Purifying fire

Pr 17:3

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – My God, from all eternity You have gone before me with Your infinite love; increase my love for You.

MEDITATION

“What shall prevent God from doing that which He will in the soul that is resigned, annihilated, and detached?” (John of the Cross Ascent of Mt. Carmel II, 4,2). This statement of St. John of the Cross makes you understand that God has an immense desire to work in your soul, to lead you to sanctity and to union with Himself, provided you commit yourself into His hands, despoiled of every attachment, annihilated in your self-love, entirely docile, malleable, and adaptable to His action. The Lord comes to your assistance with purifying trials in order to empty you of self, to detach you from creatures, to immerse you in true humility, but at the same time He helps you to grow in love, the strong bond which must unite you to Him. All the work which God accomplishes in your soul is done in view of making you advance in this virtue; exterior and interior trials, humiliations, powerlessness, aridity, struggles, and tempests are meant in the divine plan to extinguish the illusory fires of self-love, pride, earthly affections, and all other irregular passions, so that only one fire may burn within you, ever more intensely and strongly, the fire of charity.

The more the Lord purifies you, the more your heart will be freed from all dross and become capable of concentrating all its affection upon Him. Walk, then, in this way by accepting purification in view of a deeper love, and by orientating your whole spiritual life toward the exercise of love. What you suffer, suffer for love, that is, suffer it willingly, without rebellion or complaint, and then, in the measure that your soul is humbled, despoiled, and mortified, it will also be clothed with charity. The trials which God sends you have the purpose not only of purifying your heart, but also of dilating it in charity. They aim at deepening your capacity for love; not, certainly, a sensible love, but a powerful love of the will, which tends toward God through pure benevolence, independent of all personal consolation, its sole pursuit being His glory and good pleasure.

COLLOQUY

“O Lord of my soul and my only Good! When a soul has resolved to love You, and forsaking everything, does all in its power toward that end, so that it may the better employ itself in Your love, why do You not grant it at once the joy of ascending to the possession of this perfect love? But I am wrong: I should have made my complaint by asking why we ourselves have no desire so to ascend, for it is we alone who are at fault in not at once enjoying so great a dignity.

If we attain to the perfect possession of this true love of God, it brings all blessings with it. But so [ungenerously] and so slow are we in giving ourselves wholly to God that we do not prepare ourselves as we should to receive that precious love which it is His Majesty’s will that we should enjoy only at a great price.

There is nothing on earth with which so great a blessing can be purchased; but if we did what we could to obtain it, if we cherished no attachment to earthly things, and if all our cares and all our intercourse were centered in heaven, I believe there is no doubt that this blessing would be given us very speedily…. But we think we are giving God everything, whereas what we are really offering Him is the revenue or the fruits of our land while keeping the stock and the right of ownership of it in our own hands…. A nice way of seeking His love! And then we want it quickly and in great handfuls, as one might say.

O Lord, if You do not give us this treasure all at once, it is because we do not make a full surrender of ourselves. May it please You to give it to us at least little by little, even though the receiving of it may cost us all the trials in the world.

No, my God, love does not consist in shedding tears, in enjoying those consolations and that tenderness which for the most part we desire and in which we find comfort, but in serving You with righteousness, fortitude of soul, and humility. The other seems to me to be receiving rather than giving anything ….

May it never please Your Majesty that a gift so precious as Your love be given to people who serve You solely to obtain consolations.” (Teresa of Jesus The Book of Her Life 11).

Love,
Matthew

Unity


-please click on the image for greater detail

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – My God, Thou hast created me for Thyself; grant that I may return to Thee and unite myself to Thee by love.

MEDITATION

The whole life of man is a return journey to God: he came from God and must go back to Him. The more complete this return, the more intimate his union with God will become and the better will he have attained the end for which he was created: he will be perfect and eternally happy. St. Thomas teaches that a being is perfect when it attains its end; thus the perfection of man consists of union with God in rejoining God and uniting himself to Him, his last end. Man finds in union with God all that he can desire: he finds his peace, the assuaging of his hunger for the infinite, of his thirst for love and imperishable felicity. “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in Thee.” (St. Augustine). Man finds his eternal happiness in union with God; and the life of heaven is nothing else than this union carried to its ultimate perfection, wherein man gives God the greatest glory and the greatest love which, in turn, redounds to man’s own eternal beatitude.

The soul that truly loves God does not resign itself to waiting for heaven in order to be united to Him, but desires ardently to anticipate this union here below. Is this possible? Yes, Jesus has said so: “If anyone love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him; and We will come to him and will make Our abode with him” (John 14:23). Our Lord Himself tells us in these words the condition for living united to Him: love. “He that abideth in charity, abideth in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). Love is the great power which unites us to God even in this life, where, imprisoned in matter, we cannot yet enjoy the direct contact, the face to face vision of Him.

“The end of the spiritual life,” says St. Thomas, “is that man unite himself to God by love” (Summa Theologica IIa IIae, q.44, a.1, co.). By steps of love, gressibus amoris, we advance toward our last end: union with God. Such is the great ideal which should illumine and direct our whole life, the great goal which, with the divine assistance, we can attain even here below, as far as is possible in our state as pilgrims.

COLLOQUY

“O Jesus, who will give me the grace to form one only spirit with You? Rejecting the multiplicity of creatures, I desire indeed, O Lord, Your unity alone! O God, You are the only One, the sole unity necessary for my soul! Ah! dear friend of my heart, unite this poor soul of mine to Your singular goodness! You are entirely mine, when shall I be all Yours? The magnet draws iron and holds it fast to itself; Lord Jesus, my Beloved, be the magnet of my heart: draw, hold fast, unite forever my spirit to Your paternal heart! Oh, since I was made for You, how is it that I am not in You? Submerge this drop, which is the spirit You have given me, in the sea of Your goodness, from which it proceeds. Lord, seeing that Your heart loves me, why do You not lift me up to You, as I so much desire? Draw me, and I will run in the odor of Your ointments until I cast myself into Your arms and never move from thence forever. Amen” (St. Francis de Sales).

“O Lord, who could describe how great a gain it is to cast ourselves into Yours arms and make an agreement with You: You will take care of my affairs and I of Yours.

For what am I, Lord, without You? What am I worth if I am not near You? If once I stray from Your Majesty, be it ever so little, where shall I find myself?

O my Lord, my Mercy and my Good! What more do I want in this life than to be so near You that there is no division between You and me?

O Lord of my life, draw me to Yourself, but do it in such a way that my will may ever remain so united to You that it shall be unable to leave You,” (Teresa of Jesus Conceptions of the Love of God 4-3).

Love,
Matthew

Sep 29 – Michael, Gabriel, Raphael


-please click on the image for greater detail

-from a homily on the Gospels by Saint Gregory the Great, pope, Second Reading, Office of Readings, Liturgy of the Hours, for September 29th.

“You should be aware that the word “angel” denotes a function rather than a nature. Those holy spirits of heaven have indeed always been spirits. They can only be called angels when they deliver some message. Moreover, those who deliver messages of lesser importance are called angels; and those who proclaim messages of supreme importance are called archangels.

And so it was that not merely an angel but the archangel Gabriel was sent to the Virgin Mary. It was only fitting that the highest angel should come to announce the greatest of all messages.

Some angels are given proper names to denote the service they are empowered to perform. In that holy city, where perfect knowledge flows from the vision of almighty God, those who have no names may easily by known. But personal names are assigned to some, not because they could not be known without them, but rather to denote their ministry when they come among us. Thus, Michael means ‘Who is like God?’; Gabriel is ‘The Strength of God’; and, Raphael is ‘God’s Remedy.’

Whenever some act of wondrous power must be performed, Michael is sent, so that his action and his name may make it clear that no one can do what God does by His superior power. So also our ancient foe desired in his pride to be like God, saying: I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of heaven; I will be like the Most High. He will be allowed to remain in power until the end of the world when he will be destroyed in the final punishment. Then, he will fight with the archangel Michael, as we are told by John: A battle was fought with Michael the archangel.

So too Gabriel, who is called God’s strength, was sent to Mary. He came to announce the One Who appeared as a humble man to quell the cosmic powers. Thus God’s strength announced the coming of the Lord of the heavenly powers, mighty in battle.

Raphael means, as I have said, God’s remedy, for when he touched Tobit’s eyes in order to cure him, he banished the darkness of his blindness. Thus since he is to heal, he is rightly called God’s remedy.”

Love,
Matthew

Love of God

Deut 6:4-7

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – O Lord, grant that by charity I may really participate in Your life of love.

MEDITATION

Faith makes us adhere to God by means of knowledge; hence, it is especially related to our intellect. Hope makes us adhere to God by the conviction that we will one day possess Him in heaven, and therefore, it is related to our desire for happiness. But charity seizes our entire being, and by means of love, casts it into God. Faith tells us Who God is, and reveals the mystery of His intimate life which we are called to share; hope tells us that this God wills to be our Good for all eternity, but charity enables us to attain this immediately by the unitive force proper to it. St. Thomas says: “Charity makes man tend to God by uniting his affection to God in such a way that man no longer lives for himself, but for God” (Summa Theologica IIa IIae, q.17, a.6, ad 3).

But what is this charity which has the power to unite us to God, to make us live in such intimate relationship with Him that “he that abideth in charity, abideth in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16)? It is a created participation in the charity, the infinite love with which God loves Himself, that is, the love with which the Father loves the Son, with which the Son loves the Father, and by which each loves the other in the Holy Spirit. Through charity we are called to enter into this divine current, into this circle of eternal love which unites the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity to one another.

Faith has already brought us into the intimacy of the divine life by making us share in the knowledge God has of Himself; but charity makes us penetrate even further by inserting us, as it were, into that movement of love, of incomparable friendship which exists in the bosom of the Blessed Trinity. Charity plunges us into the very center of God’s intimate life; it enables us to share in the infinite love of the three divine Persons: in the intimate love of the Father for the Son, and of the Son for the Father; it enables us to love the Father and the Son in the love of the Holy Spirit.

COLLOQUY

“Oh my soul, reflect upon the great delight and the great love which the Father has in knowing His Son and the Son in knowing His Father and the ardor with which the Holy Spirit unites Them, and how none of These can cease from this love and knowledge since They are one and the same. These sovereign Persons know each other, love each other and delight in each other. What need, then, have They of my love? Why do You seek it, my God, or what do You gain by it?

O love, in how many places would I fain repeat this word, for it alone makes me bold enough to say with the spouse in the Canticle: ‘I have loved my Beloved.’ It allows me to think that You, my God, my Spouse and my Good, have need of me.

But love must not be wrought in our imagination but must be proved by works…. Oh Jesus, what will a soul inflamed with Your love not do? Those who really love You, love all good, seek all good, help forward all good, praise all good, and invariably join forces with good men and help and defend them. They love only truth and things worthy of love. It is not possible that one who really and truly loves You can love the vanities of earth; his only desire is to please You. He is dying with longing for You to love him, and so would give his life to learn how he may please You better.

O Lord, be pleased to grant me this love before You take me from this life. It will be a great comfort at the hour of death to realize that I shall be judged by You Whom I have loved above all things. Then I shall be able to go to meet You with confidence, even though burdened with my debts, for I shall not be going into a foreign land but into my own country, into the kingdom of Him Whom I have loved so much and Who likewise has so much loved me.” (cf. Teresa of Jesus, Exclamations of the Soul to God, 7 – Conceptions of the Love of God, 4 – Interior Castle III, 1 – Way of Perfection, 40).

Love,
Matthew

Jan 7 – law is the condition of love

“Love is the fulfillment of the law.” – Rm 13:10


-by Br Hyacinth Grubb, OP

“You should also learn to understand and—dare I say it—to love canon law, appreciating how necessary it is and valuing its practical applications: a society without law would be a society without rights. Law is the condition of love.”
-Benedict XVI, Letter to Seminarians on October 18, 2010

You don’t often hear an exhortation to “love canon law.” Like civil law, it can seem to matter only when something has gone wrong, or when it’s preventing us from doing what we want when we want. But today is the feast of St. Raymond of Peñafort, patron saint of canon lawyers, and a good day to ask: “Why canon law?”

Law is necessary to govern societies, and the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, is truly a society. She is not merely a community organization, nor is she merely a collection of individuals who share the same personal commitments, nor is she an invisible and purely spiritual reality. The Church is the inbreaking of the Kingdom of God, the ecclesial presence of that Kingdom. It’s an imperfect presence, insofar as it’s composed of imperfect members and awaiting fulfillment in the Second Coming, but it is truly a kingdom, a society. Thus, the Church needs law, she needs legislation and judges and lawyers—and their presence reminds us of the concrete social and governmental character of Christ’s Church.

We could also recall that those in communion with the Church are unified in faith, sacraments, and governance (see Lumen Gentium 14). Moreover, “communion … is not understood as some kind of vague disposition, but as an organic reality which requires a juridical form and is animated by charity” (Nota Praevia to LG). Communion in the Church is found under the headship of the Holy Father and is given structure and order by the Church’s law. The Church has, in a real sense, a government.

Of course, the governance of the Church is unlike any other. Her essential structures, like the role of the Pope and bishops, were created not by man but by God. The ends of the Church’s governance are supernatural, and thus the concrete effects of Christian faith are often beautifully expressed in Canon Law. Take a look at a few random examples:

Can. 208: From their rebirth in Christ, there exists among all the Christian faithful a true equality regarding dignity and action by which they all cooperate in the building up of the Body of Christ according to each one’s own condition and function.
Can. 663: The first and foremost duty of all religious is to be the contemplation of divine things and assiduous union with God in prayer.
Can. 1752: The salvation of souls, which must always be the supreme law in the Church, is to be kept before one’s eyes. [This is the last sentence of the Code of Canon Law.]

We might not often think about canon law, or about the means of governing the concrete reality of the Church’s life here on earth. But today, say a prayer for canon lawyers, and give thanks to God that He has deigned to welcome us into a society as true as the Catholic Church. Saint Raymond of Peñafort, pray for us.”

Love, the condition of which is the law,
Matthew

Primacy of the Virtue of Love (Charity) – 1 Cor 13:13

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
PART THREE
LIFE IN CHRIST

SECTION ONE
MAN’S VOCATION LIFE IN THE SPIRIT

CHAPTER ONE
THE DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON

ARTICLE 7
THE VIRTUES…

II. THE THEOLOGICAL VIRTUES…

Charity

1822 Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for His own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.

1823 Jesus makes charity the new commandment.96 By loving His own “to the end,”97 He makes manifest the Father’s love which He receives. By loving one another, the disciples imitate the love of Jesus which they themselves receive. Whence Jesus says: “As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you; abide in My love.” And again: “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”98

1824 Fruit of the Spirit and fullness of the Law, charity keeps the commandments of God and His Christ: “Abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love.”99

1825 Christ died out of love for us, while we were still “enemies.”100 The Lord asks us to love as He does, even our enemies, to make ourselves the neighbor of those farthest away, and to love children and the poor as Christ Himself.101

The Apostle Paul has given an incomparable depiction of charity: “charity is patient and kind, charity is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Charity does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Charity bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”102

1826 “If I . . . have not charity,” says the Apostle, “I am nothing.” Whatever my privilege, service, or even virtue, “if I . . . have not charity, I gain nothing.”103 Charity is superior to all the virtues. It is the first of the theological virtues: “So faith, hope, charity abide, these three. But the greatest of these is charity.”104

1827 The practice of all the virtues is animated and inspired by charity, which “binds everything together in perfect harmony”;105 it is the form of the virtues; it articulates and orders them among themselves; it is the source and the goal of their Christian practice. Charity upholds and purifies our human ability to love, and raises it to the supernatural perfection of divine love.

1828 The practice of the moral life animated by charity gives to the Christian the spiritual freedom of the children of God. He no longer stands before God as a slave, in servile fear, or as a mercenary looking for wages, but as a son responding to the love of Him who “first loved us”:106

If we turn away from evil out of fear of punishment, we are in the position of slaves. If we pursue the enticement of wages, . . . we resemble mercenaries. Finally if we obey for the sake of the good itself and out of love for Him Who commands . . . we are in the position of children.107

1829 The fruits of charity are joy, peace, and mercy; charity demands beneficence and fraternal correction; it is benevolence; it fosters reciprocity and remains disinterested and generous; it is friendship and communion: Love is itself the fulfillment of all our works. There is the goal; that is why we run: we run toward it, and once we reach it, in it we shall find rest.108

96 Cf. Jn 13:34.
97 Jn 13:1.
98 Jn 15:9,12.
99 Jn 15:9-10; cf. Mt 22:40; Rom 13:8-10.
100 Rom 5:10.
101 Cf. Mt 5:44; Lk 10:27-37; Mk 9:37; Mt 25:40, 45.
102 1 Cor 13:4-7.
103 1 Cor 13:1-4.
104 1 Cor 13:13.
105 Col 3:14.
106 Cf. 1 Jn 4:19.
107 St. Basil, Reg. fus. tract., prol. 3:PG 31,896B.
108 St. Augustine, In ep. Jo. 10,4:PL 35,2057.

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – Make me understand, O Lord, the pre-eminence of charity, that I may apply myself to it with all my heart.

MEDITATION

The three theological virtues (faith, hope, love) having God for their immediate object, are superior to the moral virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance) which are directed to the government of our conduct; but among the three theological virtues, charity (love) holds the primacy. It holds the primacy because, being inseparable from grace, it is the constitutive and indispensable element of our supernatural life. Where there is no charity there is neither grace nor life, but only death. “He that loveth not, abideth in death,” and contrariwise, “He that abideth in charity, abideth in God, and God in him” (1 John 3:14 – 4:16). Faith and hope can subsist in a soul which has lost grace, but charity cannot. It is so vital that it cannot co-exist with the death that is caused by sin. Furthermore, it is so vital that it is imperishable and will remain unchanged for all eternity. In heaven, faith and hope will cease because they bear with them some imperfection: faith makes us know God without giving us the vision of Him, and hope lets us hope in Him without giving us possession of Him. Hence, “when that which is perfect is come,” that is, the beatific vision, these two virtues will have no further reason for existing. However, it is not the same with charity which implies no imperfection, since by it, we love God either in the obscurity of faith, or in the clarity of vision, and therefore St. Paul says, “Charity never falleth away.” Here on earth, to adhere to God, “these three remain: faith, hope, and charity: but the greatest of these is charity” (1 Corinthians 13:8,13).

Faith and hope are incomplete virtues, because without charity they cannot unite us to God and produce the works of eternal life. The faith and hope of a sinner, one who has lost charity, are inactive and inoperative; they remain in him, it is true, but they are there as if dead. “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26), and only “faith that worketh by charity … availeth anything” (Galatians 5:6), and this to the extent, that “if I should have all faith so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2). It is charity that gives the warmth and strength of eternal life to faith and hope; it is charity that infuses vigor into these virtues, for only he who loves is capable of abandoning himself to God with eyes closed.

COLLOQUY

“Clothe me, O Lord, with the purple garment of charity which not only adds grace to faith and hope but causes the soul to rise to so lofty a point that it is brought very near You and becomes very beautiful and pleasing in Your eyes. It is the virtue which most attracts Your love, protects the soul against pride and gives value to the other virtues, bestowing on them vigor and strength, grace and beauty so that they may please You, for without charity no virtue has grace before Your eyes.

O sweetest love of God, how little are You known! He who has found Your fountain has found rest. You remove from the affections of the will whatever is not God and set it upon Him alone, and then you prepare this faculty and unite it to God through love.

O God, teach me to use all my powers to love You, so that all the faculties of my soul and body: memory, understanding, and will, inward and outward senses, desires of the sensual part and of the spiritual part, will work in love and for the sake of love. Grant that all that I do I may do with love, and all that I suffer I may suffer with the pleasure of love, and that in this way, my God, I may keep all my strength for You.” (John of the Cross: Dark Night of the Soul II, 21,10.11 – Spiritual Maxims – Words of Light I, 16 – Spiritual Canticle 28,8).

“I resolve, O my God, to have no other purpose but love in all my actions, interior as well as exterior, always saying and asking myself: What am I doing now? Am I loving my God? And if I see that there is any obstacle to pure love, I shall reproach myself, remembering, O Lord, that I must return You love for love. Well do You make me understand that the more I love You, the more diligent I shall be in the observance of all Your holy laws.” (cf. Teresa Margaret of the Heart of Jesus Spirituality of St. Teresa Margaret of the Heart of Jesus).”

Love,
Matthew

Hope grounds us in eternity – Heb 6:19

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,” – Heb 6:19


-Br Vincent Mary Bernhard, OP

St. Thomas Aquinas writes that hope is the virtue that grounds us in eternity, especially as we are tossed about by the storms of this world. “Thus a man,” he writes, “should be held fast to that hope as an anchor,” for God “wills that the anchor of our hope be fixed in that which is now veiled from our eyes” (Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews). Infused by the Holy Spirit, the gift of hope reminds us of the words and promises of the Lord Jesus Christ and allows us to believe that they will happen. It is easy to think of the moments of trial in the past year, making one rather pessimistic, or at best only slightly optimistic about the year to come. However, by realizing that each one of us is united to Jesus Christ and relives the mysteries of His life, we are prepared to face whatever comes as an opportunity to grow closer to God and be conformed even more into His image. This is where happiness is found: in the union with God and the enjoyment of the eternal life of the Son. The way is arduous and difficult, (Christianity is NOT for WIMPS!!!) but we hope in the promises of the Savior.

The Lord calls us to boldness and courage; He calls us from being lukewarm and sets us on fire with His charity. “I look everywhere for Your divinity,” writes Bl. Henry Suso, “but You show me Your humanity; I desire Your sweetness, but You offer me bitterness; I want to suckle, but You teach me to fight.”

Our Lord responded to Bl. Henry Suso, “away with faintheartedness and enter with Me the lists of knightly steadfastness. Indulgence is not fitting for the servant when the lord is practicing warlike boldness. I shall clothe you with My armor because all My suffering has to be endured by you as far as you are able.”

The Lord is with us as a warrior and His very life flows through our veins. Therefore, no matter the trials and challenges we face in the new year, we are prepared to endure and overcome them by renewing our hope in Him, allowing Him to stir our hearts to boldness and zeal for the kingdom of God.”

Love & Hope,
Matthew

God is simple

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – O Lord, Thou Who art infinite simplicity, simplify my mind and my heart, that I may serve Thee in simplicity of spirit.

MEDITATION

God is the unique simple Being because He is one in His essence and in all His perfections. When St. Thomas speaks of God’s simplicity, he presents it as the absence of all that is composite. In God’s simplicity there are not quantitative parts as there are in us who are composed of body and soul. God is simple because in Him there is no matter; He is pure spirit. Angels are also pure spirits; but angels are composite beings because their essence is like ours, distinct from their existence. The angelic essence does not exist by itself but has only the capacity to exist; in fact, no angel, as likewise no man, can exist if God does not call him to life. In God, on the contrary, there is supreme simplicity, infinitely superior to that of the angels: in Him essence and existence are identical. His essence exists of itself; He is the eternally subsistent Being.

Neither do the innumerable perfections of God create in Him any multiplicity: God is not composed of goodness, beauty, wisdom, justice, but He is, at the same time, the infinitely good, beautiful, wise, and just Being. There is no distinction in Him between substance and quality, because all is substance; His infinite perfections are His very substance. God contains in one, unique and most simple perfection, the perfection of His divine Being, all the multiple perfections we find divided among creatures in addition to thousands and thousands of others, somewhat as a million dollars contains the value of many dollars. God’s simplicity is not, then, poverty, but infinite riches, infinite perfections which we ourselves ought to reflect.

Consider how rich God is in innumerable perfections and how He possesses them all in the same degree. Consider, on the other hand, how poor you are in virtues and if you have any at all, how limited they are, how mixed with faults! Moreover, for one virtue which you possess in some slight degree, how many others you lack! God is simple; you, on the contrary, are complicated! Contemplate the divine simplicity and try to imitate it by means of true simplicity of soul.

COLLOQUY

“O most high God, in Your one and simple Being You are all the virtues and grandeurs of Your attributes; for You are omnipotent, wise, good, merciful, just, strong, and loving, and You possess other infinite attributes and virtues of which we have no knowledge. You are all these things in Your simple Being.

O wondrous excellence of God! O abyss of delights, which are the more abundant in proportion as Your riches are all contained in the infinite simplicity and unity of Your sole Being, so that each one is known and experienced in such a way that the perfect knowledge and absorption of the other is not impeded thereby, but rather each grace and virtue that exists in You is light for some other of Your grandeurs, so that through Your purity, O divine Wisdom, many things are seen in You when one thing is seen” (John of the Cross, Living Flame of Love 3, 2.17).

“O divine Essence, bottomless and boundless abyss of wonders! O unfathomable ocean of greatness, O Unity of my God, O Simplicity, O Eternity without beginning and without end, to Whom everything is continually present! O Immensity, which fills all things and contains all things! O Infinity, which embraces all imaginable perfections, O Immutability, O Immortality, O inaccessible Splendor! O incomprehensible Truth, O abyss of Knowledge and Wisdom, O Truth of my God…. O divine Power, creating and sustaining all things! O divine Providence, governing all! O Justice, O Goodness, O Mercy, O Beauty, O Glory, O Fidelity!… O great God, in You I adore all the grandeurs and perfections which I have been contemplating, as well as all the innumerable and inconceivable others which are, and will remain, unknown to me. I adore You, praise You, glorify and love You for all that You are. Oh! how my heart rejoices to see You so great, and so overflowing with every kind of treasure and splendor! Certainly, if I possessed all these grandeurs and You had none of them, I would want to strip myself of them at once and give them to You” (St. John Eudes).

Love,
Matthew

The Form of the Good

The Form of the Good is the greatest thing to learn about, and that it is by their relation to it that just things and [other virtuous things] become useful and beneficial. (Republic, 505a) Plato suggests that justice, truth, equality, beauty, and many others ultimately derive from the Form of the Good.

Republic is firstly an argument about the ideal structure of a city. Notoriously, Plato installs philosopher-kings as a benevolent council. If the rulers of the city are to make themselves, their citizens, and their city good, they must first know Goodness itself. This form is the one that allows a philosopher-in-training to advance to a philosopher-king. It cannot be clearly seen or explained, but once it is recognized, it is the form that allows one to realize all the other forms.  Stephen Hawking famously quipped that we should ask not only what the equations governing the universe are, but also “what breathes fire into the equations?” For Plato, both the equations and the fire are the Form of the Good.

Plato’s was the first major metaphysical system in the West, and it dominated Western thought through the middle of the second millennium. Consider the subject of mathematics and geometry. What is a point? It is a location in space with no dimension. In other words, it is not a real object. Points are ideal entities, not space-time particulars. They take up no space. Likewise, lines have length but no breadth. Mathematics is about ideal entities, and some mathematicians today are still “Platonists” about numbers: they hold the view that numbers or other mathematical objects are immaterial things. And they have to be in order for us to be able to know eternal truths about them.

If we live in a rationally ordered cosmos, this helps underwrite a social order that is rigidly hierarchical. It is no surprise then that through the Middle ages humans organize themselves into strict hierarchies. We find a hierarchical church and a stratified social structure, with serfs serving the king and the king serving God.

Consider Plato’s influence on theology: The Form of the Good is the ground of all being, an immaterial object that exists more perfectly than anything else, a thing responsible for the goodness and rationality in the world. This is something like an interpretation of the Christian view of God developed in the Middle Ages, founded in Platonic and Neo-Platonic metaphysics.

Perhaps most importantly, Plato’s arguments in Republic make possible scientific inquiry. Science is only possible if the natural world is intelligible to our rational faculties. Many people credit Plato’s student Aristotle with the initiation of the scientific project of humanity, and many in turn credit the scientific method as the West’s most profound contribution to humanity.

Aristotle along with other scholars sees the Form of the Good as synonymous with the idea of One. Plato claims that Good is the highest Form, and that all objects aspire to be good. Since Plato does not define good things, interpreting Plato’s Form of the Good through the idea of One allows scholars to explain how Plato’s Form of the Good relates to the physical world. According to this philosophy, in order for an object to belong to the Form of the Good, it must be One and have the proper harmony, uniformity, and order to be in its proper form.

Love & truth,
Matthew

Moral law. Obedience to God.

“Conscience has absolute, exceptionless, binding moral authority over us, demanding unqualified obedience. But only a perfectly good, righteous divine will has this authority and a right to absolute, exceptionless obedience. Therefore conscience is the voice of the will of God“.80

“Man has within his breast a certain commanding dictate, not a mere sentiment, not a mere opinion or impression or view of things, but a law, an authoritative voice, bidding him do certain things and avoid others. What I am insisting on here is this, that it commands; that it praises, blames, it threatens, it implies a future, and it witnesses of the unseen. It is more than a man’s own self. The man himself has no power over it, or only with extreme difficulty; he did not make it, he cannot destroy it.”82

“I cannot escape the stroke of conscience.” -cf Venerable Matt Talbot

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” – Ps 9:10

“The formidable atheist philosopher J.L. Mackie reflected in The Miracle of Theism that objective, prescriptive moral facts “constitute so odd a cluster of qualities and relations that they are most unlikely to have arisen in the ordinary course of events, without an all-powerful god to create them. If, then, there are such intrinsically prescriptive objective values, they make the existence of a god more probable than it would have been without them.”63 According to Mackie, the best explanation of objectively binding moral truths is God. But since he is an atheist, he rejects such truths on account of them being too inexplicable and unintelligible in a Godless world.”64

“Our sense of moral values and duties in a Godless world can be grounded in nothing more than our emotions and desires. Ultimately, then, it matters not how one feels about actions like rape or murder; it matters not what one thinks about them: none of our subjective powers are powerful enough to make a moral sentiment objectively binding for one and all. So unless God exists there is no rational ground for believing in objective, mind-independent morality. Skeptics must face this hard-to-swallow fact—and many have. Agreeing with Dostoevsky, the atheist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre admits, “Indeed, everything is permissible if God does not exist, and as a result man is forlorn.”65 Or as Alex Rosenberg puts it, if atheism is true then “ANYTHING goes.””66 (emphasis added)

-Nelson, Matt. Just Whatever: How to Help the Spiritually Indifferent Find Beliefs that Really Matter (Kindle Locations 1015-1022, 1024-1032, 1202-1206, 1210-1215). Catholic Answers Press. Kindle Edition.

Love & His will, as He gives me the grace to know and to do,
Matthew

63 J.L. Mackie, The Miracle of Theism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), 115-116.
64 See also J.L. Mackie, Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong (London: Penguin Books, 1990).
65 Jean Paul Sartre, “Existentialism is a Humanism,” lecture at Club Maintenant in Paris, October 29, 1945.
66 Alexander Rosenberg, The Atheist’s Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life Without Illusions (New York: W.W. Norton, 2011), 3.
80 Peter Kreeft, “The Argument from Conscience,” in Fundamentals of the Faith: Essays in Christian Apologetics (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988), 36-41.
82 Cited in Robert Spitzer, The Soul’s Upward Yearning: Clues to Our Transcendent Nature from Experience and Reason (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2015), 73.

Summa Catechetica, "Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam." – St Anselm, "Let your religion be less of a theory, and more of a love affair." -G.K. Chesterton, "I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men and women who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, and who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it."- Bl John Henry Newman, Cong. Orat., "Encounter, not confrontation; attraction, not promotion; dialogue, not debate." -cf Pope Francis, “You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress.” -St Athanasius, "To convert someone, go and take them by the hand and guide them." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP. 1 saint ruins ALL the cynicism in Hell & on Earth. “When we pray we talk to God; when we read God talks to us…All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.” -St Isidore of Seville, “Also in some meditations today I earnestly asked our Lord to watch over my compositions that they might do me no harm through the enmity or imprudence of any man or my own; that He would have them as His own and employ or not employ them as He should see fit. And this I believe is heard.” -GM Hopkins, SJ, "Only God knows the good that can come about by reading one good Catholic book." — St. John Bosco, "Why don't you try explaining it to them?" – cf St Peter Canisius, SJ, Doctor of the Church, Doctor of the Catechism, "Already I was coming to appreciate that often apologetics consists of offering theological eye glasses of varying prescriptions to an inquirer. Only one prescription will give him clear sight; all the others will give him at best indistinct sight. What you want him to see—some particular truth of the Faith—will remain fuzzy to him until you come across theological eye glasses that precisely compensate for his particular defect of vision." -Karl Keating, "The more perfectly we know God, the more perfectly we love Him." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP, ST, I-II,67,6 ad 3, “But always when I was without a book, my soul would at once become disturbed, and my thoughts wandered." —St. Teresa of Avila, "Let those who think I have said too little and those who think I have said too much, forgive me; and let those who think I have said just enough thank God with me." –St. Augustine