Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Doctrine of Participation in Aquinas

Share/Bookmark Francisco,

I am praying for you and your family. But in the mean time, I am also undertaking a parallel formation in philosophy. I am reading the books in our library about St. Thomas and Thomism. I just finished "The Silence of St. Thomas" by Pieper. I thought it was awesome. But I am on to other things now. I have become intersted in learning about St. Thomas' doctrine of participation because it seems to bear so heavily on the analogy of being and the analogy of names. I imagine it has something to do especially with the esse/essentia distinction, but I am having difficulty putting it all together for myself. Do have any insight to offer? Do you know of any sources I could check out for myself?



-Sorry it took me a while to reply to this email, Kevin. As I always do, I recommend all my students to look for the the foundations of this topic (and any other in the Philosophy of Aquinas) in both:

1) H.D. Gardeil's Introduction to the Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas (vol. 4 is on Metaphysics; and unfortunately it is also out of print), and

2) D.Q. McInerny's Natural Theology (new, from Fraternity Publications!).

There are also many recent scholarly works on this doctrine of participation, but on the whole they tend to be a hardheaded interpretation of St. Thomas from the point of view of existentialism and/or Platonic metaphysics. Examples of authors that read Aquinas this way are Cornelio Fabro, Joseph De Finance, and Norris Clarke. This is generally called the Existentialist Thomist School.

A few others tend to react to them by taking the total opposite view: a pure, unmodified, almost-pagan Aristotelianism. These are not any better.

So I would stay away from all of these modern interpreters and just follow the tradition. Even if the tradition is not 100% correct, at least they are the basis from which you will be able to understand the more modern interpretations.

By the way, if you are up to it, there is an awesome, 4-volume Latin work on Analogy by one of the greatest traditional Spanish Thomists: Santiago Ramirez, De Analogia. It is very difficult to find through American libraries--your best bet would be to order it directly from the Editorial San Esteban (Spain).

I hope this helps.

Francisco J. Romero
Professor of Philosophy, Theology and Languages
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Academy
3218 11th Street
Rockford, IL 61109
Email: Phil_050@yahoo.com
Alt. Email: Francisco.Romero@marquette.edu
cell: (262)366-9491

Friday, November 10, 2006

Fenton, The Teaching of the Theological Manuals

Joseph Clifford Fenton, "The Teaching of the Theological Manuals." The American Ecclesiastical Review (1963), 254-270.
One of the most genuinely likeable personalities among the periti at the first series of meetings at the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council was the Canadian Augustinian priest, Father Gregory Baum. Those who were fortunate enough to meet him came to admire him for his admirable priestly character and for his exquisite courtesy. He is definitely the sort of man who is listened to and who attracts attention.

Recently he wrote an article for the magazine Commonweal, in which he made a highly questionable statement about the status of the theology of the scholastic manuals at the Second Vatican Council. The teaching, which might have passed unnoticed if it had come from a less able and distinguished man, naturally attracts attention because it is a statement by Father Baum. And, unfortunately, it is a statement, which could be seriously misleading if it should be taken seriously by our Catholics, particularly by students in the field of sacred theology.

Father Baum concluded his article with this assertion:

The conflict at the Council is not at all between men who try to introduce new insights and modern ways and those who seek to remain faithful to the great tradition of the past. It is rather between those who seek to renew the life of the Church by returning to the most authentic Catholic tradition of all ages and those who seek to consecrate as eternal Catholic wisdom the theology of the manuals of the turn of the century and the anti-modernist emphasis which penetrated them.(1)

In itself this is an alarming declaration. Despite the manifest and outstanding amiability, knowledge, and sincerity of Father Baum, it is definitely important that Catholics, especially Catholic priests, look into the accuracy and the implications of what he has had to say about the "conflict" at the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican. This is definitely a subject on which we cannot afford to be misinformed.

To be sure that we are making no mistake in this field, we must examine the context of Father Baum's article itself. In this article the only story that could be considered as in any way indicative of a "conflict" is Father Baum's recountal of the fact that, after a vote of the Fathers of the Council, and after a decision of the Sovereign Pontiff, the schema on the Sources of Revelation (now known as the schema on Revelation) was sent back to a mixed commission to be recast. As the newspaper accounts have told us many times, on this occasion the Fathers of the Council voted not to continue with the detailed consideration of the schema prior to its recasting by the commission. About sixty per cent of those present did not want to continue with the consideration of the schema as it stood. About forty per cent signified their willingness to proceed with the consideration of the schema as they had received it from the Holy Father, who, in his turn, had received it from the Central Preparatory Commission, which, in its turn, had received it from the Theological Preparatory Commission itself.

As the newspapers have told us, this vote was not decisive. It was only when the Holy Father had intervened personally that the schema was sent to the mixed commission to be clarified and shortened. Presumably the same material, in a new format, will be submitted again to the council as a whole after the mixed commission and the new interim central commission have finished with it.

In the event itself there was nothing that could in any way justify the rather sensational language employed by Father Baum. There was certainly no indication that the men who voted to proceed with the examination of the schema as it stood were trying "to consecrate as eternal Catholic wisdom the theology of the manuals of the turn of the century." Neither was there the least indication that the men who wanted to have the schema reworked before the council considered it in detail were trying "to renew the life of the Church by returning to the most authentic Catholic tradition of all ages." As far as one could make out from their own statements as revealed in the official Vatican news releases, these men were merely dissatisfied with the form in which the teaching on the sources of revelation had been presented in the original text of the schema.

Another individual, writing in the same issue of Commonweal, claims that, "Even the participants in the Council admit . . . that the opposition between the two major groups has been such that the next session has had to be postponed to next September in order to allow the factions to cool off."(2) If Father Baum's contention about the nature of "the conflict at the Council" were at all justified, there would be definitely a need for a cooling off period, and much more. But there is no evidence whatsoever that his contention is true. Indeed, it would seem that this fine young priest has not only been mistaken about what actually transpired in the council, but that he has described a conflict or opposition which has not and must not have a place within the Fathers of the Vatican Council.

Father Gregory has done a disservice to the cause of Catholic truth by misrepresenting the motives, which influenced the Fathers of the council to vote for or against the continuance of the detailed study of the schema on the sources or the fonts of divine public revelation. In point of fact the issue was the acceptability of the wording of the schema, and particularly the acceptability of its style and length. Some claimed that the council could act more effectively if a commission recast the entire schema. Others believed that it would be better to proceed with the consideration of the document as it stood, and to have the changes made in individual sentences and paragraphs as a result of the observations of the entire council. The stand of these latter was weakened by the fact that all of the Fathers and the periti knew that such a procedure would take a very long time indeed.

Father Baum can only be talking of the men who voted to continue with the consideration of the schema as it stood when he spoke of those "who seek to consecrate as eternal Catholic wisdom the theology of the manuals of the turn of the century and the antimodernist emphasis which penetrated them." And he must be describing those who voted not to proceed with the detailed examination of this schema when he spoke of those "who seek to renew the life of the Church by returning to the most authentic Catholic tradition of all ages." In neither case is the designation accurate or in any way acceptable.

If Father Baum's claim about the "conflict at the Council" was written seriously (and there is no reason to suppose that it was not), then he has implied very clearly that the theology of "the manuals of the turn of the century" was and is to some extent, not only distinct from, but even at odds with, "the most authentic Catholic tradition of all ages." He obviously wishes us to infer that, in his judgment at least, the life of the Catholic Church can be in some measure "renewed" if the Church abandons the theological teachings, which were contained in, or at least which were characteristic of, the great manuals in use in Catholic universities and seminaries during the early years of the twentieth century.

Moreover, it is quite obvious from his statements, which Father Baum wishes to imply that the opposition to the heresy of Modernism manifested in these manuals is in some way unacceptable to the Catholic Church at the present day. At least he wants us to imagine that the Church would be improved or "renewed" if the anti-Modernist teaching that pervaded the best of the early twentieth-century manuals of sacred theology were to be passed over or modified.
Furthermore Father Baum obviously wants his readers to believe that, at the present moment, the doctrine imparted to our seminarians within the Catholic Church is in some manner outside of "the most authentic Catholic tradition of all ages." If we are to have the Church "return" to such a tradition, then it would seem that this tradition must have been in some measure lost, or at least obscured, during the course of the twentieth century. Certainly Father Baum's statement involves the implication that the tradition in which those priests who studied the early twentieth-century theological manuals were educated was definitely not the most authentic doctrinal tradition of the Catholic Church.

These are implications, which we definitely must examine. There is absolutely no proof, of course, that the men who voted in the council on the acceptability of the schema about the sources or the fonts of revelation, as it was delivered to the council, were in any way concerned with the implications conveyed in Father Baum's declaration. Yet it is a fact that, especially since the closing of the first portion of the council on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception last year, there have been many who have made statements in some way involving the implications contained in Father Baum's statement. Most of the time these implications have been made less forcefully than they were by Father Baum. Yet it is definitely necessary to examine them, and to see, once and for all time, whether or not these implications are acceptable.

The Doctrine of the Theological Manuals

Obviously, if we are to examine Father Baum's claims seriously, we must first ask ourselves about the identity of the theological manuals of the turn of the twentieth century. The question with which the schema on which the council voted was that of revelation and the sources of revelation. Hence, we must suppose that, when Father Baum speaks of the offending manuals, he is referring to those which deal with fundamental dogmatic theology, and particularly with the sections De revelatione and De fontibus revelationis. It so happens that, in this field, there have been a great many very influential and well-written manuals produced during the early years of this century.

We are speaking, of course, of the manuals in the field of fundamental dogmatic theology, which were in use and were influential at and after the turn of the twentieth century. Some of these were originally written during the last years of the nineteenth century, but, in editions published subsequent to the issuance of the Lamentabili sane exitu, the Pascendi dominici gregis, and the Sacrorum antistitum, these manuals acquired the anti-Modernist emphasis, which seems so displeasing to Father Baum.

Probably the most important of these manuals were those of Louis Billot, who will most certainly be counted among the very ablest of all the theologians who labored for the Church during the early part of this century. These books, most immediately concerned with the material in the schema voted upon by the Fathers of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, were published by the Gregorian University Press in Rome, and were re-edited many times. One of them was the De inspiratione sacrae scripturae theologica disquisitio, (3) and another was the magnificent De immutabilitate traditionis contra modernam haeresim evolutionismi.(4)

Even more widely known than the works of Billot were those of the Sulpician Adolphe Tanquerey. Many thousands of priests were introduced to the study of sacred theology, and particularly of fundamental dogmatic theology, by courses based on Tanquerey's De Religione: De Christo Legato: De Ecclesia: De Fontibus Revelationis, the first of the three volumes of his Synopsis theologiae dogmaticae ad mentem S. Thomas Aquinatis accommodata.(5) This particular volume had gone into its twenty-first edition in 1925. If the theses taught by Tanquerey were opposed to those of "the most authentic Catholic tradition of all ages," then thousands of priests, educated during the first part of the twentieth century were being led into error by the men whom Our Lord had constituted as the guardians of His revealed message.

Likewise of prime importance in the early years of the twentieth century were Van Noort's two works on the subject of fundamental dogmatic theology, De vera religione(6) and De ecclesia Christi.(7) The influence of these two excellent works has been increased tremendously as a result of the English translation and adaptation of these works done by the Sulpician Fathers Castelot and Murphy. Another enormously and deservedly popular manual translated into English was Brunsmann's Fundamental Theology,(8) made available to our scholars by the famed Arthur Preuss.

The first volume of Archbishop Zubizarreta's Theologia dogmatico-scholastica ad mentem S. Thomae Aquinatis likewise influenced many students for the priesthood in the earlier part of this century. This volume was entitled Theologia fundamentalis.(9) It contained the same material found in the first volume of Tanquerey's series. Like Tanquerey, Zubizarreta wrote a shorter treatise on dogmatic theology, placing the matter covered in the four volumes of the regular edition within the content of one volume. Tanquerey's was the Brevior synopsis theologiae dogmaticae.(10) Zubizarreta entitled his the Medulla theologiae dogmaticae.(11)

In 1930 the brilliant German Jesuit Herman Dieckmann continued the tradition of the manuals of the turn of the century by publishing his De revelatione Christiana: Tractatus philosophico-historici.(12) Previously he had published the two volumes of his De ecclesia: Tractatus historico-dogmatici.(13) Contemporary with Dieckmann's manuals, and likewise of primary importance in the history of twentieth-century theology was the three-volume text of the Jesuit Father Emil Dorsch, Institutiones theologiae fundamentalis.(14) In line with the teachings of Dorsch is the doctrine contained in a highly important American manual, The Theory of Revelation,(15) by the great Rochester theologian, Monsignor Joseph J. Baierl.

The manual of Tanquerey was certainly the most widely distributed among all those that appeared during the early part of this century. In the perspective of history, it would seem that two authors must share the prize for theological acumen. One, of course, was Billot, whose text, De Ecclesia Christi: sive Continuatio theologiae de Verbo Incarnato,(16) still remains the best theological treatment on the Church produced during the course of the past hundred years. The other was the French Dominican, Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, whose classical De Revelatione per ecclesiam catholicam proposita(17) is still basically the best manual of scholastic apologetics available to the student today.

Later than the manual of Tanquerey, but like it destined for tremendous success in the world of ecclesiastical studies, was the first volume of Herve's Manuale theologiae dogmaticae, the one entitled De vera religione: De ecclesia Christi: De fontibus revelationis.(18) The first volume of Bartmann's Precis de theologie dogmatique,(19) a textbook very popular a quarter of a century ago, dealt with the sources of revelation and other topics which entered into what Father Baum calls the "conflict" at the Second Vatican Council.

Tremendously influential in their own time were other manuals of fundamental dogmatic theology, which are not in common use today. Among these is the Elementa apologeticae sive theologiae fundamentalis(20) by the Austrian priest Anton Michelitsch. The Elementa theologiae fundamentalis,(21) by the Italian Franciscan, Clemente Carmignani, is another of these texts. In this same class we must place Cardinal Vives's Compendium theologiae dogmaticae(22) the first volume of Mannens's Theologiae dogmaticae institutiones,(23) which was entitled Theologia fundamentalis, and the first volume of MacGuiness's Commentarii theologici, a book containing the treatises De religione revelata ejusque fontibus and De ecclesia Christi.(24)

In the Spanish speaking world the Lecciones de apologetica(25) of Father Nicolas Marin Negueruela were outstandingly popular. There is much material on fundamental dogmatic theology in Father John Marengo's Institutiones theologiae fundamentalis and in Canon Marchini's Summula theologiae dogmaticae.(26) The publication of these books in the last decade of the nineteenth century marks them as genuinely "turn of the century," and they incorporate the kind of theological teaching which seems to displease Father Baum. Much more influential, however, was the treatise De theologia generali, in the first volume of Herrmann's Institutiones theologiae dogmaticae(27) a work which, incidentally, earned for its author a letter of thanks from St. Pius X himself.

The first volume of Monsignor Cesare Manzoni's Compendium theologiae dogmaticae(28) contains a typical "turn of the century" treatise on fundamental dogmatic theology. So too does Bishop Egger's Enchiridion theologiae dogmaticae generalis.(29) The same type of doctrine can also be found in the Franciscan Gabriel Casanova's Theologia fundamentalis,(30) in the Synthesis sive notae theologiae fundamentalis of Father Valentine Saiz Ruiz,(31) and in the Theologia generalis seu tractatus de sacrae theologiae principiis(32) by Father Michael Blanch.

The first volume of nearly every set of manuals of dogmatic theology issued during the early part of this century and the last decade of the nineteenth century carried a treatise on fundamental dogma. Typical of such works were Tepe's Institutiones theologicae, Prevel's Theologiae dogmatica elementa,(33) Lercher's Institutiones theologiae dogmaticae,(34) and Christian Pesch's Praelectiones dogmaticae.(35) The texts by Pesch and Lercher have been especially influential in the training of seminarians throughout the first half of this century.

The two volumes of Hilarin Felder's Apologetica sive theologia fundamentalis(36) were widely used during the past few decades. And, in the historical part of apologetics, Felder's Christ and the Critics (37) was and continues to be almost uniquely valuable. Also outstanding in this field was the two-volume work, Jesus Christ: Sa Personne, Son Message, Ses Preuves,(38) by Leonce de Grandmaison.

Father Berthier, the founder of the Missionaries of the Holy Family, wrote, during the reign of Pope Leo XIII, an Abrege de theologie dogmatique et morale,(39) which contains a relatively complete and typically "turn of the century" treatise on fundamental dogmatic theology. The brilliant Father Bainvel published a treatise De vera religione et apologetica,(40) which had a wide and powerful influence. And among the multitudinous and now almost forgotten writings of Cardinal Lepicier were a Tractatus de sacra doctrina (41) and a Tractatus de ecclesia Christi.(42)

The American Jesuit Father Timothy Cotter published an eminently successful and accurate Theologia fundamentalis.(43) Among the most recent of our twentieth-century manuals of fundamental dogmatic theology is the Theologia fundamentalis, the first volume in the text of Iragui and Abarzuza.(44) The Capuchin Father Iragui is the author of this first volume.

Of primary importance among the ecclesiological manuals of our century is the two-volume Theologica de ecclesia,(45) by the Jesuit Bishop Michel d'Herbigny. Other intensely influential texts in the same area are the De ecclesia Christi (46) by the Jesuit Father Timothy Zapelena and the De ecclesia Christi(47) by the Franciscan Father Antonio Vellico.

Another excellent and widely used manual in this field is The Church of Christ: An Apologetic and Dogmatic Treatise,48 by the late Father E. Sylvester Berry of Mount Saint Mary's. And in Canada we find an extraordinarily useful pair of manuals, the Apologetica authored by the Sulpician Fathers Yelle and Fournier and the De ecclesia et de locis theologicis,(49) written by Father Yelle. From Spain comes one of the very best recent traditional manuals in this field, the Theologia fundamentalis by the Jesuit Fathers Salaverri and Nicolau.(50) This is the first volume of the famed Sacrae theologiae summa.

Pegues's Propaedeutica thomistica ad sacram theologiam (51) contains an unusual statement of many of the central theses of the traditional fundamental dogmatic theology. Another Dominican, Father Joachim Berthier, wrote a Tractatus de locis theologicis,(52) in which he deals accurately with the matter of the sources of revelation and the Church. The Dominican tradition in the field of ecclesiology was kept up in the "turn of the century" literature by, among others, Father De Groot, who published his magnificently accurate Summa apologetica de ecclesia catholica ad mentem S. Thomae Aquinatis,(53) by Father Gerard Paris, who followed the teaching of De Groot to a great extent in his Tractatus de ecclesia Christi,54 and by Father Reginald Schultes, whose De ecclesia catholica: Praelectiones apologeticae(55) is still a classic in the field.

Forty years ago the outstanding controversy among theologians was the debate about the definability of the theological conclusion. In the discussion Schultes and Father Francis Marin-Sola were the most prominent spokesmen for the two sides. Schultes's teaching was set forth in his Introductio in historiam dogmatum.(56) Marin-Sola presented his teachings in his L'Evolution homogene du dogme catholique.57 Both authors, however, were "penetrated" by what Father Baum has called "anti-modernist emphasis." And the material in these books definitely influenced the content of subsequent manuals in the field of fundamental dogmatic theology.

There has been considerable writing in the field of fundamental dogmatic theology, in line with the "turn of the century" tradition of Catholic and anti-Modernist theology, among English-speaking priests. Immensely popular some years ago was Devivier's Christian Apologetics,(58) a translation edited and arranged by Bishop Messmer, one of the first faculty members at The Catholic University of America. In line with the teachings of Father Garrigou-Lagrange were Father Walshe's The Principles of Catholic Apologetics (59) and my own We Stand With Christ.(60)

The Jesuit Father John T. Langan wrote a fine Apologetica,61 which has been too little used by his fellow Americans. Another Jesuit, Father Joseph de Guibert, published a De ecclesia,(62) which is recognized as one of the finest texts in this field produced during the course of our century.

During the past twenty years we have had many more texts which have kept up the teachings and the spirit of the manuals of the turn of the century, and which have certainly continued their anti-Modernist emphasis. Among these we may mention in passing the Theologia fundamentalis of the Jesuit Father Francis X. Calcagno,(63) the Theologia fundamentalis(64) of Archbishop Parente, the present Assessor of the Holy Office, and the Theologia fundamentalis(65) of the Franciscan Father Maurus Heinrichs, as well as the magnificent treatise De revelatione christiana (66) by Father Sebastian Tromp. There are also the very complete and accurate Theologia fundamentalis (67) of the Jesuit Father Joseph Mors, the first volume of Conrad Baisi's Elementa theologiae scholasticae,(68) and the first volume of the Theologiae dogmaticae theses (69) of Canon Joseph Lahitton.

The "turn of the century" spirit, and the anti-Modernist emphasis so deplored by Father Baum are also quite manifest in the articles published in the Dictionnaire de theologie catholique and the Dictionnaire apologetique de la foi catholique.

Father Baum’s Position

Now it must be noted that there is no complete agreement among the works we have mentioned (and we have mentioned only a small part of the literature which might be called twentieth century manuals of fundamental dogmatic theology), with reference to theological opinions. Certainly there are theses in the book by Christian Pesch, which are impugned in the work of Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange. And not everything that is taught by Tanquerey is approved in the manuals of Louis Billot.

Yet, if we examine the matter closely, the opposition of Father Baum is directed, not towards any individual opinion or group of opinions within the field of fundamental dogmatic theology, but against the common teaching of all these texts. It is Father Baum's contention that one of the contending groups at the Second Vatican Council is seeking "to consecrate as eternal Catholic wisdom the theology of the manuals of the turn of the century and the antimodernist emphasis which penetrated them." If his words have any meaning at all, he must be convinced that what is the common teaching of all these manuals of the turn of the century, and the common teaching of the manuals which followed them throughout the course of the twentieth century, is definitely not Catholic wisdom, and that this teaching must be abandoned if the life of the Church is to be renewed, and if we are to return to what he calls "the most authentic Catholic tradition of all ages."

Now it is quite obvious that the common teaching of the manuals of fundamental dogmatic theology since the turn of the twentieth century has been the doctrine, which has been taught to the candidates for the priesthood within the Catholic Church, at least up until the past few months. We are dealing with books, which have been employed in teaching in seminaries and universities. If these books all contain common teaching opposed to or even distinct from genuine Catholic doctrine, then the ordinary and universal magisterium of the Catholic Church has been very much at fault during the course of the twentieth century.

It must be noted that we are speaking of the common teaching of these texts or manuals of fundamental dogmatic theology. Father Baum charges that one of the two conflicting groups at the Second Vatican Council was trying "to consecrate as eternal Catholic wisdom the theology of the manuals of the turn of the century." Of course this is the language of Madison Avenue rather than of the university lecture hall. It is calculated to make his readers imagine that many of the Fathers of the council were attempting to give to the teaching of the manuals in fundamental dogmatic theology a status, which that teaching had not previously enjoyed.

What seems to displease Father Baum is the fact that the unanimous teaching of the scholastic theologians in any area relating to faith or morals is the teaching of the ordinary and universal magisterium of the Church. The manuals, like those to which we have referred, are books actually used in the instruction of candidates for the priesthood. They are written by men who actually teach in the Church's own approved schools, under the direction of the Catholic hierarchy, and ultimately, through the activity of the Congregation of Seminaries and Universities, under the direction of the Sovereign Pontiff himself. The common or morally unanimous teaching of the manuals in this field is definitely a part of Catholic doctrine.

It is quite obvious that the individual opinions of individual authors do not constitute Catholic doctrine, and could not be set forth as such. But there is a fund of common teaching (like that which tells us that there are truths which the Church proposes to us as revealed by God, and which are not contained in any way within the inspired books of Holy Scripture), which is the unanimous doctrine of the manuals, and which is the doctrine of the Catholic Church. The unanimous teaching of the scholastic theologians has always been recognized as a norm of Catholic doctrine. It is unfortunate that today there should be some attempt to mislead people into imagining that it has ceased to be such a norm in the twentieth century.

Father Baum tries to make it appear that there was a considerable group among the Fathers of the council who thought that the life of the Church could be renewed and that we could return "to the most authentic Catholic tradition of all ages" by setting aside the common and unanimous teaching of the scholastic theologians of our time. On the other hand, it is the teaching of Sylvius, who follows Melchior Cano here almost verbatim, that: concordem omnium theologorum sententiam in rebus fidei aut morum rejicere, si non est haeresis, est tamen haeresi proximum["it is at least an error proximate to heresy, if not a heresy proper, to reject the unanimous opinion of all the theologians on matters of faith or morals"].(70) Especially since there is absolutely no evidence that there was any party in the council with aims like those described by Father Baum, it would seem wiser to follow the basic Catholic teaching expressed by Cano and Sylvius.

Anti-Modernist Emphasis

It was most unfortunate that the distinguished Canadian priest should have spoken out on the subject of Modernism in this particular context. In his article it is apparent that he considers the anti-Modernist "emphasis" of the theological manuals of the turn of the century, and by inference of those manuals, which have followed in the same traditional path during the course of the twentieth century, as something, which can and should be abandoned. The original Modernists frequently attempted to delude people into imagining that the opposition to their erroneous teachings constituted a sort of theological excess, and that a proper doctrinal balance would be struck only when a sort of halfway house between Modernism and anti-Modernism was reached. Perhaps unintentionally Father Baum seems to be promoting the same message.

Actually Modernism was a heresy, or, to put it more accurately, a cluster of heresies. If one wants to know what the condemned teachings of the Modernists really were, he has only to read the propositions condemned in the Lamentabili sane exitu (71) and see the content of the Oath against the Errors of Modernism.(72) If he makes this study, he will find that the Catholic dogmas denied by the Modernists are the fundamental teachings that God has revealed to us about His Church and about His message. Since there was a campaign aimed at bringing Catholics to reject these teachings, it was and it remains necessary for any accurate and competent treatise in the field of fundamental dogmatic theology to state, or, if Father Baum prefers the word, to emphasize, these teachings which were denied by the Modernists, and which were proclaimed as authentic and basic Catholic doctrine by the infallible magisterium of the Catholic Church.

The Catholic priest knows perfectly well that there is never going to be, and that there never could be, any "return" to a more authentic Catholic doctrinal tradition through the abandonment of the common teaching of all the twentieth-century manuals of fundamental dogmatic theology. The living and infallible magisterium of the Catholic Church never abandons the most authentic Catholic tradition. That tradition is manifest in the common teaching of the twentieth-century manuals, and in the condemnations of the various Modernistic propositions.

The abandonment of the dogmas attacked or called into question by the original Modernists or by their successors would be an abandonment of the divine teaching within the Catholic Church. We may thank God that there is no evidence that any group of Fathers of the Vatican Council in any way wanted to abandon this doctrine.

Joseph Clifford Fenton
The Catholic University of America Washington, D.C.

1 Commonweal, LXXVII, 17 (Jan. 18, 1963), 436.
2 Ibid. The author of this second article is Gunnar D. Kumlien.
3 A fourth edition of this work was published at Rome by the Gregorian University in 1929.
4 The Gregorian University also brought out a fourth edition of this brilliantly anti-Modernist work in 1929, shortly after Billot had resigned from the College of Cardinals.
5 This set was published by Desclee and Co., of Paris, Tournai, and Rome. Later editions of these manuals were prepared by the Sulpician Father J. B. Bord.
6 The third edition of this work was prepared by Father E. P. Rengs, and was published at Amsterdam by C. L. Van Langenhuijsen in 1917.
7 Van Langenhuijsen published the third edition of this work in 1913. The English translations were published by the Newman Press in 1955 and 1957.
8 A Handbook of Fundamental Theology, by The Rev. John Brunsmann, S.V.D. Freely adapted and edited by Arthur Preuss. Four Volumes. St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1928, 1929, 1931, 1932.
9 The firm of Elexpuru in Bilbao, Spain, published a third edition of this Theologia fundamentalis in 1937.
10 Desclee published a seventh edition of this work, produced with the co-operation of J. B. Bord, in 1931.
11 A second edition of the Medulla theologiae dogmaticae was published by Elexpuru in 1947.
12 Freiburg-im-Breisgau: Herder, 1930.
13 Freiburg-im-Breisgau: Herder, 1925.
14 This work was published by Rauch in Innsbruck, Austria. A second and third edition of the first volume appeared in 1930, a second edition of the second volume in 1928, and a second edition of the third volume in 1927.
15 This book was published by The Seminary Press, in Rochester, N. Y. The first volume appeared in 1927, and the second in 1933.
16 A fifth edition of the first volume of this work was published by the Gregorian University in Rome in 1927. A third edition of the much smaller, but still immensely important second volume appeared in 1929. The De ecclesia is generally recognized to be the finest of all the theological writings of Cardinal Billot. It must not be forgotten that the late Pope Pius XII, in an address to the students of the Gregorian, named Billot as a theologian who should be a model for all of the teachers of sacred doctrine in our time.
17 The publishing house of Ferrari in Rome published a third edition of the complete De revelatione (in two volumes), in 1929 and 1931. The original edition appeared in two volumes and the preface is dated on the feast of the Holy Rosary in 1917. Afterwards there was a one-volume edition, which was not successful. Ferrari published a fourth edition of the two-volume work in 1945.
18 This first volume was published in Paris by Berche et Pagis in 1929.
19 The translation of this work into French was made by Father Marcel Gautier. A second edition of the first volume, translated from the eighth edition of the German original, was published in Mulhouse, France, by Les Editions Salvator in 1935.
20 A third edition of this book was published by the firm of Styria at Graz and Vienna in 1925.
21 Carmigiani's Elementa theologiae fundameiitalis was published in Florence by the Libreria Editrice Fiorentina in 1911.
22 The firm of Pustet published a fourth edition of this work in 1903.
23 The first volume of Mannens's Theologiae dogmaticae institutiones, the Theologia fundamentalis, was published by J. J. Romen and Sons in Roermond, in Holland, in 1910.
24 The third edition of the first volume was brought out in Paris by Lethielleux and in Dublin by Gill in 1930.
25 The Libreria Internacional, in San Sebastian, Spain, brought out a fifth edition of this two-volume work in 1939.
26 The Salesian Press in Turin published a third edition of Marengo's two-volume work in 1894. Marchini's Summula was published at Vigevano in 1898.
27 The publisher Emmanuel Vitte brought out a seventh edition of Herrmann's Institutiones in Lyons and Paris in 1937.
28 The fourth edition of Monsignor Manzoni's first volume was published in Turin in 1928 by Lege Italiana Cattolica Editrice.
29 The publisher Weger of Brescia brought out the sixth edition of Bishop Egger's work in 1932.
30 This work was published in Rome by the Typographia Sallustiani in 1899.
31 The Press and the Bookshop of the Centro Catolico published this work in Burgos, Spain, in 1906.
32 Father Blanch's book was published by the Montserrat Press of Barcelona in 1901.
33 Tepe's book was published by Lethielleux in Paris in 1894. In 1912 the same publisher brought out a third edition of Prevel's first volume. It was edited by Father Miquel, SS.CC.
34 The second edition of Lercher's first volume appeared in 1934, published at Innsbruck by Rauch. Father Schlagenhaufen, S.J., edited a very useful fifth edition of this volume, which was published by Herder in Barcelona in 1951.
35 Herder, in Freiburg-im-Breisgau brought out a sixth and seventh edition of this work in 1924.
36 A second edition of the two volumes of Felder's Apologetica was published in Paderborn in 1923 by Schoeningh.
37 The English translation was made by the famous John L. Stoddard and was published in London in 1924 by Burns, Oates, and Washbourne, Ltd.
38 The brilliant French original, one of the most powerful works in the field of Catholic apologetics, was published by Beauchesne in Paris. A seventeenth edition appeared in 1931. One of the sad phenomena in English Catholic letters was the appearance, two years ago, of a small and relatively unimportant section of this work set forth as a complete book. This radically bowdlerized edition is published as Jesus Christ, by Leonce de Grandmaison, S.J., with a preface by Jean Danielou, S.J., and has been brought out by Sheed and Ward in New York.
39 A fifth edition was published by Vitte at Lyons and Paris in 1928.
40 Beauchesne of Paris published this work in 1914.
41 Rome: The Buona Stampa Press, 1927. Basically this work is a commentary on the first question in the Pars Prima of the Summa theologica. It takes in, however, a good deal of anti-Modernist teaching.
42 Rome: The Buona Stampa Press, 1935.
43 The book was published by Weston College, in Weston, Massachusetts, in 1940.
44 The Theologia fundamentalis of Father Serapius de Iragui, O.F.M. Cap., was published by the Ediciones Studium in Madrid in 1959.
45 Beauchesne published third editions of the two volumes in 1927 and 1928 in Paris. D'Herbigny's manual is outstanding for its use of oriental Christian theological literature.
46 The fourth edition of the first volume of this fine work was published in Rome by the Gregorian University in 1946. The first public edition of the second volume did not appear until 1954. Previous editions, like that of 1940, were "ad usum auditorum."
47 Rome: Arnodo, 1940. Vellico's text is extraordinarily valuable.
48 Herder of St. Louis published a second edition of this book in 1927.
49 Both of these highly useful volumes were published by the Grand Seminary, in Montreal, in 1945.
50 The Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos published a fifth edition of this Theologia fundamentalis in Madrid in 1955.
51 This was published by the Libreria del S. Cuore in Turin in 1931.
52 A second edition of this was published by Marietti in Turin in 1900.
53 The publishing house of Manz in Ratisbon brought out a second edition of this in 1892.
54 The full title of this work is Ad mentem S. Thomae Aquinatis tractatus de ecclesia Christi ad
usum studentium theologie fundamentalis. Marietti published it in Turin in 1929.
55 A later edition of this work, edited by Father Edmund Prantner, O.P., was published in Paris by Lethielleux in 1930.
56 Lethielleux also published this work, which appeared in 1922.
57 A second edition of this two-volume work was published in Fribourg in Switzerland in 1924 by the Imprimerie et Librairie de l'Oeuvre de Saint Paul.
58 This translation was published in 1903 by Benziger Brothers of New York.
59 Longmans, Green and Company published this in 1919.
60 Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1942.
61 Chicago: The Loyola University Press, 1921.
62 A second edition of this work "in auditorum usu," was published in Rome by the Gregorian University Press in 1928.
63 Naples: D'Auria, 1948.
64 Turin: Marietti, 1946.
65 The Studium Biblicum Franciscanum of Tokyo bought out a second edition of this work in 1958.
66 Fifth edition, Rome: The Gregorian University Press, 1945.
67 This is a two-volume text, the second edition of which was published in Buenos Aires by the Editorial Guadalupe in 1954 and 1955.
68 Milan: Editrice Ancora, 1948.
69 Paris: Beauchesne. 1922.
70 Controversies, Bk, 6, q. 2, art. 4, concl. 3. The passage in the works of Melchior Cano is to be found in the De locis theologicis, Bk. 8, cap. 4, concl. 3.
71 Denz., 2001-65.
72 Denz., 2145 ff.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus: Florence vs. Vatican II.


Dear Mr. Carrasquillo,

My name is Ashton. I am a former Protestant who is currently in the RCIA program to become a Roman Catholic. I found your blog on traditional Roman Catholic theology and I accepted your invitation to send you an e-mail. I am soon going to read the books you recommend. I've read Ott and Garrigou-Lagrange on predestination; as a Calvinist Protestant I studied the modern Molinist/Thomist debate (Flint, Freddoso, Plantinga, Craig, Dekker, etc.) with some enthusiasm and definitely incline strongly to the Thomistic theology of grace. Your list of suggested reading is certainly very helpful and I want to thank you for that.

You seem to understand theology quite well, and so I'd like you to point me in the right direction. One of the big things which held me back for so long from becoming Catholic was the apparent contradiction between Vatican II and the Council of Florence regarding the possibility of salvation outside of the church. Do you have any insights reconciling the apparent contradiction? It is difficult for me honestly to interpret Vatican II in light of the earlier teachings on this matter. I've found Francis Sullivan's treatment of the issue to be unconvincing (to put it mildly). Any thoughts?

-Hello, Ashton. Thanks for your question. Two distinctions are in order:

I. First distinction: De fide teachigns vs. teachings that are proximae fidei (see Ott, introduction).

A) De fide teachings (teachings that pertain to the faith) are those things which are to be "believed" with the supernatural virtue of faith because they have been revealed by God. If one denies one of these de fide teachings, one is no longer Catholic, but commits heresy.

For example, it is a dogma (de fide) defined by the Council of Florence that, since God created an inherently good world, there is no evil nature in itself, but rather all being is good insofar as it is.

B) Sententiae theologice certae (doctrines that are theologically certain) are those things which have not been directly revealed, but which are necessarily and logically connected with revelation. If one denies one of these sententiae theologice certae, one is in error, but not technically a heretic; one remains within the Church.

For example, from the doctrine that God created a good world, it logically follows that evil is a privation of being, and not a positive entity. It would be false to say the contrary, but it would not be a heresy.

II. Second distinction: infallible/binding vs. non-infallible/non-binding teachings.

a) Infallible/binding teachings: When the Church uses her authority to bind the faithful to believe or hold something She is infallible. The Holy Ghost protects her from erring in those matters of faith and morals that she intends to teach as binding. We know, then, that the Holy Ghost made sure that teaching contains no error.

B) Non-infallible, non-binding teachings: We are required to hold some, but not all, of those things that are taught in the Church via Ecumenical Councils, encyclicals, papal bulls, etc. Often the Church just says things without making them binding on all the faithful. In fact, sometimes this occurs within the context of papal documents and even councils. For example, Pius IX, when he wrote in his bull on the Immaculate Conception that Our Lady is the "woman" in Genesis 3:15 who will crush the head of the serpent, he did not intend to make that statement binding. (It is obviously true, but we are not bound to believe it). The only statement or teaching that is absolutely binding in that bull is the one that expresses the dogma of the Immaculate Conception--that our Lady was free from all sin, including original sin, from the very first moment of her conception/creation. The rest of the contents of the bull are non-binding and non-infallible. They are true, but not binding or infallible.

The same is the case with most (if not all) of Vatican II. Unlike most councils, Vatican II explicitly said that it was not the wish of the Council Fathers to make any of its teachings binding. Rather, merely intended to express the same traditional doctrine of the Church in terms that "speak to modern man." So Vatican II, in general, is not infallible. What's in it is true (at least one assumes so, because we should give even non-infallible teachings the benefit of the doubt), but the Holy Ghost is not necessarily protecting the Vatican II Fathers from erring.

III. Thesis 1: It is obviously NOT the case that Vatican II's teaching on extra ecclesiam nulla salus is, strictly-speaking, heretical. This is where the two distinctions come together. Not only can never be in the Church an infallible, binding statement that directly contradicts another infallible, binding statement; but even non-infallible, non-binding statements (such as those in Vatincan II) will never be so rash as to deny directly a previous, infallible, binding teaching. What MAY happen is that a non-infallible, non-binding statement (such as Vatican II) is opposed to some of the sententiae theologicae certae, that is, to some of the logical consequences of previous dogma, if the pope or council is re-interpreting the old dogma and is, therefore, missing some of its logical consequences.

Florence teaches infallibly and in a binding way that: there is no salvation outside the Church.

Vatican II teaches, in essence, that: non-Catholics can be saved.

Vatican II is not directly denying the doctrine of Florence that there is no salvation outside the Church. It is denying, or at least SEEMS to be denying, one of its logical consequences, namely that: non-Catholics cannot be saved.

So if Vatican II is in error (which is possible, the charism of infallibility being absent), then what it would be denying is a sententia proxima fidei, not a de fide teaching. So Vatican II would not be "heretical," but only toying with theological error. But this is just a possibility--I don't think it is actually the case.

IV. Thesis 2: Vatican II's teaching on extra ecclesiam nulla salus MAY be interpreted as being compatible with that of the Council of Florence. The whole question ultimately depends on the interpretation of Vatican II's doctrine on extra ecclesiam nulla salus. The proper way to interpret it is by looking the Council in light of previous teaching.

Theologians have always taught that although non-Catholics cannot be saved while they remain non-Catholics, they can, nevertheless, be saved if they join the Church right before the moment of their death, through an extraordinary act of perfect contrition and/or baptism of desire. In that case, they would become Catholic, and hence could be saved. So, while it is still true that it is absolutely impossible for a non-Catholic to be saved, we can still hope that non-Catholics be saved by becoming Catholic. So, when Vatican II says that non-Catholics can be saved, I take that to mean that they can those who are currently non-Catholics can be saved (if they convert), not that those who die as non-Catholics can be saved (that would be impossible).

V. Conclusion:

I am not saying that Vatican II expresses the doctrine of extra ecclesiam nulla salus in the clearest way, or even that it is well expressed at all. Rather, I simply want to say that, if someone should accuse the Council of heresy, in reply one could show that:

Thesis 1: It is obviously not heretical in the strictest sense of directly denying a de fide teaching.

Thesis 2: There is enough grounds to interpret it as not even being theologically erroneous.

You said you read French. One of the French books you can read on the true doctrine of no salvation outside the Church is Édouard Hugon, O.P., Hors de l'Église, point de salut.

I hope this helps.

In Domino,
-Francisco Romero.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Aquinas on causality: follow up.

Share/Bookmark (Continued from "Aquinas on Causality: Any Recommendations?")

I'm particualry interested in formal causation as I'm discussing the soul and the non-life to life problem with a few materialists who dont think formal causation exists.

Ok, I see! So you're interested in formal (and material) causality as it relates to philosophical psychology. Then I'd say:

1) Fr. H. D. Gardeil's volume on Psychology (vol. 3), chapter 1-3, especially 2. There he provides a critique of "mechanism" too, which is a version of materialism.

2) D.Q. McInerny's book on Philosophical Psychology should be helpful if you don't have access to Gardeil.

3) Aquinas, "Commentary on Aristotle's De Anima," Book I, Ch. 5, contains the fundamental treatise on this issue.

4) Aquinas, ST I.75-76, especially 75.1. This is the solution to your problem in a nutshell.

5) Robert Pasnau, "Thomas Aquinas on Human Nature," chs. 1-3, especially 3.

Pasnau is by no means a traditional Thomist (he's way too avant-garde for me) but he has an interesting approach that might help you refute materialism in a convincing way.

But instead of just giving you references, I'd also like to lead you in the right direction, philosophically.

The crux of the problem is: Bare matter, by itself, is chaotic, mere stuff. The living matter within an organism is not bare, crude matter. It operates in a unified way, organically. So living matter is bare matter plus organic unity. And bare matter cannot cause itself to have organic unity--otherwise everything would be alive--so there must be something which gives it organic unity. What could be giving it its unity? What is this "principle of organic unification" (POU)? If the materialists are right, then the POU is itself material--because for them everything is material. But if the POU is itself made out of matter, then it must be asked: what provides organic unification for the matter out of which the POU is made? If you posit another material POU then you'll eventually run into an infinite and pointless regress. So ultimately we must posit a POU which is not itself dependent on another POU, that is, one which is not material. This is what we call "anima" as in "animating principle." (Some people call it "soul," but by this we need not understand some ghostly floaty thing that lives "caged" inside the body. Rather, the "anima" is simply the "first POU.")

This is basically the argument in ST I.75.1, where he concludes that "the soul is not a body", i.e., the soul is not a material POU, but an immaterial one.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Aquinas on Causality: Any recommendations?

Share/Bookmark Can you recommend some modern Thomists who discuss causation or modern translations of older Thomists into English? I've got a book on causation by Wallace but there may be something better out there. Help.

-Since I don't know whether you're looking for a solid general introduction or a highly-specialized, scholarly discussion, I would recommend this for starters:

1) Gardeil, Henri Dominique. "Introduction to the Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas: Volume II: Cosmology." St. Louis: Herder, 1958; Chapter 5. This is vol. two of a series of four which is absolutely my favorite introduction to Aquinas' philosophy in English (although only vols. 2-4 have been translated from the original French). It observes Aquinas' understanding of the proper division and method of the sciences (as well as Aristotle's works) very closely. It does not attempt to export artificially a philosophy out of the theological context of the Summa (à la Gilson), but rather goes to Aquinas' philosophical opuscula and commentaries on Aristotle as the proper loci or sources for Aquinas' philosophy. So it doesn't only get the content right (as do most books out there), but also the proper methodology and order of the discipline (as do VERY few of the books I've seen). But it's out of print. Another good book--one that is in print--is:

2) McInerny, D. Q. The Philosophy of Nature. Denton, NE: Fraternity Publications, 1998. (This is not, by the way, the "famous" Ralph McInerny, but his brother Daniel.) This is one of Dr. Daniel McInerny's seven or so volumes which serve as a thorough introduction to Aquinas' philosophy---and they're all in print, just in case you can't find Gardeil's four volumes. I haven't read "The Philosophy of Nature" yet, but I have used his Ethics, and it is VERY good. If interested in these volumes, contact Fraternity Publications.

And, I know you asked for modern Thomists, but just in case you haven't read Aquinas himself on causation (and I don't mean the passages interspersed throughout his theological works, but the actual treatises on causation in his properly philosophical works), this is DEFINITELY where you should start:

3) Aquinas, On the Principles of Nature, especially chs. 3-6: . That's quite enough for starters, but if you want more detail, see also the following:

4) Aquinas, Commentary on Aristotle's Physics, Book II, Ch. 3.

5) Aquinas, Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics, Book V, Ch. 2.

6) Aquinas, Commentary on the Book of Causes, passim.

This will get your hands full for a while, if you haven't gone through it already. But if you are still looking for more specialized secondary literature on Aquinas' notion of causality, let me know. To my knowledge there is no single book that treats ALL of Aquinas' notion of causality, but individual works dealing with each of the four causes (and there are plenty) or with individual issues related to causality (such as Wallace)--but I can look a little deeper for you if you want.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Book Reviews: New Mass, Fatima, and EWTN.

Share/Bookmark I was told in confession not to read any literature that might cause me to doubt or deny my Faith. There are a few books that I had in my list which now I do not know if I should read. They are the following:

1) Rama Coomaraswamy, "The Problems with the New Mass."
2) Fr. Paul Kramer, "The Devil's Final Battle."
3) Christopher Ferrara, "EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong.

Would you say these books are safe for someone like me, who has not had a formal theological education?

-I would say the following:

1) I think Coomaraswamy's book, "The Problems with the New Mass," is not "safe" for the average layman. However, it is still valuable for those who are more advanced in theology and who wish to examine the issue of the validity of the New Mass in detail. But you don't need to read this book to be aware that there are problems with the new Mass. A more fundamental book on this issue is The Ottaviani Intervention. But perhaps someone who is pursuing his theological studies at seminary can tackle this book as part of his Sacramental Theology course. It might prove profitable for him, not in order to convince him that the New Mass is invalid, but to give him a good, sober summary of the arguments generally offered against the validity of the New Mass, and for him to be able to see where they fail, based on the solid traditional Sacramental Theology.

2) At least superficially, I can't find anything wrong with Fr. Kramer's "The Devil's Final Battle." It looks like a collection of very good articles on the truth about Fatima, which among other things, synthesize and update (in light of more recent events) the historical research presented in the trilogy by Brother Michael of the Holy Trinity, "The Whole Truth about Fatima." But Bro. Michael's books seem to be more a more solid, objective presentation of the facts, without some of the passionate rhetoric that I sense in the book edited by Fr. Kramer.

3) Ferrara's "EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong" seems very interesting and good overall. Ferrara's book is part of his rhetorically-charged crusade against Catholic Neo-Conservatives or "Neo-Catholics," who are characterized by an extreme loyalty to the latest papal fashion, who disregard the perennial tradition of the Church, and for whom EWTN is a primary medium of communication. Ferrara began this "crusade" by co-authoring (along with Thomas Woods) his first book, "The Great Facade: Vatican II and the Regime of Novelty in the Roman Catholic Church," which I would recommend you read before reading (if you do read it) "EWTN, A Network Gone Wrong." "The Great Facade" is so aggressive (Ferrara is a lawyer), relentless and convincing that you won't be able to put the book down! My wife and I read it in the car!

Interestingly, in "EWTN," Ferrara does not wish to argue that the network has ALWAYS been COMPLETELY bad. He does admit that when Mother Angelica ran it, there was much good in EWTN, and that even now there are still some good programs. But he argues that since Mother Angelica's resignation in March of 2000, part of the network has "gone wrong," accomodating a "moderate" and subtle (and, therefore, all the more dangerous and deceptive) sort of modernism.

It seems very interesting, and I think I want to read it. (I am especially interested in finding out if what a colleague of mine said is true, namely, that most of the "facts" that Ferrara gives about EWTN are "dead wrong.")

But, again, if you do what I do (ignore EWTN altogether), then you don't have the absolute need to read it. Not that the book would be bad, but that there is SO much more out there that would be almost infinitely more profitable for you to read. (The curriculum that I have offered previously, for example.) You need, first of all, a solid foundation that will enable you to judge all these other issues correctly. There are millions of books out there that are dead wrong for fundamental philosophical and theological reasons!

Plus, never neglect your spiritual reading! That is what matters the most. Your spiritual life is, to use Christ's own words the unum necessarium, "the one thing necessary," the part that Mary Magdalen chose, and "which shall not be taken away from her." So I would recommend that, along with all your readings on philosophy, theology, apologetics, polemics, etc., you always keep reading spiritual books: e.g., scripture, lives of (and writings by) the saints, ascetical and mystical books, books on apparitions and miracles, etc.

I hope this is helpful.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Blog Update!

Share/Bookmark Dear Bloggers,

Happy feast day of St. Francis!

After a Summer of limited activity (and over a month of total inactivity), Ite ad Thomas resumes its work. For so long I was unable to put up any posts due to an amazing cluster of problems that I had to drag my family through, including a very pregnant wife.

August and September were the most difficult two months of my life, so far. It has not quite been like Job, but it almost seemed that way to us. But now things are settling down a bit. I am getting back into my daily teaching routine and intend to update the blog regularly (although I can't promise long posts!).

I will, however, make it explicit now that I will be accepting donations. I want to do this for free (as it should), but the reality is that money is an issue for any poor philosopher/theologian like myself. As soon as time allows, I will update the sidebar of the blog and include a donations link. For now, however, if you wish to make a donation, you can simply use the mailing address next to my picture above. Prayers and beautiful holy cards are also greatly appreciated as donations (you should see my holy card collection!).

In Domino,
-Francisco Romero.

Sancte Francisce, ora pro nobis!

Monday, August 21, 2006

On the Supposed Impassibility of Our Lady

Share/Bookmark The movie The Passion shows our most Blessed Mother as being 49 years old, seemingly denying that she possessed the preternatural gift of impassibility, and implicitly the gift of her immaculate conception! How would you address this issue?


Dear Clyde,

Thank you for your thoughts. I believe your reasoning is the following:

(1) Our Lady was immaculately conceived;
(2) therefore, She lacked original sin;
(3) therefore, She lacked all the defects of fallen human nature;
(4) therefore, She possessed the preternatural gifts, notably impassibility.
(5) therefore, She did not age.

I wholeheartedly agree with nos. (1)-(2)—denying those would amount to heresy. However, I must say that (3), (4), and (5) do not follow logically, are far from being theologically necessary, have never been taught by the Magisterium in any way, are doubtful, and are contrary to the teaching of St. Thomas, the other doctors of the Church, and the traditional scholastic manuals of Sacred Theology. Let me explain.

Our Lady did not have (2) original sin itself; however, but she did possess (3) some of the “defects” which exist in the rest of us as punishments due to original sin, but which existed in her only as poenalitates, that is, as means for her to cooperate with her divine Son in the work of redemption. She did not have any of those defects which imply moral imperfection (e.g., concupiscence), but only those that are “irreprehensible” such as hunger, thirst, pain, weariness. The liturgy of the Church attests to this: the fact she could suffer is attested by the feast of the Seven Dolours of Our Lady (Sept. 15); that she did undergo earthly death is attested by the “Feast of the Dormition” (Aug. 15) in the Byzantine Rite and early on in Roman Rite history.

The reason for believing that Our Lady had these defects is that Our Lord Himself (who had an immaculate human nature, free from original sin, just like his Mother) had them as well. He both suffered and died and, therefore, did not have the gifts of impassibility and immortality (otherwise our redemption could not have occurred the way it did!). Thus, a fortiori the Co-Redemptrix herself must have had a passible and mortal body as well to share in the sufferings and death of her divine Son.

This is the view of a great number of (traditional) Catholic theologians, such as Suárez, Terrien, Hugon, Campana, Merkelbach, Garrigou-Lagrange, Aldama, Ott, etc. And even Aquinas himself, although he never addressed this issue directly as it pertains to Our Lady, would have to agree because it follows from his own theological principles (he does speak of Our Lord's non-moral, irreprehensible defects).

Here is what Ludwig Ott says in his manual of dogmatic Theology, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (Rockford, IL: TAN Books, 1974), p. 173:

Chapter 2

The Defects or the Passibility of Christ’s Human Nature

Par. 29: Christ’s Capacity for Suffering

1. The Corporeal Defects of Christ (defectus corporis)

Christ’s human nature was passible (de fide)


The Church, in its symbols of faith, teaches that Christ (really) suffered and died. The Fourth Lateran council, and the Union Council of Florence expressly stress, not merely the fact of the Passion, but also the passibility of Christ. Denzinger no. 429: “... in [His] humanity He was made capable of suffering and mortal.” Denzinger no. 708: “passible by reason of the humanity [He] assumed.”

The Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament foretell the grievous suffering of the coming Redeemer. Is. 53, 4: “Surely He hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows.” Cf. Ps. 21 and 68. According to the testimony of the Evangelists, Christ was subject to the general defects of the body, such as hunger (Mt. 4, 2), thirst (John 19, 28), weariness (John 4, 6) sleep (Mt. 8, 24), suffering and death. Christ’s passion was intended to be a model to the faithful (cf. I Petr. 2, 21)....

In Christ, by virtue of His freedom from original sin, bodily defects were not as in other men, consequences of original sin, but He voluntarily adopted them, in order a) to make vicarious atonement for the sins of mankind, b) to demonstrate the reality of His human nature, and c) to afford mankind a model of patience in the bearing of suffering. Cf. Aquinas, Summa Theologiae III.14.1. These defects were, however, natural to Christ, because they belong to human nature as such. Cf. Aquinas, Summa Theologiae III.14.2.

Christ’s work of redemption required only that He assume the general human defects of human nature as such (defectus or passiones universales sive irreprehensibiles, e.g., hunger, thirst, weariness, feeling of pain, mortality, which do not contradict His intellectual and moral perfections). He did not assume particular defects, e.g., illness of His body or soul. Cf. Aquinas, Summa Theologiae III.14.2.”

Cf. also Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 202:

Parr. 4. Mary’s Freedom from Evil Concupiscence and from Every Personal Sin

1. Freedom from Concupiscence

From her conception Mary was free from all motions of concupiscence. (Sententia communis)

Freedom from original sin does not necessarily involve freedom from all defects which came into the world as a punishment for sin. Mary, like Christ Himself, was subject to the general human defects, insofar as these involve no moral imperfection. Concupiscence cannot be reckoned among these since it excites a person to commit acts which are materially contrary to God’s Law, even where, through lack of assent, they are not formal sins. It would be incompatible with Mary’s fullness of grace and her perfect purity and immaculate state to be subject to motions of inordinate desires.

It is also important to note that the theological opinion that Our Lady underwent death is considered probabilior (more probable than its opposite, namely, than the view that she did not undergo death). The reason for this is that it was fitting for her to undergo death so that she might cooperate more intimately with her Son in the work of redemption. This view is corroborated both by the fact that Pius XII, in his definition of the Dogma of the Assumption, spoke of “the end of her earthly life,” and by the fact that the early history of the feast of the Assumption attests to the fact that she died (the feast used to be called the “Feast of the Dormition” and it celebrated the death and resurrection of Our Lady as a unique participation in her Son’s own death and resurrection).

Cf. Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 208ff:

2. The Bodily Assumption of Mary into Heaven

a) Dogma

Mary was assumed body and soul into Heaven. (De fide.)

[Pope Pius XII] promulgated by the Apostolic constitution “Munificentissimus Deus” as a dogma revealed by God that: “Mary, the immaculate perpetually Virgin Mother of God, after the completion of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into the glory of Heaven.”


In the East, at least since the sixth century, and at Rome, at any rate, since the end of the seventh century (Sergius I, 687-701) the Church celebrated the Feast of the Sleeping of Mary (Dormitio, koimêsis). The object of the feast was originally the death of Mary, but very soon the thought appeared of the incorruptibility of her body and of its assumption into Heaven. The original title Dormitio (sleeping) was changed into assumptio (Sacramentarium Gregorianum).

Mater dolorosa by Luis de Morales (c.1510-1586)

STABAT MATER dolorosa iuxta Crucem lacrimosa, dum pendebat Filius.
Cuius animam gementem, contristatam et dolentem pertransivit gladius.
O quam tristis et afflicta fuit illa benedicta, mater Unigeniti!
Quae maerebat et dolebat, pia Mater, dum videbat nati poenas inclyti.
Quis est homo qui non fleret, matrem Christi si videret in tanto supplicio?
Quis non posset contristari Christi Matrem contemplari dolentem cum Filio?
Pro peccatis suae gentis vidit Iesum in tormentis, et flagellis subditum.
Vidit suum dulcem Natum moriendo desolatum, dum emisit spiritum.
Eia, Mater, fons amoris me sentire vim doloris fac, ut tecum lugeam.
Fac, ut ardeat cor meum in amando Christum Deum ut sibi complaceam.
Sancta Mater, istud agas, crucifixi fige plagas cordi meo valide.
Tui Nati vulnerati, tam dignati pro me pati, poenas mecum divide.
Fac me tecum pie flere, crucifixo condolere, donec ego vixero.
Iuxta Crucem tecum stare, et me tibi sociare in planctu desidero.
Virgo virginum praeclara, mihi iam non sis amara, fac me tecum plangere.
Fac, ut portem Christi mortem, passionis fac consortem, et plagas recolere.
Fac me plagis vulnerari, fac me Cruce inebriari, et cruore Filii.
Flammis ne urar succensus, per te, Virgo, sim defensus in die iudicii.
Christe, cum sit hinc exire, da per Matrem me venire ad palmam victoriae.
Quando corpus morietur, fac, ut animae donetur paradisi gloria. Amen.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Why avoid the Novus Ordo Mass, if it is valid? --Pt. 2

Share/Bookmark Would you attend a Novus Ordo Mass if it were the only Mass available? I assume the answer must be "yes" if we are talking about a Sunday obligation. What about during the week, though? For argument's sake, let us assume that the liturgy is no more reverent than your typical NO Mass. This is a matter of some practical importance for me. Where I attend school, the Catholic Student Center has weekday Mass twice a week (no, I have no clue where the resident priest fulfills his daily obligation on the other 4 days of the week). The liturgy is exceptionally irreverent: Mass is typically done outdoors on a wooden table covered with a white cloth, with everyone sitting in a circle of lawnchairs. Kneeling is altogether ommitted (except for by those few brave souls who are willing to be looked at with curiosity and disdain by the rest of the people assisting). When the time for Communion comes, the ciborium is passed around and each person is Eucharistic minister for his neighbor. Now, assuming that I do not participate personally in any of the sacriligeous aspects of the liturgy--for example, whenever I have gone, I always ask the priest to administer Holy Communion to me directly and do not touch the Sacred species--assuming that, do you think my attitude that, however bad the liturgy might be, I'm still receiving Communion whereas I would not be otherwise, is valid? Or do you think it would be better to abstain from Communion altogether in such a circumstance?

-I. Statement of the Problem:

The question really is: "Which is better?

1) To attend the Latin Mass on Sundays AND daily Novus Ordo Mass, or
2) To attend the Latin Mass on Sundays and miss daily Mass altogether."

II. Assumptions:

In this question, we are assuming the following:

A) You have a Latin Mass available less than daily, but at least once-a-week, on Sundays.

B) The Novus Ordo Mass you have access to is valid--i.e., the mistranslation of pro multis (and other defects) do not render the Mass invalid.

C) You can attend the NO Mass, and even receive Holy Communion there, while totally abstaining from commiting, cooperating with, being an accomplice in, or have one's Catholic sensibilities dulled by, any sacrilegious actions that occur throughout the duration of the Mass. (And this is one heck of an assumption!)

III. Reply:

Assuming these points, I would still argue that it is more spiritually profitable for one to attend the traditional Mass exclusively (even if that means only going to one Mass per week) than attending BOTH the traditional Mass on Sundays AND the daily NO Mass. This can sound strange if we think that the only factor that makes Mass spiritually profitable is its validity. But this is far from the truth. In fact, there are many other factors, such as external rituals and the corresponding interior dispositions that they elicit, and these are the aspects where the NO Mass obviously fails. Indeed, interior dispositions are infinitely more important for the spiritual profit we derive from the Mass than the frequency with which we attend.

To defend my view, I will present the following three theses:

1) The NO Mass, as it is normally said, even if it is valid, does not elevate the mind to attaining the interior dispositions necessary for us to attain progress in the spiritual life through the Sacrifice of the Mass;

2) Interior dispositions are essential for the Sacrifice of the Mass to be profitable to us. The greater fervor, the more profitable the Mass is for us; the lesser the fervor, the less profitable.

3) It is more profitable for the soul to attend one weekly Mass with the proper dispositions than to attend many Masses during the week, or even daily Mass, with improper dispositions.

Thesis 1: The NO Mass, as it is usually said, hinders the interior dispositions that are necessary for profiting spiritually from the Holy Sacrifice.

The exterior signs of worship employed in your average NO Mass (e.g., texts, music, postures, architecture, etc.), far from serving the sacred purpose that they ought to serve (i.e., to elevate the mind to the contemplation of divine truth and the heart to the love of God), instead deter the faithful from it, imposing upon the mind misconceptions about the nature of the Holy Mass, the Blessed Sacrament, and about our Faith in general, and replacing them with vain, profane and heterodox notions about the same. I do not think I need to argue for this point at any length. It has been done thoroughly many times over by excellent authors, including those in a position of authority. Cf. primarily Cardinal Ottaviani et al., A Short Critical Study of the New Order of Mass (aka, The Ottaviani Intervention). Thus, in general the NO rite does not foment piety and devotion, but hinders them.

Thesis 2: Interior dispositions are essential for the Sacrifice of the Mass to be profitable to us. The greater fervor, the more profitable the Mass is for us; the lesser the fervor, the less profitable.

The validity of the Mass, as I have explained before, only means that ex opere operato the Mass is efficacious: Our Lord is immolating Himself as the perfect Sacrifice to God the Father. But it says nothing of its effects ex opere operantis, that is, of our profiting from that Sacrifice. Interior dispositions are also essential for the Mass to be profitable to us.

This is seen very clearly from the fact that the bloody Sacrifice of Our Lord on the Cross (which was a true sacrifice, efficacious of itself, ex opere operato) was not profitable for some unto salvation. It was certainly profitable for Our Lady, for St. John, for St. Dismas the Good Thief, and for St. Longinus, the Centurion who pierced the dead Christ with a lance. But it was not profitable for Gestas, the bad thief who "blasphemed him, saying: If thou be Christ, save thyself and us."

Also, we all know that if someone in mortal sin receives Holy Communion, his Communion will be not be profitable to him at all, for his soul is dead, and only Confession can bring it back to life. And this obviously applies to those who commit mortal sins during Mass through sacrilege and the like. The interior dispositions of the communicant are, then, a deciding factor.

The same goes, to a lesser degree, for those who attend Mass in the state of grace but with imperfect dispositions, such as those who skip thanksgiving after Communion (and I confess that I'm guilty--read Garrigou-Lagrange on the subject!), those who are culpably distracted, those who, out of sloth, do less than what is in their power to participate in the Holy Sacrifice, those who commit neglectful acts of irreverence, etc. Although these do benefit from participating in the Sacrifice, nevertheless they profit less than those who attend with ardent fervor and devotion. Here are some excerpts of by the great Thomistic theologian, Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.:

The just man grows thus in the love of God through absolution and especially by Communion. The merit and prayer of the just soul obtain the gifts of God "ex opere operantis," by reason of the faith, piety, and charity of him who merits, but the sacraments produce grace ex "opere operato" in those who do not place an obstacle to it; in other words, by themselves they produce grace from the fact that they were instituted by God to apply the merits of the Savior to us. They produce grace independently of the prayers and the merits, either of the minister who confers them or of those who receive them. This explains why a bad priest, and even an unbeliever, may validly administer baptism, provided he has the intention of doing what the Church does in conferring it.

But, although the sacraments of themselves produce grace in those who do not place an obstacle to it, they produce it more or less abundantly according to the fervor of him who receives it. The Council of Trent says that each one receives justice "according to his own measure, which the Holy Ghost distributes to everyone as He wills and according to each one's disposition." In the natural order, as St. Thomas observes, although an open fire of itself gives heat, a person benefits more from its influence in proportion as he draws closer to it. Likewise, in the supernatural order a person benefits so much the more from the sacraments as he approaches them with a more lively faith and a greater fervor of will. (Three Ages of the Interior Life, Ch. 7)

Thesis 3: Attending Mass once per week (i.e., on Sunday) with great fervor and devotion is more profitable for our salvation than attending daily without much fervor or devotion.

Frequent hearing of Mass is very important for our sanctification. But even more important is the fervor with with we hear it, such that hearing it once per week with increasing fervor is more profitable to us than hearing it frequently without incresing our fervor every time. In fact, those souls who, while attending daily Mass in sanctifying grace and avoiding the aforementioned faults during Mass (distractions, vain thoughts, etc.), nevertheless fail to increase their fervor in every Mass they attend, are in fact spiritually retarded.

This perhaps sounds ultra-rigoristic, but it is the teaching of the Church. The great Thomistic theologian, Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., following the principles of spiritual progress described by the saints, such as St. Thomas Aquinas, St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa of Avila, and St. Francis de Sales, explains this very well. The sacraments themselves do confer grace to our souls regardless of our interior dispositions (ex opere operato); but receiving a sacrament modo remisso (i.e., in a way less fervently than we are capable), far from advancing us in the way of sanctity, actually contributes to the retardation of our souls.

To use Garrigou's analogy of gravity: in order for our souls to ascend to the heights of holiness, they have to accelerate; that is, they need to receive increasingly more and more speed (grace) to ascend in the way of holiness. The minute that they cease to accelerate, their path upwards will be retarded, and eventually they will drop. (Garrigou also explains that Confession restores the soul to the point where it stopped ascending). Here are some excerpts from Garrigou's spiritual masterpiece, The Three Ages of the Interior Life:

"One fervent Communion is worth more than many tepid Communions taken together. The more a person approaches with lively faith, firm hope, ardent love, and fervor of will, our Lord present in the Eucharist, radiant source of graces, the more he benefits from our Lord's influence by graces of light, love, and strength. The Communion of St. Francis, St. Dominic, or St. Catherine of Siena was on certain days extremely fervent and proportionately fruitful; their dilated souls approached our Savior to receive abundantly and even superabundantly from Him that they might later in their apostolate give Him to other souls.

It may happen, on the contrary, that the fruit of Communion is least when a soul approaches the holy table with dispositions sufficient only not to hinder the effect of the sacrament. This should make us reflect seriously, if we show no true spiritual advancement after years of frequent or daily Communion. Possibly by reason of a growing attachment to a certain venial sin, the effect of our daily Communion may be ever weaker, as the movement of a stone thrown vertically into the air is uniformly retarded until the stone falls down. God grant that this may never be our condition!

On the contrary, we should have sufficient generosity to permit the realization in us of that superior law which is verified in the lives of the saints. In other words, because each of our Communions ought not only to preserve but to increase charity in us, each Communion should be substantially more fervent and more fruitful than, the preceding one; for each one, by increasing the love of God in us, ought to dispose us to receive our Lord on the following day with not only an equal but a superior fervor of will. Often, however, negligence and tepidity hinder the application of this law, of which that of the progressive attraction of bodies is only a symbol. Bodies are attracted to each other in increased ratio as they draw near to each other. Souls ought to make proportionately more rapid progress toward God as they draw near to Him and are more drawn by Him. Thus we see the meaning of our Savior's words: "If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink. . . . Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water," the streams of living water which flow into the infinite ocean that is God, known and loved as He knows and loves Himself, for all eternity." (Ch. 7)


The conditions of a good communion are indicated in the decree (December 20, 1905) by which Pope Pius X exhorted all the faithful to frequent Communion. This decree recalls first of all this principle: "The sacraments of the New Law, while acting ex opere operato, nevertheless produce a greater effect by reason of the more perfect dispositions of those who receive them.... Care must be taken, therefore, that an attentive preparation precede Holy Communion and that a suitable thanksgiving follow it, taking into consideration the faculties and condition of each person."

According to the same decree, the first and indispensable condition for drawing profit from Communion is an upright and pious intention. On this point His Holiness declared: "Frequent and daily Communion, greatly desired by Jesus Christ and by the Catholic Church, should be so accessible to all the faithful of every rank and condition, that anyone who is in the state of grace and approaches the holy table with an upright and pious intention, may not be separated from it by any prohibition. Upright intention consists in this: that he who approaches the holy table is not influenced by custom, by vanity, or by any human reason, but desires to satisfy the good pleasure of God, to be more closely united to Him by charity, and by means of this divine medicine to remedy his infirmities and defects."

Evidently the upright and pious intention mentioned here must be supernatural, that is, inspired by a motive of faith; it is the desire to acquire the strength to serve God better and to keep from sin. If, with this principal intention, a person had a secondary intention of vanity, such as the desire to be praised, this secondary and non­determinant motive would not prevent the Communion from being good and would not render it bad, but it would diminish its fruit. This fruit is so much the greater as the upright and pious intention is purer and stronger. These principles are positive. One very fervent Communion is, therefore, more fruitful in itself alone than many, tepid Communions.


In her Dialogue, St. Catherine states the conditions of a fervent Communion by using a striking figure:

"If thou hast a light, and the whole world should come to thee in order to take light from it, the light itself does not diminish, and yet each person has it all. It is true that everyone participates more or less in this light, according to the substance into which each one receives the fire. Suppose that there are many who bring their candles, one weighing an ounce, others two or six ounces, or a pound, or even more, and light them in the flame; in each candle, whether large or small, is the whole light, that is to say, the heat, the color, and the flame; nevertheless thou wouldst judge that he whose candle weighs an ounce has less of the light than he whose candle weighs a pound. Now the same thing happens to those who receive this sacrament. Each one carries his own candle, that is, the holy desire with which he receives this sacrament, which of itself is without light, and lights it by receiving this sacrament."

How is this desire shown? The holy desire, which is the condition of a fervent Communion, should manifest itself first in removing all attachment to venial sin, slander, jealousy, vanity, sensuality, and so on. This attachment is less reprehensible in poorly enlightened Christians than in those who have already received much and are ungrateful. If this negligence and ingratitude were to become accentuated, they would render Communion less and less fruitful.

That Communion may be fervent, attachment to imperfections must be combated; that is, attachment to an imperfect manner of acting, such as characterizes the actions of one who, possessing five talents, acts as if he had only three (modo remisso), and only struggles feebly against his defects. Attachment to imperfections may also be found in the seeking after permissible but useless natural satisfactions, such as taking some refreshment which one can get along without. The sacrifice of these satisfactions would be agreeable to God; and the soul, by thus evidencing greater generosity, would receive many more graces in Communion. It ought to remember that it has as a model Christ Himself, who sacrificed Himself even to the death of the cross, and that it ought to work for its salvation and that of its neighbor by means similar to those which the Savior employed. The removal of venial sin and
imperfection is a negative disposition.

The positive dispositions for a fervent Communion are humility (Domine, non sum dignus), a profound respect for the Eucharist, a living faith, an ardent desire to receive our Lord, the bread of life.

All these positive conditions may be summed up as hunger for the Eucharist.

All food is good when we are hungry. A rich man, accidentally deprived of food and famished, is happy to find black bread; he thinks it is the best meal of his life and he feels refreshed. If we hungered for the Eucharist, our Communion would be most fruitful. We should recall what this hunger was in St. Catherine of Siena; so great was it that one day when she had been harshly refused Communion, a particle of the large host became detached at the moment when the priest broke it in two, and was miraculously brought to the saint in response to the ardor of her desire.

How can we have this hunger for the Eucharist? The answer lies in our being firmly convinced that the Eucharist is the indispensable food of our soul and in generously making some sacrifices every day.

For those who are feeble, substantial food is sought which will restore their health; efforts are also made to raise the morale of the discouraged. The food par excellence, which renews spiritual strength, is the Eucharist. Our sensible appetites, inclined to sensuality and to sloth, need to be vivified by contact with the virginal body of Christ, who endured most frightful sufferings for love of us. We, who are always inclined to pride, to lack of consideration, to forgetfulness of the greatest truths, to spiritual folly, need to be illumined by contact with the sovereignly luminous intellect of the Savior, who is "the way, the truth, and the life." Our will also has its deficiencies; it lacks energy, it is cold because it lacks love. This is the cause of all its weaknesses. Who can restore to it the ardor, the flame necessary to its life so that it may ascend instead of descending? The answer is contact with the Eucharistic heart of Jesus, ardent furnace of charity, immutably fixed in the good, and source of merits of infinite value. Of its plentitude we must all receive, and grace for grace. We have great need of this union with the Savior, which is the principal effect of Communion.

If we were profoundly convinced that the Eucharist is the necessary food of our souls, we would have the spiritual hunger which is found in the saints.

To recover it, if we have lost it, we must "take exercise," as they say to people who are stricken with a languorous illness. Spiritual exercise in this case consists in daily offering sacrifices to God; in particular we should give up seeking ourselves in what we do; gradually, as egoism disappears, charity will take the first, uncontested place in our souls. We will cease to be preoccupied with the little nothings that concern us in order to think more of the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Then the hunger for the Eucharist will return. To make a good Communion, we should also ask Mary to make us share in the love with which she herself received the Eucharist from the hands of St. John.

The fruits of a fervent Communion are proportionate to the generosity of our dispositions. We read in Holy Scripture: "He that hath, to him shall be given, and he shall abound." In the Office of the Blessed Sacrament, St. Thomas relates that the prophet Elias, who was being persecuted, stopped worn out in the desert and lay down under a juniper tree to await death. He fell asleep; then an angel of the Lord wakened him, showed him a loaf of bread under the ashes, and a jug of water. He ate and drank, and with the strength that this food gave him, he walked for forty days, even to Mount Horeb, where the Lord was waiting for him. This is a figure of the effects of fervent Communion.

We should remember that each of our Communions ought to be substantially more fervent than the preceding one, since each ought not only to preserve charity in us, but to increase it, and consequently dispose us to receive our Lord on the following day with an even greater love than on the preceding day. As a stone falls so much the more rapidly as it approaches the earth which attracts it, so, says St. Thomas, souls ought to advance so much the more rapidly toward God as they approach nearer to Him and are more drawn by Him. This law of acceleration, which is at one and the same time a law of nature and a law of the order of grace, ought to be verified especially by daily Communion. It would be verified if some attachment to venial sin or to imperfection placed no obstacle to it. We see it realized in the lives of the saints, who make much more rapid progress during the last years of their lives than during the earlier years. This is notably true of the end of St. Thomas' life. Such acceleration in progress toward God was realized above all in Mary, the model of Eucharistic devotion; each of her Communions was certainly more fervent than the preceding one.

God grant that there may be in us at least a remote resemblance to this spiritual progress, and that, if sensible fervor is lacking, substantial fervor, which is the promptness of the will in the service of God, may not fail.

The author of The Imitation says: "For who, humbly approaching the fountain of sweetness, does not carry thence some little sweetness? Or who, standing by a great fire, does not derive therefrom some little heat? And Thou art a fountain ever full and overflowing; Thou art a fire always burning and never failing."

This source of graces is so lofty and so fruitful that the properties of refreshing water and the opposite qualities of burning fire may be compared to it. What is divided in material things is united in the spiritual life, and especially in the Eucharist, which contains not only abundant grace, but the very Author of grace.

In our Communions let us think of St. John, who rested his head on the heart of Christ, and of St. Catherine of Siena, who more than once drank long draughts from the wound of His heart, which is ever open in order to show us His love. These extraordinary graces are given by God from time to time to draw our attention to what is most intrinsic and fruitful in daily Christian life, to what would exist in ours if we only knew how to answer God's call with generosity." (Ch. 32)