Thursday, July 22, 2010

Readings from…

[I've posted quotations from the Fathers and favorite Saints and writers on and off over the years, and, seeing how a lot of FCA's content is currently about my "gym regimen"––which may be worse than Dullsville for some readers––I decided to kick the quotations back in gear, at least on an every-few-daysish basis. This means I will also resume posting a quotation from each chapter, if not a whole chapter, of St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa contra gentiles.]

Lawerence of Brindisi: Love follows knowledge of the good

The prophets had a clearer knowledge of God, just as the splendor of sunrise surpasses that of dawn and the first half-light of day. They knew God as the supreme being, eternal, self-subsistent, infinite, the sole origin of all things. Unlike the philosophers, however, they knew him to be the source not only of nature but of grace as well, and the ruler not only of the world but also of the people of God. They knew him as Lord, the most holy, just, good, and great king and judge, of infinite power, wisdom, benevolence, mercy, justice, and love. Yet they had no clear knowledge that God is both one and three, that he is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

It is our privilege that God has revealed to us this divine, incomprehensible, and ineffable mystery, and given us sublime knowledge of himself so that we should love him with the highest, most perfect kind of love. For just as warmth follows the light of the sun, so love follows knowledge of the good. An unknown good cannot possibly be loved, but a known good is loved in proportion to its goodness and our knowledge of it. Now God is infinitely good, he is all goodness, just as the sun is all light and fire is all heat.
(Opera Omnia, VIII, 451-452.)

St. Augustine: The Devil's Entry: Cupidity and Fear

Now the devil does not seduce or influence anyone unless he finds that person already somewhat similar to himself. [Caveat, lector!] He finds someone coveting something, and cupidity opens the door for the devil's suggestion to enter. The devil finds someone fearing something, and he advises that person to flee what is feared. By these two doors, cupidity and fear, the devil gains entry.
-- Sermon 12, 11

Prayer. Lord, you have saved my soul from the constraint of fear, so that it may serve you in the freedom of love.
-- Commentary on Psalm 30 (1), 8


[1] From what we have set down we can conclude that there is no composition in God.

[2] In every composite there must be act and potency. For several things cannot become absolutely one unless among them something is act and something potency. Now, beings in act are not united except by being, so to speak, bound or joined together, which means that they are not absolutely one. Their parts, likewise, are brought together as being in potency with respect to the union, since they are united in act after being potentially unitable. But in God there is no potency. Therefore, there is no composition in Him. …

[4] Every composite, furthermore, is potentially dissoluble. This arises from the nature of composition, although in some composites there is another element that resists dissolution. Now, what is dissoluble can not-be. This does not befit God, since He is through Himself the necessary being. There is, therefore, no composition in God.

[5] Every composition, likewise, needs some composer. For, if there is composition, it is made up of a plurality, and a plurality cannot be fitted into a unity except by some composer. If, then, God were composite, He would have a composer. He could not compose Himself, since nothing is its own cause, because it would be prior to itself, which is impossible. Now, the composer is the efficient cause of the composite. Thus, God would have an efficient cause. Thus, too, He would not be the first cause—which was proved above.

[6] Again, in every genus the simpler a being, the more noble it is: e.g., in the genus of the hot, Ere, which has no admixture of cold. That, therefore, which is at the peak of nobility among all beings must be at the peak of simplicity. But the being that is at the peak of nobility among all beings we call God, since He is the first cause. For a cause is nobler than an effect. God can, therefore, have no composition. …

[8] Again, prior to all multitude we must find unity. But there is multitude in every composite. Therefore, that which is before all things, namely, God, must be free of all composition.
(SCG, I, xviii)
[Notice how the same principles discussed in paragraph 6 keeps resurfacing in scientific discourse: the simpler a theory is, the better. This illustrates how exact physical science (EPS) inevitably expands into metaphysics, unless, of course, it is hamstrung from doing so by an ideology which has no place for nobility and perfection of being.]

St. Francis de Sales:

When we see our neighbor, created in the image and likeness of God, we should say to one another, "See and consider this creature as the likeness of the Creator." And considering him as such, should we not weep over him in love? Should we not give him a thousand thousand blessings? And this should be done purely out of love of God, from whom he is, whose he is, by whom he is, in whom he is, for whom he is, whom he resembles in a singular manner.
(T.L.G. Book 10, Ch. 11; O. V, p. 206)
[You resemble God in a singular manner. Colossians 3: "[9] Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices
[10] and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator." To seek to resemble Christ in a singular manner is all the Saints have done in their manifoldly unique ways.]

G. K. Chesterton:

MANY clever men like you have trusted to civilization. Many clever Babylonians, many clever Egyptians, many clever men at the end of Rome. Can you tell me, in a world that is flagrant with the failures of civilization, what there is particularly immortal about yours ?
('The Napoleon of Notting Hill.')

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