Friday, February 17, 2017

"God is equally and indissolubly, without shadow of turning or contradiction, the God of mercy and of justice, of goodness and of judgment, of love and of holiness."

"But they dream up a god who in actuality does not exist, as being above this God; thus they think they have found a great god whom no one can know, because he does not have fellowship with the human race and does not administer earthly affairs [(nec terrena administrantem)].  The Epicureans, for example, invented a god who bestows nothing on them or any others, that is, who takes care of no one [(id est, nullius providentiam habentem)].
     "[25.1] God, however, does exercise providence over all things.  Consequently, He also gives counsel, and by giving counsel He assists those who have a care for morals.  It is necessary, therefore, that those who are provided for and governed should recognize their director, since they are not irrational or purposeless, but have received an understanding from God's providence [(Providentiam autem habet Deus omnium, propter hoc et consilium dat:  consilium autem dans adest his, qui morum providentiam habent.  Necesse est igitur ea quæ providentur et gubernantur, cognoscere suum directorem:  quæ quidem non sunt irrationalia, neque vana, sed habent sensibilitatem perceptam de providentia Dei)]. . . .
     "[2.] Again, in order that they might take away from the Father the power of reproving and of judging [(increpavitum . . . et judiciale)], thinking that it is unworthy of God, and believing that they have found a god who is good and free from anger, they asserted that one god judges and the other saves.  But they are unaware that thus they deprive [God] both of intelligence and justice.  To be sure, if the god with judicial [(judicialis)] power is not also good, . . . he will appear to be neither a just nor a wise judge.  On the other hand, the good god, if he is only that and not also one who puts to the test those on whom he lavishes his goodness, will be without justice and goodness; and his goodness will appear powerless when he does not save all, if this is not done with judgment [(cum judicio)]. . . .
     "[4.] The God, then, who kindly makes His sun rise on all . . . , and sends rain on the just and the unjust, will judge those who have received an equitable share of His kindness yet have not led lives in keeping with the dignity of His gift, but have spent their time in pleasures and luxury in spite of His benevolence. . . ."

     St. Irenaeus, Against the heresies III.24.2-25.4, trans. Dominic J. Unger, ACW 64 (New York:  The Newman Press, 2012), 111-113, boldface mine.  Latin from the 1857 edition ed. Harvey (where it is chaps. 38 ff.), not yet SC.  I was put onto this by Douglas B. Farrow, "Discernment of situation:  we must not forget the sacramental nature of the Church," First things no. 271 (March 2017):  41 (39-43):  "This unprincipled accompaniment forgets divine justice in its rush to divine mercy.  It forgets that God himself, 'when giving counsel, is present with those who attend to moral discipline' rather than with those who ignore it. . . ."  From pp. 42-43, italics mine:
     The regionalism that we are currently witnessing in the West, under the rubric of 'discernment of situations,' is the result of a failure to discern both the nature of the sacraments and the situation of the Church.  The old gods, sex, mammon, and death, are reviving and reasserting themselves as the gods of autonomy.  They are beginning to press their hands on the faithless and the faithful alike.  They are groping even for the holy sacraments, that they might defile them.  In this situation, do we really need more talk about the internal forum and 'the sacred ground of the other'? 
     Surely what we need to hear is that God himself, and God alone, is the source of our sanctity.  We need to hear that God is equally and indissolubly, without shadow of turning or contradiction, the God of mercy and of justice, of goodness and of judgment, of love and of holiness.

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