Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt: Family as the foundation of culture.

Dear friends in Christ,

Since the beginning of man’s life on earth, the family has served as the cornerstone of society.  The integrity of the family set the standard for society from the beginning of time as the underpinning of our civilization, reflecting the beneficial differences between men and women and the complementarity of their hearts, minds, and bodies.

Aristotle argued that the natural progression of human beings flowed from the family via small communities out to the polisThe state itself, then, as a natural extension of the family, mirrors this critical institution.

Inspired by Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas writes, “man is by nature a social being since he stands in need of many vital things which he cannot come by through his own unaided effort. Hence he is naturally part of a group by which assistance is given him that he may live well.  He needs this assistance with a view to life as well as to the good life.”[1]  And Pope Leo XIII develops Aquinas’ thought further, recognizing that “man’s natural instinct moves him to live in civil society, for he cannot, if dwelling apart, provide himself with the necessary requirements of life, nor procure the means of developing his mental and moral faculties.”[2]  Indeed, just as our communities and the state itself imitate the structure of the family, our economy is also modeled after oikonomia—the Greek word for household management.

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Editor’s note: This is a fairly long piece, but it is worth a read. This is what good Catholic bishops are supposed to do – teach!

So long, Albertus Magnus

If you ever visit the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN, make sure you get a glimpse of the campus’ loveliest bit of architecture, the iconic St. Thomas arches. Built in 1947, these arches stand proudly astride the administrative building and the liberal arts center, displaying a statue of the university’s patron.

At one time, the buildings were known as Aquinas Hall and Albertus Magnus Hall. It was a beautiful pairing, which left the university’s signature landmark gracefully bridging the gap between the Angelic Doctor and his inspired teacher. In 1999, however, the university renovated Albertus Magnus Hall, at which time it was renamed “the John Roach Center.”

John Roach was the archbishop in the Twin Cities from 1975 to 1995. I never knew him, so be assured that there is no personal animus behind this one little thought: I do not think he contributed as much to the Church as Albert the Great. And it saddens me to realize that, with the loss of his building, a majority of UST students will surely graduate without so much as hearing the name of St. Thomas’ great mentor.

Imagine a world in which Catholic universities named their landmarks with an eye to the students’ good, and not to university politics…

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Editor’s note: Archbishop Roach reputedly had little regard for either of the above saints, but he was a great friend and close associate of the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin.  See the linked article – starting about 3/4 of the way down the page.

What should be a warning to all: A study of St. Thomas Aquinas’ writings about the workings of the devil.

As already noted, the devil is always ready to make provocative suggestions to us, to work on our prejudices, our sexual weaknesses, our temperamental flaws, our developed habits of sinfulness of some type or degree, to weaken or destroy our vocation as spouse or religious or cleric, even attempting to turn our virtues against us. Nevertheless, our free will and therefore our responsibility and thus culpability remain more or less in each instance.

A question remains why God allows the devil–that angel who himself first sinned against God and is doomed to eternal punishment to tempt man to sin–to roam the earth in search of others to join him in his rebellion. This is a mystery as much as the existence of sin is a mystery, the mystery of iniquity. By his sin the devil lost nothing of his native or natural capabilities, especially his free will. Although by his sin he is no longer capable of turning back to God, yet for God’s purposes he is still free, as he was with our first parents, to influence inferior creatures. Thus “it belongs to the domain of the divine majesty, to whom the demons are subject, that God should employ them to whatever purpose he wills” (ST II-II:96:2:3).

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Reject Aquinas and you might just as well exchange divine truth for the big lie.

Amongst the host of legitimate problems, the post-Vatican II Church abandoned St. Thomas Aquinas. Entire Thomistic libraries were recovered from the garbage dumpsters outside Catholic universities and the popular malformed lens of Karl Rahner interpreted the entirety of Sacred Tradition afresh.1Though Vatican II suffers its own vagaries, the insufferable ”Spirit of Vatican II” has become a skeleton key of liberals, i.e., heretics, to unlock whatever thinly dissembled modernist errors they wish into the Church.

Often times one will hear when St. Thomas Aquinas is brought into the conversation that Vatican II did away with that old medievalist and the Church’s supposed peace with modernity has ushered in new Catholic manners of thinking. Again, all actual problems with the text of Vatican II aside, it did no such thing. Though it lacks the assiduousness and acumen of previous Church documents, the Council still affirms St. Thomas’ role as the mind that rules Catholic academia like a king.

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Editor’s note: With a good working knowledge of the teachings of St. Augustine, St. Anselm and St. Aquinas you can typically resolve 98% of the difficulties people have with understanding authentic Catholicism.

This Week’s Ask Alice: Fallen Angels, the True Nature of Heaven, What Would Things Be Like If Adam Hadn’t Sinned?

Send A Question To Alice

She’ll answer as many questions as possible,
right here, every Thursday.

Email responses will also be provided, as time permits.

Mike S. Asks: If Heaven is perfect (without sin) how could there be a war between the good angels and the bad angels? If Adam and Eve had not sinned, what would have happened to Jesus Christ?

Alice Answers: Heaven is the perfect state of existence. It is the eternal home of God, angels and saints. There are no devils in Heaven. The evil spirits were banished to hell during a war between the good and bad angels which occurred before God created Adam and Eve. The mighty battle, led by St. Michael the Archangel against Satan, is described in the book of Revelation.

“Then war broke out in Heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. Although the dragon and his angels fought back they were overpowered and lost their place in Heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent known as the devil or Satan, the seducer of the whole world, was driven out; he was hurled down to earth and his minions with him.” (Revelation 12:7- 9)

There are no conflicts in Heaven, since no one can enter Heaven with hate in his or her heart. The souls of people who refuse to give or accept the love of God and neighbor are in hell.

The good news is that Satan was banished from Heaven! The bad news is, “But woe to you, earth and sea, for the devil has come down upon you!” (Revelation 12:12)

Satan and his demons wander the earth seducing people, such as Adam and Eve, to sin. If our first parents had not sinned, Jesus could have remained in Heaven rather than come to earth as a helpless infant (through the mystery of the Incarnation) to suffer a horrible crucifixion and death to save us from our sins.

However, all human beings have an inclination toward sin called concupiscence. After the Great Flood, God promised Noah and his descendants that he would not destroy all of humanity because of our sinfulness.

“Never again will I doom the earth because of man, since the desires of man’s heart are evil from the start; nor will I ever again strike down all living beings as I have done.” (Genesis 8:21)

Even if Adam and Eve had not sinned, Jesus would have come to earth to save any one of us from the wages of our sins, which is death. “For God so love the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him may not die but may have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

In Christ’s Love,

Alice

Doug Lawrence adds: Regarding the perfection of heaven and the fall of the angels: Please see paragraph 63 of St. Thomas Aquinas’ treatise on the angels.

63. SIN OF THE FALLEN ANGELS

1. A rational creature (that is, a creature with intellect and will) can sin. If it be unable to sin, this is a gift of grace, not a condition of nature. While angels were yet unbeatified they could sin. And some of them did sin.

2. The sinning angels (or demons) are guilty of all sins in so far as they lead man to commit every kind of sin. But in the bad angels themselves there could be no tendency to fleshly sins, but only to such sins as can be committed by a purely spiritual being, and these sins are two only: pride and envy.

3. Lucifer who became Satan, leader of the fallen angels, wished to be as God. This prideful desire was not a wish to be equal to God, for Satan knew by his natural knowledge that equality of creature with creator is utterly impossible. Besides, no creature actually desires to destroy itself, even to become something greater. On this point man sometimes deceives himself by a trick of imagination; he imagines himself to be another and greater being, and yet it is himself that is somehow this other being. But an angel has no sense-faculty of imagination to abuse in this fashion. The angelic intellect, with its clear knowledge, makes such self-deception impossible. Lucifer knew that to be equal with God, he would have to be God, and he knew perfectly that this could not be. What he wanted was to be as God; he wished to be like God in a way not suited to his nature, such as to create things by his own power, or to achieve final beatitude without God’s help, or to have command over others in a way proper to God alone.

4. Every nature, that is every essence as operating, tends to some good. An intellectual nature tends to good in general, good under its common aspects, good as such. The fallen angels therefore are not naturally evil.

5. The devil did not sin in the very instant of his creation. When a perfect cause makes a nature, the first operation of that nature must be in line with the perfection of its cause. Hence the devil was not created in wickedness. He, like all the angels, was created in the state of sanctifying grace.

6. But the devil, with his companions, sinned immediately after creation. He rejected the grace in which he was created, and which he was meant to use, as the good angels used it, to merit beatitude. If, however, the angels were not created in grace (as some hold) but had grace available as soon as they were created, then it may be that some interval occurred between the creation and the sin of Lucifer and his companions.

7. Lucifer, chief of the sinning angels, was probably the highest of all the angels. But there are some who think that Lucifer was highest only among the rebel angels.

8. The sin of the highest angel was a bad example which attracted the other rebel angels, and, to this extent, was the cause of their sin.

9. The faithful angels are a greater multitude than the fallen angels. For sin is contrary to the natural order. Now, what is opposed to the natural order occurs less frequently, or in fewer instances, than what accords with the natural order.

64. STATE OF THE FALLEN ANGELS

1. The fallen angels did not lose their natural knowledge by their sin; nor did they lose their angelic intellect.

2. The fallen angels are obstinate in evil, unrepentant, inflexibly determined in their sin. This follows from their nature as pure spirits, for the choice of a pure spirit is necessarily final and unchanging.

3. Yet we must say that there is sorrow in the fallen angels, though not the sorrow of repentance. They have sorrow in the affliction of knowing that they cannot attain beatitude; that there are curbs upon their wicked will; that men, despite their efforts, may get to heaven.

4. The fallen angels are engaged in battling against man’s salvation and in torturing lost souls in hell. The fallen angels that beset man on earth, carry with them their own dark and punishing atmosphere, and wherever they are they endure the pains of hell. [Note: For further discussion of angels, see Qq. 106-114.]

What would have happened if Adam had not sinned?

Even if Adam had never sinned, God would still be God, we would still be his human creatures, and there would likely be at least some type of a divinely instituted system of justice. While the nature and the “flavor” of our human existence would be radically different from what we currently experience, any effect on God himself would probably be minuscule, since he is dependent on us for nothing, at all.

For more on these types of things, go here.

Have you read Thomas Aquinas’ 5 proofs of God? Don’t they sound utterly ridiculous?

Q: Have you read Thomas Aquinas’ 5 proofs of God? Don’t they sound utterly ridiculous?

A: Casting pearls before swine has always been utterly ridiculous.

Most people are totally incapable of, or unwilling to try understanding Aquinas’ logic, which must be studied in its proper, Catholic context … and that’s pretty much just as it was, back in the day. 

Fortunately, some of us simply know God, and with that, no further proof is necessary.

You may want to read the “Cliff’s Notes” version:

https://douglawrence.wordpress.com/2010/0…

The Feasts of All Saints and All Souls, hidden in the Mass

You will notice that, during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, while the choir chants the Agnus Dei, the priest will break the Host into three pieces. Two parts are left upon the paten, while one part (which is very small) is placed into the chalice of the Precious Blood. This is called the rite of “commingling”, because it is at this point that the Body and Blood of Christ are sacramentally mingled together – though the Lord is fully present in both the Host and the chalice, the one is the Sacrament of his Body and the other is the Sacrament of his Blood.

As the priest performs this rite he prays: “May this mingling of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ bring eternal life to us who receive it.” There is, in the very rite itself, a direct connection between the commingling and salvation! St. Thomas Aquinas, following an ancient tradition, has shown how the whole Church is mystically present in this sacramental rite. Here, hidden in the rite of the Mass, we find a symbol of our two feast days – All Saints’ and All Souls’.
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