Thursday, 30 September 2010

Modern Times

A bit out of date, but I just spotted this:

One sometimes feels that the best thing that His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI could do for the United Kingdom would be to perform the rite of exorcism over it.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Grace and the Mysteries

Grace, by a secret instinct sets us at peace concerning our salvation and the intimate reconciliation in God of infinite justice, mercy, and sovereign liturgy. Grace, by this secret instinct, sets us thus at peace, because it is itself a real and formal participation in the divine nature, in God's intimate life in the very Deity, in which all the divine perfections are absolutely identified.

If we stress too much our analogical concepts of the divine attributes, we set up an obstacle to the contemplation of the revealed mysteries. The fact that these concepts are distinct from one another, like small squares of mosaic reproducing a human likeness, is why they harden the spiritual aspect of God for us. Wisdom, absolute liberty, mercy, and justice seem in some way to be distinct in God, and then His sovereignly free good pleasure appears in an arbitrary light, and not entirely penetrated by wisdom; mercy seems to restricted, and justice too rigid. But by faith illumined by the gifts of understanding and wisdom, we go beyond the literal meaning of the Gospel and imbibe the very spirit of God's Word. We instinctively feel, without seeing it, how all the divine perfections are identified in the Deity, that is superior to being, the one, the true, the intellect, and love. The Deity is superior to all perfections that are naturally susceptible of participation, these being contained in it formally and eminently without any admixture of imperfection. The Deity is not naturally susceptible of participation, either by angel or man. It is only by grace, which is essentially supernatural, that we are permitted to participate in the Deity, in God's intimate life, in as much as the latter is strictly divine. Thus it is that grace is instrumental in causing us mysteriously to reach, in the obscurity of faith, the summit where the divine attributes are identified. The spiritual aspect of God for us is no longer hardened. We do not see His countenance, but we instinctively feel it, and this secret instinctive feeling, in the supernatural abandonment of ourselves, gives us peace.

Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange O.P. in “Predestination”

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Oh Noes!

Last Pope Quote

Mining Benedict XVI's addresses certainly makes a blogger's life easier. Here's one to finish off with, giving an indication of the hard and painful road that may lie ahead of us in the UK.

I would say that a Church that seeks to be particularly attractive is already on the wrong path, because the Church does not work for her own ends, she does not work to increase numbers and thus power. The Church is at the service of another: she serves, not for herself, not to be a strong body, rather she serves to make the proclamation of Jesus Christ accessible...

Sunday, 19 September 2010

From Cofton Park

The beatification mass today...

Saturday, 18 September 2010


I've been struck by the sheer aesthetic beauty of the Holy Father's addresses during his visit to the UK; not simply in the theologically and politically sophisticated speeches either. Here he speaks to schoolchildren:

Not only does God love us with a depth and an intensity that we can scarcely begin to comprehend, but he invites us to respond to that love. You all know what it is like when you meet someone interesting and attractive, and you want to be that person’s friend. You always hope they will find you interesting and attractive, and want to be your friend. God wants your friendship. And once you enter into friendship with God, everything in your life begins to change. As you come to know him better, you find you want to reflect something of his infinite goodness in your own life. You are attracted to the practice of virtue. You begin to see greed and selfishness and all the other sins for what they really are, destructive and dangerous tendencies that cause deep suffering and do great damage, and you want to avoid falling into that trap yourselves. You begin to feel compassion for people in difficulties and you are eager to do something to help them. You want to come to the aid of the poor and the hungry, you want to comfort the sorrowful, you want to be kind and generous. And once these things begin to matter to you, you are well on the way to becoming saints.

Friday, 17 September 2010

The Natural Law in the Public Forum

The central question at issue, then, is this: where is the ethical foundation for political choices to be found? The Catholic tradition maintains that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason, prescinding from the content of revelation. According to this understanding, the role of religion in political debate is not so much to supply these norms, as if they could not be known by non-believers – still less to propose concrete political solutions, which would lie altogether outside the competence of religion – but rather to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles. This "corrective" role of religion vis-à-vis reason is not always welcomed, though, partly because distorted forms of religion, such as sectarianism and fundamentalism, can be seen to create serious social problems themselves. And in their turn, these distortions of religion arise when insufficient attention is given to the purifying and structuring role of reason within religion. It is a two-way process. Without the corrective supplied by religion, though, reason too can fall prey to distortions, as when it is manipulated by ideology, or applied in a partial way that fails to take full account of the dignity of the human person. Such misuse of reason, after all, was what gave rise to the slave trade in the first place and to many other social evils, not least the totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century. This is why I would suggest that the world of reason and the world of faith – the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief – need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilization.

Benedict XVI live at Westminster Hall.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

From the Streets of Edinburgh

Sue & Martin went to see the Holy Father on Princes Street in Edinburgh today. Here's the world exclusive picture!

From Benedict XVI's First Speech in the UK

Even in our own lifetime, we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live. I also recall the regime’s attitude to Christian pastors and religious who spoke the truth in love, opposed the Nazis and paid for that opposition with their lives. As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus to a "reductive vision of the person and his destiny" (Caritas in Veritate, 29).

Benedict XVI


Oremus pro pontifice nostro Benedicto.

Et ego dico tibi, quia tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram ædificabo Ecclesiam meam, et portæ inferi non prævalebunt adversus eam.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Perturbed by Predestination?

If these thoughts [being disturbed by the idea of predestination] come to the mind, and only useless efforts are made to dispel them, they must end in causing us to abandon ourselves completely to God, assured that it is infinitely better to leave our salvation in His hands than to rely on our own strength. Only by thus doing shall we find peace. The whole doctrine of the divine Master's secret is that we must adore Him and not claim to fathom Him. We must lose ourselves in this impenetrable height and depth of divine wisdom and plunge ourselves as if lost in His immense goodness, though expecting everything from Him, without however relaxing our efforts, which He demands from us for our salvation.

Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet (quoted in “Predestination”, by Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange O.P.)

Sunday, 12 September 2010


"All that God does in time, He foresees and predestines from all eternity. He foresaw and predestined in detail all the means by which He had to inspire his followers with fidelity, obedience, and perseverance. That is what predestination means.

The benefit of this doctrine is to have us place our will and liberty in God's hands, asking Him to direct this will so that it may never stray from the right path, and thanking Him for all the good that it does and believing that He operates in it without weakening or destroying it, but on the contrary, elevating, strengthening, and granting it to make good use of itself, which is the most desirable of all good things.

We must not therefore, attribute the cause of salvation to him who wills or to him who runs, but to God who shows mercy. This means that neither their running nor their willing are the primary cause, and still less the only cause of their salvation; but this cause is the accompanying and preventing grace that gives them strength to continue until the end, and this grace does not act alone; for we must be faithful to it; and to accomplish this effect, it gives us the power to co-operate with it, so that we can say with St Paul: “Yet not I, but the grace of God with me”.

God is the author of all the good we do. It is He who brings it to completion, just as it is He who begins it. His Holy Spirit forms in our hearts the petitions He wishes to grant. He foresaw and predestined all that; for predestination is nothing else. In all this we must believe that no one perishes, no one is cast off as a reprobate, except through his own fault. If human reasoning finds a difficulty in this, and cannot reconcile all phases of this holy and inviolable doctrine, faith must continue to reconcile all things, at the same time waiting until God causes us to see everything in Him, the fountainhead.

The whole doctrine of predestination and grace may be summed up briefly in these words of the Prophet: “Destruction is thy own, O Israel; thy help is only in me. So it is. If we do not see the consistency in all this, it suffices for us that God knows, and we must humbly believe him. God's secret is his own."

Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet (quoted in “Predestination”, by Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange O.P.)

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Trinity in Aquinas

Oops. I seem to have disappeared for a couple of months; sorry about that!

Having completed the treatise on the One God over at the other place, I’ve been preparing to start on the Triune God. I found myself disappearing into a deep think about this as there were several metaphysical questions (and considerations of how the medievals approached these questions, and how these approaches differed from modern approaches etc. etc.) that I needed to get straight in my head. Something had to give, and it was this blog.

So, to get back underway here, let’s draw attention to Gilles Emery’s book “The Trinitarian Theology of St Thomas Aquinas” that has recently appeared in paperback. This seems to be the best introduction to the subject available in the English language. The hardback was prohibitively expensive, but this new edition is much more reasonable; highly recommended!