Friday, October 22, 2021

"the understanding of human weakness. . . . never means compromising and falsifying the standard of good and evil in order to adapt it to particular circumstances."

"'. . . God's command is of course proportioned to man's capabilities; but to the capabilities of the man to whom the Holy Spirit has been given; of the man who, though he has fallen into sin, can always obtain pardon and enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit.'
     "In this context, appropriate allowance is made both for God's mercy towards the sinner who converts and for the understanding of human weakness. Such understanding never means compromising and falsifying the standard of good and evil in order to adapt it to particular circumstances. It is quite human for the sinner to acknowledge his weakness and to ask mercy for his failings; what is unacceptable is the attitude of one who makes his own weakness the criterion of the truth about the good, so that he can feel self-justified, without even the need to have recourse to God and his mercy. An attitude of this sort corrupts the morality of society as a whole, since it encourages doubt about the objectivity of the moral law in general and a rejection of the absoluteness of moral prohibitions regarding specific human acts, and it ends up by confusing all judgments about values."

     St. John Paul II, Veritatis splendor 103-104, underscoring mine.

The intrinsic and indissoluble bond of conjoined coherence between faith and morality

"Also, an opinion is frequently heard which questions the intrinsic and unbreakable bond between faith and morality [(intrinseco atque indissolubili vinculo copulatae cohaerentiae fidem inter et rem moralem, the intrinsic and indissoluble bond of conjoined coherence between faith and morality)], as if membership in the Church and her internal unity were to be decided on the basis of faith alone, while in the sphere of morality a pluralism of opinions and of kinds of behaviour could be tolerated, these being left to the judgment of the individual subjective conscience or to the diversity of social and cultural contexts."

     St. John Paul II, Veritatis splendor 4.  Sec. 26:

"From the Church's beginnings, the Apostles, by virtue of their pastoral responsibility to preach the Gospel, were vigilant over the right conduct of Christians [(prospexerunt probitatis morum christianorum)], just as they were vigilant for the purity of the faith and the handing down of the divine gifts in the sacraments [(consuluerunt fidei integritati atque supernorum munerum traditioni per sacramenta)]. The first Christians, coming both from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, differed from the pagans not only in their faith and their liturgy but also in the witness of their moral conduct [(non solum propter suam fidem suamque liturgiam, verum etiam ob testimonium moralis rationis agendi)], which was inspired by the New Law. The Church is in fact a communion both of faith and of life [(fidei simulque vitae communio)]; her rule of life is 'faith working through love' (Gal 5:6).
     "No damage must be done to the harmony between faith and life: the unity of the Church is damaged [(Nulla laceratio debet insidiari concordiae inter fidem et vitam: Ecclesiae unitati vulnus infligitur)] not only by Christians who reject or distort the truths of faith [(fidei veritatem respuentibus vel evertentibus)] but also by those who disregard the moral obligations [(moralia neglegunt officia)] to which they are called by the Gospel (cf. 1 Cor 5:9-13). The Apostles decisively rejected any separation between the commitment of the heart and the actions which express or prove it [(inter curam cordis dis[c]idium et actus eam enuntiantes et comprobantes)] (cf. 1 Jn 2:3-6). And ever since Apostolic times the Church's Pastors have unambiguously condemned the behaviour of those who fostered division by their teaching or by their actions [(doctrina sua suisque moribus)]."

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Free service

Grant us, Lord, we pray, to serve [(servire)] your gifts with a free [(libera)] mind, that, your grace purifying us, we may be cleansed by the very mysteries we serve [(famulamur)].

"Tribue nos, Domine, quaesumus, donis tuis libera mente servire, ut, tua purificante nos gratia, iisdem quibus famulamur mysteriis emundemur.  Per. "

     Oratio super oblata, Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time , Roman Missal:


"Grant us, Lord, we pray, a sincere respect for your gifts, that, through the purifying action of your grace, we may be cleansed by the very mysteries we serve.  Through."

pre-2010 (which, for all of the many liberties it takes, at least sets the concept of freedom over against that of service):

"Lord God, may the gifts we offer bring us your love and forgiveness and give us freedom to serve you with our lives.  We ask this."

     This is no. 146 in the "Leonine" or Vernonese Sacramentary, and no. 146 is, according to the Mohlberg edition of 1956, to be dated to the end of the 5th or the beginning of the 6th century, i.e. the period of the Vandal persecution (Verfolgung) in Africa (439-523) (group 46 on p. LXXVI); or to the early 7th-century Pope Boniface IV (608-614) (group 83 no. p. LXXXI).  What the scholarship has said since 1956 I have made no attempt to discover.  Corpus orationum no. 5916 lists, beside the "Leonine" or Veronese, no other occurrences!

"Tribue nos, domine, quaesumus, donis tuis libera mente seruire, ut purificante nos gratia tua hisdem quibus famulamur mysteriis emundemur:  per."

Saturday, October 16, 2021

"nothing is so low that God would not be lower"

University of St. Andrews
"So the very majesty of God consists in the fact that nothing is so great that God would not be greater, and nothing is so small that God would not be smaller.  Nothing is so long that God would not be longer, but nothing is so short that God would not be shorter.  Nothing is so high that God would not be higher, and, important for kenosis, nothing is so low that God would not be lower.
     "In view of this understanding of the divine plerosis, of the plenitude of the divine majesty, do we [even] need a kenotic theology?  No.  Only as the modulation of the divine plerosis, which expresses the all-encompassing fulness of God’s Trinitarian self-giving."

     Christoph Schöbel, "Kenosis and divine self-giving in Thomas Aquinas and Martin Luther" 49:10, The Trinity and the Kenosis of Christ, Angelicum, Rome, 21-22 February 2020.  Schwöbel appears to be channeling Martin Luther, Confession concerning Christ's supper (1528), trans. Robert H. Fischer, Luther's works 37, 228 (161-372) =WA 26, 261-509:  "Nothing is so small but God is still smaller, nothing so large but God is still larger, nothing is so short but God is still shorter, nothing so long but God is still longer, nothing is so broad but God is still broader, nothing so narrow but God is still narrower, and so on."

"His eyes look only into the depths, not to the heights"

     "Just as God in the beginning of creation made the world out of nothing, whence He is called the Creator and the Almighty, so His manner of working continues unchanged. Even now and to the end of the world, all His works are such that out of that which is nothing, worthless, despised, wretched, and dead, He makes that which is something, precious, honorable, blessed, and living. On the other hand, whatever is something, precious, honorable, blessed, and living, He makes to be nothing, worthless, despised, wretched, and dying. In this manner no creature can work; no creature can produce anything out of nothing. Therefore His eyes look only into the depths, not to the heights; as it is said in Daniel 3:55 (Vulgate): 'Thou sittest upon the cherubim and beholdest the depths'; in Psalm 138:6: 'Though the Lord is high, He regards the lowly; but the haughty He knows from afar.' Psalm 113:5, 6: 'Who is like the Lord, our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down upon the heavens and the earth?' For since He is the Most High, and there is nothing above Him, He cannot look above Him; nor yet to either side, for there is none like Him. He must needs, therefore, look within Him and beneath Him; and the farther one is beneath Him, the better does He see him [(Denn die weil er der aller hohist unde nichts uber yhn ist, mag er nit uber sich sehen, mag auch nit neben sich sehen, die weil yhm niemant gleich ist, musz er von not ynn sich selb unnd unter sich sehen, unnd yhe tieffer nemant unter yhm ist, yhe basz er yhn sihet)].
     "The eyes of the world and of men, on the contrary, look only above them and are lifted up with pride, as it is said in Proverbs 30:13: 'There is a people whose eyes are lofty, and their eyelids lifted up on high.' This we experience every day. Everyone strives after that which is above him, after honor, power, wealth, knowledge, a life of ease, and whatever is lofty and great. And where such people are, there are many hangers-on; all the world gathers round them, gladly yields them service, and would be at their side and share in their exaltation. Therefore it is not without reason that the Scriptures describe so few kings and rulers who were godly men. On the other hand, no one is willing to look into the depths with their poverty, disgrace, squalor, misery, and anguish. From these all turn away their eyes. Where there are such people, everyone takes to his heels, forsakes and shuns and leaves them to themselves; no one dreams of helping them or of making something out of them. And so they must remain in the depths and in their low and despised condition. There is among men no creator who would make something out of nothing, although that is what St. Paul teaches in Romans 12:16 when he says, 'Dear brethren, set not your mind on high things, but go along with the lowly.
     "Therefore to God alone belongs that sort of seeing that looks into the depths with their need and misery, and is near to all that are in the depths; as St. Peter says (1 Peter 5:5): 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.' And this is the source of men’s love and praise of God. For no one can praise God without first loving Him. No one can love Him unless He makes Himself known to him in the most lovable and intimate fashion. And He can make Himself known only through those works of His which He reveals in us, and which we feel and experience within ourselves. But where there is this experience, namely, that He is a God who looks into the depths and helps only the poor, despised, afflicted, miserable, forsaken, and those who are nothing, there a hearty love for Him is born. The heart overflows with gladness and goes leaping and dancing. . . ."

     Martin Luther, Das Magnificat verdeutschet und ausgelegt (1521 March 10), trans. A. T. W. Steinhaeuser, Luther's Works 21, 299-300, underscoring mine = WA 7, 547-548.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

The appropriation of the uniquely symbolic potentialities of what we are being forced today to call "heterosexual" marriage was very deliberate on God's part

"For Thomas, so far as the dignity of the human nature is concerned, the Word could have assumed the [(une)] body of a woman, for the Incarnation and the divine power are [both] indifferent by relation to the sex to be assumed:  'Ipse [Deus] potuit assumere quale corpus voluit'; it is for reasons of convenience (ad congruentiam) with the mission of Christ to be Head of the Church, to teach, to direct, [and] to defend humankind, that he assumed the [(une)] masculine sex. . . .  This position is far from being unanimous in the 13th century.  For Bonaventure, for example, the[se] reasons of convenience become reasons to affirm the impossibility of an assumption of the body of a woman by the Word. . . .  [And it is] the same for Thomas' teacher Albert the Great."

     Adriano Oliva, O.P., "Essence et finalité du marriage selon Thomas d'Aquin pour un soin pastoral renouvelé," Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques 98, no. 4 (2014):  614n41 (601-668), translation mine.  Texts cited:  .
     According to Oliva, one should never adopt uncritically—which is to say without examining the works of St. Thomas in all of their sophisticated particularity—the contemporary prejudice that he insisted upon "the inferiority of women" (614).

"The quintessential deathwork of our time . . . is pornography."

      Carl R. Trueman, The rise and triumph of the modern self:  cultural amnesia, expressive individualism, and the road to sexual revolution (Wheaton, IL:  Crossway, 2020), 98.  "A [Rieffian] deathwork . . . represents an attack on established cultural art forms in a manner designed to undo the deeper moral structure of society. . . .  Deathworks make the old values look ridiculous.  They represent not so much arguments against the old order as subversions of it.  They aim at changing the aesthetic tastes and sympathies of society so as to undermine the commands on which that society was based. . . .  [A deathwork is] a symbol of something deeply sacred to the second world being presented in a form that degrades it and makes it utterly repulsive. . . . [It turns] it into something dirty, disgusting, and vile. . . .  The major problem with pornography is not what many religious conservatives might understand it to be—its promotion of lust and its objectifying of the participants.  It is certainly both of those things, but the problem is also much deeper:  it repudiates any notion that sex has significance beyond the act itself, and therefore it rejects any notion that it is emblematic of a sacred order" (96-99, paragraph breaks ignored).
     The reference is to the first book in the trilogy by Philip Rieff entitled Sacred order/social order:  My life among the deathworks: illustrations of the aesthetics of authority (Charlottesville, VA:  University of Virginia Press, 2006).