Saturday, May 29, 2010

Authority of Magisterial Pronouncements

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

This post is a work in progress but I hope it helps you better understand the authority of different pronouncements of the Magisterium of "the Church of God which He has purchased with His own Blood" [Acts 20:28].

1. Extraordinary Magisterium & Ordinary and Universal Magisterium (Divinely Revealed Dogmas)
Persons teaching: "the Supreme Pontiff" alone or "the bishops gathered together in an ecumenical council ... together with the Roman Pontiff" (CIC 749 §1-2)
Subject Matter: "all those things contained in the word of God, written or handed on, that is, in the one deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and at the same time proposed as divinely revealed" (CIC 750 §1); the Apostles' Creed, the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, and the first added paragraph of the Profession of Faith
Infallible?: Yes
Type of assent required: to be "believe[d] with divine and Catholic faith" (CIC 750 §1); DS 3011
Consequences of dissent: Automatic (Latae sententiae) excommunication (CIC 1364 §1) for heresy, which is "the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith" (CIC 751)
1. In the Name of the Holy Trinity, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, with the approbation of this holy general Council of Florence we define that this truth of faith be believed and accepted by all Christians, and that all likewise profess that the Holy Spirit is eternally from the Father and the Son and has His essence and His subsistent being both from the Father and the Son, and proceeds from both eternally as from one principle and one spiration; we declare that what the holy Doctors and Fathers say, namely, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, tends to this meaning, that by this it is signified that the Son also is the cause, according to the Greeks, and according to the Latins, the principle of the subsistence of the Holy Spirit, as is the Father also. And since all that the Father has, the Father Himself, in begetting, has given to His only begotten Son, with the exception of Fatherhood, the very fact that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son, the Son Himself has from the Father eternally, by Whom He was begotten also eternally. We define in addition that the explanation of words "Filioque" for the sake of declaring the truth and also because imminent necessity has been lawfully and reasonably added to the Creed. -- Pope Eugene IV, Bull "Laetentur coeli" (7/6/1439) [DS 691]
2. Accordingly, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for the honor of the Holy and undivided Trinity, for the glory and adornment of the Virgin Mother of God, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith, and for the furtherance of the Catholic religion, by the authority of Jesus Christ our Lord, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own: We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful. -- Bl. Pope Pius IX, Apostolic Constitution "Ineffabilis Deus" (12/8/1854)
3. Therefore, faithfully adhering to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, to the glory of God our Savior, for the exaltation of the Catholic religion and for the salvation of the Christian people, with the approval of the sacred council, we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman pontiff speaks ex cathedra, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church, he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed His Church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals. Therefore, such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the Church, irreformable. So then, should anyone, which God forbid, have the temerity to reject this definition of ours: let him be anathema. -- Ecumenical Council of Vatican I, Dogmatic Constitution "Pastor Aeternus" 4:9-10 (7/18/1870)
2. Ordinary and Universal Magisterium (Definitive Teachings Not Yet Formally Declared to be Divinely Revealed Dogmas)
Persons teaching: "the Supreme Pontiff" alone or "the college of bishops ... together with the Roman Pontiff" (CIC 749 §1-2)
Subject Matter: "Each and every thing which is proposed definitively by the magisterium of the Church concerning the doctrine of faith and morals, that is, each and every thing which is required to safeguard reverently and to expound faithfully the same deposit of faith" (CIC 750 §2); not (yet) formally declared to be divinely revealed dogma; the second added paragraph of the Profession of Faith
Infallible?: Yes
Type of assent required: to be held with firm and irrevocable assent [DS 3074]
Consequences of dissent: "lack of full communion with the Church" because, according to CIC 750 §2, "one who rejects those propositions which are to be held definitively is opposed to the doctrine of the Catholic Church"; "not heresy" and does not entail excommunication or exclusion from sacraments unless this dissent is aggravated by "factors such as contempt for the Magisterium or scandal" [Avery Cardinal Dulles, Magisterium: Teacher and Guardian of the Faith 95-96]
1. "Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of our ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk. 22:32) we declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful." -- Ven. John Paul II the Great, Apostolic Letter "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis" 4 (5/22/1994)
Editor: While Holy Mother Church permits Catholic theologians to classify the ban on the ordination of women as belonging to the first added paragraph of the Profession of Faith [Dulles 179], this is, for now, a theologoumenon, since the Magisterium has not yet defined the reservation of priestly orders to men as a divinely revealed dogma, though this does not mean it will not do so in the future. -- Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Doctrinal Commentary on the Concluding Formula of the Professio Fidei 11 (6/29/1998).
Editor: At this point, to deny the irreformable teaching of this infallible declaration of Ven. Pope John Paul II the Great is not heresy (CIC 751), since the late pontiff did not propose the truth as a divinely revealed dogma. It would seem, then, that a denial of this infallible declaration is "sententia haeresi proxima." People who commit such a denial are, as stated above, not in full communion with the Catholic Church; unless there are aggravating factors, they can receive the sacraments and are not punished with latae sententiae excommunication for heresy (CIC 1364 §1) but rather "are to be punished with a just penalty" (CIC 1371 §1).
2. In honor of the Blessed Trinity, for the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the growth of Christian life, with the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul and our own, after lengthy reflection, having assiduously invoked God's assistance and taken into account the opinion of many brothers of ours in the episcopate, we declare and define Damien de Veuster to be a saint, and we enroll him in the catalogue of the saints, and we establish that in the whole Church he should be devoutly honored among the saints. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. -- His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, Declaration of the Sainthood of the Servant of God Damien de Veuster (10/11/2009)
3. St. John Paul II the Great was the legitimate Pope of Rome from 10/16/1978 to 4/2/2005.
Edit: This truth, while "not able to be declared as divinely revealed," is nonetheless "connected to revelation by historical necessity and ... [is] to be held definitively." -- Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Doctrinal Commentary on the Concluding Formula of the Professio Fidei 11 (6/29/1998)
4. Wherefore, strictly adhering, in this matter, to the decrees of the pontiffs, our predecessors, and confirming them most fully, and, as it were, renewing them by our authority, of our own initiative and certain knowledge, we pronounce and declare that ordinations carried out according to the Anglican rite have been, and are, absolutely null and utterly void. -- Pope Leo XIII, Bull "Apostolicae Curae" 36 (9/18/1896)

3. Ordinary Magisterium (Non-Definitive Teachings)
Persons teaching: "the Supreme Pontiff or the college of bishops" (CIC 752), "bishops who are in communion with the head and members of the college, whether individually or joined together in conferences of bishops or in particular councils" (CIC 753)
Subject Matter: "a doctrine ... concerning faith or morals ... not ... [proclaimed] by a definitive act" (CIC 752); the third added paragraph of the Profession of Faith
Infallible?: No
Type of assent required: "a religious submission of the intellect and will" (CIC 752)
Consequences of dissent:

Monday, May 24, 2010

Church Fathers on John 17:3

It is written [John 17:1-3]:
These things Jesus spoke: and lifting up His eyes to Heaven, He said: "The hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You. As You have given Him power over all flesh, that He may give eternal life to all whom You have given Him. Now this is eternal life: That they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom You have sent."
The sense is not that Jesus Christ is not true God, for the Scriptures clearly declare that Jesus Christ is true God. The same St. John declares [1 John 5:20], "And we know that the Son of God has come. And He has given us understanding that we may know the true God and may be in His true Son. This is the true God and life eternal." All the Fathers who commented on this passage understand it to be a proof of the divinity of Christ (Drum). See, e.g., St. Athanasius the Great [Statement of Faith 1; Letter to the Bishops of Egypt and Libya 2:13], St. Augustine the Great [Sermon 90:6 on the New Testament], and St. Gregory the Great [Letter XI:67 to Bishop Quiricus]. The NAB therefore justly translates the Johannine verse as "He is the true God and eternal life."

John 17:3 does not mean that "an exclusive diction can be joined to the personal term" when we speak of God, as St. Thomas Aquinas explains [ST I, q. 31, art. 4, ad 1]:
When we say, "Thee the only true God," we do not understand it as referring to the person of the Father, but to the whole Trinity, as Augustine expounds (De Trin. vi, 9). Or, if understood of the person of the Father, the other persons are not excluded by reason of the unity of essence; in so far as the word "only" excludes another thing, as above explained.
Here is how several glorious Church Fathers explain the mystery. From the East: Sts. Athanasius the Great [Discourse 3:24:7-9 Against the Arians], Gregory the Theologian [Oration 30:13], John Chrysostom the Great [Homilies 4:2, 31:1, and 80:2 on the Gospel of St. John]. From the West: Sts. Irenaeus [Against Heresies 4:1:2], Cyprian the Martyr [Letter 72:17], Hilary of Poitiers [On the Trinity 9:29,36], Ambrose the Great [On the Holy Spirit 2:3:26-28; Exposition of the Christian Faith 5:1:16-26], and Augustine the Great [On the Trinity 6:9:10].

Bishop St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies 4:1:2 (A.D. 180):
Now to whom is it not clear, that if the Lord had known many fathers and gods, He would not have taught His disciples to know [only] one God [John 17:3] and to call Him alone Father? But He did the rather distinguish those who by word merely (verbo tenus) are termed gods, from Him Who is truly God, that they should not err as to His doctrine, nor understand one [in mistake] for another.
Bishop St. Cyprian the Martyr of Carthage, Letter 72:17 to Jubaianus Concerning the Baptism of Heretics (A.D. 255):
For they who know God the Father the Creator, ought also to know Christ the Son, lest they should flatter and applaud themselves about the Father alone, without the acknowledgment of His Son, Who also said, "No man comes to the Father but by Me" [John 14:6]. But He, the same, sets forth, that it is the knowledge of the two which saves, when He says, "And this is life eternal, that they might know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom You have sent" [John 17:3] ... therefore, from the preaching and testimony of Christ Himself, the Father Who sent must be first known, then afterwards Christ, Who was sent, and there cannot be a hope of salvation except by knowing the two together.
Archbishop St. John Chrysostom the Great of Constantinople (Doctor), Homily 4:2 on the Gospel of St. John:
And what mean the expressions, "I am the first and I am the last" [Isaiah 44:6]; and, "before Me was no other God formed" [Isaiah 43:10]? For if the Son be not of the same Essence, there is another God; and if He be not Co-eternal, He is after Him; and if He did not proceed from His Essence, clear it is that He was made. But if they assert, that these things were said to distinguish Him from idols, why do they not allow that it is to distinguish Him from idols that He says, "the Only True God" [John 17:3]? Besides, if this was said to distinguish Him from idols, how would you interpret the whole sentence? "After Me," He says, "is no other God" [Isaiah 43:10]. In saying this, He does not exclude the Son, but that After Me there is no idol God, not that there is no Son.
He says in Homily 80:2 on the Gospel of St. John:
"The only true God," He says, by way of distinction from those which are not gods; for He was about to send them to the Gentiles. But if they will not allow this, but on account of this word "only" reject the Son from being true God, in this way as they proceed they reject Him from being God at all. For He also says, "You seek not the glory which is from the only God" [John 5:44]. Well then; shall not the Son be God? But if the Son be God, and the Son of the Father Who is called the Only God, it is clear that He also is true, and the Son of Him Who is called the Only true God. Why, when Paul says, "Or I only and Barnabas" [1 Corinthians 9:6], does he exclude Barnabas? Not at all; for the "only" is put by way of distinction from others. And, if He be not true God, how is He Truth? For truth far surpasses what is true. What shall we call the not being a true man, tell me? Shall we not call it the not being a man at all? So if the Son is not true God, how is He God? And how makes He us gods and sons, if He is not true?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Solemnity of Pentecost 2010

Solemnity of Pentecost, Anno Domini 2010
Reading 1
Acts 2:1-11

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under Heaven staying in Jerusalem.

At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, "Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God."

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34

R. (cf. 30) Lord, send out Your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.


R. Alleluia.

Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD, my God, You are great indeed!
How manifold are Your works, O LORD!
the earth is full of Your creatures;

R. Lord, send out Your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.


R. Alleluia.

May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
may the LORD be glad in His works!
Pleasing to Him be my theme;
I will be glad in the LORD.

R. Lord, send out Your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.


R. Alleluia.

If You take away their breath, they perish
and return to their dust.

When You send forth Your Spirit, they are created,
and You renew the face of the earth.

R. Lord, send out Your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.


R. Alleluia.

Reading 2
1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13 or Rom 8:8-17

1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13
Brothers and sisters: No one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God Who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.

As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.


Rom 8:8-17
Brothers and sisters: Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is alive because of righteousness. If the Spirit of the One Who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the One Who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through His Spirit that dwells in you. Consequently, brothers and sisters, we are not debtors to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a Spirit of adoption, through Whom we cry, "Abba, Father!" The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

Jn 20:19-23 or Jn 14:15-16, 23b-26

Jn 20:19-23
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, so I send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."


Jn 14:15-16, 23b-26
Jesus said to His disciples: "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you always."

"Whoever loves Me will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our dwelling with him. Those who do not love Me do not keep My words; yet the word you hear is not Mine but that of the Father Who sent Me. I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit Whom the Father will send in My Name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thank You Sts. Mary, Raphael, Rita, & Thomas Aquinas!!!

Mirror link

Glory to God in the highest! Thank you, Lord, for hearing the prayers of Sts. Mary, Raphael, Rita, and Thomas Aquinas. I was in an academic jam and I trusted in the intercession of the saints (I prayed successive novenas from A Treasury of Novenas to Mary the Mother of God, Raphael the Archangel, and Rita of Cascia; I also prayed the Rosary often) and the infinite mercy of God, and now I've got four out of my five grades for this semester back, and the average turned out to be higher than I expected and asked for! This is not merely the fruit of my weak efforts. This is God manifesting His boundless mercy on a wretched man like me who stands in most need of His healing, transforming forgiveness. St. Rita, whose feast day is the 22nd of this Month of Mary, I beg you, Patron Saint of the Impossible, to continue to intercede for me, a poor sinner, whenever I am in quandaries. My readers, I urge you in the strongest terms to pray to St. Rita in case of any needs, great or small. This exhortation is but one tiny part of my fulfillment of my promise to the holy stigmatist to "glorify [her] by making known [her] favor, and to bless [her] and sing [her] praises forever" [A Treasury of Novenas 254]! The same page of the book says:
O God, in Your infinite tenderness You have been pleased to regard the prayer of Your servant Rita, and to grant to her supplication that which is impossible to human foresight, skill, and effort, in reward for her compassionate love and firm reliance on Your promises.

Have pity on our adversities and comfort us in our calamities, that unbelievers may know that You are the recompense of the humble, the defense of the helpless, and the strength of those who trust in You. Grant this in the Name of Jesus the Lord.
God willing, I expect to reach my goal GPA this semester, pending notification of how I did in my fifth class.

Prayer is so powerful. The Liturgy of the Eucharist is the greatest prayer, and I thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, for letting partake of, though unworthy, Your Precious Body and Blood so many times since my incorporation into the Church of God which You have purchased with Your own Blood [Acts 20:28]. The Rosary and the novenas are so helpful and I beg you, dear readers, to pray novenas for any of your intentions. Thank you so much, St. Thomas Aquinas, for helping me to get an A in the class on your philosophy this semester. I love you and you are the prince of theologians! St. Raphael my patron saint, you are so great to me. O Blessed Ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of God and hope of sinners, you are the greatest of all, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, and I entrust myself and those I love to your all-powerful intercession before the Lord our God.

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might! Heaven and earth are full of Your glory! Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on all us poor sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Notes on the Philosophy of Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us poor sinners!

1. The kinds, principles and causes of physical change
Important Texts: St. Thomas Aquinas, "On the Principles of Nature"
Important Notes: Definitions from "On the Principles of Nature"

Change: Transition
From (Terminus a quo) being to (terminus ad quem) non-being or vv. (coming-to-be, ceasing-to-be)

Supernatural changes:
Creation: nothing → something
Annihilation: something → nothing

Natural changes (something that is potentially F → something that is actually F):

Substantial (for x to be F is for X to be) – substantial predicates signify the substantial form
Accidental – For X to be F is for x to be Somehow (to be with quality; esse secundum quid)

It is form that becomes actual or ceases to be actual, and matter that is the underlying subject that remains the same throughout the change

substantial change requires prime matter as its underlying subject – prime matter characterizable as the only permanent subject of substantial change, that is receptive (potentially) of all natural material forms

Form & matter are two necessary principles of change
lack of form (privation) is a principle of change – not a positive entity, but a being of reason -- privation a necessary condition of physical change (in and of itself it is not effective=does not have intrinsic causal role; a condition of change but not responsible for sustaining being of either change or the terminus of the change)

external cause that brings form into actuality → the efficient cause – provides the energy for the coming-to-be of the form, which may coincidentally entail the ceasing-to-be of another form (e.g., heating paper to generate substantial form of fire out of prime matter of the paper – destruction of the sheet of paper)
Privation (principle but not a cause of change, since it is not a being), form, matter, efficient cause, and final cause (four causes)

Something can be a cause of itself in some respect and an effect in another respect at the same time. I can be a mover of myself, but not a per se cause of myself in the same respect. Nothing can be a per se cause of itself. God is not a self-caused cause, but an uncaused cause. He needs nothing to sustain His being/activity. On account of His simplicity He is not even a self-sustaining cause, but is in no need of sustenance.

Important Notes: "Per se vs. per accidens as they apply to privation"

2. Aquinas on being per accidens
Being with regard to accidental form

3. Aquinas's distinction of real beings vs. beings of reason

Important Notes: Yale Lecture on Being and Essence

There is only a distinction of reason between Socrates's animality and Socrates's humanity.

4. Materiality and metaphysical composition according to Aquinas -
Important Notes: "The types of composition in creatures distinguished by Aquinas"
Important Notes: "MAN=BODY+SOUL: Aquinas's Arithmetic of Human Nature"

5. Aquinas' thesis of the unity of substantial forms and its consequences in his philosophical anthropologyYale Lecture on Being and Essence, footnote in textbook that gives us outline of main argument for Aquinas's thesis of unity of substantial forms

Only one substantial form informing one substance. Two distinct acts of being would have to be one and the same thing which they inform, which is impossible.

There is just one substantial form of the human body; the cadaver is a new body with a new substantial form; what remains is only the prime matter that used to be informed by a soul and is now informed by the form of a cadaver. No accidental quality (shape, color) that cadaver seems to share with form of living body is numerically the same, since the living body is not the same body as the cadaver.

6. Individuation and materiality according to Aquinas
Individuation of our souls in afterlife (before Resurrection) is not due to actual inherence in matter, but in past inherence in matter which individuated them in the first place

1. suppositum (subsistent entity) has this act of being (esse) as quod est (as that which is)
2. The form has esse as quo est (as that by which the thing exists)
3. Matter has esse as in quo est (as its subject)

Averroes: if the intellect is immaterial, then it cannot be multiplied with the multiplication of bodies.
Avicenna: if human souls are individuated in their bodies, they can continue to be individuated after their separation from their bodies.

All human souls belong to the same species, because of Avicenna's idea that disembodied souls continue in their individual existence, and have their own specific essence. Angels are formally different, that is, different in species, from each other.

7. Aquinas on the real distinction between essence and existence in creatures and the real identity of the same in God
1. For every x, if the essence of x [e(x)] is known and its existence or being [b(x)] is not,
then e(x) is not identical with b(x), i.e., in the essence and existence of x are really
distinct. [R(x)]
2. There are some things x, such that R(x)
3. There is at most one y, such that ~R(y), call it d
4. Therefore, for every x other than d, R(x)
5. Every x, such that R(x), must be caused by d
6. Therefore, d exists
Aquinas does not assume God's existence; it is not required for proving the distinction between essence and existence in all creatures

Even in the case of pure immaterial forms (e.g., angels) there is composition between pure subsistent form (nothing but the essence of the thing which is nothing but the thing itself) and an act of existence that determines and limits its own capacity.

This is why God's existence does not need a sustaining cause – for us, what we are does not account for the fact THAT we are.

God sustains our being – just as, if we turn off the light source, there is nothing on the projector screen.

There can be at most one thing in which essence and existence are the same thing. How many ways can we multiply things within a kind? (1) Through matter (individuals having same form are multiplied through reception of form in different parcels of matter). But the essence of material things are not their being because material beings are not pure being (they are in potentiality on account of their matter). (2) ... [?] (3) Being divided by additional formal differences.

These all involve potentiality, which a pure being cannot admit.

8. Aquinas on the provability of God's existence
Important Texts: Summa Theologica I, q. 2, art. 1, ad 1 (Damascene), ad 2 (Anselm)
Important Texts: Summa Theologica I, q. 2, art. 2, ad 2 (Damascene)

A demonstration is any valid, sound, non question-begging deductive argument
-Scientific demonstration must consist of perfect syllogism. The middle term must be the quidditative definition of the subject.
-two kinds of demonstration: demonstration why (propter quid) & demonstration that (demonstratio propter quia)

Pay particular attention to objections in first two articles: (1) Stance on the Hyperrationality of St. Anselm; (2) Stance on the Fideism of St. John of Damascus.
(1) St. Anselm says self-evident, once we understand the meaning of the terms. But atheists can simply refuse to think of God in the same way we believers think of Him. St. Anselm's argument cannot be universally persuasive, says St. Thomas, because there is nothing to compel the atheist to think of God under this precise description.
(2) Any scientific proof would need quidditative definition of God, which is impossible. But we can have a nominal definition, and argue the existence of the cause from the existence of its effects, without having a quidditative definition of God.

9. Aquinas' proofs of God's existence
Five Ways: Summa Theologica I, q. 2, art. 3, corp.

Summa Theologica I, q. 2, art. 1, corp.: God's existence is self-evident in itself, since the subject and the predicate have the same signification. However, that God exists is not self-evident to us.

First Way: There has to be a Prime Mover, because no infinite series of causes is possible.

10. Aquinas on divine simplicity
Important Texts: Summa Theologica I, q. 3.

God is present in every creature, but not as a component part. He is not composed of matter and form, essence and existence, subject and accident, etc.

When Aquinas says Wisdom is the same as Power in God, he is using them as common terms for individualized instances. Just because Wisdom is not identified with Power in general, this does not mean that this Wisdom cannot be identified with this Power.

11. Aquinas on definition and essence
The essence of the soul is the substantial form of the body to the exclusion of its accidents (acts of thinking, willing).
Socrates is what his quidditative definition of his proximate species (man) signifies in him.
Socrates's forma totius is signified by his definition.
Socrates's quiddity is signified by his definition.
Socrates's soul is the substantial form of the matter of his body.
Socrates's body cannot be prime matter (Socrates's body is not his prime matter), but prime matter is a part of Socrates's body.

Socrates's body is Socrates, but Socrates's soul is not. Socrates's body, in the sense in which Socrates is a body, is Socrates.

It is true that Socrates is a body (non-exclusive sense, signification includes 3D-ness but does not exclude other essential perfections). It is also true that Socrates has a body (exclusive sense- sense excluding other essential perfections).

A term used in two different senses is equivocal.

There is only a distinction of reason between Socrates's animality and Socrates's humanity.

12. Aquinas on the immateriality of the human soul

Is the human soul a material form? Yes, because it is the substantial form of the human being (its being consists in informing the matter of the human body).

St. Peter is body & soul. His soul is only a survival of part of the human person St. Peter. But we can say, "St. Peter pray for us" by way of synecdoche (pars pro toto = part for the whole).

13. Aquinas' arguments for the immateriality of the intellect
Important Notes: "Intellective Functions According to Aristotle"

Since the materiality of cognition entails its singularity, the universality of cognition entails its immateriality. This is the main contrapositive implication that Aquinas uses in one of his arguments for the immateriality of the intellect.

Intellect is dependent for its input on the brain (in the form of phantasms), but not for the actuality of its operation or existence.

Intellect must be immaterial because it has its own immaterial activity that it cannot share with the body. This cannot take place in matter like seeing, sensing, walking, which activities necessarily occur in matter. The activity of kicking is nothing but the activity of the leg itself. Our brain assists in our thinking, but thinking is not the activity of our brain. On the other hand, kicking is not just assisted by our leg, but is performed by our leg.

The human intellect is a form of a form, and not a form of a composite substance. The intellect is not inherent in the soul-body composite, but inherent in the soul alone.

The intellect is an accident of the human soul, just as heat is an accident of fire. The agent intellect is an active power, the potential intellect is a passive power. These powers belong to Aristotle's classification of accidents.

The separate soul would naturally cognize only universals. Singular cognition is tied to the materiality of the internal & external senses.

Siger: inherence and subsistence are incompatible modes of being; therefore, if the intellect is immaterial, then it must be subsistent. The soul and the intellect are separate, since each is subsistent.

First argument from universality of scope of human thought starts with idea that human intellect is capable of forming some universal representation of some universal concept of all material natures. Any cognition consists in the reception of the form of the matter of the object, without the reception of the matter itself. The cognitive power cannot have any of the forms that it is capable of representing, just as the eye cannot have any of the colors in order to be receptive of any of the colors it sees (pupil colorless for this reason). If the intellect is representative of all material natures, but cannot have in its own nature, any of the forms it is capable of representing, it cannot have any of these material forms in its own nature. Thus the intellect cannot be inherent in matter (cannot be a material form), so it is immaterial.

14. Aquinas on being and goodness
"Goodness and being are really the same, and differ only in idea" (Summa Theologica I, q. 5, art. 1, corp.)

15. Aquinas on the relationship between positive law and natural law
"Natural law is the measure of the justice of positive legislation."

St. Paul Directly Calls Christ "God"

Mirror link

From my recent paper ("St. Paul on Jesus Christ, 'Our Great God and Savior'"):

St. Paul directly gives the name "God" to Christ in several places. He exhorts the elders of Ephesus "to shepherd the Church of God that He obtained with His own Blood" (Acts 20:28; qtd. in Prat). Early Patristic witnesses to this reading include Sts. Jerome ("Letter 54:4 to Furia") and John Cassian ("On the Incarnation" 7:4). St. Jerome's witness is not to be taken lightly!

The "Letter to the Hebrews" contains highly explicit testimony to the full divinity of the Son. When St. Paul elaborates on the superiority of Christ to even the highest choirs of the angels, he declares that God the Father calls His Only-Begotten Son by the name of God: "But of the Son He says, 'Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of Your Kingdom'" (Hebrews 1:8).

Finally, to stress the full divinity of Christ in the most explicit terms, St. Paul tells St. Titus that "we wait for the blessed hope and manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13; qtd. in Prat). This παρουσία on "the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night" (1 Thessalonians 5:2).

Works Cited

Christ Qua God Is Immutable (St. Paul)

Mirror link

From my recent paper ("St. Paul on Jesus Christ, 'Our Great God and Savior'"):

All creatures change, but God is immutable: "I the LORD do not change" (Malachi 3:6; qtd. in ST I, q. 9, art. 1). St. Paul assigns to Christ the perfection of immutability, meaning that Christ is God incarnate: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8; qtd. in ST III, q. 16, art. 9). As God, He has not changed, is not changing, and will never change, unlike all of us, His servants.

Christ Is Creator, Not A Creature (St. Paul)

Mirror link

From my recent paper ("St. Paul on Jesus Christ, 'Our Great God and Savior'"):

Being a creature and being the Creator are incompatible. For St. Paul, Christ is clearly the Creator, and there was no "time when [Christ] was not," as the impious Arius said. "In Him all things in Heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through Him and for Him" (Colossians 1:16; qtd. in Prat). He is not only the efficient cause ("in Him" and "through Him") of all angels, humans, and other beings, but is also their final cause, the end "for" Whom everything was made. As the Creator Who "Himself is before all things," it is also His role to sustain the universe, according to St. Paul: "in Him all things hold together" (1:17; qtd. in Prat). In other words, "He sustains all things by His powerful word" (Hebrews 1:3). St. Paul did not write the "Letter to the Hebrews," but all its ideas and contents are Pauline, so that we may truly say that the letter is of "Apostolic origin" (Fonck). Therefore there is nothing to prevent us from employing its testimony in this paper in order to illustrate Pauline Christology.

Works Cited

Christ Is Omniscient (St. Paul)

Mirror link

From my recent paper ("St. Paul on Jesus Christ, 'Our Great God and Savior'"):

St. Paul teaches us that Christ is God is by predicating of Him other attributes proper to God (Prat). God knows everything: "before Him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and are laid bare to the eyes of the One to Whom we must render an account"(Hebrews 4:13). Creatures cannot know everything that God knows: "No one comprehends what is truly God's except the Spirit of God," says St. Paul (1 Corinthians 2:11; qtd. in ST I, q. 14, art. 2). Yet he tells us that "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" are hidden in Christ (Colossians 2:3). What else can this mean but that Christ knows all things and is therefore God?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

St. Paul's Rebuke of St. Peter

Mirror link

From a recent paper of mine ("Reflections on the 'Life and Letters of Paul' Class"):

The class handout "Peter and Barnabas's 'Hypocrisy' (Gal 2:11–14)" prompted me to examine the implications of the "Antioch incident" for the primacy of St. Peter. St. Paul recounts the incident as follows:
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned; for until certain people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But after they came, he drew back and kept himself separate for fear of the circumcision faction. And the other Jews joined him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I say that they were not acting consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, "If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?" (Galatians 2:11-14).
The handout points out, "They had previously agreed with Paul that the Law of Moses could not be a barrier to fellowship between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians in the one church." Since St. Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit, we must accept that St. Peter erred in his conduct. I asked myself, "Does this pose a problem for papal infallibility?" I had not thought so, and deeper examination led me to continue to believe that the Antioch incident is no prejudice to the infallibility of St. Peter, the first bishop of Rome or "pope," according to the consistent testimony of the Fathers of the Church. Papal infallibility means that "the Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful--who confirms his brethren in the faith--he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals" (CCC 891). Nothing in St. Paul's account obliges us to believe that all these conditions were in place during the incident.

But if St. Peter was the first pope, how is it that St. Paul "opposed him to his face" (Galatians 2:11)? One might analogize the incident to a hypothetical situation in which Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi publicly rebukes President Barack Obama for acting consistently with his own principles and platform, or even his own executive orders. Just as we would not conclude from such an incident that Pelosi is higher in rank than Obama, we do not conclude that "St. Paul's reprehending [St. Peter is] any argument against his supremacy," as the 18th-century Bishop Richard Challoner of Debra puts it (Challoner). Thus St. Augustine, in his gloss on this passage, instructs us that "Peter gave an example to superiors, that if at any time they should happen to stray from the straight path, they should not disdain to be reproved by their subjects" (qtd. in ST II-II, q. 33, art. 4, ad 2).

Works Cited

The Protestant Mutilation of Sacred Scripture

Mirror link

From a recent paper of mine ("Reflections on the 'Life and Letters of Paul' Class"):

Many authoritative Church councils prior to the Reformation defined the same canon as the canon of Scripture defined by the Ecumenical Council of Trent in 1546; they include the 393 Synod of Hippo and three Carthaginian councils in the years 393, 397, and 419 (Reid). The canon of the Council of Trent is the same as the Canon of Pope St. Innocent I from the year 405, which was sanctioned by Pope Adrian I and, in 865, by Pope St. Nicholas I the Great (ibid.). I quickly found strong support for the Catholic view among the Fathers of the Church; we are bound to accept their unanimous consent on any matter of faith and morals, or we are forced to say that they, the best witnesses to the traditions handed down by the Apostles, were deceived en masse.

Before I was forced by time constraints to postpone my research on the Bible canon used by the Church Fathers, I found no small number of Church Fathers quoting the "Deuterocanonical" books and "additions" as divinely inspired Scripture: Tobit (Sts. Polycarp, Cyprian, Athanasius the Great, John Chrysostom, Ambrose, Leo the Great, Gregory the Great); Judith (Sts. Ambrose, Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian); the longer version of Esther, extending from 10:4 to 16:24 (St. Jerome); Wisdom (Sts. Cyprian, Dionysius the Great, Cyril of Jerusalem, Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, Basil, Gregory the Theologian, Ambrose, John Chrysostom, Jerome, John Cassian, Leo, Gregory the Great, John of Damascus); Sirach (Sts. Dionysius the Great, Aphrahat the Sage of Persia, Cyril of Jerusalem, Athanasius, Basil, Ambrose, Jerome, John Cassian, Vincent of Lérins, Leo, Gregory the Great); Baruch (Sts. Hippolytus, Cyril of Jerusalem, Athanasius, Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose, John Cassian); the Prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Holy Children, or Daniel 3:24-90 (St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Theodoret); the Story of Susanna, or Daniel 13 (Sts. Cyril of Jerusalem, Hilary, Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, John Chrysostom, Leo); the Story of Bel and the Dragon, or Daniel 14 (Sts. Cyprian, Athanasius, Gregory the Theologian, Basil); 1 Maccabees (Sts. Hippolytus, Cyprian, Ambrose, Gregory the Theologian, Augustine); and 2 Maccabees cited by Sts. Cyprian, Aprahat, Basil, Hilary.

Works Cited

Romans 9:5: Christ is God

Mirror link

From my recent paper ("St. Paul on Jesus Christ, 'Our Great God and Savior'"):

In Romans 9:5 St. Paul refers to Christ as "the Messiah, Who is over all, God blessed forever." All the Church Fathers who made use of this text in their Christological writings interpreted the original Greek, "ὁ ὢν ἐπὶ πάντων θεὸς," to mean that Christ is "God over all" (Drum). These witnesses include Sts. Irenaeus, "Cyprian, Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose, Augustine, and Hilary" (ibid.) This syntax has, for the Fathers, the same meaning as the syntax of the alternative translation in the NRSV footnote: that our Lord is the "Messiah, Who is God over all, blessed forever" (1922c).

Works Cited

St. Paul on Jesus Christ, "Our Great God and Savior"

Mirror link

From my recent paper ("St. Paul on Jesus Christ, 'Our Great God and Savior'"):

St. Paul says that Jesus Christ is God made man. He indicates the divinity of Christ when he tells us that Christ is the omniscient, immutable, omnipresent, and omnipotent Creator, Judge, and Savior, Whom we must worship in order to be saved (Prat). He also expressly gives the name "God" (Θεός) to Christ in several places. At the same time, Christ is true man, like us in all ways except that He is the sinless second Adam (Maas). By His life, death, and resurrection He has gained eternal life for us. In His death He rid us from the curse of the Law by bearing that curse for all of us ("Implications of the Death and Resurrection"). We best serve Him by imitating Him in love, compassion, humility, meekness, forgiveness, and patience.

Works Cited

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Who Ascended to Heaven First?

Mirror link

Genesis 5:23-24: "And all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And he walked with God, and was seen no more: because God took him."
Comment: God "translated [Enoch] into the earthly paradise" [ST III, q. 49, art. 5, ad 2], which is "shut off from the habitable world by mountains, or seas, or some torrid region, which cannot be crossed" [ST I, q. 102, art. 1, ad 3].

2 Ki 2:11: "And as they went on, walking and talking together, behold, a fiery chariot and fiery horses parted them both asunder: and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven."
Comment: St. Elijah the Tishbite "was taken up into the atmospheric heaven, but not in to the empyrean heaven, which is the abode of the saints" [ST III, q. 49, art. 5, ad 2].

1 Maccabees 2:58: "Elijah, for his burning zeal for the law, was taken up to heaven."
Comment: See above.

John 3:13: "No one has gone up to Heaven except the one Who has come down from Heaven, the Son of Man."
Comment: Here Christ confesses that He is the only one Who, at that time, had ascended into the empyrean Heaven, not merely the atmospheric heaven. At the time of Jn 3:13, Heaven was not open to any of the righteous forefathers on account of the original sin infecting their human nature (but not their person) [ST III-S, q. 69, art. 6, ad 1]. Christ opened the gates of Heaven by His Passion [ST III, q. 49, art. 5, corp.]: "But when Christ came as High Priest of the good things that have come to be, passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, that is, not belonging to this creation, He entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves but with His own Blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption" (Hebrews 9:11-12). After Christ opened the gates of Heaven by His Passion, He descended into hell, the hell of the limbo of the righteous forefathers, and broke the gates thereof, and led all their souls to Heaven [ST III, q. 52, art. 5, corp.]: "You also by the blood of Your testament have sent forth Your prisoners out of the pit, wherein is no water" (Zechariah 9:11).

Hebrews 11:5: "By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and 'he was found no more because God had taken him.' Before he was taken up, he was attested to have pleased God."
Comment: See above.

Thus Christ was the first to ascend to Heaven. The Blessed Ever-Virgin Mary was the second; she was assumed body and soul into Heaven many years after the Ascension of her divine Son.

"Why did God not prevent the first man from sinning?" (CCC 412)

CCC 412: But why did God not prevent the first man from sinning? St. Leo the Great responds, "Christ's inexpressible grace gave us blessings better than those the demon's envy had taken away."307 And St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, "There is nothing to prevent human nature's being raised up to something greater, even after sin; God permits evil in order to draw forth some greater good. Thus St. Paul says, 'Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more'; and the Exsultet sings, 'O happy fault,. . . which gained for us so great a Redeemer!'"308

307 St. Leo the Great, Sermo 73,4: PL 54,396.
308 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III,1,3, ad 3; cf. Rom 5:20.