Sunday, July 31, 2016

On Avarice and Liberality

Today's Ordinary Form Gospel ("the parable of the rich fool") is about the vice of avarice. Christ condemns the sin of greed.

Liberality is the contrary virtue.

Cf. Summa Theologica II-II, q. 117

(Looking over my notes taken during my daily seminary reading of Saint Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theolgica in Latin [a project I never completed, probably because I did not trust the last sections {not written by Thomas}]. Those notes are mainly unclear chicken scratch, but with some sections which are very clear: e.g. on the virtues and vices of Thomas).

N.B. Never tire of the Summa Theologica, in Latin! It is the preaching manual par excellence!

The solution, as always, is in Thomas!

P.S. Every seminarian should read and understand both of Saint Thomas' Summae, unabridged and in Latin, as a foundation for thinking and teaching the Catholic religion. That would be an very adequate schema for the six year formation program. Begin, in the two initial philosophy years with the Summa Contra Gentiles, of course, supplementing that course with the questions which are important in our own day: relativism, atheism, Islam, gender-confusion, etc.

N.B. The Prologue (Intention) of the Summa Theologica.

Because the Master of Catholic Truth ought not only to teach the proficient, but also to instruct beginners (according to the Apostle: “As Unto Little Ones in Christ, I Gave You Milk to Drink, Not Meat”—1 Cor. iii. 1, 2), we purpose in this book to treat of whatever belongs to the Christian Religion, in such a way as may tend to the instruction of beginners. We have considered that students in this Science have not seldom been hampered by what they have found written by other authors, partly on account of the multiplication of useless questions, articles, and arguments; partly also because those things that are needful for them to know are not taught according to the order of the subject-matter, but according as the plan of the book might require, or the occasion of the argument offer; partly, too, because frequent repetition brought weariness and confusion to the minds of the readers. Endeavoring to avoid these and other like faults, we shall try, by God’s help, to set forth whatever is included in this Sacred Science as briefly and clearly as the matter itself may allow.

[1] Among all human pursuits, the pursuit of wisdom is more perfect, more noble, more useful, and more full of joy. 
It is more perfect because, in so far as a man gives himself to the pursuit of wisdom, so far does he even now have some share in true beatitude. And so a wise man has said: “Blessed is the man that shall continue in wisdom” (Sirach 14:22).
It is more noble because through this pursuit man especially approaches to a likeness to God Who “made all things in wisdom” (Ps. 103:24). And since likeness is the cause of love, the pursuit of wisdom especially joins man to God in friendship. That is why it is said of wisdom that “she is an infinite treasure to men! which they that use become the friends of God” (Wis. 7:14).
It is more useful because through wisdom we arrive at the kingdom of immortality. For “the desire of wisdom leads to the everlasting kingdom” (Wis. 6:21).
It is more full of joy because “her conversation has no bitterness, nor her company any tediousness, but joy and gladness” (Wis. 7:16).
[2] And so, in the name of the divine Mercy, I have the confidence to embark upon the work of a wise man, even though this may surpass my powers, and I have set myself the task of making known, as far as my limited powers will allow, the truth that the Catholic faith professes, and of setting aside the errors that are opposed to it. To use the words of Hilary: “I am aware that I owe this to God as the chief duty of my life, that my every word and sense may speak of Him” [De Trinitate I, 37].
[3] To proceed against individual errors, however, is a difficult business, and this for two reasons. In the first place, it is difficult because the sacrilegious remarks of individual men who have erred are not so well known to us so that we may use what they say as the basis of proceeding to a refutation of their errors. This is, indeed, the method that the ancient Doctors of the Church used in the refutation of the errors of the Gentiles. For they could know the positions taken by the Gentiles since they themselves had been Gentiles, or at least had lived among the Gentiles and had been instructed in their teaching. 
In the second place, it is difficult because some of them, such as the Mohammedans and the pagans, do not agree with us in accepting the authority of any Scripture, by which they may be convinced of their error. Thus, against the Jews we are able to argue by means of the Old Testament, while against heretics we are able to argue by means of the New Testament. But the Muslims and the pagans accept neither the one nor the other. We must, therefore, have recourse to the natural reason, to which all men are forced to give their assent. However, it is true, in divine matters the natural reason has its failings.
[4] Now, while we are investigating some given truth, we shall also show what errors are set aside by it; and we shall likewise show how the truth that we come to know by demonstration is in accord with the Christian religion.

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