Friday, September 26, 2008

Wisdom from…

JOHN HENRY NEWMAN (1801–1890): Bartholomew, the apostle

When people begin to feel they have a soul, and a work to do, and a reward to be gained, greater or less, according as they improve the talents committed to them, then they are naturally tempted to be anxious from their very wish to be saved, and they say: "What must I do to please God?" And sometimes they are led to think they ought to be useful on a large scale, and go out of their line of life that they may be doing something worth doing, as they consider it.

Here we have the history of Saint Bartholomew and the other apostles to recall us to ourselves, and to assure us that we need not give up our usual manner of life, in order to serve God; that the most humble and quietest station is acceptable to him, if improved duly––nay affords means for maturing the highest Christian character, even that of an apostle. Bartholomew read the scriptures and prayed to God; and thus was trained at length to give up his life for Christ, when he demanded it.
(Plain and Parochial Sermons II, 336-337.)

Newman was a famous preacher in the Church of England; after his reception into the Catholic Church he continued preaching and writing and later was made a cardinal.

ST. AUGUSTINE: Praying for Others

Let me be helped by your prayers, so that the Lord may see fit to help me bear his burden. When you pray in this way, it is really for yourselves that you are praying. For what is the burden of which I am speaking but you? Pray for me, then, as I myself pray that you may not be burdensome. Support me so that we may bear one another's burdens, thus fulfilling the law of Christ.
-- Sermon 340, 1

Pray for your bishop and priests and all religious!

Prayer. Lord, those who are bowed down with burdens you lift up, and they do not fall because you are their support.
-- Confessions 11, 31


It is strange to note that our nature wants nothing to do with anything that hurts. However, the repugnance that it feels concerning suffering is not, in my opinion, an indication of a lack of generosity. If we could persuade ourselves that if we were to be skinned alive like Saint Bartholomew, God would love us just a little bit more, I think that we would let ourselves be skinned, not without repugnance but despite our very repugnance. I think that sometimes, as a test, we should try to win a victory over ourselves with a bit of violence for the love of God, because if we never resist our dislikes, we might well become weaklings.
(Letters 1277; O. XVII, p. 341)

To their credit, I will say this idea of inner 'violence' is what many Muslims mean by jihad, or, holy struggle. I would say jihad, if taken in this sense, is Arabic for ascesis cum mortification. "From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and men of violence take it by force." (Mt 11:12)


THE Secularist says that Christianity produced tumult and cruelty. He seems to suppose that this proves it to be bad. But it might prove it to be very good. For men commit crimes not only for bad things, far more often for good things. For no bad things can be desired quite so passionately and persistently as good things can be desired, and only very exceptional men desire very bad and unnatural things. Most crime is committed because, owing to some peculiar complication, very beautiful and necessary things are in some danger. For instance, if we wanted to abolish thieving and swindling at one blow, the best thing to do would be to abolish babies. Babies, the most beautiful things on earth, have been the excuse and origin of almost all the business brutality and financial infamy on earth. If we could abolish monogamic or romantic love, the country would be dotted with Maiden Assizes [i.e., a trial in which no one has been condemned to execution].
('Religious Doubts of Democracy.')


For, since the end [or, goal] of each thing is its good, a thing is then best disposed when it is fittingly ordered to its end. And so we see among the arts that one functions as the governor and the ruler of another because it controls its end. Thus, the art of medicine rules and orders the art of the chemist because health, with which medicine is concerned, is the end of all the medications prepared by the art of the chemist. … That is why… artisans…, who are called master artisans, appropriate to themselves the name of wise men. But, since these artisans are concerned, in each case, with the ends of certain particular things, they do not reach to the universal end of all things. … The name of the absolutely wise man, however, is reserved for him whose consideration is directed to the end of the universe, which is also the origin of the universe. That is why, according to the Philosopher, it belongs to the wise man to consider the highest causes.
(Summa Contra Gentiles I, 1)


No comments: