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 February 8th, 2011

Feb 8: Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 7:1-13)

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 8, 2011

Ver 1. Then came together unto Him the Pharisees, and certain of the Scribes, which came from Jerusalem.2. And when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, the unwashen, hands, they found fault.3. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders.4. And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.5. Then the Pharisees and Scribes asked Him, “Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?”6. He answered and said unto them, “Well hath Esaias [Isaiah] prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.7. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.’8. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.9. And He said unto them, “Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.10. For Moses said, ‘Honour thy father and thy mother;’ and, ‘Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death:’11. But ye say, ‘If a man shall say to his father or mother – It is Corban – that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free.’12. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;13. Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.”

Bede, in Marc., 2, 29: The people of the land of Gennesareth, who seemed to be unlearned men, not only come themselves, but also bring their sick to the Lord, that they may but succeed in touching the hem of His garment. But the Pharisees and Scribes, who ought to have been the teachers of the people, run together to the Lord, not to seek for healing, but to move captious questions.

Wherefore it is said, “Then there came together unto Him the Pharisees and certain of the Scribes, coming from Jerusalem; and when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with common, that is, with unwashen hands, they found fault.”

Theophylact: For the disciples of the Lord, who were taught only the practice of virtue, used to eat in a simple way, without washing their hands; but the Pharisees, wishing to find an occasion of blame against them, took it up; they did not indeed blame them as transgressors of the law, but for transgressing the traditions of the elders.  Wherefore it goes on: “For the Pharisees and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders.”

Bede: For taking the spiritual words of the Prophets in a carnal sense, they observed, by washing the body alone, commandments which concerned the chastening of the heart and deeds, saying, “Wash you, make you clean;” [Isa 1:16] and again, “Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord.” [Isa 52.11]

It is therefore a superstitious human tradition, that men who are clean already, should wash oftener because they eat bread, and that they should not eat on leaving the market, without washing. But it is necessary for those who desire to partake of the bread which comes down from heaven, often to cleanse their evil deeds by alms, by tears, and the other fruits of righteousness. It is also necessary for a man to wash thoroughly away the pollutions which he has contracted from the cares of temporal business, by being afterwards intent on good thoughts and works.

In vain, however, do the Jews wash their hands, and cleanse themselves after the market, so long as they refuse to be washed in the font of the Saviour; in vain do they observe the washing of their vessels, who neglect to wash away the filthy sins of their bodies and of their hearts.

It goes on: “Then the Scribes and Pharisees asked Him, Why walk not thy disciples after the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with common hands?”

Jerome, Hier. in Matt., 15: Wonderful is the folly of the Pharisees and Scribes; they accuse the Son of God, because He keeps not the traditions and precepts of men. But “common” is here put for unclean; for the people of the Jews, boasting that they were the portion of God, called those meats common, which all made use of.

Pseudo-Jerome: He beats back the vain words of the Pharisees with His arguments, as men drive back dogs with weapons, by interpreting Moses and Isaiah, that we too by the word of Scripture may conquer the heretics, who oppose us.  Wherefore it goes on: “Well hath Esaia prophesied of you hypocrites; as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” [Isa 29:13]

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: For since they unjustly accused the disciples not of trangressing the law, but the commands of the elders, He sharply confounds them, calling them hypocrites, as looking with reverence upon what was not worthy of it. He adds, however, the words of Isaiah the prophet, as spoken to them; as though He would say, As those men, of whom it is said, “that they honour God with their lips, whilst their heart is far from Him,” in vain pretend to observe the dictates of piety, whilst they honour the doctrines of men, so ye also neglect your soul, of which you [p. 133] should take care, and blame those who live justly.

Pseudo-Jerome: But Pharisaical tradition, as to tables and vessels, is to be cut off, and cast away. For they often make the commands of God yield to the traditions of men.  Wherefore it continues, “For laying aside the commandments of God, ye hold to the traditions of men, as the washing of pots and cups.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Moreover, to convict them of neglecting the reverence due to God, for the sake of the tradition of the elders, which was opposed to the Holy Scriptures, He subjoins, “For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death.”

Bede: The sense of the word honour in Scripture is not so much the saluting and paying court to men, as alms-giving, and bestowing gifts; “honour,” says the Apostle, “widows who are widows indeed.” [1 Tim 5:3]

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Notwithstanding the existence of such a divine law, and the threats against such as break it, ye lightly transgress the commandment of God, observing the traditions of the Elders.

Wherefore there follows: “But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;” understand, he will be freed from the observation of the foregoing command.Wherefore it continues, “And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother.”

Theophylact: For the Pharisees, wishing to devour the offerings, instructed sons, when their parents asked for some of their property, to answer them, what thou hast asked of me is corban, that is, a gift, I have already offered it up to the Lord; thus the parents would not require it, as being offered up to the Lord, (and in that way profitable for their own salvation). [ed. note: the words in the parenthesis are not in Theophylact]

Thus they deceived the sons into neglecting their parents, whilst they themselves devoured the offerings; with this therefore the Lord reproaches them, as transgressing the law of God for the sake of gain. Wherefore it goes on, “Making the word of God of none effect through your traditions, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye;” transgressing, that is, the commands of God, that ye may observe the traditions of men.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Or else it may be said, that the Pharisees taught young persons, that if a man offered a gift in expiation of the injury done to his father or mother, he was free from sin, as having given to God the gifts which are owed to a parent; and in saying this, they did not allow parents to be honoured.

Bede: The passage may in a few words have this sense, Every gift which I have to make, will go to do you good; for ye compel children, it is meant, to say to their parents, that gift which I was going to offer to God, I expend on feeding you, and does you good, oh father and mother, speaking this ironically. Thus they would be afraid to accept what had been given into the hands of God, and might prefer a life of poverty to living on consecrated property.

Pseudo-Jerome: Mystically, again, the disciples eating with unwashed hands signifies the future fellowship of the Gentiles with the Apostles. The cleaning and washing of the Pharisees is barren; but the fellowship of the Apostles, though without washing, has stretched out its branches as far as the sea.

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St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 8

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 8, 2011

Note:  The verse numbering in this translation differs from that of modern bibles for two reasons: (1). In many modern bibles, the first verse of the psalm is also its title. In Augustine’s translation the titles were not given a verse number; (2). In some modern translations (e.g., RSV) the title and opening words are together designated as “verse 1”, in others, (NAB) the title gets its own verse number and the opening of the body of the Psalm begins in verse 2.

Title: TO The End, For The Wine-Presses, A Psalm OF David Himself.

He seems to say nothing of wine-presses in the text of the Psalm of which this is the title (see my note below). By which it appears, that one and the same thing is often signified in Scripture by many and various similitudes. We may then take wine-presses to be Churches, on the same principle by which we understand also by a threshing-floor the Church. For whether in the threshing-floor, or in the wine-press, there is nothing else done but the clearing the produce of its covering; which is necessary, both for its first growth and increase, and arrival at the maturity either of the harvest or the vintage. Of these coverings or supporters then; that is, of chaff, on the threshing-floor, the corn; and of husks, in the presses, the wine is stripped: as in the Churches, from the multitude of worldly men, which is collected together with the good, for whose birth and adaptating to the divine word that multitude was necessary, this is effected, that by spiritual love they be separated through the operation of God’s ministers. For now so it is that the good are, for a time, separated from the bad, not in space, but in affection: although they have converse together in the Churches, as far as respects bodily presence. But another time will come, the corn will be stored up apart in the granaries, and the wine in the cellars. “The wheat,” saith he, “He will lay up in garners; but the chaff He will burn with fire unquenchable.” The same thing may be thus understood in another similitude: the wine He will lay up in cellars, but the husks He will cast forth to cattle: so that by the bellies of the cattle we may be allowed by way of similitude to understand the pains of hell.

There is another interpretation concerning the wine-presses, yet still keeping to the meaning of Churches. For even the Divine Word may be understood by the grape: for the Lord even has been called a Cluster of grapes; which they that were sent before by the people of Israel brought from the land of promise hanging on a staff, crucified as it were. Accordingly, when the Divine Word maketh use of, by the necessity of declaring Himself, the sound of the voice, whereby to convey Himself to the ears of the hearers; in the same sound of the voice, as it were in husks, knowledge, like the wine, is enclosed: and so this grape comes into the ears, as into the pressing machines of the wine-pressers. For there the separation is made, that the sound may reach as far as the ear; but knowledge be received in the memory of those that hear, as it were in a sort of vat; whence it passes into discipline of the conversation and habit of mind, as from the vat into the cellar: where if it do not through negligence grow sour, it will acquire soundness by age. For it grew sour among the Jews, and this sour vinegar they gave the Lord to drink. For that wine, which from the produce of the vine of the New Testament the Lord is to drink with His saints in the kingdom of His Father. must needs be most sweet and most sound.

“Wine-presses” are also usually taken for martyrdoms, as if when they who have confessed the name of Christ have been trodden down by the blows of persecution, their mortal remains as husks remained on earth, but their souls flowed forth into the rest of a heavenly habitation. Nor yet by this interpretation do we depart from the fruitfulness of the Churches. It is sung then, “for the wine-presses,” for the Church’s establishment; when our Lord after His resurrection ascended into heaven. For then He sent the Holy Ghost: by whom the disciples being fulfilled preached with confidence the Word of God, that Churches might be collected.

Note: the Hebrew text has גּתּית, which is transliterated into English as gittith.  The meaning of the word is unknown but most scholars think it refers to either a musical instrument or a melody. Due to a scribal error or the assumption that the word was related to גּת (“Gath”, meaning wine treading, or wine press), Augustine’s translation read as it did.

Verse 1. Accordingly it is said, “O Lord, our Lord, how admirarble is Thy Name in all the earth!” (ver. 1). I ask, how is His Name wonderful in all the earth? The answer is, “For Thy glory has been raised above the heavens.” So that the meaning is this, O Lord, who art our Lord, how do all that inhabit the earth admire Thee! for Thy glory hath been raised from earthly humiliation above the heavens. For hence it appeared who Thou wast that descendedst, when it was by some seen, and by the rest believed, whither it was that Thou ascendedst.

Verse 2. “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast made perfect praise, because of Thine enemies” (ver. 2). I cannot take babes and sucklings to be any other than those to whom the Apostle says, “As unto babes in Christ I have given you milk to drink, not meat.” Who were meant by those who went before the Lord praising Him, of whom the Lord Himself used this testimony, when He answered the Jews who bade Him rebuke them, “Have ye not read, out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast made perfect praise?” Now with good reason He says not, Thou hast made, but, “Thou hast made perfect praise.” For there are in the Churches also those who now no more drink milk, but eat meat: whom the same Apostle points out, saying, “We speak wisdom among them that are perfect;” but not by those only are the Churches perfected; for if there were only these, little consideration would be had of the human race. But consideration is had, when they too, who are not as yet capable of the knowledge of things spiritual and eternal, are nourished by the faith of the temporal history, which for our salvation after the Patriarchs and Prophets was administered by the most excellent Power and Wisdom of God, even in the Sacrament of the assumed Manhood, in which there is salvation for every one that believeth; to the end that moved by Its authority each one may obey Its precepts, whereby being purified and “rooted and grounded in love,” he may be able to run with Saints, no more now a child in milk, but a young man in meat, “to comprehend the breadth, the length, the height, and depth, to know also the surpassing knowledge of the love of Christ.”

“Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast made perfect praise, because of Thine enemies.” By enemies to this dispensation, which has been wrought through Jesus Christ and Him crucified, we ought generally to understand all who forbid belief in things unknown, and promise certain knowledge: as all heretics do, and they who in the superstition of the Gentiles are called philosophers. Not that the promise of knowledge is to be blamed; but because they deem the most healthful and necessary step of faith is to be neglected, by which we must needs ascend to something certain, which nothing but that which is eternal can be. Hence it appears that they do not possess even this knowledge, which in contempt of faith they promise; seeing that they know not so useful and necessary a step thereof. “Out of the mouth,” then “of babes and sucklings Thou hast made perfect praise,” Thou, our Lord, declaring first by the Apostle, “Except ye believe, ye shall not understand;” and saying by His own mouth, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and shall believe.” “Because of the enemies:” against whom too that is said, “I confess to Thee, O Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise, and revealed them unto babes.” “From the wise,” he saith, not the really wise, but those who deem themselves such. “That Thou mayest destroy the enemy and the defender.” Whom but the heretic? For he is both an enemy and a defender, who when he would assault the Christian faith, seems to defend it. Although the philosophers too of this world may be well taken as the enemies and defenders: forasmuch as the Son of God is the Power and Wisdom of God by which every one is enlightened who is made wise by the truth: of which they profess themselves to be lovers, whence too their name of philosophers; and therefore they seem to defend it, while they are its enemies, since they cease not to recommend noxious superstitions, that the elements of this world should be worshipped and revered.

Verse 3: “For I shall behold Thy heavens, the works of Thy fingers” (ver. 3). We read that the law was written with the finger of God, and given through Moses, His holy servant: by which finger of God many understand the Holy Ghost. Wherefore if, by the fingers of God, we are right in understanding these same ministers filled with the Holy Ghost, by reason of this same Spirit which worketh in them, since by them all holy Scripture has been completed for us; we understand consistently with this, that, in this place, the books of both Testaments are called “the heavens.” Now it is said too of Moses himself, by the magicians of king Pharaoh, when they were conquered by him, “This is the finger of God.” And what is written, “The heavens shall be rolled up as a book.” Although it be said of this aethereal heaven, yet naturally, according to the same image, the heavens of books are named by allegory. “For I shall see,” he says, “the heavens, the works of Thy fingers:” that is, I shall discern and understand the Scriptures, which Thou, by the operation of the Holy Ghost, hast written by Thy ministers.

Accordingly the heavens named above also may be interpreted as the same books, where he says, “For Thy glory hath been raised above the heavens:” so that the complete meaning should be this, “For Thy glory hath been raised above the heavens;” for Thy glory hath exceeded the declarations of all the Scriptures: “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast made perfect praise,” that they should begin by belief in the Scriptures, who would arrive at the knowledge of Thy glory: which hath been raised above the Scriptures, in that it passeth by and transcends the announcements of all words and languages. Therefore hath God lowered the Scriptures even to the capacity of babes and sucklings, as it is sung in another Psalm, “And He lowered the heaven, and came down:” and this did He because of the enemies, who through pride of talkativeness, being enemies of the cross of Christ, even when they do speak some truth, still cannot profit babes and sucklings. So is the enemy and defender destroyed, who, whether he seem to defend wisdom, or even the name of Christ, still, from the step of this faith, assaults that truth, which he so readily makes promise of. Whereby too he is convicted of not possessing it; since by assaulting the step thereof, namely faith, he knows not how one should mount up thereto. Hence then is the rash and blind promiser of truth, who is the enemy and defender, destroyed, when the heavens, the works of God’s fingers, are seen, that is, when the Scriptures, brought down even to the slowness of babes, are understood; and by means of the lowness of the faith of the history, which was transacted in time, they raise them, well nurtured and strengthened, unto the grand height of the understanding of things eternal, up to those things which they establish. For these heavens, that is, these books, are the works of God’s fingers; for by the operation of the Holy Ghost in the Saints they were completed. For they that have regarded their own glory rather than man’s salvation, have spoken without the Holy Ghost, in whom are the bowel: of the mercy of God.

“For I shall see the heavens, the works of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained.” The moon and stars are ordained in the heavens; since both the Church universal, to signify which the moon is often put, and Churches in the several places particularly, which I imagine to be intimated by the name of stars, are established in the same Scriptures, which we believe to be expressed by the word heavens. But why the moon justly signifies the Church, will be more seasonably considered in another Psalm, where it is said, “The sinners have bent their bow, that they may shoot in the obscure moon the upright in heart.”

Verse 4-6: “What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that Thou visitest him?” (ver. 4). It may be asked, what distinction there is between man and son of man. For if there were none, it would not be expressed thus, “man, or son of man,” disjunctively. For if it were written thus, “What is man, that Thou art mindful of him, and son of man, that Thou visitest him?” it might appear to be a repetition of the word “man.” But now when the expression is, “man or son of-man,” a distinction is more clearly intimated. This is certainly to be remembered, that every son of man is a man; although every man cannot be taken to be a son of man. Adam, for instance, was a man, but not a son of man. Wherefore we may from hence consider and distinguish what is the difference in this place between man and son of man; namely, that they who bear the image of the earthy man, who is not a son of man, should be signified by the name of men; but that they who bear the image of the heavenly Man should be rather called sons of men; for the former again is called the old man and the latter the new; but the new is born of the old, since spiritual regeneration is begun by a change of an earthy, and worldly life; and therefore the latter is called son of man. “Man” then in this place is earthy, but “son of man” heavenly; and the former is far removed from God, but the latter present with God; and therefore is He mindful of the former, as in far distance from Him; but the latter He visiteth, with whom being present He enlighteneth him with His countenance. For “salvation is far from sinners;” and, “The light of Thy countenance hath been stamped upon us, O Lord.” So in another Psalm he saith, that men in conjunction with beasts are made whole together with these beasts, not by any present inward illumination, but by the multiplication of the mercy of God, whereby His goodness reacheth even to the lowest things; for the wholeness of carnal men is carnal, as of the beasts; but separating the sons of men from those whom being men he joined with cattle, he proclaims that they are made blessed, after a far more exalted method, by the enlightening of the truth itself, and by a certain inundation of the fountain of life. For he speaketh thus: “Men and beasts Thou wilt make whole, O Lord, as Thy mercy hath been multiplied, O God. But the sons of men shall put their trust in the covering of Thy wings. They shall be inebriated with the richness of Thine house, and of the torrent of Thy pleasures Thou shall make them drink. For with Thee is the fountain of life, and in Thy light shall we see light. Extend Thy mercy to them that know Thee.” Through the multiplication of mercy then He is mindful of man, as of beasts; for that multiplied mercy reacheth even to them that are afar off; but He visiteth the son of man, over whom, placed under the covering of His wings, He extendeth mercy, and in His light giveth light, and maketh him drink of His pleasures, and inebriateth him with the richness of His house, to forget the sorrows and the wanderings of his former conversation. This son of man, that is, the new man, the repentance of the old man begets with pain and tears. He, though new, is nevertheless called yet carnal, whilst he is fed with milk; “I would not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal,” says the Apostle. And to show that they were already regenerate, he says, “As unto babes in Christ, I have given you milk to drink, not meat.” And when he relapses, as often happens, to the old life, he hears in reproof that he is a man; “Are ye not men,” he says, “and walk as men?”

Therefore was the son of man first visited in the person of the very Lord Man, born of the Virgin Mary. Of whom, by reason of the very weakness of the flesh, which the Wisdom of God vouchsafed to bear, and the humiliation of the Passion, it is justly said, “Thou hast lowered Him a little lower than the Angels” (ver. 5). But that glorifying is added, in which He rose and ascended up into heaven; “With glory,” he says, “and with honour hast Thou crowned Him; and hast set Him over the works of Thine hands” (ver. 6). Since even Angels are the works of God’s hands, even over Angels we understand the Only-begotten Son to have been set; whom we hear and believe, by the humiliation of the carnal generation and passion, to have been lowered a little lower than the Angels.

“Thou hast put,” he says, “all things in subjection under His feet.” When he says, “all things,” he excepts nothing. And that he might not be allowed to understand it otherwise, the Apostle enjoins it to be believed thus, when he says, “He being excepted which put all things under Him.” And to the Hebrews he uses this very testimony from this Psalm, when he would have it to be understood that all things are in such sort put under our Lord Jesus Christ, as that nothing should be excepted.

Verse 7: And yet he does not seem, as it were, to subjoin any great thing, when he says, “All sheep and oxen, yea, moreover, the beasts of the field, birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, which walk through the paths of the sea” (ver. 7). For, leaving the heavenly excellencies and powers, and all the hosts of Angels, leaving even man himself, he seems to have put under Him the beasts merely; unless by sheep and oxen we understand holy souls, either yielding the fruit of innocence, or even working that the earth may bear fruit, that is, that earthly men may be regenerated unto spiritual richness. By these holy souls then we ought to understand not those of men only, but of all Angels too, if we would gather from hence that all things are put under our Lord Jesus Christ. For there will be no creature that will not be put under Him, under whom the pre-eminent spirits, that I may so speak, are put. But whence shall we prove that sheep can be interpreted even, not of men, but of the blessed spirits of the angelical creatures on high? May we from the Lord’s saying that He had left ninety and nine sheep in the mountains, that is, in the higher regions, and had come down for one? For if we take the one lost sheep to be the human soul in Adam, since Eve even was made out of his side, for the spiritual handling and consideration of all which things this is not the time, it remains that, by the ninety and nine left in the mountains, spirits not human, but angelical, should be meant. For as regards the oxen, this sentence is easily despatched; since men themselves are for no other reason called oxen, but because by preaching the Gospel of the word of God they imitate Angels, as where it is said, “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn.” How much more easily then do we take the Angels themselves, the messengers of truth, to be oxen, when Evangelists by the participation of their title are called oxen? “Thou hast put under” therefore, he says, “all sheep and oxen,” that is, all the holy spiritual creation; in which we include that of holy men, who are in the Church, in those wine-presses to wit, which are intimated under the other similitude of the moon and stars.

“Yea moreover,” saith he, “the beasts of the field.” The addition of “moreover” is by no means idle. First, because by beasts of the plain may be understood both sheep and oxen: so that, if goats are the beasts of rocky and mountainous regions, sheep may be well taken to be the beasts of the field. Accordingly had it been written even thus, “all sheep and oxen and beasts of the field;” it might be reasonably asked what beasts of the plain meant, since even sheep and oxen could be taken as such. But the addition of “moreover” besides, obliges us, beyond question, to recognise some difference or another.

Verse 8: But under this word, “moreover,” not only “beasts of the field,” but also “birds of the air, and fish of the sea, which walk through the paths of the sea” (ver. 8), are to be taken in. What is then this distinction? Call to mind the “wine-presses,” holding husks and wine; and the threshing-floor, containing chaff and corn; and the nets, in which were enclosed good fish and bad; and the ark of Noah, in which were both unclean and clean animals: and you will see that the Churches for a while, now in this time, unto the last time of judgment, contain not only sheep and oxen, that is, holy laymen and holy ministers, but “moreover beasts of the field, birds of the air, and birds of the sea, that walk through the paths of the sea.” For the beasts of the field were very fitly understood, as men rejoicing in the pleasure of the flesh where they mount up to nothing high, nothing laborious. For the field is also “the broad way, that leadeth to destruction:” and in a field is Abel slain. Wherefore there is cause to fear, test one coming down from the mountains of God’s righteousness (“for thy righteousness,” he says, “is as the mountains of God” ) making choice of the broad and easy paths of carnal pleasure, be slain by the devil. See now too “the birds of heaven,” the proud, of whom it is said, “They have set their mouth against the heaven.” See how they are carried on high by the wind, “who say, We will magnify our tongue, our lips are our own, who is our Lord?” Behold too the fish of the sea, that is, the curious; who walk through the paths of the sea, that is, search in the deep after the temporal things of this world: which, like: paths in the sea, vanish and perish, as quickly as the water comes together again after it has given room, in their passage, to ships, or to whatsoever walketh or swimmeth. For he said not merely, who walk the paths of the sea; but “walk through,” he said; showing the very determined earnestness of those who seek after vain and fleeting things. Now these three kinds of vice, namely, the pleasure of the flesh, and pride, and curiosity, include all sins. And they appear to me to be enumerated by the Apostle John, when he says, “Love not the world; for all that is in the world is the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” For through the eyes especially prevails curiosity. To what the rest indeed belong is clear. And that temptation of the Lord Man was threefold: by food, that is, by the lust of the flesh, where it is suggested, “command these stones that they be made bread:” by vain boasting, where, when stationed on a mountain, all the kingdoms of this earth are shown Him, and promised if He would worship: by curiosity, where, from the pinnacle of the temple, He is advised to cast Himself down, for the sake of trying whether He would be borne up by Angels. And accordingly after that the enemy could prevail with Him by none of these temptations, this is said of him, “When the devil had ended all his temptation.” With a reference then to the meaning of the wine-presses, not only the wine, but the husks too are put under His feet; to wit, not only sheep and oxen, that is, the holy souls of believers, either in the laity, or in the ministry; but moreover both beasts of pleasure, and birds of pride, and fish of curiosity. All which classes of sinners we see mingled now in the Churches with the good and holy. May He work then in His Churches, and separate the wine from the husks: let us give heed, that we be wine, and sheep or oxen; not husks, or beasts of the field, or birds of heaven, or fish of the sea, which walk through the paths of the sea. Not that these names can be understood and explained in this way only, but the explanation of them must be according to the place where they are found. For elsewhere they have other meanings. And this rule must be kept to in every allegory, that what is expressed by the similitude should be considered agreeably to the meaning of the particular place: for this is the manner of the Lord’s and the Apostles’ teaching.

Verse 9: Let us repeat then the last verse, which is also put at the beginning of the Psalm, and let us praise God, saying, “O Lord our Lord, how wonderful is Thy name in all the earth!” For fitly, after the matter of the discourse, is the return made to the heading, whither all that discourse must be referred.

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Feb 8: Centesimus Annus on Today’s First Reading (Gen 1:20-2:4a)

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 8, 2011

The following is excerpted from the Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus by Pope John Paul II.The full document can be read here. Here is an article from the EWTN library on the Encyclical.

Article 11: Re-reading the Encyclical in the light of contemporary realities enables us to appreciate the Church’s constant concern for and dedication to categories of people who are especially beloved to the Lord Jesus. The content of the text is an excellent testimony to the continuity within the Church of the so-called “preferential option for the poor”, an option which I defined as a “special form of primacy in the exercise of Christian charity”.36 Pope Leo’s Encyclical on the “condition of the workers” is thus an Encyclical on the poor and on the terrible conditions to which the new and often violent process of industrialization had reduced great multitudes of people. Today, in many parts of the world, similar processes of economic, social and political transformation are creating the same evils.

If Pope Leo XIII calls upon the State to remedy the condition of the poor in accordance with justice, he does so because of his timely awareness that the State has the duty of watching over the common good and of ensuring that every sector of social life, not excluding the economic one, contributes to achieving that good, while respecting the rightful autonomy of each sector. This should not however lead us to think that Pope Leo expected the State to solve every social problem. On the contrary, he frequently insists on necessary limits to the State’s intervention and on its instrumental character, inasmuch as the individual, the family and society are prior to the State, and inasmuch as the State exists in order to protect their rights and not stifle them.37

The relevance of these reflections for our own day is inescapable. It will be useful to return later to this important subject of the limits inherent in the nature of the state. For now, the points which have been emphasized (certainly not the only ones in the Encyclical) are situated in continuity with the Church’s social teaching, and in the light of a sound view of private property, work, the economic process, the reality of the State and, above all, of man himself. Other themes will be mentioned later when we examine certain aspects of the contemporary situation. From this point forward it will be necessary to keep in mind that the main thread and, in a certain sense, the guiding principle of Pope Leo’s Encyclical, and of all of the Church’s social doctrine, is a correct view of the human person and of his unique value, inasmuch as “man … is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself”.38 God has imprinted his own image and likeness on man (cf. Gen 1:26), conferring upon him an incomparable dignity, as the Encyclical frequently insists. In effect, beyond the rights which man acquires by his own work, there exist rights which do not correspond to any work he performs, but which flow from his essential dignity as a person.

Article 31:

Re-reading this teaching on the right to property and the common destination of material wealth as it applies to the present time, the question can be raised concerning the origin of the material goods which sustain human life, satisfy people’s needs and are an object of their rights.

The original source of all that is good is the very act of God, who created both the earth and man, and who gave the earth to man so that he might have dominion over it by his work and enjoy its fruits (Gen 1:28). God gave the earth to the whole human race for the sustenance of all its members, without excluding or favouring anyone. This is the foundation of the universal destination of the earth’s goods. The earth, by reason of its fruitfulness and its capacity to satisfy human needs, is God’s first gift for the sustenance of human life. But the earth does not yield its fruits without a particular human response to God’s gift, that is to say, without work. It is through work that man, using his intelligence and exercising his freedom, succeeds in dominating the earth and making it a fitting home. In this way, he makes part of the earth his own, precisely the part which he has acquired through work; this is the origin of individual property. Obviously, he also has the responsibility not to hinder others from having their own part of God’s gift; indeed, he must cooperate with others so that together all can dominate the earth.

In history, these two factors — work and the land — are to be found at the beginning of every human society. However, they do not always stand in the same relationship to each other. At one time the natural fruitfulness of the earth appeared to be, and was in fact, the primary factor of wealth, while work was, as it were, the help and support for this fruitfulness. In our time, the role of human work is becoming increasingly important as the productive factor both of non-material and of material wealth. Moreover, it is becoming clearer how a person’s work is naturally interrelated with the work of others. More than ever, work is work with others and work for others: it is a matter of doing something for someone else. Work becomes ever more fruitful and productive to the extent that people become more knowledgeable of the productive potentialities of the earth and more profoundly cognisant of the needs of those for whom their work is done.

Posted in Catechetical Resources, Catholic, Christ, liturgy, Morality | 2 Comments »

Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 8

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 8, 2011

The following post appears courtesy of THE AQUINAS TRANSLATION PROJECT in accordance with their copyright policy: The copyright for these translations are held by the individuals who have translated them. They are offered for public use with the provision that, if copied, they not be altered from their present form, and that the copyright notice remain at the bottom of each translation to ensure that appropriate credit be given to both individual and the Project. Links should be established to this index page. All Biblical translations are taken from the Douay-Rheims version.

Psalm 8

In finem pro torcularibus. a. PSAL. VIII. Domine Dominus noster, quam admirabile est nomen tuum in universa terra? Quoniam elevata est magnificentia tua super caelos. Unto the end, for the presses: a psalm of David. O Lord our Lord, how admirable is thy name in the whole earth! For thy magnificence is elevated above the heavens.
b. Ex ore infantium et lactentium perfecisti laudem propter inimicos tuos, ut destruas inimicum, et ultorem. Out of the mouth of infants and of sucklings thou hast perfected praise, because of thy enemies, that thou mayst destroy the enemy and the avenger.
c. Quoniam videbo caelos tuos, opera digitorum tuorum, lunam et stellas, quae tu fundasti. For I will behold thy heavens, the works of thy fingers: the moon and the stars which thou hast founded.
d. Quid est homo quod memor es eius, aut filius hominis quoniam visitas eum? What is man that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him?
e. Minuisti eum paulo minus ab angelis, gloria et honore coronasti eum: et constituisti eum super opera manuum tuarum. Omnia subiecisti sub pedibus eius; oves et boves universas, insuper et pecora campi. Volucres caeli, et pisces maris, qui perambulant semitas maris. Domine Dominus noster, quam admirablile est nomen tuum in universa terra. Thou hast made him a little less than the angels, thou hast crowned him with glory and honour: and hast set him over the works of thy hands. Thou hast subjected all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen: moreover the beasts also of the fields. The birds of the air, and the fishes of the sea, that pass through the paths of the sea. O Lord our Lord, how admirable is thy name in all the earth!
a. Supra posuit Psalmum in quo David orabat pro sua persecutione; hic ponit Psalmum ad gratiarum actionem: et primo praemittitur Psalmus pro beneficiis collatis toti humano generi. Secundo alius pro beneficiis collatis sibi pro destructione inimicorum, vel pro bonis concessis. Tertio pro malis sublatis, ibi, Confitebor: nam hic exprimit affectionem hominis considerantis beneficia Dei concessa humano generi, et gratias agentis. Above is the Psalm in which David prayed on account of his persecution; he sets the Psalm down for the purpose of giving thanks: and, first of all, he begins the Psalm with thanks for the benefits conferred upon the entire human race. Second, the rest of the Psalm for the benefits conferred upon him through the destruction of his enemies. Third, on account of the evils removed, thereby, I will put my trust: so, he expresses the emotion of a man considering the good things God has bestowed upon the entire human race, and the graces given by the Worker.
Titulus, In finem Psalmi David pro torcularibus. Quia aliud est supra expositum, exponam hic solum ultimum. Ubi considerandum est, quod Deut. 16 dicitur, Septum diebus facies festum tabernaculorum, quando de area et torculari colliges fruges tuos etc. Sciendum enim est, quod David specialem devotionem habebat in festis celebrandis: et aliquid faciebat speciale ad laudem Dei. Festum autem tabernaculorum praecipuum erat. The title, Unto the end, for the presses. Since this has been explained above, I will explain only the last word. What should be considered is that which is said in Deut. 16: You shall keep the feast of booths seven days, when you have gathered in the produce from your threshing floor and your wine press. One should know that David had a special role of devotion of celebration during the feast; and he would do something special for the praise of God. For, the Feast of Booths was a major feast.
Et hoc fiebat in vindemiis in commemorationem divini beneficii, quando eduxit de Aegypto filios Israel in tabernaculis, et induxit in terram promissionis ubi sunt fructus: et ideo oportebat quod haberent fructus pulcherrimos, quo tempore erant torcularia; et ideo dicitur pro torcularibus, hoc ad litteram. And this would happen during the grape harvest to commemorate the divine bounty, because God led the sons of Israel out of Egypt in booths, and led them into the land of promise where there were fruits to enjoy: and for this reason it was fitting that they possessed the finest fruits to enjoy, during the time that they were in the booths; and, therefore, he said for the presses, this meant literally.
Sed specialiter torcular est ecclesia: Isa. 5. Plantavit vineam electam, torcular extruxit in ea: Matth. 21. Plantavit vineam, et fondit in ea torcular. But, in particular, the press is the Church; Isaiah 5: And he fenced it in, and picked the stones out of it, and planted it with the choicest vines, and built a tower in the midst thereof, and set up a winepress therein; Matthew 21: There was a man an householder, who planted a vineyard…and dug in it a press.
Dicit ergo pro torcularibus, idest ecclesiis orbis: et dicitur ecclesia torcular, quia sicut in torculari seperatur vinum a vinatiis, sic in ecclesia boni seperantur a malis opere ministrorum: etsi non loco semper, affectu tamen. Eadem ratione dicitur et area: quia separatio fit grani a paleis. He says therefore for the presses, that is, the circle of the church: and he calls the church a press, because, just as in a press the wine is separated from the lees, so in the church the good are separated from the evil by the work of the ministers: and if not in place, at least by their state of mind. For the same reason it is called also a threshing-floor: for the separation is made of the grain from the chaff.
Item a verbis literaliter positis seperantur sensus spiritualis. Likewise, the spiritual sense is separated from the words which have been set down literally.
Item torcularia sunt martyria, in quibus fit separatio animarum a corporibus, dum corpora eorum qui pro Christi nomine afflictione et persecutione calcantur, quassatim remanent in terra, animae vero ad requiem in caelestibus emanant. Likewise, the presses are the martyrdoms, in which the separation of the souls from the bodies is made, for when their bodies, which are tread upon in affliction and persecution for the name of Christ, at the same time remain in the earth, their souls arise to rest in the heavens.
Psalma ista dividitur in duas partes. Primo enim Psalmista admiratur divinam excellentiam. Secundo eius clementiam, ibi, Quid est homo. Circa primum duo facit. Primo ostendit maiestatam Dei esse admirabilem. Secundo esse manifestam, ibi, Ex ore infantium. Circa primum duo facit: quia primo ponit eum mirabilem. Secundo rationem dicti manifestat, ibi, Quoniam elevata etc. This Psalm is divided into two parts. In the first, the Psalmist marvels at the divine excellence. In the second, at His primacy, whence, What is man. Regarding the first, he does two things. First, he shows that the majesty of God is marvelous. Second, that it is manifested, whence, Out of the mouths of infants. Regarding the first, he does two things: for, first, he writes of its marvels. Second, he displays the reason for saying this, whence, How elevated etc.
Dicit ergo Domine omnium: Hester 13. Dominus omnium tu es; sed specialiter Dominus noster, qui te colimus, tibi adhaeremus. Hieronymus habet, Dominatur noster: Iudic. 8. Non dominabor vestri, nec filius meus, sed dominabitur super vos Dominus. Quam admirabile est nomen tuum etc. scilicet divinitatis: Psal. 92. Mirabiles elationes maris etc. Genes. 32. Cur quaeris nomen meum quod est mirabile? Item Christi incarnati: Isa. 9. Vocabit nomen eius admirabilis. He says therefore Lord of all: Esther 13: Thou art Lord of all; but in particular our Lord, who we worship, we cleave to Thee. Jerome has, our Ruler: Judges 8: I will not rule over you neither shall my son rule over you, but the Lord shall rule over you. How admirable is your name etc. Namely that of the divinity: Psalm 92: Wonderful are the surges of the sea etc. Genesis 32: Why dost thou ask my name [which is mighty]? Also, Christ incarnate: Isaiah 9: He shall be called [his marvelous name]. [additions by Thomas]
Sed numquid solum in Iudaea, ut dicunt Iudaei, vel in Africa, ut Donatistae? non; sed in universa terra: Malach. 1. Ab ortu solis usque ad occasum magnum est nomen meum in gentibus. Ratio admirabilis subiungitur, Quoniam elevata est magnificentia tua, quia in caelis apparet magnitudo tua. But, is it only in Judea, as the Jews have said, or in Africa, as said the Donatists? No, but rather in every land: Malachiah 1: For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles. The reason for the admiration is appended, Thy magnificence is elevated, for Your greatness appears in the heavens.
Admiratio est quando aliquis videt effectum, et ignorat causam. Dupliciter est ergo aliqua causa admirabilis: vel quia ignota totaliter, vel quia non producit effectum manifestantem causam perfecte. Primum non est in Deo: quia producit effectum: Ro. 1. Invisibilia Dei per ea quae facta sunt etc. Producit dico effectum, non tamen manifestantem perfecte causam: et ideo remanet admirabilis: et hoc est quod dicit, Magnificentia tua, idest laus vel virtus tua, quae potest facere magna: Est elevata super caelos, improportionaliter excedens factionem caelorum. Admiration is when somebody sees the effect and does not know the cause. The cause of admiration is therefore twofold: either because the cause is totally unknown, or because the effect manifesting the cause does not do so perfectly. The first does not apply to God: since he produces the effect: Romans 1: For the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made etc. I say that he produces the effect, but not one which perfectly manifests its cause: and thereby it remains marvelous: and this is why he says Your magnificence, that is, your praise or virtue, that can make such great things: Is elevated above the heavens, exceeding incommensurably the making of the heavens.
Unde excludit errorem dicentium, quod Deus sit forma caeli: esset enim secundum hoc proportionatus caelis. Item dicentium quod agit ex necessitate naturae: quia non extenderet se super caelos: tamen potest in infinitum maius facere: vel super caelos, idest Scripturas, quia plus est quam in Scripturis commendetur: Eccl. 43. Glorificantes Deum quantumcumque potestis, supervalebit adhuc, et admirabilis magnificentia eius: vel magnificentia tua, idest filius tuus Deus homo: Elevata est, in accensionem: Super caelos: Ephes. 4. Qui descendit, ipse est qui ascendit super omnes caelos etc. Thereby he excludes the error of those who say that God is the form of the heavens: for then he would be, in accordance with this, commensurable to the heavens. Again, he excludes the error of those who say that God acts out of a necessity of nature : because he would not extend himself above and beyond the heavens: Nevertheless he can do even more to infinity: or, Above the heavens, that is, Scripture, because He is more than He is praised for in the Scripture: Sirach. 43: Glorify the Lord as much as ever you can, for he will yet far exceed, and his magnificence is wonderful, that is, Your son God and man: is raised, in ascension: Above the heavens: Ephesians 4: He that descended is the same also that ascended above all the heavens etc.
b. Deinde cum dicit, Ex ore, ostendit quod est maxime manifesta. Et primo ostendit manifestationem. Secundo eius rationem, ibi, Quoniam videbo: quod sit manifesta, probat: quia illud est manifestum quod est omnibus inditum, quantumcumque simplicibus, quasi quadam naturali cognitione. Duplex namque est genus hominum, qui consequitur naturalem et rectum instinctum, sicut sint simplices, vel sapientes. Quod sapientes cognoscant Deum, hoc non est magnum, sed quod simplices sic. Sunt autem quidam qui naturalem instinctam pervertunt: et isti cognitionem Dei repellunt: Ps. 81. Nescierunt, idest nescire voluerunt, neque intellexerunt etc. Iob. 22. Dixerunt Deo, recede a nobis, scientiam viarum tuarum nolumus. Therefore, when he says, out of the mouths, he shows that it is manifest to the highest degree. And first he indicates the manifestation. Second, its reason, whence, For I will behold: that it is manifest, he proves: for that is manifest which is placed in all things, in as much as it is in all of the simple things, as if by a certain natural cognition. And now, the genus of humans is twofold, which follows natural and right instincts, as are the simple people, or the wise. That the wise might know God, this is not a great thing, but that the simple people do, is. For there are those who pervert the natural instincts: and these people push away the cognition of God: Psalm 81: They have not known, that is, they choose not to know, neither understood etc. Job 22: Who said to God: Depart from us: [we do not want to know your ways].
Deus autem facit ut per illos, idest per simplices, qui sequuntur naturalem instinctum, confundantur qui pervertunt naturalem instinctum. Per infantes designantur simplices: 1. Pet. 2. Sicut modo geniti infantes, rationabiles sine dolo etc. But, God makes it so that by those people, that is, the simple ones, who naturally follow their instincts, the others who pervert the natural instinct are confounded. By infants, the Psalmist designates the simple people: 1 Peter 2: As newborn babes, desire the rational milk without guile etc.
Dicit ergo, Admirabile quidem est nomen tuum, ita tamen quod ex ore infantium et lactentium perfecisti laudem, qui interius instigat ad hoc: et hoc propter inimicos tuos, qui adversantur scientiae et cognitioni tuae: Phil. 3. Inimicos crucis Christi etc. Ut destruas inimicum et ultorem, quemcunque persecutorem. He says therefore, Admirable is your name, in that Out of the mouths of infants and of sucklings, thou hast perfected praise, you who inwardly bring them to this: and this because of thy enemies, who turn against the knowledge and cognition of You: Philippians 3: They are enemies of the cross of Christ etc. That thou mayst destroy the enemy and the avenger, along with whatever other persecutors.
Vel Pharaonem qui velit ulcisci contra confitentem nomen tuum: 2. Cor. 10. Consilia destruentes et omnem altitudinem extollentem se adversus scientiam Dei. Or Pharaoh, who wanted to take vengeance against the one who trusted in your name 2 Corinthians 10: Destroying counsels, And every height that exhalteth itself against the knowledge of God.
Vel tyrannum qui armis impugnat nomen tuum. 1. Pet. 2. Ut benefacientes obmutescere faciatis imprudentium hominum ignorantiam; hoc fecit Christus: nam Matt. 21. de pueris Hebraeorum respondit Christus, quod ex eorem verbis perfecta sit laus, qui Spiritus sancti instinctu laudabant: quod tamen videbatur pueriliter agi. Hic locum habet quando simplices recognoscunt Deum, et alii pervertunt studia cognitionis naturalis, ne cognoscant ipsum Deum. Or the tyrant who fights with arms against your holy name: 1 Peter 2: For so is the will of God, that by doing well you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men; this Christ did: now, in Matthew 21, Christ responded, about the children of the Jews, that praise was perfected from their words, those who instinctively praised the Holy Spirit: even when they seemed to act childishly. This takes place when the simple people recognize God, and others pervert the studies of natural cognition, lest they come to know that very God.
Item hoc in Apostolis qui sine literis et idiotae: Act. 4. Simplices sicut columbae: Matt. 10. Et sicut oves in medio luporum; et destruxerunt omnes inimicos Christi: 1. Cor. 1. Quae stula sunt mundi elegit Deus, ut confundantur sapientes, et infirma etc. Consequenter huius manifestationis rationem subnectit dicens, Quoniam. Again, in the Apostles who were illiterate and ignorant: Acts 4: Simple like doves: Matthew 10: As sheep in the midst of wolves; and, they destroyed all of the enemies of Christ. 1 Corinthians 1: But the foolish things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the wise; and the weak etc. Accordingly the writer adds to this the proportion of His manifestation, saying For.
c. Tullius dicit in lib. de natura deorum, et fuit dictum etiam ab Aristotle, quamvis in eius libris quae apud nos habentur non inveniatur, quod si aliquis homo intraret palatium, quod videret bene dispositum, nullus est ita amens, qui licet non videret quomodo factum fuerit, quin percipiat quod fabricatum sit ab aliquo. Cicero says in the Book on the Nature of the Gods, and it was said as well by Aristotle, even though we do not find it in the books of his which we possess, that if someone entered a palace, which seemed to be well established, no one is so insane that even though he does not see by what fashion it was made he would still not perceive that it was made by somebody.
Nos intremus mundum, nec videmus quando factus sit: sed ex hoc ipso quod est ita bene ordinatus, debemus percipere quod est factus ab aliquo. Et hoc specialter ostendit ordo corporum caelestium. Fuerunt quidam errantes qui causas rerum attribuunt necessitati materiae: unde dicunt facta omnia propter calidum et frigidum, siccum et humidum, ut elementa quae sic convenerunt: hoc autem si apparentiam posset habere in aliis, nullo tamen modo in caelestibus corporibus: quia non possunt attribui necessitati materiae, quod tantum distet hoc ab illo, et tanto tempore compleant cursum suum. Hoc autem nonnisi in causam intellectivam oportet reducere. We enter into the world, and we do not see when it was made; but from this very fact that it is well-ordered, we must perceive that it was made by somebody. And the order of the heavenly bodies especially shows this. There were those in error who attributed the causes of things to material necessity: thereby they said everything to be made according to heat and cold, dryness and dampness, as elements which so worked together: but this, if it can have an appearance of being so in other things, can in no way, however, be so in the heavenly bodies: because they cannot be attributed to material necessity, since this differs so much from that, and since they complete their course in such a length of time. But this should be reduced only to an intellective cause.
Et ideo Scriptura quando vult manifestare Dei potentiam, reducit nos in considerationem caelorum: Is. 40. Levate in excelsum oculos vestros, et videte quis creavit haec; ideo dicit, Quoniam videbo caelos tuos, opera digitorum tuorum. And accordingly, when Scripture wishes to manifest the power of God, it directs us to the consideration of the heavens: Isaiah 40: Lift up your eyes on high, and see who hath created these things; similarly he says, For I will behold thy heavens, the work of thy fingers.
Dicit autem, Opera digitorum, propter tria: quia quae cum digitis facimus, attente et distincte faciamus. Et quae de corporibus caelestibus consideranda sunt, non reducuntur nisi in causam intelligibilem; et ideo dicit, Opera digitorum tuorum: Ps. 135. Qui fecit caelos in intellectu: vel respondet ad id quod dicit Elevata. But, he says The work of thy fingers, for three reasons: because what we make with our fingers, we make attentively and distinctly. And what is to be considered about the heavenly bodies cannot be reduced except to an intellective cause; and therefore he says, the work of thy fingers: Psalm 135: Who made the heavens in understanding: or he responds to that which he wrote, Elevated.
Quando quis facit elevari quod grave est, supponit humerum; sed quando facit elevari quod est leve, supponit digitum; et ideo dicit, opera digitorum, quasi leve sit ei facere caelos: Isa. 40. Quis appendet tribus digitis molem terrae, et caelos palma ponderabit? When one makes to be raised that which is heavy, he supports it with his shoulder; but when he makes to be raised something that is light, he supports it with a finger; and for this reason he says, The work of thy fingers, as if it were as easy thing for God to make the heavens: Isaiah 40: Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and weighed the heavens with his palm? who hath poised with three fingers the bulk of the earth…?
vel quae digitis facimus subtilia opera sunt. Ut ostendat ergo quod haec subtiliora sunt aliis, dicit Opera digitorum etc. Lunam vero nominat, et non solem, propter Gentiles, qui credebant eum summum Deum: et ideo ponit specialiter, Lunam et stellas, in quibus non est manifesta ratio erroris: Eccl. 43. Species caeli gloria stellarum, mundum illuminans in excelsis Dominus. Or because that which we make with our fingers are subtle works. In order that it be shown that these are more subtle works than others, he says Thy fingers etc. For he names the moon, and not the sun, for the sake of the Gentiles who believed that the sun was the highest God. And therefore the Psalmist writes in particular, The moon and stars, in which there is no proportion of error manifest. Sirach 43: The glory of the stars is the beauty of heaven; the Lord enlighteneth the world on high.
Mytice apostolos vel Scripturas opera digitorum. Tres digiti tres personae; quasi dicat, Opera totius trinitatis vel Spiritus sancti. Lunam, ecclesia: stellas, doctores. Et haec Deus fundavit. Quid. In a mystical sense, the Apostles and Scriptures are Works of thy fingers. Three fingers, three persons; as if to say, “the works of the entire Trinity or the Holy Spirit”. The moon, the church: Stars, the doctors. And God has established this.
d. Supra Psalmista admiratus est divinae maiestatis excellentiam; et nunc commemorat duo beneficia divinitus collata hominibus. Secundo ex hoc psalmum terminat in laudem, ibi, Domine Dominus noster etc. Circa primum tria facit. Primo ostendit clementiam Dei ad homines, per comparationem ad ea quae sunt supra homines. Secundo per comparationem ad primum hominem, ibi, Gloria et honere. Tertio per comparationem eorum, quae sunt sub homine, Et constituisti. Supra hominem duplex est natura, divina scilicet, et angelica. Primo ergo ponit beneficia per comparationem ad Deum. Secundo per comparationem ad angelos, ibi, Minuisti. Primo exponatur secundum quod competit quantum ad beneficia naturalia. Secundo quantum ad gratuita. Et secundum primum modum et circa eum duo facit. Primo ponit specialem curam hominis a Deo. Secundo familiaritatem specialem, Aut filius hominis. The excellence of the divine majesty is what is admired as above the Psalmist; and now he commemorates two benefits of the divinity conferred on humans. Following from this he ends the Psalm in praise, whence, O Lord our Lord etc. Regarding the first, he does three things. First, he shows the mercy of God towards humans, by comparison to those things which are above humans. Second, by comparison to the first human, whence, With glory and honor. Third, by comparison with those things which are below humans, And thou hast set him. The nature above humans is twofold, namely, the divine and the angelic. First, therefore he writes of the benefits by comparison to God. Second, by comparison to the angels, whence, Thou hast made him a little less. First, he explains this according to what is compatible to natural benefits. Second, what to those of grace. And in accordance with the first way and referring to it, he does two things. First, he writes of a special care for humans by God. Second, a special familiarity, Or the son of man.
Mirabile est quod quis magnus alicui parvo speciali familiaritate coniungitur: et ideo primo Psalmista commemorat parvitatem hominis ex conditione quid est homo, tam parva res: Iob. 14. Homo natus de muliere: et 25. Homo putredo, et filius hominis vermis. Secundo quantem ad originem: quia etiam vilis: Iob. 24. Quis potest facere mundum de immundo conceptum semine? Et 10. Nonne sicut lac etc. Et ideo dicit, Aut filius hominis. It is marvelous that anyone so great would tie Himself to someone small by a special familiarity: and thereby the Psalmist first commemorates the littleness of man out of the condition what is man, since he is such a small thing: Job 14: Man, born of a woman: and 25: Man that is rottenness and the son of man who is a worm. Second, in as much as his origin: since it is vile: Job 14: Who can make him clean that is conceived of unclean seed? And 10: Hast thou not milked me like milk etc. And therefore he says, And the son of man.
Sed isti sic parvo, sic vili, dicit quod duo facit: scilicet quod memoratus est eius, et quod visitat eum. Primum pertinet ad curam. Secundum ad familiaritatem specialem. Et est talis modus loquendi: sicut si aliquis artifex fecisset magna, et inter aliqua unum minimum, scilicet acum, et quando fecit acum ostendit se habere eius scientiam. Sed quod in dispositione operum curaret de acu, esset valde mirabile; et ideo dicit, Quis est homo, quod inter magnus creaturas recordaris eius? Eccl. 16. Ne dicas, a Deo abscondar etc. et quae est anima etc. Quia propter parvitatem Deus non obliviscitur tui. Sed quod magnum est hoc? Deus enim habet curam de omnibus: Sap. 12. Nec est enim alias quam tu, cui cura est de omnibus. Dicendum, quod de homine habet specialem curam, scilicet quod in iudicio remunerentur actus eius: Iob. 14. Dignum duci super huiuscemodi aperire oculos etc. But, to this so little, so vile man, he says that He does two things: namely, that He is mindful of him, and that he cares for him. The first pertains to attentive care, the second to the special familiarity. And it is of such a manner of speaking: just as if somebody made a great artifice, and among others one which was most small, namely a needle, and when he made the needle, he showed himself to have the knowledge of it. But that he would care for the needle, in the disposition of his works, this would be marvelous; and therefore he says, What is man, that among great created things you turn your heart back to him? Sirach 16: Say not: I shall be hidden from God. and who shall remember me from on high? For God does not, on account of your littleness, forget you. But that this is great? For God takes care about everything: Wisdom 12: For there is no other God but thou, who hast care of all. That is to say, that He has a special care for humans, namely that they will be repaid for their actions in the judgement: Job 14: And dost thou think it meet to open thy eyes upon such an one, and to bring him into judgment with thee?
Item non curam solum habet de homine, sed familaritatem habet cum eo; et hoc est quod dicit, Quoniam visitas eum. Sola natura rationalis est capax Dei, cognoscendo, et amando. Inquantum ergo Deus nobis praesens efficitur per amorem vel cognitionem, visitat nos: Iob. 10. Visitatio tua custodivit etc. Also, he does not have only care for man, but he has a familiarity with him; and this why he says, That thou art mindful of him. Only the rational nature is capable of God, to know Him, and to love Him. In as much therefore as God makes himself present to us, by love or cognition, he cares for us: Job 10: And thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.
Sic ergo magna clementia Dei est in comparatione hominis ad Deum; sed sequitur de homine hoc in comparatione ad angelos, quibus homo invenitur propinquus. Minuisti. So, therefore, God’s mercy is great in the comparison of man to God; but this follows from man in the comparison to the angels, who man comes into proximity to. Thou hast made him a little less.
e. In angelis invenitur imago Dei per simplicem intuitum veritatis, absque inquisitione; in homo vero per discursum; et ideo in homine aliquantulum. Inde est quod homines dicuntur angeli: Malac. 2. Legem requirent ex ore eius: quia angelus Domini exercituum est. Est et homo corruptibilis, sed modicum; quia aliquando homo in patria omnia sine discursu cognoscet; et erit secundum corpus incorruptibilis: 1. Cor. 15. Oportet corruptibile hoc inducere incorruptionem. Consequenter ostendit clementiam Dei ad hominem, per comparationem ad ipsum hominem, cum dicit, Gloria et honore etc. Coronari est regum. Deus facit hominem quasi regem inferiorum, et haec est gloria, scilicet claritas divinae imaginis: et haec est quaedam corona hominis: 1. Cor. 11. Vir imago est gloria Dei: Ps. 4. Signatum est super nos lumen vultus tui Domine. The image of God is found in the angels by the simple intuition of truth, without any inquiry; but in humans discursively: and therefore in man only in a certain small degree. This is why humans are called angels: Malachi 2: For the lips of the priest shall keep knowledge, and they shall seek the law at his mouth: because he is the angel of the Lord of hosts. And, man is corruptible, but in a certain way; since, at a certain time, man will know all things without discursive thought in his homeland (heaven); and he will be incorruptible in the way of his body: 1 Corinthians 15: For this corruptible must put on incorruption. Consequently, he shows the mercy of God to man, by comparison to that very man, when he says, Glory and honor etc. To be crowned belongs to kings, and God made man as if the king of lower things, and man is the glory, that is, the clarity of the divine image: and this is a certain crown of man. 1 Corinthians 11: Because he is the image and glory of God: Psalm 4: The light of thy countenance O Lord, is signed upon us.
Sed iste honoratur, qui non subiicitur alicui. Homo enim nulli creaturae natura corporali subiicitur, quantam ad animam, nec in ingressu, nec in progressu: non in ingressu, quia a creatura non producitur, et libere agit; nec perit cum corpore; et in hoc honor hominis consistit; et ideo dicutur Sap. 2. Nec iudicaverunt hominem animarum sanctarum etc. usque fecit illum: Ps. 48. Homo cum in honere esset non intellexit etc. Consequentur cum dicit, Constituisti, ponit clementiam Dei ad hominem per comparationem ad ea, quae sunt sub homine, quia voluit habere hominem dominium super ista inferiora: et circa hoc tria facit. Primo proponit dominium. Secundo facultatem dominandi. Tertio numerum subditorum. Secundum, ibi, Oves et boves. But someone is honored, who is not subordinated to someone else. And man, with respect to his soul, is not subject to any natural corporeal creature, whether in the beginning or in continuance, because he is not produced by a creature, and he acts freely: he does not perish with the body; and in this the honor of man consists. And likewise it is said in Wisdom 2: They did not judge man to have a holy soul: continually, however He made him: Psalm 48: Man when he was in honour did not understand etc. Consequently, when he says, Thou hast made, he writes of the mercy of God to man by comparison to the things which are below man, because He wanted man to have dominion over all those things below him: and regarding this he does three things. First, he sets forth the dominion. Second, the faculty of dominating. Third, the number of things subordinated. Second, therefore, Thou hast subjugated all things. Third, therefore, sheep and oxen.
Dicit ergo, Ex quo homo est rex, dedisti ei dominium super opera manum tuarum: Gen. 1. Ut praesit piscibus maris, et volucribus caeli, et bestiis universae terrae, et reptili quod movetur in terra. Hoc habet per rationem, quia excedit omnia animalia; et ideo statim cum dixit, Gloria et honere, subdidit, Constituisti, idest dedisti dominium. Sed nota quid dicit, quod homo habet auctoritatem super opera manuum, non digitorum. Homo non potest sibi ea subiicere; et ideo secundo ostendit facultatem dominandi. Omnia, inquit, subiecisti, ut praeesset et dominaretur ad nutum. Hoc signatur Gen. 2. ubi Deus adduxit omnia animalia ad Adam. Et haec subiectio plenarie fuit ante peccatum; sed aliqua nunc resistunt in poenam peccati. Tertio cum dicit, Oves et boves etc. ennumerat subiecta: et ponit animalia ut etiam plantae intelligantur. In animalibus autem quaedam subiiciuntur secundum totum genus suum, scilicet animalia mansueta et domestica secundum suam naturam, scilicet oves et boves: et hoc in feminino dicit, Universas, qui armenta fiunt praecipue de vaccis et ovibus. Alia sunt quae non subiicuntur secundum totum genus: et horum quaedam sunt gressibilia: et quantum ad hoc dicit, Insuper et pecora campi etc. scilicet apri, cervi, et huiusmodi: quaedam volatilia, scilicet aves: et quaedam natatilia sicut pisces. He says therefore, “from that man is king, you have given him dominion” over all the works of thy hands: Genesis 1: And let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth. This man has by reason, for he surpasses all animals; and so at the same time that he says, glory and honor, he also implies, Thou hast made, that is, you have given dominion. But it is significant that he says that man has authority over all the works of His hands, but not those of his fingers, because the works of his hands are not subtle ones like the heavens, which are the work of his fingers. Man cannot subordinate these things to himself; and therefore he shows second his facility of dominating. All things, he says, thou hast subjugated, so that man should surpass and rule them to his will. This is signified by Genesis 2, where God parades all the animals past Adam. And this subjection was full and sufficient before sin; but any things in particular now resist man in the punishment of sin. Third, when he says, sheep and oxen etc. he enumerates the things subjected: and he writes animals so that plants are understood here as well. Among animals, certain of them are subject following their entire genus, namely, as beasts of burden and domestic animals according to their nature, namely, sheep and oxen: and he says this in the feminine gender, All [feminine in the Latin], because herds are made primarily of cows and ewes. There are others which have not been subordinated following from their entire genus: and certain of these can be graded: and in as much as he says, moreover all the beasts of the fields etc. Namely, boars, deer, and things of this like: certain flying things, namely birds; and certain swimming things, namely fish.
Possunt ad hoc ad beneficia gratiae referri: et tunc in his omnia mysteria Christi numerantur. Primo incarnationis, Quid est homo? Duo tangit, scilicet causam incarnationis, et ipsam incarnationem: et dicit, Quid est homo? Videbatur enim Deus oblitus hominis, quando expulit eum de paradiso: huiusmodi recordatur quando reducitur illud Psalm. 79. Memento nostri Domine. Et sic sequitur incarnatio: quia visitat, et ideo dicit, Aut filius hominis etc. Quia licet totum genus humanum visitaverit, specialiter tamen illum hominem assumptem in unitate hypostasis: Hebr. 1. Nusquam angelos apprehendit, sed semen Abrahae. Secundum est passionis. Minuisti propter passionem, Heb. 2. Eum autem qui modico quam angeli minoratus est etc. In hebraeo habetur, Et minues eum parvum a Deo, quia coniunctus est Deo in unitate personae; sed minutus propter passibilitatem assumptam. Tertium est beneficium resurrectionis in honore exhibito Apostolis, qui numeratur per passionem: Phil. 1. In nomine Iesu omne geneflectatur etc. Ioa. 5. Ut omnes honorificent Filium, sicut honorificant Patrem. Quartem mysterium est accensionis, Constituisti eum super etc. Eph. 1. Constituens eum ad dexteram suam, supra omnem principatum et potestatem etc. Quintum mysterium est adventus ad iudicium, Omnia subiecisti etc. idest constituisti eum iudicem super omnia: Hebr. 2. Nunc autem necdum videmus omnia subiecta ei: tunc omnia subiicientur sub pedibus eius, idest humanitate eius, quia caput Christi Deus, 2. Cor. 11. Et sunt pedes humanitas, Io. 5. Potestatem dedit ei iudicium facere. And these things can be referred to the benefit of grace: and afterwards, among all of these, the mysteries of Christ are numbered. First, of the incarnation, What is man? He touches on two points, namely the cause of the incarnation, and that very incarnation: and he says, What is man? For, God appears to have forgotten man when he expelled him from paradise: It is recorded in a like manner when that forgetting is revoked Psalm 79: O Lord of Hosts restore us. And so followed the incarnation: because he cared, and therefore it says, or the son of man. Because it was fitting that he should care for the entire human race, but in particular for that man taken into the unity of the hypostasis: Heb. 2: For nowhere doth he take hold of the angels: but of the seed of Abraham he taketh hold. Second is the Passion. Thou hast made him a little less on the account of the Passion, Heb. 2: Who was made a little lower than the angels, etc. In the Hebrew, it has, And You make him equal from God, since he is conjoined with God in the unity of person; but a little less because of his capacity for taking on suffering. Third is the benefit of the Resurrection in glory made manifest through the Apostles, which is reckoned through suffering; Philippians 2: That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow etc. John 5: That all men may honour the Son, as they honour the Father. The fourth mystery is the Ascension, Hast set him over etc. Ephesians 1: And setting him on his right hand in the heavenly places. Above all principality, and power, etc. The fifth mystery is the coming to judgement, Thou hast subjugated all things etc., that is, you have set him to judge over all things: Hebrews 2: Thou hast subjected all things under his feet…But now we see not as yet all things subject to him, that is, his humanity, because the head of Christ is God, 2 Corinthians 11. And the feet are humanity; John 5. But hath given all judgement to the Son.
Et hi in iudicio quidam boni: et horum quidam subditi sunt signati per oves: 2. Reg. ult. Isti qui sunt oves quid fecerunt? Quidam praelati, et hi signati sunt per boves: Pro. 14. Ubi plurimae segetes, ibi manifesta fortitudo bovis. Quidam mali: et horum sunt tria genera: Io. 1. Omne quae est in mundo, aut est concupiscentia occulorum, aut concupiscentia carnis, aut superbia vitae. Et primo ponit luxuriosus: et hi sunt oves et boves et pecora campi, quia bestialibus delectantur: Ioel. 1. Putruerunt iumenta in stercore suo, et demoliti sunt horrea campi. Dicit hoc, qui vadunt per amplam viam, Matt. 7. Secundo superbos, Volucres: Matt. 14. Aves caelis commederunt illud: Deut. 32. Devorabunt eos aves morsu amarissimo. Tertio cupidos, Qui perambulant semitas maris, ad literam; vel mundi: Ps. 11. In circuitu impii ambulant: Iob. 1. Circuivi terram, et perambulavi eam: sicut Deus est mirabilis ex eminentia maiestatis, ita ostenditur ex clementia; et ideo concludit admirationem, Domine Dominus noster etc. Tamen sciendum est, quod iste psalmus est circularis, quia eundem versum habet in principio et in fine. Quidam sunt semicirculares, qui non repetunt totum versum, sed partem; sicut Benedic anima mea Domino, finis, In omni loco dominationis eius. And some good people are in this judgement too: and some of these placed under judgement have been signified by sheep: 2 Kings 24: These that are the sheep, what have they done? Some are preferred, and these are signified by oxen: Proverbs 14: Where there are no oxen, the crib is empty: but where there is much corn, there the strength of the ox is manifest. And some are evil: and of these there are three genera: 1 John 2: For all that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life. And first, he writes of the pleasure-seeking: and these are sheep and cows and the beasts of the field, since they delight in bestial things: Joel 1: The beasts have rotted in their dung, the barns are destroyed. He says this, because they hasten down the wide path, Matthew 7: Second, he writes of the proud, Flying: Matthew 13: And the birds of the air came and ate them up; Deuteronomy 32: And birds shall devour them with a most bitter bite. Third, the lustful, Whatever swims the paths of the seas, either literally or of the world: Psalm 11: The wicked walk round about: Job 1: And he answered and said: I have gone round about the earth, and walked through it: just as God is marvelous from the eminence of his majesty, so this is displayed from clemency; and therefore he concludes the admiration, O Lord, our Lord etc. And though it is to be seen that this Psalm is circular, because it has the same verse in the beginning as in the end, they are in a certain way semicircular, because they do not repeat the entire verse, but rather a part; as if to say, “Bless my soul through God”, finally “in every place of His rule”.

© Dr. Gregory Sadler

The Aquinas Translation Project

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Feb 8: Gaudium Et Spes on Today’s First Reading

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 8, 2011

Today’s First Reading is Gen 1:20-2:4a. I have no public domain access to Catholic Commentaries on Genesis and so I’ve decided to post excerpts from sources relating to today’s first reading. What follows comes from Vatican II’s Pastoral Constitution, Gaudium Et Spes (On Joy And Hope). The document in full can be read here.

Except from:

12. According to the almost unanimous opinion of believers and unbelievers alike, all things on earth should be related to man as their center and crown.

But what is man? About himself he has expressed, and continues to express, many divergent and even contradictory opinions. In these he often exalts himself as the absolute measure of all things or debases himself to the point of despair. The result is doubt and anxiety. The Church certainly understands these problems. Endowed with light from God, she can offer solutions to them, so that man’s true situation can be portrayed and his defects explained, while at the same time his dignity and destiny are justly acknowledged.

For Sacred Scripture teaches that man was created “to the image of God,” is capable of knowing and loving his Creator, and was appointed by Him as master of all earthly creatures(1) that he might subdue them and use them to God’s glory.(2) “What is man that you should care for him? You have made him little less than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him rule over the works of your hands, putting all things under his feet” (Ps. 8:5-7).

But God did not create man as a solitary, for from the beginning “male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27). Their companionship produces the primary form of interpersonal communion. For by his innermost nature man is a social being, and unless he relates himself to others he can neither live nor develop his potential.

Therefore, as we read elsewhere in Holy Scripture God saw “all that he had made, and it was very good” (Gen. 1:31).

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34. Throughout the course of the centuries, men have labored to better the circumstances of their lives through a monumental amount of individual and collective effort. To believers, this point is settled: considered in itself, this human activity accords with God’s will. For man, created to God’s image, received a mandate to subject to himself the earth and all it contains, and to govern the world with justice and holiness;(Gen 1:26-27; Gen 9:2-3; Wis 9:2-3) a mandate to relate himself and the totality of things to Him Who was to be acknowledged as the Lord and Creator of all. Thus, by the subjection of all things to man, the name of God would be wonderful in all the earth.(Ps 8:7, 10)

This mandate concerns the whole of everyday activity as well. For while providing the substance of life for themselves and their families, men and women are performing their activities in a way which appropriately benefits society. They can justly consider that by their labor they are unfolding the Creator’s work, consulting the advantages of their brother men, and are contributing by their personal industry to the realization in history of the divine plan.(Cf. John XXIII, encyclical letter Pacem in Terris: AAS 55)

Thus, far from thinking that works produced by man’s own talent and energy are in opposition to God’s power, and that the rational creature exists as a kind of rival to the Creator, Christians are convinced that the triumphs of the human race are a sign of God’s grace and the flowering of His own mysterious design. For the greater man’s power becomes, the farther his individual and community responsibility extends. Hence it is clear that men are not deterred by the Christian message from building up the world, or impelled to neglect the welfare of their fellows, but that they are rather more stringently bound to do these very things.(Cf. message to all mankind sent by the Fathers at the beginning of the Second Vatican Council)

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50. Marriage and conjugal love are by their nature ordained toward the begetting and educating of children. Children are really the supreme gift of marriage and contribute very substantially to the welfare of their parents. The God Himself Who said, “it is not good for man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18) and “Who made man from the beginning male and female” (Matt. 19:4), wishing to share with man a certain special participation in His own creative work, blessed male and female, saying: “Increase and multiply” (Gen. 1:28). Hence, while not making the other purposes of matrimony of less account, the true practice of conjugal love, and the whole meaning of the family life which results from it, have this aim: that the couple be ready with stout hearts to cooperate with the love of the Creator and the Savior. Who through them will enlarge and enrich His own family day by day.

Parents should regard as their proper mission the task of transmitting human life and educating those to whom it has been transmitted. They should realize that they are thereby cooperators with the love of God the Creator, and are, so to speak, the interpreters of that love. Thus they will fulfil their task with human and Christian responsibility, and, with docile reverence toward God, will make decisions by common counsel and effort. Let them thoughtfully take into account both their own welfare and that of their children, those already born and those which the future may bring. For this accounting they need to reckon with both the material and the spiritual conditions of the times as well as of their state in life. Finally, they should consult the interests of the family group, of temporal society, and of the Church herself. The parents themselves and no one else should ultimately make this judgment in the sight of God. But in their manner of acting, spouses should be aware that they cannot proceed arbitrarily, but must always be governed according to a conscience dutifully conformed to the divine law itself, and should be submissive toward the Church’s teaching office, which authentically interprets that law in the light of the Gospel. That divine law reveals and protects the integral meaning of conjugal love, and impels it toward a truly human fulfillment. Thus, trusting in divine Providence and refining the spirit of sacrifice,(1 Cor 7:5) married Christians glorify the Creator and strive toward fulfillment in Christ when with a generous human and Christian sense of responsibility they acquit themselves of the duty to procreate. Among the couples who fulfil their God-given task in this way, those merit special mention who with a gallant heart and with wise and common deliberation, undertake to bring up suitably even a relatively large family.(Cf. Pius XII, Address Tra le visite, Jan. 20, 1958: AAS 50 (1958), p. 91.)

Marriage to be sure is not instituted solely for procreation; rather, its very nature as an unbreakable compact between persons, and the welfare of the children, both demand that the mutual love of the spouses be embodied in a rightly ordered manner, that it grow and ripen. Therefore, marriage persists as a whole manner and communion of life, and maintains its value and indissolubility, even when despite the often intense desire of the couple, offspring are lacking.

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SECTION 2: Some Principles for the Proper Development of Culture

57. Christians, on pilgrimage toward the heavenly city, should seek and think of these things which are above.(Col  3:2) This duty in no way decreases, rather it increases, the importance of their obligation to work with all men in the building of a more human world. Indeed, the mystery of the Christian faith furnishes them with an excellent stimulant and aid to fulfill this duty more courageously and especially to uncover the full meaning of this activity, one which gives to human culture its eminent place in the integral vocation of man.

When man develops the earth by the work of his hands or with the aid of technology, in order that it might bear fruit and become a dwelling worthy of the whole human family and when he consciously takes part in the life of social groups, he carries out the design of God manifested at the beginning of time, that he should subdue the earth (Gen 1:28), perfect creation and develop himself. At the same time he obeys the commandment of Christ that he place himself at the service of his brethren.

Furthermore, when man gives himself to the various disciplines of philosophy, history and of mathematical and natural science, and when he cultivates the arts, he can do very much to elevate the human family to a more sublime understanding of truth, goodness, and beauty, and to the formation of considered opinions which have universal value. Thus mankind may be more clearly enlightened by that marvelous Wisdom which was with God from all eternity, composing all things with him, rejoicing in the earth, delighting in the sons of men.(Prov 8:30-31)

In this way, the human spirit, being less subjected to material things, can be more easily drawn to the worship and contemplation of the Creator. Moreover, by the impulse of grace, he is disposed to acknowledge the Word of God, Who before He became flesh in order to save all and to sum up all in Himself was already “in the world” as “the true light which enlightens every man” (John 1:9-10).(Cf. St. Irenaeus, Adversus haereses. III, 11, 8)

Indeed today’s progress in science and technology can foster a certain exclusive emphasis on observable data, and an agnosticism about everything else. For the methods of investigation which these sciences use can be wrongly considered as the supreme rule of seeking the whole truth. By virtue of their methods these sciences cannot penetrate to the intimate notion of things. Indeed the danger is present that man, confiding too much in the discoveries of today, may think that he is sufficient unto himself and no longer seek the higher things.

Those unfortunate results, however, do not necessarily follow from the culture of today, nor should they lead us into the temptation of not acknowledging its positive values. Among these values are included: scientific study and fidelity toward truth in scientific inquiries, the necessity of working together with others in technical groups, a sense of international solidarity, a clearer awareness of the responsibility of experts to aid and even to protect men, the desire to make the conditions of life more favorable for all, especially for those who are poor in culture or who are deprived of the opportunity to exercise responsibility. All of these provide some preparation for the acceptance of the message of the Gospel a preparation which can be animated by divine charity through Him Who has come to save the world.

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