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

Father Rickaby’s Commentary on Romans 8:22-27

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 19, 2017

Text in red are my additions.

Rom 8:22  For we know that every creature groaneth and travaileth in pain, even till now.

Every creature groaneth and is in labour. It needs no commentator to point out how true these words are of every creature, πασα η κτισις, in the sense of all mankind, from the first dawn of history till now.

Rom 8:23  And not only it, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit: even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body.

It might have been thought that this heart-ache of humanity, this αποκαραδοκια, or eager looking out for absent good (v. 19); this groaning and travailing (v. 22), would have been cured by conversion to Christianity. The Apostle shows that the Gospel is not a cure, only a mitigation, and an earnest of perfect cure to come. Even to the Christian this life remains a period of groaning and waiting, but waiting for a definite and assured good,

Rom 8:24  For we are saved by hope. But hope that is seen is not hope. For what a man seeth, why doth he hope for?

We are saved by hope, i.e. our salvation is in hope, not yet consummated, spe, non re (hope, not reality), as St. Augustine often says.

What a man seeth, why doth he hope for? is hardly English. Render: What doth a man hope for, that he seeth? A better reading however is the reading of the Vatican manuscript: ο γαρ βλεπει τις ελπιζει; who hopeth for what he seeth?

Rom 8:25  But if we hope for that which we see not, we wait for it with patience.

Father Rickaby offers no comment on this verse.

Rom 8:26  Likewise, the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity. For, we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings,

As we ought, as the context shows, refers not to the manner but to the matter of our prayer. Only in general do we know what is good for us: in particular we are often mistaken in our petitions, as was St. Paul himself on a notable occasion, 2 Cor. 12:8-9.

The Spirit himself (i.e. of Himself, preventing us with His gratuitous grace) asketh for us with unspeakable groanings. What is asketh for us but maketh us ask? To ask with groanings is a sure sign of need, but it is impious
to suppose the Holy Spirit to be in need of anything. But the word asketh means that He makes us ask, and breathes upon us the impulse of asking and groaning, according to the text (Matt. 10:20): “It is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you” (St. Augustine).

Unspeakable (or unuttered) groanings. A parent, himself an uneducated man, brings his boy to school, and says to the schoolmaster: I want you to make this boy a scholar : prepare him for the University. Thus the end is laid down in genera: but of the particular course of studies to be pursued, the parent knows nothing: all these details he leaves to the schoolmaster. Such details are by him unuttered, and even unutterable and unspeakable, because of his ignorance. So, moved strongly by the Holy Ghost, we desire and groan for salvation: but the detail of means that will lead to our individual salvation is, on many points, beyond our knowledge. Our groanings then, in respect of these particular means, are unuttered and unspeakable, because of our ignorance of detail.

Rom 8:27  And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what the Spirit desireth: because he asketh for the saints according to God.

He that searcheth hearts (God, Psalm 7:10; Rev 2:23), knoweth what the Spirit desireth, i.e. under stands the full meaning of the petitions which the Holy Ghost prompts us to make, though we understand our own requests only in the vague, or even positively misunderstand them. One may think of a loyal-hearted man, who hates Catholics, praying that he may find the true way to salvation, or of a child praying to be a priest.

He asketh for the saints, i.e. moves the saints to ask for themselves. Saints here (as in 1 Cor. 1:2, &c.) means all true followers of Christ.

According to God, things which lie within God’s purpose to grant us in order to our salvation. Such things the Holy Spirit moves us to pray for; and such prayers are always heard (Matt. 7:7-8 ; John 14:13-14; 1 John 5:14-15). When we pray for those things, we pray as we ought (v. 26). See St. Thomas, 2a 2ae, q. 83, art. 15, ad 2 (Aquinas Ethicus, vol. ii. p. 128).

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: