Sunday, February 24, 2008

Dominica 3a in Quadragesima (3rd Sunday in Lent)

A Homily by Rev. Jonathan Romanoski, FSSP

“Resist the devil, and he will fly from you.”

In the Ancient Roman Liturgy which we follow so closely throughout Lent, this Sunday, the 3rd Sunday of Lent, was known as “Scrutiny Sunday,” in which the Church began to examine more closely Her candidates for baptism, for proof of their zeal and good purpose, “so that, without error,” the ancient rite says, “we may proceed with the celestial mystery and open the gates of heaven, defeating the devil with all his works and pomps.” Hence the high moral standard highlighted in the epistle- “as befits saints,” who will be flooded with God’s own holiness at the baptismal font. Hence too, the stational Church of St. Lawrence today (Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le mura, pictured), where the Roman Pontiffs celebrated this Sunday, so as to inspire the catechumens by the zeal of this great martyr, who as you recall, while being burnt on the grid iron, said, “turn me over I am done on this side.”

But lest you think this sermon is intended solely for the catechumen, we must scrutinize ourselves still more. We, who have received the divine indwelling in our Baptism so long ago, and have been so frequently a partaker of our divine Paschal Lamb, the reception of whom but a few times made great saints out of St. Maria Goretti, for example, and Bl. Imelda who died of love at her First Holy Communion. How do we stand in our attempts to “defeat the devil with all his works and pomps?” If we neglect this struggle, and leave our own interior castle empty of virtue and sanctity, the gospel tells us we will wind up 7 times worse, which is readily verifiable in so many fallen away Catholics and once Catholic countries. Let us then review who the devil is and what are his works and pomps.

The devil you will recall is an angel, created by God. Indeed he was the highest of angels. He was created good, and as a creature depended entirely on God to exist and to act. He scorned this dependence however, and would not serve. Why? There are different opinions, as there is little revealed about it other than it was due to pride. Some of the Fathers and Schoolmen, however, give this for a reason, namely- he was shown a mystery far above even his own angelic understanding, that is, the mystery of the Incarnation, wherein God would assume human nature and not an angelic one, the nature of a rational-animal. And in this he was shown as well the mystery of the Mother of God, who as a mere human being would be placed above all the angels including himself the highest Seraph, in glory. This was something seemingly backwards as indeed in the angelic order, the more endowed the nature of an angel was the higher degree of glory it received in the supernatural order. Nature and grace were proportionate. But God chose the weak things of this world to shame the strong both here and in the world above, to show that it is all His gratuitous gift, that everything is grace. But this Satan could not accept. He would not stoop down to obey and serve a mere human being. He would try rather to be like God without God. How foolish indeed!

And so he fell “and his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven” away with him, the Apocalypse tells us, which is often interpreted as referring to the fall of the angels, the number of which were many. This leaves many empty seats in heaven, which St. Thomas tells us, expressing a common tradition, are to be filled up by mankind, which causes even greater resentment of the fallen angels toward us. For, they are condemned to hell for all eternity, which they chose by loving themselves more than God. And misery loves company. They are forever fixed in their hatred for God, who would place a mere human being above them. But they know quite well that they cannot harm God in any way, so they are left to make every effort to efface his image and likeness, and pervert the order that he has established on earth, where they prowl about seeking the ruin of souls.

So what exactly can they do to us? The Scriptures and the Liturgy remind us that we are slaves of the devil, the prince of this world, by our sin, and the Church takes great care to exorcize even infants who are about to be baptized. What is the meaning of this? It is to say that due to original sin, and our consequent disordered desires we will not be able to avoid sin without the grace of God, and so we are doomed to failure, doomed to everlasting hell. Yet we are not utterly corrupt as Luther and Calvin thought. And not everything the pagan does is a sin. We do retain our free will and the devil cannot make us do anything. What he can do though, is propose images and words to our imagination, stir up our passions, and arrange external temptations, through his powerful influence, or even by some extraordinary / preternatural activity, as we see in the lives of St. John Vianney and St. Padre Pio, who were often beat up by the devil. The former even had his bed set on fire by the devil. And if people involve themselves in the occult, like Ouija boards, Tarot cards, satanic music, (and you’d be surprised to hear the names of the number of bands who were so involved in the occult and incorporated such occultism into their music, like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Eagles, and other so called “light” rock bands), they can even open themselves up to full diabolical possession in which they lose control over all their motor faculties- speech, movement, etc. The demons are pure spirits and have a virtually unlimited power over matter. They could destroy the world in a matter of moments, as there is nothing to hinder the exercise of their power over it, as such.

But they wish not to simply destroy the physical world. They’d rather make use of it to destroy your immortal soul. What will be the plan of attack? Based on what we said, remember that they eternally resent you, as a bodily creature, as part animal, called to stand above them- pure spirits. And so they will make every effort to tempt you to an animal like existence, by tempting you to worship your body, to indulge in sensuality, to eat, drink and be merry inordinately, seeking nothing higher than sensual gratification; to cause you to spend most of your time preoccupied with games, sports, fashion, food, toys, cars, hunting, fishing, and all the other good things of this world, which are meant to be used to serve and love God rather than replace Him, whereas the devil wants us to worship them, and place our happiness therein. He will encourage especially immodest clothing, music, and media which are centered on unbridling the passions, which being undone cause souls to fall into hell as fast and numerous as snowflakes, as our Lady of Fatima told us.

Such self-centered worship of the appetites, which can never be satisfied, and which can never be shared, (in the sense that a material good is limited and can only be enjoyed by the one who has it, in contrast to spiritual goods which can be shared without diminution), will in turn lead to economic strife, and false economic solutions, which degrade man’s dignity still further, denying his rights to property, a just wage, etc., amidst the lust to consume and possess all for oneself or for the state, treating others and workers as mere animals without rights, meant only to work, and consume. Pope Pius XII described this very dynamic when he wrote, “The modern world is in a state of agitation which leads to a confusion between what is good and what is evil, together with a love of novelty. The forces of evil are solidly organized against us on all sides, while our archenemy, the devil, tries his best to harm mankind by all the means at his disposal.” “The spirit of evil” he says, “relies especially on the misery and despair of the unemployed to separate them from Christ, the one and only Savior, and to throw them into the stream of atheism and materialism, implicating them in the mechanisms of social organizations contrary to the order established by God.”

They hate and despise the hierarchical order of society, as they hate God from whom all authority derives. In short they are working for a social order, in which the Church would be subordinate to the State; the name of God merely tolerated at a distance if at all; children would not be subject to their parents, nor wives to their husbands. Man meant to increase and multiply for the common good, would subordinate new immortal lives to passing pleasure. And remember how much the devil hates Our Lady, and in Her, both virginity and maternity. In short it would be a society very much like our own: Secular, Sensual, Marxist, worshipping the dollar bill, the love of which is the root of all evil. You see now what we are up against? “Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against Principalities and Powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.”

How then can we stand against such an enemy? First let us recall that these wicked spirits are held in existence in every moment by the hand of God, in whom, like every other mere creature, they live and move and have their being. And thus all their activity, is entirely subordinate to His Providence, which activity he permits to strengthen and prove the just in combat, or punish the evil for their sin, who will glorify His divine justice in the end. And how are we to pass this test? First, there are the sacramentals that the Church gives us- holy water, the sign of the Cross, exorcised salt, scapulars, the Miraculous Medal, the very powerful Medal of St. Benedict, which contains an exorcism on it. There are also general exorcism prayers that the laity can say, invocations for deliverance by the power of the Most Holy Names of Jesus and Mary; invocation to St. Joseph the Terror of Demons and to St. Michael his ancient foe who cast him out of heaven, although as of 1984, by Vatican decree, the long prayer to St. Michael cannot be said by the laity, as it is taken directly out of the Roman Ritual reserved to priests, and even then only to a priest with the permission of the Bishop may say it. We must be careful not to usurp authority that we don’t have lest we wind up in worse trouble. So it is often best just to pray to Our Lord and Our Lady and the saints to deliver you, and to bind these demons in hell.

But of course diabolical possession is not so much to be feared as the slavery to the devil by sin, in which the devil will often just keep quiet so as not to startle you from your slow and sure slide into hell. As St. Cyprian says, “Caution is easier where danger is manifest, and the mind is prepared beforehand when the adversary avows himself. The enemy is more to be feared and guarded against when he creeps upon us secretly; when deceiving us by the appearances of peace, he steals forward by hidden approaches, whence he has received the name of serpent.” And so the best way to avoid this worse imprisonment is by frequent confession, frequent devout communions, the most holy Rosary, fasting, mortification of curiosity, time in prayer, and the overall practice of the virtues. If we fill up our house with such divine ornamentation we will have nothing to fear. “Be subject therefore to God, but resist the devil, and he will fly from you.”
As St. Augustine explains, “It is by true piety that men of God cast out the hostile power of the air who opposes godliness; it is by exorcising it, not by propitiating it. They overcome all the attacks of the enemy by praying to their God against him, not by praying to him. For the devil cannot conquer or subdue any except those who are in league with sin; and therefore he is overcome in the name of him who assumed a human nature, without sin.” The demons will not want to come back to be bound again by the strong man, Jesus Christ who reigns in the soul of the just, who has cast out the prince of this world. St. Teresa enrobed in such sanctity tells us, “for, although I used to sometimes see the devils... I have hardly ever been afraid of them again – indeed, they seem to be afraid of me...they are no more trouble to me now than flies. They seem to be such cowards – as soon as they see that one despises them they flee, powerless...May His Majesty make us fear Him whom we should fear, understanding that one venial sin can do more harm than all the forces of hell combined...If only we will hate everything for God’s sake and embrace the Cross, trying to serve him in truth, the devil will fly from those truths as from a plague...”

And if we have so plucked out the plank from our own eye, how soon our society will be re-conquered for Christ our King, for all culture depends on what we worship and love. As the great St. Augustine wrote, “Two loves have formed two cities; the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self...In the one, the princes and nations it subdues are ruled by the love of ruling; in the other the princes and the subjects serve one another in love, the latter obeying while the former take thought for all. The one delights in its own strength, represented in the person of its rulers; the other says to its God, ‘I will love thee, O Lord, my strength’.”

For, “men” he says, “are separated from God only by sins, from which we are cleansed in this life, not through any virtue of ours, but by the divine compassion; through his mercy, not through our own power. For whatever virtue we call our own is itself bestowed upon us by his goodness.”

For in the end, this is the whole reason that God allows the demons to buffet us. It is the truth that the demons didn’t understand in heaven, nor even St. Paul in the third heaven, but rather when the latter was on the ground being beaten by the former, crying out for deliverance, only to hear that most important truth, that rock of all humility and sanctity. “My grace is sufficient for thee; for power is made perfect in infirmity. Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”

Our Lady Queen of the Angels, and Virgin Most Humble: Pray for us.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Quaestio Disputata on the Soul


Quaestio Disputata on the Soul

ARTICLE 1: Whether the soul exists?

CONCLUSION: "Living material things possess a soul that makes their matter be actually alive."

NOTIONS.  Soul is defined as the substantial form of a living body, or that in a living body which makes the matter (which of itself is only potentially alive) be actually alive.  Organic unity is the unity that is proper to organisms, that is, to living things.  Plants and animals, including man, possess a unity that is very distinct from the unity of inanimate objects, such as a rock, the air, or a computer: the parts of inanimate objects are merely juxtaposed, that is, placed locally next to each other; if they work together toward some end, it is only because their harmony has been imposed by some extrinsic agent.  Unlike living things, inanimate objects do not possess a natural, intrinsic unity that orders all their parts toward the same end.  Organic unity is ultimately explained by the presence of a soul.  An organ is any part of a living body that is unified (with partial or relative organic unity) for the sake of one function.  Hence, for example, all the parts of the heart are ordered to the function of circulating blood in the body; all the parts of the stomach are ordered to the function of digesting food; etc.  But it should be noted here that "organ" is not said strictly, as biologists and anatomists use the term, i.e., as distinguished from cells and tissues (which are the components of organs) on the one hand, and from systems (which are composed of organs) on the other.  Rather, it is meant more broadly, to refer to any part of the body that is in some way unified: thus, any part of the body, no matter how simple or complex, that has some degree of relative organic unity--e.g., cells, tissues, and systems--could be termed an "organ."

POSITIVE PROOF.  1st Argument: From the Proper Theological Sources (loci theologici).  It is clear from the explicit testimony of the sources of revelation (both Sacred Scripture and the witnesses and monuments of Sacred Tradition, including the consensus of the Fathers, the consensus of Theologians, and the consensus of the Faithful) that human beings have souls.  This teaching is, therefore, de fide and its denial would amount to heresy.  Refer to a dogmatic manual (e.g., Tanquerey or Ott, which have been translated into English) for the positive sources.  The Council of Vienna further defined the dogma that the soul is essentially and per se the form of the body (Dz 481).  It should be noted, however, that the existence of souls in brutes (i.e., irrational animals and plants) is not de fide; it is, rather, a sententia communis, that is, a teaching that is unanimous among theologians who discuss the subject.

2nd Argument: From the Extraneous Theological Sources: Practically all thinkers of the philosophia perennis, in particular all of its major exponents, such as Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas, as well as all scholastic philosophers, are unanimous in upholding the existence of a soul--that is, of an immaterial principle of life--in all living things, including brutes.  This tradition generally distinguishes between three genera of souls: vegetative souls, sensitive souls, and rational souls.  The mechanist trend of denying the existence of the souls of brutes began in modern times and was popularized with Descartes.

SCHOLASTIC PROOF.  1st Argument.  If all that is necessary for something to be alive is that it has matter, then all material things would be alive.  But not all material things are alive.  Therefore the conclusion follows.  Confirmation of the Major Premise.  If matter were a necessary and sufficient condition for life to occur in a body (i.e., a corporeal substance), then the inevitable result would be that all things that satisfy that condition--that is to say, all things that possess matter--would be alive.  Confirmation of the Minor Premise.  This is directly verifiable through experience: there are things like chairs and pencils, which are material but are not alive.  A Difficulty.  The argument proves that the antecedent of the major premise is false; that is to say, it proves that it is false that "all that is necessary for something to be alive is that it has matter."  But it does not prove the conclusion of the article, namely, that "living material things possess a soul that makes their matter be actually alive."  Resolution of the Difficulty.  If matter is not sufficient for something to be alive, this means that some immaterial principle is required to make something potentially endowed with life be actually alive.  For the sake of brevity, we give the term "soul" to this immaterial principle that is required to make a body potentially endowed with life be actually alive.

2nd Argument.  If every material organ in the body of a living thing receives its organic unity from outside itself, then there must ultimately be something that is not a material organ that imparts organic unity to all the organs.  But every material organ in the body receives its organic unity from outside itself.  Therefore, the conclusion follows.  Confirmation of the Major Premise.  Every material organ in the body has a relative organic unity: although it is subordinated to the end of the whole body, it is one entity insofar as all its parts are ordered to the same function in the body.  Now, the question is whence does the organic unity come.  It cannot come from the organ itself, as shall be shown below.  Hence, it must come from outside the organ.  Now, if it comes from outside the organ, it can either come from another organ, or from something that is not an organ.  If it comes from an organ, then the question arises again concerning the organic unity of that organ, and so we end up with an infinite regress. Therefore, ultimately we must reach a source of organic unity that is not a material organ.  Confirmation of the Minor Premise.  The minor must be true, because its contradictory ("every material organ in the body of a living thing receives its organic unity from within itself") is absurd.  If every material organ in the body of a living thing received its organic unity from within itself, then it would have to give itself organic unity before it possessed organic unity, which would mean that it would have to exist as a unified organ before it becomes a unified organ.  But this would be absurd.  Therefore, the contradictory antecedent results: every material organ in the body of a living thing receives organic unity from outside itself.  A Difficulty.  This argument proves only the ultimate source of organic unity is not a material organ; but it does not prove that the ultimate source of organic unity is immaterial.  The source of organic unity could be something that is not an organ, but that is nonetheless material.  Resolution of the Difficulty.  If the source of organic unity is not a material organ, then that leaves only three logical possibilities: it is either (a) an immaterial organor, or (b) a material non-organ, that is to say, a body that is not an organ, or or (c) an immaterial non-organ.  Now, (a) cannot be, for it is a contradiction: "organ" signifies a material entity, as defined above, and hence there cannot be an immaterial organ.  Also, (b) cannot be an ultimate source of organic unity, because insofar as it is a material entity that has some unity, it itself requires a source of unity--and it cannot give itself unity, for the reason that we discussed above.  So only the third logical possibility (c) is a real possibility.  Therefore, the ultimate source of organic unity is an immaterial non-organ: that is to say, an immaterial principle.

OBJECTIONS.  1st Objection.  If a simpler explanation is available, then one ought to prefer it over all other explanations.  Now, a simpler explanation is available for the life of living things--namely, that matter and the laws of physics conspire to form life, without the aid of any immaterial principle.  Therefore, one ought to prefer this explanation to all others.  Reply to the 1st Objection.  Distinction of the Major Premise.  I concede that if a simpler explanation is available that satisfactorily explains a phenomenon through its first causes, then one ought to prefer it over all others.  But I deny that if a simpler explanation is available simply speaking, then one ought to prefer it over all others.  Contradistinction of the Minor Premise.  I concede that a simpler explanation, simply speaking, is available for the life of living things--one that has recourse only to the laws of physics and appeals to no immaterial principle.  But I deny that this explanation satisfactorily explains the phenomenon of life through its first causes, for it ignores the issue of whence organic unity arises, and even the existence itself of organic unity.  And I deny the objector's conclusion.

2nd Objection.  Regarding natural things one ought not to reach conclusions that are not empirically verifiable.  But the conclusion of the article is not empirically verifiable.  Therefore, one ought not to accept such a conclusion.  Reply to the 2nd Objection.  Distinction of the Major Premise.  I concede that concerning natural things one ought not to reach conclusions that are not empirically verifiable in any way whatsoever.  But I deny that regarding natural things one ought not to reach conclusions that are not directly empirically verifiable.  As a matter of fact, the major premise itself is not directly empirically verifiable.  Hence, if the premise pretends to affirm that we ought not to reach conclusions that are not directly empirically verifiable, then the premise is self-refuting.  Contradistinction of the Minor Premise.  I concede that the conclusion of the article, that the soul exists, is not directly empirically verifiable, for the soul is neither visible, nor tangible, nor can be perceived directly through any of the exterior senses.  But I deny that the conclusion of the article is not empirically verifiable in any way whatsoever, for the existence of the soul is indirectly empirically verifiable, that is, through its effects, namely life and all its properties, such as organic unity, nutrition, reproduction, self-guided locomotion, sensation, the appetites, reason, and will, which are themselves directly empirically verifiable.  And I deny the objector's conclusion.

3rd Objection: One ought not unnecessarily multiply principles. But positing an immaterial act/form (i.e., soul) to explain living things unnecessarily multiplies principles. Therefore, etc.  Explanation of the minor: One can satisfactorily account for the difference between living things and nonliving things in terms of the complexity of living things: living things are more complex arrangements of the same matter of which nonliving things are composed. Therefore, living things can be explained in purely material terms. Therefore appealing to an immaterial principle is superfluous.  Reply to the 3rd Objection.  I concede the major, but I deny the minor.  If one cannot satisfactorily explain life without an immaterial principle, then positing such an immaterial principle is not unnecessary.  But, as was shown above in the first argument, one cannot satisfactorily explain life without an immaterial principle.  Therefore, positing an immaterial principle of life is not unnecessary.

ARTICLE 2: Whether the souls of brutes are immaterial?

CONCLUSION: "The souls of brutes are immaterial, i.e., they are not made out of matter."

NOTIONS. 'Immaterial' and 'spiritual' are not synonymous. 'Immaterial' can have two meanings: (a) not made out of matter, and (b) having an act that is completely independent from matter. Only the second sense can be said to be synonymous with 'spiritual'.  Now, whatever is 'immaterial' in the second sense (i.e., spiritual) is also 'immaterial' in the first sense, but not vice versa. In other words, whatever has an act that is completely independent from matter must not be made out of matter. But there can be something that is (a) made out of matter, but that is not (b) independent from matter (or 'spiritual'). Such is the case with the souls of brutes--indeed, all forms, not only souls, are immaterial in this sense, insofar as they are not the matter that they inform. But human souls, angels, and God, in addition to being 'immaterial' in this first sense, are also 'immaterial' in the second sense, that is, having an act that is completely independent from matter (= 'spiritual') and for this reason they alone are said to be 'subsistent'.

ARGUMENTS. 1st Argument.  Whatever is not made out of matter is immaterial. But the souls of brutes are not made out of matter. Therefore.  Proof of the Major: Being material means being made out of matter. Being immaterial means not being made out of matter. These two are mutually exclusive, jointly exhaustive species, such that given an entity, it must be either immaterial or material.  Proof of the Minor: The souls of brutes cannot possibly be made out of matter, because living matter cannot of itself live; rather, matter requires a formal principle outside of itself that makes the matter live actually. Now, if that formal principle is itself material, then it would require some formal principle outside of itself to live. And then we would have an infinite regress. Therefore, the process must have an end: a first principle of life that is not itself material.

OBJECTION. If the souls of brutes are immaterial, then they are subsistent, i.e., that they do not survive death. But, as St. Thomas teaches, the souls of brutes are not subsistent. Therefore, the souls of brutes are not immaterial.  Reply. I concede the minor. I distinguish the major. I concede that if the souls of brutes were immaterial, or "spiritual," in the sense that they have an immaterial act that is completely independent from matter, then they would be subsistent. But I deny that if the souls of brutes are immaterial, in the sense that they are not made out of matter, then it follows that they are subsistent. And I deny the objection's conclusion.

Only the rational soul has an act that is completely independent of matter, for the acts of the intellectual power are not the acts of any bodily organ.  For this reason the rational soul is both material (i.e., not made out of matter) and spiritual or subsistent .  All the acts of the souls of brutes, however, are acts of bodily organs, and therefore depend upon matter.  For this reason the souls of brutes are not spiritual or subsistent, even though they are immaterial.  Both souls are immaterial but only the rational soul is spiritual and subsistent.

Article 3: Whether the soul and the body are substances

ARGUMENT.  If the soul and the body were each a substance, then each could exist independently of the other.  But the body cannot exist independently of the soul.  Therefore.

Proof of the Major.
Proof of the Minor.

(Please help us continue to develop this disputatio.  Make your suggestion in the comments section below.)

Copyright © 2009 Francisco J. Romero Carrasquillo, PhD.  All rights reserved.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Dominica 1a in Quadragesima (1st Sunday in Lent)

A Homily by Rev. Jonathan Romanoski, FSSP

“And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards He was hungry.”

Today we celebrate the first Sunday of Lent, yet today we do not fast. The Church rather began her fast this past Wednesday, so as to imitate most faithfully the life of our Lord in a fast for exactly 40 days, 6 days being taken off for the Sundays of the 6 weeks of Lent. Notice the care with which the Church has observed this fast from most ancient times. We read of the apostles fasting and enjoining it in turn on others. The third Roman Pontiff, St. Clement, who is mentioned in the Scriptures, ordained that Catholics should fast every Wednesday and Friday of the year. In the days of our Holy Fathers, the Church was fervent and her members not only fasted but abstained from all meat, eggs, cheese and milk throughout Lent, and ate but once at sundown.

But the hearts of men grew cold and their wills weak, and the discipline was gradually mitigated. Abstinence was dropped, collations were added and dispensations were sought with much frequency. To such a point that Pope Benedict XIV, who was pope from 1740-1758, and “whose spirit of moderation,” Dom Gueranger tells us, “has never been called into question, had no sooner ascended the papal throne, than he addressed an encyclical letter to the bishops of the Catholic world, expressing his heartfelt grief at seeing the great relaxation that was introduced among the faithful by indiscreet and unnecessary dispensations.” In his letter he hearkens us back to the desert, and the divine dignity found therein as he writes, “The observance of Lent is the very badge of the Christian warfare. By it we prove ourselves not to be enemies of the cross of Christ. By it we avert the scourges of divine justice. By it we gain strength against the princes of darkness, for it shields us with heavenly help. Should mankind grow remiss in their observance of Lent, it would be a detriment to God’s glory, a disgrace to the Catholic religion, and a danger to Christian souls. Neither can it be doubted that such negligence would become the source of misery to the world, of public calamity, and of private woe.” Strong words indeed. Did they prove true? Dom Gueranger a hundred years later comments on this “ever-growing spirit of immortification,” which cannot but result in “a general effeminacy of character, which will lead, at last, to frightful social disorders.” He writes, “The sad predictions of Pope Benedict XIV, are but too truly verified. Those nations, among whose people the spirit and practice of penance are extinct, are heaping against themselves the wrath of God, and provoking His justice to destroy them by one or other of these scourges- civil discord, or conquest...[this] is one of the worst presages of the future. The word of God is unmistakable: unless we do penance we shall perish (St. Luke 13:3).” “But,” he continues “if our ease-loving and sensual generation were to return, like the Ninivites, to the long-neglected way of penance and expiation, who knows but that the arm of God, which is already raised to strike us, may give us blessing and not chastisement?” And what would they say 150 yrs. later, in our day.

Perhaps you are still unconvinced, of the great evils that come from not fasting. Let us step back therefore and consider what evils have come from such a lack of mortification. St. Basil, St. John Chrysostom, St. Jerome, and St. Gregory the Great, 4 of the greatest doctors of the Church, make the remark that the only negative commandment put upon our first parents in the earthly paradise was one of abstinence from a certain fruit; and that it was by their not exercising this virtue, that they brought every kind of evil upon themselves and upon their children. The whole human race therefore fell through a want of fasting. Esau lost his birthright, trading the blessings of the firstborn for a bowl of lentils, while Jacob by his detachment won it for himself and all of Israel. The chosen people, on their way to the Promised Land, because they ate and drank immoderately, rose up to play, and traded the image of God in their souls, for the image of a beast, while Moses fasting upon the mount, spoke face to face with God. The tale goes on and on. How about in our own lives? Consider the evils that you’ve seen. How many spouses who have cheated on each other were fasting, how many alcoholics and drug abusers; how many parents who simply neglect the care of their children, or waste their family savings, are fasting? How many broken families were fasting? How many involved in the occult, fast? Probably very few if any, for all these sins are most often rooted in a selfish pursuit of pleasure. And fasting is the remedy. I was once told of a holy priest, whose only advice to young ladies who came to him seeking advice on who to marry, was that they should seek a man that fasts. For if he cannot deny his passions, he will not be able to direct a family. When your beauty fades, and the kids begin to make noise, the husband who will not fast will simply prefer football and beer, and will never love you as Christ loves the Church. And you will not have a happy family.

Now fasting is not the sum of virtue, nor by any means the highest one. Quite the contrary it is amidst the lower ones, but yet a first rung by which we ascend to the higher. For he who fails in little things, will fail in great things. If we think we have excelled in virtue we should consider whether we have even taken the first step. As St. Gregory the Great says, “unless we first tame the enemy dwelling within us, namely our gluttonous appetite, we have not even stood up to engage in the spiritual combat.” Gluttony which, St. Thomas tells us, consists us not only in eating to much, but too frequently, of too costly quality, greedily, that is without manners, or too daintily or finicky, as well.

Fasting is the first step in our “Christian warfare” against the ancient enemy of “the flesh” as St. Paul tells us. “For the flesh lusteth against the spirit: and the spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary one to another: so that you do not the things that you would.” By fasting our wills grow strong as we tame our sensual desires, which are interconnected as St. Thomas notes. A holy confessor once told me: many who are struggling with sins of sensuality, do so because of a failure to mortify their taste. For if every time we eat, our principle is: this feels good, this tastes good, therefore do it, how do you think we are going to respond when other temptations come that “feel good?” And as St. Augustine notes, “He that deprives his body of nothing that is lawful, will soon allow it what is unlawful.”

Yet an even higher motive is found in the imitation of Christ who stands before us today in the desert, fasting. He, who did not need to do any penance, who though tempted externally, was not in anyway inclined to sin, as he was absolutely impeccable, incapable of sinning, fasts. Why? To give us an example, an example which he first preaches by his actions before he begins his public ministry. And what are the first words of Incarnate Wisdom? What are the first words that God addresses to us in the fullness of time, in the fullness of revelation in His own Incarnate Word? “Do penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Now as I remarked, the unbroken tradition of the Church since earliest times, has been that the adult Christian fasted for forty days. Yet in our very dark times of apostasy, full of so much murder, sin, and hatred of God, and thus so deserving of divine punishment, this 2000-year discipline has all but disappeared. You can read of the current minimal requirements of fasting and abstinence for the Lenten season in last Sunday’s bulletin, which are the only ones, which oblige you under pain of sin.* There has always been of course reason for just dispensations, due to poor health, frailty, taxing physical labor, and other circumstances, which would make such a fast contrary to reason. And unfortunately our society does not respect Lent as in times past, and does not adjust itself to the Church’s sacred mysteries, as it should. But all of this does not excuse us from penance, as we can always practice self-denial. With regard to food, if not in quantity then in quality. And besides food, the Church bids us to practice mortification in almsgiving, acts of charity and more time in prayer, which of course are the ends of fasting, being as they are the greater spiritual goods. But we must first subdue our flesh if we wish to live according to the spirit. And if we are to be numbered amongst those “traditionalists,” whom St. Pius X said we have such need of today, we will certainly strive to holdfast to the constant tradition of the Church’s fast.

And what will be the fruits of fasting? St. Basil tell us “it is fasting which gives the wings to prayer that it may rise to heaven; it is the solidifying element in family life, the health of the mother and the teacher of the children...fasting nor merely frees you from future condemnation; it also preserves you from many evils and brings the flesh, otherwise untamable into subjection.” It leads us in victory over Satan, as we read in the gospel today, as there are certain demons, which are only cast out through prayer and fasting. Happy and holy will the family be in which there is practiced such self-denial.

Finally, I wish to emphasize one last point, the most important point. As I mentioned, fasting so as to subdue our flesh and make reparation for sin is not the highest virtue. And it is quite possible that if we approach Lent with the wrong spirit, we will accomplish nothing more than 40 days of worthless pride, admiring our accomplishments as we flex in the mirror of self-love, leaving us with much more to make reparation for. To act thus, would be to miss the deepest meaning of every fast, which is found in that ever-uncomfortable experience of hunger. That hunger in which we taste our nothingness, and savor our dependency. That hunger in which is heard the most important truth that St. Catherine of Siena said our Lord ever taught her, amidst her innumerable sublime revelations, which summed up all that he taught he, when he said “known daughter that I am He who Is, and you are that which is not.” 40 days of hunger will be the daily proof of our nothingness of our insufficiency, which must be our boast. For when we are weak then we are strong. For then we will finally forsake and despair of ourselves, and truly hope in God’s help, crying out in union with Christ forsaken, “I thirst.” That unquenchable thirst...that thirst for God alone. This is the meaning of Lent. May God grant us the grace to truly learn it throughout this holy season.

“And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards He was hungry.”


*Which are for those between 18 and 59 to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, eating not more than one full meal, and 2 collations which would not together equal a full meal; and for all over 14 to abstain from meat on the above and the Fridays of Lent. The faithful are still obliged to do some penance throughout all of Lent.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Valde mane una sabbatorum

Share/Bookmark Estimado Francisco,

Estoy enseñando a mis alumnos lo referente al "valde mane una sabbatorum" (las santas mujeres y la Resurrecion de Cristo) y creeme que no puedo hallar una explicacion clara sobre ese punto, mientras mas lo quiero explicar me parece que mas lo complico. El problema en concreto que tengo es el siguiente: ¿"valde mane una sabbatorum" es nuestro sábado bien tarde (y así parece que las Santas mujeres no cumplen con el sabbath) o es nuestro domingo a la madrugada (y entonces por qué dice "sabbatorum")? Todo esto teniendo en cuenta que los judíos (por lo que leí) comienzan el día en la víspera (por ejemplo viernes a las 6 pm ya es sabbath para ellos y por lo mismo, sábado a las 6 pm ya es domingo).

Una vez resuelto el problema anterior, con mis alumnos queremos saber a qué hora y en que día (según NUESTRA manera de contar las horas y los días) las santas mujeres salieron hacia el sepulcro y llegaron a él. Espero que esto te haya sido de ayuda. Sí, ningún problema, podés mandarme textos en latín referente al tema y con esto ya me habrás ayudado muchísimo. Me parece que sí, que tiene algo que ver con esa aparente discrepancia entre San Marcos y San Mateo.

In Xto,
Padre F.

Estimado Padre F.,

Me parece que la solución más clara es que, según dice San Marcos, era tempranísimo (= valde mane) el primer día después del sabbath (= una sabbatorum), es decir, el domingo. Esto corresponde con San Lucas, quien dice que era muy de madrugada (= valde diluculo). El que San Juan diga que estaba todavía oscuro (= adhuc tenebrae essent) no es contradictorio, pues cuando es muy temprano en la madrugada, todavía esta oscuro.

No soy exegeta y por lo tanto no tengo la habilidad de resolver todos los matices de la cuestión. Pero veo que hay muchísimo escrito sobre el tema, especialmente por los Santos Padres. Por eso le doy los textos aquí abajo para que Ud. mismo los vea y pueda encontrar los detalles. En cuanto a textos patrísticos me limité a los que se encuentran en la Catena Aurea de Santo Tomás de Aquino, que es una antología excelente de las fuentes clásicas relevantes a la interpretación bíblica. También añadí dos textos de los comentarios bíblicos del mismo Santo y varios más del comentario del Padre Haydock, que es uno de los más populares en el mundo tradicionalista anglosajón.


PD. Si le interesa tener una fuente moderna además del P. Haydock, avíseme y buscaré también en el famoso comentario de Cornelius a Lapide, que es uno de los mejores que ha producido la Iglesia en toda su historia--y lo tengo disponible en archivos PDF.

I. Catena Aurea sobre Mt. 28:1:

Augustinus, De Consensu Evangelistarum.: De hora vero qua mulieres venerunt ad monumentum, non contemnenda exoritur quaestio. Cum enim Matthaeus hic dicat vespere autem sabbati quae lucescit in prima sabbati: quid est quod dicit Marcus: et valde mane una sabbatorum venit Maria Magdalene et altera Maria videre sepulcrum? Aperte quippe prima noctis, quod est vespere, ipsam noctem voluit significare Matthaeus, cuius noctis fine venerunt ad monumentum; ergo quoniam sabbato impediebantur ut non ante facerent, ab eo tempore nominavit noctem ex quo eis licere coepit ut facerent quodcumque vellent tempore eiusdem noctis. Sic itaque dictum est vespere sabbati, ac si diceretur, nocte sabbati, idest nocte quae sequitur diem sabbati: quod ipsa verba eius satis indicant; sic enim ait quae lucescit in prima sabbati: quod fieri non potest nisi tantummodo primam noctis particulam, idest solum initium noctis, intellexerimus dicto vespere significatum. Neque enim ipsum initium noctis lucescit in prima sabbati; sed ipsa nox quae in luce incipit terminari; et usitatus modus loquendi est divinae Scripturae a parte totum significare. Vespere ergo noctem significavit, cuius extremum est diluculum: diluculo enim venerunt ad monumentum.

Rabanus. Quod dictum est, quia sanctae mulieres vespere sabbati quae lucescit in prima sabbati, venerunt videre sepulcrum, ita intelligendum: quia vespere quidem venire coeperint; sed lucescente mane in prima sabbati ad sepulcrum pervenerunt; idest, vespere aromata paraverunt, quibus corpus domini ungere desiderabant, sed aromata vespere praeparata, mane ad sepulcrum detulerunt; quod Matthaeus quidem brevitatis causa obscurius posuit; sed Evangelistae alii quo ordine factum sit evidentius ostendunt. Sepulto namque sexta feria domino, reversae a monumento mulieres praeparaverunt aromata et unguenta, quamdiu operari licebat; et sabbato quidem siluerunt secundum legis mandatum, sicut Lucas aperte designat; cum autem transisset sabbatum, vesperaque adveniente, tempus operandi rediisset, prompte ad devotionem emerunt quae minus praeparaverant aromata, sicut Marcus commemorat: ut venientes ungerent Iesum; et valde mane veniunt ad monumentum.

Hieronymus: Vel aliter. Quod diversa tempora istarum mulierum in Evangeliis describuntur, non mendacii signum est, ut impii obiciunt, sed sedulae visitationis officia, dum crebro abeunt et redeunt, et non patiuntur a sepulcro domini diu abesse vel longius.

Remigius. Sciendum autem quia Matthaeus mystice loquens studuit nobis insinuare, illa sacratissima nox quantam dignitatem ex honore devictae mortis et dominicae resurrectionis accepit; ideo dixit vespere autem sabbati quae lucescit in prima sabbati. Cum consuetus ordo temporum habeat ut vesperae non lucescant in diem, sed potius obtenebrescant in noctem; ostenditur his verbis quod dominus totam hanc noctem luce suae resurrectionis festivam et coruscam reddidit.

Beda In Homelia in vigilia Paschae: Ab exordio etiam mundanae creationis usque huc ita temporum cursus distinguebatur, ut dies noctem praecederet: quia homo a luce Paradisi peccando lapsus, in huius saeculi tenebras aerumnasque decidit. Aptissime autem nunc dies sequitur noctem, quando per fidem resurrectionis a peccati tenebris et umbra mortis ad lucem vitae, Christo largiente, reducimur.

II. Catena Aurea sobre Mc. 16:1-2:

Glossa. Religiosae enim mulieres sepulto domino, cum licuit operari, idest usque ad solis occasum, unguenta paraverunt, ut Lucas dicit. Et quia prae angustia temporis non poterant explere, mox transacto sabbato, idest occidente sole, ut operandi licentia redit, festinaverunt emere aromata, sicut Marcus dicit hic, ut venientes mane ungerent corpus Iesu; neque vespere sabbati, praeoccupante iam noctis articulo, monumentum adire valuerunt; unde sequitur et valde mane una sabbatorum veniunt ad monumentum, orto iam sole.

Augustinus, De Consensu Evangelistarum.: Quod Lucas dicit: valde diluculo, et Ioannes: mane cum adhuc tenebrae essent, hoc intelligitur Marcus dicere valde mane oriente iam sole, idest cum caelum ab orientis parte albesceret, quod fit utique solis orientis vicinitate. Eius enim est ille fulgor, qui nomine aurorae appellari solet; ideo non repugnat ei qui ait: cum adhuc tenebrae essent. Die quippe surgente aliquae reliquiae tenebrarum tanto minus sunt quanto magis oritur lux; nec accipiendum est quod ait valde mane orto iam sole, tamquam sol ipse iam videretur super terram; sed de proximo adveniente in has partes sole, idest ortu suo iam caelum illuminare incipiente.

Hieronymus: Valde ergo mane dicit, quod alius Evangelista dicit diluculo. Diluculum autem est inter tenebras noctis et diei claritatem; in qua salus humani generis provenit, felici vicinitate in Ecclesia declaranda, more solis, qui proxima luce consurgens roseam praemittit auroram, ut gratiam praeclari splendoris praeparatis oculis possit intueri quando tempus dominicae resurrectionis illuxit, ut tunc laudes Christi tota caneret, secundum exemplum feminarum, Ecclesia, quando genus humanum exemplo suae resurrectionis animavit, quando vitam praestitit, et lumen credulitatis infudit.

Theophylactus. Dicit autem una sabbatorum, idest prima dierum hebdomadae: sabbata namque dies hebdomadae nuncupantur, una vero dicitur prima.

Beda. Vel prima sabbatorum prima dies est a die sabbatorum, idest requietionum, quae in sabbatis custodiebantur. Sequitur et dicebant ad invicem: quis revolvet nobis lapidem ab ostio monumenti?

III. Catena Aurea sobre Lc. 24:1:

Beda. Religiosae mulieres non solum in die parasceve, sed etiam sabbato transacto, idest sole occidente, mox ut operandi licentia remeavit, emerunt aromata, ut venientes ungerent corpus Iesu, sicut Marcus testatur; praeoccupante tamen iam noctis articulo, monumentum adire non valuerunt; et ideo dicitur una autem sabbati valde diluculo venerunt ad monumentum, portantes quae paraverant aromata. Una sabbati, sive prima sabbati, prima est a sabbato, quam diem dominicam propter domini resurrectionem mos Christianus appellat. Quod autem valde diluculo mulieres venere ad monumentum, magnus quaerendi et inveniendi dominum fervor caritatis ostenditur.

Ambrosius. Sed magna oritur hoc loco plerisque dubitatio: siquidem hic valde diluculo, Matthaeus vespere sabbati mulieres ad monumentum venisse dixerunt. Sed Evangelistas de diversis putes dixisse temporibus, ut personas alias mulierum, et alias conicias visiones. Quod autem scriptum est vespere sabbati, quae lucescit in prima sabbati, resurrexisse dominum, sic temperandum est: ut neque mane dominica, quae est prima post sabbatum, neque sabbato resurrectio facta credatur: nam quomodo triduum completur? Non ergo vesperascente die, sed vespere noctis resurrexit. Denique Graecus sero dixit. Sero autem horam significat in occasu diei, et rei cuiuslibet tarditatem; si dicas: sero mihi suggestum est. Est ergo et sero tempus noctis profundum: unde et mulieres ad monumentum accedendi habent facultatem, custodibus quiescentibus. Et ut scias nocte factum, mulieres aliae sciunt, aliae nesciunt: sciunt quae observant noctibus et diebus, nesciunt quae recesserunt. Nescit una Maria Magdalene, secundum Ioannem: nam eadem et ante scire et postea nescire non potuit. Ergo si plures Mariae, plures etiam fortasse Mariae Magdalenae; cum illud nomen personae sit, hoc sumatur a loco.

Augustinus de Cons. Evang. Vel Matthaeus a prima parte noctis, quod est vespere, ipsam voluit noctem significare; cuius noctis fine venerunt ad monumentum: et hoc ea de causa, quia iam a vespere paraverant, et licebat afferre aromata transacto sabbato.

IV. Catena Aurea sobre Jn. 20:1:

Chrysostomus in Ioannem. Quia iam transierat sabbatum in quo impediebatur a lege, non potuit Maria Magdalene quiescere, sed venit profundo diluculo, consolationem quamdam a loco sepulturae invenire volens; unde dicitur una autem sabbati Maria Magdalene venit mane, cum adhuc tenebrae essent, ad monumentum.

Augustinus in Ioannem. Una autem sabbati est, quem iam diem dominicum propter domini resurrectionem mos Christianus appellat, quem Matthaeus primam sabbati nominavit.

Beda. Dicitur ergo una sabbati, hoc est altera sive prima die post sabbatum.

Theophylactus. Vel aliter. Hebdomadae dies Iudaei sabbatum nominabant, unam autem ex sabbati diebus primam. Futuri autem saeculi exemplar est haec dies, quoniam futuri saeculi una dies est nequaquam nocte interpolata: Deus enim ibi sol est, qui numquam occidit. In hac igitur die dominus resurrexit, incorruptibilitatem corporis assumens, sicut nos in futuro saeculo incorruptione induemur.

Augustinus de Cons. Evang. Quod autem Marcus dicit: valde mane oriente iam sole, non repugnat ei quod hic dicitur: cum adhuc tenebrae essent: die quippe surgente aliquae reliquiae tenebrarum tanto magis extenuantur, quanto magis oritur lux. Nec sic accipiendum est quod ait Marcus: valde mane orto iam sole, tamquam sol ipse iam videretur super terram; sed potius, sicut dicere solemus eis quibus volumus significare temporius aliquid faciendum, orto iam sole dicitur, idest de proximo adveniente in has partes.

V. Sto. Tomás de Aquino, Super Matthaeum Cap. 28, v. 1:

Tempus vespere autem sabbati. Et circa hoc duplex est dubitatio. Prima de hoc quod dicit vespere; secunda de hoc quod dicit lucescit. Circa primum est dubitatio, quia videntur contrariari Matthaeus et Ioannes, quia Ioannes dicit quod adhuc tenebrae erant. Quid ergo dicit hic vespere autem sabbati? Hic est triplex solutio.

Prima Hieronymi, quod venerunt vespere et mane. Et quod hic dicit vespere, ille autem mane, non est dissonantia, sed sedulitas sanctarum mulierum.

Beda solvit sic, quod inceperunt venire in vespere, sed pervenerunt in mane. Sed numquid erat tantum spatium? Dicit quod non; sed tunc dicitur aliquis facere, quando praeparat se ad faciendum. Et hoc habetur in Lc. XXIII, 55 quod videntes monumentum et quemadmodum positum erat corpus eius, revertentes paraverunt aromata. In parasceve emerunt aromata, et in sabbato quieverunt, et in vespere paraverunt se ad eundum.

Tertia solutio est Augustini, qui dicit quod modus consuetus in sacra Scriptura est quod sumitur pars pro toto, unde intelligitur vespere pro tota nocte sabbati; unde vespere autem sabbati, idest quae est post sabbatum, unde vespere quae est initium primae sabbati. Simile habetur Gen. c. I, 5 in commemoratione operum Dei: et factum est vespere et mane dies unus. Unde venerunt vespere, quia in ultima parte noctis. Et haec est quae lucescit in prima sabbati. Vespere non lucescit, quia vespere tenebrescit. Unde venerunt quando lucescit, idest in prima hora diei. Notate quod Iudaei omnes ferias incipiunt a sabbato; unde prima sabbati dicitur dies dominica.

Et si quaeras ab Augustino, quare Marcus utitur tali modo loquendi, dicet quod vespere paraverunt aromata, et mane venerunt; unde redit in idem quod Beda dicit. Sed secundum Hieronymum quomodo intelligendum quod dicit quae lucescit? Quia vespere tenebrescit. Sciendum quod Iudaeis dies incipit esse a vespere. Et ratio est, quia a luna observabant dies; luna autem incipit lucere a sero; ideo illa dies incipit a vespere, sed lucescit in prima sabbati. Similis modus loquendi Lc. XXIII, 54: erat autem parasceves, et sabbatum illucescebat.

Et iste modus loquendi mysterio competit, primo, ad solemnitatem dominicae resurrectionis, quia nox illa fuit lucida; Ps. CXXXVIII, 12: et nox sicut dies illuminabitur. Item competit humanae restaurationi, quae facta est per Christum: in primo enim homine fuit processus a die in noctem, scilicet peccati; et mutatus est status, scilicet a nocte in diem; ad Eph. V, 8: eratis aliquando tenebrae, nunc autem lux in domino. Item signatur, quod quicquid erat tenebrosum in lege et prophetis, totum per resurrectionem Christi lucescit. Tenebrosa aqua in nubibus aeris, Ps. XVII, 12. Hoc autem in resurrectione illuminatur, ut habetur Lc. ult., 27: incipiens a Moyse et omnibus prophetis interpretabatur illis in omnibus Scripturis, quae de ipso erant.

VI. Sto. Tomás de Aquino, Super Ioannem Cap. 20, v. 1:

Enarratis mysteriis passionis Christi, hic Evangelista manifestat eius resurrectionem, et primo manifestat quomodo resurrectio Christi manifestata est mulieribus; secundo quomodo manifestata est discipulis, ibi cum ergo sero esset die illo et cetera. Manifestata est resurrectio Christi mulieribus quodam ordine. Primo quantum ad monumenti apertionem; secundo quantum ad Angeli apparitionem, ibi abierunt ergo iterum etc.; tertio quantum ad Christi visionem, ibi haec cum dixisset, conversa est retrorsum, et vidit Iesum. Circa primum primo ponitur mulieris visio; secundo rei visae denuntiatio, ibi cucurrit ergo etc.; tertio rei denuntiatae inquisitio, ibi exiit ergo Petrus et cetera.

Circa primum quatuor consideranda occurrunt.

Primo scilicet visionis tempus, quia una sabbati, scilicet prima feria. Nam apud Iudaeos dies sabbati solemnior habebatur, et ideo ab eo omnis alius dies denominabatur: unde dicebant prima sabbati, secunda sabbati et cetera. Unde et Matth. XXVIII, v. 1, dicit prima sabbati. Sed Ioannes dicit: una sabbati, propter mysterium, quia in hac die, in qua resurrectio facta est, inchoavit quasi quaedam nova creatura; Ps. CIII, 30: emitte spiritum tuum, et creabuntur, et renovabis faciem terrae; Gal. VI, 15: in Christo Iesu neque circumcisio aliquid valet neque praeputium, sed nova creatura. Moyses autem in principio Gen. de prima die non dicit factus est dies primus, sed unus. Ideo Evangelista ad ipsam renovationem insinuandam utitur verbo Moysi. Item quia in hac die inchoabatur dies aeternitatis, quae est una non habens interpolationem noctis; quia sol qui eam facit, non occidit. Apoc. XXI, 23: civitas illa non eget sole neque luna ut luceant in ea: nam claritas Dei illuminabit illam, et lucerna eius est agnus; Zach. ult., 7: erit dies una, quae nota est domino, non dies neque nox: et in tempore vesperi erit lux.

Secundo ponitur persona videns [. . .].

Tertio ponitur hora, seu qualitas temporis, quia mane, cum adhuc tenebrae essent; Lc. XXIII, 55 s. dicitur, quod mulieres quae cum Iesu venerunt de Galilaea viderunt monumentum, et quemadmodum positum erat corpus Iesu, et revertentes paraverunt aromata et unguenta, et sabbato quidem siluerunt secundum mandatum. Et ideo statim transacto sabbato ante lucem primae sabbati venit ad monumentum: nam nimius ardor amoris eam sollicitabat; Cant. VIII, 6: lampades eius lampades ignis atque flammarum, scilicet caritatis. Sed hic est quaestio litteralis: quia, ut dicitur Mc. ult., 2, valde mane orto iam sole, quid igitur dicit Evangelista cum adhuc tenebrae essent? Responsio. Dicendum quod hoc quod dicit Marcus intelligitur de aurora: unde orto iam sole, non quod supra terram appareret, sed appropinquaret ad nostras regiones.

Quarto [. . . ].

VII. El Comentario Bíblico del Padre Haydock (1859):

Sobre Mt. 28:1: [1] And in the end of the sabbath, when it began to dawn towards the first day of the week. According to the letter, in the evening of the sabbath, which began to dawn on the first of the sabbath; (or of the sabbaths in the common Greek copies.) This latter translation, which is that of the Rheims Testament, is certainly more according to the letter, and more obscure than it need to be. First, by translating, on the first of the sabbath, where sabbath is taken for a week, as in other places, Luke xviii. 12.; Acts xx. 7.; and 1 Corinthians xvi. 2. It may therefore here be literally translated, on the first day of the week. Secondly, By the evening, is here meant the night: for in the Scriptures, both the Latin and Greek word, which we find in this place, not only signifies that time which we commonly call the evening, but is also put for the whole night itself, and for the time from sunset to sunrise next morning. Thus it is taken in the first chapter of Genesis, where, in the computation of natural days of 24 hours, all the hours in which it was dark, are called vespere, in the Septuagint. And all the hours in which it was light, are called mane, Greek: proi. et factum est vespere & mane dies unus, i.e. primus. And from the fourth day, on which were created sun and moon, by vespere was understood all the time from the sun setting on such parts of the earth, to its rising to them again: and mane signified all the day, or the hours that the sun appeared to the like parts of the earth. Therefore, the literal and proper sense of the verse is: in the night, i.e. in the latter part of the night of the sabbath, or after the sabbath, towards the morning of the first day of the week. And that in this place is signified the latter part of the night, and not what is commonly called the evening, appears first by the following words, when it began to dawn, or to be light. Secondly, It appears by the other evangelists. St. Mark (xvi. 1.) says, when the sabbath was past ... very early in the morning. St. Luke says, (xxiv. 1,) very early in the morning. St. John (xx. 1.) says of Mary Magdalene, that she came in the morning, when it was yet dark. From all which it is plain, that Mary Magdalene, and the other pious women, came to the sepulchre at the end of the night after the sabbath-day, or when it began to be light, and about sunrise on the first day of the week, on our Sunday. --- There may indeed be some doubt whether the Latin word vespere be not an adverb, corresponding to the Greek opse, sero. And then it may be translated with Dr. Wells: late in the night after the sabbath, as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week. But this makes no difference at all as to the sense. And the other Mary, &c. St. Mark says, Mary, the mother of James and Salome. St. Luke also names Joanna, who was wife to Chusa, Herod's steward. These women had rested the sabbath, and as soon as it was over, i.e. after sunset, they bought spices, and prepared them in the night, in order to embalm the body next morning. (Witham)

Sobre Mc 16:1. Saturday evening, after the sun was set, for the sabbath began and ended with the setting sun.

Sobre Mc 16:2. St. Marks says very early, the sun being now risen, whereas St. John tells us that it was yet dark. But when St. Mark says the sun was risen, he means that it began, by its approach to the horizon, to enlighten the heavens, at which time there is still darkness remaining, (according to St. John) which decreases as light approaches the earth. (St. Augustine)
Sobre Juan 20: 1. This was on the first day of the week, the morrow of the sabbath. (Bible de Vence)

Friday, February 01, 2008

Apparent Contradiction in the Trinitarian Faith

Share/Bookmark The following is quoted from the blog called "Three Anachronisms":

"Disproof of Catholic doctrine?

No, I'm not going Protestant. :P I simply thought of this last night and can't get it out of my mind. I got this while reading Surprised by Joy, by C. S. Lewis, interestingly enough.

So, Jesus is fully human and fully divine, i.e. he's a divine person with both human and divine natures. Ok, got that. Now the question. If he has divine nature (Creator) and human nature (created) wouldn't he, in a sense, have to have created himself? And if so, isn't that a contradiction (as one cannot both be creator and created at the same time). The answer to the question that arrises immediately is that he was God before he was man, but God is above time and thus that is irrelevant. I suppose that since he created his human nature and not his own human person that he wouldn't have created himself, but rather just his nature...but that to me does not make much sense. I suppose also that some might think that the person of the Father was the creator, and not the Son, but John 1:3 "All things were made by him [the Word i.e. Jesus]: and without him was made nothing that was made." All persons of the Trinity were directly involved in all the steps of salvation, creation, redemption, and sanctification.

I suppose I may have disproved it, but I'm altogether not sure enough. If any of you would like to help, please do!
posted by Immortal Philosopher at Thursday, January 31, 2008 "

Dear Ambrose,

A few points:

1) It is true that the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity do operate together when they operate ad extra through their Divine Nature. Therefore, the acts of creation and conservation of the universe, the general and specific motions of Divine Providence, etc., are caused ad extra by all three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. (NB.: This is not true of ad intra operations; and it is not true when the Second Person operates through his Human Nature only.)

2) The Incarnation of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity was caused ad extra by the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity, acting together. That is, they (together) created the Human Nature--both body and soul--inside the womb of the Blessed Virgin AND they (also together) caused this nature to be hypostatically united to the Second Person. (NB.: These two events happened simultaneously.)

3) Therefore, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity did not create Himself. Rather, the Second Person created his Human Nature only and caused it to be hypostatically united to Himself.

4) Here is the the battle-song of the Trinitarian faith, the "Athanasian Creed" (aka, Quicumque vult), one of the Four Official Creeds of the Church, which is traditionally recited during Matins of Sundays within Trinitytide, and which marvelously summarizes our Faith in the Trinity and in the Hypostatic Union:
Whoever wishes to be saved must before all else adhere to the Catholic Faith. He must preserve this Faith whole and untarnished; otherwise he will most certainly perish forever.

Now this is the Catholic Faith: that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity; neither confusing the persons nor distinguishing the nature. The Person of the Father is distinct; the Person of the Son is distinct; the Person of the Holy Spirit is distinct. Yet the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit possess one Godhead, equal glory, and coeternal majesty.

As the Father is, so is the Son, so is the Holy Spirit. The Father is uncreated, the Son is uncreated, the Holy Spirit is uncreated. The Father is infinite, the Son is infinite, the Holy Spirit is infinite. The Father is eternal, the Son is eternal, the Holy Spirit is eternal. Nevertheless, they are not three eternals, but one Eternal. Even as they are not three uncreateds, or three infinites, but one Uncreated, and one Infinite. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son is almighty, the Holy Spirit is almighty. And yet they are not three almighties, but one Almighty. So also the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but only one God. So too the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, the Holy Spirit is Lord. And still there are not three Lords, but only one Lord. For just as we are compelled by Christian truth to profess that each Person is individually God, so also are we forbidden by the Catholic religion to hold there are three Gods or Lords.

The Father was made by no one, being neither created nor begotten. The Son is from the Father alone, though not created or made, but begotten. The Holy Spirit is from the Father and the Son, though neither made nor created nor begotten, but proceeding. Consequently, there is one Father, not Three Fathers; there is one Son, not three Sons; there is one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits. Furthermore, in this Trinity there is no “before” or “after,” no “greater” or “less”; for all three Persons are co-eternal and co-equal. In every respect, therefore, as has already been stated, Unity must be worshipped in Trinity and Trinity in Unity.

This is what everyone who wishes to be saved must hold regarding the Blessed Trinity. But for his eternal salvation, he must also believe according to the true Faith in the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now the true Faith requires us to believe and acknowledge that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is both God and Man. He is God, begotten of the substance of the Father before the world began; He is Man, born in the world of the substance of His Mother. Perfect God, perfect Man, a substance composed of a rational soul and a human body. Equal to the Father in divinity, less than the Father with respect to His humanity. And although He is God and man, still He is only one Christ, not two. One, not by any turning of the divinity into flesh, but by the taking up of humanity into God. One only, not by any confusion of substance, but by the unity of His Person. For just as the rational soul and the body form one man, so God and Man form one Christ.

He suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose from the dead on the third day, ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father all-powerful, and whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. At His coming, all men must rise with their bodies and must give an account of their own deeds. And those who have done good shall go into eternal life, while those who have done evil shall go into eternal fire.

This is the Catholic Faith, and anyone who does not believe it fully and firmly cannot be saved.
5) Ergo, there is no contradiction in the truths that God revealed. If you ever find a contradiction within the Truths revealed by God, that should be an indication, not of any deficiencies in the Revealed Truth, but of the deficiencies in your own reasoning. Here's what Holy Mother the Church teaches infallibly on this subject:

"[A]lthough faith is above reason, nevertheless, between faith and reason no true dissension can ever exist, since the same God, who reveals mysteries and infuses faith, has bestowed on the human soul the light of reason; moreover, God cannot deny Himself, nor ever contradict truth with truth. But, a vain appearance of such a contradiction arises chiefly from this, that either the dogmas of faith have not been understood and interpreted according to the mind of the Church, or deceitful opinions are considered as the determinations of reason. Therefore, "every assertion contrary to the truth illuminated by faith, we define to be altogether false" [Lateran Council V, see Denzinger n. 738 ]." (Vatican I, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, Denzinger n. 1797.)
6) I suggest you take a look at one of the traditional manuals of scholastic Theology that go into these issues, the most basic, popular, and widely-circulated in the English-speaking world being Ludwig Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (reprint availabe through TAN Books). (Another popular one in English is the two-volume set by Adolphe Tanquerey, Manual of Dogmatic Theology; it is out of print, but if budget is not a problem you can easily buy a used copy off the internet.) Ott is by no means the best--it sometimes errs on the finer points due to its overly-simplistic approach--but it is a good starting point and it is very-readily available. I read it when I was in my junior year in high school and, through it, I discovered my vocation to study theology (and, therefore, philosophy). I hope you enjoy it as well.