Sunday, February 15, 2009

Wisdom from…

GREGORY THE GREAT (540–604): The word of the Lord is the nourishment of the mind

Be careful that the word you have received through your ears remains in your heart. Be careful that the seed does not fall along the path, for fear that the evil spirit may come and take it from your memory. Be careful that the seed is not received in stony ground, so that it produces a harvest of good works without the roots of perseverance. Many people are pleased with what they hear and resolve to undertake some good work, but as soon as difficulties begin to arise and hinder them they leave the work unfinished. The stony ground lacked the necessary moisture for the sprouting seed to yield the fruit of perseverance.

Good earth, on the other hand, brings forth fruit by patience. The reason for this is that nothing we do is good unless we also bear with equanimity the injuries done us by our neighbors. In fact, the more we progress, the more hardships we shall have to endure in this world; for when our love for this present world dies, its sufferings increase. This is why we see many people doing good works and at the same time struggling under a heaven burden of afflictions. They now shun earthly desires, and yet they are tormented by greater sufferings. But, as the Lord said, they bring forth fruit by patience, because, since they humbly endure misfortunes, they are welcomed when these are over into a place of rest in heaven.
(XL Hom. in Evangelia 1, 15.1-2, 4.)

Gregory, bishop of Rome from 590 to 604, left examples of his preaching to the Roman people. His Book of Pastoral Rule became the textbook of medieval bishops.

ST. AUGUSTINE: The Lord Is Within

You, Lord, were within me, while I was outside. It was there that I sought you. I rushed headlong upon these things of beauty that you had made. You were with me, but I was not with you. They kept me far from you, those fair things which, if they were not in you, would not exist at all!
-- Confessions 10, 27

Prayer. Let me know you, my Father, let me know you as I too am known. Enter my soul, you who are its strength, and make it what you want, so that you may have and possess it without stain or wrinkle.
-- Confessions 10, 1


[1] There are others who hold a certain opinion, contrary to the position mentioned above, through which the efforts of those seeking to prove the existence of God would likewise be rendered futile. For they say that we cannot arrive at the existence of God through the reason; it is received by way of faith and revelation alone.

[2] What led some persons to hold this view was the weakness of the arguments which had been brought forth by others to prove that God exists.

[3] Nevertheless, the present error might erroneously find support in its behalf in the words of some philosophers who show that in God essence and being are identical, that is, that that which answers to the question what is it? is identical with that which answers to the question is it? Now, following the way of the reason we cannot arrive at a knowledge of what God is. Hence, it seems likewise impossible to demonstrate by the reason that God exists.

[4] Furthermore, according to the logic of the Philosopher, as a principle to demonstrate whether a thing is we must take the signification of the name of that thing [Posterior Analytics II, 9]; and, again according to the Philosopher [Metaphysics IV, 7], the meaning signified by a name is its definition. If this be so, if we set aside a knowledge of the divine essence or quiddity [i.e., 'whatness'], no means will be available whereby to demonstrate that God exists.

[5] Again, if, as is shown in the Posterior Analytics [I, 18], the knowledge of the principles of demonstration takes its origin from sense, whatever transcends all sense and sensibles seems to be indemonstrable. That God exists appears to be a proposition of this sort and is therefore indemonstrable.

[6] The falsity of this opinion is shown to us, first, from the art of demonstration which teaches us to arrive at causes from their effects. Then, it is shown to us from the order of the sciences. For, as it is said in the Metaphysics [IV, 3], if there is no knowable substance higher than sensible substance, there will be no science higher than physics. It is shown, thirdly, from the pursuit of the philosophers, who have striven to demonstrate that God exists. Finally, it is shown to us by the truth in the words of the Apostle Paul: “For the invisible things of God... are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made” (Rom. 1:20).

[7] Nor, contrary to the first argument, is there any problem in the fact that in God essence and being are identical. For this is understood of the being by which God subsists in Himself. But we do not know of what sort this being is, just as we do not know the divine essence. The reference is not to the being that signifies the composition of intellect. For thus the existence of God does fall under demonstration; this happens when our mind is led from demonstrative arguments to form such a proposition of God whereby it expresses that He exists.

[8] Now, in arguments proving the existence of God, it is not necessary to assume the divine essence or quiddity as the middle term of the demonstration. This was the second view proposed above. In place of the quiddity, an effect is taken as the middle term, as in demonstrationes quia [link]. It is from such effects that the meaning of the name God is taken. For all divine names are imposed either by removing the effects of God from Him or by relating God in some way to His effects.

[9] It is thereby likewise evident that, although God transcends all sensible things and the sense itself, His effects, on which the demonstration proving His existence is based, are nevertheless sensible things. And thus, the origin of our knowledge in the sense applies also to those things that transcend the sense.
(SCG, I, xii)


Truly, death is terrible, but the life that follows it, together with the mercy that God will show us, is very, very desirable. So do not have any doubts; no mater how wretched we are, we will never be able to match the mercy of God, Who shows Himself as a Father to all who desire to love Him. We must put all our hope in Him.
(Letters 512; O. XIV, p. 115)


IF votes for women do not mean mobs for women they do not mean what they were meant to mean.
('What's Wrong with the World.')

1 comment:

Brad Haas said...

Sero te amavi, pulchritudo tam antiqua et tam nova, sero te amavi!

That passage from Confessions made me want to learn Latin.

(I didn't, but it made me want to.)

Thanks for the wisdom today.