Marian Brother JL
Saturday, December 20, 2003
Ok, I think the new blog is ready for general viewing. Please check out my new blog: Mercy and Mary.
Thursday, December 18, 2003
Although it is still in "beta" mode (more work to be done), you can take a look at the new Bro. John blog hosted at CyberCatholics.com. You can even comment in this new blog! (gasp)
This blog is going to become archive material soon... A brand new fancy-schmancy blog is going to replace it.
Hope these final days of Advent are giving you some time to prepare for the Mass of the newborn Christ.
Some Advent reflections from the Pope's General Audience.
Tuesday, December 16, 2003
A portion of my paper on despair and presumption, justice and mercy. Here I describe presumption according to St. Thomas Aquinas... References to Fr. Hill are from the Blackfriars Edition of the Summa.
St. Thomas describes the sin in his sed contra of ST II-II 21, 1 in comparison with despair. Just as despair “makes little of divine mercy to which hope clings, presumption discounts the divine justice calling for punishment of the sinner.” (Hill, tran., 103) He goes on to say, “Sed sicuit misericordia est in Deo, ita etiam et justitia est in ipso." My rough translation of this is, “For just as mercy is in God, in the same way also justice is in him.” It is hard to imagine that both justice and mercy are in God in a like manner because they are so different.
Presumption is an “immoderantiam spei,” i.e. an “excessiveness of hope.” This seems to contradict an earlier article concerning hope in which St. Thomas argues that theological virtue is not a mean between two points (II-II, 17, 5, ad 2). There he explains that essentially hope, since it has God as its proper object, is not regulated by any other. One can never hope too much in God... or can one?
St. Thomas explains in his responsio in II-II 21, 1 that, although one cannot believe too much in God, one can believe too much or little in matters about God. So, although one cannot hope too much in God, one can hope too much in the mercy of God. This seems contradictory, for God is mercy. In God there can be no separation between Him and His attributes. However, we understand them in a complex way, so we can get mercy wrong, forgetting that God is also justice.
St. Thomas explains that one can presume in one’s own capacities toward salvation or presume in the divine power. God will not save us without ourselves, but we contribute only responses to graces, which thus give us graced powers. Thus all our capabilities to “work out our salvation” are gifts from God and must be understood as such. Presuming in the divine power is presuming something that “possible non est,” such as receiving pardon without repentance. St. Thomas further explains that presuming upon the divine power is a worse sin than presuming upon one’s own power, for it is directly sinning against God and not accepting the help of the Holy Spirit. Ad 3 explains that the source of presumption is “ex desiderio inordinato proprii boni, et aversionem a bono incommutabili,” i.e. “from an inordinate desire for one’s own good, and turning away from unchangeable good” (my translation) by claiming that God will do something that is not suitable to say of the divine power. At the end of Ad 3 is a curious statement, “This is tantamount to a person being turned away from divine truth” (Hill, tran., 105). The reply is responding to an objection that saw presumption as a turning toward more human power than divine power. Here St. Thomas connects presumption and infidelity in that one must believe something false about the divine power in order to presume upon it. It stands to reason that since the three theological virtues are connected to each other in a variety of ways and also separated in a variety of ways, also the sins against them are connected and separated in a variety of ways. While St. Thomas seems to connect presumption and infidelity, Fr. Hill decides that they are rarely connected. “[Presumption] need not, and perhaps only rarely does [it] involve a sin against faith” (179). Hill thinks that more often it involves a “failure to understand what makes faith plain” (179). There could be misunderstanding at work with presumption, in which case it is not done with full knowledge. But if it is done with full knowledge, then it tries to make God into the image of man. When God is overly feared, he can still be believed, but when God is “used” to get the good of heaven, as if God is required to give it to us, then the understanding of God must be changed to wipe out any possibility of judgment and punishment (at least in the case of this particular person). Article 2 of question 21 ad 2 has a further clarification of this. Presumption does not mean someone “hoping for too much from God,” but of hoping for something that would be “unbecoming” or not agreeable to God. God's justice and mercy have a certain appropriateness to the way they work together, and the sin of presumption replaces that appropriateness with a person's own desires.
In the next article (21, 3) St. Thomas deals with the comparison he has already made in connecting despair to false justice and presumption to false mercy. He asks if presumption is more connected to fear than to hope. He admits in the responsio that presumption is clearly opposed to fear, but hope and presumption both are based on the same object: God as merciful, and therefore the opposition to justice is more “generic” than the opposition to God.
In article 4, St. Thomas once again distinguishes the two types of presumption. One can be caused by vainglory because one can rely on himself too much. The other can be caused by “relying on the divine mercy or power, but in a distorted way” (Hill, tran., 113).
Monday, December 15, 2003
In case you haven't seen it, the Mel Gibson movie The Passion of The Christ has a new official website.
Meanwhile, things are much slower here at our house... I have been catching up on some sleep.
There is a lot in the Pope's encyclical "Rich in Mercy" that I would like to comment on... It's worth looking at in times like these.
Sunday, December 14, 2003
I wanted to give a big quote from the JP II's encyclical: Rich in Mercy. Well, I thought I would just link to the part I thought was of particular interest: Is Justice Enough?
Guess what the Pope answers.... of course not! In the next section he says, "The Church must bear witness to the mercy of God revealed in Christ, in the whole of His mission as Messiah, professing it in the first place as a salvific truth of faith and as necessary for a life in harmony with faith, and then seeking to introduce it and to make it incarnate in the lives both of her faithful and as far as possible in the lives of all people of good will." (from section VII)
After this he adds: "Finally, the Church-professing mercy and remaining always faithful to it-has the right and the duty to call upon the mercy of God, imploring it in the face of all the manifestations of physical and moral evil, before all the threats that cloud the whole horizon of the life of humanity today."
And how do we call upon the mercy of God? One way is of course the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
By the way, here's a site dedicated to Fr. John Hardon materials.
Saturday, December 13, 2003
A cool website about St. Nicholas.
Time to get back in the habit of quoting the Diary of St. Faustina! Ok, actually I just copy off the quote of the day from marian.org, but this puts the quote in a different environment...
Here's yet another quote:
"Once, the Lord said to me, My daughter, take the graces that others spurn; take as many as you can carry. At that moment, my soul was inundated with the love of God. I feel that I am united with the Lord so closely that I cannot find words to express that union; in this state I suddenly feel that all the things God has, all the goods and treasures, are mine, although I set little store by them, for He alone is enough for me. In Him I see my everything; without Him-nothing.
"I look for no happiness beyond my own interior where God dwells. I rejoice that God dwells within me; here I abide with Him unendingly; it is here that my greatest intimacy with Him exists; here I dwell with Him in safety; here is a place not probed by the human eye. The Blessed Virgin encourages me to commune with God in this way." (454)
Finished all papers. Praise the Lord! Now, time to relax a bit. There are various house chores to work on, but at least there's some freedom from academics for a little while. I do like the free Abiword word processor I used for my last paper. It can be downloaded for in a version for Windows or Linux, so if you ever have a computer without a word processor, just download Abiword. It's fast and does the job.
Friday, December 12, 2003
Happy feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe!
I'm still working on a paper. I'm using an unususal word processor: Abiword on a computer running a Linux operating system. I downloaded a free distribution of Linux with different windowing environments (KDE and Gnome) so I can work in either. Each has advantages and disadvantages. It's facinating to think one can function without any Microsoft code at all!
The paper is on the theological virtue of hope and two related sins: despair and presumption. Did you know that despair is putting too much emphasis on the justice of God and not enough on the mercy of God? Then guess what... presumption is putting too much emphasis on the mercy of God and not enough on the justice of God. That's easy enough to explain. If only that were enough for the paper...
Tuesday, December 09, 2003
The Servant of God Archbishop Fulton Sheen's cause advances...
And final exams continue... 2 more to go.
Monday, December 08, 2003
It's a very big feast for my community: the biggie...
The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary.
Sunday, December 07, 2003
What I am studying... the Theological Virtues.
Saturday, December 06, 2003
This blog gets my vote for the coolest looking seminarian's blog. If I were to get a "blogging budget" I would probably go with CyberCatholic hosting.
Two papers down, but a lot more to study for this upcoming week of final exams. Although, since it is the feast of St. Nicholas, I have rested a bit.
Mel Gibson's Passion has pages in Latin now! I particularly like this phrase: Clica hic si fragmenta (vel "caudam") pelliculae inspicere velis. This roughly translates to "Click here for the trailer."
Thursday, December 04, 2003
The Sirach paper is finished and handed in. (Praise the Lord!) Now I concentrate on another paper to hand in tomorrow... Then, there are those final exams...
Tuesday, December 02, 2003
From the Diary of St. Faustina:
"O Mary, my Mother and my Lady, I offer You my soul, my body, my life and my death, and all that will follow it. I place everything in Your hands. O my Mother, cover my soul with Your virginal mantle and grant me the grace of purity of heart, soul and body. Defend me with Your power against all enemies, and especially against those who hide their malice behind the mask of virtue. O lovely lily! You are for me a mirror, O my Mother!" (79)
Monday, December 01, 2003
Listening to... silence
Working on... paper about Sirach. Also, I need to read a sermon by a famous Protestant preacher and analyze it.
This is the last week of classes... Now blogging will be very sparse!