The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Archive for July, 2007

The Study Of Christ The Best Of All Studies

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 31, 2007

I continue here excerpting from the work Jesus Christ, the Word Incarnate, which is a book by Roger Freddi, S.J., wherein the author presents the teaching of St Thomas Aquinas on the incarnation.  To read the first excerpt, go here.

After what has been said in the two preceding points, there can be no doubt, that the study of Jesus Christ is the most perfect, the most sublime, the most useful, and the most pleasing of all studies.  It is not wonderful then, if the great Apostle St Paul loudly protests, that he was satisfied with the knowledge of Christ, and of Christ crucified: “For I judge myself not to know anything among you,  but Jesus Christ, and him crucified”  (1 Cor 2:2).  And again referring to the most noble knowledge of Jesus Christ, he says, that it is among all things the  most eminent, and that he holds every other thing not only of no account,  but even considers it a detriment:  “But indeed I esteem all things to be but loss for the excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ, my Lord” (Phil 3:8).

Should we not then apply ourselves with great courage and ardor to the delightful study of this science?  And the fruit of our study should be, not only to enlighten the understanding, but also to inflame our will, so that our knowledge may become the principle of charity.  Then indeed will our knowledge be true wisdom, and like to Christ the uncreated Wisdom, who is not Wisdom only, but Wisdom whence proceeds uncreated love.

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St Alphonsus and Eternal Salvation

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 31, 2007

Since tomorrow is the memorial of St Alphonsus De Ligouri I thought it would be appropriate to post this meditation on eternal salvation which the saint gives in his work THE WAY OF SALVATION AND PERFECTION. 

Our most important affair is that of our eternal salvation: upon it depends our happiness or misery forever.  This affair will come to an end in eternity, and will decide whether we shall be saved or lost forever; whether we shall have acquired an eternity of delights, or an eternity of torments; whether we shall live forever happy, or forever miserable.

O God!  what will my lot be?  Shall I be saved, or shall I be lost?  I may be either.  And if I may be lost, why do I not embrace such a life, as may secure for me life eternal?  O Jesus!  Thou did die to save me; yet have I been lost, as often as I have lost thee, my sovereign good: suffer me not to lose you any more.

Men esteem it a great affair to win a lawsuit, to obtain a post of honor, or to acquire an estate.  Nothing, however, that will end with time deserves to be esteemed great.  Since, therefore, all the goods of this world will one day end in our regard, as we shall either leave them or they will leave us, that affair alone should be esteemed great, upon which depends eternal happiness or eternal  misery.

O Jesus, my Redeemer, cast me not away from your face as I have deserved!  I am indeed a sinner; but I am grieved from the bottom of my heart for having offended your infinite goodness.  Hitherto I have despised you, but now I love you above all things.  Henceforth you alone shall be my only good, my only love.  Have pity on a sinner who penitently casts himself at your feet, and desires to love you.  If I have grievously offended you, I now ardently desire to love you.   What would have become of me, if you had called me out of life when I had lost your grace and favor?  Since you, O Lord! have shown so much mercy to me, grant me the grace to become a saint.

Let us awaken our faith in a heaven and a hell of eternal duration: one or other will be our lot.

O God!  how could I, knowing that by committing sin I was condemning myself to eternal torments- how could I sin so often against you and forfeit your grace?  Knowing that you alone are my God and my Redeemer, how could I, for the sake of a miserable gratification, so often turn my back upon you?  O God, I am sorry above every evil for having thus despised you.  I love you above every good, and henceforth I will suffer the loss of all things rather than lose your friendship.  Give me strength to continue faithful.  And I ask you, O Blessed Virgin Mary, to pray for me and to assist me

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Wisdom And The Study of Christ

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 30, 2007

The following is an excerpt from St Thomas Aquinas: 

Consider that it is the property of wisdom to contemplate the highest cause, and to judge and arrange everything according to it. The highest cause, however, may be understood in two ways, either in some determinant kind or absolutely. That wisdom which contemplates the highest cause in some determinant kind will be wisdom in that particular kind, for example, in medicine, architecture, or the like. That wisdom which contemplates the highest cause absolutely, will be absolute wisdom. Now the absolutely highest cause is God: therefore the true absolute wisdom is that which considers God and divine things.

This being granted, it will be evident that among all the studies, to which men can apply themselves, the study of wisdom is the most perfect, the most sublime, the most useful, and the most pleasing.

It is the most perfect, not only because the object is the most perfect, but also because the more a man devotes himself to the study of wisdom, the more does he partake even now of the perfection of the true happiness, which consists solely in the contemplation of God: hence the Wise Man calls him already blessed who is engaged in this study. “Blessed the man who shall abide in wisdom (Eccl 14:22).

It is the most sublime, because by it man is raised to a most special likeness of God, since this is the same study, so to say, in which God is occupied from all eternity with infinite delight: and all things which he does and ordains, he does and ordains according to wisdom: “Thou hast made all things in wisdom” (Ps 103:24). And as likeness is a cause of love, so the study of wisdom helps wonderfully to beget a mutual friendship between God and Man; for this reason it is written of wisdom, that it is an infinite treasure for men, and that those who use it, have part in the friendship of God: “For it is an infinite treasure for men, whilst they that use it become the friends of God” (Wis 7:14).

It is the most useful, because wisdom brings with it every good: “now all good things came to me together with her” (Wis 7:11). And the love of wisdom leads to the everlasting kingdom: “Therefore the desire of wisdom bringeth to the everlasting kingdom” (Wis 6:21).

It is most pleasing, because conversing with wisdom has nothing of bitterness, and to live together with it causes no irksomeness, but joy and gladness: “For her conversation has no bitterness, nor her company any tediousness, but joy and gladness” (Wis 8:16).

Consider that the study of Christ is the very study of wisdom: Since Jesus Christ is like a most precious and living book and life, “In whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:3). And therefore, if we wish to study wisdom, we have only to try and read and understand according to our abilities, this divine book which is Christ.

Let us see then how all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ. God has diffused the riches of his wisdom over all his works: “And he poured her out upon all his works” (Eccl 1:10). But these riches thus spread around, cannot be called treasures, because we do not give that name to riches scattered around, but only to riches collected together. Therefore the treasures of the wisdom and the knowledge of God are the riches of his wisdom and knowledge collected together in that most pure and infinite act by which God comprehends himself, and in himself every other thing. In as much as he comprehends himself, the divine act unites all the riches of wisdom, which is the cognition of divine things; in as much as he comprehends creatures, he unites all the riches of knowledge, which is the cognition of created things. Now the Word of God is the most perfect image, the adequate expression, and so to say, the subsistent and consubstantial definition of the same act; and for this reason also all the same treasures of divine wisdom and knowledge are contained in the Word. See then how in Christ the Word of God all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge are united.

It is added, however, that these treasures are hidden. But they are not in themselves hidden, nor for the blessed in heaven, who contemplate the Word face to face; but they are hidden for us wayfarers. The Word of God is, as we have said, similar to a book in which all the divine wisdom is mostly clearly described; but for us there are two things that keep this book obscure to us, the imperfection of our intellect, which is dimmed with a thick mist, and the veil of human flesh, with which the Word is invested. Still, we too with the divine aid may read some portion of that book, provided we apply ourselves to the earnest study of it. The darkness with which our mind is naturally obscured is in a great measure dissipated by the light of faith, which is just like a lamp that is lit in the midst of darkness; and the veil of humanity which covers the book is not so thick as to not let something come out from it: the more so as the characters of this divine book send forth rays of the most vivid light. Nay more, whilst that veil is on the one hand an impediment to us, on the other it is of assistance to us in the study of this book; because we would not be able to bear the splendors of the rays of the divinity, if they were not tempered and accommodated to the weakness of our vision by the veil of humanity. –St Thomas Aquinas

Posted by Dim Bulb. Check out my other site.

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Christ, the armour of God

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 29, 2007

6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. cb(6,11); 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. cb(6,12); 6:12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world’s rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. cb(6,13); 6:13 Therefore, put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand. cb(6,14); 6:14 Stand therefore, having the utility belt of truth buckled around your waist, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, cb(6,15); 6:15 and having fitted your feet with the preparation of the Good News of peace; cb(6,16); 6:16 above all, taking up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. cb(6,17); 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; cb(6,18); 6:18 with all prayer and requests, praying at all times in the Spirit, and being watchful to this end in all perseverance and requests for all the saints: cb(6,19); 6:19 on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in opening my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the Good News, cb(6,20); 6:20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Be strong in the lord and in the strength of his might. With these words the apostle St Pau, A good soldier of Christ who bore the hardship of the gospel (2 Tim 2:3) even to the point where he could call himself an ambassador in chains begins his exhortation to us whose duty it is to fight the good fight of faith in imitation of him (2 Tim 4:7). It is a fight we wage against those under the power of the evil one, the devil, who prowls about the world looking for souls to consume, as St Peter, in his first letter tells us (5:8). This warfare, St Paul tells us, is not against human forces, and therefore our battle cannot be waged, nor our enemies overcome with human weapons: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, writes St Paul in 2 Corinthians 10, they are mighty and from God and given for the destruction of fortifications-the very gates of hell. they are given for the destroying of every evil counsel, and to bring down all the demonic inspired lofty pretensions of men who exalt themselves against the knowledge of God (see 2 Cor 10:3-5; Matt 16:18).

Therefore, we must cloth ourselves in the whole armour of God so as to be able to withstand the deceits of the Devil. What is the whole armour of God? Do not think for a minute that it is merely the weapons St Paul list in the Ephesians text under consideration. No! It is so much more: For all of us who were baptized in Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ (Gal 3:27). Are you unaware that you who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? (Rom 6:3). Are you unaware that as a result of this we must no longer let sin reign in our mortal bodies to obey its desires? We must no longer present the parts of our bodies as weapons of wickedness, rather we must present our bodies to God as raised from the dead to life, and the parts of our bodies to God as weapons of Righteousness (Rom 6:12-13).

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. Who among us could be fit for such a battle unless we had first been outfitted with Christ, the armour of God: in whom dwells the fulness of the Godhead bodily. We were filled in him who is the head, the master, of every principality and power (Col 2:9-10); we were filled in him and clothed with him when we were buried with him in baptism, in which we were also raised with him by faith in the power of God who raised him up from the dead. Once dead in our sins and the uncircumcision (i.e. un-baptism) of our flesh, God has given us life in Christ, forgiving all our offenses. He blotted out the decree that was against us, and was opposed to us, he fastened it to the cross with Christ, while at the same time despoiling the principalities and powers, triumphing over them in himself.

Though the victory in this war is assured, already having been, in a certain sense, won by Christ, nonetheless, the battle still rages, for Satan is too proud to admit defeat. Therefore, take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist the evil day and to stand in all things perfect. On what do we stand? First, we stand on Christ, and by our steadfastness of faith which is in Christ Jesus, we will not be deceived (Greek: paralogizomai) by loftiness of words. Therefore, as we have received (Greek: paralambano) Jesus Christ the Lord we should conduct our lives (walk) with him; rooted in and built upon him and confirmed in the faith just as we learned it (Col 2:4-7). And how did we learn the faith by which we are founded upon and stand upon Christ, and are rooted in him? How did we come to know the grace of God in truth, except by having heard and learned the word of truth, the Gospel, from the ministers of Christ who are such on our behalf (Col 1:4-7). Thus we stand upon Christ because we stand upon the Church, the pillar and bulwark of truth (! Tim 3:15), whose foundation is Christ.

This is the Christ who ascended on high and took the captivity captive by despoiling the principalities and powers as was noted above. This is the Christ who also ascended and gave gifts to men. He gave some as apostles, some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers: for the perfecting of the saints, for the word of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, so that we might no longer be like children tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the wickedness of men, by cunning craftiness by which they lie and wait to deceive (Eph 4:7-14). This is the Christ who said he who hear you, hears me; he who rejects you, rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects the one who sent me (Lk 10:16). This is the Christ who “is the real self of the Church,” which is “his body, permeated through and through with his redemptive might” (Karl Adam, THE SPIRIT OF CATHOLICISM, ch 2)

How then, I ask you, can we have our feet shod with preperation for the Gospel of peace if we do not take account of the preaching of the Church?

Rats! I’m getting tired and began to lose my train of though a couple of paragraphs ago. Sorry (assuming anyone found it useful), this will have to do.

Posted by Dim Bulb.  Check out my other site.

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An Exposition of Psalm 2

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 29, 2007

Note: Due to the length of this commentary I have decided to post it in several parts. I mad use of part of the introduction to this Psalm in my own notes on Psalm 2 which you can read here.
Psalm 2 is a sublime vision of the nations in revolt against God and his anointed, with a declaration of the divine purpose to maintain his kings authority, and a warning to the world that it must bow down or perish. The structure of this psalm is extremely regular. It naturally falls into four stanzas of three verses each. In the first, the conduct of the rebellious nations is described. In the second, God replies to them by word an deed. In the third, the Messiah or Anointed One declares the divine decree in relation to himself. In the fourth, the Psalmist exhorts the rulers of the nations to submission, with a threatening of the divine wrath to the disobedient, and a closing benediction on believers. The several sentences are also very regular in form, exhibiting parallelism of great uniformity. Little as this psalm might, at first sight, seem to resemble that coming before it, there is really a very strong affinity between them. Even in form they are related to one another. The number of verses and of stanzas is just double in the second, which moreover begins, as the first ends, with a threat, and ends, as the first begins, with a beatitude. There is also a resemblance in their subject and contents. The contrast indicated in the first is carried out and rendered more distinct in the second. The first is in fact an introduction to the second, and the second to what follows. And as the psalms which follow bear the name of David, there is the strongest reason to believe that these two psalms are his likewise, a conclusion confirmed by the authority of Acts 4:25, as well as by the internal character of the psalm itself. The imagery of the scene presented is evidently borrowed from the warlike and eventful times of David. He cannot, however, be himself the subject of the composition, the terms of which are wholly inappropriate to any king but the Messiah, to whom they are applied by the oldest Jewish writers, and again and again in the New Testament. This is the first of those prophetic psalms, in which the promise made to David, with respect to the Messiah (2 Sam 7:16; 1 Chron 17:11-14), is wrought into the lyrical devotions of the ancient church. The supposition of a double reference to David, or to some one of his successors, and to Christ, is not only needless and gratuitous, but hurtful to the sense by the confusion which it introduces, and forbidden by the utter inappropriateness of some of the expressions used to any lower subject. The style of this psalm, although not less pure and simple, is livelier than that of the first, a difference arising partly from the nature of the subject, but still more from the dramatic structure of the composition.

Verse 1: Why have the Gentiles raged, and the people devised vain things?

This psalm opens, like the first, with an exclamation, here expressive of astonishment and indignation at the wickedness and folly of the scene presented to the psalmist’s view. Why do the nations make a noise, tumult, or rage? The Hebrew verb is not expressive of an internal feeling, but of the outward agitation which denotes it. There may be an allusion to the rolling and roaring of the sea, often used as an emblem of popular commotion, both in the Scriptures and the classics. The past tense of this verb (why have they raged?) refers to the commotion as already begun, while the future tense in the next clause expresses its continuance. And the peoples, not people in the collective sense of persons, but in the proper plural sense of nations, races, will imagine (devise), i.e. are imagining and will continue to imagine, vanity,a vain thing, something hopeless and impossible. The interrogation in this verse implies that no rational solution of the strange sight could be given, for reasons assigned in the remainder of the psalm. This implied charge of irrationality is equally well founded in all cases where the same kind of opposition exists, though secretly and on the smallest scale.

Verse 2: The kings of the earth stood up, and the princes met together, against the Lord, and against his Christ (Anointed One)?

The confused scene presented in the first verse now becomes more distinct by a nearer view of the contending parties. Why will the kings of the earth se themselves, or take their stand, and rulers consult together, literally sit together, but with special reference to taking counsel, as in Psalm 31:14, Against God and against his Anointed, or Messiah, which is only a modified form of the Hebrew word here used, as Christ is a like modification of the corresponding term in Greek. External unction or anointing is a sign in the Old Testament, of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and especially of those conferred on prophets, priests, and kings, as ministers of the theocracy, and representatives of Christ himself. To kings particularly, as the highest and most comprehensive order, and peculiar types of Christ in his supremacy as Head of the Church, the sacred history applies the title of the Lord’s Anointed. The right of unction is explicitly recorded in the case of Saul, David, and Solomon, and was probably repeated at the coronation of their successors. From the verse before us, and from Daniel 9:26, the name Messiah had, before the advent, come into use among the Jews as a common designation of the great deliverer and King whom they expected. (Compare John 1:41 with 1:49; and see also Mark 15:32). The intimate relation of the Anointed One to God himself is indicated even here by making them the common object of attack, or rather of revolt. In Acts 4: 25-27, this description is applied to the combination of Herod and Pilate, Jews and Gentiles, against Jesus Christ, not as the sole event predicted, but as that in which the gradual fulfillment reached its culmination. From the quotation, and indeed from the terms of the prophecy itself, we learn that nations here does not mean gentiles or heathen as opposed to Jews, but whole communities or masses of mankind, as distinguished from mere personal or insulated cases of resistance and rebellion.

Verse 3: Let us break their bonds asunder: and let us cast away their yoke from us.

Having described the conduct of the disaffected nations and their chiefs, he now introduces them as speaking. In the preceding verse, they were seen, as it were, at a distance, taking counsel. Here they are brought so near to us, or we to them, that we can overhear their planning. Let us break their bonds, i.e. the bonds of the Lord and his Anointed, that is the restraints imposed by their authority. The form of the Hebrew verb may be expressive of either a proposition or of a fixed determination. We will break their bonds, we are resolved to do it. This is in fact involved in the other version, where let us break must not be understood as a faint or dubious suggestion, but as a summons to the execution of a formed and settled purpose. The same idea is expressed, with a slight modification, in the other clause. And we will cast, or let us cast away their yoke, twisted ropes, a stronger term than bonds. The verse, too, while it really implies the act of breaking, suggests the additional idea of contemptuous facility, as if they had said, let us fling away from us with scorn these feeble bonds by which we have been hitherto confined. The application of this passage to the revolt of the Ammonites and and other conquered nations against David, or to any singular rebellion against any of the latter Jewish kings, as the principal subject of this grand description, makes it quite ridiculous if not profane, and cannot therefore be consistent with the principles of sound interpretation. The utmost that can be conceded is that David borrowed the scenery of this dramatic exhibition from the wars and insurrections of his own eventful reign. The language of the rebels in the verse before us is a genuine expression of the feelings entertained, not only in the hearts of individual sinners, but by the masses of mankind, so far as they have been brought into collision with the sovereignty of God and Christ, not only at the time of his appearance on earth, but in the ages both for and after that event, in which the prophecy, as we have seen, attained its height, but was not finally exhausted or fulfilled, since the same rash and hopeless opposition to the Lord and his Anointed still continues, and is likely to continue until the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ (Rev 11:15), an expression borrowed from this very passage.

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Are You A Happy Thomist?

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 24, 2007

What do you know about St Thomas’ teaching on Happiness?  It’s too big a subject to handle in depth, but see how many question you can answer correctly.

Question 1. Can all the actions a man performs rightly be called human actions? ANSWER
Question 2. If cause precedes effect, can it rightly be said that a man’s actions are motivated (i.e. caused) by an end? ANSWER

Question 3. Does man’s happiness consist in retaining happiness or in spreading it? ANSWER
Question 4. Man’s happiness consists in glory, for happiness seems to consist in that which is payed to the saints for the trials they have undergone in this world, and this is glory, for the Apostle says: “The sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared to the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us.” Therefore, happiness consists in glory. Is this true or false? ANSWER
Question 5. Is happiness an action of the intellect or of the will? ANSWER
Question 6. Happiness is the perfection of man. Now, the soul without the body is not man. Therefore Happiness cannot be in the soul separated from the body, for as Augustine said: “(the soul) has a natural desire to rule the body, the result of which is that it (the soul) is held back, so to speak, from tending with all its might to the heavenward journey (i.e. the happiness of the beatific vision). Therefore, the soul cannot be happy without the body. Is this true or false. ANSWER

For more on Aquinas’ view of happiness, go here for an easy introduction. And if you’re feeling really ambitious

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The Summa for Dummies 1, Q.1, Art. 2 Whether Sacred Doctrine is a Science,

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 24, 2007

What follows begins with St Thomas’ brief teaching on this question as found in his COMPENDIUM OF THEOLOGY; after which, one will find the corresponding teaching

from The SUMMA THEOLOGICA. You may wish to consider reading only the bold text of the SUMMA article. Notes and links for further study ma also be provided.

(Note: Science, as St Thomas uses it, refers to knowledge-“scientia”- a developed body of knowledge based on causes or general principles)


this docttrine is a sceince proceeding from principles made known by the light of a higher science, as music proceeds from principles explained by mathematics.

For Sacred Doctrine proceeds from principles made know by the light of a higher knowledge, that is to say, the Divine Knowledge, and in certain particulars are

treated of, both as an example of life and in order thea we may know clearly by what instrumentality this revelation is made.

Whether Sacred Doctrine Is a Science?

Objection 1: It seems that sacred doctrine is not a science. For every
science proceeds from self-evident principles. But sacred doctrine
proceeds from articles of faith which are not self-evident, since
their truth is not admitted by all: “For all men have not faith” (2
Thess. 3:2). Therefore sacred doctrine is not a science.

Obj. 2: Further, no science deals with individual facts. But this
sacred science treats of individual facts, such as the deeds of
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and such like. Therefore sacred doctrine is
not a science.

_On the contrary,_ Augustine says (De Trin. xiv, 1) “to this science
alone belongs that whereby saving faith is begotten, nourished,
protected and strengthened.” But this can be said of no science except
sacred doctrine. Therefore sacred doctrine is a science.

_I answer that,_ Sacred doctrine is a science. We must bear in mind that
there are two kinds of sciences. There are some which proceed from a
principle known by the natural light of intelligence, such as
arithmetic and geometry and the like. There are some which proceed
from principles known by the light of a higher science: thus the
science of perspective proceeds from principles established by
geometry, and music from principles established by arithmetic. So it
is that sacred doctrine is a science because it proceeds from
principles established by the light of a higher science, namely, the
science of God and the blessed. Hence, just as the musician accepts on
authority the principles taught him by the mathematician, so sacred
science is established on principles revealed by God.

Reply Obj. 1: The principles of any science are either in
themselves self-evident, or reducible to the conclusions of a higher
science; and such, as we have said, are the principles of sacred

Reply Obj. 2: Individual facts are treated of in sacred
doctrine, not because it is concerned with them principally, but they
are introduced rather both as examples to be followed in our lives (as
in moral sciences) and in order to establish the authority of those
men through whom the divine revelation, on which this sacred scripture
or doctrine is based, has come down to us.

For a very good, brief summary of the teaching given here, please see Alfred J Freddoso’s comments.

Brandon as SIRIS has more on this article and others related to Q. 1 of the Summa’s first part.

, which, sadly, is no longer updated, notes the importance of this article for Thomas’ later treatment of the intellectual virtues.

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An interesting article on Dominus Iesus in Light of the Recent Blow-up over the Congregation For The Doctrine Of The Faith’s Recent Statement

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 16, 2007

From EWTN’s Document Library:

I begin with some comments on the media presentation of Dominus Iesus, for I believe that this illustrates the difficulties of having calm and serious dialogue in an age of high-speed communication and instant response.Speed of communications

The speed of communications in our age is a great achievement of modern information technology and can be an immense factor for good. At the same time it places great problems on the shoulders of conscientious journalists; and it also creates difficulties for serious discussion about issues of profound religious importance. A declaration about Church doctrine which, of its nature, uses theological language and requires careful reading and even study, is released to the public at a press conference in Rome and then transmitted through the networks of the world press. Journalists, often without any theological formation, scan the document quicklyfor speed along the information highway is a priority in modern communications. In journalistic terms, a feature of religious news is that the interest in the general public is assumed to be a minority one, and the attention span is assumed to be short. Consequently, it is felt that religious news must be given special “angles” to make it interesting. In other words, it must be presented as new, confrontational, and related to contemporary stereotypes in such terms as “hard line” or “moderate”, “conservative” or “liberal”, “reactionary” or “progressive”, “fundamentalist” or “forward looking”, etc. In the case of papal statements, further stereotypes come into play: is the statement a case of “Pope versus Vatican Council”, or “Pope versus Curia”, or an indication of a “power struggle in the Vatican”? The terms are by now entirely standardized.

As soon as the document is released, a précis, which is already a selective interpretation of the text, is flashed with maximum speed around the media outlets and news desks of the world. What arrives on news desks is a short summary, “angled” by the sending syndicate or agency along such lines as I have suggested. The resultant headlines are predictable, and it is these which create the first impressions the general public receive about the text in question. It is very difficult later for either Church spokespersons or for responsible journalists to modify these first impressions. The original text has also been put out on the Internet, but the imperative of speed leaves no time to read this. At this stage, the national media begin to trawl, often by telephone, for immediate reactions. The person telephoned has, in most cases, not even seen, much less read, the document. The journalist will almost certainly have read only the agency précis. When the respondent replies that he or she has not read the document, the journalist may well oblige by quoting from the agency report. The respondent, also anxious to oblige, may comment on what he or she hears; but this may be a serious misrepresentation of the text, or be a sentence quoted out of context and unrepresentative of the document as a whole. It might be thought prudent, in such circumstances, to refrain from comment until one has read the entire document. This admittedly, is made difficult by the speed and urgency of modern communications.

I am not suggesting that there is any malice in this process at any level; but clearly theological dialogue is extremely difficult in this kind of context. First reports and early headlines, followed by first reactions, can give the document a label which is very hard to remove and may give the debate a direction which it is nearly impossible later to change. Dominus Iesus suffered even more than most documents of its kind in this process. More thought needs to be given in Rome and also at the level of Episcopal Conferences and Dioceses to the method of publication and distribution and explanation of Roman documents. Such documents are a service to Bishops and theologians and they too have a responsibility in respect of their diffusion and correct understanding. Perhaps an official summary could be issued along with the document, outlining its main points in simpler language, so as to avert misunderstandings. I believe, however, that it is now possible and timely to pause and read the document more calmly and make a more balanced appraisal of it. Read the rest, beginning under the heading “interreligious dialogue”

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St Thomas’ Compendium of Theology, the Summa for Dummies and Dim Bulbs

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 14, 2007

Have you ever tried to read or study St Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica and found yourself bogged down at question 1, article 3? Perhaps, for you, the place to begin would be to read his compendium. What follows is an excerpt from that Compendium dealing with article 1 of the first question of the Summa. I have provided links to the Summa itself in case anyone wants to read through the articles in conjunction with the compendium; this might make going through the Summa a bit easier. I have also provided links to other sources for further ease.

Chapter 1 SACRED DOCTRINE: ITS NATURE AND EXTENT In this chapter the saint deals with the first question of the Summa: “The Nature and Extent of Sacred Doctrine” which is divided into ten articles.

Article 1 of the Summa looks at the question: Whether, besides philosophy, any further doctrine is required?

This is treated in the first paragraph of the Comp:

  • It is necessary for the salvation of man that, besides the natural sciences, there should exist some doctrine received by revelation which transcends reason. Moreover, that which is discoverable about God by human reason could be known only by a few, and that after much time, and not without a large admixture of error. It was good, therefore, for man to be taught by means of a doctrine divinely revealed; for salvation, which is in God, depends upon the knowledge of the truth.

St Thomas deals with this subject more fully in chapters 2, 3 & 4 of the Summa Contra Gentes. For more, see the full text of THE CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA article on revelation, especially the first 3 sections on pages 1-3. You can also profitably consult chapter 1 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as well as chapter 2.

For links to many online books and articles, podcasts and videos of interest to Catholics, please see the pages on my other site.

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Posted in Catechetical Resources, Compendium of the Summa, Quotes, ST THOMAS AND THE SUMMA | Leave a Comment »

Gee, I hope my friends don’t read this

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 13, 2007

I took an online test to see what color rose I am. Here it is:

You Are a White Rose

You represent youthfulness and purity.
Your vibe: Sweet and heavenlyFalling in love with you: is like falling in love for the first time

What Color Rose Are You?

Okay, girls, come and get me!

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Posted in humor, stupid | 2 Comments »

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