Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Life of All Living by Fulton J. Sheen

[Pardon any remaining typographical errors and a slew of unaccented italics from the original. I enjoyed this small book so much I may even translate it into Chinese.]

Fulton J. Sheen, The Life of All Living (New York: Image Books, 1979)

p. 11 The perfection of all evolution… : “I must be His.” … liberation means finding the truth in Christ. … Truth and the person became identified and thereby truth became lovable.

p. 18 …immanent activity…

19 …the greater the immanent activity, the higher the life… [Cf. Contra Gentes, I, xi]

20 Plant life works from the center; matter from the circumference.

21 It [an animal] can possess things within itself, not only physically by assimilation, but also mentally, namely, by sense-knowledge. … Man can reproduce his kind, he can grow, he can nourish himself––in this h is like the plants and vegetables. Man has also the power of locomotion and the power of seeing, tasting, touching, smelling and hearing––in this he is like the animal. But nothing else is like him in his capacity for knowledge and love,for thinking and willing.

22 The term of the immanent activity of the plant is the seed, and the term of the animal is its kind, and these continue their existence apart from the parent. But in man the term of his characteristic immanent activity, which is thinking and willing, remains within himself.

23 The simple words “Thank you” will always stand out as a refutation of determinism, for they imply that something which was done could possibly have been left undone.

26 …an increasing immanence in things until we come to God.

27 …the internal life of God is the immanent activity of His Intellect and His Will which are identical with His very being.

28 …my internal life is one long colloquy with myself, yet I remain one. Thought, however distinct it may be from my soul, is not separate from it…. I am thus one an twofold at the same time. There is unity of substance and plurality of action.

28–30 In God there is only one thought; He has no need of another. … This thought of God , unique and absolute, the first born of the spirit of God, rests eternally in His presence as an exact representation of Himself…. This Word, because it is generated is called a Son, for a son is the term of generation even in the physical order. … And this Thought of God is distinct from God without being separated from Him just as my thought is distinct from my soul without ever being separated from it.

31 Love is he second act of the soul as thinking is its first. Love is a movement of an object loved to unite it with ourself.

32 Every being loves its own perfection. … the intellect loves truth, for truth is its perfection.

33 …that Breath of Love is not a passing one as our own, but an Eternal Spirit and that eternal Spirit is the Holy Ghost, the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity.

34 Life is not in wine, for the life has been crushed from the grape and its life is now the Blood of the Chalice. Life is not in earthly bread, for the life has been crushed from the wheat and its life is now in the Bread of the Altar.

35 Life is not a push from below but a gift from above; human life is not a perfection of animal life; it is an imperfect representation of Divine Life.

p. 36 …it is the nature of life to squander itself or generate other life.

39 “The thinker lives forever; the toiler dies in a day.”

41 This diffusion of Infinite Life in the communion of the True and the Good does not exhaust the Fecundity of God. … He is therefore the only perfectly Liberal Being, because He alone acts not for His own benefit, but because of His goodness.

42 Have we not sometimes seen the sunlight passing through a prism and noticed how it was broken up into the seven colors of the spectrum…? In just such a fashion as this the wonderful nature of God is broken up for our intelligence in the three-fold diffusion of Divine Life: Creation, the Incarnation and the Church…. God created the world for the same reason we find it difficult to keep a secret––because it is good, and goodness tends to diffuse itself. God could not keep the secret of His Perfections, and the telling of the secret to nothingness was Creation.

43 There were more beings after Creation than before, but no more Being; there were more good things but no more Goodness; there more true things, but no more Truth; there were more merciful creatures but no more Mercy. How could there be more when all creation is nothing but a reflection of the Divine Being, Goodness and Truth? … God is revealed in creation without losing anything of Himself.

44 Every object which the mind can discern is a letter of he living Word of God. Some men, always children mentally, play with the alphabet blocks as so many meaningless toys, never dreaming to spell the word, until it is too late––when the universe is taken away. Others, there are, who see meaning in the blocks, and it is these who learn to read the sentence that stands first in the primer of life: God made the world.

46 As great as creation is,… there is nothing in it which reveals the inner life of God. … there is nothing in all visible creation which resembles me in that one thing which makes me a man––namely, my intellect.

49 “I am the Light of the world”––broken up for them. The life of Christ must shine through the prism once more [viz., as when the Life of God had first shined through the prism of Christ to "break up" its intrinsic simplicity into rays we could perceive] that it may easily enter into our puny hearts. And so the white light, Lumen de Lumine, shines through the prism of the Church, and Christ is revealed in it and His Sacraments. … Pentecost was not the descent of a book on the heads of the Apostles, but tongues of fire. The Church is not only an institution, it is a Life: the continuation, the diffusion and the expansion of the Divine Life which the Incarnation brought to this earth. … The continuation of the Incarnation is the union of Christ with every individual human nature in the world. The personal union in the Incarnation is the prelude to the mystical union in the Church.

50 …we are other Christs as an individual fact, and the Church is the Mystic Body of Christ, as a social fact.

51 The Divine and human natures in Christ enjoyed unity, thanks to the Divine Person; so too the Church is one, though made up of an infinite and a finite element.

52 The Truth is one and the same, the expression alone is different as a thought is spiritual in my own mind but vocal in my speech. It is therefore nonsense to refuse to accept the word of the Visible Head on the grounds that it is not the word of the Invisible Head Christ….

53 The mind by the very necessity of its operation is driven to seek unity.

54 …just as in the natural order blood may be transfused from one member of society to another to save a life so too in the spiritual order, not blood, but prayers and sacrifices and penances, may be transfused from one soul to another.

56 Now the Sacraments are the kiss of God where He not only pours out the riches of His love, but satisfies the hungers of the sense as well as the soul.

58 …all fecundity is derived from God. … Controlling artificially the diffusion of human life is putting goodness in chains.

p. 62 What expansion is to matter that anabolism is to organisms, and what contraction is to matter that katabolism is to organisms.

64 Science cannot be a satisfying food because it cannot give us the freedom we desire.

65 …a self-centered humanity would be just as chilling as a self-centered individual. … It is only when men call God “Father,” that they can call one another “Brother,” and God is not a Father unless He has a Son.

69 The center of the House of God is not a pulpit nor an organ, but Christ Himself; it is not a city, like Mecca, but a Life––the Life of God. … If Christ is to be our food, it is fitting that He be with us, for it is of the very nature of Life to be localized and definite.

72 To every infant at the breast, the mother virtually says: “Take, eat, drink, this is my body given for you.”

74 "Yea, I have understood
"How all things are one great oblation made
"He on our altars, we on the world's rood."
(Evelyn Underhill, “Corpus Christi”)

75 In his wrath the animal never oversteps the limits of his instinct, but man does.

76 We shrink from fasting, pamper our body as it it were a lasting city.

78 There are three worlds in the temple of this universe; the world of matter, the world of spirit, and the world of grace, and they constitute respectively the vestibule, the sanctuary and the Holy of Holies of creation. … The sun is the mystery of the natural order, for it is the one things we cannot “see”; it is too bright! and yet it is in the light of the sun that everything is clear. So too, if a mystery is [79] introduced in religion, namely something above but not opposed to reason, like the Incarnation, everything else in the world is made clear in the light of that mystery.

79 Being young then is a question of being close to the source of our life. …the closer we are to God the younger we become….

80 So true is is that we become younger as we become more possessed of Divine Love, that Church calls the day on which the saints die, their birthday: natalitia….

p. 84 Once a thing has been nourished by a kingdom below, it becomes, in its turn, the nourishment of a kingdom above it. …life must not only expand by growing, but must die by contraction in order to become the food of a higher life.

85 His plan is to give each of the kingdoms a higher life than they naturally possess. … The plant… ennobles the mineral [level] by associating it with its life; it … gives the mineral new laws…. The same benefit accrues to the animal kingdom. … The plant is torn up from the soil by the roots… [but] in passing into the animal it does not cease to be plant-life; if it did it would never nourish the animal. What does happen is that it now begins to be governed by other laws directed to new purposes, organized in new cells… it nature is elevated and “reborn.”

89 …we can see all nature crying out the necessity of Baptism in the sense that it demands a death as a condition of rebirth. … unless we die to the world with its vices and its concupiscences, we shall not spring forth into life everlasting. If we are to live in a higher life we must die to the lower life; if we live in the lower life of this world we die to a higher life which is Christ.

90 …He fell to the ground on two great occasions and both times Life sprang up. He fell to the ground first in the Incarnation––for He was born in a cave––and the life of God was found among men. He fell to the ground again in His Passion––for He was laid in a grave––and He rose to life glorious in the immortality of His Resurrection.

91 The Sermon on the Mount is just the prelude to the Drama of Calvary. Contrast the Beatitudes with what we might call the beatitudes of the world; the one is the antithesis of the other.

92 He was the Iconoclast of the world, smashing into fragments its false idols.

93 Unless there is a Good Friday in our lives, there will never be an Easter Sunday….
94 The whole cross is easier to carry than half of it; it is only its splinters and its shadows which frighten. There is no such thing as walking around the ground; the outstretched arms will not permit that––we must climb over it––and the climbing over it is the crucifixion. “Nothing begins, and nothing ends / That is not paid with moan; / For we are born in others' pain , / And perish in out own.” … Love is the inspiration of all sacrifice. … Love is the desire to be had, to be owned, to be possessed.

95 The day that men forget that love is synonymous with sacrifice, that day they will ask what selfish sort of woman it must have been who ruthlessly extracted tribute in the form of flowers, or what an avaricious creature she must have been who demanded solid gold in the form of a ring, just as they will ask what cruel kind of God it is who asks for sacrifice and self-denial.

98 As a demagogue He would have succeeded; as a God He was crucified. The cross is a folly and Christ a failure.

100 “The world is sweet to the lips, but bitter to the taste. … the doctrine of Christ does but anticipate for us the experience of the world…. The Gospel hinders us from taking a superficial view, and finding a vain transitory joy in what we see; but it forbids our immediate enjoyment, only to grant enjoyment in truth and fullness afterwards. It only forbids us to begin with enjoyment. … [101] It bids us being with the Cross of Christ, and in that Cross we shall at first find sorrow, but in a while peace and comfort will rise out of that sorrow. That Cross will lead us to mourning, repentance, humiliation, prayer, fasting; we shall sorrow for our sins, we shall sorrow with Christ's suffering; but all this sorrow will only issue, nay, will be undergone in a happiness far greater than the enjoyment which the world gives…. They alone are able truly to enjoy this world who begin with the world unseen. They alone enjoy it, who have first abstained from it. They alone can truly feast, who have first fasted; they alone are able to use the world, who have learned not to abuse it….” [Cardinal Newman, “The Cross of Christ”]

101 A happy death is a masterpiece and no masterpiece was ever perfected in a day. … our death at the end of our natural existence must appear as a ravishing perfection of the many years of labor we given over to its mould by dying daily.

102 Most of us die only once when we should have died a thousand times––aye, when we should have died daily. Death is a terrible thing for him who dies only when he dies; but it is a beautiful thing for him who dies before he dies. … After death there is no remedy for an evil life, but before death there is a remedy––it is by dying to ourselves. … There is no other way of entering into a higher life except by dying to the lower….

p. 105 A treatise on grace might be called a Supernatural Biology, for the laws of organic life are feeble reflections of the laws of the life of grace.

106 …deiform by grace…
n. 2: “Donum gratiae excedit omnem praeparationem virtutis humanae.”
Thomas Aquinas, Summa 1–2, q. 112, art. 3.
“Gratia habitualis non solum excedit effectivo, ut miraculum, omnes efficientes et exigentias cuislibet naturae creatae, sed excedit essentialiter omnem naturam creatam et creabiliem et mones vires congnoscitivas et proinde appetitivas naturae intellectualis creatae.”
P. Garrigou-Lagrange, De Revelatione, Vol. 1, p. 206.

n. 3: “Bonum gratiae unius (homnis) maius est, quam bonum naturae totius universi.”
Summa 1–2, q. 113, art. 9 ad 2.

108 One wonders why a world so given to the philosophy of evolution does not see the grace of Jesus Christ as the answer to its aspirations. Once of the reasons why evolution is held so highly is because of the promise it gives for the future, and yet, all that it can give, even in its wildest form, is the unfolding of somehting beneath man. …
n. 4: Gratia nihil aliud est quam quaedam inchoatio gloriae aeternae.”
2–2, q. 24, art. 3 ad 2.

109 Death is … the domination of a lower order over a higher order. The plant dies when the chemical order dominates it….
n. 5: “Fides praesupposit cognititonem naturalem, sicut gratia naturam et ut perfectio perfectibile.”
1, q. 2, art. 2 ad 1.

110 …the life of the body is the soul and the life of the soul is Christ.

111 Sin is a death, and in a very broad sense we may say that the plant “sins” when it delivers up its higher life to a lower order…. When we come to man, sin takes on a double aspect: it is the loss of a higher life which is a gift of God, and the domination of the lower life which is that of this world. Sin, in the true sense of the word, implies turning away from God and turning to a creature.

111 Our con-[112]-science is the courtroom of Pilae. … Barabbas comes as vice, murder, blasphemy……Christ comes as virtue, love and purity. Which of the two shall be released?

113 …beneath the cross: Mary, Magdalene and John–-innocence, penitence and priesthood. … The Judge looks into the soul in the state of grace. He sees there a resemblance of His nature, for grace is the participation in Divine Nature. … God knows His own children by resemblance of nature. [114] The other soul, not possessing the family traits and likeness of the Trinity, meets an entirely different reception from the Judge. … “I know you not…”.

114 There are two possible orientations for a man. Either he must his life to dogmas, or he must adapt dogmas to his life.

115 Now sin is an action. It is an action against an order, and for that reason it is called a deordination. There are three orders against which one may act in sinning; first, the order of the individual conscience; second, the order of the union of consciences or the state; and third, the source of birth, God.

117 Heaven is related to Christian life as learning is related to study…. …Hell is bound up with an evil life in precisely the same way as blindness is related to the plucking out of an eye. If I lose my eye I am blind necessarily, and I rebel against God, refuse His pardon, and die in sin, I must suffer Hell as a consequence.

123 This world would be like a gigantic puzzle-picture if there were no unifying force to put the pieces together. A mosaic is unintelligible if it is seen only in its details, but it takes on a new beauty when seen in its unity. … The plant unifies the chemicals; the animal unifies the plants and chemicals; man unifies all three.

128 …God has given man the power to unite all things within himself, by his intellect, in order that he might be spokesman of the world….
[à la Heidigger's notion of man as the shepherd of Being]
…it is in the name of all these things beneath him he [i.e., mankind] must speak thanks to God. …everything in the world is a sacrament inasmuch as it is a material thing used as a means of spiritual sanctification. Everything is and should be a stepping stone to God….

129 The temporal world is a nursery to the eternal world…. …it shall be torn down and burnt with fervent fire, not because it is base, but simply because it has done its work. … Man therefore partly works out his salvation by sacramentalizing the universe….

131 There were four elements which contributed to our fall: a disobedient man, Adam; a proud woman, Eve; a tree, and the fruit of the tree. Now, only God in His sweet revenge can use the instruments of ruin as the instruments of reparation, and in His Supreme Wisdom He chose the same four: an obedient man, Christ; a humble virgin, Mary; a tree, the cross; the fruit of the tree, Christ and the Eucharist.

132 …not with five stones as David waged war against Goliath, but with five wounds…. …a strange battle in which “He who slew the foe, lost the day.” … As all creation revolves about man, so too, man revolves about Jesus Christ. Man is the pivot about which the whole order of nature swings; Jesus Christ is the pivot about which all supernature swings. …without Christ this world of ours loses its intelligibility and meaning.

133 Qui in ligno vincebat, in ligno quoque vinceretur. Man fell by a tree, it is fitting that he be redeemed by a tree, for a tree is the crux of the whole philosophy of the universe, and the crux is the Cross.

134 As all things exist for man, so all men exist for Christ.

135 The world is not destined to survive. … The whole universe is a marvelus crescendo of perfection reaching from the atom up to man….

140 If a human heart can increase the joy of living then what must be the great Heart of God! If the Spark is so bright, oh, what must be the Flame!

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