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.

Read more

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…

Read more

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).

Read more

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.

Read more

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’.
Read more

St. Thomas Aquinas teaches us about angels

(QUESTIONS 50 TO 64)

50. THE SUBSTANCE OF THE ANGELS

1. Creatures exist in a series of grades. They participate and represent the goodness of God in various ways. In the world about us, there are three kinds of substances: mineral, vegetal, animal. These are all bodily substances. We find also in this world the human substance which is mineral, vegetal, and animal, and yet is something more; it is not all bodily; man has a spiritual soul. To round out the order of things, there must be some purely spiritual or nonbodily substances. Thus createdsubstances are: the completely bodily substance, the substance that is a compound of body and spirit, and the completely spiritual substance. Completely spiritual substances are called angels.

2. A bodily substance is composed of two substantial elements, primal matter and substantial form. In angels there is no compounding of matter and form. Matter does not exist in angels; they are pure substantial forms. That is to say, they are pure spirits; they are spirits with no admixture of matter in them.

3. Holy Scripture (Dan. 7:10) indicates the existence of a vast multitude of angels: “Thousands of thousands ministered to Him, and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood before Him.” Indeed, since the intention back of creation is the perfection of the universe as sharing and representing the divine goodness, it appears that the more perfect creatures should abound in largest multitude. It is, therefore, reasonable to suppose that angels exist in a multitude far exceeding the number of material things.

4. In bodily substances we distinguish their species or essential kind, and their status as individuals of that kind. For example, we distinguish in a man, (a) what makes him a human being, and (b) what makes him this one human being. Now, that which constitutes a thing in its species or essential kind is called the principle of specification. And that which constitutes a thing as this one item or instance of its kind is called the principle of individuation. In all creatures, the principle of specification is the substantial form which makes the creature an existing thing of its essential kind. And the principle of individuation is matter or bodiliness inasmuch as it is marked by quantity. Since angels have in them no matter or bodiliness at all, for they are pure spirits, they are not individuated. This means that each angel is the only one of its kind. It means that each angel is a species or essential kind of substantial being. Hence each angel is essentially different from every other angel.

5. The angels are incorruptible substances. This means that they cannot die, decay, break up, or be substantially changed. For the root of corruptibility in a substance is matter, and in the angels there is no matter.

51. ANGELS AND BODIES

1. Angels have no bodies. An intellectual nature (that is, a substantial essence equipped for understanding and willing) does not require a body. In man, because the body is substantially united with the spiritual soul, intellectual activities (understanding and willing) presuppose the body and its senses. But an intellect in itself, or as such, requires nothing bodily for its activity. The angels are pure spirits without a body, and their intellectual operations of understanding and willing depend in no way at all upon material substance.

2. That the angels sometimes assume bodies is known from Holy Scripture. Angels appeared in bodily form to Abraham and his household; the angel Raphael came in the guise of a young man to be the companion of the younger Tobias.

3. In bodies thus assumed, angels do not actually exercise the functions of true bodily life. When an angel in human form walks and talks, he exercises angelic power and uses the bodily organs as instruments. But he does not make the body live, or make it his own body.

53. ANGELS AND LOCAL MOVEMENT

1. Since an angel can be in a place (by definitive presence), it can be first in this place and afterwards in that place. That is to say, an angel can move locally. But this local movement of an angel is not like the local movement of a body. An angel is in a place by exercising its powers there; it can cease to apply its powers there and begin to apply them elsewhere; and this, equivalently at least, is a kind of local movement.

2. By this sort of local movement an angel may, at will, be present successively in several places and thus may be said to pass through the space between the first and the last place of the series. Or an angel may cease to apply its powers in the first place and begin to apply them in the last, not passing through the space between.

3. Since there is succession, that is, before-and-after, in the application of an angel’s powers, now here and now there, it must be said that an angel’s local movement occurs in time, and is not instantaneous. This time, however, is not measurable in our minutes or seconds; these units of time are applicable only to bodily movement.

Read questions 54 to 64

A Catholic look at the Anti-Christ

Looks like Jesus …
directed and empowered by Satan …
promoted by the False Prophet.

“As in Christ dwells the fullness of the Godhead so in Antichrist the fullness of all wickedness. Not indeed in the sense that his humanity is to be assumed by the devil into unity of person …, but that the devil by suggestion infuses his wickedness more copiously into him than into all others.” -St. Thomas Aquinas (Summa III:8:8)

“Yet many Christians will remember that this was all foretold of Antichrist for centuries past and perceive the fraud of Satan and refuse to be deceived. They will stand firm and enlighten the faint-hearted and console them.” -Bernadine Von Busto

Read the article

Writer Anne Rice “deconverts” from Christianity. Apparently never quite understood the concept.

Rice has, in essence, taken up a sort of secularized, liberal Protestantism that attempts—almost Marcion-like—to extract a Jesus from the dust and difficulty and reality of history and turn him into a private guru who is “freed” from and separated from the humanity he embraced, the Church he founded, and the authority he granted to mere mortals. Rice claims her faith is in Christ, but it is a Christ made in her likeness and image: politically correct and socially trendy, anti-Church, disdainful of authority, with an open hostility toward traditional morality.

Whoever her Christ is, he is not the Christ embraced, at last, by St. Augustine, nor seen, near the end, by St. Thomas; he is not the Christ who said:

“I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (Jn. 17:20-21)

Say a prayer to Sts. Augustine and Aquinas for Anne Rice, that she might be restored to faith and communion.

Link

A companion to St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica

St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa is extraordinarily well suited to explaining the things of God, but it remains rather tough for many modern minds to understand.

This site attempts to explain the Summa in laymen’s terms.

According to the site: The Companion to the Summa is the most remarkable and successful attempt to put into modern English for a lay audience the essential arguments and insights of Aquinas’ greatest work, the Summa theologiae.

Fr. Farrell wrote almost sixty years ago, in the late 30’s and early 40’s, so we cannot fault him for the use of language that was acceptable at that time but might sound inappropriate today.

His colorful and imaginative paraphrase deserves to be taken off the shelf and reviewed by all serious seekers of theological truth.

In an age which looks upon the theology of the Catholic tradition as irrelevant to contemporary problems we leave it to your judgment to read and see if Aquinas, as mediated by the brilliant imagination of Fr. Walter Farrell, has a contribution to make.

Don’t miss the opportunity to download the entire work, for free.

Visit A Companion to the Summa, by Walter Farrell O.P.

Study the Summa, at NewAdvent.org

Pope on teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas: Reason provides a three-fold service to faith

In his theological work, St. Thomas presupposes and makes concrete this rationality. Faith consolidates, integrates and enlightens the patrimony of truth that human reason acquires. The trust that St. Thomas accords to these two instruments of knowledge — faith and reason — can lead back to the conviction that both proceed from the one source of all truth, the divine Logos, which operates both in the realm of creation as well as in that of redemption.

Together with the agreement between reason and faith, it must be acknowledged that they make use of different cognitive procedures. Reason accepts a truth on the strength of its intrinsic evidence, indirect or immediate; faith, instead, accepts a truth based on the authority of the Word of God who reveals himself. At the beginning of his Summa Theologiae St. Thomas writes: “The order of the sciences is twofold; some proceed from principles known through the natural light of reason, such as mathematics, geometry and similar ones; others proceed from principles known through a higher science: as perspective proceeds from principles known through geometry and music from principles known through mathematics. And in this way the sacred doctrine (namely, theology) is a science because it proceeds from principles known through the light of a higher science, namely, the science of God and of the saints” (I, q. 1, a. 2).

This distinction ensures the autonomy both of human sciences as well as of the theological sciences. However, this is not the equivalent of separation, but implies rather a reciprocal and advantageous collaboration. Faith, in fact, protects reason from every temptation to mistrust its own capacities, it stimulates it to open to ever more vast horizons, it keeps alive in it the search for foundations and, when reason itself applies itself to the supernatural sphere of the relationship between God and man, it enriches its work. According to St. Thomas, for example, human reason can without a doubt attain to the affirmation of the existence of one God, but only faith, which receives divine Revelation, is able to attain to the mystery of the Love of God, One and Triune.

On the other hand, it is not only faith that helps reason. Reason also, with its means, can do something important for faith, rendering it a threefold service that St. Thomas summarizes in the preface of his commentary to Boethius’ De Trinitate:

“To demonstrate the foundations of the faith; to explain through similarities the truth of the faith; to refute the objections that are raised against the faith” (q. 2, a. 2).

Read more of Pope Benedict’s remarks

What did God do before creation?

Q: What did God do
before he created all things?

A: Nothing.
He didn’t have the time.

Attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas

REASONS FOR THE FAITH AGAINST MUSLIM OBJECTIONS – by St. Thomas Aquinas

It’s interesting to note that the seeds of the priestly abuse scandal were sown when Catholic seminaries decided to abandon traditional Thomistic theology for more modern, progressive stuff (meaning: radical theology, just a bit shy of outright heresy.)

St. Thomas clearly explains
– the 8  key  differences-
between the Muslim and Christian understanding of the nature of God, dealing positively and very specifically with the weaker areas of  Islamic beliefs, the Muslim system consisting (essentially) of a mix of  classic Judaism, combined with choice selections from noted, 6th century heretical Christians, plus a very large dose of Arab tribalism and culture.

After more than 700 years, Muslim scholars have yet to successfully refute any of these essential truths.

Finally, this work serves as a short, advanced catechism of the principle tenets of Christianity, deftly explaining theological concepts that many modern Christians choose either to accept on faith alone, or to simply reject out of hand … but most fail to fully understand.

All the more reason this should be considered essential reading for every serious Christian.

Read De rationibus fidei contra Saracenos…

Read Summa Contra Gentiles

Thomism, Tradition, Philosophy, Metaphysics, and Catholic Dogma – A Must Read!

stpeterbacrop
In the pre-Vatican II Church, this tremendous solidity was reflected in all the various facets of Catholic worship and life. There was absolutely no doubt, for instance, that the traditional Latin Mass was wholly intent on worshipping the majesty of God and of accomplishing that filial submission of mind and heart of all those who assisted at Mass to the total sovereignty of God over all things human.
The Latin language, the direction the altar faced, the beauty of sacred vessels, statuary, stained-glass windows, all aspects of the architecture, and the sacred music – all these things spoke of worship centered upon the Infinite, Immutable Being of God. And, of course, the prayers of the Old Mass embodied this worship to the utmost.
The very fact that the priest and servers knelt at the foot of the steps and prayed Psalm 42 and the Confiteor before they dared ascend to the altar, profoundly revealed this basic orientation of our faith and worship.
The same may be said for all standard materials used to teach the Faith. Catechisms such as the Baltimore catechism in the U.S. or the Penny catechism in the UK were almost like small compendiums of the Catechism of the Council of Trent, deeply reflecting the principles of our faith found in the Summa Theologica of  St. Thomas.
All of this solidity largely disappeared after Vatican Council II. It was widely declared that Triumphalism was something that only belonged to the Pharisaical past, and that the path to the future lay in something called aggiornamento – which roughly translated means “openness to the world.” This, despite the fact that Holy Scripture issues a dire warning precisely against any such “openness” to, or friendship with, the world.
In the Epistle of St. James, we read: “Adulterers, know you not that the friendship of this world is the enemy of God? Whosoever, therefore will be a friend of this world, becometh an enemy of God.” (James 4:4).
Read the article (PDF file)