Thursday, May 28, 2009

Four Conditions for Obtaining What We Pray For


ST II-II.83.15. Whether prayer is meritorious?

Objection 2. Further, if prayer merits anything, this would seem to be chiefly that which is besought in prayer. Yet it does not always merit this, because even the saints' prayers are frequently not heard; thus Paul was not heard when he besought the sting of the flesh to be removed from him. Therefore prayer is not a meritorious act.

Reply to Objection 2. Sometimes the merit of prayer regards chiefly something distinct from the object of one's petition. For the chief object of merit is beatitude, whereas the direct object of the petition of prayer extends sometimes to certain other things, as stated above (A. 6, 7). Accordingly if this other thing that we ask for ourselves be not useful for our beatitude, we do not merit it; and sometimes by asking for and desiring such things we lose merit for instance if we ask of God the accomplishment of some sin, which would be an impious prayer. And sometimes it is not necessary for salvation, nor yet manifestly contrary thereto; and then although he who prays may merit eternal life by praying, yet he does not merit to obtain what he asks for. Hence Augustine says (Liber. Sentent. Prosperi sent. ccxii): "He who faithfully prays God for the necessaries of this life, is both mercifully heard, and mercifully not heard. For the physician knows better than the sick man what is good for the disease." For this reason, too, Paul was not heard when he prayed for the removal of the sting in his flesh, because this was not expedient. If, however, we pray for something that is useful for our beatitude, through being conducive to salvation, we merit it not only by praying, but also by doing other good deeds: therefore without any doubt we receive what we ask for, yet when we ought to receive it: "since certain things are not denied us, but are deferred that they may be granted at a suitable time," according to Augustine (Tract. cii in Joan.): and again this may be hindered if we persevere not in asking for it. Wherefore Basil says (De Constit. Monast. i): "The reason why sometimes thou hast asked and not received, is because thou hast asked amiss, either inconsistently, or lightly, or because thou hast asked for what was not good for thee, or because thou hast ceased asking." Since, however, a man cannot condignly merit eternal life for another, as stated above (I-II.114.6), it follows that sometimes one cannot condignly merit for another things that pertain to eternal life. For this reason we are not always heard when we pray for others, as stated above (7, ad 2, 3). Hence it is that four conditions are laid down; namely, to ask: "(a) for ourselves, (b) things necessary for salvation, (c) piously, (d) perseveringly"; when all these four concur, we always obtain what we ask for.

Ad quintumdecimum sic proceditur. Videtur quod oratio non sit meritoria.

2. Praeterea, si oratio aliquid meretur, maxime videtur mereri illud quod orando petitur. Sed hoc non semper meretur, quia multoties etiam sanctorum orationes non exaudiuntur; sicut paulus non est exauditus petens removeri a se stimulum carnis. Ergo oratio non est actus meritorius.

Ad secundum dicendum quod ad aliud principaliter respicit meritum orationis quandoque quam ad id quod petitur, meritum enim praecipue ordinatur ad beatitudinem; sed petitio orationis directe se extendit quandoque ad aliqua alia, ut ex dictis patet. Si ergo illud aliud quod petit aliquis pro seipso, non sit ei ad beatitudinem utile, non meretur illud, sed quandoque hoc petendo et desiderando meritum amittit, puta si petat a Deo complementum alicuius peccati, quod est non pie orare. Quandoque vero non est necessarium ad salutem, nec manifeste saluti contrarium. Et tunc, licet orans possit orando mereri vitam aeternam, non tamen meretur illud obtinere quod petit. Unde Augustinus dicit, in libro sententiarum prosperi, fideliter supplicans Deo pro necessitatibus huius vitae, et misericorditer auditur, et misericorditer non auditur. Quid enim infirmo sit utile magis novit medicus quam aegrotus. Et propter hoc etiam paulus non est exauditus petens amoveri stimulum carnis, quia non expediebat. Si vero id quod petitur sit utile ad beatitudinem hominis, quasi pertinens ad eius salutem, meretur illud non solum orando, sed etiam alia bona opera faciendo. Et ideo indubitanter accipit quod petit, sed quando debet accipere, quaedam enim non negantur, sed ut congruo dentur tempore, differuntur, ut Augustinus dicit, super ioan.. Quod tamen potest impediri, si in petendo non perseveret. Et propter hoc dicit Basilius, ideo quandoque petis et non accipis, quia perperam postulasti, vel infideliter vel leviter, vel non conferentia tibi, vel destitisti. Quia vero homo non potest alii mereri vitam aeternam ex condigno, ut supra dictum est; ideo per consequens nec ea quae ad vitam aeternam pertinent potest aliquando aliquis ex condigno alteri mereri. Et propter hoc non semper ille auditur qui pro alio orat, ut supra habitum est. Et ideo ponuntur quatuor conditiones, quibus concurrentibus, semper aliquis impetrat quod petit, ut scilicet pro se petat, necessaria ad salutem, pie et perseveranter.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Garrigou on Love of Concupiscence & of Friendship

From Garrigou-Lagrange, The Love of God and the Cross of Jesus, pp. 116-7:

(Click on image to englarge.)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Announcement of Public Doctoral Dissertation Defense


Francisco Romero Carrasquillo, PhD Cand.

Title: The Finality of the Religion in Aquinas’ Theory of Human Acts

Defense Location:
Alumni Memorial Union, 254
Marquette University
1442 West Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201-1881

Date/Time: Fri., May 22, 2009 @ 9:30 a.m.

Dissertation Committee:
Director: David B. Twetten (Philosophy Department)
Readers: Fr. Roland Teske (Philosophy Dept.), Richard Taylor (Philosophy Dept), Mark Johnson (Theology Dept).

Dissertation Abstract: The study examines the end or purpose of the acts of the virtue of religion within Thomas Aquinas’ ethics of human action. What is the end of religious worship? Is it God, or is it the worshippers themselves? On the one hand, one would presume that God cannot be the end of religion because, from the perspective of Classical Theism (of which Aquinas is a main proponent), God cannot benefit from the activity of creatures. But on the other hand, if the worshipper is the end of religious acts, would not worship be a self-centered or an egotistic act? The standard Thomistic account of the problem, first laid out by Cajetan and later adopted by countless followers, is that God is the finis cuius (‘the aim toward which’) of the acts of the virtue of religion, whereas the religious worshipper is the finis quo (the beneficiary) of the acts. I argue that this solution, which is based on a single text of Aquinas (ST II-II.81.7c), is insufficient. After examining Aquinas' theory of action (the doctrine of object, end, and circumstances presented in ST I-II.18), I show how the object of a particular human act can be interpreted as the finis operis (the end of the agent’s act). Utilizing this principle of the identity between the object and the finis operis, I argue that the finis operis of religion can be summed up as a threefold sequence of ends: the honor, reverence, and glory of God. As a result, the ultimate beneficiary of acts of religious worship is neither God nor the individual worshipper, but rather the totality of the universe, encapsulated by Aquinas in his notion of divine ‘glory’, i.e., the extrinsic manifestation of God’s intrinsic goodness within the universe.

Note: Event is open to the general public.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Aquinas on Abiogenesis (Spontaneous Generation)

Share/Bookmark From ST I.105.1 ad 1: Whether God can Move Matter Immediately to the Form.

Reply to Objection 1: An effect is assimilated to the active cause in two ways. First, according to the same species; as man is generated by man, and fire by fire. Secondly, by being virtually contained in the cause; as the form of the effect is virtually contained in its cause: thus animals produced by putrefaction, and plants, and minerals are like the sun and stars, by whose power they are produced. In this way the effect is like its active cause as regards all that over which the power of that cause extends. Now the power of God extends to both matter and form; as we have said above (14.2; 44.2); wherefore if a composite thing be produced, it is likened to God by way of a virtual inclusion; or it is likened to the composite generator by a likeness of species. Therefore just as the composite generator can move matter to a form by generating a composite thing like itself; so also can God. But no other form not existing in matter can do this; because the power of no other separate substance extends over matter. Hence angels and demons operate on visible matter; not by imprinting forms in matter, but by making use of corporeal seeds.

Ad primum ergo dicendum quod effectus aliquis invenitur assimilari causae agenti dupliciter. Uno modo, secundum eandem speciem; ut homo generatur ab homine, et ignis ab igne. Alio modo, secundum virtualem continentiam, prout scilicet forma effectus virtualiter continetur in causa, et sic animalia ex putrefactione generata, et plantae et corpora mineralia assimilantur soli et stellis, quorum virtute generantur. Sic igitur effectus causae agenti similatur secundum totum illud ad quod se extendit virtus agentis. Virtus autem Dei se extendit ad formam et materiam, ut supra habitum est. Unde compositum quod generatur, similatur Deo secundum virtualem continentiam, sicut similatur composito generanti per similitudinem speciei. Unde sicut compositum generans potest movere materiam ad formam generando compositum sibi simile, ita et Deus. Non autem aliqua alia forma non in materia existens, quia materia non continetur in virtute alterius substantiae separatae. Et ideo Daemones et Angeli operantur circa haec visibilia, non quidem imprimendo formas, sed adhibendo corporalia semina.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Sin May be Mortal Due to its Object or its End

From ST I-II.88.2c
Whether Mortal and Venial Sin Differ in Genus.

[O]ne sin may be venial generically, and another generically mortal, according as the genus or species of an act is determined by its object. For, when the will is directed to a thing that is in itself contrary to charity, whereby man is directed to his last end, the sin is mortal by reason of its object. Consequently it is a mortal sin generically, whether it be contrary to the love of God, e.g. blasphemy, perjury, and the like, or against the love of one's neighbor, e.g. murder, adultery, and such like: wherefore such sins are mortal by reason of their genus. Sometimes, however, the sinner's will is directed to a thing containing a certain inordinateness, but which is not contrary to the love of God and one's neighbor, e.g. an idle word, excessive laughter, and so forth: and such sins are venial by reason of their genus.

Nevertheless, since moral acts derive their character of goodness and malice, not only from their objects, but also from some disposition of the agent, as stated above (I-II.18.4 & 6), it happens sometimes that a sin which is venial generically by reason of its object, becomes mortal on the part of the agent, either because he fixes his last end therein, or because he directs it to something that is a mortal sin in its own genus; for example, if a man direct an idle word to the commission of adultery.

[A]liquod peccatum dicatur veniale ex genere, et aliquod mortale ex genere, secundum quod genus vel species actus determinantur ex obiecto. Cum enim voluntas fertur in aliquid quod secundum se repugnat caritati, per quam homo ordinatur in ultimum finem, peccatum ex suo obiecto habet quod sit mortale. Unde est mortale ex genere, sive sit contra dilectionem Dei, sicut blasphemia, periurium, et huiusmodi; sive contra dilectionem proximi, sicut homicidium, adulterium, et similia. Unde huiusmodi sunt peccata mortalia ex suo genere. Quandoque vero voluntas peccantis fertur in id quod in se continet quandam inordinationem, non tamen contrariatur dilectioni Dei et proximi, sicut verbum otiosum, risus superfluus, et alia huiusmodi. Et talia sunt peccata venialia ex suo genere. Sed quia actus morales recipiunt rationem boni et mali non solum ex obiecto, sed etiam ex aliqua dispositione agentis, ut supra habitum est; contingit quandoque quod id quod est peccatum veniale ex genere ratione sui obiecti, fit mortale ex parte agentis, vel quia in eo constituit finem ultimum, vel quia ordinat ipsum ad aliquid quod est peccatum mortale ex genere, puta cum aliquis ordinat verbum otiosum ad adulterium committendum.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Aquinas on the Principle of Double Effect


From ST II-II.64.7c: Whether it is Lawful to Kill a Man in Self-Defense?

Nothing hinders one act from having two effects, only one of which is intended, while the other is beside the intention. Now moral acts take their species according to what is intended, and not according to what is beside the intention, since this is accidental as explained above (43, 3; I-II, 12, 1). Accordingly the act of self-defense may have two effects, one is the saving of one's life, the other is the slaying of the aggressor. Therefore this act, since one's intention is to save one's own life, is not unlawful, seeing that it is natural to everything to keep itself in "being," as far as possible. And yet, though proceeding from a good intention, an act may be rendered unlawful, if it be out of proportion to the end. Wherefore if a man, in self-defense, uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repel force with moderation his defense will be lawful, because according to the jurists [Cap. Significasti, De Homicid. volunt. vel casual.], "it is lawful to repel force by force, provided one does not exceed the limits of a blameless defense." Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense in order to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one's own life than of another's. But as it is unlawful to take a man's life, except for the public authority acting for the common good, as stated above (Article 3), it is not lawful for a man to intend killing a man in self-defense, except for such as have public authority, who while intending to kill a man in self-defense, refer this to the public good, as in the case of a soldier fighting against the foe, and in the minister of the judge struggling with robbers, although even these sin if they be moved by private animosity.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Three Moral Determinants of a Human Act: Object, End & Circumstances

ST I-II.18.1c:

Whether every human action is good, or are there evil actions?

We must speak of good and evil in actions as of good and evil in things: because such as everything is, such is the act that it produces. Now in things, each one has so much good as it has being: since good and being are convertible, as was stated in ST I.5.1 and 3.... We must therefore say that every action has goodness, in so far as it has being; whereas it is lacking in goodness, in so far as it is lacking in something that is due to its fullness of being; and thus it is said to be evil: for instance if it lacks the quantity determined by reason, or its due place, or something of the kind.

ST I-II.18.4c:

[A] fourfold goodness may be considered in a human action. First, that which, as an action, it derives from its genus; because as much as it has of action and being so much has it of goodness, as stated above (Article 1). Secondly, it has goodness according to its species; which is derived from its suitable object. Thirdly, it has goodness from its circumstances, in respect, as it were, of its accidents. Fourthly, it has goodness from its end, to which it is compared as to the cause of its goodness.

ST I-II.18.2c:

Whether the good or evil of a man's action is derived from its object?

I answer that, as stated above (Article 1), the good or evil of an action, as of other things, depends on its fullness of being or its lack of that fullness. Now the first thing that belongs to the fullness of being seems to be that which gives a thing its species. And just as a natural thing has its species from its form, so an action has its species from its object, as movement from its term. And therefore just as the primary goodness of a natural thing is derived from its form, which gives it its species, so the primary goodness of a moral action is derived from its suitable object: hence some call such an action "good in its genus"; for instance, "to make use of what is one's own." And just as, in natural things, the primary evil is when a generated thing does not realize its specific form (for instance, if instead of a man, something else be generated); so the primary evil in moral actions is that which is from the object, for instance, "to take what belongs to another." And this action is said to be "evil in its genus," genus here standing for species, just as we apply the term "mankind" to the whole human species.

ST I-II.18.4c:

Whether a human action is good or evil from its end?

I answer that the disposition of things as to goodness is the same as their disposition as to being. Now in some things the being does not depend on another, and in these it suffices to consider their being absolutely. But there are things the being of which depends on something else, and hence in their regard we must consider their being in its relation to the cause on which it depends. Now just as the being of a thing depends on the agent, and the form, so the goodness of a thing depends on its end. Hence in the Divine Persons, Whose goodness does not depend on another, the measure of goodness is not taken from the end. Whereas human actions, and other things, the goodness of which depends on something else, have a measure of goodness from the end on which they depend, besides that goodness which is in them absolutely.

ST I-II.18.3c:

Whether man's action is good or evil from a circumstance?

I answer that, in natural things, it is to be noted that the whole fullness of perfection due to a thing, is not from the mere substantial form, that gives it its species; since a thing derives much from supervening accidents, as man does from shape, color, and the like; and if any one of these accidents be out of due proportion, evil is the result. So it is with action. For the plenitude of its goodness does not consist wholly in its species, but also in certain additions which accrue to it by reason of certain accidents: and such are its due circumstances. Wherefore if something be wanting that is requisite as a due circumstance the action will be evil.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Is the Separate Soul a Person?

From ST I.29.1 ad 5:

Objection 5. Further, the separated soul is an individual substance of the rational nature; but it is not a person. Therefore person is not properly defined as ["an individual substance of a rational nature."].

Reply to Objection 5. The soul is a part of the human species; and so, although it may exist in a separate state, yet since it ever retains its nature of unibility [i.e., ability to be united], it cannot be called an individual substance, which is the hypostasis or first substance, as neither can the hand nor any other part of man; thus neither the definition nor the name of person belongs to it.

From ST I.75.2 ad 1:

Objection 1. It would seem that the human soul is not something subsistent. For that which subsists is said to be "this particular thing." Now "this particular thing" is said not of the soul, but of that which is composed of soul and body. Therefore the soul is not something subsistent....

Reply to Objection 1. "This particular thing" can be taken in two senses. Firstly, for anything subsistent; secondly, for that which subsists, and is complete in a specific nature. The former sense excludes the inherence of an accident or of a material form; the latter excludes also the imperfection of the part, so that a hand can be called "this particular thing" in the first sense, but not in the second. Therefore, as the human soul is a part of human nature, it can indeed be called "this particular thing," in the first sense, as being something subsistent; but not in the second, for in this sense, what is composed of body and soul is said to be "this particular thing."

From ST I.75.4 ad 2:

Objection 2. Further, the human soul is a substance. But it is not a universal substance. Therefore it is a particular substance. Therefore it is a "hypostasis" or a person; and it can only be a human person. Therefore the soul is man; for a human person is a man....

Reply to Objection 2. Not every particular substance is a hypostasis or a person, but that which has the complete nature of its species. Hence a hand, or a foot, is not called a hypostasis, or a person; nor, likewise, is the soul alone so called, since it is a part of the human species.

From ST II-II.85.1 ad 5:

Objection 5. Further, the soul of Peter is not Peter. If therefore the souls of the saints pray for us, so long as they are separated from their bodies, we ought not to call upon Saint Peter, but on his soul, to pray for us: yet the Church does the contrary. The saints therefore do not pray for us, at least before the resurrection....

Reply to Objection 5. It is because the saints while living merited to pray for us, that we invoke them under the names by which they were known in this life, and by which they are better known to us: and also in order to indicate our belief in the resurrection, according to the saying of Exodus 3:6, "I am the God of Abraham," etc.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Principles of the Natural Law, In a Nutshell

Share/Bookmark From ST I-II.94.2:

Whether the natural law contains several precepts, or only one?

On the contrary, The precepts of the natural law in man stand in relation to practical matters, as the first principles to matters of demonstration. But there are several first indemonstrable principles. Therefore there are also several precepts of the natural law.

I answer that, As stated above (Question 91, Article 3), the precepts of the natural law are to the practical reason, what the first principles of demonstrations are to the speculative reason; because both are self-evident principles. Now a thing is said to be self-evident in two ways: first, in itself; secondly, in relation to us. Any proposition is said to be self-evident in itself, if its predicate is contained in the notion of the subject: although, to one who knows not the definition of the subject, it happens that such a proposition is not self-evident. For instance, this proposition, "Man is a rational being," is, in its very nature, self-evident, since who says "man," says "a rational being": and yet to one who knows not what a man is, this proposition is not self-evident. Hence it is that, as Boethius says (De Hebdom.), certain axioms or propositions are universally self-evident to all; and such are those propositions whose terms are known to all, as, "Every whole is greater than its part," and, "Things equal to one and the same are equal to one another." But some propositions are self-evident only to the wise, who understand the meaning of the terms of such propositions: thus to one who understands that an angel is not a body, it is self-evident that an angel is not circumscriptively in a place: but this is not evident to the unlearned, for they cannot grasp it.

Now a certain order is to be found in those things that are apprehended universally. For that which, before aught else, falls under apprehension, is "being," the notion of which is included in all things whatsoever a man apprehends. Wherefore the first indemonstrable principle is that "the same thing cannot be affirmed and denied at the same time," which is based on the notion of "being" and "not-being": and on this principle all others are based, as is stated in Metaph. iv, text. 9. Now as "being" is the first thing that falls under the apprehension simply, so "good" is the first thing that falls under the apprehension of the practical reason, which is directed to action: since every agent acts for an end under the aspect of good. Consequently the first principle of practical reason is one founded on the notion of good, viz. that "good is that which all things seek after." Hence this is the first precept of law, that "good is to be done and pursued, and evil is to be avoided." All other precepts of the natural law are based upon this: so that whatever the practical reason naturally apprehends as man's good (or evil) belongs to the precepts of the natural law as something to be done or avoided.

Since, however, good has the nature of an end, and evil, the nature of a contrary, hence it is that all those things to which man has a natural inclination, are naturally apprehended by reason as being good, and consequently as objects of pursuit, and their contraries as evil, and objects of avoidance. Wherefore according to the order of natural inclinations, is the order of the precepts of the natural law. Because in man there is first of all an inclination to good in accordance with the nature which he has in common with all substances: inasmuch as every substance seeks the preservation of its own being, according to its nature: and by reason of this inclination, whatever is a means of preserving human life, and of warding off its obstacles, belongs to the natural law. Secondly, there is in man an inclination to things that pertain to him more specially, according to that nature which he has in common with other animals: and in virtue of this inclination, those things are said to belong to the natural law, "which nature has taught to all animals" [Pandect. Just. I, tit. i], such as sexual intercourse, education of offspring and so forth. Thirdly, there is in man an inclination to good, according to the nature of his reason, which nature is proper to him: thus man has a natural inclination to know the truth about God, and to live in society: and in this respect, whatever pertains to this inclination belongs to the natural law; for instance, to shun ignorance, to avoid offending those among whom one has to live, and other such things regarding the above inclination.