Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Wisdom from…

CAESARIUS OF ARLES (470–543): The Discipleship of the Cross

Our Lord and Savior said that we must take up our cross and follow him. What does it mean to take up one's cross? Bearing every annoyance patiently. That is following Christ. When someone begins to follow his way of life and his commandments, that person will meet resistance on every side. He or she will be opposed, mocked, even persecuted, and this not only by unbelievers but also by people who to all appearances belong to the body of Christ, though they are really excluded from it by their wickedness; people who, being Christians only in name, never stop persecuting true Christians.

If you want to follow Christ, then, take up his cross without delay. Endure injuries, do not be overcome by them. If we would fulfill the Lord's command: If anyone wants to be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me, we must strive with God's help to do as the apostle says: As long as we have food and clothing, let this content us. Otherwise, if we seek more material goods than we need and desire to become rich, we may fall prey to temptation. The devil may trick us into wanting the many useless and harmful things that plunge people into ruin and destruction. May we be free from this temptation through the protection of our Lord, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.
(Sermo 159, 5-6: CCL 104, 653-654.)

Caesarius, archbishop of Arles, was very much influenced by Saint Augustine and combatted semi-Pelagianism at the Council of Orange in 529.

ST. AUGUSTINE: Admiration for the Dedicated

How can we help but admire and commend those who disregard and set aside the pleasures of this world and live together in a truly chaste and holy society! They pass their time in prayers, readings, and discussions, without any swelling of pride, or noise of contention, or sullenness of envy. Quiet, modest, and peaceful, their life is one of perfect harmony and devotion to God.
-- The Morals of the Catholic Church 31, 67

Prayer. Give me yourself, O my God. Surrender yourself to me, for I love you. And if that is not enough, let me love you more ardently.
-- Confessions 13, 8

ST. THOMAS D'AQUINO: THAT THERE IS NO PASSIVE POTENCY IN GOD [Quod in Deo non est potentia passiva]

[1] If God is eternal, of necessity there is no potency in Him.

[2] The being whose substance has an admixture of potency is liable not to be by as much as it has potency; for that which can be, can not-be [quia quod potest esse, potest non esse]. But, God, being everlasting, in His substance cannot not-be [Deus autem secundum se non potest non esse]. In God, therefore, there is no potency to being.

[3] Though a being that is sometime in potency and sometime in act is in time in potency before being in act, absolutely speaking act is prior to potency. For potency does not raise itself to act; it must be raised to act by something that is in act. Hence, whatever is in some way in potency has something prior to it [tamen simpliciter actus est prior potentia: quia potentia non educit se in actum, sed oportet quod educatur in actum per aliquid quod sit in actu. Omne igitur quod est aliquo modo in potentia, habet aliquid prius se]. But, as is evident from what was said above, God is the first being and the first cause. Hence, He has no admixture of potency in Himself.

[4] Moreover, that which is a necessary being through itself is in no way a possible being, since that which is through itself a necessary being has no cause, whereas, as we have shown above, whatever is a possible being has a cause. But God is through Himself a necessary being. He is, therefore, in no way a possible being, and so no potency is found in His substance.

[5] …[E]ach thing acts in so far as it is in act. …[W]hat is not wholly act acts, not with the whole of itself, but with part of itself. But what does not act with the whole of itself is not the first agent, since it does not act through its essence but through participation in something. The first agent, therefore, namely, God, has no admixture of potency but is pure act [Unumquodque agit secundum quod est actu. Quod … non est totus actus, non toto se agit, sed aliquo sui. Quod autem non toto se agit, non est primum agens: agit enim alicuius participatione, non per essentiam suam. Primum igitur agens, quod Deus est, nullam habet potentiam admixtam, sed est actus purus].

[6] Further, just as each thing naturally acts in so far as it is in act, so it is naturally receptive in so far as it is in potency; for motion is the act of that which exists in potency [nam motus est actus potentia existentis]. But God is absolutely impassible and immutable … [and] has, therefore, no part of potency—that is, passive potency.

[7] Then, too, we see something in the world that emerges from potency to act. Now, it does not educe itself from potency to act, since that which is in potency, being still in potency, can therefore not act. Some prior being is therefore needed by which it may be brought forth from potency to act. This cannot go on to infinity. We must, therefore, arrive at some being that is only in act and in no wise in potency. This being we call God [Non autem educit se de potentia in actum: quia quod est potentia, nondum est; unde nec agere potest. Ergo oportet esse aliquid aliud prius, qui educatur de potentia in actum. Et iterum, si hoc est exiens de potentia in actum, oportet ante hoc aliquid aliud poni, quo reducatur in actum. Hoc autem in infinitum procedere non potest. Ergo oportet devenire ad aliquid quod est tantum actu et nullo modo in potentia. Et hoc dicimus Deum].
(SCG, I, xvi)


Let us walk along through the deep valleys of the humble virtues and we will find ourselves on both roses and thorns; these include the charity that stands out amid both internal and external afflictions, the lilies of purity, the violets of mortification. Particularly appealing to me are the three small virtues of gentleness of heart, poverty of spirit and simplicity of life. Poverty of spirit and simplicity of life are exercised by visiting the sick, serving the poor and consoling the afflicted.
(Letters 308; O. XIII, p. 92)


"THE sin and sorrow of despotism is not that it does not love men, but that it loves them too much and trusts them too little."
('Robert Browning.')


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