Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Wisdom from… [22 Jan.]

Henry of Friemar [Henricus de Vrimaria], O.S.A.** (~1340, d. 1355): Divinization

The same honor, the same latreutic worship that is paid to the divinity is paid to the humanity as well, inasmuch as it subsists in the divinity. And therefore God cannot confer a greater dignity upon a human being than to give it a share in the veneration due to himself. As Saint John Damascene explains how latreutic worship can be paid to a creature: "As a lighted piece of charcoal is not simply wood but wood united to fire, so the flesh of Christ is not mere flesh but flesh united to the Godhead." In that passage he speaks therefore of the flesh of Christ as divinized; because of this divinization there is a sharing in the honor and veneration due to God. The eternal Word willed to stoop to such great poverty, in order that he might enrich us abundantly with heavenly gifts. Should one reflect on the manner in which he enriched us, one would find it wonderful indeed, since he enriched us by his poverty and endowed us out of his indigence.
(Tractatus de Incarnatione Verbi, Pars 1, Prin. 3.)

** An Augustinian friar, Henry was influenced by Giles of Rome. At an early age he entered the Order of Hermits of Saint Augustine, and was sent to the University of Paris, where he was made master in sacred theology, and taught there until 1318. In that year he was made regent of studies in the monastery of St. Thomas, Prague, and examiner for Germany. Later he was chosen provincial for Thuringia and Saxony. He passed on to the Augustinian Order valuable historical data as well as his many homilies, but he likewise wrote treatises on the spiritual life, especially on discernment.

ST AUGUSTINE: Getting Dressed

Every morning you put on your clothes to cover your nakedness and to protect your body from the inclement weather. Why don't you also clothe your soul with the garment of faith?

Remember every morning the truths of your creed, and look at yourself in the mirror of your faith. Otherwise, your soul will soon be naked with the nakedness of oblivion.
-- Sermon 58, 13

Prayer. Lord, only this do I ask of your great kindness: that you convert me totally to you and allow no obstacle to hinder me as I wend my way to you.
-- Soliloquies 1, 6


Love has its source in the heart, and we cannot love our neighbor too much or go to excess, provided love continues to reside in the heart. However, our external demonstrations of love may err or get out of control, passing the limits and rules of reason. The glorious Saint Bernard says that the limit of loving God is loving God without limits; His love must spread its roots as widely as possible. And what is said about love of God must also apply to love of our neighbor, so long as the love of God is greater and holds first place in our hearts.
(Spiritual Treatises IV; O. VI, pp. 56-57)


DARWINISM can be used to back up two mad moralities, but it cannot be used to back up a single sane one. The kinship and competition of all living creatures can be used as a reason for being insanely cruel or insanely sentimental; but not for a healthy love of animals. On the evolutionary basis you may be inhumane, or you may be absurdly humane; but you cannot be human. That you and a tiger are one may be a reason for being tender to a tiger. Or it may be a reason for being as cruel as the tiger. It is one way to train the tiger to imitate you; it is a shorter way to imitate the tiger. But in neither case does evolution tell you how to treat a tiger reasonably––that is, to admire his stripes while avoiding his claws. If you want to treat a tiger reasonably, you must go back to the garden of Eden.

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