Saturday, February 11, 2017

"half a truth is an error, and nine-tenths of a truth no better"

"Men may have glowing imaginations, warm feelings, or benevolent tempers; they may be very little aware themselves how far they are removed from Catholicism; they may even style themselves its friends, and be disappointed it does not recognize them; they may admire its doctrines, they may think it uncharitable in us not to meet them half way.  All the while, they may have nothing whatever of that form, idea, type of Catholicism, even in its inchoate condition, which I have allowed to some individuals among them. . . .  This is why some persons have been so taken by surprise at the late outburst against us in England, because they fancied men would be better than their systems.  This is why we have to lament, in times past and present, the resolute holding off from us of learned men in the Establishment, who seemed or seem to come nearest to us.  Pearson, or Bull, or Beveridge, almost touches the gates of the Divine City, yet he gropes for them in vain; for such men are formed on a different type from the Catholic, and the most Catholic of their doctrines are not Catholic in them.  In vain are the most ecclesiastical thoughts, the most ample concessions, the most promising aspirations, nay, the most fraternal sentiments, if they are not an integral part of that intellectual and moral form, which is ultimately from divine grace, and of which faith, not carnal wisdom, is the characteristic.  The event shows this, as in the case of those many, who, as time goes on, after appearing to approach the Church, recede from her.  In other cases the event is not necessary for their detection, to Catholics who happen to be near them.  These are conscious in them of something or other, different from Catholicism, a bearing, or an aspect, or a tone, which they cannot indeed analyze or account for, but which they cannot mistake.  They may not be able to put their finger on a single definite error; but, in proportion to the clearness of their spiritual discernment, or the exactness of their theology, do they recognize, either the incipient heresiarch within the Church's pale, or the unhopeful inquirer outside of it.  Whichever he be, he has made a wrong start; and however long the road has been, he has to go back and begin again.  So it is with the bodies, institutions and systems of which he is the specimen; they may die, they cannot be reformed."

     John Henry Newman, The idea of a university defined and illustrated, Discourse V ("General knowledge viewed as one philosophy"), ed. I. T. Ker (Oxford:  The Clarendon Press, 1976), 433-434 (Appendix I).  The headline is from p. 430, and is similar to this one from p. 429.
     Newman says "men", but means "bodies of men".  Having just allowed for an authentic approach on the part of the rare non-Catholic individual, he has here returned to his main thesis, which has "to do with systems, institutions, bodies of men" (432).
     Needless to say, the same point could be made from the Protestant (or any other) angle.  How often do Protestants, too, say, upon the conversion of a friend to Catholicism, that they had seen it coming years before?  Nor would Newman disagree.  So far as I can tell, he would be the first to admit that Protestantism, too, is a kind of self-consistent (albeit in his view heretical) seed.  Catholics,too, "may grow into an idea by degrees, and then at the end they are moving on the same line, as they were at the beginning, not a different one, though they may during the progress have changed their external profession" for a Protestant one (431).

Family planning

      "Elites would have us make babies by putting the woman on this side of the room and the man on that side of the room while the elites stand in the middle of the room taxing sperm and eggs."

     P.J. O'Rourke, "The revolt against the elites and the limits of populism," The weekly standard 22, no. 22 (February 13, 2017):  29 (26-29).
     O'Rourke has this wrong, though.  Because even sex is, of course, just a social (or, better, individual) construct.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

"we should hope from Him for nothing less than Himself"

". . . non . . . minus aliquid ab eo sperandum est quam sit ipse. . . ."

     St. Thomas Aquinas, ST II-II.17.2.Resp.


     Cf. Simone Weil:

"He pays only one type of wage because he possesses only one type of wage.  He hasn't any change."

"Il ne paie qu’un seul salaire parce qu’il ne possède qu’un seul salaire.  Il n’a pas de monnaie."

The need for roots:  prelude to a declaration of duties toward mankind, trans. Arthur Wills (New York:  G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1952), 265; L’enracinement:  prelude à une declaration des devoirs envers l’être humain, Collection espoir, ed. Albert Camus (Paris:  Gallimard, 1949), 224, on the parable of the laborers in the vineyard.  "monnaie" can mean "change".
     I was put onto this originally, by Diogenes Allen, who words this differently in different books.  E.g. the above in Christian belief in a postmodern world (116, citing the standard English translation), but "the landowner does not have any small change" in Theology for a troubled believer (70, where he is not quoting).  And undoubtedly elsewhere, too, given how much he tended to make of this.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Thomas Aquinas, rabble rouser

"During the winter of 1255-56, the Dominicans [(frères)] were assailed in the streets and the [Couvent des Jacobins de la rue] Saint-Jacques had to be guarded by the king's archers.  It was under their protection that Thomas [Aquinas] delivered his inaugural lecture, though [(et)] the protestors [incited by the secular masters of the University of Paris] kept those outside from making their way in [(de s'y rendre) to hear him]."

     Jean-Pierre Torrell, “Thomas d’Aquin,” Dictionnaire de spiritualité 15 (1991), col. 728 (718-773), citing "Chartul[arium Universitatis parisiensis, ed. Denifle (Paris:  Fratres Delalain, 1889-1897), vol. 1,] no. 279-280, pp. 318-23."  Unfortunately, both of these two documents are dated mid and 17 June 1256 respectively, and, so, must not refer to the events of the winter of 1256-1257.  A few lines later, Torrell cites also nos. 293 (pp. 338-340) and 317 (pp. 364-367), though I have not checked those.  Weisheipl, pp. 110 ff., mentions neither the physical assaults nor the bodyguard.
     I wonder if anyone has painted any of these scenes.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

"I owe to the liturgy, to the celebration of the Christian mysteries, half of what I have perceived in theology."

"Je dois à la liturgie, à la celebration des mystères chrétiens, la moitié de ce que j’ai perçu en théologie."

     Yves Congar, Jean Puyo interroge le père Congar:  une vie pour la vérité, Les Interviews (Paris:  Le Centurion, 1975), 30, as quoted by Jean-Pierre Torrell, O.P., Saint Thomas Aquinas, vol. 2, Spiritual master, trans. Robert Royal (Washington, DC:  The Catholic University of America Press, 2003), 379.  Cf. also

"Je dois à la liturgie la moitié de ce que je sais de théologie."

     Jean-Pierre Torrell, “Thomas d’Aquin,” Dictionnaire de spiritualité 15 (1991), col. 772 (718-773).