The Divine Lamp

Archive for November, 2007

On Divine Providence Bk 1, Ch 2 Nature and History are a Book of Providence

Posted by carmelcutthroat on November 30, 2007

The consideration of the plan whichGod follows ininstructing mankind has ofte excited in me a thrill of sublime emotion.  That plan consists in permitting that doubts, or rather difficulties, should rise arise in mens minds, in order that men may be roused to action, and moved to reflection and the investigation of the truth.

We may imagine all this universe, both physical and moral, as a grand and sacred book opened by God before men’s eyes, and full of queries and problems for the mind of man to solve, and so to increase the store of his knowledge and contentment.  The pages of the great volume are unfolded gradually in the course of centuries;- the multiplication of the human race, its division into diverse peoples, the dispersion of these people over the face of the earth, then in succession their mutual relations, their wars, their rivalries, their alliances; and in particular the history of the Jewish people, which God directed with a peculiar Providence, intending to make it a fugure, on a small scale, of what the entire human race was destined to be at a later period.  The problems found in the earlier pages of this book are more easy to solve than those which come after; nor is a new page ever opened until man has succeeded in deciphering those that precede.

It seems as if Infinite Wisdom delighted in adopting with human beings the process known as the Socratic Method, by which the most difficult truths are easily illicited from the lips of illiterate persons and of children; the secret simply consisting of a few interrogatives skillfully arraigned in a certain order.  In this way, I believe, does God act towards His creatures.  He ordains that things which are marvelous, and wholly at various with their modes of thinking, should happen before the eyes of man, that being struck with wonder at the novelty, they may feel prompted to direct their attention to investigating the hidden causes of things.  He does not wish to say everything Himself, because, being good, He does not wish his beloved creature, man, to remain and inert, or to be deprived of the noble gratification and merit which he can gain by instructing himself in many things.  To this end, He has endowed man with the faculty of knowing, that he may enjoy the honest pleasure of developing knowledge for himself, of being in part his own teacher.  God would not assist him save in that for which his natural knowledge could not suffice.  And what was this?

First, man’s faculty of knowing required to be stimulated and roused so as to be drawn forth into its own peculiar act; second, to progress in the wisdom necessary to man, this faculty required to have suitable queries or interogations put to it by its Supreme Instructor; third, and it likewise required to be furnished with some general principles, to enable it, by their application, to arrive at the right answers to those questions.

Furnished with these aids, man would be in a position to form for himself a science of a truly ennobling character.  God provided him with them, and, having done so, left him, as I have said, freely to enjoy the honest and noble of delight of being the author of his own wisdom. (THEODICY: ESSAYS ON DIVINE PROVIDENCE by Antonio Rosmini)

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On Divine Providence. Bk. 1, Ch 1

Posted by carmelcutthroat on November 29, 2007


Book The First

On The Limits Of Human Reason In Its Judgments Regarding Divine Providence.

Forsitan vestiga Dei comprehendes? (Job 11:7)


Chapter 1 The Study of the Ways of Divine Providence Comforts Man Under Temptation.

Undeserving the name of Wisdom I account that kind of knowledge which has no influence on the human heart, but accumulates idly in the mind like so much dead weight, without adding to the sum of man’s good, or lessening his ills, and without satisfying, or even soothinwith well-grounded hopes, the ceaseless longings of his nature.

Granting, then, that only the knowledge which makes us better, and strengthens us, and raises our minds to salutary thoughts, has a right to be called Wisdom; what better means could we have of aquiring such a precious treasure, than pondering the Etrnal Counsels apparent in the vicissitudes of created things, and endeavouring to bring ourown lives into harmony with them?

All the dangers and temptations which imperil man’s fidelity to virtue, are, it seems to me, due to one sole cause, viz., the terrible difficulty which man experiences in steadfastly adhering to the path of duty, in a state which deprives him of many enjoyments and subjects him to manifold sufferings.  Sensible good lures his appetite to such a degree that, through greed of possessing it, he forgets the law of righteousness; suffering has so saddening and depressing an influence on him, that in hopes of ridding himself of the galling burden, or of at least escaping from the extreme vexation of having his inclinations thwarted, he abandons himself to evil.  But no sooner has he done so, than the stern voice of conscience rebukes him for having allowed his affections to deceive him, and for having violated that unbending law which fixes certain limits to the indulgence as well of human desires as of human aversions.  Then there arises in him a fierce battle between two contrary forces: the incorruptible conscience, which, as a heavenly herald, unceasingly proclaims in his heart the divine legislation; and the bent of sensible nature, which, blind to the light of truth, will hear of nothing but what is agreeable and delightful to itself.  This strugle continues until at last it comes to pass, that either he is brought back to virtue, or, being too faint-hearted to regain in mastery, becomes hardened in evil.


Now it is when a man has settled down in this lamentable state of moral perversion, that his mind enfeebled and unhappy, is apt to be led astray by harboring sinister thoughts against the high dispositions of Divine Providence.


The ills that befall him, and the restrictions imposed on sensuous gratifications, are to him a source of endless annoyance and discontent.  Unable to find a means of assuaging this misery, he casts the blame of it upon that God Who is the Supreme Disposer of all human things, and has, to the sinners cheifest discomfort, graven on the inner tablets of the heart that solemn unutterable command: “Turn away from evil, and do good.”  Wretched is the man fallen into so  deplorable error, who has not the mental strength to understand that the bounds set to present enjoyment are rather apparent than real, wisely ordained by the wisest of legislators to the end that we may, at a most trifling sacrifice, hereafter secure an unstinted fulness of all that we can desire.


 This doctrine is so consoling, that we ought to look upon it as good, and as such, embrace it with our hearts, even though our minds do not fully comprehend its truth.  Happy, however, are they, who can not only desire or believe it, but also understand it.  Does the infinitely wise Legislator, perchance, forbid us to investigate the reasons of the laws whereby He dispenses good and evil, if we are competent to do so?  On the contrary, he invites us all thereto.

But if our minds are unable to soar so high, what then?  Shall we have the audacity to dispute in all things with the Divine Intelligence?  Or rather, should we not seek to render ourselves partakers of God’s own Wisdom through faith?  Let us strengthen our weakness by a fir reliance on the words of our Creator, which so strongly urge upon us abstinence and patience; abstinence from momentary delights, by reminding us of the eternal punishment prepared for intemperance, and patience under momentary sufferings, by promising us, in return for it, ineffable and eternal joy.  Nevertheless, it is, as I have said, perfectly lawful for everyone to try, as best he may, to find out the sublime reasons of the government of Divine Providence: a government wholly directed to the advantage of the good, who for love of righteousness often sacrifice sensible enjoyments, and willingly submit to sufferins; and to the confusion of sinners, whom Providence blesses with many good things, and protects from many evils, in such a wise, however, as to leave to their own free will the power of preferring virtue to pleasure, or suffering to sin. (THEODICY: ESSAYS ON DIVINE PROVIDENCE by  Antonio Rosmini)





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The Subject of Supernatural Revelation-Mysteries

Posted by carmelcutthroat on November 27, 2007

1.  We learn from the preceding section that Supernatural Revelation gives us knowledge of truths unrevealed by Natural Revelation.  These truths constitute the specific and proper contents of Supernatural Revelation.  As, however, this Revelation is by word of mouth,and not, as in the Revelation of Glory, by the vision of its object; as it does not entirely lift the veil from revealed things: it leaves them in obscurity, entirely withholding, their reality from the mind’s eye, and only reproducing their essence in analogical concepts taken from the sphere of our natural knowledge.  This peculiar character of the content of Supernatural Revelation is called Mystery, or mystery of God; that is, a truth hidden in God, but made known to man by a free communication.

2.  Mystery in common parlance means something hidden or veiled, especially by one mind from another.  It implies the notion that some advantage attaches to the knowledge of it which gives the initiated a position superior to outsiders.  The heathens gave the name of “mysteries” to the symbolical or sacred words and acts which they kept secret from the multitude, or to the hidden meaning of thier liturgy, understood only by the initiated.  The Fathers appled the term to the sacred words and acts of the true religion, kept secret from the heathen and the catechumens, and understood only by the perfect, especially the mysteries knowable only by Fatih which are veiled under the sacramental appearances. (see Newman’s Developement of Doctrine, pg 27)

a.   The notion of theological mystery properly so-called implies that the mysterious truth is incapable of being discovered by human reason , and that, even after it is revealed, reason cannot prove its existence.  These conditions, however, are fulfilled by many truths which are not usually styled mysteries.  Hence we must add the further condition that the truth should be naturally unknowable on account of its absolute and objective superiority to our sphere of knowledge, and that we should consequently be unable to obtain a direct and proper, but only an anological, representation of its contents.  A mystery is therefore subjectively above reason and objectively above nature.

b.   That there are such mysteries has been defined by the First Vatican Council: “Besides those things which natural reason can attain, there are proposed for our belief the mysteries hidden in God, which, unless they were divinely revealed, could not be know.”  Although by means of anlaogy we may attain some knowledge of these mysteries, nevertheless human reason is never able to perceive them in the same way as it peceives the truths which are its proper object.  “The Divine mysteries, by there very nature, so far surpass the created intellect that, even when they have been imparted by Revelation and received by Faith, they nevertheless lie hidden and enveloped, as it were, in a sort of mist, as long as in this mortal life we are absent from the Lord, for we walk by faith and not by sight” (Vat. Council I; sess. 3, chap 4).  And the council speaks of the two elements, subjective and objective, in the corresponding canon 1: “If anyone shall say that in Divine Revelation no mysteries properly so called are contained, but that all the dogmas of the Faith may be understood and demonstrated from natural principles by reason duly cultured, let him be anathema”

c.  The doctrine of the Council is based on many pasages of Holy Scripture, some of which are quoted or alluded to in the decrees.  The fullest text is 1 Cor 2:6-12  “We do speak wisdom among the perfect, yet not the wisdom of this world, neither of the rulers of this world that come to nothing; rather, we speak the Wisdom of God in a mystery which is hidden, which God ordained before the world for our glory: which none of the rulers of this world knew… But as it is written: eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of men, what things God has prepared for those who love Him.  But to us God has revealed them by His Spirit.  For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.  For what man knows the things of man, but the spirit of a man that is within him?  So the things that are of God no man knows, but the Spirit of God.  Now we have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit that is of God: that we may know the things that are given us from God.”   (See also, Eph 3:4-9; Col 1:26-27; Matt 11:25-27; John 1:18).

d.  The presence of myteries in Christian Revelation is essential to its sublime character.  The principle of Revelation is God Himself in His character as Father, sending His Son and, through Him, the Holy Spirit into this world to announce “What the Son received from the Father, and the Holy Spirit from both.”  Again, the motive of Revelation is the immense love of the Son of God for us: He speaks to us as a friend to friends, telling us the secret things of His Father (John 15:14).  And the end of Revelation is to lead us on to a truly supernatural state, the direct vision of God face to face.  Moreover, without mysteries, Fatih would not be “the evidence of things that appear not” (Heb 9:1), nor would it be meritorious (Rom 5; Heb 10).  In fact, the very essence of Revelation is to be supernatural and therefore mysterious, so that all who deny the existence of mysteries deny also the supernatural character of Christianity.  We may add that the study of the revealed truths themselves will plainly show their mysterious nature.

e.  The mysteries which are the subject-matter of Revelation are not merely a few isolated truths, but form a supernatural world whose parts are organically connected as those of the natural world-a mystical cosmos, the outcome of the “manifold Wisdom of God” (Eph 3:10).  In their origin the represent under various forms the communication of the Divine Nature by the Trinity, the Incarnation, and Grace; in their final object they represent an order in which the Trinity appears as the ideal and end of a communion of God and His creatures rendered possible through the God-Man, and accomplished by means of grace and glory.

f.   It is folly to maintain that the revelation of mysteries degrade our reason; on the contrary, it is at once an honor and a benefit.  To say that there are truths beyond the reach of our reason is surely not to degrade it, but to acknowledge the true extent of its powers.  And what an honor it is to man to be made in some way a confidant of God!  Moreover, the more a truth is above reason the more precious it is to us.  Finally, the knowledge of things supernatural is a pledge and foretaste of the prefect knowledge which is to come.  (From A MANUAL OF CATHOLIC THEOLOGY chap 1, sect. 4)

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The Time of the Antichrist

Posted by carmelcutthroat on November 26, 2007

The Thessalonian Christians had supposed that the coming of Christ was at hand. St Paul writes to warn them against such an expectation. Not that he discountenances their looking out for our Lord’s doming, the contrary; but he tells them that a certain event must come before it, and until that had arrived the end would not be. “Let no man deceive you by any means,” he says; “For the day shall not come,except there come a falling away first,”- and he proceeds”and” except first “that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.”

As long as the world lasts, this passage of Scripture will be full of reverent interest to Christians. It is their duty to be ever watching for the advent of their Lord, to search for the signs of it in all that happens around them; an above all to keep in mind this great ans awful sign of which St Paul speaks to the Thessalonians. As our Lord’s first coming had its forerunner, so will the second have its own. The first was “One more than a prophet,” the Holy Baptist: the second will be more than an enemy of Christ; it will be the very image of Satan, the fearful and hateful Antichrist. Of him, as described in prophecy, I propose to speak; and in doing so, I shall follow the exclusive guidance of the ancient Fathers of the Church.

I follow the ancient Fathers, not as thinking that on such a subject they have the weight they possess in the instances of doctrine or ordinances. When they speak of doctrines, they speak of them as being universally held. They are witnesses to the fact that those doctrines having been received, not here or there, but everywhere. We receive those doctrines which they thus teach, not merely because they teach them, but because they bear witness to all Christians everywhere then held them. We take them as honest informants, but not as a sufficient authority in themselves, though they are an authority too. If they were to state these very same doctrines, but say, “These are our opinions: we deduced them from Scripture, and they are true,” we might well doubt about receiving them at their hands. We might fairly say, that we had as much right to deduce from Scripture as they had; that deductions from Scripture were mere opinions; that if our deductions agreed with theirs, that would be a happy coincidence, and increase our confidence in them; but if they did not, it could not be helped-we must follow our own light. Doubtless, no man has any right to impose his own deductions upon another, in matters of faith. There is an obvious obligation, indeed, upon the ignorant to submit to those who are better informed; and there is a fitness in the young submitting implicitly for a time to the teaching of their elders; but beyond this, one man’s opinion is not better than another’s. But this is not the state of the case as regards the Fathers. They do not speak of their own Private Opinion; they do not say, “This is true, because we see it in Scripture”-but, “this is true, because in matter of fact it is held, and has ever been held, by all the Churches, down to our times, without interruption, ever since the apostles: “Where the question is merely one of testimony, viz., whether they had the means of knowing that it had been and was so held; for if it was the belief of so many and independent Churches at once, and that, on the ground of its being from the Apostles, doubtless it cannot be true and Apostolic.

This, I say, is the mode in which the Fathers speak as regards doctrine; but it is otherwise when they interpret prophecy. In this matter there seems to have been no catholic, no formal and distinct, or at least no authoritative traditions; so that when they interpret Scripture they are for the most part giving, and profess to be giving, either their own private opinions, or vague, floating, and merely general anticipations. This is what might have been expected; for it is not ordinarly the course of Divine Providence to interpret prophecy before the event. What the Apostles disclosed concerning the future, was for the most part disclosed to them in private, to individuals-not committed to writing, not intended for the edifying of the Body of Christ,-and was soon lost. Thus, in a few verses after the passage I have quoted, St Paul says, “Remember ye not, that when I was yet with you, I told you these things?” and he writes by hints and allusions, not speaking out. And it shows how little care was taken to discriminate and authenticate his prophetical intimations, that the Thessalonians had adopted an opinion, that he had said-what in fact he had not said-that the Day of Christ was immediately at hand.

Yet, though the Fathers do not convey to us the interpretation of prophecy with the same certainty as they convey doctrine, yet, in proportion to their agreement, their personal weight, and the prevalence, or again the authoritative character of the opinions they are stating, they are to be read with deference; for, to say the least, they are as likely to be right as commentators now; in some respects more so, because the interpretation of prophecy has in these times become a matter of controversy and party. And passion and prejudice have so interfered with soundness of judgment, that it is difficult to say who is to be trusted to interpret it, or whether a private Christian may not be as good and expositor as those by whom the office has been assumed.

Now to turn to the passage in question, which I shall examine by arguments drawn from Scripture, without being solicitous to agree, or to say why I am at issue, with modern commentators: “That Day shall not come, except there come a falling away first.” Here the sign of the second Advent is said to be a certain frightful apostasy, and the manifestation of the man of sin, the son of perdition-that is, as he is commonly called, Antichrist. Our Saviour seems to add, that the sign will immediately precede Him, or that His coming will follow close upon it; for after speaking of “false prophets” and “false Christs,” “showing signs and wonders,” “iniquity abounding,” and “love waxing cold,” and the like, He adds, “When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” Again He says, “When you shall see the Abomination of Desolation…stand in the holy place…then let them that be in Judea flee into the mountains.” Indeed, St Paul also implies this, when he says that Antichrist shall be destroyed by the brightness of Christ’s coming.

First, then, I say, if Antichrist is to come immediately before Christ, and to be the sign of His coming, it is manifest that the Antichrist is not come yet, but still to be expected; for, else Christ would have come before now.

Further, it appears that the time of Antichrist’s tyranny will be three years and a half, or, as Scripture expresses it, “a time, and times, and the dividing of time,” or “forty-two months,”-which is an additional reason for believing he is not come; for, if so, He must have come quite lately, his time being altogether so short; that is, within the last three years, and this we cannot say he has.

Besides, there are two other circumstances of his appearance, which have not been fulfilled. First, a time of unexpected trouble. “There shall be great tribulation, such as was not from the beginning of the world to this time, nor ever shall be; and except those days should be shortened, there should be no flesh saved.” This has not yet been. Next, the preaching of the Gospel throughout the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come.”

Now it may be objected to this conclusion, that St Paul says, in this passage before us, that “the mystery of iniquity does already work,” that is, even in his day, as if Antichrist had in fact come even them. But he would seem to mean merely this, that in his day there were shadows and forebodings, earnests and operative elements, of that which was one day to come in its fullness. Just as the types of Christ went before Christ, so the shadows of Antichrist precede him. In truth, every event of this world is a type of those that follow, history proceeding forward as a circle ever enlarging. The days of the Apostles typified the last days; there were false Christs, and risings, and troubles, and persecutions, and judicial destruction of the Jewish Church. In like manner, every age presents its own picture of those still future events, which, and which alone, are the real fulfillment of the prophecy which stands at the head of them all. Hence St John says, “Little children, it is the last time; and as you have heard that the Antichrist shall come, even now are there many Antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” Antichrist was come, and was not come; it was, and it was not the last time. In the sense in which the Apostles’ Day might be called the “last time,” and the end of the world, it was also the time of Antichrist.

A second objection may be made as follows: St Paul says, “Now you know what withholds him, that he (Antichrist) may be revealed in his time.” Here a something is mentioned as keeping back the manifestation of the enemy of truth. He proceeds: “He that now withholds, will withhold, until he be taken out of the way.” Now this retraining power was in early times considered to be the Roman Empire, but the Roman Empire (it is argued) has long been taken out of the way; it follows that Antichrist has long since come. In answer to this objection, I would grant that he “that withholds,” or “hinders,” means the power of Rome, for all the ancient writers o speak of it. And I grant that as Rome, according to the prophet Daniel’s vision, succeeded Greece, so Antichrist succeeds Rome, and the second coming succeeds Antichrist. But it does not follow hence that the Antichrist is come: for it is not clear that the Roman Empire is gone. Far from it: the Roman Empire in the view of prophecy, remains even to this day. Rome had a very different fate from the three other monsters mentioned by the Prophet (Daniel), as will be seen by his description of it. “Behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the residue with the its feet: and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.” These ten horns, an Angel informed him, “are ten kings that shall rise out of this kingdom” of Rome. As, then, the ten horns belonged to the fourth beast, and were not separate from it, so the kingdoms, into which the Roman Empire was to be divided, are the continuation and termination of the Empire itself,-which lasts on, and in some sense lives in the view of prophecy, however we decide the historical question. Consequently, we have not yet seen the end of the Roman Empire. “That which withholds” still exists, up to the manifestation of its ten horns; and until it is removed, Antichrist will not come. And from the midst of those horns he will arise, as the same Prophet informs us: “I considered the horns, and behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.”

Up to the time, then, when Antichrist shall actually appear, there has been and will be continual effort to manifest him to the world on the part of the powers of evil. The history of the Church is the history of that long birth. “The mystery of iniquity does already work,” says St Paul. “Even now there are many Antichrists,” says St John,-“every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God; and this is the spirit of the Antichrist, of which you have heard that it should come, and even now is already in the world.” It has been at work ever since, from the time of the Apostles, though kept under by him that “withholds.” At this very time there is a fierce struggle, the spirit of Antichrist is attempting to rise, and the political power in those countries which are prophetically Roman, firm and vigorous repressing it. And in fact, we actually have before our eyes, as our fathers also in the generation before us, a fierce and lawless principle everywhere at work-a spirit of rebellion against God and man, which the powers of government in each country can barely keep under with their greatest efforts. Whether this which we witness be that spirit of Antichrist, which is one day at length to be let loose, this ambitious spirit, the parent of all heresy, schism, sedition, revolution, and war-whether this be so or not, at least we know from prophecy that the present framework of society and government, as far as it is the representative of Roman powers, is that which withholds, and Antichrist is that which will rise when this restraint fails.

It has been more or less implied in the foregoing remarks, that the Antichrist is one man, an individual, not a power or a kingdom. Such surely is the impression left on the mind by the Scripture notices concerning him, after taking fully into account the figurative character of prophetical language. Consider these passages together, which describe him, and see whether we must not so conclude. First, the passage in St Paul’s Epistle: “That day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the Son of perdition, who is the adversary and rival of all that is called God or worshipped; so that he sits as God in the Temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God…Then shall that Wicked One be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming…whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders.”

Next, in the prophet Daniel: “Another shall arise after them, and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time, and times, and the dividing of time. But the judgment shall not sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it unto the end.” Again: “And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exult and magnify himself above every God, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished…Neither shall he regard the God of his Fathers, nor the Desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall magnify himself above all. But in his estate he shall honor a god of forces, and a god whom his fathers knew not shall be honor with gold and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.” Let it be observed, that Daniel elsewhere describes other kings, and that the event has shown them certainly to be individuals,-for instance, Xerxes, Darius, and Alexander.

And in like manner St John: “There was given unto him a mouth speaking great things, and blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His Name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given to him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them; and power was given him over all people and tongues and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in th book of life of the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world. ”

Further, that by Antichrist is meant some one person, is made probable by the anticipations which, as I have said, have already occurred in history, of the fulfilment of prophecy. Individual men have arisen actually answering in a great measure to the above description; and this circumstance creates a probability, that the absolute and entire fulfillment which is to come will be in an individual also, the most remarkable of these shadows for the destined scourge appeared before the time of the apostles, between them and the age of Daniel, viz., the heathen king Antiochus, of whom we read in the book of Maccabees. This instance is the more to the purpose, because he is actually described (as we suppose) by Daniel, in another part of his prophecy, in terms which seem also to belong to the Antichrist, and, as belonging, imply that Antiochus actually was what he seems to be, a type of that more fearful future enemy of the Church. This Antiochus was the savage persecutor of the Jews, in their latter times, as Antichrist will be of Christians. A few passages from the Maccabees will show you what he was. St Paul in the text speaks of an apostasy, and then of Antichrist following upon it; and thus is the future of the Christian Church typified in the past Jewish history. “In those days went there out of Israel wicked men, who persuaded many, saying, Let us go and make a covenant with the heathen that are round about us: for since we departed from them we have had much sorrow. So this device pleased them well. Then certain of the people were so forward herein, that they went to the king, who gave them licence to do after the ordinances of the heathen; and made themselves uncircumcised, and forsook the holy covenant, and joined themselves to the heathen, and were sold to do mischief.” Here was the falling away. After this introduction the enemy of truth appears. “After that Antiochus had smitten Egypt, he returned again,…and went up against Israel and Jerusalem with a great multitude, and entered proudly into the sanctuary, and took away the golden altar, and the candlestick of light and all the vessels thereof, and the table of the shewbread, and the pouring vessels, and the vials, and the censers of gold and the veil, and the crowns, and the golden ornaments that were before the temple; all which he pulled off. And when he had taken all away, he went into his own land, having made a great massacre, and spoken proudly.” After this he set fire to Jerusalem, “and pulled down the houses and the walls thereof on every side…Then built they the city of David with a great and strong wall,…and they put therein a sinful nation, wicked men, and fortified themselves therein.” Next, King Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom, that all should be one people, and everyone should leave his laws: so all the heathen agreed according to the commandment of the king, Yea, many also of the Israelites consented to his religion, and sacrificed unto idols, and profaned the sabbath.” After this he forced these impieties on the chosen people. All were to be put to death who would not “profane the sabbath and festival days, and pollute the sanctuary and the holy people, and set up altars, and groves, and chapels of idols, and sacrifice swine’s flesh and unclean beasts,” and “leave their children uncircumcised.” At length he set up an idol, or, in the words of history, “the abomination of desolation upon the later, and built idol altars throughout the cities of Judea on every side…and when they had rent in pieces the books of the law which they found, they burnt them with fire.” It is added, “Howbeit many in Israel were full resolved and confirmed in themselves not to eat anything unclean, wherefore they chose ather to die…and there was very great wrath upon Israel.” Here we have presented to us some of the lineaments of Antichrist, who will be such and worse than such, as Antiochus.

The history of the apostate emperor Julian, who lived between 3oo and 400 years after Christ, furnishes us with another approximation to the predicted Antichrist, and an additional reason for thinking he will be one person, not a kingdom, power, or the like.

And so again does Mahome, who propagated his imposture about 600 years after Christ came.

Lastly, that Antichrist is one individual man, not a power,-not a mere ethical spirit, or a political system, not a dynasty, or succession of rulers,-was the universal tradition of the early Church. “We must say,” writes St Jerome upon Daniel, “what has been handed down to us by all the ecclesiastical writers, that, in the end of the world, when the Roman Empire is to be destroyed, there will be ten kings, to divide the Roman territory between them, and an eleventh will rise up, a small king, who will subdue three of the ten, and thereupon receive the submission of the other seven. It is said that ‘the horn had eyes, as the eyes of a man,’ lest we should, as some have thought, suppose him to be the evil spirit, or a demon, whereas he is one man, in whom Satan shall dwell bodily. ‘And a mouth speaking great things;’ for he is the man of sin, the son of perdition, so that he dares to ‘sit in the Temple of God, making himself as God.’ ‘The beast has been slain, and his carcass has perished;’ since the Antichrist blasphemes in that united Roman Empire, all its kingdoms are at one and the same time to be abolished, and there shall be no earthly kingdom, but the society of the saints, and the coming of the triumphant Son of God.” And Theodoret: “Having spoken of Antiochus Epiphanes, the prophet passes from the figure to the antitype; for the antitype of Antiochus is Antichrist. As Antiochus compelled the Jews to act impiously, so the man of sin, the son of perdition, will make every effort for the seduction of the pious, by false miracles, and by force and by persecution. As the Lord says, “Then will be great tribulation, such as never was from the beginning of the world till this time, nor ever shall be.”

What I have said upon this subject may be summed up as follows:-that the coming of Christ will be immediately preceded by a very awful and unparalleled outbreak of evil, called by St Paul an Apostasy, a falling away, in the midst of which a certain terrible Man of sin and Child of perdition, the special and singular enemy of Christ, or Antichrist, will appear; that this will be when revolutions prevail, and the present framework of society breaks to pieces; and that at present the spirit which he will embody and represent is kept under by “the powers that be,” but that on their dissolution, he will rise out of their bosom and knit them together again in his own evil way, under his own rule, to the exclusion of the Church.

It would be out of place to say more than this at present. I will but insist on one particular circumstance contained in St Paul’s announcement which I have already in part commented on.

It is said there will “come a falling away, and the man of sin will be revealed.” In other words, the Man of Sin is born of an Apostasy, or at least comes into power through an Apostasy, , or is preceded by an apostasy, or would not be except for an apostasy. So says the inspired text: now observe, how remarkably that course of Providence, a seen in history, has commented on this prediction.

First, we have a comment in the instance of Antiochus previous to the actual events contemplated in the prophecy. The Israelites, or at least great numbers of them, put off their own sacred religion, and then the enemy was allowed to come in.

Next the apostate emperor Julian, who attempted to overthrow the Church by craft, and introduce paganism back again: it is observable that he was preceded, nay, he was nurtured, by heresy; by that first great heresy which disturbed the peace and purity of the Church. About forty years before he became emperor, arose the pestilent Arian heresy which denied that Christ was God. It ate its way among the rulers of the Church like a canker, and what with the treachery of some, and mistakes of others, at one time it was all but dominant throughout Christendom. The few holy and faithful men, who witnessed to the Truth, cried out, with awe and terror at the apostasy, that Antichrist was coming. They called it the “forerunner of the Antichrist.” And true, his shadow came. Julian was educated in the bosom of Arianism by some of its principle upholders. His tutor was that Eusebius from whom it partisans took their name; and in due time he fell away to paganism, became a hater and persecutor of the Church, and was cutoff before he reigned out the brief period which will be the real Antichrist’s duration.

And thirdly, another heresy arose, a heresy in its consequences far more lasting and far-spreading; it was of a twofold character; with two heads, as I may call them, Nestorianism and Eutychianism, apparently opposed to one another, yet acting towards a common end: both in one way or other denied the truth of Christ’s gracious incarnation, and tended to destroy the faith of Christians not less certainly , though more insidiously, than the heresy of Arius. In spread through the east and through Egypt, corrupting and poisoning those Churches which had once, alas! been the most flourishing, the earliest abodes and strongholds of revealed truth. Out of this heresy, or at least by means of it, the impostor Mahoma sprang, and formed his creed. Here is another Shadow of the Antichrist.

These instances give us warning:-Is the enemy of Christ, and His Church, to arise out of a certain special falling away from God? And is there no reason to fear that some such Apostasy is gradually preparing, gathering, hastening on in this very day? For is there not at this very time a special effort made almost all over the world, that is, every here and there, more or less in sight or out of sight, in this or that place, but most visibly and formidably in its most civilized and powerful parts, an effort to do without religion. Is there not an opinion avowed and growing, that a nation has nothing to do with Religion; that it is merely a matter for each man’s conscience?-which is all one with saying that we may let the Truth fail from the earth without trying to continue it in and on after our own time. Is there not a vigorous and united movement in all countries to cast down the Church of Christ from power and place? Is there not a feverish and ever-busy endeavour to get rid of the necessity of Religion in public transactions? for example, an attempt to get rid of oaths, under the pretense that they are too sacred for affairs of common life, instead of providing that they be taken more reverently and more suitably? an attempt to educate without Religion?-that is, by putting all forms of religion together, which comes to the same thing;- an attempt to enforce temperance, and the virtues which flow from it, without Religion, by means of Societies which are built on moral principles of utility? an attempt to make expedience, and not truth, the end and the rule of measures of State and the enactments of Law? an attempt to make numbers, and not the Truth, the ground of maintaining, or not maintaining, this or that creed, as if we had any reason whatever in Scripture for thinking that the many will be in the right and the few in the wrong? An attempt to deprive the Bible of its one meaning to the exclusion of all others, to make people think that it may have an hundred meanings all equally good, or in other words, that it has no meaning at all, is a dead letter, and may be put aside? an attempt to supersede Religion altogether, as far as it is external and objective, as far as it is displayed in ordinances, or can be expressed by written words,-to confine our inward feelings, and thus, considering how variable, how evanescent our feelings are, an attempt, in fact, to destroy Religion?

Surely, there is at this day a confederacy of evil, marshaling its hosts from all parts of the world, organizing itself, taking its measures, enclosing the Church of Christ as in a net, and preparing the way for a general Apostasy from it. Whether this very Apostasy is to give birth to Antichrist, or whether he is still to be delayed, as he has already been delayed so long, we cannot know; but at any rate this Apostasy, and all its tokens and instruments, are of the Evil One, and savour of death. Far be it from any of us to be those simple ones what taken in that snare which is circling around us! Far be it from any of us to be seduced with the fair promises in which Satan is sure to hide his poison! To you think he is so unskilful in his craft, as to ask you openly and plainly to join him in his warfare against the Truth? No; he offers you baits to tempt you. He promises you civil liberty; he promises you equality; he promises you trade and wealth; he promises you a remission of taxes; he promises you reform. This is the way in which he conceals from you the kind of work to which he is putting you; he does so himself, and induces you to imitate him; or he promises you illumination,-he offers you knowledge, science, philosophy, enlargement of mind. He scoffs at times gone by; he scoffs at every institution which revers them. He prompts you what to say, and then listens to you, and praises you, and encourages you. He bids you mount aloft. He shows you how become as gods. Then he laughs and jokes with you, and gets intimate with you; he takes your hand, and gets his fingers between yours, and grasps them, and then you are his.

Shall we Christians allow ourselves to have lot or part in this matter? Shall we, even with our little finger, help on the Mystery of Iniquity, which is travailing for birth, and convulsing the earth with its pangs? “O my soul, come not thou into their secret: unto their assembly, mine honor, be not thou united.” “What fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion has light with darkness? Wherefore, come out from among them, and be you separate,”…lest you be workers together with God’s enemies, and be opening the way for the Man of Sin, the Son of Perdition.  (DISCUSSIONS AND ARGUMENTS by John Henry Cardinal Newman.  public domain work)

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When An Amateur Theologian Attacks

Posted by carmelcutthroat on November 23, 2007

Mister Jay Dyer, a self-proclaimed “amateur theologian” who, apparently on the basis of this grand status he has conferred upon himself, decided to defect from Catholicism to Orthodoxy has now, on the same basis, accused Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) of Nestorianism. Nestorianism is defined as the belief that Jesus was two persons with two natures united in a single subsistent entity. Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say on the matter:

466 The Nestorian heresy regarded Christ as a human person joined to the divine person of God’s Son. Opposing this heresy, St. Cyril of Alexandria and the third ecumenical council, at Ephesus in 431, confessed “that the Word, uniting to himself in his person the flesh animated by a rational soul, became man.” 89 Christ’s humanity has no other subject than the divine person of the Son of God, who assumed it and made it his own, from his conception. For this reason the Council of Ephesus proclaimed in 431 that Mary truly became the Mother of God by the human conception of the Son of God in her womb: “Mother of God, not that the nature of the Word or his divinity received the beginning of its existence from the holy Virgin, but that, since the holy body, animated by a rational soul, which the Word of God united to himself according to the hypostasis, was born from her, the Word is said to be born according to the flesh.” 90 (Source)

Is Ratzinger a Nestorain? Does he contradict the ancient Doctrine? Before answering these questions, it would, I think, be a good idea to inquire into the competence of Mister Dyer to answer them.

Dyer the Amateur Theologian

It is logic which put the “logy” in theology. Is mister Dyer possessed of the logic necessary to undertake theology? I do not believe he is.

Mister Taylor Marshall, of the CANTERBURY TALES blog responded to Dyer as follows:

Some Eastern Orthodox bloggers… have accused the Holy Father of heresy – Nestorianism no less! They have found two quotations in Ratzinger’s God and the World (pp. 293-294) that they believe proves that Benedict XVI is heretical.

I took a look at the quotes and they are not as tight as one might expect, but I think that one should first check the English translation of the work. It may be just fine in the German. The Ratzinger zinger-line is this one, which does sound a little strange:

“[Mary] was in the sense of having been the mother of the man that was entirely at one with God.”

One would expect “the mother of the person” because “man” in English does not necessarily mean “person”. But we don’t know what it was in German. Also, we should be willing to grant that Cardinal Ratzinger was not being absolutely precise. I don’t think that makes him a formal heretic. I guarantee that if you asked him personally, the Holy Father would provide a beautiful and orthodox account of the incarnation.

To which Mister Dyer responds:

The real zinger, is, in fact, the later statement:

“The Greek theologian Maximus the Confessor depicts this process in a particularly impressive way. He shows us how the “alchemy of being” is accomplished in the prayer on the Mount of Olives. Here, Jesus’ will becomes one with the will of the Son and, thereby, with the will of the Father. All the rebelliousness of human nature, which shuts itself against death and against the horrors he can see, comes to the surface in this prayer. Jesus has to overcome man’s inward resistance against God. He must overcome the temptation to do it some other way. And now this temptation reaches its zenith. Only the breakdown of this resistance makes this yes possible. It ends with the fusion of his own individual, human will into the will of God, and thus, with a single petition: “But let not my will, but your will, be done (God and World, pg. 327).”

There is no sense in which Jesus united himself to the Son of God. And I’ve had 2 years of German, so this is no German mistake.

Whether Dyer truly understand Ratzinger’s quoted statement here will be dealt with below; for now I wish to focus on this self-proclaimed amateur theologian’s expertise as a German linguist. Notice that mister Dyer nowhere quotes or analyzes the German text. Indeed, he never even tells us he has read it. When Father Al “the Pontificator” Kimel presented an english translation of the German text done by a German friend of his, Mister Dyer did not dispute it; nor did he present us with his own translation; he simply ignored it.

“And I’ve had two years of German, so this is no German mistake.” First of all, the possibility of a mistake isn’t about the German; rather, it’s about the English translation. Notice that the “this” in the quote refers not to the German text, but to the English. If I understand him correctly, the scatologian is claiming to be able to assure the validity of the English translation by working it back into German, after all, he has made no reference to the actual German. It needs hardly be said that, if this is what he intends with the above statement, then it is illogical. If I read an English translation of a German math book and suspect that the equation “two plus two equals five” is erroneous, then I cannot simply re=translate that text back into German because I’ll see the same suspected error. One can only establish the validity of a translation by comparing it to the original language text.

Several people noted that some of the quotes he gave of Ratzinger were capable of being understood in an un-orthodox sense but were not necessarily so. It was further noted that Ratzinger was giving and interview, not writing a carefully crafted theological tome. To bolster their arguments some respondents to Dyer appealed to theological works of Ratzinger which were unequivocally orthodox, to them Dyer replied:

Also, again, it doesn’t matter what Ratzinger says in some other place, when this statement is heretical. Its always been the province of heretics to cloak their words in ambiguity. So, quoting him somewhere else begs the question.

Try putting that into an Aristotelean syllogism and the only thing one would come up with is a Dyerian sillygism.

State of the question: Is such and such a statement by Ratzinger Nestorian?

Premise 1: Certainly this statement is Nestorian. Evidence to the contrary is to be ignored because

Premise 2: Ratzinger is a nestorian.

Conclusion: Ratzinger is a Nestorian.

Dyer the Moralist:

Father Al Kimel, in a response to Mister Dyer prefaced the response with this sound advice:

I agree that the two citations from Ratzinger are awkward and certainly vulnerable to a Nestorian construal; but before advancing the charge of heresy, one has a moral obligation to read the Pope’s published work and to understand his Christology. This Mr. Dyer has clearly not done.

I myself wrote:

From the Catechism: 2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:

Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.

Sound advice. However, Mister Dyer, it appears, will have none of it. He proof-texts a passage From Ratzinger’s writing, declares it heretical, and then, this amateur theologian, when presented with texts that don’t square with his declaration, wipes them away like snot on the end of his nose. ‘Fools!’ he says. ‘Et dilettante locuta est: causa finita est’ (the dilettante has spoken: the matter is finished). Then, to end with a comic flourish, he declares his opponents guilty of his own illogical crime: “…it doesn’t matter what Ratzinger says in some other place, when this statement is heretical. Its always been the province of heretics to cloak their words in ambiguity. So, quoting him somewhere else begs the question.”

So, why hasn’t Mister Dyer fulfilled his moral obligation? Apparently he feels he doesn’t have to because this particular moral obligation is a Catholic thing. Here is how he responded to me and my use of the catechism:

I’m not Novus Ordo anymore, so quoting the Novus Ordo catechism at me is meaningless.

The old adage that, “truth is where you find it,” which is so near and dear to both Eastern and Western Christianity, apparently no longer applies. It needs hardly be said that not paying attention to the requirements of the 8th commandment comes in very handy when a man wishes to engage in a hermeneutics of discontinuity.

So, is Ratzinger a heretic?

Dyer sees this quote from Ratzinger as heretical:

A Human Being as the Mother of God!

This is in fact a great paradox. God becomes small. He becomes man; he accepts thereby the limitations of human conception and childbirth. He has a mother and is truly woven into the tapestry of our human history, so that in fact a woman is able to say to him who is her child, a human child: the Lord of the world is within you.

Dyer sees the bold faced words as being heretical. It’s rather obvious however that this is only because he sees them in isolation from the rest of the text. First of all, as the context makes clear, Ratzinger is here repudiating Nestorianism. It needs hardly to be said that a man of average intelligence, who possessed a respect for the 8th commandment might begin to wonder if his understanding of Ratzinger’s words are correct. Notice first of all that the Cardinal’s words appear under the heading “A Human Being as the Mother of God!” Notice that those words are followed, not by a question mark, but by an exclamation point. Furthermore, notice how Ratzinger begins his statement: “God becomes small. He becomes man; he accepts thereby the limitation of human conception and childbirth. He has a mother…” The personal pronoun throughout relates to the God who “became small”. There is no indication of a change in personal pronoun. Dyer himself describes “the principle error” of the Nestorians as, “ascribing simultaneous personhoods to both the humanity and the divinity.” But it is rather clear, when one see the words Dyer finds objectionable in their context, that he has not ascribed a personhood other than the divine to the humanity of Jesus. So, let’s look again at the words Mister Dyer thinks heretical: “so that in fact a woman is able to say to him who is her child: the Lord of the world is within you.” Who is the “him” who is her child? Dyer would have us believe that it was the non-divine person of the Nestorians, but the introductory phrase is conjunctive: “so that in fact a woman can say to him…” So, who is the “him”?

the “God who became small;” he who became man and accepted the limitations of human conception and childbirth.

Ratzinger continues:

For a long time, there was a great deal of controversy about the expression Mother of God. There were the Nestorians, who said she did not of course give birth to God; she gave birth to the man Jesus. Accordingly she should be called the Mother of Christ, but not Mother of God. It was basically a matter of the question of how profound a unity there is between God and man in this person Jesus Christ, whether it is so great we can say, Yes, the one who is born of her is God, and so she is God’s Mother. Obviously she is not God’s Mother in the sense of his having come from her. But she was in the sense of having been the mother of the man that was entirely at one with God. In this way she entered into a quite unique union with God.

The words in italics in the above quote are what Dyer finds objectionable. He writes: “Did you get that? St. Mary gave birth to a ‘human child’ who has ‘God within him,’ and this child was a ‘man’ who was united with God”

But recall that Mister Dyer himself has stated that the Nestorians refused to admit that Mary could be called the Mother of God. With that in mind re-read this statement by Ratzinger: “Obviously she is not God’s mother in the sense of his having come from her. But she was in the sense of having been the mother of the man that was entirely at one with God.” Notice here that Ratzinger is not denying that Our Lady can be called Mother of God; rather, he is describing the sense in which that can be done. Because Mister Dyer wants to prove Ratzinger is a Nestorian he understand the reference to “the man” according to Nestorian theology. Take this assumptiion away, and the Cardinal’s words are orthodox. She is the Mother of God because she was the mother of the man that was entirely at one with God. It’s precisely this oneness that was accomplished by the incarnation when Mary became pregnant. Who was entirely at one with the man? The divine person of the son of God. This is how she can be termed Mother of God. This is how Ratzinger can speak (as we saw earlier) of God becoming small and accepting the limitations of conception and childbirth.

Mister Dyer Gives the following quote from Ratzinger:

“The Greek theologian Maximus the Confessor depicts this process in a particularly impressive way. He shows us how the “alchemy of being” is accomplished in the prayer on the Mount of Olives. Here, Jesus’ will becomes one with the will of the Son and, thereby, with the will of the Father. All the rebelliousness of human nature, which shuts itself against death and against the horrors he can see, comes to the surface in this prayer. Jesus has to overcome man’s inward resistance against God. He must overcome the temptation to do it some other way. And now this temptation reaches its zenith. Only the breakdown of this resistance makes this yes possible. It ends with the fusion of his own individual, human will into the will of God, and thus, with a single petition: “But let not my will, but your will, be done

Dyer comments:

This is astonishing, Did you notice that the human Jesus is said to unite his will with the will of the son! Then, he states the strange view that Jesus had a natural inclination against God, and after Jesus overcame this, he was united in will to God-God the Son. While it is true that there are two sills, these two wills pertain to the two natures in Christ, and not to two persons in moral conjuction.

Again Mister dyer insists on interpreting thing with the assumption that Ratzinger is a Nestorian.

First, regarding the statement that “he states the strange view that Jesus had a natural inclination against God.” No, that is not what he says. He speaks about the rebelliousness of human nature which Jesus sees in his prayer on Mount Olivet. The temptation Jesus experiences to “do it some other way” is clearly an outward temptation, not the product of his own human nature which was un-fallen. Perhaps this would have been a little clearer to Mister Dyer had he paid attention to the previous paragraph which he nowhere quotes:

Jesus can see the whole abyss of human filth and human awfulness, which he has to carry and through which he must make his way. In what he sees, which goes far beyond anything of which we can be aware — and even we can feel horribly sick if we take a look at the awfulness of human history, into the abyss of denial of God, which can destroy people — in this he sees how dreadful is the burden that is being laid upon him. This is not just anguish in the face of his execution; it is being confronted with the entire, fearful, abyss of human destiny, which he has to take upon himself.

As is clear from the above, along with the mention of the name St Maximus the Confessor, the “alchemy of being” refers to the fact that the one divine person, who possessed two natures showed forth the unity of those natures in one person in the prayer on Olivet. Rather than listening to the scatologian’s torturous eisegesis of the Cardinal’s theology ought not look at the Cardinal’s teaching itself?

It is common enough for the theological textbooks to pay scant attention to the theological development which followed Chalcedon. In many ways on e is left with the impression that dogmatic Christology comes to a stop with a certain parallelism of the two natures in Christ. It was this same impression that led to the divisions in the wake of Chalcedon. In fact, however, the affirmation of the true humanity and the true divinity in Christ can only retain its meaning if the mode of the unity of both is clarified. The Council defined this unity by speaking of the `one Person’ in Christ, but it was a formula which remained to be explored in its implications. For the unity of divinity and humanity in Christ which brings `salvation’ to man is not a juxtaposition but a mutual indwelling. Only in this way can there be that genuine `becoming like God,’ without which there is no liberation and no freedom.

“It was to this question, after two centuries of dramatic struggles which also, in many ways, bore the mark of imperial politics, that the Third Council of Constantinople (680-681) addressed itself. On the one hand, it teaches that the unity of God and man in Christ involves no amputation or reduction in any way of human nature. In conjoining himself to man, his creature, God does not violate or diminish him; in doing so, he brings him for the first time to his real fullness. On the other hand (and this is no less important), it abolishes all dualism or parallelism of the two natures, such as had always seemed necessary in order to safeguard Jesus’ human freedom In such attempts it had been forgotten that when the human will is taken up into the will of God, freedom is not destroyed; indeed, only then does genuine freedom come into its own. The Council of Constantinople analyzed the question of the two-ness and the one-ness in Christ by reference to the concrete issue of the will of Jesus. It resolutely maintains that, as man, Jesus has a human will which is not absorbed by the divine will. But this human will follows the divine will and thus becomes one will with it, not in a natural manner but along the path of freedom. The metaphysical two-ness of a human and a divine will is not abrogated, but in the realm of the person, in the realm of freedom, the fusion of both takes place, with the result that they become one will not naturally, but personally. This free unity – a form of unity created by love – is higher and more interior than a merely natural unity. It corresponds to the highest unity there is, namely, Trinitarian unity. The Council illustrates this unity by citing a dominical word handed down to us in the Gospel of John: `I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me’ (Jn. 6, 38). Here it is the divine Logos who is speaking, and he speaks of the human will of the man Jesus as his will, the will of the Logos. With this exegesis of John 6, 38 the Council indicates the unity of the subject in Christ. There are not two `I’s in him, but only one. The Logos speaks in the I-form of the human will and mind of Jesus; it has become his I, has become adopted into his I, because the human will is completely one with the will of the Logos. United with the latter, it has become a pure Yes to the Father’s will.

Maximus the Confessor, the great theological interpreter of this second phase of the Christological dogma, illuminates this whole context by reference to Jesus’ prayer on the Mount of Olives, which as we already saw in thesis I, expresses Jesus’ unique relationship to God. Indeed, it is as if we were actually looking in on the inner life of the Word-made-man. It is revealed to us I the sentence which remains the measure and model of all real prayer: `Not what I will, but what thou wilt’ (Mk. 14, 36). Jesus human will assimilates itself to the will of the Son. In doing this, he receives the Son’s identity, i.e., the complete subordination of the I to the Thou, the self-giving and self-expropriation of the I to the Thou. This is the very essence of him who is pure relation and pure act., Wherever the I gives itself to the Thou, there is freedom because this involves the reception of the `form of God.’ [The Absolute].

But we can also describe this process, and describe it better, from the other side: the Logos so humbles himself that he adopts a man’s will as his own and addresses the Father with te I of this human being; he transfers his own I to this man and thus transforms human speech into the eternal Word, into his blessed `Yes,’ Father.’ By imparting his own I, his own identity, to this human being, he liberates him, redeems him, makes him God. Now we can take the real meaning of `God has become man’ in both hands, as it were: the Son transforms the anguish of a man into his own filial obedience, the speech of the servant into the Word which is the Son.

Thus we come to grasp the manner of our liberation, our participation in the Son’s freedom. As a result of the unity of wills of which we have spoken, the greatest possible change has taken place in man, the only change which meets his desire: he has become divine. We can therefore describe that prayer which enters into the praying of Jesus and becomes the prayer of Jesus in the Body of Christ as freedom’s laboratory. Here and nowhere else takes place that radical change in man of which we stand in need, that the world may become a getter place. For it is only along this path that conscience attains its fundamental soundness and its unshakable power. And only from such a conscience can there come that ordering of human affairs which corresponds to human dignity and protects it. Every generation has to seek anew this right ordering of the world in response to a conscience that is alert, until the kingdom of God comes, which God alone can establish.

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Do We Need To Be Taught By God?

Posted by carmelcutthroat on November 22, 2007

I was unable to post this on my blog for some reason.  In order to read it you must go here.  Click on the document entitled Summa Theologica; then click on summa 1,1.   The file consists of the first article of the summa, along with some explanatory notes of my own.

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Another Yippie! For more books

Posted by carmelcutthroat on November 20, 2007

Just yesterday I received five books which got me quite excited (see previous post). Today, I received two more (kindda). I’ve been reading a lot of Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI lately and a few days ago I asked my parish priest if I could borrow his copy of BEHOLD THE PIERCED ONE. He gave it to me today (to borrow), but also gave me THE SUMMA THEOLOGIAE A Concise Translation to keep!!! As I try to work my way deeper into the thought os St Thomas, this should come in handy.

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Yippie! My Books Are Here! My Books Are Here!

Posted by carmelcutthroat on November 19, 2007

They were all gotten from Ignatius Press. The first is JESUS, THE APOSTLES, AND THE EARLY CHURCH by Pope Benedict XVI. These are his catechetical lectures on what I suppose one could call our New Testament Fathers and Mothers. You can easily access all those lectures, along with some suggested readings by me, by CLICKING HERE.

The second book is BEHOLD, GOD’S SON! Encountering Christ in the Gospel of Mark By Christopher Cardinal Schonborn.

The third is GOD IS NO DELUSION A Refutation of Richard Dawkins by Thomas Crean,O.P.

The fourth is GOD AND HIS IMAGE An Outline of Biblical Theology by Dominique Barthelemy, O.P.

The fifth one is THE REGENSBURG LECTURE. This is an “explication” by Father James Schall of the famous speech Pope Benedict XVI gave at Regensburg on Sept 12, 2006.

I’ll be posting on some of these in the future; but for now, pardon me while I make some espresso, take my books, lay on the couch, drag an afghan over me, and enjoy myself.

Posted by Dim Bulb. Check out my OTHER SITE.

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Preparing For Advent

Posted by carmelcutthroat on November 18, 2007

Now is the hour for us to rise from sleep. Rom 13:11

The kingdom of God is at hand . Luke 21:31

An Advent sermon based upon Rom 13:11-14 and Luke 21:25-33, with a thumbnail sketch of the Church’s liturgical year. (Please note that this sermon was preached in 1917 and reflects the liturgy/liturgical year of that time.)

Today we are beginning a new ecclesiastical year. As you are aware, the Church calender is different in many respects for that of the state. The latter extends from the beginning of January to the end of December-a purely mechanical arrangment. But, as in everything she does, the Church has a deep and beautiful meaning in her own system. In her claelder we see the whole life of our blessed saviour. All her feasts and fasts are arranged in such a way that they represent in graphic form the history of mankind-the fall of Adam, the promise of a redeemer and its fulfilment in Jesus Christ, together with the principle events in the life, sufferings, and death of our Divine Master.

With this idea in view she begins her year with the season of Advent (which means “coming”) , four weeks before Christmas. This period represents the thousands of years which intervened between the promise of the Redeemer, made to our first parents after their fall,and the actual coming of our Lord at Christmas. During that long period all the holy patriarchs and prophets, and even the heathen world, longed and prayed for the coming of the Just One and ardently desired to see the Blessed Day.

Then comes Christma, that season of joy, peace, and good will, which speaks so eloquently of the love and goodness of God towards men. Immediately after comes the Epiphany (which means “manifestation”), during which we commemorate the coming of Our Saviour to the Gentiles, represented by the three Magi, or wise kings, who, led by the star of Bethlehem, came from the East to adore Him and present their offerings of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The next great feast in the Church’s calender is Easter Sunday, on which is celebrated Our Lords glorious resurrection from the dead and His triumphant victory over death and hell. But our holy mother the Church does not allow us to forget tha Christ entered into his glory only after suffering and death. “Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things, and so enter into his glory?” (Lk 24:26). And so she prepares us for the proper celebration of that grand festival by making us imitate, as far as we can, Christ’s won preperation for it. He began his public life by fasting for forty days in the desert. So the holy season of Lent is designed to prepare by prayer and fasting for the worthy reception of the fruits of the life, suffering, death, and resurrection of Our Saviour. This season begins on Ash Wednesday; and, as it is a time not only of fasting and prayer but also of serious and solemn thought and self-examination, the Church begins early to ermind us of the spirit in which we should enter upon it by putting on her penitential garb three weeks before, that is on Septuagesima Sunday-seventy days before Easter.

Having, then, by the worthy reception of the sacraments at Easter, risen to a new life with Christ, we celebrate with special fervor the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (fifty days after Easter). On that and on the following Sundays the Church continues to teach the many lessons which the Holy Spirit of Truth impressed upon the minds of the apostles. One of the principle ways in which she accomplishes this is by presenting for our serious reflection each Sunday and feast day two specially selected extracts from the Holy Scriptures. The first of these is called the “epistle” because it is generally taken from the epistles, or letters, of St Paul or some other apostle who wrote under inspiration of the Holy Spirit to the different churches of the first Christians. Extracts from these letters were usually read in public by the early Christians before the celebration of the Divine Mysteries, after the custom of the Jews, who always began the Sabbath service in the synagogues by reading of extracts from Moses and the Prophets. The second portion is taken from one or other of the accounts of the Life of Our Lord as written by the evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and hence called Gospel, or Good News.

The present arrangement of the Epistles and Gospels was made by St Jerome, at the command of Pope Damasus, in the fourth century (Jerome did arrange the lectionary, but it underwent numerous changes down through the centuries. To speak of him as the arranger of the lectionary in use in 1917 is therefore incorrect). It is formed on a fixed and definite plan and has a definite spiritual significance, provision being made for each season, feast, and fast of the year by the presentation of appropriate passages from Holy Scripture, “in the selection and collocation of which,” according to even non-Catholic writers, “a richness of variety and an exquisite delicacy of religious and esthetic instinct has been strikingly shown.” This applies not merely to the individual extracts, as appropriate to each feast and season, but also to the beautiful sequence of their teaching, the whole collection forming together a consecutive series, each Epistle and Gospel being closely connected not only with each other but with those that precede and follow, in their order.

The Epistle is read before the Gospel, as well to follow the ancient custom as to commemorate the practice of Our Lord Himself, who was accustomed to send some of His disciples before Him to those places He was about to visit. It always contains some important lesson appropriate to the season of the year, the event or feast celebrated, or all taken together. This lesson is announce by the Sacred Writer, as it were, in theory, and is followed by its confirmation in practice by some account in the Gospel of a work or miracle of the Master Himself, and sometimes by His very own words. These selections follow in consecutive order the various seasons, feasts, and fasts of the ecclesiastical year, each with its own special warning, pleading, encouragement, or exhortation, the one bearing out and complimenting the other; all combining to fill our hearts and minds with the teaching and spirit of the Master’s Word.

We should, therefore, make a careful study of each holy extract every Sunday and feast day, listening with attention and devotion to the explaination given by the priest; for though St Paul says, “what things soever were written, were written for our learning: that through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures we might have hope (Rom 15:4); and though, according to the same great apostle, “all Scripture inspired of God is profitable (2 Tim 3:16), yet we must remember that according to the Holy Scripture itself there are contained therein “certain things hard to understand, which the unlearned and unstable wrest…to their own destruction” (2 Pet 3:16). It is not enough, then, to read them or hear them read. We must, as far as we can, seek an intelligent appreciation of their meaning. How familiar to every good Catholic ought to be the many precious lessons contained in the Epistles and Gospels in their prayer-book, and yet how little good they have derived from them, and how little they know about them, although they have been reading them all their lives!

Let us, therefore, on this first Sunday of Advent, begin the New Year with a sincere desire to enter into the spirit of Holy Church, saying with the Prophet: “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Josh 24:15). It is to this resolve that she exhorts us in the Epsitle and Gospel of today. She tells us in the Gospel, in the very words of our Divine Master Himself, of the terrors of the Last Day, when “there will be signs in the sun, and in the mon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations by reason of the confusion of the raoring sea and of the waves, men withering away for fear and expectation of what shall come upon the whole earth.” And she reminds us of the General Judgment which follows, when we “sahll see the Son of Man coming in a cloud, with great power and majest,” to judge the living and the dead, for she is convinced of the value of that salutary advice of Holy Scripture: “In all thy works remember thy last end and thou shall never sin” (Eccl 7:40).

“That day of wrath, that dreadful day” (Zeph 1:15) may now seem to us to be far distant; but not so, for it is at hand for each of us. “The Kingdom of God is at hand” and “our generation shall not pass until all these things be done,” “till all things be fulfilled.” Nay, it is “near, even at the door’ (Mt 24:33), for, as far as we are concerned, our fate on that dreadful day will be decided by our actions now. “As a man lives so shall he die,” and “in what place soever a tree shall fall, there it shall be” (Eccl 9:3). And we shall die much sooner than we expect, for Christ has warned us that “the day of the Lord shall so come, as a theif in the night (1 Thess 5:2), and according to St Peter, “one day with the Lord is a thousand years, and a thousand year as one day” (2 Pet 3:8), who concludes by asking: “What manner of people, then, ought you to be in holy conversation and godliness?” (3:11)

The anser is clearly given in every word of the Epistle of today, which we sholud well weigh and consider: “It is now the hour for us to rise from sleep,” it says. We have indeed been asleep in the past, unmindful of all that concerns us. Let us now awake, for “the night is past, the day is at hand.” Instead of waithing for that terrible day, when the “trumpet shall sound and the dead rise again” (1 Cor 15:52), and the voice of the Angel shall be heard crying out that awful summons, “Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment,” let the voice of Holy Church ring in our ears and awake us to the true sense of our position: “Rise, you who sleep, rise3 from the dead: and Christ shall enlighten you” (Eph 5:14). Let us enter into her spirit and strive to be animated with her sentiments. We are to prepare during Advent for he coming of Our Lord at Christmas. The prophets of old longed for His coming. “Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the crowds rain the Just; let the earth be opened and bud forth a saviour’ (Is 45:8). But the privilege was denied to them. We are more fortunate than they, for, like holy Simeion, “our eyes have seen His salvation” (Lk 2:30). We serve Him with love. He has called us to be children of His Kingdom, members of His Holy Church, having “made us worthy to be partakes of the lot of the saints in light,” and “has delivered us from the power of darkness and has transferred us into the Kingdom of the Son of His love’ (Col 1:12-13).

Let us, then, “cast of the works of darkness” of our sinful habits and “put on the armor of light” of true repentance and bright virtue, so that instead of being afraid to meet the Just Judge amid the awful surroundings of the Last Day, we can joyfully look forward to meeting Him as Our Saviour at Christmas, as gentle, kind, and loving as the Divine Infant in the stable at Bethlehem. (From THE MASTER’S WORD IN THE EPISTLES AND GOSPELS by Father Thomas Flynn)

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The Nature and Subject-matter of Natural Revelation

Posted by carmelcutthroat on November 16, 2007

What follows is the second section of chapter 1: Divine Revelation from A MANUAL OF CATHOLIC THEOLOGY.


Chapter 1: Divine Revelation

Section 2: The Nature and Subject-matter of Natural Revelation


Natural Revelation is the principle of ordinary knowledge, and therefore belongs to the domain of Philosophy. We touch upon it here because it is the basis of Supernatural Revelation, and also because at the present day all forms of Revelation have been confused and have lost their proper significance.


1) All natural knowledge of intellectual, religious, and ethical truths must be connected with Divine Revelation of some kind, and this for two reasons: To maintain the dependence of truths upon God, and the better to inculcate the duty of obeying them. This Revelation, however, is nothing else but the action of God as Creator, giving and preserving to nature its existence, form, and life. Created things embody Divine Ideas, and are thus imitations of their antitypes, the Divine Perfections. The human intellect, in particular, is an image of the Divine Intellect: The Creator endows it with power to infer, from visible nature, the existence and perfections of its Author; and; from its own spiritual nature, the spiritual nature of the Author of all things. The revealing action of the Creator, then, consists in exhibiting, in matter and mind, the image of Himself, and in keeping alive in man the power of knowing the image and, through the image, him who is represented. Theories which confound this Natural Revelation with Positive Revelation, like Traditionalism, or with the Revelation of Glory, like Ontologism completely misapprehend the bearing and energy of God’s creative operations and of created nature itself.


2) The following propositions, met with in the Fathers, and even within the Scripture, must be understood to refer to a Natural Revelation. When rightly explained they serve to confirm the doctrine stated above.

a. “God is the teacher of all truth, even natural truth,” i.e. not by formal speech nor by an inner supernatural enlightenment, but by sustaining the mid and faculties withwhich he has endowed our nature (cf. St Augustine, DE MAGISTRO, and St Thomas, DE VERITATE, q. XI).

b. “God is the light in which we know all truth,” that is, not the light which we see, but the Light which creates and preserves in us the faculty of knowing all things as they are.

c. “God is the truth in which we read all truth,”-not as in a book or as in a mirror, but in the sense that, by means of the light received from God, we read in creatures the truths impressed upon them. The same idea is sometimes expressed by saying that God impresses His truth upon our mind and writes it in our soul.

d. It is particularly said that God has written His law upon our hearts (Rom 2:14-15) and that He speaks to us in our conscience. This, however, does not mean a supernatural intervention; Through the light of reason God makes known to us His Will in a more vivid manner than even human language could do.


3) Natural Revelation embraces all the truths which we can apprehend by the light of our reason. Nevertheless only those which concern God and our relations with Him are said to belong to Natural Revelation, because they are the only truths in which He reveals Himself to us and in which He commands us to acknowledge. Thus St Paul (Rom 1:18-20 and 2:14-15) points out as naturally revealed “the invisible things of God,” especially “His eternal power and Divinity,” and also the Moral Law.


It must not, however, be thought that all that can be or ought to be known about God, His designs, and His works, is within the sphere of Natural Revelation. The unaided light of reason can attain only a mediate knowledge of God by means of the study of His creature, and must consequently be imperfect. Both the subjective medium (the human mind) and the objective medium (creation), are finite, whereas God is infinite. Moreover, the human intellect, by reason of its dependence on the senses, is so imperfect that it knows the essences of things only from their phenomena, and therefore only obscurely and imperfectly. And lastly, the study of nature can result only in the knowledge of such truths as are necessarily connected with it, and can tell us nothing about the free acts which God may have performed above and beyond nature, the knowledge of which He may nevertheless require of us.


Thus, even if teh knowledge of God through the medium of nature without any special help were sufficient for our natural vocation, there would still be room for another ans a supernatural revelation. But Natural Revelation is, in a certain sense, insufficient even for our natural vocation, as we shall now proceed to prove.


Coming soon, section 3: The Object and Necessity of a Positive Revelation-Its Supernatural Character.

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