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Signs That Will Accompany the End of the Present World

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 27, 2019

Public Domain Source: Pohle, Joseph, and Arthur Preuss. Eschatology, or The Catholic Doctrine of the Last Things: A Dogmatic Treatise. Dogmatic Theology. St. Louis, MO: B. Herder, 1920.


Revelation tells us that the General Judgment will be preceded by certain definite signs (Matt 24:37 sqq.; 2 Pet. 3:3 sqq.). Hence we may conclude that the world will not come to an end before these signs appear. On the other hand, no one can foretell the exact day of the Last Judgment from these signs. It is only when they all concur that a reasonable conjecture will become possible, and even then there will still be danger of self-deception. Cfr. 2 Thess. 2:1 sq.: “We beseech you, brethren, touching the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together unto Him, that you be not readily shaken out of your right mind nor kept in alarm,—whether by spirit-utterance or by discourse or by a letter purporting to be from us,—as though the day of the Lord were upon us.” As the precise time of the Last Judgment is known only to God, it were idle for us to speculate about it.

The principal signs or events usually enumerated by theologians as preceding the Last Judgment are:

(1) The General Preaching of the Christian Religion all over the earth;

(2) The Conversion of the Jews;
(3) The Return of Henoch and Elias;
(4) A Great Apostasy and the Reign of Antichrist;
(5) Extraordinary Disturbances of Nature;
(6) A Universal Conflagration.

1. GENERAL PREACHING OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION.—The first of the predicted signs was announced by our Divine Saviour Himself, Matth. 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world, for a testimony to all nations, and then shall the consummation come.”

It must not be concluded from this prophecy that all men will ultimately embrace the Christian religion. Our Lord says that the Gospel will be preached to all nations; not that all men will be converted (St Aug., Ep. 199). The words “and then” (καὶ τότε) are probably not meant to indicate an immediate sequence of events, but merely to mark the beginning (terminus a quo) of the period which will end with the General Judgment. “What does the phrase ‘then it will come’ mean,” says St. Augustine, “except that it will not come before that time? How long after that time it will come, we do not know. The only thing we know for certain is that it will not come sooner.” (St Aug., Ep. 197

2. THE CONVERSION OF THE JEWS.—St. Paul says: “I would not have you ignorant, brethren, of this mysery, … that blindness in part has happened in Israel, until the fulness of the gentiles should come in. And so all Israel should be saved, as it is written: (Is 59:20) ‘There shall come out of Sion he that shall deliver, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.’ … For as you also in times past did not believe God, but now have obtained mercy through their unbelief, so these also now have not believed, for your mercy, that they also may obtain mercy.” Rom 11:25

From this text it may with reasonable certainty be concluded:

(a) That the majority of nations, or at least the majority of the people of all nations (plenitudo gentium), will embrace Christianity before the end of the world;

(b) That, after the general conversion of the “gentiles,” the Jews, too, will accept the Gospel.

Though these propositions by no means embody articles of faith, it requires more than such antisemitic scolding as was indulged in by Luther to disprove them. The Apostle expressly speaks of a “mystery,” and ascribes the final conversion of the Jews, not to the physical or mental characteristics of the Semitic race, but to a special dispensation of God’s “mercy.” Luther overlooked both these factors when he wrote: “A Jew, or a Jewish heart, is as hard as wood, stone, or iron, as hard in fact as the devil himself, and hence cannot be moved by any means.… They are young imps condemned to Hell.… Those who conclude from the eleventh chapter of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans that the Jews will all be converted towards the end of the world, are foolish and their opinion is groundless.” (Sämtl. Werke, Jena ed., Vol. VIII, p. 109)

On the other hand, however, there is no reason to assume that the Jews will all be converted, or that the Hebrew race will embrace the true faith in a body. Like the “gentiles,” the Jews will probably flock to the Church in great numbers. “When the multitude of nations will come in,” says St. Jerome, “then this fig-tree, too, will bear fruit, and all Israel will be saved.” (In Habac., III, 17)

The parable of the sheepfold (John 10:16) is sometimes applied to the end of the world, though, we believe, ineptly. In saying, “I have other sheep that are not of this fold, them also must I bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd,” our Lord simply meant that His Church was to embrace all nations.

3. RETURN OF HENOCH AND ELIAS.—The belief that Elias (Elijah) and Henoch (Enoch) will return to herald the second coming of our Lord and to convert the Jews, was held by many Fathers.

a) So far as it regards Elias, this belief is based on the prophecy of Malachias (Malachi): “Behold I will send you Elias the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers: lest I come and strike the earth with anathema.” (Mal 4:5 sq) “Elias the prophet” cannot be identical with John the Baptist, as some have thought, because the Septuagint expressly calls him “the Thesbite” (Tishbite). Moreover, our Lord Himself clearly distinguishes between the two, and ascribes to Elias precisely the rôle that was attributed to him by His contemporaries. Matth 17:11 sq.: “But he answering, said to them: Elias indeed shall come, and restore all things; but I say to you that Elias is already come.… Then the disciples understood that he had spoken to them of John the Baptist.” St. Augustine explains this text as follows: “As there are two advents of the Judge, so there are two precursors.… He sent before Him the first precursor and called him Elias, because Elias was to take the same part in the second coming that John had in the first.” (Tract. in Ioa., VII, 5)

From what we have said it further appears that the phrase “dies Domini” does not mean the first coming of Christ as the Messias, but His second coming as the Universal Judge. The day of His Incarnation was a day of mercy and blessing; the day of the Last Judgment will be a “day of terror.”

b) Concerning Henoch the argument is less convincing.

Some theologians substitute Moses or Jeremias for Henoch, but this procedure is rejected by the majority (Cfr. Suarez, De Myst. Vitae Christi, disp. 55, sect. 3.). The Bible says that “Henoch pleased God, and was translated into paradise, that he may give [preach] repentance to the nations’ (Sir 44:16). The Septuagint is less definite. It says: καὶ μετετέθη (εἰς παράδεισον is missing) παράδειγμα μετανοίας ταῖς γενεαῖς,—which might mean that Henoch was set up as an example of repentance for his contemporaries. St. Paul says: “By faith Henoch was translated, that he should not see death” (Heb 11:5). In view of this passage and of the “two witnesses” who according to the Apocalypse (Rev 11:3 sqq.) will appear as precursors of our Lord when He returns for the Last Judgment, there has existed in the Church since the earliest times a popular belief that Elias and Henoch will come back to preach penance before the end of the world. However, this is not a dogmatically certain truth, as claimed by Bellarmine. (De Romano Pontifice, III, 6)

4. THE GREAT APOSTASY AND ANTICHRIST.—The “great apostasy,” i. e. a tremendous defection among the faithful, is described partly as the cause and partly as an effect of the appearance of Antichrist. Both events may be reckoned among the signs that are to precede the Last Judgment, because it is certain that either before or after the conversion of nations and of the Jewish race there will be a great revolt, led by Antichrist, which will reduce the number of the faithful.

a) That a great apostasy will occur before the end of the world we know from St. Paul’s Second Epistle to the Thessalonians.

The congregation at Thessalonica had taken alarm at a spurious letter purporting to come from the Apostle, “as though the day of the Lord were near.” To prove the genuineness of the present epistle, and as a precaution against forgery, St. Paul inserts the following words in his own handwriting: “I, Paul, [send you] this greeting with my own hand. That is the sign in every letter; thus I write” (2 Th 3:17). His references to the end of the world appear rather obscure to us because he adverts to certain things which he had told the Thessalonians by word of mouth and of which we have no knowledge: “Do you not remember that while I was still with you I used to tell you these things?” (2 Th 2:5). On one point, however, he is quite clear, viz.: that the “day of the Lord” (ἡ ἡμέρα τοῦ κυρίου) will not come “unless the apostasy first befall, and the man of lawlessness be revealed, the son of perdition” (2 Th 2:3). “Apostasy” (ἡ ἀποστασία, discessio) in this connection can scarcely mean a political revolution, for the whole movement is described as “a mystery of iniquity” (μυστήριον τῆς ἀνομίας), a satanic “seduction to evil for them that are perishing, because they have not entertained the love of the truth (τὴν ἀγάπην τῆς ἀληθείας) unto their salvation. And therefore God sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe that lie (τῷ ψεύδει), in order that all may be judged that have believed the truth (τῇ ἀληθείᾳ), but have acquiesced in unrighteousness” (τῆ ἀδικίᾳ. 2 Thess. 2:9–11).

It is true that some older exegetes understood this text as foreshadowing, at least secondarily, a great political upheaval, in particular the fall of the Roman Empire. But neither this catastrophe, nor the Protestant Reformation (1517), nor the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire (1806), have proved to be the discessio predicted by the Apostle.

b) In the passage quoted above St. Paul mentions another sign among those preceding the day of the Lord, viz.: the revelation of the “man of sin,” the “son of perdition,” who is usually called Antichrist.

α) The name Antichrist is not found in the Epistles of St. Paul, but in 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7 St. John speaks of “antichrists” in the plural number, but there can be no doubt that he believed in a personal Antichrist. Cfr. 1 John 2:18: “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist cometh, even now there are become many antichrists: whereby we know that it is the last hour.”27 This personal Antichrist is to be preceded by messengers who will prepare the way for him and inaugurate his reign. Cfr. 1 John 4:3: “And every spirit that dissolveth Jesus, is not of God: and this is antichrist, of whom you have heard that he cometh, and he is now already in the world.” The Greek text is more definite: καὶ τοῦτό ἐστι τὸ τοῦ ἀντιχρίστου [the work of Antichrist], ὃ [not ὅς] ἀκηκόατε ὅτι ἔρχεται, καὶ νῦν ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἐστὶν ἤδη. Evidently the Antichrist predicted by St. John is not merely a pretender, but the incarnate antithesis of our Divine Saviour, and therefore His deadly enemy. Whether “Antichrist” is merely a collective name for certain persons and tendencies, or whether it designates one particular person, a human individual of flesh and blood, cannot be concluded with certainty from the Johannine text. St. Paul, however, is positive on this point. He speaks of Antichrist as “the man of lawlessness” (ὁ ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἁμαρτίας), “the son of perdition” (ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀπωλείας), who “shall oppose and exalt himself against all that is called God” and “seat himself in God’s sanctuary, giving himself out as God” (2 Thess. 2:3 sqq.). “And then shall the lawless one (ὁ ἄνομος) be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of his mouth and bring to nought by the manifestation of his coming. But that other’s coming is through Satan’s working [attended] by every [kind of] feat and sign and lying wonder, and by every seduction to evil for them that are perishing” (2 Th 2:8-10) This graphic description cannot be applied to a mere personification, but points to a concrete individual, and hence we may safely reject the figurative interpretation of “Antichrist,” though it is not necessarily contrary to Catholic teaching.

β) It is difficult to say what St. meant meant when he wrote in the same Epistle: “And now you know what keepeth him back (τὸ κατέχον), to the end that he may be revealed in his own season. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only let him who now restraineth (ὁ κατέχων) be taken out of the way, and then shall the lawless one be revealed” (2 Th 2:6-7). This obscure text has been variously interpreted. Most exegetes see in it a reference to some contemporaneous event. SS. Chrysostom and Jerome regarded the Roman Empire as the restraining influence (τὸ κατέχον, ὁ κατέχων). Others held that “the lawless one” is kept in check by the fact that the Gospel has not yet been preached to all nations and the Jewish people remain unconverted. Dr. Döllinger identified “the man of lawlessness” with the Emperor Nero, the κατέχων with Claudius, the “mystery of lawlessness” with Nero’s intrigues to usurp the throne, and the “sitting in the temple” (Cfr. Dan. 9:27) with the profanation and destruction of the Jewish temple under Titus and Vespasian (Döllinger, Christentum und Kirche, pp. 277 sqq). Such historical parallels may be ingenious and entertaining, but in appraising them at their true value we must not overlook the fact that St. John speaks of the second coming of Christ, and that “he who restrains” this coming is most likely the devil, who is reserving his forces for the end of the world, when he will make his last and most formidable assault upon the human race through Antichrist.

Some conceive Antichrist to be an incarnate devil or a man possessed by Satan (Cfr. St. Jerome, In Dan., VII, 8: “Unus de hominibus, in quo satanas inhabitaturus sit corporaliter.”). The rôle assigned to him, however, would seem to require an independent person. Such appellations as “the man of lawlessness” and “the son of perdition” sufficiently indicate that he will be a man, not an incarnate devil or an energumen.

The belief that Antichrist will be the son of a Jewish mother overshadowed by Satan is pure conjecture (Cfr. Lactantius, Instit., VI, 17). That he will be born in Syria or Babylonia, rule the world for three years from Jerusalem or Rome, and be deposed at the second coming of our Lord, are more or less probable surmises that have nothing to do with the dogmatic teaching of the Church (Cfr. Roncaglia, Lezioni Sacre intorno alla Venuta, Costumi e Monarchia dell’ Anticristo, Rome 1718; A. J. Maas, S.J., art. “Antichrist,” in Vol. I of the Catholic Encyclopedia; J. H. Newman, “The Patristic Idea of Antichrist” (Discussions and Arguments on Various Subjects, pp. 44–108, new impression, London 1907).).

5. EXTRAORDINARY DISTURBANCES OF NATURE.—The second coming of Christ will be sudden and terrifying. Matth. 24:27: “As the lightning cometh out of the east, and appeareth even into the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Luke 17:24: “As the lightning that lighteneth from under heaven, shineth unto the parts that are under heaven, so shall the Son of man be in his day.” Scripture clearly indicates that this event will be preceded by tremendous disturbances.

a) It is not easy to separate the eschatological part of our Lord’s teaching from his references to the destruction of Jerusalem. However, there can hardly be a doubt that the following passage refers entirely to the end of the world: “And immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven shall be moved: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all tribes of the earth mourn: and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with much power and majesty” (Mt 24:29-30). The tribulations here described are partly material (extraordinary perturbations of nature) and partly spiritual (mental anguish suffered by men). It will not do to interpret the passage figuratively. The Fathers and theologians accept our Lord’s prophecy in its literal sense. Quite naturally, He employed the language of the people to whom He spoke, not the terminology of science. We know that the (fixed) stars cannot “fall from heaven.” Hence the expression “powers of heaven” must apply to the atmospheric belt that surrounds the earth. We are forced to conclude that the words of the Bible refer to the earth alone and not to the planets and other astral bodies by which it is surrounded. True St. Paul says: “Every creature groaneth and travaileth in pain, even till now, and not only it, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit” (Rom 8:22-23). But nature, i. e. the material universe, expects redemption and consummation only in so far as it groans under the curse which deprived it of the blessings of Paradise. In matter of fact God cursed the earth, not its planets, nor the sun, nor the stars. Cfr. Gen. 3:17 sq.: “Cursed is the earth in thy work; … thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee.”

This simple and rational explanation is confirmed by what may be regarded as the most important of all Scriptural texts dealing with the consummation of the world, viz., 2 Pet. 3:10: “But the day of the Lord shall come as a thief, in which the heavens shall pass away with great violence, and the elements shall be melted with heat, and the earth and the works which are in it shall be burnt up.” As the context shows, “heavens” here means the atmosphere surrounding the earth, for the conflagration described by St. Peter is related to the deluge, “whereby the world that then was, being over-flowed with water, perished;” whereas “the heavens and the earth, which now, by the same word are kept in store, [are] reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Pt 3:6-7). A comparison of the two sentences shows that the “heaven” which will be destroyed by fire is the same that helped to bring on the deluge. Hence it must be the atmosphere of our earth, of which alone, furthermore, it can be said that it “shall pass away with great violence” (2 Pet 3:10: “caeli magno impetu transient.”—On the interpretation of 2 Pet. 3:6–10 see St. Augustine, De Civitate Dei, XX, 24.).

b) How are we to conceive “the new heavens” which Scripture predicts in connection with the “new earth” that is to be after the Last Judgment? (Cfr. Is. 65:17; 66:22; Rev 21:1 sq.; 2 Pet. 3:13.). We shall hardly go astray if we picture this transformation as a restoration of the telluric atmosphere. The earth and its surrounding atmosphere will not be totally destroyed, but transformed into a paradise. It is hazardous to deduce more than this from the cryptic intimations found in various parts of the Bible. The analogy of faith as well as the geocentric conception of the universe known to have been held by the sacred writers favor the assumption that there is to be a re-created “heaven” (i. e. atmosphere) as well as a restored earth. In what manner the planets and stars are to be led to perfection,—we can hardly assume that they will continue their revolutions forever,—Revelation does not tell. The views held by the Fathers and medieval Scholastics were based on an erroneous notion of the universe and cannot be regarded as an authentic exposition of the Catholic faith.

6. THE UNIVERSAL CONFLAGRATION.—The “end of the world” will be brought about by a great conflagration, which will destroy our planet and its atmosphere.

a) It is uncertain whether this catastrophe will take place before or after the General Judgment. The former view is based on the assumption that the advent of the Great Judge in the clouds of heaven (Matt 24:29; 2 Pet. 3:10) must coincide with the universal conflagration, and that this conflagration will not only cause the death of those who are still alive, but likewise supply for them the place of Purgatory. But this theory is open to many objections. In the first place it is improbable that the Last Judgment will be delayed until after the destruction and subsequent restoration of the earth, for how, in this hypothesis, would it be possible for the living to “hasten unto the coming of the Lord”? Moreover, it seems proper that the great conflagration should follow the Last Judgment and thus actually mark the end of the world.

b) By what means God will bring about this terrible conflagration we know not. It is neither probable nor necessary to assume that the phenomenon will be strictly miraculous. Even infidel scientists admit that there are a number of purely natural causes which may at any moment bring about the end of the world. If, for instance, the earth were to collide with a comet accompanied by a swarm of meteorites, or with some solar system other than our own, or if one of the so-called fixed stars were to enter our planetary circle, the result would be destruction. Curiously enough the signs predicted by our Lord and by St. Peter as preceding or accompanying the end of the world coincide with the perturbations which present-day scientists say would probably ensue if the earth were hit by a comet. A well-known astronomer, Father Charles Braun, S. J., has called attention to the existence of comets which are ten thousand times larger than the earth. If such a ponderous body were to strike the earth at a speed of, say, six geographical miles per second, he says, “the result would be the same as if a compact mass of equal weight, shooting through space with the velocity of a cannon ball, would collide with the earth. No human being could live through such a catastrophe.… Millions of luminous meteorites and meteors, which, as is well known, always accompany comets, would penetrate the atmosphere, and, by condensing, produce such enormous masses of cosmic dust that the sun would lose its splendor and glow with a reddish hue. Presently the head of the comet would arrive and either strike the earth and, by destroying its crust, cause the kernel of liquid fire to burst forth, or, leaving behind a large part of its coma, enter our atmosphere in the form of a frightful hurricane and start a general conflagration, which even the minerals could hardly resist, and which, within a few hours, would convert all organic structure into ashes” (Chs. Braun, S.J., Ueber Kosmogonie vom Standpunkt christlicher Wissenschaft, 3rd ed., pp. 383, 385, Münster 1905.—On other possibilities see Epping, “Die Meteorite und ihr kosmischer Ursprung,” in the Stimmen aus Maria-Laach, 1886, I, 290 sqq.; J. Pohle, Die Sternenwelten und ihre Bewohner, 6th ed., pp. 243 sqq., Cologne 1910.).

c) Will this universal conflagration annihilate the earth with all its inhabitants or will some organic beings survive? This question is inspired by curiosity rather than dogmatic considerations. The Scholastics generally held that no corruptible substances (corpora mixta = animals and plants) shall find a place on the “new earth.” In point of fact we have no positive knowledge concerning this matter. The Schoolmen claimed no greater weight for their theories than that due to the arguments which they adduced. Their arguments in the present case are anything but conclusive. Why should not God in His omnipotence endow mixed bodies with the same indestructibility or incorruptibility which is possessed by simple bodies (corpora simplicia), or recreate the animals and plants for the benefit of the race of transfigured men that is to inhabit the new earth? St. Anselm seems to have had some such idea in mind when he wrote: “The earth which once harbored in its bosom the body of our Lord, like a great garden which, having been watered by the blood of saints, will wear an imperishable garland of sweet-smelling flowers” (Cfr. Suarez, Comment. in S. Theol., III, qu. 59, art. 6, sect 3). This view has found favor with some modern theologians (Bautz and Einig), but though it is quite fascinating, we do not adopt it because it cannot be proved.

“Science,” says Father Joseph Rickaby, “has sometimes dreamt of a final condition of things in which the machinery of the universe shall be completely run down, the energies of nature so dislocated as no longer to furnish any potentiality of organic life, a uniform temperature established everywhere, suns cooled, planetary revolutions stopped,—the realization in fact of the ὁμοῦ πάντα χρήματα, or universal deadlock, which was the Greek notion of a mindless chaos. Things may come to this final impasse, or they may not, science cannot tell. But there remains God’s promise to re-establish (ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι, gather up under a new head) all things in Christ (Eph 1:10). ‘Hence it is said,’ quotes St. Thomas: they are the last words of his book The Summa Contra Gentiles: “I saw a new heaven and a new earth (Rev 21:1): I will create new heavens and a new earth; and the things that were before shall not be in memory, neither shall they rise into thought; but ye shall be glad and rejoice forever” (Is 65:17). ‘So be it,’ says Aquinas.”

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Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae on the Transfiguration of Christ

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 19, 2013

Question 45
Of Christ’s Transfiguration in Four Articles

We now consider Christ’s transfiguration; and here there are four points of inquiry:

(1) Whether it was fitting that Christ should be transfigured?

(2) Whether the clarity of the transfiguration was the clarity of glory?

(3) Of the witnesses of the transfiguration;

(4)  Of the testimony of the Father’s voice.

Article 1: Whether it was fitting that Christ should be transfigured?

Objection 1: It would seem that it was not fitting that Christ should be transfigured. For it is not fitting for a true body to be changed into various shapes [figuras], but only for an imaginary body. Now Christ’s body was not imaginary, but real, as stated above (Q[5], A[1]). Therefore it seems that it should not have been transfigured.

Objection 2: Further, figure is in the fourth species of quality, whereas clarity is in the third, since it is a sensible quality. Therefore Christ’s assuming clarity should not be called a transfiguration.

Objection 3: Further, a glorified body has four gifts, as we shall state farther on (XP, Q[82]), viz. impassibility, agility, subtlety, and clarity. Therefore His transfiguration should not have consisted in an assumption of clarity rather than of the other gifts.

On the contrary, It is written (Matthew 17:2) that Jesus “was transfigured” in the presence of three of His disciples.

I answer that Our Lord, after foretelling His Passion to His disciples, had exhorted them to follow the path of His sufferings (Matthew 16:21,24). Now in order that anyone go straight along a road, he must have some knowledge of the end: thus an archer will not shoot the arrow straight unless he first see the target. Hence Thomas said (John 14:5): “Lord, we know not whither Thou goest; and how can we know the way?” Above all is this necessary when hard and rough is the road, heavy the going, but delightful the end. Now by His Passion Christ achieved glory, not only of His soul, not only of His soul, which He had from the first moment of His conception, but also of His body; according to Luke (24:26): “Christ ought [Vulgate: `ought not Christ’] to have suffered these things, and so to enter into His glory (?).” To which glory He brings those who follow the footsteps of His Passion, according to Acts 14:21: “Through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God.” Therefore it was fitting that He should show His disciples the glory of His clarity (which is to be transfigured), to which He will configure those who are His; according to Philippians 3:21: “(Who) will reform the body of our lowness configured [Douay: `made like’] to the body of His glory.” Hence Bede says on Mark 8:39: “By His loving foresight He allowed them to taste for a short time the contemplation of eternal joy, so that they might bear persecution bravely.”

Reply to Objection 1: As Jerome says on Matthew 17:2: “Let no one suppose that Christ,” through being said to be transfigured, “laid aside His natural shape and countenance, or substituted an imaginary or aerial body for His real body. The Evangelist describes the manner of His transfiguration when he says: `His face did shine as the sun, and His garments became white as snow.’ Brightness of face and whiteness of garments argue not a change of substance, but a putting on of glory.”

Reply to Objection 2: Figure is seen in the outline of a body, for it is “that which is enclosed by one or more boundaries” [Euclid, bk i, def. xiv]. Therefore whatever has to do with the outline of a body seems to pertain to the figure. Now the clarity, just as the color, of a non-transparent body is seen on its surface, and consequently the assumption of clarity is called transfiguration.

Reply to Objection 3: Of those four gifts, clarity alone is a quality of the very person in himself; whereas the other three are not perceptible, save in some action or movement, or in some passion. Christ, then, did show in Himself certain indications of those three gifts — of agility, for instance, when He walked on the waves of the sea; of subtlety, when He came forth from the closed womb of the Virgin; of impassibility, when He escaped unhurt from the hands of the Jews who wished to hurl Him down or to stone Him. And yet He is not said, on account of this, to be transfigured, but only on account of clarity, which pertains to the aspect of His Person.

Article 2: Whether this clarity was the clarity of glory?

Objection 1: It would seem that this clarity was not the clarity of glory. For a gloss of Bede on Matthew 17:2, “He was transfigured before them,” says: “In His mortal body He shows forth, not the state of immortality, but clarity like to that of future immortality.” But the clarity of glory is the clarity of immortality. Therefore the clarity which Christ showed to His disciples was not the clarity of glory.

Objection 2: Further, on Luke 9:27 “(That) shall not taste death unless [Vulgate: `till’] they see the kingdom of God,” Bede’s gloss says: “That is, the glorification of the body in an imaginary vision of future beatitude.” But the image of a thing is not the thing itself. Therefore this was not the clarity of beatitude.

Objection 3: Further, the clarity of glory is only in a human body. But this clarity of the transfiguration was seen not only in Christ’s body, but also in His garments, and in “the bright cloud” which “overshaded” the disciples. Therefore it seems that this was not the clarity of glory.

On the contrary, Jerome says on the words “He was transfigured before them” (Matthew 17:2): “He appeared to the Apostles such as He will appear on the day of judgment.” And on Matthew 16:28, “Till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom,” Chrysostom says: “Wishing to show with what kind of glory He is afterwards to come, so far as it was possible for them to learn it, He showed it to them in their present life, that they might not grieve even over the death of their Lord.”

I answer that The clarity which Christ assumed in His transfiguration was the clarity of glory as to its essence, but not as to its mode of being. For the clarity of the glorified body is derived from that of the soul, as Augustine says (Epistula ad Dioscorus (“Letter to Dioscorus”) cxviii). And in like manner the clarity of Christ’s body in His transfiguration was derived from His God. head, as Damascene says (Orat. de Transfig.) and from the glory of His soul. That the glory of His soul did not overflow into His body from the first moment of Christ’s conception was due to a certain Divine dispensation, that, as stated above (Q[14], A[1], ad 2), He might fulfil the mysteries of our redemption in a passible body. This did not, however, deprive Christ of His power of outpouring the glory of His soul into His body. And this He did, as to clarity, in His transfiguration, but otherwise than in a glorified body. For the clarity of the soul overflows into a glorified body, by way of a permanent quality affecting the body. Hence bodily refulgence is not miraculous in a glorified body. But in Christ’s transfiguration clarity overflowed from His Godhead and from His soul into His body, not as an immanent quality affecting His very body, but rather after the manner of a transient passion, as when the air is lit up by the sun. Consequently the refulgence, which appeared in Christ’s body then, was miraculous: just as was the fact of His walking on the waves of the sea. Hence Dionysius says (Epistula ad Caium Monachorum (“Letter to Caius, Monk”) iv): “Christ excelled man in doing that which is proper to man: this is shown in His supernatural conception of a virgin and in the unstable waters bearing the weight of material and earthly feet.” Wherefore we must not say, as Hugh of St. Victor [Innocent III, De Myst. Miss. iv] said, that Christ assumed the gift of clarity in the transfiguration, of agility in walking on the sea, and of subtlety in coming forth from the Virgin’s closed womb: because the gifts are immanent qualities of a glorified body. On the contrary, whatever pertained to the gifts, that He had miraculously. The same is to be said, as to the soul, of the vision in which Paul saw God in a rapture, as we have stated in the SS, Q[175], A[3], ad 2.

Reply to Objection 1: The words quoted prove, not that the clarity of Christ was not that of glory, but that it was not the clarity of a glorified body, since Christ’s body was not as yet immortal. And just as it was by dispensation that in Christ the glory of the soul should not overflow into the body so was it possible that by dispensation it might overflow as to the gift of clarity and not as to that of impassibility.

Reply to Objection 2: This clarity is said to have been imaginary, not as though it were not really the clarity of glory, but because it was a kind of image representing that perfection of glory, in virtue of which the body will be glorious.

Reply to Objection 3: Just as the clarity which was in Christ’s body was a representation of His body’s future clarity, so the clarity which was in His garments signified the future clarity of the saints, which will be surpassed by that of Christ, just as the brightness of the snow is surpassed by that of the sun. Hence Gregory says (Moralia xxxii) that Christ’s garments became resplendent, “because in the height of heavenly clarity all the saints will cling to Him in the refulgence of righteousness. For His garments signify the righteous, because He will unite them to Himself,” according to Isaiah 49:18: “Thou shalt be clothed with all these as with an ornament.”

The bright cloud signifies the glory of the Holy Ghost or the “power of the Father,” as Origen says (Tract. iii in Matthew), by which in the glory to come the saints will be covered. Or, again, it may be said fittingly that it signifies the clarity of the world redeemed, which clarity will cover the saints as a tent. Hence when Peter proposed to make tents, “a bright cloud overshaded” the disciples.

Article 3: Whether the witnesses of the transfiguration were fittingly chosen?

Objection 1: It would seem that the witnesses of the transfiguration were unfittingly chosen. For everyone is a better witness of things that he knows. But at the time of Christ’s transfiguration no one but the angels had as yet any knowledge from experience of the glory to come. Therefore the witnesses of the transfiguration should have been angels rather than men.

Objection 2: Further, truth, not fiction, is becoming in a witness of the truth. Now, Moses and Elias were there, not really, but only in appearance; for a gloss on Luke 9:30, “They were Moses and Elias,” says: “It must be observed that Moses and Elias were there neither in body nor in soul”; but that those bodies were formed “of some available matter. It is also credible that this was the result of the angelic ministries, through the angels impersonating them.” Therefore it seems that they were unsuitable witnesses.

Objection 3: Further, it is said (Acts 10:43) that “all the prophets give testimony” to Christ. Therefore not only Moses and Elias, but also all the prophets, should have been present as witnesses.

Objection 4: Further, Christ’s glory is promised as a reward to all the faithful (2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 3:21), in whom He wished by His transfiguration to enkindle a desire of that glory. Therefore He should have taken not only Peter, James, and John, but all His disciples, to be witnesses of His transfiguration.

On the contrary is the authority of the Gospel.

I answer that Christ wished to be transfigured in order to show men His glory, and to arouse men to a desire of it, as stated above (A[1]). Now men are brought to the glory of eternal beatitude by Christ — not only those who lived after Him, but also those who preceded Him; therefore, when He was approaching His Passion, both “the multitude that followed” and that “which went before, cried saying: `Hosanna,'” as related Matthew 21:9, beseeching Him, as it were, to save them. Consequently it was fitting that witnesses should be present from among those who preceded Him — namely, Moses and Elias — and from those who followed after Him — namely, Peter, James, and John — that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses” this word might stand.

Reply to Objection 1: By His transfiguration Christ manifested to His disciples the glory of His body, which belongs to men only. It was therefore fitting that He should choose men and not angels as witnesses.

Reply to Objection 2: This gloss is said to be taken from a book entitled On the Marvels of Holy Scripture. It is not an authentic work, but is wrongly ascribed to St. Augustine; consequently we need not stand by it. For Jerome says on Matthew 17:3: “Observe that when the Scribes and Pharisees asked for a sign from heaven, He refused to give one; whereas here in order to increase the apostles’ faith, He gives a sign from heaven, Elias coming down thence, whither he had ascended, and Moses arising from the nether world.” This is not to be understood as though the soul of Moses was reunited to his body, but that his soul appeared through some assumed body, just as the angels do. But Elias appeared in his own body, not that he was brought down from the empyrean heaven, but from some place on high whither he was taken up in the fiery chariot.

Reply to Objection 3: As Chrysostom says on Matthew 17:3: “Moses and Elias are brought forward for many reasons.” And, first of all, “because the multitude said He was Elias or Jeremias or one of the prophets, He brings the leaders of the prophets with Him; that hereby at least they might see the difference between the servants and their Lord.” Another reason was ” … that Moses gave the Law … while Elias … was jealous for the glory of God.” Therefore by appearing together with Christ, they show how falsely the Jews “accused Him of transgressing the Law, and of blasphemously appropriating to Himself the glory of God.” A third reason was “to show that He has power of death and life, and that He is the judge of the dead and the living; by bringing with Him Moses who had died, and Elias who still lived.” A fourth reason was because, as Luke says (9:31), “they spoke” with Him “of His decease that He should accomplish in Jerusalem,” i.e. of His Passion and death. Therefore, “in order to strengthen the hearts of His disciples with a view to this,” He sets before them those who had exposed themselves to death for God’s sake: since Moses braved death in opposing Pharaoh, and Elias in opposing Achab. A fifth reason was that “He wished His disciples to imitate the meekness of Moses and the zeal of Elias.” Hilary adds a sixth reason — namely, in order to signify that He had been foretold by the Law, which Moses gave them, and by the prophets, of whom Elias was the principal.

Reply to Objection 4: Lofty mysteries should not be immediately explained to everyone, but should be handed down through superiors to others in their proper turn. Consequently, as Chrysostom says (on Matthew 17:3), “He took these three as being superior to the rest.” For “Peter excelled in the love” he bore to Christ and in the power bestowed on him; John in the privilege of Christ’s love for him on account of his virginity, and, again, on account of his being privileged to be an Evangelist; James on account of the privilege of martyrdom. Nevertheless He did not wish them to tell others what they had seen before His Resurrection; “lest,” as Jerome says on Matthew 17:19, “such a wonderful thing should seem incredible to them; and lest, after hearing of so great glory, they should be scandalized at the Cross” that followed; or, again, “lest [the Cross] should be entirely hindered by the people” [Bede, Hom. xviii; cf. Catena Aurea]; and “in order that they might then be witnesses of spiritual things when they should be filled with the Holy Ghost” [Hilary, in Matthew xvii].

Article 4: Whether the testimony of the Father’s voice, saying, “This is My beloved Son,” was fittingly added?

Objection 1: It would seem that the testimony of the Father’s voice, saying, “This is My beloved Son,” was not fittingly added; for, as it is written (Job 33:14), “God speaketh once, and repeateth not the selfsame thing the second time.” But the Father’s voice had testified to this at the time of (Christ’s) baptism. Therefore it was not fitting that He should bear witness to it a second time.

Objection 2: Further, at the baptism the Holy Ghost appeared under the form of a dove at the same time as the Father’s voice was heard. But this did not happen at the transfiguration. Therefore it seems that the testimony of the Father was made in an unfitting manner.

Objection 3: Further, Christ began to teach after His baptism. Nevertheless, the Father’s voice did not then command men to hear him. Therefore neither should it have so commanded at the transfiguration.

Objection 4: Further, things should not be said to those who cannot bear them, according to John 16:12: “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” But the disciples could not bear the Father’s voice; for it is written (Matthew 17:6) that “the disciples hearing, fell upon their face, and were very much afraid.” Therefore the Father’s voice should not have been addressed to them.

On the contrary is the authority of the Gospel.

I answer that The adoption of the sons of God is through a certain conformity of image to the natural Son of God. Now this takes place in two ways: first, by the grace of the wayfarer, which is imperfect conformity; secondly, by glory, which is perfect conformity, according to 1 John 3:2: “We are now the sons of God, and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be: we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like to Him, because we shall see Him as He is.” Since, therefore, it is in baptism that we acquire grace, while the clarity of the glory to come was foreshadowed in the transfiguration, therefore both in His baptism and in His transfiguration the natural sonship of Christ was fittingly made known by the testimony of the Father: because He alone with the Son and Holy Ghost is perfectly conscious of that perfect generation.

Reply to Objection 1: The words quoted are to be understood of God’s eternal speaking, by which God the Father uttered the only-begotten and co-eternal Word. Nevertheless, it can be said that God uttered the same thing twice in a bodily voice, yet not for the same purpose, but in order to show the divers modes in which men can be partakers of the likeness of the eternal Sonship.

Reply to Objection 2: Just as in the Baptism, where the mystery of the first regeneration was proclaimed, the operation of the whole Trinity was made manifest, because the Son Incarnate was there, the Holy Ghost appeared under the form of a dove, and the Father made Himself known in the voice; so also in the transfiguration, which is the mystery of the second regeneration, the whole Trinity appears — the Father in the voice, the Son in the man, the Holy Ghost in the bright cloud; for just as in baptism He confers innocence, signified by the simplicity of the dove, so in the resurrection will He give His elect the clarity of glory and refreshment from all sorts of evil, which are signified by the bright cloud.

Reply to Objection 3: Christ came to give grace actually, and to promise glory by His words. Therefore it was fitting at the time of His transfiguration, and not at the time of His baptism, that men should be commanded to hear Him.

Reply to Objection 4: It was fitting that the disciples should be afraid and fall down on hearing the voice of the Father, to show that the glory which was then being revealed surpasses in excellence the sense and faculty of all mortal beings; according to Exodus 33:20: “Man shall not see Me and live.” This is what Jerome says on Matthew 17:6: “Such is human frailty that it cannot bear to gaze on such great glory.” But men are healed of this frailty by Christ when He brings them into glory. And this is signified by what He says to them: “Arise, and fear not.”

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Aquinas’ Summa Theologica on Wisdom 7:7-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 9, 2012

The following post contains those articles from the Summa which employ any part of the text of Wisdom 7:7-11.

ST. I-II Q.2, Art. 6: Whether Man’s Happiness Consists in Pleasure. (Wisdom 7:9).

Objection: 1. It would seem that man’s happiness consists in pleasure. For since happiness is the last end, it is not desired for something else, but other things for it. But this answers to pleasure more than to anything else: “for it is absurd to ask anyone what is his motive in wishing to be pleased” (Ethic. x, 2). Therefore happiness consists principally in pleasure and delight.

2. Further, “the first cause goes more deeply into the effect than the second cause” (De Causis i). Now the causality of the end consists in its attracting the appetite. Therefore, seemingly that which moves most the appetite, answers to the notion of the last end. Now this is pleasure: and a sign of this is that delight so far absorbs man’s will and reason, that it causes him to despise other goods. Therefore it seems that man’s last end, which is happiness, consists principally in pleasure.

3. Further, since desire is for good, it seems that what all desire is best. But all desire delight; both wise and foolish, and even irrational creatures. Therefore delight is the best of all. Therefore happiness, which is the supreme good, consists in pleasure.

On the contrary Boethius says (De Consol. iii): “Any one that chooses to look back on his past excesses, will perceive that pleasures had a sad ending: and if they can render a man happy, there is no reason why we should not say that the very beasts are happy too.”

I answer that Because bodily delights are more generally known, “the name of pleasure has been appropriated to them” (Ethic. vii, 13), although other delights excel them: and yet happiness does not consist in them. Because in every thing, that which pertains to its essence is distinct from its proper accident: thus in man it is one thing that he is a mortal rational animal, and another that he is a risible animal. We must therefore consider that every delight is a proper accident resulting from happiness, or from some part of happiness; since the reason that a man is delighted is that he has some fitting good, either in reality, or in hope, or at least in memory. Now a fitting good, if indeed it be the perfect good, is precisely man’s happiness: and if it is imperfect, it is a share of happiness, either proximate, or remote, or at least apparent. Therefore it is evident that neither is delight, which results from the perfect good, the very essence of happiness, but something resulting therefrom as its proper accident.But bodily pleasure cannot result from the perfect good even in that way. For it results from a good apprehended by sense, which is a power of the soul, which power makes use of the body. Now good pertaining to the body, and apprehended by sense, cannot be man’s perfect good. For since the rational soul excels the capacity of corporeal matter, that part of the soul which is independent of a corporeal organ, has a certain infinity in regard to the body and those parts of the soul which are tied down to the body: just as immaterial things are in a way infinite as compared to material things, since a form is, after a fashion, contracted and bounded by matter, so that a form which is independent of matter is, in a way, infinite. Therefore sense, which is a power of the body, knows the singular, which is determinate through matter: whereas the intellect, which is a power independent of matter, knows the universal, which is abstracted from matter, and contains an infinite number of singulars. Consequently it is evident that good which is fitting to the body, and which causes bodily delight through being apprehended by sense, is not man’s perfect good, but is quite a trifle as compared with the good of the soul. Hence it is written (Sg 7,9) that “all gold in comparison of her, is as a little sand.” And therefore bodily pleasure is neither happiness itself, nor a proper accident of happiness.

Reply to Objection: 1. It comes to the same whether we desire good, or desire delight, which is nothing else than the appetite’s rest in good: thus it is owing to the same natural force that a weighty body is borne downwards and that it rests there. Consequently just as good is desired for itself, so delight is desired for itself and not for anything else, if the preposition “for” denote the final cause. But if it denote the formal or rather the motive cause, thus delight is desirable for something else, i.e. for the good, which is the object of that delight, and consequently is its principle, and gives it its form: for the reason that delight is desired is that it is rest in the thing desired.

2. The vehemence of desire for sensible delight arises from the fact that operations of the senses, through being the principles of our knowledge, are more perceptible. And so it is that sensible pleasures are desired by the majority.

3. All desire delight in the same way as they desire good: and yet they desire delight by reason of the good and not conversely, as stated above (ad 1). Consequently it does not follow that delight is the supreme and essential good, but that every delight results from some good, and that some delight results from that which is the essential and supreme good.

ST. I-II, Q. 4, art 8: Whether the Fellowship of a Friend is Necessary for Happiness? (Wisdom 7:11).

Objection: 1. It would seem that friends are necessary for Happiness. For future Happiness is frequently designated by Scripture under the name of “glory.” But glory consists in man’s good being brought to the notice of many. Therefore the fellowship of friends is necessary for Happiness.
2. Further, Boethius [*Seneca, Ep. 6] says that “there is no delight in possessing any good whatever, without someone to share it with us.” But delight is necessary for Happiness. Therefore fellowship of friends is also necessary.

3. Further, charity is perfected in Happiness. But charity includes the love of God and of our neighbor. Therefore it seems that fellowship of friends is necessary for Happiness.

On the contrary It is written (Song 7:11): “All good things came to me together with her,” i.e. with divine wisdom, which consists in contemplating God. Consequently nothing else is necessary for Happiness.

I answer that If we speak of the happiness of this life, the happy man needs friends, as the Philosopher says (Ethic. ix, 9), not, indeed, to make use of them, since he suffices himself; nor to delight in them, since he possesses perfect delight in the operation of virtue; but for the purpose of a good operation, viz. that he may do good to them; that he may delight in seeing them do good; and again that he may be helped by them in his good work. For in order that man may do well, whether in the works of the active life, or in those of the contemplative life, he needs the fellowship of friends.But if we speak of perfect Happiness which will be in our heavenly Fatherland, the fellowship of friends is not essential to Happiness; since man has the entire fulness of his perfection in God. But the fellowship of friends conduces to the well-being of Happiness. Hence Augustine says (Gn ad lit. viii, 25) that “the spiritual creatures receive no other interior aid to happiness than the eternity, truth, and charity of the Creator. But if they can be said to be helped from without, perhaps it is only by this that they see one another and rejoice in God, at their fellowship.”

Reply to Objection: 1. That glory which is essential to Happiness, is that which man has, not with man but with God.

2. This saying is to be understood of the possession of good that does not fully satisfy. This does not apply to the question under consideration; because man possesses in God a sufficiency of every good.
3. Perfection of charity is essential to Happiness, as to the love of God, but not as to the love of our neighbor. Wherefore if there were but one soul enjoying God, it would be happy, though having no neighbor to love. But supposing one neighbor to be there, love of him results from perfect love of God. Consequently, friendship is, as it were, concomitant with perfect Happiness.

ST. I-II, Q. 5, art. 4: Whether Happiness Once Had Can be Lost? (Wisdom 7:11).

Objection: 1. It would seem that Happiness can be lost. For Happiness is a perfection. But every perfection is in the thing perfected according to the mode of the latter. Since then man is, by his nature, changeable, it seems that Happiness is participated by man in a changeable manner. And consequently it seems that man can lose Happiness.

2. Further, Happiness consists in an act of the intellect; and the intellect is subject to the will. But the will can be directed to opposites. Therefore it seems that it can desist from the operation whereby man is made happy: and thus man will cease to be happy.

3. Further, the end corresponds to the beginning. But man’s Happiness has a beginning, since man was not always happy. Therefore it seems that it has an end.

On the contrary It is written (Mt 25:46) of the righteous that “they shall god . . . into life everlasting,” which, as above stated (Article [2]), is the Happiness of the saints. Now what is eternal ceases not. Therefore Happiness cannot be lost.

I answer that If we speak of imperfect happiness, such as can be had in this life, in this sense it can be lost. This is clear of contemplative happiness, which is lost either by forgetfulness, for instance, when knowledge is lost through sickness; or again by certain occupations, whereby a man is altogether withdrawn from contemplation.This is also clear of active happiness: since man’s will can be changed so as to fall to vice from the virtue, in whose act that happiness principally consists. If, however, the virtue remain unimpaired, outward changes can indeed disturb such like happiness, in so far as they hinder many acts of virtue; but they cannot take it away altogether because there still remains an act of virtue, whereby man bears these trials in a praiseworthy manner. And since the happiness of this life can be lost, a circumstance that appears to be contrary to the nature of happiness, therefore did the Philosopher state (Ethic. i, 10) that some are happy in this life, not simply, but “as men,” whose nature is subject to change.But if we speak of that perfect Happiness which we await after this life, it must be observed that Origen (Peri Archon. ii, 3), following the error of certain Platonists, held that man can become unhappy after the final Happiness.This, however, is evidently false, for two reasons. First, from the general notion of happiness. For since happiness is the “perfect and sufficient good,” it must needs set man’s desire at rest and exclude every evil. Now man naturally desires to hold to the good that he has, and to have the surety of his holding: else he must of necessity be troubled with the fear of losing it, or with the sorrow of knowing that he will lose it. Therefore it is necessary for true Happiness that man have the assured opinion of never losing the good that he possesses. If this opinion be true, it follows that he never will lose happiness: but if it be false, it is in itself an evil that he should have a false opinion: because the false is the evil of the intellect, just as the true is its good, as stated in Ethic. vi, 2. Consequently he will no longer be truly happy, if evil be in him.Secondly, it is again evident if we consider the specific nature of Happiness. For it has been shown above (Question [3], Article [8]) that man’s perfect Happiness consists in the vision of the Divine Essence. Now it is impossible for anyone seeing the Divine Essence, to wish not to see It. Because every good that one possesses and yet wishes to be without, is either insufficient, something more sufficing being desired in its stead; or else has some inconvenience attached to it, by reason of which it becomes wearisome. But the vision of the Divine Essence fills the soul with all good things, since it unites it to the source of all goodness; hence it is written (Ps 16,15): “I shall be satisfied when Thy glory shall appear”; and (Sg 7,11): “All good things came to me together with her,” i.e. with the contemplation of wisdom. In like manner neither has it any inconvenience attached to it; because it is written of the contemplation of wisdom (Sg 8,16): “Her conversation hath no bitterness, nor her company any tediousness.” It is thus evident that the happy man cannot forsake Happiness of his own accord. Moreover, neither can he lose Happiness, through God taking it away from him. Because, since the withdrawal of Happiness is a punishment, it cannot be enforced by God, the just Judge, except for some fault; and he that sees God cannot fall into a fault, since rectitude of the will, of necessity, results from that vision as was shown above (Question [4], Article [4]). Nor again can it be withdrawn by any other agent. Because the mind that is united to God is raised above all other things: and consequently no other agent can sever the mind from that union. Therefore it seems unreasonable that as time goes on, man should pass from happiness to misery, and vice versa; because such like vicissitudes of time can only be for such things as are subject to time and movement.

Reply to Objection: 1. Happiness is consummate perfection, which excludes every defect from the happy. And therefore whoever has happiness has it altogether unchangeably: this is done by the Divine power, which raises man to the participation of eternity which transcends all change.

2. The will can be directed to opposites, in things which are ordained to the end; but it is ordained, of natural necessity, to the last end. This is evident from the fact that man is unable not to wish to be happy.

3. Happiness has a beginning owing to the condition of the participator: but it has no end by reason of the condition of the good, the participation of which makes man happy. Hence the beginning of happiness is from one cause, its endlessness is from another.

ST. I-II, Q. 113, art. 3: Whether for the Justification of the Ungodly There is Required a Movement of the Free Will? (Wisdom 7:7).

Objection: 1. It would seem that no movement of the free-will is required for the justification of the ungodly. For we see that by the sacrament of Baptism, infants and sometimes adults are justified without a movement of their free-will: hence Augustine says (Confess. iv) that when one of his friends was taken with a fever, “he lay for a long time senseless and in a deadly sweat, and when he was despaired of, he was baptized without his knowing, and was regenerated”; which is effected by sanctifying grace. Now God does not confine His power to the sacraments. Hence He can justify a man without the sacraments, and without any movement of the free-will.

2. Further, a man has not the use of reason when asleep, and without it there can be no movement of the free-will. But Solomon received from God the gift of wisdom when asleep, as related in 1Kings 3 and Ch 1. Hence with equal reason the gift of sanctifying grace is sometimes bestowed by God on man without the movement of his free-will.

3. Further, grace is preserved by the same cause as brings it into being, for Augustine says (Gn ad lit. viii, 12) that “so ought man to turn to God as he is ever made just by Him.” Now grace is preserved in man without a movement of his free-will. Hence it can be infused in the beginning without a movement of the free-will.

On the contrary It is written (Jn 6,45): “Every one that hath heard of the Father, and hath learned, cometh to Me.” Now to learn cannot be without a movement of the free-will, since the learner assents to the teacher. Hence, no one comes to the Father by justifying grace without a movement of the free-will.

I answer that The justification of the ungodly is brought about by God moving man to justice. For He it is “that justifieth the ungodly” according to Rom 4,5. Now God moves everything in its own manner, just as we see that in natural things, what is heavy and what is light are moved differently, on account of their diverse natures. Hence He moves man to justice according to the condition of his human nature. But it is man’s proper nature to have free-will. Hence in him who has the use of reason, God’s motion to justice does not take place without a movement of the free-will; but He so infuses the gift of justifying grace that at the same time He moves the free-will to accept the gift of grace, in such as are capable of being moved thus.

Reply to Objection: 1. Infants are not capable of the movement of their free-will; hence it is by the mere infusion of their souls that God moves them to justice. Now this cannot be brought about without a sacrament; because as original sin, from which they are justified, does not come to them from their own will, but by carnal generation, so also is grace given them by Christ through spiritual regeneration. And the same reason holds good with madmen and idiots that have never had the use of their free-will. But in the case of one who has had the use of his free-will and afterwards has lost it either through sickness or sleep, he does not obtain justifying grace by the exterior rite of Baptism, or of any other sacrament, unless he intended to make use of this sacrament, and this can only be by the use of his free-will. And it was in this way that he of whom Augustine speaks was regenerated, because both previously and afterwards he assented to the Baptism.

2. Solomon neither merited nor received wisdom whilst asleep; but it was declared to him in his sleep that on account of his previous desire wisdom would be infused into him by God. Hence it is said in his person (Song 7,7): “I wished, and understanding was given unto me.”Or it may be said that his sleep was not natural, but was the sleep of prophecy, according to Num 12,6: “If there be among you a prophet of the Lord, I will appear to him in a vision, or I will speak to him in a dream.” In such cases the use of free-will remains.And yet it must be observed that the comparison between the gift of wisdom and the gift of justifying grace does not hold. For the gift of justifying grace especially ordains a man to good, which is the object of the will; and hence a man is moved to it by a movement of the will which is a movement of free-will. But wisdom perfects the intellect which precedes the will; hence without any complete movement of the free-will, the intellect can be enlightened with the gift of wisdom, even as we see that things are revealed to men in sleep, according to Job 33,15-16: “When deep sleep falleth upon men and they are sleeping in their beds, then He openeth the ears of men, and teaching, instructeth them in what they are to learn.”

ST. I-II, Q. 123, art 2: Whether Fortitude is a Special Virtue? (Wisdom 7:7).

Objection: 1. It seems that fortitude is not a special virtue. For it is written (Sg 7,7): “She teacheth temperance, and prudence, and justice, and fortitude,” where the text has “virtue” for “fortitude.” Since then the term “virtue” is common to all virtues, it seems that fortitude is a general virtue.

2. Further, Ambrose says (De Offic. i): “Fortitude is not lacking in courage, for alone she defends the honor of the virtues and guards their behests. She it is that wages an inexorable war on all vice, undeterred by toil, brave in face of dangers, steeled against pleasures, unyielding to lusts, avoiding covetousness as a deformity that weakens virtue”; and he says the same further on in connection with other vices. Now this cannot apply to any special virtue. Therefore fortitude is not a special virtue.

3. Further, fortitude would seem to derive its name from firmness. But it belongs to every virtue to stand firm, as stated in Ethic. ii. Therefore fortitude is a general virtue.

On the contrary Gregory (Moral. xxii) numbers it among the other virtues.

I answer that As stated above (FS, Question [61], Articles [3],4), the term “fortitude” can be taken in two ways. First, as simply denoting a certain firmness of mind, and in this sense it is a general virtue, or rather a condition of every virtue, since as the Philosopher states (Ethic. ii), it is requisite for every virtue to act firmly and immovably. Secondly, fortitude may be taken to denote firmness only in bearing and withstanding those things wherein it is most difficult to be firm, namely in certain grave dangers. Therefore Tully says (Rhet. ii), that “fortitude is deliberate facing of dangers and bearing of toils.” In this sense fortitude is reckoned a special virtue, because it has a special matter.

Reply to Objection: 1. According to the Philosopher (De Coelo i, 116) the word virtue refers to the extreme limit of a power. Now a natural power is, in one sense, the power of resisting corruptions, and in another sense is a principle of action, as stated in Metaph. v, 17. And since this latter meaning is the more common, the term “virtue,” as denoting the extreme limit of such a power, is a common term, for virtue taken in a general sense is nothing else than a habit whereby one acts well. But as denoting the extreme limit of power in the first sense, which sense is more specific, it is applied to a special virtue, namely fortitude, to which it belongs to stand firm against all kinds of assaults.

2. Ambrose takes fortitude in a broad sense, as denoting firmness of mind in face of assaults of all kinds. Nevertheless even as a special virtue with a determinate matter, it helps to resist the assaults of all vices. For he that can stand firm in things that are most difficult to bear, is prepared, in consequence, to resist those which are less difficult.

3. This objection takes fortitude in the first sense.

St I-II. Q. 180, art. 2: whether There Are Various Actions Pertaining to the Contemplative Life? (Wisdom 7:7).

Objection: 1. It would seem that there are various actions pertaining to the contemplative life. For Richard of St. Victor [*De Grat. Contempl. i, 3,4] distinguishes between “contemplation,” “meditation,” and “cogitation.” Yet all these apparently pertain to contemplation. Therefore it would seem that there are various actions pertaining to the contemplative life.

2. Further, the Apostle says (2Co 3,18): “But we . . . beholding [speculantes] the glory of the Lord with open face, are transformed into the same clarity [*Vulg.: ‘into the same image from glory to glory.’].” Now this belongs to the contemplative life. Therefore in addition to the three aforesaid, vision [speculatio] belongs to the contemplative life.

3. Further, Bernard says (De Consid. v, 14) that “the first and greatest contemplation is admiration of the Majesty.” Now according to Damascene (De Fide Orth. ii, 15) admiration is a kind of fear. Therefore it would seem that several acts are requisite for the contemplative life.

4. Further, “Prayer,” “reading,” and “meditation” [*Hugh of St. Victor, Alleg. in N.T. iii, 4] are said to belong to the contemplative life. Again, “hearing” belongs to the contemplative life: since it is stated that Mary (by whom the contemplative life is signified) “sitting . . . at the Lord’s feet, heard His word” (Lc 10,39). Therefore it would seem that several acts are requisite for the contemplative life.

On the contrary Life signifies here the operation on which a man is chiefly intent. Wherefore if there are several operations of the contemplative life, there will be, not one, but several contemplative lives.

I answer that We are now speaking of the contemplative life as applicable to man. Now according to Dionysius (Div. Nom. vii) between man and angel there is this difference, that an angel perceives the truth by simple apprehension, whereas man arrives at the perception of a simple truth by a process from several premises. Accordingly, then, the contemplative life has one act wherein it is finally completed, namely the contemplation of truth, and from this act it derives its unity. Yet it has many acts whereby it arrives at this final act. Some of these pertain to the reception of principles, from which it proceeds to the contemplation of truth; others are concerned with deducing from the principles, the truth, the knowledge of which is sought; and the last and crowning act is the contemplation itself of the truth.

Reply to Objection: 1. According to Richard of St. Victor “cogitation” would seem to regard the consideration of the many things from which a person intends to gather one simple truth. Hence cogitation may comprise not only the perceptions of the senses in taking cognizance of certain effects, but also the imaginations. and again the reason’s discussion of the various signs or of anything that conduces to the truth in view: although, according to Augustine (De Trin. xiv, 7), cogitation may signify any actual operation of the intellect. “Meditation” would seem to be the process of reason from certain principles that lead to the contemplation of some truth: and “consideration” has the same meaning, according to Bernard (De Consid. ii, 2), although, according to the Philosopher (De Anima ii, 1), every operation of the intellect may be called “consideration.” But “contemplation” regards the simple act of gazing on the truth; wherefore Richard says again (De Grat. Contempl. i, 4) that “contemplation is the soul’s clear and free dwelling upon the object of its gaze; meditation is the survey of the mind while occupied in searching for the truth: and cogitation is the mind’s glance which is prone to wander.”

2. According to a gloss [*Cf. De Trin. xv, 8] of Augustine on this passage, “beholding” [speculatio] denotes “seeing in a mirror [speculo], not from a watch-tower [specula].” Now to see a thing in a mirror is to see a cause in its effect wherein its likeness is reflected. Hence “beholding” would seem to be reducible to meditation.

3. Admiration is a kind of fear resulting from the apprehension of a thing that surpasses our faculties: hence it results from the contemplation of the sublime truth. For it was stated above (Article [1]) that contemplation terminates in the affections.

4. Man reaches the knowledge of truth in two ways. First, by means of things received from another. In this way, as regards the things he receives from God, he needs “prayer,” according to Sg 7,7, “I called upon” God, “and the spirit of wisdom came upon me”: while as regards the things he receives from man, he needs “hearing,” in so far as he receives from the spoken word, and “reading,” in so far as he receives from the tradition of Holy Writ. Secondly, he needs to apply himself by his personal study, and thus he requires “meditation.”

St. I-II, Q. 188, art. 5: Whether a Religious Order Should Be Established for the Purpose of Study? (Wisdom 7:8).

Objection: 1. It would seem that a religious order should not be established for the purpose of study. For it is written (Ps 70,15-16): “Because I have not known letters [Douay: ‘learning’], I will enter into the powers of the Lord,” i.e. “Christian virtue,” according to a gloss. Now the perfection of Christian virtue, seemingly, pertains especially to religious. Therefore it is not for them to apply themselves to the study of letters.

2. Further, that which is a source of dissent is unbecoming to religious, who are gathered together in the unity of peace. Now study leads to dissent: wherefore different schools of thought arose among the philosophers. Hence Jerome (Super Epist. ad Tt 1,5) says: “Before a diabolical instinct brought study into religion, and people said: I am of Paul, I of Apollo, I of Cephas,” etc. Therefore it would seem that no religious order should be established for the purpose of study.

3. Further, those who profess the Christian religion should profess nothing in common with the Gentiles. Now among the Gentiles were some who professed philosophy, and even now some secular persons are known as professors of certain sciences. Therefore the study of letters does not become religious.

On the contrary Jerome (Ep. liii ad Paulin.) urges him to acquire learning in the monastic state, saying: “Let us learn on earth those things the knowledge of which will remain in heaven,” and further on: “Whatever you seek to know, I will endeavor to know with you.”

I answer that I answer that As stated above (Article [2]), religion may be ordained to the active and to the contemplative life. Now chief among the works of the active life are those which are directly ordained to the salvation of souls, such as preaching and the like. Accordingly the study of letters is becoming to the religious life in three ways.First, as regards that which is proper to the contemplative life, to which the study of letters helps in a twofold manner. In one way by helping directly to contemplate, namely by enlightening the intellect. For the contemplative life of which we are now speaking is directed chiefly to the consideration of divine things, as stated above (Question [180], Article [4]), to which consideration man is directed by study; for which reason it is said in praise of the righteous (Ps 1,2) that “he shall meditate day and night” on the law of the Lord, and (Si 39,1): “The wise man will seek out the wisdom of all the ancients, and will be occupied in the prophets.” In another way the study of letters is a help to the contemplative life indirectly, by removing the obstacles to contemplation, namely the errors which in the contemplation of divine things frequently beset those who are ignorant of the scriptures. Thus we read in the Conferences of the Fathers (Coll. x, 3) that the Abbot Serapion through simplicity fell into the error of the Anthropomorphites, who thought that God had a human shape. Hence Gregory says (Moral. vi) that “some through seeking in contemplation more than they are able to grasp, fall away into perverse doctrines, and by failing to be the humble disciples of truth become the masters of error.” Hence it is written (Qo 2,3): “I thought in my heart to withdraw my flesh from wine, that I might turn my mind to wisdom and might avoid folly.”Secondly, the study of letters is necessary in those religious orders that are founded for preaching and other like works; wherefore the Apostle (Titus 1:9), speaking of bishops to whose office these acts belong, says: “Embracing that faithful word which is according to doctrine, that he may be able to exhort in sound doctrine and to convince the gainsayers.” Nor does it matter that the apostles were sent to preach without having studied letters, because, as Jerome says (Ep. liii ad Paulin.), “whatever others acquire by exercise and daily meditation in God’s law, was taught them by the Holy Ghost.”Thirdly, the study of letters is becoming to religious as regards that which is common to all religious orders. For it helps us to avoid the lusts of the flesh; wherefore Jerome says (Ep. cxxv ad Rust. Monach.): “Love the science of the Scriptures and thou shalt have no love for carnal vice.” For it turns the mind away from lustful thoughts, and tames the flesh on account of the toil that study entails according to Si 31,1, “Watching for riches* consumeth the flesh.” [*Vigilia honestatis St. Thomas would seem to have taken ‘honestas’ in the sense of virtue]. It also helps to remove the desire of riches, wherefore it is written (Sg 7,8): “I . . . esteemed riches nothing in comparison with her,” and (1M  12,9): “We needed none of these things,” namely assistance from without, “having for our comfort the holy books that are in our hands.” It also helps to teach obedience, wherefore Augustine says (De oper. Monach. xvii): “What sort of perverseness is this, to wish to read, but not to obey what one reads?” Hence it is clearly fitting that a religious order be established for the study of letters.

Reply to Objection: 1. This commentary of the gloss is an exposition of the Old Law of which the Apostle says (2Co 3,6): “The letter killeth.” Hence not to know letters is to disapprove of the circumcision of the “letter” and other carnal observances.

2. Study is directed to knowledge which, without charity, “puffeth up,” and consequently leads to dissent, according to Pr 13,10, “Among the proud there are always dissensions”: whereas, with charity, it “edifieth and begets concord.” Hence the Apostle after saying (1Co 1,5): “You are made rich . . . in all utterance and in all knowledge,” adds (1Co 1,10): “That you all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among you.” But Jerome is not speaking here of the study of letters, but of the study of dissensions which heretics and schismatics have brought into the Christian religion.

3. The philosophers professed the study of letters in the matter of secular learning: whereas it becomes religious to devote themselves chiefly to the study of letters in reference to the doctrine that is “according to godliness” (Titus 1:1). It becomes not religious, whose whole life is devoted to the service of God, to seek for other learning, save in so far as it is referred to the sacred doctrine. Hence Augustine says at the end of De Musica vi, 17: “Whilst we think that we should not overlook those whom heretics delude by the deceitful assurance of reason and knowledge, we are slow to advance in the consideration of their methods. Yet we should not be praised for doing this, were it not that many holy sons of their most loving mother the Catholic Church had done the same under the necessity of confounding heretics.”

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Juan de Maldonado on Matt 28:16-20

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 30, 2011

Mat 28:16  And the eleven disciples went into Galilee, unto the mountain where Jesus had appointed them.

And the eleven disciples. Judas had either hung himself, as is the general opinion, or, having lost all hope of salvation, he had thought of doing so. At least he had not ventured to return to the communion of the Apostles. The prophecy of David (Ps 69:26), as S. Peter explains it (Acts 1:20), must be fulfilled. See on Matt 27:5.

Went into Galilee. Not immediately, but after eight days at least, as S. Augustin proves (De Cons., iii. 25). S. Matthew passes over many circumstances which the other Evangelists mention as having been done by the Apostles during the eight days which they spent at Jerusalem. That this may be understood clearly and in proper order, it will be well to relate at what time and to what persons Christ appeared after His Resurrection.

1. He appeared to His mother. Not that the Evangelists say so, but because it was right that He should have done so.

2. On the second day He appeared to S. Mary Magdalene, either alone, as S. Augustin and most others suppose, or, as has been said above, with the other women who came with her to the tomb (S. John 20:1 2).

3. He appeared, as most think, to all the women who came to the tomb on their return to the city. This happened on the same day.

4. On the same day also He is believed to have appeared to S. Peter, either alone, as S. Leo thinks (Cont. M. Constant., xv.), or, as is probable, to S. John also, when they had returned from the tomb (S. Luke 24:13; 1 Cor 15:3, 4, 5).

5. On the same day again He was seen by the two disciples as they were going to Emmaus (S. Luke 24:13).

6. On the same day, about evening, He appeared to the ten disciples when they were assembled in a house in Jerusalem in the absence of S. Thomas. Hence it follows that He supped with those two disciples at Emmaus, as S. Luke says, and appeared to the ten disciples at Jerusalem; for, like a spirit, He passed over great distances in a moment of time. These six appearances happened on the same day as His Resurrection.

7. After eight days He appeared to the eleven in the presence of S. Thomas at Jerusalem (S. John 20:26). Although S. Jerome thinks, but apparently with little probability, that this appearance took place on the mountain of Galilee mentioned by S. Matthew.

8. He was seen by the seven disciples: Peter, Thomas, the two sons of Zebedee, Nathaniel, and two others, whom the Evangelist does not name, as they were fishing in the Sea of Galilee (S. John 21:1, 2). Hence, when S. John says, This was the third time that Jesus was manifested to His disciples (Jn 21:14), he is not to be understood as meaning that Christ had been only seen three times before, for the contrary has been proved above; but, either, as S. Augustin explains (De Cons.,m. 25), the word third is to be understood, not of the number of appearances, as if Christ then appeared for the third time, but to the number of the days on which He appeared. In this manner He appeared the third time. For on the first day of His Resurrection He appeared six times; eight days after He appeared again; now, for the third time, as the disciples were fishing: or perhaps S. John speaks not of any particular appearance, but of a public and general one in which Christ was seen either by all the disciples at once, or by most of them. For although He had appeared to His Mother in private, and to Peter, and to the two disciples as they went to Emmaus, He had not appeared to all or to most of them together, but twice before: first, on the day of His Resurrection, when Thomas was absent; secondly, eight days after, when Thomas was present; thirdly, on this occasion, when the seven disciples were fishing in the sea of Tiberias. For the ninth time He appeared to all the disciples at once on Mount Galilee, as described in this place by S. Matthew. This, in the opinion of S. Chrysostom, was the last appearance before the Ascension. S. Augustin adds, as the tenth, that in which He was seen by the disciples on His ascent into heaven. From 1 Cor 15:6, 7, there appear to have probably been two others. If we add to these that which S. Paul describes, as made to himself after the Ascension, there will be altogether thirteen appearances.

Unto the mountain where Jesus had appointed them. The Evangelists do not relate that Christ said anything to the women about the mountain; nor does it appear whether He appointed this to them or to the Apostles. It is clear, however, from this passage that He spoke on some occasion about it; either, as Euthymius thinks, before His death, when He said to them, After I shall be risen again I will go before you into Galilee (Matt 26:32), or after the Resurrection, when, in the opinion of others, He appeared to the disciples at Jerusalem. It may easily be conjectured why He directed the disciples to go to the mountain. He desired to speak to them freely and with out judges, and whenever He did this He led them into a mountain apart, as in Matt 14:23; 15:29; 17:1; as Euthymius has shown. What mountain it was is a matter of uncertainty. It must, however, have been one somewhere near the Sea of Tiberias. For the disciples went from the mountain where they were to the sea, as a place close at hand to fish (S. John 21:2). Thus the opinion of those who think that this was the mountain from which Christ was afterwards taken up into heaven cannot possibly be correct; for this, S. Matthew says, was in Galilee, but that of the Ascension was a mile, or, as some say, two miles, from Jerusalem, as is also shown from Acts 1:12. Others think that it was the mountain on which Christ was transfigured, and which they called Tabor. On this, vid. Matt 17:2.

Mat 28:17  And seeing him they adored: but some doubted.

And seeing Him they adored. To their inward belief they added external adoration, confessing Him to be not only Christ, but also true God; as they could now no longer doubt of His Resurrection. The Evangelist opposes adoration to doubt, adding immediately, But some doubted. On these words it has been asked how the disciples could doubt after so many and plain appearances. Some say that the doubters were none of the eleven disciples, but some of the others who also had that name; for these had not seen Christ after His Resurrection. Theophylact is of this opinion. Others think that the words were spoken of the Apostles themselves; not that they both worshipped and doubted, at the same time and in the same place, but that they who now worshipped on the mountain had doubted before in Jerusalem. Theophylact mentions this opinion with approbation. It is, however, unquestionable that the Evangelist meant not only to distinguish between times and places, but persons also, and to say that some believed and worshipped, but that others doubted. It is evident that all did not doubt. S. Matthew is not therefore to be understood as meaning that the same persons both doubted and worshipped.

Others are of opinion that some of the Apostles, as soon as they saw Christ on the mountain, fell at His feet in adoration; while others hesitated and delayed, not as doubting of His Resurrection and Divinity, but whether He whom they then saw, and whom they had often seen in others places since His Resurrection, were Christ. So S. Chrysostom (Horn. xci. on S. Matt.), S. Greg. Nyss. (Orat. ii. de Resurr.), Juvencus, and Euthymius.

Others say that the words apply, not to this vision on the mountain in Galilee, but to that at Jerusalem when S. Thomas doubted, and when the other disciples thought that they had seen a spirit (S. Luke 24:37; 5. John 20:25, 27); for S. Matthew, for the sake of brevity, compressed all the visions into one, and only mentioned what was notable in each. But it had happened that some disciples, and especially S. Thomas, had doubted. S. Matthew said, therefore, But some doubted, not, that is, at the mountain, but previously at Jerusalem. It will be said that not only S. Thomas at Jerusalem, but almost all the other disciples doubted, and thought Christ a spirit (S. Luke 24:37). It has been urged, and with probability, by those who take this view, that S. Luke said generally that the disciples thought that they saw a spirit. Not that they all thought so, but that some did; as S. Matthew (27:44) relates that the thieves on the cross reviled Christ, when only one did so. This opinion seems probable, and it finds favour with Bede and Theophylact also.

Mat 28:18  And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.

AndJesus coming. Some think that this did not happen now, but on the last occasion of Christ s showing Himself to His disciples, when He ascended into heaven. This appears very probable. For S. John (21:15 and following) relates many things that have been passed over by the other Evangelists, and which happened after the appearance at the mountain in Galilee before this and before the events now described by S. Matthew took place. Such are Christ’s asking Peter thrice if he loved Him, and giving him the charge to feed His sheep: His signifying by what death He should die: Peter’s question about John, Lord, and what shall this man do? (Jn 21:21), and Christ’s answer (verse 23), all which, Deo adjuvante, shall be explained in the Commentary on S. John.

All power is given to Me in heaven and in earth. Before Christ gave the Apostles the power of preaching the Gospel, He said that all power was given to Him in heaven and on earth. His object was to show that He assumed nothing arbitrarily to Himself; that He gave nothing to them which He did not possess Himself; and, as is proverbially said, He showed them His letters patent, by which it is seen by what authority He made them Apostles, and bestowed such powers upon them.

It may seem strange that He should say, All power is given to Me, when He has all power, ipse per se. The followers of Arius did not overlook this. They brought the above with other passages of Scripture against the Divinity of Christ; saying that He could not be God in whom power was not innate, but on whom it was conferred (S. Athanasius, Deus ex Deo; and S. Cyril, ii. 73, On S. John). Those ancient Fathers answered in two ways:

1. That Christ said this, because when He was made man, He received that power with the human nature, that He might share it with us. He implies therefore that it was given to Him, not so much for Himself, as for us. So reasons S. Athanasius.

2. He received that power indeed as man, which as God He had by nature (S. Gregory of Nyssa, S. Cyril of Alexandria). They could allow without difficulty that as He was God He had received from the Father all power, as well as the divine nature, by eternal generation, as in 5. Luke 10:22. This is true, but perhaps hardly sufficient. For Christ speaks here not of any kind of power whatever, but of that which He gave to the Apostles; that is, the power of gaining and recruiting His spiritual kingdom, to which end He sent His Apostles. He speaks as if before His Resurrection He had it not, as S. Athanasius observes in another place. For He said, as if of a new matter, All power is given to Me. He did not speak of that power which He had as God, nor of that which He had as man, but of that which He had as the Redeemer of mankind, and which He had gained through His Death and Resurrection. For as He had redeemed all men by His blood, He had the right to gather them all into His kingdom, and to make them, as it were, His subjects. It is of this power that the Father speaks (Ps 2:8; 110:1; Isa 49:6, 8, 9). He speaks of it Himself in Dan 7:13, 14; and through S. John 16:33. This is the power which He says was given to Him by His Death and Resurrection, because He merited it Philippians 2:9). By this power He sent His Apostles to extend the boundaries of His kingdom; as Vigilius seems rightly to explain against Eutyches (lib. v.). The words in heaven and earth were uttered by Him that He might declare Himself to have, as S. Paul says, the power of ruling everywhere. One part of this kingdom of His, that which is in heaven, was long since wholly gained and pacified. The other, that on earth, has yet to be fully acquired by spiritual warfare. To this office the Apostles were sent by Him.

Mat 28:19  Going therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.

Going. Christ means going into the whole earth, as He had said, All power, &c. He Himself ascended into heaven, that is, that part of His kingdom which was now at length pacified, that He might sit on His throne on the right hand of His Father. He sent the Apostles into the other part of it that is, into all the earth to recall all men to Himself. S. Mark 16:15 describes this more fully: Go ye into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. Christ opposes the whole world to the boundary line of the Jews, by which He had previously limited the embassage of the Apostles (Matt 10:5). As He was then, by hereditary right as it were, king of the Jews, He sent His Apostles to them alone. Now, by His Death and Resurrection, He had gained the power of ruling over all men, and thus He sends the Apostles into the whole world, declaring that by His Death the wall which had kept the kingdom of the Jews inclosed on all sides, within their own bounds, was broken down, as is said by S. Paul (Ephes 2:14), and that the limits of His kingdom were therefore to be extended farther; nor were there to be any other bounds to that kingdom-that is, the Church than those of the entire world (Ps 72:8). God was known before in Judaea alone, now He was to be known everywhere (Ps 18:44, 45; Isa 64:1; Hosea 2:23; Rom 9:25). “As, therefore, you are sent by Me, to whom is given all power in heaven and earth, and that power is communicated from Me to you” for this is the force of the word therefore– “teach not human wisdom, for nothing is more adverse to My kingdom (1 Cor 3:19), but divine, which is foolishness to men. Teach My cross” (1 Cor 1:23). Christ showed them what to teach (S. Mark 16:15).

These words were perverted, not only by the modern Anabaptists, but also by some Fathers of old, as Tertullian (De Bapt.) and Nicetas in his commentary on S. Gregory Nazianzen (Oration on Holy Baptism), to prove that Baptism ought not to be given to infants except when in peril of death, because Christ commanded that those who were to be baptised should first be taught, and this cannot be done to infants. They do not see that Christ does not forbid those who cannot be taught to be baptised, but that He only commands all who have been taught before to be baptised. That they who are not yet capable of learning, if we wish them to be saved, ought to be baptised, He has taught elsewhere (S. John 3:5). Hence Calvin and his followers, who hold that this passage applies not to the Sacrament of Baptism but to the regeneration of faith, have no sufficient evidence from Scripture of the necessity of infant baptism.

Baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. To the doctrine of Baptism Christ unites the Sacrament, not, as Calvin teaches, as the sign of grace already received, but as the sign and profession of doctrine and faith. Thus among the Greeks, βαπτιζοντες means to dip into water, to wash, to blot out, and, as Tertullian renders it, to sprinkle. Thus the matter of the Sacrament is explained by the meaning of the word; that baptism should be performed by water, as Christ Himself more forcibly expresses it in S. John 3:5. It is evident that the Apostles never baptised with anything but water, and there was much contention between the disciples of Christ and John, because the disciples of Christ, like those of John, baptised with water (S. John 3:26). It was also decided by S. Philip in the case of the eunuch of Queen Candace, that those who believe in Christ should be baptised with water (Acts 8:36, and 10:46, 47). The same thing was done in figure, as shown in 1 Cor 10:2; 1 Peter 3:31. As in the flood, eight persons were saved by water, so now baptism of like form saves many. Thus it is concluded that as the sea and the flood consisted of water, so baptism ought to be performed by the same matter, and thus the heresy of Seleucus and Hermias is confuted. S. Augustin (De Hæresibus, lxix.) says, “They said that baptism should be without water, because when the baptism of John is compared with that of Christ, the former is said to be performed with water, the latter with the Holy Ghost and with fire (S. Matt 3:11; S. Mark 1:8; S. Luke 3:16; S. John 1:26, 33; Acts 11:16). But when the baptism of Christ and John are thus compared, the meaning is not that Christ would not baptise with water: but not, like John, with water only. Beside water, which is given outwardly, He would pour out the Holy Ghost, which is shed inwardly; as was shown by the descent of the tongues of fire on the day of Pentecost, as explained by S. John Damascus (iv. 10, De Fid. Orthod.).

The form of baptism is also prescribed in these words. For although it may not be demonstrable from this passage to a curious enquirer that the form which we now use ought to be that of baptism, I baptise thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, yet the tradition of the Church approves it. That the Church has always thus baptised is shown by the fact that whoever uses any other form is condemned and excommunicated. The forty-ninth of the Canons of the Apostles excommunicates all bishops and priests who baptise otherwise than in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. By this rule the Marcionites are condemned by S. Irenreus (lib. i.) and by S. Epiphanius (Hær. xxxiv.) as not administering true baptism, because they did not use this form. So the baptism of the Paulianists was rejected by the Council of Nice (Can. xix.), 6th Council of Carthage (Can. xix.), and by S. Innocent I. (Ep. xxii. 5). Thus all subtleties by which the force of the words may be eluded are done away: as, if it were said that the meaning is not, Baptising them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, that is, by invocating or appealing to the name, but doing so by the authority of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; although we find in many places that baptism was administered in the name of Christ, this was not that he who baptised said, “I baptise thee in the name of Christ,” but that he did so by His authority, as shall be shown hereafter. Especially if it be maintained that it does not follow from the above words that the baptiser ought to say, “I baptise thee in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,” for Christ does not say this; but that it is enough to pour water and say, “In the name of Father, Son, Holy Ghost.” Or lastly, if it be asserted that the words may be taken disjunctively and the meaning be, “Baptising in the name of the Father, or of the Son, or of the Holy Ghost,” which the facts of the case seem to sanction; for many of great authority say that the Apostles often baptised in the name of Christ alone. All these astute glosses the one tradition of the Church, that best interpreter of Holy Scripture, does away altogether. For the question is not how the words may be taken, but how they ought to be taken. They ought to be taken in the sense in which Christ spoke them, and not in that in which everyone may form for himself. The meaning of Christ, as appears from the use and tradition of the Church, was that when the Apostles baptised, they should say, “I baptise thee in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,” or in words that mean the same thing. How it was that they sometimes baptised in the name of Christ alone, as in Acts 2:38, shall be explained elsewhere.

It may be properly asked, why Christ willed Baptism to be administered in this form? Many reasons may be given.

1. To show whence Baptism has its power, namely (1), from the Father who sent His Son to die for men. (2) From the Son who instituted the Sacrament, and by His own blood moistened it as it were, and made it fruitful and efficacious. (3) From the Holy Ghost, who, as water washes the body outwardly, so Himself washes the soul inwardly, sanctifying it.

2. That those who are baptised may not suppose that they have received a merely human gift, and so should divide not only men, as they did who said, I am of Paul and I am of Apollo (1 Cor 1:12), but even God Himself as it were, saying, “I am of the Son, I am of the Holy Ghost,” as if they were baptised in the name of one Person only.

3. As Fulgentius says (De fid. Orthod. ad Donat.), “that men may know that they have the same Author of their regeneration as of their natural birth, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost”. The meaning, then, is that the Apostles should testify that they baptised not in their own names, but in that of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and that what they did was done, not in their own persons, but in the person of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; lest it be considered their own baptism, and not the Baptism of God; as S. Augustin says, in passages without number, of the baptism of John, that it was so called as being done in his own name and person, although by the command and inspiration of God, but not in the person of God; and therefore that the words of baptism, In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, are not only to be referred to the word baptising, but also to those who baptise.

From these words also the ancient Fathers rightly proved the mystery of the Holy Trinity. By them they answered the Sabellians, who perverted them to prove that Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were one only Person, be cause Christ did not say, “Baptise in the names,” but in the name. S. Basil refutes them (Ep. lxiv.), concluding from the same words that, on the contrary, they were three Persons and one Nature, because while the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are mentioned as three distinct Persons, there is only one name of God, and one authorship among them.

From the same words, others have proved the divinity and equality of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, against Arius and the Arians; for we are not baptised in the name of any creature. So S. Athanasius (Sermo, iii. contra. Arian.; Orat. de Ætern.; Subst. F. et SS. cont. Sabell.; and Orat. on S. Luke x. 22, Disput. conc. Ar. in conc. Nicæn. Ep. ad Serap. Profess, reg. Cathol.], S. Hilary (De Trin., ii.), S. Gregory Nazianzen (Orat. Coram cl. Episcop. de Theolog.), S. Ambrose (De Sptu. Sto., i. 14), Didymus (De Sptu. Sto., ii.), Theodoret (Hær. Fab. v. de Sptu. Sto) Fulgentius (Cont. Arian. and De fid. OrtJwd., and De Incarnat. et Grat., ix.).

S. Marks adds to the above words, He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be condemned. And these signs shall follow them that believe. In My name they shall cast out devils, &c., showing the universal effect of baptism. For not only faith, but also baptism saves us, as S. Peter says (1 Pet 3:21). His words refer not only to those who believe, but also to all who are baptised. For they who believed could not perform such miracles as these before they were baptised. Of this there is a notable example in the Book of Acts (Acts 19:6). It is not, however, to be understood that all who were baptised could perform these miracles, but, because many would do them, and not only in their own name, but also in the name and to the good of others, Christ, that both their own faith and the faith of others might be strengthened, said generally, These signs shall follow: not that they would do so in every case, but because it would be necessary for the confirmation of the faith. As if Christ had said, “The faith of those who believe shall be confirmed by miracles”. This shall be explained more fully on S. Mark.

Mat 28:20  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. After faith and baptism, Christ enjoins the observance of His laws, showing that neither faith nor baptism are sufficient for our salvation unless we keep the laws of God; as Theophylact has observed (in loc.).

And behold I am with you. Christ sent the Apostles to teach, as if to a warfare with the entire world. It was to be feared that they might despond under the weight of so great a work and the prevision of future dangers, Christ bids them be strong of heart, and, that they might stand firmly against all dangers, He promised to be with them, and that not too late but in good season. The two words Behold and I have this force. The former alludes to the present opportune time, as if it were said, “As soon as need arises I will be unexpectedly with you”; and as the proverb says, “Deus ex machina”. The word I refers to Him who is able to deliver from all dangers. As if the general should say to a soldier in battle, “Be brave and firm, I am here, and am bringing you assistance”: as in S. John 16:33 Christ said to the disciples, Have confidence, I have overcome the world. “I am with you, who have overcome that world against which you will have to contend. I am with you, in whom the prince of this world has nothing” (see S. John 14:30). “I am with you, whose Father has promised to put all My enemies
under My feet as My footstool” (Ps 110:2).

The opinions of the Ancients on the meaning of this passage differ greatly. Some think that Christ spoke not of His human but of His divine nature, which is every where present. Such is the opinion of S. Augustin (Tract lx. on S. John), Fulgentius (iii., Cont. Thrasymund., and Lib. de Incarn. et Grat., ix.). But it is clear that Christ promised something less general to the Apostles. He promised to be with them in another sense than that in which He is present with other things and other men.

Others think that He spoke of His Divine Providence, by which God is said to be present to men rather than to inanimate objects, and among men to the just rather than to the unjust; and that, even if He should depart, He would still be with them, because He would send His Holy Spirit in His place to teach them all truth, and direct and govern them as He had promised (S. John 14:18). Thus S. Cyril of Alexandria (De Trinit., vii.), Salvian (ii., De Judic. et Provident. Dei], and S. Leo (Ep. li., xcii.) explain these words. This is all true; but the question is not merely what is true, but what is best adapted to the meaning of the passage. It is to be admitted that Christ, as He is God, is everywhere present, but he here promises another kind of presence to the Apostles. Christ, after He had sent His Holy Spirit, rules His Church even to the end of the world. I do not deny that this is to be concluded from the present passage, as the authors mentioned above rightly say, but the question is not what may be gathered from what He said, but what He intended to say. S. Chrysostom (Hom, xci. on S. Matt.), S. Jerome (Ep. to Damasus) Prosper (lib. ii., De Vocat. Gent.) Bede, and Euthymius appear to have explained the passage most admirably, in saying that Christ speaks not only of His divine but also of His human presence. Not that as man He would be present with the Apostles in His body, but He calls His grace and assistance “His presence”. He was about to give them this, not only as He was God, but also as He was man. For it is said that He would be present with them, because He would be their helper in all things; as God is said to have been with Joseph in the pit, because He brought him help in prison (Wisd 10:13; Acts 7:9; Ps 34:20); and in 2 Tim 3:11, where S. Paul says that God delivered him out of all his persecutions; and as Christ was with S. Stephen when he was stoned, when S. Stephen himself saw Him standing in heaven, and stretching out His hand, as it were, to help him (Acts 7:56); and as God said to the Prophet Jeremias when he refused the work appointed (Jer 1:8), Be not afraid at their presence, for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord; and to Ezekiel 3:8, 9, I have made thy face stronger than their faces, and thy forehead harder than their foreheads. I have made thy face like an adamant and like flint; fear them not, neither be thou dismayed at their presence ; for they are a provoking house; and as Prosper says (chap, ii., De Vocat. Gent.) “When you enter like sheep in the midst of wolves, fear not for your infirmity, but trust in My strength, who will be with you in every work of yours to the end of the world: not that you may suffer nothing, but, what is much more, to insure you from being overcome by any cruelty of the oppressors. In My power you shall preach, and by Me it shall be that among the enemy and persecutor sons shall be raised up of these stones to Abraham. I will bring to pass what I have taught. I will do what I have promised.”  Lastly, as, when Christ sent the Apostles to preach the Gospel to the Jews, He promised them His presence and the help of His Holy Spirit (Matt 10:19, 20), so now He promises His aid and presence to those who are sent to teach all nations.

Even to the consummation of the world. Christ shows that He speaks not with the Apostles alone, but with all who should come into their place, and who, He also signifies, shall be Apostles. For the eleven, with whom He spoke, would not live to the end of the world, as S. Augustin (De Genes, ad litt., vi. 8) and Theophylact (in loc.) say. This is preferable to S. Jerome’s idea. He thinks the meaning of the words to be, that the Apostles would live even to the end of the world, because, though dead in the body, they would always live in the soul. But Christ did not promise to be with them in heaven, where there is no such need of His promise, but on earth, in the dust, in the arena, in the conflict. S. Jerome (Against Helvidius) and S. Gregory Nazianzen (Orat. iv. de Theolog.) have rightly pointed out that the words even to do not exclude the time after the end of the world, as if Christ meant that after that period He would not be with them.  That only is asserted which is doubtful. It was not doubtful that after the end of the world Christ would be with the Apostles in His kingdom; but it may be doubtful whether He will be with them in conflict, as in Ps 110:1 the Father says to the Son, Sit thou at My right hand, until I make Thy enemies Thy footstood. This does not mean that after His enemies were subdued He should not sit on the right hand of the Father; nay, He will in a manner sit there the more, for His glory and majesty will be the more displayed. But even if the explanation we have cited be admitted, nothing wrong would follow if we say that the words even to (usque) do exclude the time that comes after. For in the manner in which Christ said that He would be with the Apostles even to the end of the world: that is, by aiding them in their conflicts: because there will be no warfare then, but they will reign, He will not be with them. But He will be with them in another manner, for they will eat and drink with Him in His kingdom (S. Luke 22:30).

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Father’s Nolan and Brown’s Commentary on John 14:15-21

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 24, 2011

15. If you love me keep my commandments.

Now begins the promise of the Holy Ghost the fifth and greatest motive of consolation. But first in this verse, He requires as a condition that they should prove the love they protested by keeping His commandments; for, as St. Gregory says, “love is proved by deeds.”

16. And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever.

The Greek παρακλητον (Paraclete) passive in form, means literally “one called to the side of another,” for the purpose of advising or aiding him. The word is not found in the LXX., nor in the N. T. except in St. John, but its use in Demosthenes (De Falsa Leg. p. 341), Philo (Leg. in Place. 968 B.) and early Christian writers (Barn. Ep. xx. ; 2 Clem. 6) is clear. “The sense of advocate, counsel, one who pleads, convinces, convicts, in a great controversy, who strengthens on the one hand and defends on the other, meeting formid able attacks, is alone adequate.” Westc. pp. 211, 212. It is disputed whether the Holy Ghost is here promised only to the Apostles, or, in them, to the whole teaching Church. In the first case, “for ever,” would mean during their lives; in the second, it would mean
till the end of the world, as long as the Church shall endure. This latter sense we
prefer, for (1) the words “for ever” favour this view; (2) though the Apostles needed a comforter, yet not they only, but their successors quite as much; (3) this spirit is promised to teach them all truth (John 16:13); why, except in order that they through themselves and their successors might teach the world? (4) we
know from the event that on the day of Pentecost the Holy Ghost came not to the Apostles alone (Acts 2:4). We hold then that the Holy Ghost is here promised to the Ecclesia docens, represented by the Apostles, to abide with her for ever.

In either interpretation it cannot be proved from this text that the Apostles were to be confirmed in grace after the descent of the Holy Ghost, for it is enough for the fulfilment of the promise here made that the Holy Ghost was to be, as far as in Him lay, an enduring Comforter, though the Apostles, on their part, might expel
and banish Him. This verse proves the personality of the Holy Ghost, for He is sent in the place of Christ (see also verse 26). It proves also His Divinity, for only a Divine Person would be thus compared to Christ, and spoken of as another Comforter. Moreover the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father is here
implied in the fact that the Father is said to send the Holy Ghost. For the sending of one Divine Person by another, implies the Eternal Procession of one from the
other with a relation to some term in time. Finally, the three Persons of the Trinity are shown to be distinct, for the Father will send the Holy Ghost at the request of the Son.

17. The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, nor knoweth him: but you shall know him; because he shall abide with you, and shall be in you.

The Spirit of truth. The Holy Ghost is so called, not only because He is essential Truth, but also because He was to come to the Apostles as a teacher of truth (verse 26). In the following words the Apostles are told that the wicked world (Jn 1:10; 14:30; 17:9, 16) cannot receive the Holy Ghost, for as St. Paul says: “the sensual man perceiveth not these things that are of the Spirit of God; for it is foolishness to him, and he cannot understand: because it is spiritually examined” (1 Cor 2:14).

It seeth him not, nor knoweth him. Some take the meaning to be: seeth Him not with the eyes of the body, nor discerneth Him by spiritual vision; others, and with more probability, take both clauses as synonymous and in reference to spiritual vision. The sense is that be cause the wicked world will refuse to recognise the Holy Ghost, it will be incapable of receiving Him at His coming.
Want of vision shall be a hindrance to possession.

But you shall know him; because he shall abide with you, and shall be in you.
Reversing the order of thought, He now says that the presence of the Holy Ghost abiding in the Apostles shall bring them still  fuller knowledge. Such seems to be the sense of the verse according to the Vulgate reading. But in the latter part of the verse, instead of “shall know” and “shall abide,” we have in both instances the present tense in the Greek, and many authorities also read the present instead of “shall be.”  The clause would then run: “but you know him because he abides with you and is in you.”

18. I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you.

As a sixth motive of con solation, He tells them that He will come again to them Himself. Already indeed he had spoken of His coming to them, and had put it forward as a motive of consolation (verse 3), but the coming there meant we take to be different from that now referred to, and hence a new motive of consolation is now put forward in the coming promised here.

I will come (ερχομαι) to you. There are various views as to what coming of Christ is here promised.

(1) Some hold that the reference is to the coming after His resurrection when we know He appeared to the Apostles but was unseen by the world. So St. Chrys., St. Thorn., Patriz., &c.

(2) Others hold that there is question of the coming at the Day of Judgment. As the years are measured before God, only “a little while” shall elapse till then, and it is only after the Day of Judgment that the promise of verse 20: “In that day you shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you” shall be fully realized. So St. Aug., Maid., &c.

(3) Others understand of the coming of Christ in and with the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost. If the consubstantiality and circumincession of the three Divine Persons be borne in mind, the whole passage that follows as far as verse 24, will then be naturally explained. So St. Cyril, Beel., Bisp., &c. We prefer the last view, and hold that from 15-24, there is question of the coming of the Holy Ghost, first in reference to the Apostles (15-20), and then in reference to the faithful generally (21-24). In reference to the Apostles, the coming of the Holy Ghost is first considered in itself (15-17), and next, for their consolation, as implying and including the coming of Christ Himself (18-20).

Though this view may at first sight seem forced, we believe that if the connection
in the passage be followed closely, it must appear the most probable. For when St. Jude, alluding to the words of verse 19, asks, in verse 22, how Christ shall be seen by the Apostles, yet unseen by the world, Christ’s reply, in verse 23, goes to show that the vision is spiritual, and such as is explained by the fact, that He and His Father will come and make their abode in those that love Him.

19. Yet a little while: and the world seeth me no more. But you see me: because I live, and you shall live.

Yet a little while. This we understand of the few hours that remained till His death. After that, the world should see Him no longer. But, He adds, you shall see
Me (present for future); not, indeed, with the eyes of the body, but with those of the soul; because I live (the present being used, perhaps, of His Divine life, in virtue of which He was to resume the life of the body), and you shall live the life of grace, which will be rewarded by the vision of Me.

Thus he tells them that they shall live a spiritual life, a kind of participation in His own glorious life (Jn 6:57), and that for this reason they shall be privileged to see Him spiritually. That there is question of spiritual vision, is proved, we believe, from what follows; for they shall see according as He shall manifest Himself (verse 21); and this manifestation of Himself He explains in verse 23 of His abiding in them.

20. In that day you shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

In that time, after I have come to you at Pentecost (together with the Holy Ghost), you shall know clearly that I am in My Father, that I am God, and that you are in Me as its branches in the vine (see below, Jn 15:2), deriving all your
spiritual life from Me, and I in you by a special indwelling enjoyed only by the just. See above on Jn 7:39. If there be a comparison here between the mutual indwelling of the Father and Son on the one hand, and that of Christ and the just on the other, it is plain that the likeness is only imperfect and analogical. Yet such texts as this (see also Jn 6:58; 17:21, 23), even when we make all necessary allowance for the imperfection of the likeness, prove clearly how marvellously
intimate and sacred is the union that exists between Christ and the souls of the

21. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them: he it is that loveth me. And he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father: and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

He that hath (ο εχων) my commandments, and keepeth them, &c. Not only to the Apostles, but to all that love Him, Christ will manifest Himself, for in and with the Holy Ghost He and His Father will come and abide in them.

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Fathers Nolan and Brown’s Commentary on John 14:7-14

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 19, 2011

7. If you had known me, you would without doubt have known my Father also; and from henceforth you shall know him, and you have seen him.

Having told them that He Himself is the way, He now proceeds to point out to them that if they had known this way in the manner they ought, they should also have known the term towards which it led. Hence the sense is You would know the Father to whom I go, if you knew Me; for I and the Father are the same divine substance (John 10:30). Thomas had said that they did not know the term of Christ’s journey, and therefore could not know the way thereto, implying that the way was to be known from, or at least after, the term to which it led. Christ now declares that the reverse is the case; and if they had known Him, the way, they should also have known the Father. The words: If you
had known me, imply that they had not yet known Christ as they ought. They had indeed  known Him to some extent as He admits in verse 4, but they had not realized fully His Divinity and consubstantiality with the Father, else they would have implicitly known the Father in knowing Him. And from henceforth you shall know him, and you have seen him. We would render the Greek
thus: “And even now (see John 13:19) you know Him, and you have seen Him.” The sense is, that even now they knew the Father in some way through their imperfect knowledge of Christ, and they had seen Him in seeing Christ, because, as Christ adds in verse 9: “He who seeth me, seeth the Father also.”  Thus it was true that in an imperfect manner they knew whither Christ went, and the
way thereto (verse 4), yet equally true that they knew neither way nor term so clearly as they might, considering that He had now for more than three years been gradually revealing Himself to them.

Joh 14:8  Philip saith to him: Lord, shew us the Father; and it is enough for us.

Thomas is silenced, but Philip now interposes, and failing to understand Christ’s
statement that they had seen the Father, asks Him to show them the Father, probably in some visible form, and then they will ask no more.

Joh 14:9  Jesus saith to him: Have I been so long a time with you and have you not known me? Philip, he that seeth me seeth the Father also. How sayest thou: Shew us the Father?

Christ replies, again insisting on His consubstantiality with the Father: He that seeth me, seeth the Father also (“also” is probably not genuine.) These words prove clearly, against the Arians, Christ s consubstantiality, or unity of nature, with the Father; otherwise in seeing Him they could not be said to see the Father even implicitly. Yet it is clear against the Sabellians that the Father and the Son
are distinct Persons, for Christ plainly distinguishes Himself from the Father in verse 6 where He says “No man cometh to the Father but by me” and again in verse 13, where He says that He goes to the Father. There is, then, identity of nature, but distinction of Persons. Cognovistis of the Vulgate ought to be cognovisti, Philip being addressed.

Joh 14:10  Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I speak to you, I speak not of myself. But the Father who abideth in me, he doth the works.

Do you not believe (cre ditis ought to be credis) that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? He who saw Christ saw the Father implicitly, in virtue of the unity of nature. The words, and the connection with verse 9, show clearly that such is the identity of nature in the Father and the Son that He who sees the Son, thereby in some sense sees the Father also. St Thomas says on this verse:  “He says, I am in the Father and the Father in me, because they are one in essence. This was spoke of before: “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30.  We should not that in the divinity essence is not related to person as it is in human beings. Among human beings, the essence of Socrates is not Socrates, because Socrates is a composite. But in the divinity, essence is the same with the person in reality, and so the essence of the Father is the Father, and the essence of one Son is the Son. Therefore, wherever the essence of the Father is, there the Father is; and wherever the essence of the Son is, there the Son is. Now the essence of the Father is in the Son, and the essence of the Son is in the Father. Therefore, the Son is in the Father, and the Father in the Son.” (St Thomas Aquinas, Lecture 3 on John 14).

Then He goes on to prove that the Father is in Him, and He in the Father, from the fact that His words and works are the words and works of the Father. Instead of “the works” many authorities read “His works;” but the sense is the same, for the works were both Christ’s and the Father’s.

Joh 14:11  Believe you not that I am in the Father and the Father in me?

According to the Vulgate reading, Christ, for emphasis, repeats the question of verse 10. In the original there is not a question, but simply an injunction addressed to all the Apostles; “Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me.”

Joh 14:12  Otherwise believe for the very works’ sake. Amen, amen, I say to you, he that believeth in me, the works that I do, he also shall do: and greater than these shall he do.

The sense is: But if My testimony does not suffice to satisfy you of My Divinity, at
least believe on account of My miracles.

Having thus replied to the interruptions of Thomas and Philip He now proceeds to put before the Apostles other motives of consolation. The mention of the fourth motive opens with the solemn “Amen, amen;” and the Apostles are told that whoever believeth in Him shall perform even greater miracles than His (“majora horum” is a Graecism for ” majora his”), the reason being that in leaving His followers He bequeaths to them His thaumaturgic power, and bequeaths it in great perfection, because He ascends to the glory of the Father.

Greater than these. The miracles of Christ s followers were greater than His in
their visible effects. “Evangelizantibus discipulis . . . gentes etiam crediderunt;
haec sunt sine dubitatione majora (St. Aug. ad loc.). We think it very probable that the charism of miracles is here promised not merely to the Apostles, but to the Church, in which it still resides; for it is promised to whoever believeth. Of course, not every faith is sufficient that we may work miracles; a specially strong, unwavering faith is necessary. See Matt 21:21.

Joh 14:13  Because I go to the Father: and whatsoever you shall ask the Father in my name, that will I do: that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

In the Vulgate the words: “Because I go to the Father,” are rightly connected with the preceding, and form portion of verse 12.

And whatsoever you shall ask the Father. The words “the Father” are probably not genuine, but they indicate the sense. For it is by the Son’s doing what is asked of the Father that the Father is glorified in the Son.

In my name (εν τω ονοματ). This phrase occurs here for the first time in this Gospel. Compare the phrase “in the name of my Father,” Jn 5:43; 10:25; also Jn 17:6, 11, 12, 26, and the words of the Evangelist in Jn 1:12; 2:23; 3:18. The phrase before us occurs again in Jn 14:26; 15:16; 16:23, 24, 26. See also Acts 3:6; 4:10, 12. In the present verse, and wherever there is question of asking, it seems to mean: while invoking with faith the name of Christ.

Joh 14:14  If you shall ask me any thing in my name, that I will do.

Moreover, whatsoever miracle they shall ask of Himself, in His own name (and, of course, with the requisite faith), that He will perform. We incline to the view that in verses 13 and 14 there is question primarily of miracles; but the expression “si quid” (εαν τι) is so general, that we would not limit the promise,
but be inclined to believe that it proves the efficacy of all prayer of supplication offered with the proper dispositions.

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Resource for Sunday Mass, Feb 27 (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms)

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 27, 2011

This post contains resources (mostly biblical) for the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite. Some further resources may be added before Sunday, these will be marked UPDATE. Please keep in mind that the readings for the two forms differ from one another.



Pope John Paul II on Psalm 62.

UPDATE: St John Chrysostom on 1 Cor 4:1-5.

Bernardin de Piconio on 1 Cor 4:1-5.

Cornelius a Lapide on 1 Cor 4:1-5.

Bishop MacEvily on 1 Cor 4:1-5.

Juan de Maldonado on Matt 6:24-34.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matt 6:24-34.

Bishop Knecht’s Practical Commentary on Matt 6:24-34.

Update 2/25/11: Bishop MacEvily on Matt 6:24-34 .

Catholic Matters. Readings with brief explanations.

Bible Study. A study of the readings from St Charles Borromeo Parish.

Dr Scott Hahn Podcast. Audio, 3 minutes. Does good job of highlighting major theme(s) of the readings. Text also available.

St Martha’s Podcast. Usually examines all three readings in some detail, however, this week’s podcast is rather brief (approx. 10 minutes), and summary in nature.

Franciscan Sisters Bible Study Podcast. This Sunday’s podcast probably wont become available until Thursday. The studies usually last 45-60 minutes and look at all the readings.

Father Robert Barron’s Homily Podcast. As I prepare this (Tuesday evening) this Sunday’s homily has not yet been posted. Fr. Barron is a well known and respected theologian and preacher.

Word Sunday: A Lectionary Resource For Catholics.

  • MP PODCAST In this week’s audio podcast, we consider the the timeless problem of anxiety. What did Jesus say about daily worry? Focus on God, take one day at a time.
  • FIRST READING Isaiah 49 answered the question of distance from God. God hasn’t abandoned his people, for how could he forget his own?
  • PSALM Psalm 62 spoke to struggle prayer can present in life. It saw YHWH as the only answer to the uncertainty in life.
  • SECOND READING St. Paul wrote his critics in Corinth to hold their tongues. “Wait to judge,” he said, “wait until God judges.”
  • GOSPEL In Matthew 6, Jesus addressed anxiety. His answer was not “Don’t worry, be happy.” It was, “Pray, then be happy.”
  • CHILDREN’S READINGS In the story for the first reading, Lance has a shy boy whom others judged harshly. One day, that judgment changed with a new friend, and skills he would learn from that friend. It doesn’t matter what others say about us. Only God matters. In the story for the gospel, Gerald worried about a math test. In fact, he worried too much. He needed a break, some time to put his worries in perspective. We need the same quality time to put our world into perspective, God’s perspective.
  • CATECHISM LINK In this week’s Catechism Link, we investigate the Precepts of the Church.
  • FAMILY ACTIVITY Pray and have fun as a family, especially as a means to reduce stress.

Gospel Meditation. Gospel text followed by brief meditation, brief prayer, and the Psalm of the day.

Lector Notes. Gives helpful theological and historical background. Can be printed out for use as a bulletin insert.

Historical Cultural Context of the Gospel. Provides brief but very interesting background to the phrase “you cannot serve two masters” and on the anxieties of life in the 1st century.

Thoughts From the Early Church. Excerpt from a homily dating from the 4th or 5th century.

Scripture in Depth. Provides a good bit of information about the readings in surprisingly brief fashion.

Today’s Good News. Brief commentary on the Gospel.

Sunday Reflections. By Fr. Eugene Lobo, S.J.


This Sunday’s Missal. Contains the prayers and readings in both Latin and English.

Goffine’s Devout Instructions on the Epistle and Gospel. Online book. Contains the readings and prayers along with instructions based upon them.

Cornelius a Lapide on 2 Cor 11:19-33, 12:1-9.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 8:4-15.

Bishop Knecht’s Practical Commentary on Luke 8:4-15.

Doctrinal Instructions on the Angels. Online book. It was common to give instructions on the angels for this Sunday inasmuch as an angel of Satan was mentioned in the first reading (2 Cor 12:7), and Satan is mentioned in the Gospel text (Luke 8:12).

The Nature of Angels. Online book.

Angels in the World. Online book.

Moral Instruction on Fasting and Prayer. On this Sunday it was common to give instruction on fasting and prayer.

UODATE: The Poor Soil Ont Which the Word of God Generally Falls. Homily, online book.

UPDATE: The Word of God. Homily, online book.

UPDATE: On the Necessity of Hearing the Word of God in a Sermon. Homily, online book. Scroll down to bottom of page to find the start of the homily.

UPDATE: Our Wisdom. Homily, online book.


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Feb 7: St Athanasius on the Doctrine of Creation

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 7, 2011

Today’s first Mass reading is from Genesis 1:1-19. I have no public domain (Catholic) resources on the book of Genesis at my disposal; nor do I have time to prepare notes on the Genesis passages which will be used in the daily lectionary for the next couple of weeks. I have chosen to post some excerpts relating to the readings instead.  The following is an excerpt from St Athanasius’ famous work ON THE INCARNATION, which is, as it were, a companion volume to his earlier word AGAINST THE HEATHEN. Both the rejection of the idolatry of paganism and the Incarnation of the Word are bound up with the doctrine of creation in the thought of St Athanasius, which reflects the biblical view (e.g., Creator God versus idols in Isaiah 40; St John’s Logos Christology, Jn 1:1-18).

Erroneous Views of Creation Rejected:

Of the making of the universe and the creation of all things many have taken different views, and each man has laid down the law just as he pleased. For some say that all things have come into being of themselves, and in a chance fashion; as, for example, the Epicureans, who tell us in their self-contempt, that universal providence does not exist speaking right in the face of obvious fact and experience. For if, as they say, everything has had its beginning of itself, and independently of purpose, it would follow that everything had come into mere being, so as to be alike and not distinct. For it would follow in virtue of the unity of body that everything must be sun or moon, and in the case of men it would follow that the whole must be hand, or eye, or foot. But as it is this is not so. On the contrary, we see a distinction of sun, moon, and earth; and again, in the case of human bodies, of foot, hand, and head. Now, such separate arrangement as this tells us not of their having come into being of themselves, but shews that a cause preceded them; from which cause it is possible to apprehend God also as the Maker and Orderer of all.

But others, including Plato, who is in such repute among the Greeks, argue that God has made the world out of matter previously existing and without beginning. For God could have made nothing had not the material existed already; just as the wood must exist ready at hand for the carpenter, to enable him to work at all. But in so saying they know not that they are investing God with weakness. For if He is not Himself the cause of the material, but makes things only of previously existing material, He proves to be weak, because unable to produce anything He makes without the material; just as it is without doubt a weakness of the carpenter not to be able to make anything required without his timber. For, ex hypothesi, had not the material existed, God would not have made anything. And how could He in that case be called Maker and Artificer, if He owes His ability to make to some other source—namely, to the material? So that if this be so, God will be on their theory a Mechanic only, and not a Creator out of nothing if, that is, He works at existing material, but is not Himself the cause of the material. For He could not in any sense be called Creator unless He is Creator of the material of which the things created have in their turn been made. But the sectaries imagine to themselves a different artificer of all things, other than the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, in deep blindness even as to the words they use. For whereas the Lord says to the Jews: “Have ye not read that from the beginning He which created them made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they twain shall become one flesh?” and then, referring to the Creator, says, “What, therefore, God hath joined together let not man put asunder:” how come these men to assert that the creation is independent of the Father? Or if, in the words of John, who says, making no exception, “All things were made by Him,” and “without Him was not anything made,” how could the artificer be another, distinct from the Father of Christ?

The True Doctrine. Creation Out of Nothing, of God’s Lavish Bounty of Being. Man Created Above the Rest, But Incapable of Independent Perseverance. Hence the Exceptional and Supra-Natural Gift of Being in God’s Image, with the Promise of Bliss Conditionally Upon His Perseverance in Grace:

Thus do they vainly speculate. But the godly teaching and the faith according to Christ brands their foolish language as godlessness. For it knows that it was not spontaneously, because forethought is not absent; nor of existing matter, because God is not weak; but that out of nothing, and without its having any previous existence, God made the universe to exist through His word, as He says firstly through Moses: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth;” secondly, in the most edifying book of the Shepherd, “First of all believe that God is one, which created and framed all things, and made them to exist out of nothing.” To which also Paul refers when he says, “By faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the Word of God, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things which do appear.” For God is good, or rather is essentially the source of goodness: nor could one that is good be niggardly of anything: whence, grudging existence to none, He has made all things out of nothing by His own Word, Jesus Christ our Lord. And among these, having taken especial pity, above all things on earth, upon the race of men, and having perceived its inability, by virtue of the condition of its origin, to continue in one stay, He gave them a further gift, and He did not barely create man, as He did all the irrational creatures on the earth, but made them after His own image, giving them a portion even of the power of His own Word; so that having as it were a kind of reflexion of the Word, and being made rational, they might be able to abide ever in blessedness, living the true life which belongs to the saints in paradise. But knowing once more how the will of man could sway to either side, in anticipation He secured the grace given them by a law and by the spot where He placed them. For He brought them into His own garden, and gave them a law: so that, if they kept the grace and remained good, they might still keep the life in paradise without sorrow or pain or care besides having the promise of incorruption in heaven; but that if they transgressed and turned back, and became evil, they might know that they were incurring that corruption in death which was theirs by nature: no longer to live in paradise, but cast out of it from that time forth to die and to abide in death and in corruption. Now this is that of which Holy Writ also gives warning, saying in the Person of God: “Of every tree that is in the garden, eating thou shalt eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, ye shall not eat of it, but on the day that ye eat, dying ye shall die.” But by “dying ye shall die,” what else could be meant than not dying merely, but also abiding ever in the corruption of death?

Our Creation and God’s Incarnation Most Intimately Connected. As by the Ward Man Was Called from Non-Existence into Being, and Further Received the Grace of a Divine Life, So by the One Fault Which Forfeited that Life They Again Incurred Corruption and Untold Sin and Misery Filled the World:

You are wondering, perhaps, for what possible reason, having proposed to speak of the Incarnation of the Word, we are at present treating of the origin of mankind. But this, too, properly belongs to the aim of our treatise.

For in speaking of the appearance of the Saviour amongst us, we must needs speak also of the origin of men, that you may know that the reason of His coming down was because of us, and that our transgression called forth the loving-kindness of the Word, that the Lord should both make haste to help us and appear among men. For of His becoming Incarnate we were the object, and for our salvation He dealt so lovingly as to appear and be born even in a human body. Thus, then, God has made man, and willed that he should abide in incorruption; but men, having despised and rejected the contemplation of God, and devised and contrived evil for themselves (as was said in the former treatise), received the condemnation of death with which they had been threatened; and from thenceforth no longer remained as they were made, but were being corrupted according to their devices; and death had the mastery over them as king. For transgression of the commandment was turning them back to their natural state, so that just as they have had their being out of nothing, so also, as might be expected, they might look for corruption into nothing in the course of time.

For if, out of a former normal state of nonexistence, they were called into being by the Presence and loving-kindness of the Word, it followed naturally that when men were bereft of the knowledge of God and were turned back to what was not (for what is evil is not, but what is good is), they should, since they derive their being from God who IS, be everlastingly bereft even of being; in other words, that they should be disintegrated and abide in death and corruption. For man is by nature mortal, inasmuch as he is made out of what is not; but by reason of his likeness to Him that is (and if he still preserved this likeness by keeping Him in his knowledge) he would stay his natural corruption, and remain incorrupt; as Wisdom says: “The taking heed to His laws is the assurance of immortality;” but being incorrupt, he would live henceforth as God, to which I suppose the divine Scripture refers, when it says: “I have said ye are gods, and ye are all sons of the most Highest; but ye die like men, and fall as one of the princes.”). For God has not only made us out of nothing; but He gave us freely, by the Grace of the Word, a life in correspondence with God. But men, having rejected things eternal, and, by counsel of the devil, turned to the things of corruption, became the cause of their own corruption in death, being, as I said before, by nature corruptible, but destined, by the grace following from partaking of the Word, to have escaped their natural state, had they remained good. For because of the Word dwelling with them, even their natural corruption did not come near them, as Wisdom also says: “God made man for incorruption, and as an image of His own eternity; but by envy of the devil death came into the world.” But when this was come to pass, men began to die, while corruption thence-forward prevailed against them, gaining even more than its natural power over the whole race, inasmuch as it had, owing to the transgression of the commandment, the threat of the Deity as a further advantage against them.

For even in their misdeeds men had not stopped short at any set limits ; but gradually pressing forward, have passed on beyond all measure: having to begin with been inventors of wickedness and called down upon themselves death and corruption; while later on, having turned aside to wrong and exceeding all lawlessness, and stopping at no one evil but devising all manner of new evils in succession, they have become insatiable in sinning. For there were adulteries everywhere and thefts, and the whole earth was full of murders and plunderings. And as to corruption and wrong, no heed was paid to law, but all crimes were being practised everywhere, both individually and jointly. Cities were at war with cities, and nations were rising up against nations; and the whole earth was rent with civil commotions and battles; each man vying with his fellows in lawless deeds. Nor were even crimes against nature far from them, but, as the Apostle and witness of Christ says: “For their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the women, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.”


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The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Souls of the Just: Part 1, Chapt. 1

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 22, 2010

The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Souls of the Just
The Presence of God in All Creatures as Their
Active Principle or Efficient Cause

Before broaching the interesting yet difficult question of the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the souls of the just, and of the mysterious union He thus effects with them; before going into the proofs of the presence both substantial and extraordinary of the three Divine persons in the just soul which thus becomes a living temple wherein the adorable Trinity finds delight, it will be useful, and, to a certain extent, even necessary, to grasp a few preliminary notions on the ordinary way in which God is present in all things. Nothing, indeed, could be more unreasonable than to expound the
doctrine of the extraordinary or special presence of God in the souls of the just, before we know quite clearly what is His ordinary presence in all creation. To be in a fit position to speak in precise terms of these two kinds of presence, and to distinguish one from the other, we must first of all become acquainted with their respective characteristics, and see in what they agree and in what they differ. This may be achieved by carefully examining, defining and comparing their natures. Were we to follow a different course of action, plunging at once into a more or less scientific explanation of the indwelling of God in the soul by the life of grace, without having, at the outset, firmly established and clearly explained that such an indwelling is to be found nowhere else in nature, we should be in danger of imparting very incomplete notions, and of leaving the reader in a state of vagueness that could not but be regrettable. On the other hand, it will not be necessary to dwell at length on the proofs for the divine omnipresence, since all Catholics believe in it; we shall, however, insist on the way in which it is to be understood in order to convey an exact idea of God’s immensity, and so to prepare the way for a clear understanding of the special presence of God in the souls of the just.


It is a dogma of faith, as well as a truth of reason, that God is everywhere—in heaven, on earth, in all things and in all places: that He is present in a very
intimate manner in everything created. This truth is known to all, not only to the philosopher and theologian, but even to the little child whose intelligence is but awakening; it is one of the first lessons it receives at its mother’s knee—one of the first truths it learns from any Christian teacher.

This doctrine, which the simplest Christian holds at the beginning of his moral life, and which he continues to hold without always understanding its full bearing, nor suspecting what deep truths it expresses, was preached long ago by the Apostle St. Paul, before the most illustrious audience in the world. He was addressing, not an ignorant populace, but the official representatives
of human wisdom, the members of the Areopagus of Athens, when, referring to the existence of God in every creature, the Apostle exclaimed: “That
they should seek God, if haply they may feel after Him or find Him, although He be not far from every one of us; for in Him we live, and move, and are” (Acts 17:27-28).

Centuries before, the Psalmist had made this same divine omnipresence the theme of his song: “Behold, Lord, Thou hast known all things, the latest and
those of old; Thou hast formed me, and hast laid Thy hand upon me. Thy knowledge has become wonderful to me; it is high, and I cannot reach to it. Whither shall I go from Thy spirit? or whither shall I fly from Thy face? If I ascend into heaven. Thou art there; if Idescend into hell. Thou art present. If I take my wings early in the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there also shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me.” (Ps 138:5-12).

Finally, in order fully to convince us that we cannot escape His ever-vigilant eye, God Himself, using our weak human language, with infinite condeseension, says to us through the mouth of His prophet: “Shall a man
be hid in secret places, and I not see him, saith the Lord? Do not I fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord?” (Jer 23:24).

It is not necessary to cite other testimonies in proof of a point of doctrine admitted by all who believe in the existence of an infinite Being, the Author of all things; yet, on account of its extreme importance, we should like to set down here the philosophical proof of the omnipresence of God, given by St. Thomas. God, he says, “is present in all things, not as part of their essence, or as an accidental element, but as the active principle is present to the thing on which it acts; for it is essential that the efficient cause be united with the object upon which it exercises an immediate activity, and that it comes into contact with this object, if not bodily, then, at least, by the exercise of its power and energies.” (Summa Theologica. I., q. vili., a. 1.)

We may compare God’s action with that of the sun. Although vastly distant from our planet, it still comes into contact with it through its rays, else how could it give light and heat to the earth? But God works in every created thing, not only through the medium of secondary causes as the sun acts upon the earth, but also in a direct and immediate way, by Himself bringing into
existence and preserving in things that which is most intimate and deep- rooted in them, namely, their very being. For, as the characteristic effect of fire is to burn, so the characteristic effect of God, Who is Being itself, is to cause the being of creatures. “And so God is intimately present to all things as their efficient cause—as causing the being of all things.” (Summa Theologica. I., q. vili., a. 1.)

God, then, is not present to the world like the artisan or the artist; he is external to his work, and does not often touch it in a direct way, but rather through his instruments, or is present to his work when he produces it, but later on withdraws from it without endangering its existence. God is so intimately united to the works of His hands that if, after calling a created thing into being. He should withdraw from it and cease to sustain it, it would immediately fall into the nothingness out of which it was made.

And if you question the Angelic Doctor as to how God, an immaterial, unextended and indivisible substance, can be present in all places, and in the inner depths of beings occupying material space, he will answer you with a comparison borrowed from nature and already employed by the Fathers, namely: He is present in three ways: “By His power, by His presence, and by His essence. By His power, because all things are subject to His sovereign command: He is present everywhere like a king who, while residing in his palace, is by a fiction deemed present in all the parts of his kingdom where he exercises authority. By His presence, that is to say most intimately, because He knows all things and sees all things; and nothing, however hidden it may be, can escape His attention; all things are present to Him as objects are said to be in our presence, although they may be situated at a slight distance from our person. Finally by His essence, for He is as really and in His very substance present to all created things as a monarch is present in person to the throne on which he is seated.” (Summa Theologica, I., q. viii., a. ,3.)

The reason for this substantial presence of God in His creatures is that not one of them could dispense with the divine action preserving its existence and actuating its operations; and since substance and action are not really distinct in God, it follows that “He is substantially—in His actual reality—present wherever He works, i. e., in all things and in all places.” (Summa Theologica, I., q. viii., a. ,1.)

In his commentary on Peter Lombard’s first book of Sentences, St. Thomas explains this threefold presence in slightly different words. Not that it excludes the explanation we have just given, nor that it is in contradiction with it, but it brings out better the thought of the Angelic Doctor relative to the substantial presence of God in His capacity of efficient cause. Here are his
words :  “God is in created things by His presence, inasmuch as He is there in action, for the worker must in some manner be present with his work; and, furthermore,because the Divine operation cannot be separated from the active force from which it flows, it must be held that God is present in all things by His power; finally, since the force or the power of God is identical with His essence, it follows that God is in all things by His essence.” (St. Thomas, Sententia, dist. XXXVII.. q. i., a. 2.) These words are highly significant.


There are some theologians who explain the divine omnipresence by saying that God is present everywhere by His essence, because the divine substance, being infinite, fills the heavens and the earth. To them, the immensity of God is a property by which the divine essence is, so to speak, distributed ad infinitum in all existing and possible spaces; that is to say, God’s omnipresence is the actual diffusion of the divine being, penetrating all real things and places without blending with them. According to this opinion, the divine immensity might be compared to a sea without shores, capable of containing an infinite number of beings of every nature and dimension. Within this sea is a sponge which the waters interpenetrate and then flow over on all sides: a figure of this world, that God’s immensity pervades and then flows over on all sides; with this difference, however, that God is wholly in the world and wholly in each of its parts, whereas each portion of the water of the sea occupies a distinct place.

St. Augustine conceived a similar picture of the divine immensity in his early days before his conversion: “So also I thought of Thee, O God, O Life of my life,” he says in his Confessions, “so also I thought of Thee, as stretched out through infinite spaces, interpenetrating the whole mass of the world, reaching out beyond in all directions to immensity without end, so that sea, sky, all things are full of Thee, limited in Thee, while Thou art not limited at all. As the body of the air above the earth does not bar the passage of the light of the sun, but the light penetrates the air, not bursting or dividing it, but filling it—in the same way, I thought, the body of heaven, and air, and sea, and even of earth was all pervious to Thee, penetrable in all its parts great or
small, so that it can admit the hidden interjection of Thy presence, which from within or from without orders all things that Thou hast created. This was my fancy, for I could shape no other; yet it was false. For in that way a greater part of the earth would contain a greater part of Thee, a less part a less. All things would be full of Thee in such a sense that there would be more of thee in the elephant than in the sparrow, inasmuch as one is larger than the other, and fills a wider space. And thus Thou wouldst unite Thy limbs piecemeal with the limbs of the world, the great with the great, the small with the small. This is not Thy nature, but as yet Thou hadst not lightened my darkness.” (St. Augustine, Confessions, I., vii., c. 1.)

Further on, speaking on the same subject, he adds: “I marshaled before the sight of my spirit all creation, all that we see, earth, and sea, and air, and stars, and trees, and animals; all that we do not see, the firmament of the sky above, and all angels, and all spiritual things; for these also, as if they were bodies, did my imagination arrange in this place or in that. I pictured to myself Thy creation as one vast mass, composed of various kinds of bodies, some real bodies, some those which I imagined in place of spirits. I pictured this mass as vast, not indeed in its true dimensions, for these I could not know, but as large as I chose to think, only finite on every side. And Thee, O Lord, I conceived as lapping it round and interpenetrating it everywhere, but as being infinite in every direction; as if there were sea everywhere, and everywhere through measureless space nothing but illimitable sea, and within this a sponge, huge, but yet finite; the sponge would be pervaded through all its particles by the infinite sea. In this way, I pictured Thy finite creation, as filled with Thy infinity.” (St. Augustine, Confessions, I., vii., c. 5.)

After his conversion and accession to the episcopal see of Hippo, Augustine’s language is entirely different: “When we say that God is everywhere we must withdraw from our mind every grossness of thought, and disengage ourselves from sensible images, lest we should imagine God as diffused everywhere, like some greatness spreading itself in space, as does the earth, the sea, the air or light; for all such things are less in one of their parts than in the whole; but we rather should conceive God’s greatness as we think of great wisdom in a man who happens to be of small stature.” (St. Augustin, lib. de Præsentia Dei, sen Epist. ad Dardanum, 187, c. iv.. n. 11.)

The notion of the diffusion and expansion of God’s being, was entirely disapproved by St. Augustine, and dealt with by him as a carnal conception to be rejected. The advocates of such a theory do not, it is true, fall into Augustine’s error whilst he was a Manichean, of supposing that a greater part of the earth can contain a greater part of the divine substance; for they know
and teach that a pure spirit being indivisible and without parts does not occupy space like earthly bodies, but can be wholly in the whole being and wholly in each and every part of that being. They do, however, seem to share the ideas of Augustine’s pre-conversion days, but which he reformed later, in the general trend of their argument and in the manner in which they conceive of the divine ubiquity.

Far more spiritual, and therefore much more in accordance with the divine nature, is the notion of God’s immensity given by St. Thomas. Instead of admitting, with the advocates of the theory we are now refuting, a kind of diffusion of the divine substance, so that God would still he in His most real substance present to created things scattered through space, even though by
an impossibility His action exercised no influence upon them, the Angelic Doctor teaches that the formal reason of God’s presence in all created things is none other than His infinite activity and operation, just as the reason of
His immensity is His omnipotence.

The Divine substance occupies no determined space, either great or small; it does not need space to display itself, and enters into no relation of proximity or remoteness with beings that exist in space. If we speak of a relation of the Divine substance with these beings, we mean only a relation of power and operation; i. e., God is intimately present to all things because He produces
and preserves the being of all things : “God is not determined to space great or small by the necessity of His essence, as if He need be present in any place, since He is from all eternity before all place; but by the immensity of His power He reaches into all things which are in place, because He is the universal cause of being, Thus He is wholly wheresoever He is, because by His simple power He reaches into all things.” (t. Thomas. I., iii., Contra Gent. lxviii.) If then God is present in all places and in all creatures, it is because no actual space and no created being can escape His direct and immediate influence, for His power, and consequently His substance, reaches out to them all.” (Summa Theologica. la., q. cxii., a. 1.)


Theologians, as we have seen, often explain God’s omnipresence by saying that He is present everywhere because of His immensity. St. Thomas uses a different term. According to him, God is present everywhere in the capacity of efficient cause, per modum causae. ( Summa Theologica, I., q. viii., n. 3.) Such an expression is profound and full of meaning, for it banishes from the mind any idea of a diffusion or expansion of the Divine substance, at the same time marking out the Divine operation as the basis of the relations existing between God and His creatures. Yet the expression was not a new one, and St. Thomas is not giving a purely personal opinion; here as ever he shows himself to be the faithful echo of tradition.

And, as we have already noticed, St. Augustine declared that God was in the world as the efficient cause of the world, “as the presence of the One by Whom the world was created; as the artisan is present to the work he handles.” (In Evang. Joan., tract 2, n. 10.)  If, therefore, God fills the heavens and the earth, it is by the presence and exercise of His power and not by the necessity of His nature (De Civit. Dei, 1, vii., c. xxx.), for God’s greatness is one of power and not of bulk. St. Thomas seems manifestly to have taken his inspiration
from these different passages. (Contra Gent., 1, III., c. lxviii.)

St. Fulgentius, a disciple of St. Augustine, speaks in much the same terms as his master. Likewise, St. Gregory of Nyssa. (see, respectively, I. II., ad Trasim, c. xl. and lib. De Anima.)

That the basis for the presence of God by very substance in all created things is the divine activity, can be clearly seen from all these passages, and from many others we could easily adduce. An earthly body is present in the place it occupies neither by its action nor even directly by its substance, but by its dimensions, by the contact of its parts with the parts of the body surrounding
and containing it; since, therefore, it is quantity that gives parts and dimensions to a body and enables it to come into contact with another body and to occupy a determined part of space, such or such a body is, properly speaking, present in space by its quantity: per quantitatem dimensivam.

Far different is the way in which a spirit is present in space. As it is a simple, that is to say, an indivisible substance and without parts, it cannot of itself occupy any space, either great or small, and does not need space to display itself. If, however, a spirit wishes to enter into relation with a place or with the things present in that place, it can do so by the exercise of its activities and its energies. Hence the proposition, looked upon as an axiom by all Scholastics : spirits are present in space by contact of power—per contactum virtutis. (St. Thomas, Contra Gent., 1, III., c. lxviii.)

What, therefore, quantity is to bodies—i. e., a property distinct from their substance and extending it through space—active power is to spirits, which it
places in contact with space and the things situated in space.(Summa Theologica, I., q, viii., a. 2, ad. 1.)

This is why St. Thomas, when asking the question whether ubiquity is a property becoming God from all eternity, utrum esse ubique conveniat Deo ab aeterno, instead of answering, like some theologians, that God is not, of course, present from all eternity to things which did not as yet exist, but that His substance is, nevertheless, really and eternally present in the spaces which the different created beings are to occupy in time, answers “that the Divinity is present only temporarily in created things according as by His creative act He is present by His power during their temporary existence.” (St Thomas, Sententiæ, 1, I., dist. xxxvii., q. Ii., n. .3.)

And if you question the Fathers as to where God was before the creation of the world, instead of answering that He was in these incommensurable spaces occupied by the present universe, spaces which thousands of other worlds far greater than ours could not fill, they will answer you differently, saying through the mouth of St. Bernard: “We need not trouble to ask where He
was, for besides Him nothing existed, and He was then in Himself alone.”  (St. Bernard, De Consider., 1, V., cap. vi.)

Hence, to summarize, in the mind of St. Thomas and the Fathers of the Church, the basic reason, the true ground, the definitive “why” of the presence of God in creatures is the divine operation, formally immanent, since it neither issues forth from, nor is even distinct from, the principle whence it emanates, yet producing outward created effects and, therefore, called “virtually transitive,” virtualiter transiens.

~THE INDWELLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE SOULS OF THE JUST According to the Teaching of St Thomas Aquinas, by Rev. Father Barthelemy Froget, O.P.


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Father Callan’s Commentary on Philippians 1:6-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 20, 2010

Note: This post includes Father Callan’s brief summary of verses 1-11 to help provide context. The summary is followed by his notes on verses 6-11.

A Summary of the Inscription and Greeting, 1:1-2~St. Paul together with Timothy, his trusted companion and probably his amanuensis at this time (an amanuensis is someone employed to take dictation), addresses in artless and affectionate terms the beloved faithful of Philippi and their spiritual leaders, wishing them, in combined Greek and Hebrew forms, grace and peace from God the Father and from Christ Jesus, their Saviour.

A Summary of the Thanksgiving and Prayer for the Philippians, 1:3-11~Here the Apostle begins to speak in the first person singular, showing that the letter is his own, and not a joint work between him and Timothy. He thanks God for the part the Philippians have had in the work of the Gospel and in the merits of his sufferings (ver. 3-8), and he prays that they may continually progress in spiritual knowledge and in the grace of Him to whom they owe
their spiritual life, so as to be perfect when the heavenly Bridegroom comes to call them to their eternal rewards (ver. 9-1 1).


6. Being confident of this very thing, that he, who hath begun a good work in you, will perfect it unto the day of Christ Jesus.

The Apostle now tells the Philippians that he feels certain that God the Father who began in them the work of their redemption and sanctification will complete the process, bringing it to perfection against the day of their deliverance from the present life. Thus, he teaches the necessity of grace, not only to begin a good work in the supernatural order, but also to continue it and to persevere in it until death (cf. Conc. Trid., sess. VI, cap. 13). Note: I’ve included the text of this reference at the end of this post.

A good work, i.e., their conversion to Christianity, which was followed by their labor and zeal in behalf of the Gospel and St. Paul.

The day of Christ Jesus is a frequent expression with St. Paul, and refers to our Lord’s coming in judgment, whether at the death of the individual or at the end of time to judge the world. The similar expression of the Old Testament, “the day of the Lord,” meant the day of God’s visitation of the earth in judgment and redemption.

7. Indeed it is right for me to be so minded in regard of you all, for that I have you in my heart; that in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of my grace.

He gives the reason for the confidence expressed in the preceding verse. It is perfectly right and natural that he should feel thus toward the Philippians, because of his intimate and tender love for them, and because, through the help they have given him, they are sharers in the “grace” of his apostolate, whether exercised in “bonds,” i.e., in prison, or in “defence” of himself and of his preaching against the accusations and calumnies of the Jews, or “in confirmation of the gospel,” i.e., in explaining and proving the truth of the Gospel before Jews and Gentiles (Acts 28:23 ff.). “For that I have you in my heart” may also be rendered “for that you have me in your heart,” i.e., he is mindful of them because they also remember him.

8. For God is my witness, how I long after you all in the heart of Christ Jesus.

As a proof of his ardent love for the faithful of Philippi St. Paul now invokes God, who reads the heart, as his witness; he loves them all with the love wherewith Christ loves them; his heart is one with the heart of his Master.

In visceribus of the Vulgate means with the most ardent love, the Greek of which is properly rendered in English by “heart,” as it refers to the seat of tender and noble affections. The Greek also reverses the order of Jesu Christi of the Vulgate here.

9. And this I pray, that your charity may more and more abound in knowledge and in all discernment,

In verse 4 the Apostle told his readers that he prayed for them all with joy. Now he tells them what he requested for them, namely, that their “charity” (i.e., their love of God and their neighbor) might continually increase and become ever more perfect “in knowledge,” i.e., in full, developed understanding (ἐπίγνωσις = epignōsis) of Christian virtues, and “in all discernment,” i.e., practical judgment (αἴσθησις = aisthēsis) as to the application of those virtues in dealing with their neighbor.

10. That you may approve the better things, that you may be sincere and without offence unto the day of Christ,

This full knowledge and judgment St. Paul requests for the Philippians in order that they may be able to appraise things according to their true worth; that, distinguishing between the moral values of their actions, they “may approve, etc.,” i.e., that they may test and choose those which are more excellent, with the result that they “may be sincere” (i.e., pure and innocent in the sight of God) “and without offence” (i.e., that their conduct may be no obstacle or stumbling block to their neighbor).

In the day of Christ, i.e., when the Lord comes to judge and reward them according to their works. See on verse 6 above.

11. Filled with the fruit of justice, through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

The Apostle wishes the faithful not only to be innocent and blameless, but also to be “filled with the fruit of justice,” i.e., with good works, which can be done only through the grace of Christ. “Justice” here is better rendered “justness” or “righteousness,” which implies a complete harmony between the soul and God; it is given through Christ. “Only so far as the life of the believer is absorbed in the life of Christ, does the righteousness of Christ become his own” (Lightfoot). Hence our Lord said: “I am the true vine, etc.” (John 15:1iff.).

Unto the glory, etc. The glory and praise of God is the last end and true goal of all our charity, justice, good works, etc., as the Apostle here reminds us.

Notes: Conc of Trent, sess VI, cap 13~ Similarly with regard to the gift of perseverance, of which it is written:

He that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved,[75] which cannot be obtained from anyone except from Him who is able to make him stand who stands,[76] that he may stand perseveringly, and to raise him who falls, let no one promise himself herein something as certain with an absolute certainty, though all ought to place and repose the firmest hope in God’s help.

For God, unless men themselves fail in His grace, as he has begun a good work, so will he perfect it, working to will and to accomplish.[77]

Nevertheless, let those who think themselves to stand, take heed lest they fall,[78] and with fear and trembling work out their salvation,[79] in labors, in watchings, in almsdeeds, in prayer, in fastings and chastity.

For knowing that they are born again unto the hope of glory,[80] and not as yet unto glory, they ought to fear for the combat that yet remains with the flesh, with the world and with the devil, in which they cannot be victorious unless they be with the grace of God obedient to the Apostle who says:

We are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh; for if you live according to the flesh, you shall die, but if by the spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live.[81]

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