Monday, August 18, 2014

The Four Effects of Supernatural Faith II

We have already discussed the theological virtue of faith and how it unites us in marriage to God, which is the first effect of faith. It is the adhesive holding the relationship together. God is never unfaithful. As I stated, He gives Himself as a gift. His generosity is unmatched. Every single soul will be given the grace necessary for salvation. For those souls who are not saved, it will not be because God Himself, has judged them unworthy of His love and grace. He gave it to them. They rejected it. They said no. Those souls refused to give their assent to God's revelation and His grace. Simple, THEY said no. Our submission, to God's sacramental grace and our assent to those things that God had revealed lead us into a deep interior faith, hope and charity. But, it begins with faith. Then and only then do we experience the four effects of faith more profoundly.

Eternal Life
It is no great secret that the rejection of St. Thomas and his philosophy and theology have led to a faith that is almost entirely absent or Protestant in nature in our culture. Very few actually live their lives in a state of grace or for that matter are seeking to live in a state of grace. They reject the notion that we can even know what that means or how we can  accomplish such a thing. Grace to most moderns is somehow randomly caught floating in the atmosphere. That is if you profess that you believe in Jesus Christ. It just sort of falls on us like a snow covered blanket, covering us up and making us look nice on the outside. While all the while the inside is still ugly, dark, and evil. You are, as Martin Luther says a "snow covered dunghill." There is no greater anthropological error than to reject the good nature of the human person and the need for an infusion of grace to elevate that nature to the super nature for which it was intended. Think about, a protestant who says "I am a bible believing christian." Who then proceeds to reject the words of God, who professes boldly that the nature of the human person is "in His image and likeness" and that is "very good."

The second effect of faith is that eternal life is begun in our soul. Sanctifying grace is the purifying gift of the sacraments. It sets the New Testament apart from the old. The loss of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the fall led to the absence of God's presence in the souls of the Jewish faithful. They had actual grace, but, they were without sanctifying grace. Sanctifying grace restores to the soul the life of the Holy Spirit. Those souls who remain in a state of grace, remain in union with God the Father, through Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit. Upon our death, the firm hope of those who have faith is that they will be drawn into eternal life. God is eternal life. He shares that with those who believe what he has revealed. He makes His dwelling with us through the sacraments. The Lord proclaimed in the gospel of John "This is eternal life, that they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." Our knowledge of God begins here in this life, through faith. Through faith, we are drawn deeply into Christ's presence in the Eucharist and the other sacraments. Here and now is only the beginning. What is begun here through our full on one flesh reunion with God in faith, is brought to completion and perfection when we shall know God as He is. St. Paul says as much when he says "faith is the substance of things hoped for." As St. Thomas says "no one can arrive at a perfect happiness of heaven, which is the true knowledge of God, unless first he knows God through faith." Heaven begins in our soul when through faith our soul is united to God as in a marriage. When you die, and you will, if you die in a state of grace, your soul is already united to it's destination.

Right Order
Why are we all tempted to lose faith? Likely because everywhere we look we see disordered human living. Thank you Martin Luther. If we think we are snow covered dunghills and we take we believe his anthropology, then why would we strive for holiness. What a waste of time that would be. According to him it is an impossible feat. Therefore, as he says, we may as well "sin boldly." Really doesn't that sound like the theology of our culture. I use culture for lack of a better word, there is little that is cultured about culture at this moment in time. Whole different blog though. Everything has been flipped. Vice is not virtue. It is "good" to live with our significant other before marriage. It is actually "good" to live with them instead of marriage. We are now encouraged to accept that marriage actually has no essential nature. It is rather, man made, and as such can be reconfigured to suit our own feelings and desires. That is considered good and if you do not agree that two men "marrying" each other is "good". Then you are a close minded, archaic, bigot. The modern mind somehow believes that it is "good" not to make a permanent commitment to anyone. Or that you can make any type of temporary commitment and call it marriage. There is not binding nature or definition, therefore, we are free do as we wish and it all falls under the definition of marriage. This can be attributed to the epidemic loss of faith.

Faith gives new and essential direction to our life. Not just direction but the right direction. If we are to live a good life, a life of virtue, then it is necessary that we know what is necessary to live a good and virtuous life. Far to many people, including churchmen, live according to their own efforts alone. Probably accepting that the nature of the human person cannot change. Likely rejecting the notion that the human person was made for the good, he was made to live a virtuous life. True freedom depends on our desire to pursue virtue and the purification of our weaknesses. I have worked for the Church for years, I can tell you with certainty, that there are numerous priests who simply do not have a daily commitment to prayer. There are numerous priests who are active homosexuals. There are numerous priests who either do not have the courage to boldly proclaim the gospel in public either that or they simply do not believe it. That my friends is living a life of one's own effort. That my friends is living a life apart from the theological virtue of faith. That my friends is the wrong direction. Disorder of the highest degree. By our own efforts we "will never attain such knowledge, or if so, only after a long time (St. Thomas)." Faith leads to hope and orders our life to one other than this one. It instills in us the awareness of eternal life and other supernatural truths that complete and drive us on in perseverance. Our assent to these truths compel us to "live rightly and avoid evil (St. Thomas Aquinas)." As holy scripture says "The Just man liveth by faith." If you want to be a saint, if you want God to dwell within you and hold you close to Him. If you want to boldly proclaim and live the faith in public without anxiety and fear over what may happen to you or whether or not the boss my fire you, you need the theological virtue of faith. If you want the Lord to call you by name and to refer to you as one of the just, like Moses, Abraham, or David, then simply pursuing your life according to your own efforts is a fruitless endeavor. But I suspect you have already figured that out. St. Thomas says that this is evident:

"in that no one of the philosophers before the coming of Christ could, through his own powers, know God and the means necessary for salvation as well as any old woman since Christ' coming know Him through faith." 

Three Effects Down
Faith the supernatural virtue of faith brings about in us four great effects. We have explored three of them. The first is that the soul is united to God in a union like marriage. The second is a result of the union of God in marriage, eternal life is begun in the soul. The third effect is that supernatural faith gives life a proper and fitting direction.

There is one last effect. Look for it in part III. Until then:
Pray the Rosary Daily! Be Holy, Not Worldly!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Four Effects of Supernatural Faith

Recently, I began reading St. Thomas Catechism. I know that we find ourselves in a difficult time. The Magisterium of the Church is not always clear. It often speaks in ambiguities and shades of grey. Gone are the days when the faith is clearly proclaimed giving men and women of faith a sure foundation for the pursuit of holiness. The current state of uncertainty in the proclamation of the gospel can lead the most faithful person to entertain doubts. When the Church begins to speak as if salvation happens equally to everyone regardless of where they are, whether inside or outside of the Church, She is misfiring. When she misfires even at her highest level, it can be confusing, but we must not lose faith. We must remember that faith, true faith, the faith that leads to salvation is a gift of sanctifying grace, received through worthy reception of the sacraments and full assent to those things that God has revealed for our salvation. St. Thomas says that if a man denied even one aspect of revealed doctrine, he would not, could not possibly have the theological virtue of faith. I am thinking here of the pagans, hindus, buddhists, muslims, jews, and yes protestants. If a man does not have the theological virtue of faith, if follows that salvation is not an option. To be Catholic is to say yes to the grace that God has given for salvation. He gives enough actual grace to everyone. No one upon their death will be able to say, I did not know. Everyone with a mind and a will that is in tact, has, or will be given enough grace to convert to the truth and to enter into the sanctifying grace given through the Church and her Sacraments. That my friends is where the theological virtue of faith is at. Obedience to what is true, good, and beautiful.

Do you me saying that evangelization is not necessary? Am I saying that salvation happens equally to all regardless of their state in life? Should you stop evangelizing people and simply walk with them and talk with them in some banal, sentimental manner, with little to no mention of the truth and their need for conversion? I answer no. Even if the highest Churchmen in the land suggested that salvation happens equally to all whether in the Church or outside of it. Whether they have an interior disposition ordered to God's revelation and the sacraments or not, we need not accept it. Whether or not walking and talking without the kerygma, is in itself worthy method, I suppose is open to debate. However it is simply not necessary, nor are you required to utilize that particular method. Methods are not dogma. You would not be required to adhere to it, nor would you be less Catholic for choosing a different method. Our soul job is to be radically set apart from a culture whose faith has been ravaged, so, that we may "preach the gospel in season and out of season." For, without faith "no one is truly called a faithful Christian (St. Thomas Aquinas)."

Faith, the authentic theological virtue of faith, is a gift of grace. It is nearly impossible to attain outside of the Church. Even in times of trial and ambiguity we must remember that we must persevere in faith. True faith has four very important effects on the human person and his soul.

I Espouse Thee!
The first effect of faith is that the soul is "united to God, and by it there is between the soul and God a union akin to marriage. Jesus Christ himself says "he who BELIEVES and is baptized will be saved." St. Thomas tells us that baptism without faith is of no value (See his catechism). Without faith no one, I repeat no one will be acceptable before God. St. Paul says that "without faith it is impossible to please God. In order for a man to grow in any of the other theological virtues (hope and charity), he must first have faith. Faith and baptism are bound up in each other. Certainly, grace works, because it works, but it is effective to the measure in which the baptized believe and make an attempt to live out that faith. It is called participation. Our fiat, if you will is necessary for baptism to be active. Without faith St. Augustine says "where there is no knowledge of the eternal and unchanging Truth, virtue even in the midst of the best moral life is false."

Here I would like to take a moment to point out the practical application of this first effect. When two people decide that they love each other and they happen to be of the same gender. When they move in with each other, even pretend to be married to each other, they reject what God has revealed both through the natural law and divine revelation (Mt. 19). Marriage is the exclusive union of a man to a woman. It is permanent and it is open to life. For this reason any Bishop who would baptize a child in one of these highly disordered relationships does a disservice both to the adults requesting the baptism and the child. On the one hand the adults are given the impression that their rejection of both the natural and divine law is no longer important even to the Church. Not to mention they are given they are further taught by these actions, that a person can have true faith and reject the both the natural and divine law. If that were not enough the actions tell the "couple" that they are "God loves them where they are at" or "God loves you just the way you are." In other words, conversion is not necessary. Which logically leads to the perception that without another change, the couple will be raising that the child in the true faith. True faith is a requirement of baptism if it is to be efficacious. Therefore, Any bishop who would more closely scrutinize these requests perhaps even saying no to them when necessary, is acting in accord with the truth of the theological virtue of faith and it's effects.

If the first effect of faith is to be realized there must be a willingness on the part of the faithful to order his life to that which God has revealed and which must be held. In order to actually truly know Jesus Christ, in prayer and in relationship requires a knowledge of who He truly is. When one orders his interior life in this manner, whether he be Bishop or faithful, he will live the life of a devoted spouse. Tethered to his spouse, he will defend her to the death. His faith, his union with Christ will allow no less.

We will discuss the last three effects in the coming week.

Pray the Rosary Daily! Be holy, Not worldly!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Guardians of The Galaxy

I went to see GoTG the other day and I was thoroughly entertained.

The movie itself is very witty and fast paced. Admittedly I found this movie rather enjoyable. At it's foundation it is about five people who experienced suffering and loss. Rather than embracing it as a reality a true part of existence as a contingent human being, instead they refused to face the wounds incurred as a result of the suffering and turned in on themselves. Quite the opposite of charity, which goes out to the other for their good. These five became isolated, angry, and lonely. It was in the end the virtue of true friendship that helped them to overcome their wounds and to get outside of themselves. Through their friendship they began to get outside of themselves and give of themselves for the good of others.  Groot, a talking tree, is the light that shines in the darkness. You will know what I mean when if you go see it.

It was also pretty funny. There is a great reference to Keven Bacon and footloose. There are a few crude moments. But all in all it was enjoyable. Do not bring your young children.

Let me know if you check it out and what you thought.

Pray the Rosary Daily! Be Holy, Not Worldly!

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Theological Virtues And Renewal: Part III

The offering of his life in the service of cultural renewal, was an offering of himself for the good of others. Peter’s faith and hope, led him into the very essence of the gospel, divine charity. The virtue “by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.” (CCC 1822) Charity is first and foremost a gift from God and it is ordered toward love of God. We see this manifest throughout holy scripture. First in the garden of Eden. Adam is given a free will and commanded to order his firstly toward obedience to God. When he orders them to his wife and himself, the relationship is broken. God later reveals to Moses the ten commandments. The first three of which are ordered toward love of God, the last seven toward love of neighbor. Jesus later expresses in the gospel of John that love is both a gift of grace and an act of the intellect and the will in participation with that grace. Jesus says “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (Jn. 15: 12-14). Love therefore, is an intellectual act of the will born of faith and hope.

In revealing Himself as God, Jesus both gave commanded and gave witness to manner in which charity was to be carried out. He loved the will of the Father so perfectly that He offered Himself on the cross for the salvation of all of His neighbors. In the same way Peter, inspired by a belief in, the incarnation, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ went into public proclaiming the truth for the good and salvation of his neighbors. He did it for the glory of Christ. St. Thomas advises that “in morals the form of an act is taken chiefly from the end.”

In other words, it is charity, the willingness, to lay down one’s life, or to sacrifice for the good of others that informs all of the other virtues. In St. Peter’s case it informed the rest of his life. He was a witness to Christ’s death and resurrection and he recognized that love itself “promises infinity, eternity-a reality far greater and totally other than our everyday existence.”

He had experienced the banal existence of a culture devoid of truth, goodness, and beauty. Having encountered the fulfillment of his deepest longing he would no longer find satisfaction apart from offering his life in service of the gospel.

The renewal of a culture which has been devastated by a loss of true virtue begins with effort and is ordered to faith, hope, and charity, rooted in Jesus Christ, “being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with and even, a person, which give life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”

When St. Peter received the Holy Spirit in the upper room, he received the grace of Christ, the infusion of the virtues for the mission proper to the will of God. He was free to reject that grace, however, he recognized that their was a culture devoid of truth, goodness, and beauty, a culture in need of renewal, souls in need of salvation. By ordering his life to that which is above his nature, namely Christ, his soul was infused with gifts of the theological virtues, whereby, he “obtained a certain divine assistance”

to aid him not only in his work, but in maintaining his focus and fidelity to the one who offered the assistance.

There can be no cultural renewal today, unless, there be a renewal of faith in God’s divine revelation. For faith is the foundation of the other virtues and men and women devoid of faith are left to seek truth, goodness, and beauty in and amongst only themselves. However, the nature of the human person, longs for that which is above it’s own nature. Emboldened by the Holy Spirit and the Gift of the theological virtues, there will always be those who like Peter, are willing to lay their lives at the service of Jesus Christ for the renewal of the culture and the good of their neighbor, even if it means, death, death on a cross.

Pray the Rosary Daily! Be Holy, Not Worldly!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Theological Virtues and Renewal: Part II

Peter’s faith became an exterior work when he came from the upper room to boldly proclaim the truth. Certainly, he had courage or fortitude, a cardinal virtue, but his increased courage, was a result of his faith and rightly ordered hope. When we believe all that Christ has revealed for our salvation, something else is implied, that is that we believe that Jesus Christ, is the first truth, that He is God. Hope is the theological virtue “by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness.” (CCC 1817). To desire heaven above all things is to desire to spend eternity face to face with God. More than that, it is to believe that Christ rose from the dead, so that it is possible to attain the fullness of communion with God. Hope then is bound up in the good that we desire. No one is capable of saving themselves, intuitively we all know that the good we desire is beyond our human capacity to produce. We long for eternal happiness and immersion in perfect love. Whereas, we are incapable of producing so great a good, we must order our lives to that which God has revealed for our salvation, namely, Jesus Christ. He alone is the infinite good capable of leading us to our supernatural end. St. Thomas says “we should hope from Him for nothing less than Himself, since His goodness, whereby he imparts good things to His creature, is no less than His essence.”

Therefore the object of our hope is eternal happiness, which can be found only in Jesus Christ.

When Peter left the confines of the upper room he wasted no time making sure that everyone he spoke to knew exactly what the object of their hope was. It was the object of His hope, which is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In his first Papal audience, he said “this Jesus, God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses.” (Acts. 2: 32). Peter’s confession in the resurrection was a result of both Peter’s faith and hope. While they are individual virtues, Peter did not recognize them as operating apart from each other. They are in fact parts of a whole. Faith alone, will save no one, hope apart from revelation is not hope at all. Pope Benedict XVI explained that Peter “exhorts Christians to be always ready to give an answer concerning the Logos-the meaning and reason-of their hope(2 Pet. 3:15), hope is equivalent to faith.”

It was precisely these two virtues which caused Peter to emerge from the upper room full of courage and confidence. He was confident that his life would not end in emptiness or despair, rather, it was on a trajectory with the objective goodness, truth, and beauty, in which is found his end, Jesus Christ. The gift of these two theological virtues compelled Peter to enter the world and offer his life in service of the renewal of a dark and pagan culture.

Pray the Rosary Daily! Be Holy, Not Worldly!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Theological Virtues and Renewal: Part I

It is nearly impossible to avoid the perverted reality that has become American Culture. Truth, goodness, and beauty, have all but been eliminated from the daily lives of most of the West. The elimination of these foundational building blocks of culture can quite easily be linked to the lack of virtue in the West. The virtuous man seeks the truth, he does not simply lurch along lazily seeking comfort and pleasure. Rather, he is moved by his reason to know the truth and to seek the good.

However, he seeks more than simply what can be known by the human mind alone. The virtuous man realizes that there is something greater than he, himself, and he seeks to be elevated to unity in that truth. That truth is Jesus Christ and the gift that he gives us to be elevated above our nature are the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity.

In general the theological virtues are the “foundation of Christian moral activity.” (CCC 1813). “The virtue of a thing is that which makes its subject good, and its work good likewise,

” in other words, the lack of virtue in humanity, means a lack of virtue in cultural activity. The virtues enlighten the mind of the man striving to live in reality through right reason and faith. The theological virtues are infused into the soul directly by God and are ordered to union with God and the faithful participation, in Christ, in the moral life. In other words, they shape the character of the human person. The theological virtues animate all of man’s activity, his work, his family, and his worship. Human activity is the lex vivendi of the Christian life. Our activity makes visible in the world the dogma, that we profess belief in. Therefore. we can say that it is indeed the theological virtues which elevate the human person to a dignity above his nature, to a truth, goodness, and beauty, that are not simply his to manipulate, than it is necessary that His life be infused with the theological virtues of faith hope and charity.

Our Lord says to Peter “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.” (Lk. 22:32) The supernatural virtue of Faith is a divinely infused gift that does not mean that it is contrary to reason. Rather, it is the gift that elevates reason of nature that, right reason may be enlightened by wisdom. John Paul the II said that “faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to contemplate the truth.

” Jesus prays for Peter’s faith, precisely because, he knows that the temptations and the struggles that Peter will face cannot be overcome by human reason alone. The persecution and physical attack directed at Peter would require that he entrust himself and His life to the divine revelation of Christ.

Perhaps no one knows better than Our Lord that faith is the assent to those things which he has revealed for our salvation, which could not be known by reason. From reason alone we can come to the conclusion that there must exist a God, one, singular God. He is therefore the first truth as He is the fist cause of all that we can know from reason alone. Therefore, as the book of Hebrews says faith is “the evidence of things that are not seen.” (Heb. 11: 1) We must assent to those things and all of those things which have been revealed by Our Lord, Jesus Christ through His Church, therefore, the “mean on which faith is based is the Divine Truth.”

Our entire salvation hinges on our belief that Christ is God and our assent to all of those things He has revealed. St. Thomas in fact says that if a man rejects even one article of divinely revealed doctrine, “he has not the habit of faith, but holds that which is of faith otherwise than by faith.”

In other words, to reject for example the Immaculate Conception, which could never be attained solely by reason, is to reject the virtue of faith. He would make himself the first truth, the object of faith. Faith would become wholly dependent on his intellect and his will, in turn rejecting the mind and the will of God as revealed through Christ and His Church.

This rejection of faith is common in the modern west and it is the beginning of the rejection of high culture. As explained previously, to reject God’s revelation is to make oneself the arbiter of truth. Which in turn eliminates from the culture the very origin of truth, God. Pope Benedict the XVI recently said that faith can no longer be pre-supposed as there is a “profound crisis of faith.”

This is manifested repeatedly in the moral relativism of the culture. The man of true faith, like Peter, follows that faith to it’s end. That end is in Christ, who died on the cross and rose again from the dead. While Peter, feared for a time, he rose from the upper room after receiving the Holy Spirit to boldly proclaim the Gospel. In the upper room he was infused with the gift of faith, a gift that is necessary for the other theological virtues to flourish and in hope and charity he encountered the world and acted on that faith. Or as St. James would say his “faith was active along with his works, faith was completed by his works.” (Ja. 2: 22)

Pray the Rosary Daily! Be Holy, Not Worldly!

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Cardinal Virtues and You: Part III

Returning to the margaritas perhaps we have transported a friend to the bar in which these margaritas are consumed. This implies the acceptance of responsibility for his safe arrival at home at the end of the night. Remember his life is valuable to him, much as your is to you. You know that it is your responsibility not only to get him home, but to get him home safely. Perhaps, you encourage each other to remain sober, regardless, you know that what is due to your friend is a safe ride home and as a result, you refuse to drink more than two margaritas, as you know that anymore would impair your ability to drive and therefore, decrease the possibility of getting your friend home safely. Concern for a rightly ordered relationship with your friend makes a man just.

Perhaps however, your friend likes to drink to many margaritas. You may find yourself in the middle of a very difficult situation. As a result of our communion with others we often find ourselves in difficult situations, we are tested sometimes greatly. Fortitude is the virtue that enables us to face difficulties well. Fortitude is interchangeable with courage. What is the greatest difficulty for the human person? A very common answer might be death. As stated earlier, life is naturally valuable to the well ordered conscience. However, a man of fortitude would be willing to lay down his life for a greater good.

A willingness to lay down one’s life for a greater good implies that this courageous person is both vulnerable and the good sought requires a sacrifice. In order to be courageous there must be a real difficulty, one in which an individual could be overcome. This reveals a vulnerability. Which leads to the conclusion that some sacrifice will be necessary to overcome the difficulty which presents itself.

Returning to our friends and their margarita’s, we can imagine that the friend who drove does not wish to have more than two margaritas, because he recognizes that he is responsible for the other. However, if the other friend decides to consume copious amounts of tequila, he may decide he would like a drinking buddy. As a result, he may begin to put pressure on the responsible driver to drink with him. This encouragement to drink more than two margaritas could be a difficulty, as the driver has struggled with alcohol use in the past and is trying to control it. In the face of the name calling and past struggles, however, the driver maintains his sobriety and is able to drive his intoxicated friend home safely. He has overcome the temptation to give into intoxication himself as a result of the virtue of fortitude.

Throughout this discussion on the cardinal virtues one thing should have become quite clear. The virtues cannot be compartmentalized. They do not operate apart from each other. Fortitude requires temperance and prudence. Temperance requires prudence and fortitude and justice. They simply must function in harmony with each other. For example fortitude is necessary to possess the other three virtues. If the passions are to be properly ordered, courage is required to say no in the face of some difficulty. If right reason is to be acted upon, courage is necessary to carry that out at times. If right relationships are to be maintained courage is necessary to maintain them at times. Everyone has been in a difficult situation whether it was struggling with drinking to much, struggling to maintain a family relationship, or struggling to act on what we know to be true in a crowd of unknown people. A common denominator in rightly acting in each of those situations is fortitude. This connection of the virtues is called the unity of the virtues. Western thinkers have long held that while there are separate virtues governing different activities, they have an organic unity, which requires that if one of them is possessed, so to are the others.

This understanding of the virtues and their unity is essential for the recovery of a virtuous culture. Right reason, rightly ordered passions, right relationships, and courage, depend on a willingness to live a good life. They require thought and action. In order for thought and action to be harmonious with the virtues, they must once again not only be taught, but lived out by those who are teaching them. We cannot demand virtue if we are not striving for virtue ourselves.