Saturday, February 26, 2011

"colonies of divinity and secret agents of heaven"

"Faith claims to have 'overcome' the world, but the victory is pursued in steadily hostile territory by colonies of divinity and secret agents of heaven.  Monastic and Utopian communities make up the colonies, and images of reversal and renewal comprise the secret agents.  Even the Church as firmly established in the seats of power still sings 'He hath put down the mighty from their seat and exalted them of low degree.'"

David Martin as interviewed by Rupert Shortt in God's advocates: Christian thinkers in conversation (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005), 164.  "I want to make a distinction here between the ironic and the innocent.  A Christianity conscious of its own whispering gallery of contrary notions will generate irony on account of the gap between hope and reality.  But Enlightenment (as the very word suggests) seeks a point of innocence from which to judge where lies the source of corruption.  Bien pensant thinking, understood as the infinite resource of the high-minded, elevates itself to the secure ground of innocence to comment on the ubiquity of failure and identify its source, which in the cases already cited [(Dawkins, Pullman, certain forms of feminism, Marxism, etc., from p. 161)] may be religion itself. . . . [¶] There is no innocence, and the closest we may come to the perfect society and Yeats' 'ceremonies of innocence' is in the special liminal time of liturgy" (166).

Martin on the relation of mind to brain

"the latest reduction claims that 'science' has 'explained' inspiration through observation of 'events' lighting up in particular parts of the brain.  I can't see any significance attaching to such a claim:  did the same kind of brain event accompany the composition of Beethoven's Minuet in G as accompanied the Benedictus of the Mass in D?  These kinds of explanation ignore or do not even begin to understand all the different levels of scientific intentionality, with their appropriate and distinctive methodologies, up to the level of the phenomenological enquiry into the structures of meaning and being, and the sciences of meaning and being."

David Martin as interviewed by Rupert Shortt in God's advocates:  Christian thinkers in conversation (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 2005), 161.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hütter on Le Guillou on de Lubac on Aquinas

"Le Guillou's remarkable essay. . . . argues that while Aquinas indeed held the natural desire for the vision of God, this affirmation is fundamentally different from, albeit essentially related to, the desire for the supernatural, a desire elicited by the supernatural virtue of  hope.  The latter desire is fundamentally different because it is supernaturally elicited; however, it is essentially related to the natural desire, because it is that very natural desire (conditional by nature) that is presupposed as well as perfected by the supernaturally elicited desire.  Thus Le Guillou will show that rejecting the formula 'natural desire for the supernatur[a]l' in its precise sense does not entail a rejection of Aquinas's teaching at all.  On the contrary, on the basis of Aquinas's teaching this formula must be rejected."

Reinhard Hütter, "Aquinas on the natural desire for the vision of God:  a relecture of Summa contra Gentiles III, c. 25, après Henri de Lubac," The Thomist 73, no. 4 (October 2009):  570-571 (523-591).

Hütter on the existence of angels

The "pervasive contemporary inability to consider angelsand, alas, very widespread among Christians pace the recent New-Age discovery of 'angels' as a quasi-personalistic transcendence at the expense of Goddisplays not only a disconcerting lack of theological imagination but metaphysical acumen as well."

Reinhard Hütter, "Aquinas on the natural desire for the vision of God:  a relecture of Summa contra Gentiles III, c. 25, après Henri de Lubac," The Thomist 73, no. 4 (October 2009):  528n18 (523-591).

"Though she is a harlot at times, she is our Mother."

     "As to the Church, where else shall we go, except to the Bride of Christ, one flesh with Christ?  Though she is a harlot at times, she is our Mother."

     Dorothy Day, "In peace is my bitterness most bitter," Catholic worker 33, no. 4 (January 1967):  2 (1-2).  I have checked this paragraph in the online edition against the original on microfilm and found it to be accurate.  Accurate as a quotation, that is, but not Catholic theology:
     Cf. Aidan Nichols, Figuring out the Church:  her marks, and her masters (San Francisco:  Ignatius Press, 2013), 51-52.  Having argued, following Maritain, that because "the Holy Spirit functions as a single Person in many P/persons" (Heribert Mühlen) such that "he constitute[s] her a corporate personality to which the attribute of holiness can at all times unconditionally be applied, even when individual persons, aggregated by the Spirit to her fellowship with Christ, continue to be active bearers of the sin of the world" (49), we must "distinguish the Church's own 'personality', sa personne, from her 'membership', son personnel" (50); that because "the Church has a personality  that is . . . always holy even when her individual members, weakening or failing in the spiritual warfare of the Christian life, are not" (50), sinful "Christians are . . . not acting qua members of the Church but qua those who are yet to become fully aligned with her" (51), he then proceeds as follows:
What should we make, then, of the celebrated (or notorious) patristic image of the Church as a 'chaste harlot', casta meretrix?  It is a phrase Origen of Alexandria coined and Saint Hilary of Potiers turned into Latin [(H. U. von Balthasar, "Casta Meretrix," Explorations in theology, vol. 2:  Spouse of the Word (San Francisco:  Ignatius Press, 1991), 193-228)].  Is this ancient (ante-Nicene) image of the chaste prostitute simply contradicted by the later affirmation Credo in . . . sanctam . . . Ecclesiam of the Creed of Nicaea-Constantinople?  No, it is not 'simply contradicted', because the holiness that qualifies the Church as a personality is always repentant holiness, and it is this truth that the chaste harlot image brings out.  When we commit sins, we never do so precisely as members of the Church.  But when we repent of our sins, when we become penitent, we do so as members of the Church such that the Church herself can be said to be penitent in us.  Indeed, the Church can be said to be penitent for all her sinful members, even for those who are not at the present time actually penitent, . . .  
and "That act [of vicarious repentance] . . . is . . . the dynamic foundation of the Church's personalité."  Cf. St. Bernard of Clairvaux.
     Cf. Philip Berrigan, as quoted by Gary Wills:  "Mother Church is a whorebut she is still our mother" (The New York review of books 64, no. 7 (April 20, 2017):  66 (65-66).
     For one strong position on the holiness of the Church, see Jacques Maritain, The peasant of the Garonne (19680, pp. 174-189.

     Apparently, though, von Balthasar, in his essay "Casta meretrix" (1960), "affirmed that the church sins precisely as the church, and not merely as individual members."  For the argument, see Stephen D. Lawson, "The apostasy of the church and the cross of Christ: Hans Urs von Balthasar on the mystery of the church as casta meretrix," Modern theology 36, no. 2 (April 2020):  259-280.  See also Wolfgang Beinert, "Ecclesia sancta et peccatrix:  (auch) ein ökumenische Problem," Catholica 68 (2014):  34-47, which I have on file, but haven't yet read.

More from the quote police

"To fall in love with God is the greatest of all romances; to seek Him, the greatest adventure; to find Him, the greatest human achievement."

Father M. Raphael Simon, OCSO, The glory of thy people:  the story of a conversion (New York, NY:  The Macmillan Company, 1948), xiii (October 24, 1946).

Monday, February 21, 2011

Kenny on More

"For [More], as for Thomas Aquinas before him, the human conscience was not an autonomous lawgiver.  Rather, a man's conscience was his belief, true or false, about the law made by God.  To act against conscience was always wrong, because it was acting against what one believed to be God's law.  But to act in accordance with conscience was not necessarily right; for one's conscience might be an erroneous opinion.  One had a duty to inform one's conscience correctly; perhaps by consulting the Scriptures, or the writings of the Saints, or the authoritative doctrines of the Church. . . . The only case where a mistaken conscience would excuse from wrongdoing would be where the moral issue in question was a debatable one, where there was a division of opinion among saints and sacred writers."

Anthony Kenny, Thomas More, Past masters (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 1983), 94.