thomas, [1227] in Gonet, [1228] in the Salmanticenses, [1229] and in Billuart. [1230].

All Thomists, as is clear from these testimonies, rest on the principle so often invoked by St. Thomas: Habits and acts, since they are specifically differentiated by their formal objects, are in the same order as are those objects. This principle is the highest expression of the traditional doctrine on the essential supernaturalness of faith, and of faith's consequent superiority over all natural certitude. Let us repeat the doctrine in a formal syllogism, whereof both major and minor are admitted by all theologians.

We believe infallibly all that is revealed by God, because of the authority of divine revelation, and according to the infallible pronouncements of the Church. But revelation and the Church affirm, not only that the revealed mysteries are truths, but also that it is God Himself who has revealed those mysteries. Hence we must believe infallibly that it is God Himself who has revealed these mysteries.

Note, as corollary, that the least doubt on the existence of revelation would entail doubt on the truth of the mysteries themselves. Note further that infallible faith in a mystery as revealed presupposes, by the very fact of its existence, [1231] that we believe infallibly in the existence of divine revelation, even though we do not explicitly reflect on that fact. [1232].

An objection arises. St. Thomas teaches that one and the same truth cannot be simultaneously both known and believed. But, by the miracles which confirm revelation, we know the fact of revelation. Hence we cannot simultaneously believe them supernaturally. In answer, Thomists point out that revelation is indeed known naturally as miraculous intervention of the God of nature, and hence is supernatural in the mode of its production, like the miracle which confirms it. But revelation, since it is supernatural in its essence, and not merely in the mode of its production, can never be naturally known, but must be accepted by supernatural faith. By one and the same act, to repeat St. Thomas, [1233] we believe the God who reveals and the truth which He reveals.

"Faith," says the Vatican Council, [1234] "is a supernatural virtue by which we believe that all that God reveals is true, not because we see its truth by reason, but because of the authority of God who reveals." By the authority of God, as the phrase is here used, we are to understand, so Thomists maintain, the authority of God, not merely as author of nature and of miracles, which are naturally known, but the authority of God as author of grace, since revelation deals principally with mysteries that are essentially supernatural.

Is this distinction, between God the author of nature and God the author of grace, an artificial distinction? By no means. It runs through all theology, particularly the treatise on grace. Without grace, without infused faith, we cannot adhere to the formal motive of faith, a motive far higher than the evidence of credibility furnished by miracles. The believer holds the articles of faith, says St. Thomas, [1235] simply because he believes and clings to the first truth, which act is made possible by the habit of faith. Thus the believer's act, essentially supernatural and infallible, rises immeasurably above acquired faith as found in the demon, whose faith is founded on the evidence of miracles, or in the heretic who holds certain dogmas, not on the authority of God which he has rejected, but on his own judgment and will.

The consequences of this doctrine for the spiritual life are very pronounced. We see them in the teaching of St. John of the Cross on passive purification of the spirit. Faith is purged of all human alloy in proportion to its unmixed adherence to its formal motive, at a height far above the motives of credibility, including all accessory motives, life in a believing community, say, which facilitates the act of faith. [1236].

The gifts which correspond to the virtue of faith are, first, understanding, which enables us to penetrate the revealed mysteries, [1237] second, knowledge, which illumines our mind on the deficiency of second causes, on the gravity of mortal sin, on the emptiness of a worldly life, on the inefficacy of human concurrence in attaining a supernatural end. [1238] This gift thus also facilitates a life of hope for divine gifts and eternal life.


1141 Against Gottschalk. Cf. PL, CXXVI, 123.

1142 See our work, La predestination des saints et la grace 1936, pp. 257-64, 341-45, 141-69. Cf. "Le fondement supreme de la distinction des deux graces suffisante et efiicace" in Rev. thom.: May-June, 1937; "Le dilemme: Dieu determinant ou determine," Ibid.: 1928, pp. 193-210.

1143 I Cor. 4: 7.

1194 IIa IIae, q. 1, a. 1.

1195 Ibid.: q. 2, a. 2.

1196 Ibid.: q. 5, a. 1.1197 Ibid.: q. 4, a. 1.

1198 Ibid.: q. 6, a. 1.1199 Ibid.: q. 5, a. 3, ad 1.1200 Ibid.: q. 2, a. 2, ad 3.1201 Credo Deo revelanti.

1202 Credo Deum revelatum.1203 Credo in Deum.1204 IIa IIae, q. 2, a. 2, ad 3.1205 Ibid.: q. 4, a. 8.1206 Pius credulitatis affectus.1207 In I Sent.: dist. III, q. 3, nos. 24f.1208 In III Sent.: dist. XXXI, no. 4.1209 Ibid.: dist. XXIII, q. 1, a. 8.

1210 Biel, In III Sent.: dist. XXIII, q. 2.

1211 Concordia, q. 14, a. 13, disp. XXXVIII, Paris, 1876, p. 213.

1212 De ente supernat.: Bk. III, dist. XLIV, no. 2; dist. XLV, no. 37.

1213 De fide, disp. IX, sect I, nos. 2, 3; disp. 1, sect. I, nos. 77, 100, 104.

1214 De divina traditione, pp. 692, 616.

1215 Etudes sur le concile du Vatican, II, 75 ff.

1216 De gratia, Bk. II, chap. 11; De fide, Part 1, disp. III, sect. 6, 8, 12.

1217 Ultimo resolvitur.

1218 Id quo et quod creditur.

1219 Id quo et quod videtur simul cum coloribus.

1220 In III Sent.: d. 24, q. 1, a. 3.

1221 Credo Deo.1222 Credo Deum.1223 In lllam lIIae, q. 1, a. 1, no. 11.

1224 See Ibid.: q. 2, a. 2.

1225 I John 5:10.1226 In Cont. Gent.: I, 6; III, 40, § 3.

1227 De gratia, disp. XX, a. 1, nos. 7, 9; De fide q. 1, disp. 1, a. 2, nos. 1, 4.

1228 De gratia, disp. 1, a. 2, § 1, nos. 78, 79, 93; De fide, disp. 1, a. 2, no. 55.1229 De gratia, disp. III, dub. 3, nos. 28, 37, 40, 45, 48, 49, 52, 58, 60, 61; De fide, disp. 1, dub. 5, nos. 163, 169.

1230 De gratia, diss. III, a. 2, § 2; De fide, diss. 1, a. l, obj. 3, inst. 1. See also Gardeil, La credibilite et l'apologetique, 2nd ed.: Paris, 1912, pp. 61, 92, 96, and in Dict. de theol. cath.: s. v. Credibilite. See also Scheeben, Dogmatik, 1, § 40, nos. 681, 689; § 44, nos. 779805. And for extended treatment, see our work, De revelatione, Rome, 3rd ed.: 1935, I, 458-511.

1231 In actu exercito.

1232 In actu signato.

1233 IIa IIae, q. 2, a 2, ad 3.

1234 Sess. III, chap. 3.

1235 Cf. IIa IIae, q. s, a. 3, ad 1. See also John of St. Thomas, De gratia, disp. XX, a. 1, nos. 7-9; De fide, q. 1, disp. 1, a2, nos. 1-8; also the Salrnanticenses, De gratia disp. III, dub. 3, nos. 28-37, 40-49, 52-61.

1236 For more extended treatment, see our work, L'amour de dieu et la croix de Paris, 2nd ed.: 1939, 11, 575-97.

1237 IIa IIae, q. 8.

1238 Ibid.: q. 9.1239 Ibid.: q. 17-22.1240 Ibid.: q. 17, a. 1, 2, 4, 5. Deus auxilians.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Cardinal Newman on Liturgical Traditions

John Henry Cardinal Newman

This is an interesting and remarkable passage from the Pariochial and Plain Sermons of Cardinal John Henry Newman (recently beatified by Pope Benedict XVI). This passage speaks of the importance of retaining the religious forms which have been handed down through long usage. The essential points all strike me as correct; I would, however, attach more objective importance to Catholic liturgical traditions, as I view them as more than merely indifferent. But perhaps Newman's point in naming such traditions as indifferent is to concede the fact that religious expression may vary, and there may be more than one single perfect means. In this sense it is admissible that such traditions are indifferent. But the fact that the religious expressions embodied in such traditions have acquired so great a practical usage and effectiveness in the Church is reason enough to establish a more objective venerability as well - and perhaps this isn't necessarily incompatible with Newman's teaching here.


After the Holy Spirit had descended, at first sight it would have appeared that all the Jewish ordinances ought at once to cease. But this was far from being the doctrine of the Apostles. They taught, indeed, that the Jewish rites were no longer of any use in obtaining God’s favour… But they neither abandoned the Jewish rites themselves, nor obliged any others to do so who were used to them. Custom was quite a sufficient reason for retaining them; every Christian was to remain in the state in which he was called… Now from this obedience to the Jewish law, enjoined and displayed by Our Blessed Lord and His Apostles, we learn the great importance of retaining those religious forms to which we are accustomed, even though they are in themselves indifferent, or not of Divine origin; and, as this is a truth which is not well understood by the world at large, it may be of use to make some observations upon it… Granting that the forms are not immediately from God, still long use has made them divine to us; for the spirit of religion has so penetrated and quickened them, that to destroy them is, in respect to the multitude of men, to unsettle and dislodge the religious principle itself. In most minds usage has so identified them with the notion of religion, that the one cannot be extirpated without the other. Their faith will not bear transplanting… The Jewish rites were to disappear; yet no one was bid forcibly to separate himself from what he had long used, lest he lost his sense of religion also. Much more will this hold good with forms such as ours, which so far from being abrogated by the Apostles, were introduced by them or their immediate successors; and which, besides the influence they exert over us from long usage, are, many of them, witnesses and types of precious gospel truths; nay, much more, possess a sacramental nature, and are adapted and reasonably accounted to convey a gift, even where they are not formally sacraments by Christ’s institution… Much might be said on this subject, which is a very important one. In these times especially, we should be on our guard against those who hope, by inducing us to lay aside our forms, at length to make us lay aside our Christian hope altogether. This is why the Church itself is attacked, because it is the living form, the visible body of religion’ and shrewd men known that when it goes, religion will go too. This is why they rail at so many usages as superstitions; or propose alterations and changes, a measure especially calculated to shake the faith of the multitude. Recollect, then, that things indifferent in themselves become important to us when we are used to them. The services and ordinances of the Church are the outward form in which religion has been for ages represented to the world, and has ever been known to us. Places consecrated to God’s honour, clergy carefully set apart for His service, the Lord’s day piously observed, the public forms of prayer, the decencies of worship, these things, viewed as a whole, are sacred relatively to us, even if they were not, as they are, divinely sanctioned. Rites which the Church has appointed, and with reason, -- for the Church’s authority is from Christ, -- being long used, cannot be disused without harm to our souls… Therefore, when profane persons scoff at our forms, let us argue with ourselves thus – and it is an argument which all men, learned or unlearned, can enter into: ‘These forms, even were they of mere human origin (which learned men say is not the case, but even if they were), are at least of as spiritual and edifying a character as the rites of Judaism. Yet Christ and His Apostles did not even suffer these latter to be irreverently treated or suddenly discarded. Much less may we suffer it in the case of our own; lest, stripping off from us the badges of our profession, we forget there is a faith for us to maintain, and a world of sinners to be eschewed.’

Heliotropium - The Signs of Conformity to the Divine Will - Part II

Taken from Heliotropium by Fr. Drexelius, S.J.


5. The Fifth Sign. To be able to endure all things in noble silence. Consider, I pray you, the most patient JESUS, so nobly keeping silence amidst numberless reproaches and torments. The Jewish priests stood and constantly accused Him, but JESUS held His peace. They laid various crimes to His charge, but JESUS held His peace. They grew vehement against Him with loud cries, and demanded that He should be crucified, but JESUS held his peace. While He was hanging on the Cross they ceased not to revile Him with most bitter reproaches, but JESUS held his peace. And so, too, the mother of our Lord was perfectly silent amidst the greatest difficulties. S. Joseph perceived that she was with child, and therefore determined to put her away; and here the mother acted as her Son did, so that it may be truly said of her-----but Mary held her peace, and committed all this to the Divine Will and Providence. She heard that the Man Who was so inexpressibly dear to her, her own Flesh and Blood, was assailed with innumerable calumnies; but Mary held her peace. She saw her Son, Who was perfect in innocence, fainting beneath the weight of the Cross, she heard Him groaning on it, she saw Him dying in most bitter agony; but Mary held her peace. This Son, and this mother, very many have imitated successfully, for even when accused of the most grievous crimes they held their peace. David, that meekest of kings, understood the wondrous power of this silence when he said,-----"I was dumb and was humbled, and kept silence from good things: and my sorrow was renewed." [Ps. XXXVIII. 3] And again,-----"I was dumb, and opened not my mouth; because Thou hast done it." [Ver. 10] He brings forward no other reason for his silence than this,-----"because Thou hast done it." Therefore I hold my peace because I perceive that it is Thy Will. Thy Will, O my God, has pointed out this silence to me.

It sometimes happens that a master of excitable disposition goes into the servant's room, and disarranges the furniture, and throws everything into confusion, and then goes away lest he should be caught in the act. When the servant comes home and finds all the furniture in disorder he grows very angry; but when he hears that it has been done by his master, he holds his tongue and restrains his rage. And so David says of himself,-----"I held my tongue, and spake nothing." And why? "Because Thou hast done it." And in the same way he who has yielded himself unreservedly to the Divine Will is conscious indeed of adversity, but comforts himself with the thought of Divine Providence; and knowing that he will do no good by idle complaints, he says,-----"I have lifted up my eyes to the mountains, from whence help shall come to me. My help is from the Lord, Who made Heaven and earth." [Ps. cxx. 1, 2]

When King Assuerus and Aman sat down to their feast all the Jews were weeping. [Esth. III. 15] But how quickly did this bloody tragedy change, and the evil which he had devised for others recoil upon its author! If a monthly want of light did not obscure the moon, which changes as it waxes and wanes, Philosophers would not know that it borrows its light from the sun; and thus we, too, from the daily want of things, learn that every blessing comes from God. Is anyone sick? For the first time in his life he now knows how to value health, which he never would have prized so highly if he had not lost it. This is human nature, that nothing pleases so much as that which is lost. Does anyone suffer from calumny? He now understands what a serious thing it is to injure the reputation of another, which he may often have done, and yet have thought it a trifling matter. Has anyone been reduced to want? He now begins to recollect how he formerly bore himself towards those who were in need. And so he holds his peace, and, pondering on this, commits himself to the Divine Will.

But perhaps it is with difficulty that you hold your peace. Speak then; but only with your heart, and to God. Let the tongue be silent, and let the mind pray. Meditate upon the silence of Christ before the High Priest, upon the silence of Mary before those wicked citizens, upon the silence of David before his enemies. A person of greater dignity and influence than yourself reproaches you-----hold your peace! An equal reproaches you-----hold your peace! An inferior reproaches you -----and even then hold your peace? This may be harder than the rest, but it is more noble. Leave him alone, and draw near to God. Pray for your enemy, as David did, according to that saying of his-----"Instead of making me a return of love, they detracted me; but I gave myself to prayer." [Ps. CVIII. 3] He was accustomed to conciliate his adversary by silence, and God by prayer. Therefore hold your peace, and commend yourself most absolutely to the Divine Will, constantly keeping before your mind the saying-----"Because Thou hast done it."

6. The Sixth Sign. To attempt for the honour of God things which are difficult, and which are supposed to be scarcely possible. And how courageous was S. Paul in this! "I know," he says, "both how to be brought low, and I know how to abound (everywhere and in all things I am instructed), both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things in Him Who strengtheneth me." [Phil. IV. 12, 13] And with an equally great and exalted mind, David says,-----"Through God I shall go over a wall." [Ps. XVII. 29] So that let Pericles come to life again, and build his walls to the Pirreus, forty cubits high, and so broad that two chariots yoked together would have room enough to pass, and yet I, says David, will leap over them. Let the Carthaginians re-appear, and raise their triple wall, famous in every age, and I will leap over it. Let the architects of Babel come back, and build a tower whose top shall reach to Heaven [Gen. XI. 4], and with the help of my God, I will leap over it; for by Him shall I be delivered from temptation. But David, promising still greater and more difficult things, says,-----"In Thee I will run girded; in my God I will leap over the wall." [2 Kings XXII. 30] It was too little for him to run and toil, but he desires to run even when clad in mail, and armed from head to foot. It was too little for him to pass over a wall, however wide or high, but now he desires to pass over a barrier, even if it reaches as high as Heaven. There can scarcely be a higher and wider wall put in the way as an obstacle: than his own will is to each individual. But this wall he must cross and leap over. Let each one reflect thus:-----"God desires that I should be patient, and chaste, and that I should quickly forgive my enemies; He wills that I should think and speak well of others. And why do I not will the same? Truly my will stands like a wall in the way of my doing this. But that wall need not terrify me. I shall pass over it; I shall leap over it, I can do all things through Him Who strengtheneth me."

He who meditates upon the acts of the Saints will very often give utterance to those words of the royal Psalmist,-----"God is glorified in the assembly of the Saints." [Ps. LXXXVIII. 8] "The Lord will give strength to His people." [Ps. XXVIII. 10] Yea, He has given strength to His Saints! And not to speak of ancient times, how great things did Francis Xavier, the apostle of Japan, dare to do for God! What wonders did he work! What walls did he not pass over! What fortresses did he not scale! You might say that he flew, if he could not approach his object in any other way. A thirsty man is sometimes wont to complain that a whole village seems to be on fire inside him, so fearfully does thirst oppress him; but the world itself might have been thought to be burning in the breast of Xavier, so ardently did he thirst for the salvation of all men. And what a fire did Xavier carry about in his soul, when with separate leaps, as it were, he passed from Italy to Portugal, from Portugal to India, from India to Japan, and from thence penetrated even to the most extreme borders of China, traversing country after country, and crossing sea after sea! Do you place in his way perils of land and sea? But such things, he says, the man does not fear who trusts in God. Or darkness of forests? A flame shines brightly enough in his breast. Or the raging ocean? Many waters cannot quench love. Or the secret attacks of robbers and pirates? But he is not safe, even at home, whom the Divine Will protects not. And so, trusting in God, he leapt over every wall, and in this way added to Christ, as Bozius affirms, three hundred thousand heathen. No one is ignorant, I suppose, that when meditating better things he is usually kept back by a thousand hindrances; but he must break through them by force, and must struggle upwards, even though Satan, with all his furies and appliances, stand in the way. Christ encouraging us to this says,-----"If you have faith as a grain of mustard-seed, you shall say to this mountain, Remove from hence hither; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you." [Matt. XVII. 19] Whosoever then has yielded himself absolutely to the Divine Will is confident that he can do all things.

7. In order that what I have said, as well concerning the knowledge of the Divine Will, as concerning the conformity of the human will to it, may be perfectly clear to an understanding however uncultivated, I will now proceed to condense what precedes under this short summary.

Whatever is done in the world (sin excepted), by whomsoever or howsoever it is done, must be said to be done by the Divine Will. All things that are done, God wills to be done; but whatever God does not will most surely is not done. "How could anything endure, if Thou wouldst not?" exclaims Wisdom. [Chap. XI. 25] Sin alone God wills not, but permits. He might, indeed, prevent sin; but, for reasons known to Himself, He does not prevent it. Scotus, that theologian of marvellously subtle intellect, says that all things which are done or exist, which have been done or have existed, which shall be done or shall exist, are known to God by the Decree of His Will. And observe, good reader, that the freedom of man's actions is not hindered because God has foreknown and willed them from eternity; for He willed them on this account, because He foreknew that they would be done. But let us proceed. God not only wills that whatever is done in the world should be done (sin excepted), but in reality He ever brings to pass that which is good, or rather, which is best. S. Basil the Great sets this forth very clearly when he says,-----"This one thing we ought to take for granted, that none of those things which happen to us is evil, or such that we can desire anything better than it." And here S. Augustine is worthy of all attention:-----"It is brought about," he says, "by the justice of the True and Supreme God, not only that all things exist, but also exist in such a way that they cannot at all be better." And what can be clearer? But hear his reason:-----"Whatever," he says, "has befallen you, which really is for your advantage, know that God has caused it, as being the Creator of all good; for you cannot desire anything good in the case of a creature which has escaped the Maker of that creature."

8. As to the way in which God wills all things that are done, but permits sin, I propose to bring forward the following illustration:-----Pope Julius II ordered that Michelangelo, the most celebrated of painters, should paint the Last Judgment. The painter commenced the work, but, on account of his hostile feeling towards the Princes of the Church, he placed even Bishops and purple-robed Fathers in the flames of Hell. The Pope very often visited the painter, and saw through the daring of the man, which was concealed under the rules of art; and, although he strongly disapproved of it, yet for certain reasons he pretended not to see it, thinking to himself-----Let him only finish his work, and he will soon find out in prison the errors of his pencil, when he dines on nothing but bread and water. The Pope certainly wished that the Tribunal of the Supreme Judge should be painted for the benefit of those who looked upon it, and not for the injury or contempt of anyone; but this injury he knowingly and willingly allowed in order to attain a certain object. And in the same way God wills that we should paint for eternity, and produce immortal works; but we, with hand and affection which wander from His design, place sometimes one person and sometimes another in Hell; that is to say, we are harmful in a variety of ways to those whom we esteem our enemies; and many other faults, too, we are guilty of while performing our task. Nevertheless, a picture is elaborated of things which are most entirely different in their nature; for there is a marvellous connection, dependence, and arrangement in details, so that particular objects, which, taken by themselves, seem to be unsightly, or at all events less beautiful than others, when brought into connection with certain other objects are far more beautiful than they were before. Moreover, God, Who is so boundless in patience, waits till the whole of this picture is finished; and for reasons of perfect Justice He shuts His eyes to our manifold errors, just as if He did not see them. But at the Last Day it will at length be made manifest what each one has painted worthy of eternity, and what faults he has committed in his painting. As, therefore, the Pope, or any King, desires that a certain fixed subject should be painted, and yet does not interfere with the judgment of the painter, but allows even faults to pass unnoticed, for reasons known to himself, so God wills that all things which are done should be done, but permits sin; and yet permits it knowingly and willingly, since He might prevent it. And in this way King David employed Joab as General. He by no means approved of his crimes, but for a long time he dissembled knowledge of them.

Nor can anyone object here, why is man compelled to prevent sin when he can, and God is not compelled, though He always can? For over and above that God is the Lord and Ruler of all things, intent on the common good, but we servants and slaves, this consideration must also be added, that God produces from sin, the foulest of all things, some good which man cannot. S. Augustine [Ench. 10. 11], admiring this work of the Supreme Artificer, exclaims,-----"From all collectively arises the wondrous beauty of the whole, in which even that which is called evil, being well arranged and put in its proper place, commends things which are good in a more remarkable way, making them the more pleasing and more deserving of praise from being contrasted with what is evil."

9. But you may object in the first place,-----"Granted that all things which God wills are good, or even the very best that could happen, yet certainly they are not so to me." But what are you saying, rashest of mortals? "God hath equally care of all." [Wisd. VI. 8] And so in the perfection of His Providence He cares for you, and me, and each individual, as He does for all; and He wills not merely that which is good, but ever that which is best, both for you, and for me, and for each, and for all; and that which He wills He performs most efficaciously. S. Gregory [Moral. XVI. 5] most beautifully says,-----"God bestows His care on all in such a way as to be present with each. He is present with each in such a way as not to be absent at the same time from any. He rules what is highest, so as not to desert what is lowest. He is present with what is lowest in such a way as not to withdraw Himself from what is highest." "God hath equally care of all." Respecting His children, or those who are best beloved by Him, the case is certain and clear; but not even in respect of those who will be damned is it otherwise. God is their Father, their Preserver, their Defender, even to the latest moment of their life; and He will at last be their Judge, their Punisher, and the Avenger of such willful rebellion against Himself.

But you may object, secondly,-----"And how can so many incongruities follow the Providence and Care of God, if they are so great? And, to use a gentle term, how comes it that the most absurd of all absurd things are done? While I should shrink from saying that God sleeps, can I safely venture to affirm that He is aware of every trifling matter?" I reply, that God has an eye for all things, yes, even the most minute; and this S. John Damascene most aptly shows, replying to your dullness,-----"God occasionally allows something which is absurd and preposterous to be done, in order that by means of the action which has the appearance of absurdity something great and wonderful may be effected; just as by the Cross He procured the salvation of men." And will you deny the truth of this? Therefore God does not indeed will sin, but permits it efficaciously; or wills to permit it, and from thence produces the most beneficial results, and those which most redound to His Own glory. S. Augustine [In Ps. VII] lays this down clearly when he says,----- "Wherefore this ordinance also is to be ascribed to Divine Providence, not because it makes sinners, but because it orders them when they have sinned." Wherefore, although for a man, regarded by himself, it would be better not to have sinned, yet, if the whole order of nature and grace is regarded, it is much better that sin was permitted by God. The testimony of the Church is well known,-----Happy is the fault which has merited to have such and so great a Redeemer! This much then must be both known and believed concerning the Divine Will. And would that the human race would cease to be blind, if only in this one thing, and would be ready to embrace the Divine Will with as great promptitude as they can easily recognize it!

Propers for the Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost

INTROIT (Dan 3:31, 29, 33)
All that you have done to us, O Lord, you have done in just judgment, because we have disobeyed Your Commandments; but give glory to Your own name and deal with us in accord with Your bounteous mercy.
Ps. 118:1. Blessed are they who are undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.
V. Glory be . . .

Forget Your anger, O Lord, and grant Your faithful pardon and peace, that they may be cleansed from their sins and serve You without fear. Through our Lord . . .

EPISTLE (Eph. 5:15-21)
See therefore, brethren, how you walk circumspectly: not as unwise, But as wise: redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore, become not unwise: but understanding what is the will of God. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is luxury: but be ye filled with the Holy Spirit, Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual canticles, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord: Giving thanks always for all things, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God and the Father: Being subject one to another, in the fear of Christ.

GRADUAL (Ps. 144:15-16)
The eyes of all look hopefully to You, O Lord, and You give them food in due season.
V. You open Your hand, and fill every living creature with blessing.

Alleluia, alleluia! V. Ps. 107:2
My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready; I will sing and praise You, my glory. Alleluia!

GOSPEL (St. John 4:46-53)
He came again therefore into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain ruler, whose son was sick at Capharnaum. He having heard that Jesus was come from Judea into Galilee, sent to him and prayed him to come down and heal his son: for he was at the point of death.
Jesus therefore said to him: "Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not." The ruler saith to him: Lord, come down before that my son die. Jesus saith to him: "Go thy way. Thy son liveth."
The man believed the word which Jesus said to him and went his way. And as he was going down, his servants met him: and they brought word, saying, that his son lived. He asked therefore of them the hour wherein he grew better. And they said to him: "Yesterday at the seventh hour, the fever left him." The father therefore knew that it was at the same hour that Jesus said to him: "Thy son liveth." And himself believed, and his whole house.

By the streams of Babylon we sat and wept, when we remembered you, O Sion.

O Lord, let this sacred rite bring us healing from heaven and cleanse our hearts of all sinfulness. Through our Lord . . .

Remember Your promise to Your servant, O Lord, by which You have given me hope. This is my solace in my affliction.

O Lord, make us ever obedient to Your Commandments, that we may be deserving of Your heavenly Gifts. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and rules with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Heliotropium - The Signs of Conformity to the Divine Will - Part I

The following passage is taken from Heliotropium by Fr. Drexelius, S.J.


What are the Marks and Signs of a Human Will Conformed to the Divine

THE Romans thought nothing of a soldier who had not firm-set ribs, and arms muscular enough to carry any weight. And besides this it was needful that he should have polished and glittering weapons, and the most complete confidence in his general. And so, let no one vaunt himself as a soldier of Christ, let no one think that he is devoted to the Divine Will, unless he can detect in himself certain indications that his own will hangs entirely on the Divine Will in all things. And that everyone may be able to put himself to the proof in this matter, let him look for the following marks or signs:-----

1. The First Sign. To desire to do all things at the bidding of the Divine Will, and, therefore, to set about nothing without first imploring the Divine Aid. He who truly follows the Will of God takes no business in hand without first asking God to be his Helper. But if anything seems to be of more than usual importance, or of more than common difficulty in execution, he so much the more frequently implores aid from God. And let this be a fixed rule for those who have to deal with weighty matters, and are entrusted with government, never to undertake anything hastily, without first asking counsel of God. No man living can easily estimate how much damage the whole world suffers from this cause: how many households are badly managed; how many kingdoms and provinces are improperly governed; how many unjust wars are undertaken; how many injuries are inflicted by one on another, through the neglect of this law. This is the most prolific source of evils; because masters of families, governors, rulers, and kings oftentimes are self-willed and arbitrary, and do not act according to reason, but by impulse; and do not consult the Mouth of the Lord, but follow impetuosity as their guide, and lean to their own understanding, and trust to their own shoulders, being very Atlases in their own eyes: and hence often arises a chaotic and disgraceful confusion of business to the injury of very many.
The princes of Israel sinned grievously, because they made a treaty with the Gabaonites, "and consulted not the Mouth of the Lord." [Josue IX. 14] And we are none the more inclined to take warning on account of their error, but often plan great undertakings, "and consult not the Mouth of the Lord." We seek for the priesthood, we contract matrimony, we mix ourselves up in worldly business, and yet we "consult not the Mouth of the Lord." But far otherwise those noble generals, the Machabees, who never engaged in any battle without first having "consulted the Mouth of the Lord" more than once. For not only before the battle did they exhort their soldiers to prayer, and joined with them in their devotions, but they also continued this combined prayer even while they were fighting. And so Judas Machabeus, looking upon the hostile array before him, "stretching out his hands to Heaven, called upon the Lord that worketh wonders, Who giveth victory to them that are worthy, not according to the power of their arms, but according as it seemeth good to Him." [2 Mach. XV. 21] Nor did Machabeus only before the battle "consult the Mouth of the Lord" with the utmost earnestness in prayer, but by his example he inflamed his soldiers also to do the same, and so he and "they that were with him encountered the enemy, calling upon God by prayers." [Ver. 26] And not merely at the beginning of the battle, but also in the very heat of the conflict they constantly called upon God, and so, fighting indeed with their hands, but praying to God with their hearts, they slew no less than thirty-five thousand, "being greatly cheered with the presence of God." [Ver. 27] That is to say, they solemnly "consulted the Mouth of the Lord."

It is the advice of Cassian that before every action these versicles of the Church should be used,-----"O God, make speed to save me. O Lord, make haste to help me." It was the practice of S. Pambo, whenever his advice was asked, to require time for commending so great a thing to God, nor could he endure to give any reply until he had first "consulted the Mouth of the Lord." And this practice was of so great use to him, that, when he was now near death, he affirmed that he did not remember that anything had ever been said by him of which he was sorry. Of a truth God immediately answers those who seek counsel of Him. "Thy ear hath heard the preparation of their heart." [Ps. IX. 17] That man does not trust in God, nor does he carefully search out the Divine Will, who does not derive the beginning of all his actions from God. We must consult the Mouth of the Lord in all things without exception.

2. The Second Sign. It is a mark of true devotion towards the Divine Will, not merely not to shrink from sorrows and calamities when they are present, but willingly to seek them when they are absent, and for this reason, because God is far nearer by His Grace to those who are afflicted in various ways, than to those who enjoy uninterrupted prosperity. With great delight the Psalmist, Jesse's son, sings,-----"Thou hast turned all his couch in his sickness." [Ps. XL. 4] And this, according to S. Ambrose and S. Chrysostom, means that God soothes a sick person, or one who is otherwise afflicted, with such consolations, as if He prepared for him the softest bed. As ladies of rank sometimes wait on the sick from a sweet feeling of pity, so Christ our Lord exercises a special guardianship over such as are afflicted either with disease or any other calamity, if they only show themselves worthy of this heavenly protection. The Roman philosopher [SENECA, de Provid. 4. 5] moralizes very devoutly on this subject:-----"Cease, I pray you," he says, "to dread those things which the Immortal God applies to your souls to urge them onwards. Calamity gives occasion to virtue. One may truly call those people wretched who are indolent through excess of prosperity, and whom a sluggish tranquillity holds fast as it were on an unruffled sea. And so those whom He loves God tries, and causes them to endure hardships, and corrects them, and disciplines them; but those whom he appears to deal gently with, and to spare, he is reserving for evils to come. For you are mistaken if you think that anyone is excepted. His own share of troubles will befall him who has been prosperous for a long time. Whoever seems to be in a low estate has his happiness deferred. But why does God afflict all good men either with ill-health or other troubles? Why, too, it may be asked, in a camp are the most perilous posts assigned to the bravest? A general sends his picked soldiers to attack the enemy in an ambush by night, or to examine the line of march, or to dislodge a garrison from some particular position. Not one of those who go forth says,-----'The general deserves no thanks from me!' but,-----'He has made a good choice.' And in the same way let those who are bidden to suffer things which to the fearful and slothful are subjects for tears, say,-----'We seem to God to be thought worthy to have the trial made in us as to how much human nature is capable of enduring.' "

And how agreeable is this to that which Wisdom proclaims,-----"For God hath tried them, and found them worthy of Himself." [Wisdom III. 5] Therefore, fly from pleasures, fly from that enervating happiness whereby men become effeminate, unless something interposes which may admonish them of the human lot, like those who are stupefied with perpetual drunkenness. God, therefore, follows the same plan with good men, as a master does with his scholars, who exacts a larger share of work from those from whom he feels more sure of getting it.

Do you think that their own children were objects of hatred to the Spartans because they tried their disposition by lashes inflicted in public, while their parents themselves encouraged them to bear the strokes of the whip bravely, and asked them, when they were lacerated and half dead, whether they should go on adding gash to gash? And what wonder is it if God severely tries noble souls? There is no such thing as an easy and gentle proof of virtue. Does Fortune lash and tear us? Let us endure it; it is not cruelty, it is a conflict, in which the oftener we engage the stronger we shall be. It is by endurance that the soul arrives at despising the power of evils. Fire tries gold, and misery tries brave men. Why are you astonished that good men are shaken in order that they may be strengthened? A tree is not firm and strong unless the wind constantly blows against it; for by the very disturbing force of the blast it is strengthened, and fastens its roots more surely to the earth. Frail are those trees which have grown in a sunny valley.

Behold, then, the most certain evidence of a human will which is transfused, as it were, into the Divine, if it does not refuse to follow it even through rough and difficult places. Whosoever, therefore, has welcomed to himself the Divine Will with a hearty embrace will exclaim in the midst of troubles, with more earnestness even than Demetrius,-----"This one thing, O my God, I can complain of concerning Thee, that Thou hast not earlier made known to me Thy Will; for I should have arrived before this at that point to which I I have now attained when called by Thee. Dost Thou will to take away from me wealth or reputation? I was ready long ago to offer them. Dost Thou will to deprive me of my children? I have already put them aside for Thee. Dost Thou will to take any! part of my body? Take it. It is no great offer which I make, for in a short time I shall relinquish the whole of it. Dost Thou will to take my spirit? And why not? I do not object that Thou shouldst receive what Thou hast given. Thou wilt take from a willing person whatever Thou shalt demand. I am driven to nothing, I suffer nothing against my will; nor do I serve Thee, O my God, but I agree with Thee." This is the true union of two wills.

3. The Third Sign. The greatest possible distrust of self. This is pre-eminently a Christian virtue, and one which was scarcely known at all to the heathen of old time. He who distrusts himself ascribes even his most prosperous successes not to his own strength or diligence, but entirely to the Divine Power and Goodness; but his errors, and whatever arises from them, he imputes to himself, and he observes most faithfully the precept of S. Augustine,-----"Let God be all Thy presumption, so as to acknowledge that without Him you can do nothing at all, but all things in Him." Nevertheless the man who is entirely distrustful of self, and hopes not for success through his own powers, does not neglect to do what he can, relying with all the surer trust in God in proportion as he has none in himself. He knows that he can do nothing, and yet that he can do all things, but only with God. He works, indeed, with all his might, but he looks to the Divine Will for all the fruit of his labour, accepting with composure all those things which are only ills to one who bears them ill. But how different with those who trust in themselves, their own strength, their own skill, their own prudence, and their own schemes! How eloquent they are in extolling their own performances; with what unsparing tongue do they speak their own praises; and in the meantime how carelessly do they behave in many things through excessive self-confidence! But he who rests entirely on the Divine Will is like a pair of scales, he descends the lower on one side in proportion as he ascends higher on the other. A general who has undertaken the defence of a fortified camp examines weak and ill-defended points before the enemy advances, he provides for the commissariat, he arranges his artillery, he prepares against every kind of attack, for he knows that he cannot trust the enemy. And in the same way the Christian says,-----"I will not trust disease and death; I will fortify myself beforehand with Sacraments; I will furnish myself with prayer and fasting as weapons; I trust neither myself nor death." But he who is presumptuous, and confident in his own strength, thinks that he is well enough prepared to meet all the attacks of his enemies; or at least hopes that it will be easy enough to prepare when occasion arises. He trusts himself and Death! And well does Solomon say concerning each of these,-----"A wise man feareth, and declineth from evil; the fool leapeth over and is confident." [Prov. XIV. 16]

4. The Fourth Sign. Most complete trust in God, whence it comes that when anyone is injured or offended he does not immediately plan vengeance, but says to himself,-----"God has seen and heard this, and He will avenge in His Own time." And by means of this one thing he rises superior to all his enemies, because he feels certain that even if they were to move Hell itself against him, they could not harm him more than God permitted. But you may say,-----"There are some who neglect no opportunity of doing harm to others. If they cannot inflict actual injuries they at least try to hinder their neighbours' profit." It is so, I admit; but he who trusts in God so acts as that no amount of diligence should be wanting on his part; but everything else he commits to Divine Providence. And fruitlessly do the wicked attempt to strive against it,-----"There is no wisdom, there is no prudence, there is no counsel against the Lord." [Prov. XXI. 30] How dishonestly did Laban deal with Jacob his son-in-law! He changed his wages ten times that he might diminish his possessions; but it was to no purpose, since all things turned out to Jacob's advantage, for God suffered him not to hurt him. [Gen. XXXI. 7]

Sennacherib threatened direst vengeance against Jerusalem; but neither he himself, nor his army, could escape the avenging Hand of God. An Angel slew the army, and his sons slew him:-----" And the Lord saved Ezechias and the inhabitants of Jerusalem out of the hand of Sennacherib, king of the Assyrians, and out of the hand of all, and gave them treasures on every side." [2 Par. XXXII. 22] And so, my Christian friend, trust in God, and leave all vengeance to Him, for He is the Lord of vengeance. And let even the heathen teach you this. Tissaphernes, the Persian general, concluded a peace with Agesilaus; but it was only in pretence and not in reality, for he afterwards came with a vast army and summoned the Greeks to withdraw from Asia. But to the threats of the ambassadors Agesilaus dauntlessly replied,-----"Tell your general that I heartily thank him for having broken the treaty, and so made both gods and men his enemies. My forces will swell through the perfidy of my foe!" Words almost worthy of a Christian! It is as if he had said,-----that we should be saved "from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us." [Luke I. 71] He who trusts in God has all his enemies as vassals, because he has God on his side.

But whatever a man who trusts in God desires, he first of all seeks it from God. And here he lays down this rule for himself,-----It either is good for me that the thing which I seek should be granted, or it is not good, but which of the two it is God knows best. If it is good for me, God will either grant it immediately, or at some more fitting time, in order that in the meantime my patience may be exercised; if, however, God refuses me what I have asked, I am perfectly certain that my request was not for my good. In this way alone, and never in any other, does he who has yielded himself absolutely to the Divine Will present his petitions to God. They, on the other hand, who are ignorant of this mystery of the Divine Will, either do not implore God's aid, or do so sluggishly and carelessly, and before they do this weary out the patience of all their friends, and court the favour of as many as they can; and if they cannot effect their object in any other way, they even try to procure this favour by bribes, and they buy interest and honours, just as they would in the market.

S. John, who may be called the eye of the Lord, saw Christ carrying in His Right Hand seven stars. [Apoc. 1. 16] And what are these stars in His Hand? John himself, when unfolding this mystery, says,-----"The seven stars are the Angels of the seven Churches" [Apoc. I. 20], or the seven bishops of Asia. Behold, then, bishops and their mitres are in the Hand of Christ! But if a mitre anywhere wants an owner, there are numbers who offer their head for it; but they do not first hasten straight to the Hand of Christ.

They run indeed but oftentimes they reach the hands of kings and princes before they run to Christ. And the same thing happens in the pursuit of other offices and honours; human interest is sought, but the Divine favour only by a few, or after that of man. It is a transparent error; we ought to do the reverse: the Divine Favour and Will should be sought before all things. Sceptres and crowns are in the Hand of God; He apportions offices, dignities, places of trust, and magistracies; from Him, in the first instance, must all these be sought:-----"As the divisions of waters, so the heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord: whithersoever he will he shall turn it." [Prov. XXI. I] As a gardener who has a little stream of water at his command in his garden does not always guide it to the nearest or best tree, but oftentimes to one of feebler growth, or in whatever direction he pleases; so the heart of the king, like a stream, contains offices and preferment of every kind: but God, like a gardener, guides the water from this stream towards those whom He Himself has chosen, without, however, forcing man's free-will. And therefore they act with consummate folly who throwaway so many prayers and bribes into the ears and hands of others, while God is saluted only in a cold and distant way. Oh! the madness of men! More purely are waters sought from the Fount itself.