Saturday, April 20, 2013

"With the American, freedom is anything but a mere absence of restraint, an arbitrary, licentious indulgence, every one following his natural impulse".

"The aspirations of this new kind of citizen were moderated by what Thomas Jefferson had called 'temperate liberty':  a capacity for self-government in which the rational understanding acts as a check on the unruly will. And the inner psychological structure of this temperate republican matched the outer system of checks and balances built into the republic itself.  For Jefferson temperate liberty was the key to both personal happiness and civil society.  It was a 'conception of freedom,' as Philip Schaff realized,
specifically different from the purely negative notion which prevails amongst the radicals and revolutionists of Europe.  With the American, freedom is anything but a mere absence of restraint[, an arbitrary, licentious indulgence, every one following his natural impulse, as the revolutionists would have it.  I]t is a rational, moral, self-determination, hand in hand with law, order, and authority.  True national freedom, in the American view, rests upon a moral groundwork, upon the virtue of self-possession and self-control in individual citizens.[  He alone is worthy of this great blessing and capable of enjoying it who holds his passions in check; is master of his sensual nature; obeys natural laws, not under pressure from without, but from inward impulse, cheerfully and joyfully.  But the negative and hollow liberalism, or rather the radicalism, which undermines the authority of law, and sets itself against Christianity and the church, necessarily dissolves all social ties, and ends in anarchy; which then passes very easily into the worst and most dangerous form of despotism.]"
     Andrew Delbanco, The real American dream: a meditation on hope, The William E. Massey Sr. lectures in the history of American civilization 1998 (Cambridge:  Harvard University Press, 1999), 61-62.  Delbanco is citing Philip Schaff, America:  a sketch of the political, social, and religious character of the United States of North America, in two lectures, (New York:  C. Scribner, 1855), 43-44 (though I have reinserted in brackets what Delbanco leaves out:  what he almost has to leave out, since he has moved from the chapter on "God" to the chapter on "Nation" (en route to the chapter on "Self")).

Friday, April 19, 2013

"a democracy can obtain truth only as the result of experience; and many nations may perish while they are awaiting the consequences of their errors."

"la démocratie ne peut obtenir la vérité que de l'expérience, et beaucoup de peuples ne sauraient attendre, sans périr, les résultats de leurs erreurs."

     Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America I (1835).I.XIII.14 ("Self-control of the American democracy"), trans. Henry Reeve, with revisions by Francis Bowen and Phillips Bradley ((New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997), vol. 1, p. 231);  Œuvres, ed. André Jardin (Bibliothèque de la Pléiade), II (De la démocratie en Amérique), ed. Jean-Claude Lamberti and James T. Schleifer (Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 1992), 257.  

"Communion and contemplation belong therefore together."

"Love desires no recompense other than to be loved in return; and thus God desires nothing in return for his love for us other than our love. . . . To understand this deed of love primarily, not to say exclusively, as something passed on apostolically from man to man, would be to instrumentalize the revelation of absolute love, wholly reducing it to a means or impulse directed to a human end, rather than seeing it as personal and absolute itself.  To center Christianity in anthropology and thus turn it into pure ethics would be to eliminate its theo-logical dimension.  Israel . . . must remain a warning in this respect:  the jealous God, who makes a gift of himself in the covenant, desires in the first place nothing other than his partner's zealously faithful lovefor him.  Indeed, we must love absolute love and direct our love to the Lover, setting aside all other relative and competing objects of love.  To the extent that we do not remain absolutely faithful to absolute love, these objects turn into idols.  The bridegroom and the bride in the Song of Songs have no children; they are everything and sufficient for one another, and all their fruitfulness lies enclosed within the circle of their mutual love:  hortus conclusus, fons signatus.
     "In the same way, every Christian 'apostolate' strays from love and becomes a rationalized siphoning of love (cf. Judas' pseudo-charitable objection to Mary's utterly 'wasteful' squandering in Jn 12:3-8) to the extent that absolute love does not receive a response that is likewise absolute and not directed to any ulterior end.  We call this response 'worship'. . . . Since it serves no ulterior purpose, this attitude of readiness cannot but appear useless in the eyes of the world, which is caught up in so many urgent and reasonable occupations (Lk 10:42). . . . God's love, from which all fruitfulness stems, will be powerful enough to produce all of the fruit pleasing to him in mankind and the world out of this single-hearted nuptial surrender. . . .
     "Prayer, both ecclesial and personal prayer, thus ranks higher than all action, not in the first place as a source of psychological energy ('refueling', as they say today), but as the act of worship and glorification that befits love, the act in which one makes the most fundamental attempt to answer with selflessness and thereby shows that one has understood the divine proclamation.  It is as tragic as it is ridiculous to see Christians today giving up this fundamental prioritywhich is witnessed to by the entire Old and New Testament, by Jesus' life as much as by Paul's and John's theologyand seeking instead an immediate encounter with Christ in their neighbor, or even in purely worldly work and technological activity.  Engaged in such work, they soon loose the capacity to see any distinction between worldly responsibility and Christian mission.  Whoever does not come to know the face of God in contemplation will not recognize it in action, even when it reveals itself to him in the face of the oppressed and humiliated.
     "Moreover, the celebration of the Eucharist is itself an anamnesis, which means that it is contemplation in love and the communion of love with love; and it is only from such a celebration that a Christian mission goes out into the world:  'Ite missa-missio est!'"

     Hans Urs von Balthasar, Love alone is credible, trans. D. C. Schindler, chap. 8 ("Love as deed") ((San Francisco:  Ignatius Press, 2004), 109).

He who "Gottes Antlitz nicht aus der Kontemplation kennt, wird es in der Aktion nicht wiedererkennen, selbst dann nicht, wenn es ihm aus dem Antlitz der Erniedrigten und Beleidigten entgegenleuchtet.
     "Auch die Feier der Eucharistie is Anamnesis und darin Kontemplation der Liebe mit Liebe; und nur von ihr her ergeht ein christliches Ite Missa-Missio est! in die Welt."

     Hans Urs von Balthasar, Glaubhaft ist nur Liebe, 6th ed. (Einsiedeln, 2000), 73, as quoted by Jan-Heiner Tück in "Verborgene Gegenwart und betrachtendes Verweilen:  zur poetischen Theologie des Hymnus «Adoro te devote»," Communio:  Internationale katholische Zeitschrift 34, no. 4 (2005):  403 and 414n12 (401-418).

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"there is in him no real relation to the creature, although there is a relation of the creature to him, that of effect to cause."

"God does not act through an intervening action which is understood as proceeding from God and terminating in the creature, but his action is his substance and whatever is in him is wholly outside the genus of created existence by which the creature is related to God."

     Thomas Aquinas, Quaestiones disputatae de potentia 7.10.Resp., trans. Ralph McInerny (Thomas Aquinas:  selected writings, trans. & ed. Ralph McInerny (London:  Penguin books, 1998), 337-338).