Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Primacy of Marian Dimension of the Church: Personal Holiness

Annual Address to Roman Curia Pope Saint John Paul II December 22, 1987

On Monday, 22 December, in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Rossi, conveyed the Christmas greetings of the assembled cardinals and officials of the Roman Curia to the Holy Father, who delivered the following address in reply.

Your Eminences, Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood, Dear Laity,

I sincerely thank the Cardinal Dean for his greeting; he has interpreted your personal desires in this traditional and always pleasant gathering before Christmas. His message has focused our common attention on the particular significance which current circumstances contribute to our annual meeting. We meet near the Eve of Christmas in the Marian Year.

Every year on this occasion we are moved by the expectation of him who is born in Bethlehem of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, and it is our mutual desire to experience as deeply as possible this central event of history by extending a welcome to the Incarnate Word. In this Marian Year our meeting has a special significance and brings a new emphasis to our Christmas reflection. The Marian Year, in fact, prepares us to approach Christ in this Advent of the third millennium in order to relieve the mystery of his Incarnation, following Mary who precedes us in this journey of faith. She was the first “minister” of the Word.

As members of the Roman Curia we are conscious of serving the Mystery of the Incarnation from which the Church as a “Body” originated. In Mary, as St. Augustine noted: “the only-begotten Son of God was pleased to unite to himself human nature, so that to the immaculate head he associated the immaculate Church, (Serm 191.3; PL 38, 1010). From Mary is born Christ the Head who is indissolubly united to the Church, his Body. The “whole Christ” is born. As servants and ministers of this Mystical Body, daily nourished with the Eucharistic Body of Christ, we manifest this year the particular presence of the Mother of God in the Mystery of Christ and of the Church in which we are aware of participating in a particular manner.

2. We well understand that Vatican II effected a great synthesis between Mariology and ecclesiology. The Marian Year adheres to such a synthesis and conciliar inspiration so that the Church may be everywhere renewed through the presence of the Mother of God who, as the Fathers taught, is a model of the Church.

The Council offers an enlightening interpretation of the presence of the Virgin in the divine plan of salvation. Because she is the instrument and privileged channel of the Incarnation of the Word in human nature and of his presence among us, Mary is “intimately united with the Church: the Mother of God is a figure of the Church, as Saint Ambrose had earlier taught, in the order of faith, of charity and of the perfect union with Christ” (Lumen Gentium, 63). Developing this teaching, I wrote in the Encyclical Redemptoris Mater: “ the reality of the Incarnation finds a sort of extension in the mystery of the Church – The Body of Christ. And one cannot think of the reality of the Incarnation without referring to Mary, the Mother of the Incarnate Word” (no. 5).

Mary united to Christ, Mary united to the Church. And the Church united to Mary finds in her the most refined and perfect image of its own specific mission which is simultaneously virginal and maternal. The Fathers and the Teachers of the early Church have underlined this double aspect: for example, St. Augustine brilliantly comments, Hic est speciosus forma prae filiis hominum, sanctae filius Mariae, sanctiae sponsus Ecclesiae, quam suae genitriit similem redditit: nam et nobis eam matrem fecit, et virginem sibi custodit” (Serm 195.2; PL 38:1018). The Virgin Mary is the archetype of the Church because of the divine maternity; just like Mary, the Church must be, and wishes to be, mother and virgin. The Church lives in this authentic “Marian profile”, this “Marian dimension”; thus the Council, gathering together the patristic and theological voices, both eastern and western has noted this phenomenom: “The Church, moreover, contemplating Mary’s mysterious sanctity, imitating her charity, and faithfully fulfilling the Father’s will, becomes herself a mother by accepting God’s word in faith. For by her preaching and by baptism she brings forth to a new and immortal life, children who are conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of God. The Church herself is a virgin, who keeps whole and pure the fidelity she has pledged to her Spouse. Imitating the Mother of her Lord, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, she preserves with virginal purity and integral faith , a firm hope and sincere charity” (Lumen Gentium, 64).

Sphere of divine grace

3. This Marian profile is also- even perhaps more so- fundamental and characteristic for the Church as is the apostolic and Petrine profile to which it is profoundly united. In this vision of the Church Mary precedes the People of God who are still pilgrims.

Mary is she who, predestined to be the Mother of the Word, lived continuously and totally in the sphere of divine grace subject to its vivifying influence; she is the mirror and transparency of the life of God himself. Immaculate, “full of grace”, she was prepared by God for the Incarnation of the Word and was always under the Continuous action of the Holy Spirit: hers was the “yes” and the fiat par excellence to him who had chosen her “before the beginning of the world” (Eph 1:4). Such response was evident in the docility, the humility, the conformity to the least movement of grace which rendered her, we can say, mother in a twofold sense through conformity to God’s will: “who does the will of God is my mother” (cf. Mk 3:35). The divine maternity, that unique and sublime privilege of the ever-Virgin, must be seen in this perspective as the supreme glory of the fidelity of Mary in corresponding with grace.

The Marian dimension of the Church is evident from the similarity of tasks in relation to the whole Christ. To this dimension, in fact, can be applied the word of Jesus: “whoever does the will of my Father is my brother, sister, and mother”, (Mk, ibid.). The Church, like Mary, lives by grace in submission to the Holy Spirit; according to his light the signs and necessities of the times are interpreted, and progress is accomplished in complete docility to the voice of the Spirit.

In this sense the Marian dimension of the Church is antecedent to that of the Petrine, without being in any way divided from it or being less complementary. The Immaculate Mary precedes all others, including obviously Peter himself and the Apostles. This is so, not only because Peter and the Apostles, being born of the human race under the burden of sin, form part of the Church which is “holy with sinners:, but also because their triple function has no other purpose except to from the Church in line with the ideal of sanctity already programmed and prefigured in Mary. A contemporary theologian has well commented: “Mary is ‘Queen of the Apostles’ without any pretensions to apostolic powers: she has other and greater powers” (von Balthasar, Nette Klarstellungen, Ital. transl., Milan 1980, p. 181). In this context it is especially significant to note the presence of Mary in the Upper Room, where she assists Peter and the other Apostles, praying for and with them as all await the coming of the Spirit.

This link between the two profiles of the Church, the Marian and the Petrine, is profound and complementary. This is so even though the Marian profile is anterior not only in design of God but also in time, as well being supreme and pre-eminent, richer in personal and communitarian implications for individual ecclesial vocations.

In this light the Roman Curia lives and ought to live – all of us ought so to live. It is certain that the Curia is directly united to the Petrine office to whose service it is dedicated by office, constitution and mission. The Curia serves the Church as a Body; situated, one may say, at the apex, it offers its collaboration to the Successor of Peter in his service to the local Churches. In this activity, it is more necessary and indispensable to preserve and strengthen the Marian dimension in the service to Peter. Mary precedes those of us who are in the Curia where we serve the Mystery of the Word Incarnate, just as she precedes the whole Church for which we live. May she assist us to discover ever more fully and to live more authentically this richness, which for us, I would say, is vital and decisive. May Mary help us to participate more consciously in the symbiosis of the Marian and Petrine apostolic dimensions from which the Church daily draws orientation and sustenance. May attention to Mary and to her example bring us to a greater love, tenderness and docility to the voice of the Spirit, so that each one is more enriched interiorly with that dedication to the ministry of Peter.

4. In the light of the Marian Year as the central theme of our meeting, which continues the teaching Vatican II in presenting Mary as the guide of the People of God in their pilgrimage of faith, I would now like to underline some of the salient events of the year that is about to conclude: the Synod of bishops, the numerous beatifications and canonizations, and the visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch, Dimitrios I of Constantinople.

In the first place the sessions of the Synod: two months have passed since the conclusion of its discussions and it is more and more evident that the interventions and labours of the Synodal Fathers have resulted in a global image of the Church – how she lives, works, prays, suffers, struggles, and adheres to Christ. The Synod has effectively offered the image of this People on pilgrimage on earth, and especially of that portion of the People of God, the laity, according to their specific characteristics. In their pilgrimage it is still the Mother who precedes her children as they seek “the kingdom of God in dealing with temporal affairs as they organize them according to God’s will in the ‘spirit of the Beatitudes’” (Lumen Gentium, 31). This Marian presence in the mission of the laity, in their journey of faith, is the line which clearly defines that great event.

As time passes since the Synod of last October, the positive results become more evident, not alone in the reaffirmation of the teaching of the magnificent documents of Vatican Ii but more so because of the emphasis on the ecclesiology of communion as a necessary contest for situating the role of the laity in the Church for the salvation of the world. The laity themselves have co-operated in formulating this conclusion, in so far as the Synod Fathers represented the voice of the laity; furthermore, the laity themselves of both sexes entered actively by their conspicuous and qualified presence at the Synod where they spoke in the plenary sessions and collaborated effectively in the circuli minores. The result has been a truly universal overall view of the diverse realities that constitute the true image of the Church today. As with the preceding Synods, it shall be my duty to follow those unforgettable days.

Meanwhile I am happy to underline in our present meeting how this richness and plurality of results is the evidence that the Church is truly open to the voice of the Spirit in her pilgrimage of faith and love, and is always conscious of her responsibility to God and before the world. Mary is present in this journey of the laity, to guide them a she guides us all towards the coming of Christ.

Final destiny

5. Vatican II has demonstrated that in her who is the Mother of God the Church has reached her final destiny: “In the bodily and spiritual glory which she possesses in heaven, the Mother of Jesus continues in this present world as the image and first flowering of the Church as she is to be perfected in the life to come” (Lumen Gentium, 68). This affirmation reiterates what the dogmatic Constitution the Church had already expounded in chapter7: “the eschatological character of the pilgrim Church and its union with the heavenly church”, and chapter 5: “the universal vocation to holiness in the Church”. In the fullness of time Mary, in virtue of her immaculate conception, reunited in herself the salvific design of God that had been destroyed by sin. Assumed into heaven with her most holy body, which is the Ark of the new Covenant, she already reigns with Christ in the psycho-physical unity of her person.

She is, therefore, after Christ, “the first-begotten of the dead (Rev. 1:5; Col 1:18). She is the one who precedes the Church in the journey towards the fulfillment of sanctity and awaits the completion that shall be total. However, with her there are also those who, awaiting the final resurrection, are already in heaven according to the judgement of the church. They have verified in themselves the plan of God and have reached that desired success of every human existence: “the complete, intimate union with Christ” (cf. Lumen Gentium, 49).

Recalling the Queen of all Saints in this Marian Year I now wish to mention the two canonizations and eleven beatifications of this year. These numerous liturgical events of 1987 have demonstrated, perhaps more forcibly than usual, how real, true and actual is the Church’s universal call to holiness, and have given testimony to the ethnic-vocational plurality of such a call.

The new saints and beati, in fact, belong to diverse vocations among the people of God. Among such we discover: Cardinals, as Marcello Spinola y Maestre (29 March) and Andrea Carlo Ferrari (10 May): bishops, as Michal Kozal (14 June) and Jurgis Matulaitis (28 June); priests and brothers, as Manuel Domingo y Sol (29 March), Rupert Mayer (3 May) and Jules Arnould Reche (1 Nov.); women religious, as Teresa de los Andes (3April), Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinelli (10 May), Ulrika Nisch and BlandinaMerten (1 Nov.); laity of both sexes, as Lorenzo Ruiz (18 Oct.), Giuseppe Moscati (25 Oct. ), and many others all professions and occupations, even the most humble. It is a witness given in the most diverse circumstances, i.e. as pastors and ministers of the Church, as medical doctors, as educators and evangelizers.

Often such witness was rendered in the most arduous circumstances, such as by martyrdom antonomastically so called as in the case of three Carmelite Sisters of Guadalajara (29 March), Edith Stein (1 May) and Karolina Kozka (10 June), Marcel Callo, Pierina Morosini and Antonia Mesina (4 Oct.), the 16 martyrs of Japan (18 Oct.), and the eighty-five English martyrs (22 Nov.).

Again, many of the new saints and beati lived in our century: they are contemporaries. In reality, the saints are in our midst and they demonstrate that even today the Church is called to sanctity and responds generously under the inspiration and guidance of Mary.

Furthermore, the saints and beati belong to diverse nations of different continents: thus the canonizations and beatifications attest to the universal significance even when viewed geographically.

From this point of view I regard it as a special grace of the Lord to have been able to propose for the veneration of the church, as desired by repeated requests of the local bishops, come champions of the faith in the locality where they lived. I did this during some of the apostolic journeys of this year: Sister Teresa de los Andes at Santiago, Chile (3 April); Sister Benedicta of the Cross, at Cologne (1 May); Father Mayer at Munich (3 May); Karolina Kozka, at Tarnow (10 June); and Mons. Kozal at Warsaw (14 June).

The ever-increasing possibility of publicly proclaiming the heroic sanctity of the sons and daughters of the Church in the course of my visits to various countries of the world confirms me in the belief that such journeys constitute a particular service to the People of God on its pilgrimage, precisely that pilgrimage towards the definitive Kingdom of God, in which Mary “precedes” the Church in various places on earth. Since the journeys are, with God’s help, the contemporary application of the mandate of Christ – “go therefore into the whole world” (Mk 16:15) – and also and explicit consequence of the Petrine ministry, “confirm your brothers” (Lk 22:32), they afford a greater spiritual and intellectual irradiation of the office that is so sublime and solemn, by proposing for the imitation of the Church the authentic exemplars of sanctity proper to it. Such saintly individuals are proof before the world that holiness is possible for all people, in every civilization and in all climates.

6. Following the path of the Council, the encyclical Redemptoris Mater underlined the “pilgrimage” aspect of the Church, in which the Mother of God “precedes”, and as such has ecumenical overtones.

or separated brethren of the Churches and ecclesial communities of the West, that document emphasizes the manner in which they can, even desire to, advance together in the journey of faith of which Mary is the exemplar. The encyclical sees as a glad omen the fact that those Churches are united “with us in fundamental points of the Christian faith, even in what concerns the Virgin Mary”. (Redemptoris Mater, 31). Furthermore, the encyclical stresses the identity of the historical, theological, liturgical and artistic witness that the Orthodox Church as well as the ancient Oriental churches offer concerning their theologically profound and humanly tender veneration of the Mother of God (ibid., 31-33).

In the light of all this the visit to Rome of His Holiness, Dimitrios I, the Ecumenical Patriarch, 3-7 December, is vested with a particular significance. I had the great joy of receiving him in the Vatican with the fraternal charity and honour due to him. It was a visit of ecclesial communion in exchange for that which I had made to the ecumenical Patriarch for the feast St. Andrew in 1979 – a visit that was intentionally undertaken as contribution to the re-establishment of full communion between Catholics and Orthodox.

Maturation of interests

The event took full account of the maturation of interests that had developed between Catholics and Orthodox from the time of the Council, and also of the results of the positive theological dialogue current at the time. We were thus able to pray together during the Eucharistic celebration in St. Peter’s Basilica. In the spirit of the Marian Year we also prayed together in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major. In his Mariological homily Patriarch Dimitrios I wished to emphasize, “how our two sister Churches and maintained through the centuries the unquenchable flame of devotion to the All-Holy mother of God”.

This fact constitutes a firm link uniting us in a common tradition. And if, in the course of time, distinctions have appeared which are certainly being discussed and understood in dialogue, “the common dogmatic and theological patrimony that has developed concerning the venerable person of the All-Holy Mother of God constitutes a bond of unity and reunion of separated parties”. In confirmation of the positive importance of this perspective, Patriarch Dimitrios wished to propose that “the theme of Mariology should occupy a central position in the theological dialogue between our Churches, and should be examined not only from a theological standpoint but also from that of anthropology and in particular in an ecclesiological context, in the effort towards finding the complete re-establishment of our ecclesial communion for which we pray and labour, and towards which we look forward with great expectation”.

This statement reflects directly the orientation of the Encyclical Redemptoris Mater. Profoundly grateful, I am convinced that from this point of view the visit of the Patriarch has made positive contribution in depth to the relations between Catholics and Orthodox.

The interest, rather the enthusiasm, which this visit had aroused makes me repeat the desire that the Church “begin again to breathe fully with her two lungs: the East and the West…This is more than ever necessary today… It would also be the way for the pilgrim church tossing and live more perfectly her Magnificat” (Redemptoris Mater, 34).

7. As we conclude our meeting I take the opportunity of announcing officially the proximate publication of an encyclical letter in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of “Populorun Progressio” of Paul VI. That document marked a fundamental phase in the contemporary life of the Church. At the same time it occasioned profound reactions in public opinion, giving thereby testimony and new proof of the living presence of the Church herself in the dramatic situations of the development and peace of the world. In recalling the continuing relevance of that excellent document, the forthcoming encyclical intends to highlight that current themes and to respond to the problems which, concerning the same themes, confront the conscience of modern man: in a word, the encyclical desires to remain on the same track as Populorum Progressio, as its ideal continuation and development.

The projected work underlines how much the Church desires to accompany the people of our time. For that reason I dedicate this encyclical here and now to the Holy Virgin. I have it very much at heart as I wish to find answers for society and to urge renewal as well proposing concrete suggestions for international co-operation in the context of fraternal understanding among nations, and promoting authentic development according to the plan of God.

8. In this perspective, which we must keep alive in our hearts, I want to renew today my gratitude and my wishes for a happy Christmas. I offer them to all of you who, in every rank and grade, contribute your important and appreciated collaboration to the Holy See in the roman Curia, to the Diocese of Rome in the Vicariate and to Vatican City. I offer these greetings to the Pontifical Representatives and the diplomatic personnel who help them in their mission: I extend them to your dear ones, especially to those families where physical or spiritual suffering exists. May Jesus bring his grace and peace to all.

The child Jesus, whom we find as the Shepherds and the Magi found him in the arms of Mary his Mother, is the light of the world, and he is the light of our lives: “He is a light to our minds”, as St. Augustine wrote (Quaest, Evangeliorum 1:1; PL 35, 1323). May his light guide the service which we bring to the Mystery of the Incarnation, where she who is his Mother and ours is particularly to be found, she who is the Mother of the Church. It is she who will take us by the hand and help us to be faithful in our ecclesial service, in which she will always be our “predecessor”.

With that wish, which the imminent feast makes more intimate and profound, I bless you all.


Plinthos appendix.

It seems to me that this explanation of JPII is simply an application of the theology on the divisions of grace. Grace is divided into gratia gratum faciens and gratia gratis data. The first takes precedence over the second because the second is at the service of the first.

Question 111: On the divisions of grace
  • 111,1-5: Gratia gratum faciens heals and sanctifies the person who receives it, whereas gratia gratis data is given to one person not for his own sanctification but for the sake of the community.
  • Gratia gratum faciens includes habitual grace and actual grace, each of which can be thought of as either operating grace or cooperating grace, according to whether we are thinking just of God's action (operating grace) or of our action as well (cooperating grace): (i) habitual operating grace is gratia gratum faciens insofar as it is a habit by which God alone heals or justifies the soul and makes it gratum; (ii) habitual cooperating grace is gratia gratum faciens insofar as it is a habit serving as a principle of the meritorious works that proceed from creaturely free choice as well as from God; (iii) actual operating grace is gratia gratum faciens insofar as it involves our will being moved interiorly by God to the good; (iv) actual cooperating grace is gratia gratum faciens insofar as it involves our will freely commanding the appropriate exterior act as aided by God.
  • Gratia gratum faciens is also divided into prevenient grace and subsequent grace relative to the five effects of grace (see question 113 below):
  • (1) the healing of the soul
  • (2) the soul's willing the good
  • (3) the soul's efficaciously doing the good that it wills
  • (4) the soul's persevering in the good
  • (5) the soul's attaining glory (supernatural beatitude)
    So, e.g., grace insofar as it is a cause of  (2) is prevenient to grace insofar as it is a cause of  (3) and subsequent to grace insofar as it is caused by (1), etc.
  • Gratia gratis data is divided, ala 1 Cor 12, into nine different categories, three having to do with understanding the faith (faithwisdom, and knowledge), four with confirming the faith (miracles of healingmiracles of powerprophecydiscernment of spirits) and two with proclaiming the faith (gift of tonguesinterpretation of tongues). Note that this sort of grace is not as fundamental as gratia gratum faciens, since it is ordered toward the latter and does not of itself sanctify the one who has it.  Rather, it is given to one person for the sake of facilitating the sanctification of others.

This principle was brought out clearly by Pope Saint Paul VI in his 21 November, 1964 speech at the close of the third session of Vatican II which published Lumen Gentium in which he said that the Church is not made up only by her hierarchical order, the sacred liturgy, the sacraments or her juridical structures.
For the Church itself is not only constituted by its hierarchical order, the sacred liturgy, the sacraments, the framework of its institutes; but its inner strength and property, the chief source of the efficacy by which it sanctifies men, are placed in its mystical union with Christ; indeed, we cannot consider this union as abstract from her, who is the Mother of the Incarnate Word, and whom Christ himself intimately associated with himself in order to secure our salvation.
Therefore, looking at the Church itself, we must contemplate with a loving heart the wonderful things which God has wrought in His Holy Mother. And the knowledge of the true Catholic teaching about the Blessed Virgin Mary will always be an effective aid to correctly understand the mystery of Christ and the Church.

Considering the close ties by which Mary and the Church are united to each other, and which are so clearly set forth in this Constitution of the Council, they suggest to us that this is the most solemn and most opportune moment of time to fulfill the vow which We expressed at the end of the last Session and joined by many Council Fathers, urgently asking that the maternal office which the Blessed Virgin Mary carries out among the Christian people should be announced in express words during this Council. For this reason it seems expedient to Us to properly introduce in this very public assembly a title by which the Blessed Virgin Mary is honored, which has been requested from various parts of the Catholic world, and is acceptable and pleasing to Us in a special way; indeed, with a kind of wonderful brevity, it expresses the exceptional place which this Council has acknowledged as belonging to the Mother of God (Deiparae) in the Church. 
To the glory of the Blessed Virgin and for our consolation, We declare Mary Most Holy to be Mother of the Church, that is, of the whole Christian people, faithful and Pastors alike, who invoke her as their most loving Mother; and We establish that by this sweetest of names the whole Christian people should henceforth give still greater honor to the Mother of God and offer her their supplications.
Venerable Brothers, this concerns a title by no means new to Christian piety; indeed the Christian faithful and the universal Church choose to invoke Mary principally by the name of Mother. In truth, this name belongs to the genuine nature of devotion to Mary, since it rests firmly on that very dignity with which Mary is endowed as the Mother of the Incarnate Word of God.

Just as the Divine Motherhood is the basis both for Mary's unique relationship with Christ and for her presence in the work of human salvation accomplished by Christ Jesus, so likewise, it is principally from the Divine Motherhood that the relationships which exist between Mary and the Church flow. Mary is indeed the Mother of Christ who, at the moment he assumed human nature in her virginal womb, joined to himself, as Head, his Mystical Body, which is the Church. Mary, therefore, as Mother of Christ, must also be regarded as Mother of all the faithful and Pastors alike, that is to say, of the Church.

Herein lies the reason why we, though unworthy and weak, yet in a spirit of trust and with ardent filial love, raise our eyes to her. She who once gave us Jesus, the fount of heavenly grace, cannot fail to offer her maternal help to the Church, especially at this time in which the Spouse of Christ strives with greater zeal to fulfil her salvific mission

These closest of bonds between our heavenly Mother and the human race urge Us, moreover, to foster and further strengthen this confidence. Even though she has been enriched with superabundant and wondrous gifts from God so as to be made worthy to be Mother of the Incarnate Word, nevertheless, Mary is very near to us. Like us, she is a child of Adam and so too our sister on account of our common human nature; she was preserved from the stain of original sin by reason of the future merits of Christ, but she added to these gifts received from on high the example of her own perfect faith and so merited the proclamation in the Gospel: "Blessed are you who have believed."

In this mortal life she embodied the perfect form of a disciple of Christ, she was the mirror of all virtues, and in her manner of life exemplified fully those beatitudes proclaimed by Christ Jesus. Consequently, the universal Church, while she lives out the many facets of her life and in her active zeal, draws from the Virgin Mother of God the peerless example of how to imitate Christ perfectly. 

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Quae Sursum Sunt Sapite!

"Taste the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth." Thus, as I see it, the translation of the Vulgate Colossians 3:2.

Igitur, si consurrexistis cum Christo: quæ sursum sunt quærite, ubi Christus est in dextera Dei sedens: quæ sursum sunt sapite, non quæ super terram.

The Imitation of Christ has a chapter in which the word sapio is used numerous times to get at the connection between wisdom and high tastes. Here is the Plinthos translation, then the Latin text.




BEHOLD, my God and my all! What more do I wish for; what greater happiness can I desire? O delicious and sweet word! But delicious and sweet only to him who loves God, and not the world or the things that are in the world.

My God and my all! These words are enough for him who understands, and for him who loves God it is a delight to repeat them often. For when You, my God, are present, all things are delightful; when You are absent, all things become loathsome. It is You Who give tranquility to the heart, great peace and festive joy. It is You Who make us think well of all things, and praise You in all things. Without You nothing can give pleasure for very long; for if anything is to be pleasing and tasty, Your grace and the seasoning of Your wisdom must be in it. To the one to whom you are delicious, what can be tasted not rightly? And, to the one who does not have a taste for You, what can please him?

But, the wise men of the world, the men who lust for the flesh, are wanting in Your wisdom, because in the world is found the utmost vanity, and in the flesh is death. But they who follow You by disdaining worldly things and mortifying the flesh are known to be truly wise, for they are transported from vanity to truth, from flesh to spirit. God is relished by such as these, and they turn whatever good is found in creatures to the praise of the Creator. But great -- yes, very great, indeed -- is the difference between the taste of the Creator and of the creature, of eternity and of time, of uncreated Light and of light that is reflected.

O Light eternal, surpassing all created brightness, flash forth the lightning from above and enlighten the inmost recesses of my heart. Cleanse, cheer, enlighten, and vivify my spirit with all its powers, that it may cleave to You in ecstasies of joy. Oh, when will that happy and wished-for hour come, that You may fill me with Your presence and become all in all to me? So long as this is not given me, my joy will not be complete.

The old man, alas, yet lives within me. He has not yet been entirely crucified; he is not yet entirely dead. He still lusts strongly against the spirit, and he will not leave the kingdom of my soul in peace. But You, Who can command the power of the sea and calm the tumult of its waves, arise and help me. Scatter the nations that delight in war; crush them in Your sight. Show forth I beg of You, Your wonderful works and let Your right hand be glorified, because for me there is no other hope or refuge except in You, O Lord, my God.


CAPUT XXXIV. Quod amanti sapit Deus super omnia et in omnibus

1. Ecce, Deus meus et omnia. Quid volo amplius, et quid felicius desiderare possum? O sapidum et dulce verbum! sed amanti Verbum, non mundum, nec ea, quae in mundo sunt. Deus meus et omnia. Intellegenti satis dictum est, et saepe repetere iucundum est amanti. Te siquidem praesente iucunda sunt omnia; te autem absente fastidiunt cuncta. Tu facis cor tranquillum et pacem magnam laetitiamque festivam. Tu facis bene sentire de omnibus et in omnibus te laudare, nec potest aliquid sine te diu placere; sed si debet gratum esse et bene sapere, oportet gratiam tuam adesse et condimento tuae sapientiae condiri.

2. Cui tu sapis, quid ei recte non sapiet? Et cui tu non sapis, quid ei ad iucunditatem esse poterit? Sed deficiunt in sapientia tua mundi sapientes, et qui carnem sapiunt: quia ibi plurima vanitas, et hic mors invenitur. Qui autem te per contemptum mundanorum et carnis mortificationem sequuntur, vere sapientes esse cognoscuntur: quia de vanitate ad veritatem, de carne ad spiritum transferuntur. Istis sapit Deus: et quidquid boni invenitur in creaturis, totum ad laudem referunt sui conditoris. Dissimilis tamen, et multum dissimilis sapor Creatoris et creaturae, aeternitatis et temporis, lucis increatae et lucis illuminatae.

3. O lux perpetua, cuncta creata transcendens lumina, fulgura coruscationem de sublimi penetrantem omnia cordis mei intima. Purifica, laetifica, clarifica et vivifica spiritum meum, cum suis potentiis ad inhaerendum tibi iubilosis excessibus. O quando veniet haec beata et desiderabilis hora, ut tua me saties praesentia et sis mihi omnia in omnibus? Quamdiu hoc datum non fuerit, nec plenum gaudium erit. Adhuc, pro dolor, vivit in me vetus homo, non est totus crucifixus, non est perfecte mortuus. Adhuc concupiscit fortiter contra spiritum, bella movet intestina, nec regnum animae patitur esse quietum.

4. Sed tu, qui dominaris potestati maris et motum fluctuum eius mitigas, exurge, adiuva me. Dissipa gentes, quae bella volunt; contere eas in virtute tua. Ostende, quaeso, magnalia tua, et glorificetur dextera tua: quia non est spes alia nec refugium mihi, nisi in te, Domine Deus meus.

This text is reminiscent of Pope Benedict XVI's 2006 Homily to the Swiss Bishops on the need to help the people of our time acquire a taste for God. Here is the relevant text.
...From the whole of this history of God, starting with Adam, we can conclude: God never fails.

Today too, he will find new ways to call men, and he wants to have us with him as his messengers and servants.

Precisely in our time we know very well how those who were invited first say "no". Indeed, Western Christianity, the new "first guests", now largely excuse themselves, they do not have time to come to the Lord. We know the churches that are ever more empty, seminaries continue to be empty, religious houses that are increasingly empty; we are familiar with all the forms in which this "no, I have other important things to do" is presented. And it distresses and upsets us to be witnesses of these excuses and refusals of the first guests, who in reality should know the importance of the invitation and should feel drawn in that direction.

What should we do?

First of all, we should ask ourselves: why is this happening?

In his Parable the Lord mentions two reasons: possessions and human relations, which involve people to the extent that they no longer feel the need for anything else to fill their time and therefore their interior existence.

St Gregory the Great in his explanation of this text sought to delve into it further and wondered: how can a man say "no" to the greatest thing that exists; that he has no time for what is most important; that he can lock himself into his own existence?

And he answers: in reality, they have never had an experience of God; they have never acquired a "taste" for God; they have never experienced how delightful it is to be "touched" by God! They lack this "contact" - and with it, the "taste for God". And only if we, so to speak, taste him, only then can we come to the banquet.

St Gregory cites the Psalm from which today's Communion Antiphon is taken: Taste, try it and see; taste and then you will see and be enlightened! Our task is to help people so they can taste the flavour for God anew.

In another homily, St Gregory the Great deepened further the same question and asked himself: how can it be that man does not even want to "taste" God?

And he responds: when man is entirely caught up in his own world, with material things, with what he can do, with all that is feasible and brings him success, with all that he can produce or understand by himself, then his capacity to perceive God weakens, the organ sensitive to God deteriorates, it becomes unable to perceive and sense, it no longer perceives the Divine, because the corresponding inner organ has withered, it has stopped developing.

When he overuses all the other organs, the empirical ones, it can happen that it is precisely the sense of God that suffers, that this organ dies, and man, as St Gregory says, no longer perceives God's gaze, to be looked at by him, the fact that his precious gaze touches me!

I maintain that St Gregory the Great has described exactly the situation of our time - in fact, his was an age very similar to ours. And the question still arises: what should we do?

I hold that the first thing to do is what the Lord tells us today in the First Reading, and which St Paul cries to us in God's Name: "Your attitude must be Christ's - Touto phroneite en hymin ho kai en Christo Iesou".

Learn to think as Christ thought, learn to think with him! And this thinking is not only the thinking of the mind, but also a thinking of the heart.

We learn Jesus Christ's sentiments when we learn to think with him and thus, when we learn to think also of his failure, of his passage through failure and of the growth of his love in failure.

If we enter into these sentiments of his, if we begin to practise thinking like him and with him, then joy for God is awakened within us, confident that he is the strongest; yes, we can say that love for him is reawakened within us. We feel how beautiful it is that he is there and that we can know him - that we know him in the face of Jesus Christ who suffered for us.

I think this is the first thing: that we ourselves enter into vital contact with God - with the Lord Jesus, the living God; that in us the organ directed to God be strengthened; that we bear within us a perception of his "exquisiteness".

This also gives life to our work, but we also run a risk: one can do much, many things in the ecclesiastical field, all for God..., and yet remain totally taken up with oneself, without encountering God. Work replaces faith, but then one becomes empty within.

I therefore believe that we must make an effort above all to listen to the Lord in prayer, in deep interior participation in the sacraments, in learning the sentiments of God in the faces and the suffering of others, in order to be infected by his joy, his zeal and his love, and to look at the world with him and starting from him.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Vatican II is Dead

Tuesday, May 09, 2023

What to make of Vatican II?

What to make of Vatican II? Pope Paul VI, in his General Audience of Jan. 12, 1966, stated: “There are those who ask what authority, what theological qualification, the Council intended to give to its teachings, knowing that it avoided issuing solemn dogmatic definitions backed by the Church’s infallible teaching authority. The answer is known by those who remember the conciliar declaration of March 6, 1964, repeated on November 16, 1964. In view of the pastoral nature of the Council, it avoided proclaiming in an extraordinary matter any dogmata carrying the mark of infallibility.”

This does not mean, of course, that conciliar documents do not contain references to Catholic doctrine previously defined as dogma and therefore infallibly authoritative, such as the divinity of Christ, the Trinity, the virgin birth of Christ, and so forth. Nor does it mean that conciliar documents do not contain anything new, such as its statements about ecumenism, religious freedom, etc. What it does mean is that nothing new in these documents is defined as infallible dogma.

The “new springtime” in the Church heralded by the post-conciliar popes and others who hoped that the simplified and more-accessible vernacular liturgy would promote the “new evangelization” seems not to have yielded quite the hoped-for results. It was not as if the police had to be summoned to Catholic churches each Sunday “to hold back the hordes of lapsed Catholics whose faith had been rekindled at the prospect of saying the Confiteor in English,” as Michael Davies quipped in his book, Pope Paul’s New Mass.

Can Ecumenical Councils of the Church fail in their objectives? Fr. John Zuhlsdorf writes: “Regarding General or Ecumenical Councils (all 21 of them), it is possible to be a valid council but a failed one. Consider Lateran V. Utter failure. Its legislation on ecclesiastical pawn shops went nowhere, which is a darn shame. I’d really appreciate well-regulated ecclesiastical pawn shops. And – hey! – what ever happened to the “spirit of Lateran V”? Moreover, Lateran I and Lateran II weren’t even classified as General or Ecumenical Councils until after the Council of Trent (500 years later).”

In the same vein, Saint Gregory Nazianzus writes: “If I must speak the truth, I feel disposed to shun every conference of Bishops; because I never saw a Synod brought to a happy issue, not remedying but rather increasing, existing evils. For ever is there rivalry and ambition, and these have the mastery of reason; -- do not think me extravagant for saying so; -- and a mediator is more likely to be attacked himself, than to succeed in his pacification. Accordingly, I have fallen back upon myself and consider quiet the only security of life.”

Again, Joseph Ratzinger, writing in Principles of Catholic Theology, 378, writes: “Not every valid council in the history of the Church has been a fruitful one; in the last analysis, many of them have been a waste of time. Despite all the good to be found in the texts produced, the last word about the historical value of Vatican II has yet to be spoken.”

There are some Catholic scholars and clerics who speak or write as if Vatican II is a sort of “Super Dogma.” The litmus test for the fellowship of kindred spirits or its opposite -- something bordering on excommunication or being tarred and feathered – is whether or not one “accepts” Vatican II. But what does this mean, exactly? A good friend of mine, whom I sometimes refer to as “L’Autre Phil,” says that one can never make sense of the Second Vatican Council by trying to get at it strictly in terms of its textual content. Why? Because either it functions as a wax nose that can be made to “say” whatever one wants it to say or, worse, because almost nobody cares about the text. What everyone cares about, however, is the “event” of Vatican II and what it’s made to symbolize.

Cardinal Ratzinger, in his address to Chilean Bishops (July 13, 1988), said this about the last council: “There are many accounts of it which give the impression that, from Vatican II onward, everything has been changed, and that what preceded it has no value or, at best, has value only in the light of Vatican II. The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as a part of the entire living Tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. The truth is that this particular Council define no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of “super-dogma” which takes away the importance of all the rest.

“This idea is made stronger by things that are now happening," the Cardinal continued. "That which previously was considered most holy – the form in which the liturgy was handed down – suddenly appears as the most forbidden of all things, the one thing that can safely be prohibited. It is intolerable to criticize decisions which have been taken since the Council; on the other hand, if men make question of ancient rules, or even of the great truths of the Faith – for instance, the corporal virginity of Mary, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, the immortality of the soul, etc. – nobody complains or only does so with the greatest moderation.”

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Three Types of Love

There are three types of love: I. Free Love, II. Natural Love and III. Vicious Love.

I. Love which is free (gratuito) is praiseworthy, because it is a virtue and has as its proper end what is primary, what is good and what is unchangeable. It is divided into A. friendship and B. desire.

A. Regarding friendship, man most purely loves God most high, God the great, God the ultimate good and end, without considering his own advantage, but rather the goodness of The One Whom he loves. Thus a man loves this good more than himself.

B. Regarding desire, man loves for the sake of the compensation which he expects.

II. Natural love is neither praiseworthy nor blameworthy; it has necessity and its own advantage as its end. This too is divided into A. friendship and B. desire.

A. Regarding friendship, with natural love we love ourselves, our perfection and our preservation, and we love most those things which are most necessary to ourselves, such as loving our head more than the other parts of our body. This love is not common to us and to the animals.

B. Regarding desire, we love the supreme good because it supplies our need, since this love does not love for the thing that it loves, but rather for the need that it has of it. Consequently, with this natural delection, a man loves himself more than the supreme good.

III. Vicious love is blameworthy, because it is a sin and has enjoyment as its end. It also is divided into A. friendship and B. desire.

A. Regarding friendship, we love the creature or the pleasure for itself.

B. Regarding desire, we love the creature for ourselves.

Finally, love is also of many other types: natural for itself, pious for parents, happy for one's peers, just for friends, violent for enemies, and holy for God.

Lope de Vega, Pastores de Belén, Rialp: Madrid, 1973, 335-336.

(Plinthos translation)

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