Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Cardinal Virtues and You: Part II

How do we know what that good is? How do we understand how many margaritas on a warm day, is to many margaritas? This requires an understanding of objective truth. St. Thomas Aquinas assures us that it “belongs to the ruling of prudence to decide in what manner and by what means man shall obtain the mean of reason in his deeds

.” Prudence is considered the queen of the Cardinal virtues as it enables us to see things rightly in regards to practical matters. It comes from the latin word prudentia which is properly translated practical wisdom. Therefore, the prudent man, in his day to day actions acts wisely, making decisions that are good not only for himself but for others. Very often today, we tend to think of prudence as a bad thing or as being overly cautious. The western tradition of understanding prudence has in fact been lost. to the point that those who exercise practical wisdom were once referred to as “prudes.”

Prudish behavior by today’s standards can often be right reason in action. If prudence were simply knowledge of rightly ordered things it would never lead to virtue. Our mind can be filled with all of the right things, it can discover the right course of action, however, until the will acts on them, there is no prudence.

In ordering margaritas on a warm summer day, perhaps more than two margaritas impairs a particular man’s ability to think clearly and choose well. A prudent man knows that two margaritas is his limit. He desires to maintain the fully functioning capacity of his reason and free will and as a result he decides that after two margaritas he will switch over to water or if necessary call it a night. He makes this decision based on his knowledge, but most importantly he acts on what he knows. This action, this refusal to have more than two drinks, is a result of his knowledge of the damage that can be caused to himself and those around him when he drinks to much. For this reason he can be said to be a man of prudence.

To many margaritas can affect not only our own lives, but the lives of those around us. It can adversely affect our relationships. St. Thomas refers to the virtue governing these rightly ordered relationships as justice. He adopts a simple phrase “suum cuique,” which means to each his due. What is due to others? According to one of the precepts of the natural law, one should “do unto others as you would have done unto you (Mt. 7:12.) This was the entire point of the ten commandments. In reality, does the average person need to be told “thou shalt not kill?” It is nearly universally accepted by men that their own lives our valuable, and that they would not like to have some one take it from them. A reasonable person can deduce from this, that other human beings value their lives and would not like to have them taken from them. Therefore, it is reasonable to deduce that what is due to others is a respect for their lives. This is reaffirmed by Jesus in the gospel, when he says “love your neighbors as yourself (Mt. 22:39).”

We live in communion with other human beings, in our families, friendships, and at work. It is impossible to escape. Justice therefore is what is due to those with whom we are in communion. What is due, must first be considered from the natural order of things and deals primarily with our relations with other men as St. Thomas says “The proper matter of justice consists of those things that belong to our intercourse with other men.”

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Cardinal Virtues and You: Part I

Today the concept of a “virtuous life” is foreign to most Western minds. Yet, there is often discourse on the “good old days” or some arbitrary time when things were “different.” Living a life of virtue, is and has always been the ongoing struggle of the human person. In recent years, the cardinal virtues have been nearly eliminated from the educational experience. Creating a void in right reason and right action. While at the same time, there is a natural longing for the good. While the West intuitively and deeply longs for a society built on good human living, without an understanding of what that good is, the achievement of the good can never be realized. In order to restore the true good to individuals and to society, it is imperative that a proper understanding of the Cardinal virtues, their relation to each other, and the proper manner of living them out once again animates our own way of living.

The Cardinal virtues are of critical importance to the health of any civilization or culture. As they are quite simply moral virtues. According to Aristotle these moral virtues are abiding dispositions which are a part of the essential nature of the human being. They are good habits, but they are more than merely doing good things, just to do them. They are good habits originating from the intellect and the will which seek the good in a given situation according to right order and reason. Virtue, true virtue, not only reveals a truth about our actions but about who we are interiorly.

The object of the Cardinal virtues is innerworldly activity. So, while patriotism may seem to be a virtue, and it is, it is a subset of the four Cardinal virtues. Whether we are talking about generosity, kindness, or patriotism, we could find them more broadly within one of the four cardinal virtues. The four Cardinal virtues are temperance, prudence, justice, and fortitude. Each of them individually governs a different aspect of our innerworldly activities. In Western tradition both Christian and non-Christian alike, there has been uniform emphasis placed on the Cardinal virtues and their importance in the moral life. The Cardinal virtues when rightly understood and lived out are a joyful path to happiness.

Much of the world today has embraced the mantra, “if it makes you happy, do it!” Our bodies long for certain pleasures, such as food, drink, and sex. It is not uncommon to be told that if we enjoy something we should indulge in it. If we feel something or long for it, we should not deprive ourselves of it. The predominant view of happiness in today’s culture is to seek and obtain pleasure when we desire it. This we are told is what will make us happy. Yet, without to much trouble we can see that there is a disorder in the cultural pursuit of pleasure.

Morality is about far more than our exterior actions. If we are to order our passions/pleasures well, the virtue that one must possess is temperance. St. Thomas Aquinas says that we ought not only to do the right thing, but to do it with “pleasure and promptness.” In other words, we should also desire to or want to, do the right thing. Certainly, from time to time, we can make a choice that appears virtuous exteriorly. However, what makes an act truly virtuous is the intention of that act, the desire of the actor. When we possess virtue we tend to do what we ought to not only because we ought to but because we want to and when we want to, we grow in virtue.

Temperance then is the virtue that regulates our passions/pleasures. It convinces us that we ought to enjoy pleasures well. Temperance assists us in ordering our passions according to right reason and reality. Rather, than making excuses or lying to ourselves, we are more capable of seeing the truth in a situation and acting according to the truth. Temperance commonly refers to not to much of a certain pleasure. However, St. Thomas Aquinas also, recognized that it was an aid to avoiding to flacid or lukewarm a response to pleasures as well.

Temperance governs the way in which we pursue many pleasures. For some people drinking alcohol can be a pleasurable experience. However, the intellect (the mind) and the free will are the powers of the soul and when they are impaired we become less fully human. Alcohol can impair those two powers if it is used in a manner that disregards the human capacity to reason and choose the good. To much alcohol, then while it may “feel” good initially, is a result of intemperance. If the mind and the will are impaired, immediately the ability to know the good and to choose it are impaired. Temperance, however, helps us to find the mean in our alcohol consumption. We know that having a margarita on a warm day can be enjoyable, however, five can cause impairment and loss of judgement and five a day everyday could lead to financial problems, loss of time at work, or even physical ailment. Temperance helps us to choose with “pleasure and promptness” that which is most good in our consumption of alcohol.

Pray the Rosary Daily! Be Holy, Not Worldly!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Eden And the Temple Part III

The Hebrew word Sheba is roughly translated as seven. Seven is a holy number and in Hebrew tradition it means to swear an oath. God revealed the entire cosmos and particularly

Himself to Adam and Eve and on the seventh day He offered the promise of His life to them. The Sabbath was meant to be a sign of that promise or covenant. It is on the Sabbath that God calls us to enter into His glory and to be made whole through the gift of His divine life. From the very beginning God makes it clear that we are made to worship Him. The Sabbath was made the sign of the covenantal promise between God and men and it was made while Adam was still in a state of grace and worthy of His presence. God reiterates and clarifies his intention for the sabbath when He says to Moses “You shall keep the sabbath, because it is holy for you; every one who profanes it shall be put to death (Ex 31: 14).” Jesus will later say that “the Sabbath was made for man not man for the sabbath.”

Adam fails in His priestly duties and after the fall He and Eve are removed from Eden. They are escorted from the Sacred Garden and a Cheribum is placed at the entrance which is in the East to protect the sanctuary. Specifically the tree of life. Salvation history is a constant effort to return to the indwelling presence of God through right worship in the proper sacred space.

Initially Israel itself can be understood as an expansion of the Garden of Eden. All men are called to communion with the Holy Trinity as they are descendants of Adam. Yet, God limits initially limits the possibilities to one group of people in one place, the Israelites. God offers to sustain this relationship intimate relationship with Abraham’s descendants when He promises the land to Abraham’s offspring and says “I will be their God (Gn. 17: 7-8). He says that this will be accomplished in a specific place, Israel. In Exodus 25 and following, Moses receives instruction from God on the institution of a centralized place of worship for that His presence might be encountered. Moses in given instruction on the institution of the levitical priesthood as well. In Gn. 3: 8, the Hebrew word mithalekh is used to describe God’s moving about, His presence in the Garden

. The very same word is used in Leviticus 26: 11-12, to describe God presence in the sanctuary. The activities of the Levitcal priests in the sanctuary are also described using the same words which describe Adam’s duties. It is very clear that the Israelites viewed Eden as the template for temple worship. All of these attempts by the Israelites were attempts to encounter God through faithful temple worship.

However, we must come back to the gospel of John in order to recover what was lost as a result of Adam’s failure. We know that Jesus is the Word Made Flesh. He is God Incarnate. His presence in time is the sign of God’s desire to be present to us and for us to dwell with and in Him. John expresses in the first chapter of His gospel that Jesus is truly God. In His body Jesus makes present the sacrificial “cult of the temple.

” Jesus Himself claims that He is the temple of God, when He proclaims that He is the place, “Bethel which means house of God,

” which Jacob describes in his dream. Jacob says “this is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven (Gn. 28: 17). In chapter two of John’s gospel, Jesus makes the claim that the temple will be destroyed and He will raise it up again in three days (Jn. 2: 19). John says directly that Jesus “spoke of the temple of His body.” (Jn. 2:21) Christ is the new tree of life. The Cheribum were set at the East of Eden to protect against re-entry into the sanctuary. Their job was to guard the tree of life. Jesus the new temple, says that “just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up.” (Jn. 3:14). Jesus will be lifted up on the tree or the cross. It will become the fulfillment of the tree of life. Through His sacrificial death, His body becomes the means by which the damage done by Adam’s rejection of true temple worship is repaired. For this reason St. Paul refers to Christ as the “new Adam,” when he says “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” (Rom. 5: 19). It is union with Christ, His literal body, worship of Him that brings about the fullest communion with God (Jn. 6).

God ordained from the very beginning of time that all things are ordered to Him. He created a universe in which the worship of God required for union with Him is not arbitrary, nor is it optional. In creating the universe He gave us a template and a model, so that at the proper time, we would recognize His Son as the true fulfillment of the temple of Eden.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Eden and The Temple Part II

As we work through the creation narrative with this in mind, we can see that as God brings everything into existence, He does so, through His word, that word is Jesus Christ. He not only creates the universe, but it is a universe that He both remains set apart from and fully present in. Though the fullness of His presence is found in the Garden of Eden. Knowing that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we can see the presence of the Holy Trinity in creation, Father, Son (Logos), and Spirit (moving over the water). This is made more fully manifest when God creates Adam. God says “let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness (Gn. 1:26).” The text speaks clearly of the communion of persons found in the Holy Trinity. God is a communion of persons fully responsible for and present in Creation. He makes communion with His Trinitarian life possible but only in the Garden of Eden.

God does not simply create Adam, rather, He gives Him a partner for communion, Eve. Created in His image and likeness, God says that it is “very good (Gn. 1:31).” Creation has both a spiritual and material goodness as “the Lord God formed man for dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (Gn. 2:7).” God conveys His mind which is immaterial or spiritual through His Word, to bring about material things which are ordered above all to Him. He gives as an elevating gift His Spirit to those who remain faithful. In doing so, He creates man in His image and likeness, giving Him the mind and the will to participate in God’s very life. Adam and Eve were “endowed with the grace of divine sonship.

” Human beings are radically different from all of the other forms of life. By creating human beings in His image and likeness, God has given man a share in His very life. He gave Adam the power to willingly participate in His divine presence. It is in strict relation to and union with God that man is able to rise above His nature. He can choose to remain as an animal rejecting the gift of God’s love and presence or he can come to a profound understanding of the order of creation and his supernatural capabilities, but, only in union with God’s love and grace which is a product of remaining in the Garden of Eden.

As the only holy place where God can be encountered, Eden can be considered a sanctuary. The place where God dwells. We see in Holy Scripture that Adam is then a priest endowed with the capacity to know the truth and choose the good, Adam is capable of mediating God’s gift of supernatural love. God commands Adam to “till the garden and keep it (Gn. 2:15).” The Hebrew word for “till” and “keep” are aboddah and shamar. These words are used again in the book of numbers to describe the priestly work of the levitical priests in their service of the sanctuary and tabernacle.

” It was Adam’s job as the priest of the sanctuary of Eden to do the work of protecting the sanctuary from idolatry and sin. His job was to remain in the presence of God and to lead His wife into that same presence.

Adam and Eve were given an abundant share of that grace in their creation. They shared in the presence of the Holy Trinity, through what has traditionally been called the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They lived in intimacy with each other and God, again, as long as they remained in the garden of eden.

The Garden of Eden was the holy place in which Adam and Eve specifically encountered and worshipped God for who He is. Adam and Eve were created in marriage on the sixth day. God “blessed them and said to them be fruitful and multiply (Gn. 1:28)” and “a man leaves is father and mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh (Gn. 2: 24).” God “blessed” and “hallowed” the seventh day. God not only made the seventh day holy, but on the designated holy ground of eden, Adam and Eve spent their first day as a married couple, worshipping God. The seventh day, was the Sabbath day. The Sabbath is consummation of living in God’s presence. This was a privilege which Adam would continually have to merit, if he wished to maintain the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Pray the Rosary Daily! Be Holy Not Worldly!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Eden and The Temple Part I

Aristotle once said “what is last in intention, is first in execution.

” It is clear from the creation narrative that God never brings His ideas into existence, without the end in mind. A serious and thoughtful theological reading of the opening chapters of holy scripture reveal that God who is not a part of His creation, creates everything so that it may be ordered to Him. He is the end and the beginning. Everything in the created universe is ordered toward Him. The garden of Eden is the first temple in which the ordered worship of God begins and the prefigurement and foundation for all temple worship which has followed.

God created an entire universe, however, He was present to man in a specific and particular way in Eden. God reveals that sacred space is a part of the orientation of the universe. He also reveals that the purpose of sacred space is union with Him. Written into very nature of man is a not only a desire but a need to worship God. Eden is the template for temple worship and for rightly ordered union with God. While there is an entire universe, it is only in Eden that “man can enter into communion with God.

” This communion with God is made manifest through God’s express presence, the institution of the Sabbath, the sanctuary, and His holy priesthood. All of which were instituted in the Garden and remain to this day an integral part of the worship of Jesus Christ.

The sacred text of holy Scripture begins without “form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep (Gn. 1:2).” We are told that God created everything from nothing and that “the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters (Gn. 1: 2).” The waters of baptism are prefigured in the second verse and by the third verse, God speaks. He utters the words “let there be light (Gn. 1: 3).” Immediately we know that through God’s word all of creation was brought into existence and that of His own accord He makes himself present to creation.

Logos in the greek, means word. It is a word used both by the author of the Pentatuach and the author of the gospel of John. John tells us that “in the beginning was the word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (Jn. 1: 1).” He later tells us that the “Word became flesh and dwelt among us (Jn. 1: 14).” John uses the greek word Logos. He takes great care in using that word to relate his narrative clearly to the creation narrative. John reveals to us that the same word that spoke created things into existence took on the flesh of His creation and came among us. It reveals to us anew God’s desire to be present to us. The significance of this revelation is vital in our understanding of the creation narrative.

Logos had several meanings and John would have known them very well. The first of which was the association with word and the order and design of the universe. Ancient Greek philosophers believed the universe was ordered, knowable, and expressed the mind of God. Secondly, John also recognized the connection with the creation story as God’s spoken expression of His power. Lastly, John recognized the link between the Word of God and the wisdom of God. John expresses clearly the divinity of Jesus Christ. A divine person who in His infinite love and wisdom, in union with the Father, and the Holy Spirit created the universe from nothing. Having this in mind we can return to the creation narrative.

Pray the Rosary Daily! Be Holy Not Worldly!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Seal Of Confession!

The law is unjust. St. Thomas Aquinas says that an unjust law is not law at all. It need not be complied with. This finding is a result of an increasing growth in paganism and as a result a growing disdain and aggression toward Christianity and the public practice and living out of the tenets of the Catholic Christian life in the world.

Justice requires not revenge, rather, the reparation of human relationships and the common good. Confession is a divinely instituted sacrament. One of the requirements of confession is that the priest maintain the seal of confession. In my humble opinion the virtues cannot exist apart from each other. In charity and with fortitude, keeping in mind justice, considering the good of all other parishioners in the diocese, Fr. ought to have the courage to refuse to testify. Persecution is beginning and in order to be compelling witnesses, we must be willing to sacrifice ourselves for the good of others and to suffer for others. Yes, Fr. may be charged in this case. However, if he is willing to say publicly that Christ and His Church come before tyrannical government, he will become a pillar and model to follow. He will encourage and strengthen those who make frequent confession, that the seal is certain.

No one should ever have to worry about whether or not those things which they have revealed in the privacy of the confessional will ever be made public.

Pray the Rosary Daily! Be Holy, Not Worldly!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Rally For the FFI's In Rome

Rally For the FFI's In Rome
Pray that Rome be as merciful and forgiving with the FFI's as they seem to have been with the numerous religious orders in the US, that are non-compliant.

Pray the Rosary Daily! Be Holy, Not Worldly!