"Let unity, the greatest good of all goods, be your preoccupation." - St. Ignatius of Antioch (Letter to St. Polycarp)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"the babies of the world will just have to wait"

"the babies of the world will just have to wait"

That is a line I came across recently, from a Christian dismissing the abortion issue in relation to this year's US presidential election.

Every year about 1,300,000 babies are aborted in the US. That's 5,200,000 babies over the next four years that won't get to "wait" -- they will be killed. The common reply is that neither candidate will make a difference with respect to the number of abortions. But that is simply not true. Obama promised a group of prominent abortion advocates that his "very first" act as President would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act [FOCA] into law. [watch the video] The passing of FOCA would result in approximately 125,000 more abortions per year. [source]. Given that, how could any Christian justifiably vote for Obama? What good could Obama possibly bring as President that would justify the killing of an additional 125,000 babies per year?

To conceive this more clearly, imagine that if Obama were to win, 125,000 babies per year would be sacrificed publicly on an altar on the White House lawn. That's a rate of 342 babies killed per day, or 14 babies killed per hour, or one baby killed about every 4 minutes. Imagine that every 4 minutes during an Obama administration, for the next four years, a baby is killed on this altar. Are the promised benefits of an Obama administration worth killing a baby every 4 minutes around the clock, 24/7, for the next four years?

Even in purely utilitarian terms, if we set aside the intrinsic injustice of killing innocent persons, it is difficult to imagine any comparable, let alone outweighing, good that could possibly justify killing a baby every 4 minutes for the next four years. Therefore, there seems to be no moral justification for voting for Obama. Obama supporters must either (1) not be aware of the implications of FOCA, or (2) not be aware that abortion is the killing of an innocent human being (see here), or (3) think that the good that Obama would do as President would be worth killing a baby every four minutes for the next four years.

Bishop Finn of Kansas put it this way:

"[I]f we are inclined to vote for someone despite their pro-abortion stance, it seems we are morally obliged to establish a proportionate reason sufficient to justify the destruction of 45 million human persons through abortion. If we learn that our "candidate of choice" further pledges – through an instrument such as FOCA - to eliminate all existing limitations against abortion, it is that much more doubtful whether voting for him or her can ever be morally justified under any circumstance." (source)

Bishop Hermann of the Archdiocese of St. Louis had this to say: "More than anything else, this election is about saving our children or killing our children."

Cardinal Egan of New York says this: "[H]ave you any doubt that the authorities in a civilized society are duty-bound to protect this innocent human being if anyone were to wish to kill it?"

Bishop Farrell of Dallas and Bishop Vann of Fort Worth issued a Joint Statement on this subject. Here's an excerpt:

The only moral possibilities for a Catholic to be able to vote in good conscience for a candidate who supports this intrinsic evil are the following:

a. If both candidates running for office support abortion or "abortion rights," a Catholic would be forced to then look at the other important issues and through their vote try to limit the evil done; or,

b. If another intrinsic evil outweighs the evil of abortion. While this is sound moral reasoning, there are no "truly grave moral" or “proportionate” reasons, singularly or combined, that could outweigh the millions of innocent human lives that are directly killed by legal abortion each year.
To vote for a candidate who supports the intrinsic evil of abortion or "abortion rights" when there is a morally acceptable alternative would be to cooperate in the evil – and, therefore, morally impermissible.

Over one hundred US Catholic bishops have spoken out similarly. (source) Why is this issue so important? It is not only the saving of the lives of these 125,000 children per year. As I explained in my previous post on this subject titled "Finding Unity in Morality", all our rights depend on the right to life. "Without the right to life, no other right can be defended." (Fr. Zuhlsdorf).

Many of us have been working to protect unborn children for many years. Part of the fruit of that work has been the appointment of several Supreme Court justices who understand that the Constitution does not give anyone a right to kill unborn children. McCain said this: "I will look for people in the cast of John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and my friend the late William Rehnquist -- jurists of the highest caliber who know their own minds, and know the law, and know the difference". Obama, as Princeton Professor Robert George has succinctly argued here, has clearly demonstrated himself to be the most pro-abortion candidate this nation has ever known, explicitly ensuring he would select Supreme Court justices who retain Roe vs. Wade. We've worked too hard to get this close to overturning Roe vs. Wade. Now is not the time to slacken our effort. Obama is right on this point, that in this election, Roe vs. Wade "probably hangs in the balance". (source)

When I was growing up, I thought that the only way to change a society's moral consciousness was through religious conversion. Of course I understood that we needed laws, but I believed that laws merely prevented anarchy; in my mind, they definitely didn't change hearts. That is why I thought efforts to change our country by way of political means were a misguided waste of time. But later I came to see that my gnosticism had prevented me from seeing that it is not either/or, but both/and. Plato explains both in his Republic and in his Laws, that the laws of a society shape and train its citizens in their dispositions to act, their appetites, and in their conceptions of right and wrong. As parents by their discipline shape and form the moral habits and appetites of their children, so likewise do the laws of a nation shape the moral habits and appetites of its people. We change our society both by directly influencing the hearts and minds of our neighbors, and by selecting leaders who will enact and enforce a body of law that will also shape the moral habits and conscience of all citizens. It is not an either/or, but necessarily a both/and. We must not fail in our civic duty, by falsely assuming that society is changed and formed only by our conversations and relationships with our neighbors. Our neighbors' morals are also affected by how we vote, because the laws and policies enacted by political leaders shape and form the moral consciousness of a nation's citizens. And the laws that in recent years have been put in place to restrict abortion are making a difference.

Some people I talk with think that the government should not "legislate morality". They do not seem to understand that the government of any people has a necessary duty to protect and defend innocent human life, whether already born or not yet born. The obligation to protect innocent human life is not just a Christian obligation, but is known to reason and knowable by reason. (cf. Declaration on Procured Abortion, 8) Consider this selection from (Evangelium vitae, 71).

The real purpose of civil law is to guarantee an ordered social coexistence in true justice, so that all may "lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way" (1 Tim 2:2). Precisely for this reason, civil law must ensure that all members of society enjoy respect for certain fundamental rights which innately belong to the person, rights which every positive law must recognize and guarantee. First and fundamental among these is the inviolable right to life of every innocent human being. While public authority can sometimes choose not to put a stop to something which-were it prohibited- would cause more serious harm, it can never presume to legitimize as a right of individuals-even if they are the majority of the members of society-an offence against other persons caused by the disregard of so fundamental a right as the right to life. The legal toleration of abortion or of euthanasia can in no way claim to be based on respect for the conscience of others, precisely because society has the right and the duty to protect itself against the abuses which can occur in the name of conscience and under the pretext of freedom.

May we not be known as the generation who decided that the "babies of the world will just have to wait". May their blood not be on our hands. Please do whatever is in your power to spread the word to everyone you know; the lives of 125,000 children a year depend on what we do right now. We are also praying a novena until next Tuesday; please pray hard. But don't just pray - pray and pass on the truth. We are our brother's keeper, even of those in the womb. They cannot speak on their own behalf; if we don't stand up for them and defend them, who will?

"Lord Jesus Christ, You told us to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God. Enlighten the minds of our people [in] America. May we choose a President of the United States, and other government officials, according to Your Divine Will. Give our citizens the courage to choose leaders of our nation who respect the sanctity of unborn human life, the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of marital relations, the sanctity of the family, and the sanctity of the aging. Grant us the wisdom to give You, what belongs to You, our God. If we do this, as a nation, we are confident You will give us an abundance of Your blessings through our elected leaders. Amen." [Fr. Hardon]

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Patriarch's Impact at the Synod

Archimandrite Ignatios Sotiriadis
Zenit has an interesting interview with Archimandrite Ignatios Sotiriadis about the participation of Patriarch Bartholomew I in the recent Synod of Catholic Bishops. Here's a selection (my emphases in bold):

Archimandrite Ignatios: First of all, I feel proud to see His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in the Sistine Chapel, where popes are elected, also famous worldwide for its artistic value, because I consider the invitation from Pope Benedict to the "primus inter pares" of the Orthodox Church a most great honor. ...

It was a historical event, in which a Pope celebrates vespers before the representatives of the entire Catholic episcopate and on this occasion, doesn't exercise his ministry as teacher, but concedes it to the second bishop of the Church when it was not yet divided.

What most impressed me was what the Pope said when the patriarch's homily, received with long applause, was over: "If we have common fathers, how can we not be brothers?" ....

Q: But the great novelty, perhaps, has not been the patriarch's intervention, but rather the desire of the Pope, expressed at the end of vespers, to include the patriarch's proposals in the synodal proposals. This is an initiative that appears to have been welcomed by the synod fathers. In this way, for the first time in history, the magisterium of an ecumenical patriarch could be taken up by the official magisterium of the Catholic Church in the postsynodal apostolic exhortation.

Archimandrite Ignatios: When we are united in the Word of God, our path inevitably leads us toward a second stage, which is full unity, that is, a common celebration of the Eucharist. But this will not be reached as much with human efforts as with the breath and will of the Holy Spirit.

Q: Yet those who hope for this unity sometimes see it as something far off …

Archimandrite Ignatios: The separation of the Eastern and Western Church occurred over various centuries; it was not an isolated event in the year 1054, but a long cultural, linguistic process. … I think that the re-encounter will happen in the same way, following a gradual path. We separated slowly, and slowly we will unite. But it is not for us to talk of dates.

What is certain is the desire of the Orthodox Church that the Church of Rome parts with its temporal power and dedicates itself totally to its spiritual mission for the transformation of the world.

[My original post on this event, as well as the Patriarch's address to the Synod, can be found here. Please continue to pray daily for the full visible unity of all Christians.]

Monday, October 27, 2008

"That they may be one, just as We are one"

The Cestello Annunciation
Sandro Botticelli (1489)

I just returned from the annual American Maritain Association conference, which was held in Boston this year. This year's conference was excellent. And Boston is beautiful this time of year, as all the trees are in their prime. At this conference I was especially impressed by the papers given by Dr. Lawrence Feingold, a convert to Catholicism in 1989, currently teaching for Ave Maria University's Institute for Pastoral Studies. His dissertation The Natural Desire to See God According to St. Thomas Aquinas and His Interpreters is being published by Sapientia Press, I believe.

What is the significance of the Annunciation? It is the moment of the incarnation, when Christ takes on human nature, and becomes man, with a human body and a human soul. Meditating on the incarnation helps us understand that Christ's Mystical Body (Rom 12; 1 Cor 10:17, 1 Cor 12, Eph 4, Col 3:15), the Church, must be a visible Body, that is, a unified hierarchical organization. That is significant because I occasionally receive a comment that reflects a rather common point of view. The comment runs something like this:

Your blog is about unity among Christians. But you and people who think like you are precisely the problem. You make people think that Christians are divided, when in actuality all Christians are already united. You are just choosing to see Christians as divided. We choose to worship differently, in different denominations, and in different styles, but that doesn't mean that we're divided. We're all Christians; we all love Jesus, and we're all united. What you refer to as divisions are merely variations, a kind of diversity within a spiritual unity. You are mistaking diversity for division.

Here's my short reply. That a deep and sincere love for Jesus can be found in each of the different denominations and traditions goes without saying. But Christ founded a visible Church (one hierarchically organized Body), with visible authorities (i.e. Peter, James, John, etc.). It wasn't the case in the first century that individual Christians could worship however they wanted, with whomever they wanted, while remaining in the Church. St. Clement of Rome (d. 99 AD) writes:

"The Apostles have preached the gospel to us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ [has done so] from God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God, and the Apostles by Christ. Both these appointments, then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God. Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe."

Just as Christ had been sent by the Father, and as the Apostles had received their orders from Christ, so the bishops whom the Apostles appointed received their orders from the Apostles.

And St. Ignatius of Antioch (d. 107 AD) writes:

"Let all follow the bishop as Jesus Christ did the Father, and [follow] the priests, as you would the Apostles. Reverence the deacons as you would the command of God. Apart from the bishop, let no one perform any of the functions that pertain to the Church. Let that Eucharist be held valid which is offered by the bishop or by one to whom the bishop has committed this charge."

If believers wished to be Christians (i.e. true followers of Christ), they had to believe what Christ's Apostles taught, and worship as the Apostles taught, and submit to the decisions of the Apostles (e.g. Acts 15). When the Apostles ordained bishops to succeed them, these bishops received authority from the Apostles, as the Apostles had received authority from Christ, to teach and govern the Church in the Apostles' (and Christ's) name. They held the authoritative interpretation of the Apostles' teachings and the Church's doctrines. To reject these bishops was to reject the Apostles, because the choosing and authorizing of these bishops was also part of the Apostles' words and deeds. These bishops then ordained bishops to succeed them, and so on. To separate from the Apostles, or to separate from the bishops whom the Apostles had ordained, or the bishops whom they had ordained, was to be in schism. And that has remained true from that time until the present. Schism is only intelligible in the context of apostolic succession. Apart from apostolic succession, there is no principled difference between division and diversity.

To be in complete unity, therefore, we all need to be in the same Church, the very Church that Christ founded. Christ founded only one Church (Matthew 16:18), for Christ has only one Body, one Bride. If we disagree about doctrine, or disagree about worship, or disagree about what the Church is and which persons are the rightful leaders of the Church, then we are not as united as Jesus wants us to be, as seen in His prayer in John 17. He wants us to be perfectly one, as He and the Father are perfectly one. If all these various denominations that disagree with each other are not in schism, then schism is no longer possible. Yet schism is something that the Apostles and the fathers forbid. So an ecclesiology without the possibility of schism cannot be a true ecclesiology. I have written about this in more detail in the following posts:

The Sacrilege of Schism

Branches or Schisms?

Branches or Schisms? 2

Branches or Schisms? 3

Schism from a Gnostic Point of View

Christ Founded a Visible Church

Marriage and "spiritual unity"

Unity and Mere Christianity

Church and Jesus are Inseparable

Dodos, Passenger Pigeons, Schisms

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Humanity of the Church

The recent discussion at De Regnis Duobus led me to Michael Horton's article titled "Transforming Culture with a Messiah Complex".

Michael implies that Catholics and Emergentists are guilty of an "overealized eschatology". He seems to be saying that Catholics and Emergentists believe that Christ is present here now, and are therefore in some way at least implicitly denying that Christ is in heaven. By 'overealized eschatology' he means that we are, so to speak, bringing Christ back before He has actually come back. We do this, in his view, by substituting the Church for Christ. And Catholics also do it, in Michael's view, by believing in Christ's real presence in the Eucharist. Michael's position seems to offer us the following dilemmas. We must choose between affirming that the Church is truly the Body of Christ on the one hand, and on the other hand affirming that Christ ascended into heaven and will return in glory at the end of the age. Furthermore, we must choose between affirming the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and affirming that Christ ascended into heaven and will return in glory at the end of the age.

What lies behind these false dilemmas? It seems to be a form of monocausalism, in this case a sort that allows only one mode of being. For Michael (seemingly), Christ cannot be both absent (i.e. in heaven and yet to return in glory) and present here on earth (either in His Mystical Body the Church or in the Eucharist) at the same time. But the solution to this difficulty involves a philosophical distinction between being and mode of being. Christ can be absent in one respect, and yet present in another respect, without contradiction. He Himself tells us that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), and that where two or three are gathered together in His name, there He is in the midst of us. (St. Matthew 18:20)

His presence through the Church as His Mystical Body is a different mode of presence than will be His presence when He comes again in glory. We can see that in Catholic documents such as Mystici Corporis Christi. Likewise, Christ's sacramental presence in the Eucharist is a different mode of presence than will be His presence when He comes again in glory. In the Eucharist He is veiled under the accidents of bread and wine, as St. Thomas explains in Questions 75 and 76 of Summa Theologica III. But when Christ appears in glory, then we shall "see Him as He is". (1 John 3:2) So Catholics can adore Christ in the Eucharist, and we can function as His hands and feet to the world, without undermining our irrevocable belief (actually, *dogma*) that Christ truly ascended into heaven and will truly return in glory at the end of the age, a belief we affirm every week when we recite the Creed together.

Why is it that both Catholics and Emergentists fall under Michael's criticism? Emergentists emphasize action and service. Confessional Protestants tend to emphasize the Word, preaching, teaching and study. Both of these are true expressions of our human nature. St. Thomas Aquinas taught that man's life is fittingly divided into the active life and the contemplative life. (ST II-II Q.179) These two are exemplified in the sisters Mary and Martha. The Church cannot be only one or the other, because human nature is not reducible to only one or the other. Emergentism seems to be, in part, a reaction to a deficiency with respect to service on the part of confessional Protestantism. And likewise, those attracted toward confessional Protestantism tend to be responding to a deficiency with respect to doctrine on the part of mainline liberalism, fundamentalism, or broader Evangelicalism.

The Catholic Church encompasses both action and preaching, work and prayer, Sisters of Charity and hermits, Franciscans and Dominicans, service and study. She has always held together both of these aspects of human nature, without excluding one or the other. Michael criticizes the Catholic Church along with Emergentists, because both exemplify the active aspect of human nature. But recognizing this aspect of human nature fills out our understanding of the Church as the Body of Christ.

A few years ago when I told an old priest whom I have known for a number of years that I was becoming Catholic, the first thing he said to me was this: "Remember, the Church is human". I didn't fully understand what he meant. At the time, I took it to mean, Be prepared to find sinners in the Church. But now I see more clearly what he was saying. The Church, as the Mystical Body of the incarnate Christ, is truly human; all of human nature is found within her, for Christ became fully human. (That's why through my fundamentalist lenses as a young man so much of the Church had seemed "worldly"; I didn't understand then the difference between being human and being worldly.)

The catholicity of the Church flows directly from Christ's full humanity. In baptism, we are joined to Christ, incorporated into His Body. In this way we truly participate in Christ's humanity, and He in ours. In the Eucharist we are made partakers of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). But if in the Eucharist we are made partakers of His divine nature, then surely we are also made partakers of His human nature, for the latter is connatural to us, and Christ is not divided. Therefore, in the Eucharist we are truly and more deeply incorporated into His Body, made into His hands and feet, just as St. Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4. Christ's presence in the sacraments is in this way deeply connected to His presence in us and through us as His Mystical Body. (And this is why Emergentism is deficient; it needs the Eucharist in order to be fully and completely, the Body of Christ.)

This is also related, in my opinion, to the reason why it is difficult for some Protestants to perceive Mary as our Mother. Protestants tend to take metaphorically St. Paul's teaching about the Church as the Body of Christ, not conceiving any other mode of being than that of His physical body. But the more we see the Church as a participation not only in Christ's divinity, but also in His humanity, the more we will be able to see Mary as our Mother, for His humanity is her-humanity-given-to-Him. She is our Mother, because she is His mother, and we are joined to Him as His brothers and sisters, in His human family by adoption through baptism. If she is Theotokos (God-bearer), then she is also Mother of His Mystical Body, the Church, and thus in baptism she becomes our Mother.

Since both action and contemplation are essential aspects of our common human nature, both are expressed in the humanity of the Church. You can see both of those aspects in the following video, released by Catholics Come Home.

To Emergentists and confessional Protestants, all those traditions that ultimately trace their origin back to the Catholic Church in the sixteenth century, Catholics invite you to come back as well. Let us heal what was torn, and unite what was divided. We welcome you back with open arms, as brothers and sisters in Christ. (That was Jeffrey Steenson's experience, and it was my family's experience as well.) It is time for all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ to come together, work through our differences in an open and humble manner, and be reunited as one family. The unity of His followers is the passion of the heart of Jesus (St. John 17). It is not just St. Paul, but Christ also who says to us, "Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose." (Philippians 2:2) For Christ explained that His mission was "to bring together the scattered children of God and make them one." (St. John 11:52). As Christ's followers, that must be our mission as well.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

"If we have the same fathers, how can we not be brothers?"

Patriarch Bartholomew, at far right seated, prays with Pope Benedict XVI, at far left, in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, Saturday Oct. 18, 2008

"Together with pope, ecumenical patriarch addresses synod for first time ever."

The patriarch of Constantinople, after speaking of the "historic event" because of his very presence at the synod, expressed his hope of arriving one day at "full unity" between Orthodox and Catholics, overcoming the current differences and agreeing "fully over the role of primacy and collegiality in the life of the Church." Bartholomew also indicated some concrete objectives: "as disciples of God," he added, "it is more imperative than ever to present a single perspective, beyond social, political, and economic views, on the need to uproot poverty, promote equilibrium in the globalized world, combat fundamentalism and racism, and develop religious tolerance in a world of conflict."

UPDATE: Full text of Patriarch Bartholomew's address to the Synod.

Friday, October 17, 2008

St. Ignatius of Antioch shows us the way to unity

Today is the feast day of St. Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, who was martyred in Rome in 107 AD under the Emperor Trajan. St. Ignatius shows us the way to unity by teaching us what the Catholic Church believed about ecclesial authority. It is what the same Catholic Church still believes and teaches today.

St. Ignatius, pray for us that all those who love our Lord Jesus will be united in full visible unity, for the glory and honor of our Lord Jesus, and for the salvation of the world.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Let's give Him the gift He most deeply desires

"To love God is to wish Him all honour and glory and every good, and to endeavour, as far as we can, to obtain it for Him." (source)

"May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." (St. John 17:23)

Lord Jesus, may we by your grace, be granted to present to You this gift: the overcoming of our divisions. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Unity, my way

In The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis describes "grey town" as a place that is constantly expanding at its outskirts as people perpetually try to get farther away from each other, unable to get along with each other, and wanting to be lord of their own domain. That desire for autonomy continually divides and separates the citizens of 'grey town' from each other. I think it plays a similar role here on earth, even among Christians.

Responding to Catholic claims that we cannot have unity without a "uniform teaching authority", Michael Spencer writes:

I agree with your basic contention that we need the boundaries of unity and authority in order to talk about the "Christian faith." Millions of people reading their favorite verses to one another won't produce unity. If Protestantism has demonstrated anything, it's that.

But what kind of unity? Many of us believe that a kind of "creedal minimalism" brings the necessary unity to Christianity. The Nicene and Apostles' Creeds provide this minimum coverage, and the leadership of local churches (or geographic/denominational structures) use it for the purposes of mission, definition and discipline.

In other words, we don't believe that the infallible teaching authority of a completely hierarchical church defining every detail of Christian faith and mining tradition for further dogma is the necessary expression of unity. All the unity we need is available through the processes of a fallible church.

Earlier this year I presented some problems with the notion of a 'mere Christianity'. (Yes, here we have Lewis vs. Lewis.) If the "fallible church" to which Michael refers is the 'invisible Church', then how the invisible Church is supposed to provide the means for unity is never spelled out by anyone. Michael agrees that if Protestantism has demonstrated anything, it is that millions of people reading the Bible are not going to come to unity by doing so. But if Protestantism has demonstrated that, then hasn't it also demonstrated the failure of the "invisible Church" to unify Christians? Yet if by "fallible Church" Michael is referring to some set of embodied human persons, then what is it, exactly, that makes persons to be members of that set, and how does Michael know this, and who gets to determine the sufficient conditions for membership in this set, and why do they and not other people get to determine these conditions? There is no circumventing the authority problem, behind which lies the fundamental reason for our present disunity. We are either submitting to God-ordained authority, or submitting to a pseudo-authority whom we mistakenly think to be a God-ordained authority, or we are taking authority to ourselves, even in the very act of constructing the conditions upon which all Christians should be unified.

"But I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad." (1 Kings 22:8)

The fundamental problem with heresy is not the content of belief, but the basis of that belief. The content problem [i.e. having false beliefs] is derivative and per accidens. That's why persons born into heresies are not ipso facto guilty of heresy. Gnosticism misconstrues the fundamental problem with heresy as merely propositional. Hence the gnostic life consists in an unending series of theology readings aimed at honing one's orthodoxy (whether toward maximized specificity or specified minimization). But the beginning of wisdom is not a proposition per se; it is a disposition of the will toward God. (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10) If the devil were entirely orthodox in what he believed, but had come to believe these orthodox truths not through faith and trust in God, but through his own prideful efforts, would he be less estranged from God than he is now? With respect to the basis of the content of the faith, the 'mere Christianity' mentality is no different from any other form of Protestantism. The individual remains the final arbiter of what should be believed, and in this way the notion of a 'mere Christianity' remains intrinsically disposed to perpetual fragmentation. If the ecclesial authority says that more (or less) needs to be believed than we think needs to be believed, then we simply reject that authority, move farther out, and find authorities saying pretty much what we think, more or less, needs to be believed. Unity by 'mere Christianity' is still "unity, my way". But it is precisely the "my way" that is the root cause of disunity.

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires." (2 Timothy 4:3)

The resolution of the divisions between Christians does not consist in finding a lowest-common denominator or minimal content of Christianity around which we can all agree. That is because the fundamental source of the disunity between Christians is not the intellect; it is the will. Though lack of knowledge is a factor in perpetuating divison, lack of knowledge is not the ultimate source of our divisions. The fundamental cause of the disunity between the devil and God is the devil's will; it is his sin of pride. And likewise pride was the fundamental cause of the division between Adam and God. The antidote to our present disunity is the exact opposite of pride; it is humility. And this involves submitting to Christ by submitting to the shepherd He has placed over His flock (St. John 10:16). It has never ceased to be true that "He who listens to you listens to Me; he who rejects you rejects Me". (St. Luke 10:16) It wasn't some magical effect of having seen Christ that made this true of the Apostles; it was authorization to speak on behalf of Christ, the same authorization later given by the Apostles to their episcopal successors to speak on their behalf. Apart from submission to the authority had by apostolic succession, the only remaining option is the disunity of "millions of people reading their favorite verses to one another". We can either dip in the muddy Jordan seven times with Naaman and be healed, or we can go back to the rivers of Damascus and wash in a manner of our own choosing. The former is the only way to true unity. The latter is the multifarious way of sinful man, the way of perpetual division and ever-widening separation found in "grey town". Milton's Satan says "Better to reign in hell, than serve in heav'n", and this self-exalting disorientation of the will is intrinsically related to Sartre's "hell is other people"; it is precisely this that keeps extending the limits of 'grey town'.

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God." (1 John 4:7)

By contrast, love turns us back around, toward unity, away from pride, away from self-exaltation, and away from division. Love does not sacrifice truth; it labors to share truth with one's neighbor, and listens to receive truth from one's neighbor, in order to be truly one with one's neighbor. That's why love is catholic, and not provincial or sectarian; love seeks to evangelize the whole world, and it listens humbly to the whole world. Love is the perfection of truth, the adequatio of person to person. And humility is bound up in love, as demonstrated in Christ's humbling of Himself in love. Love therefore is what brings us back from the outskirts of grey town, to our knees in humility before Christ and His Body, so that we may be incorporated into this one Body, with one faith, having the same Spirit, and under one hierarchy. Love draws us to dance together.

The Wedding Dance
Marten Van Cleve (1527-1581)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Orthodox Leaders Join in Pledge for Unity

Heads of the Orthodox Churches
Photo by D. Panagos (Oct. 12, 2008)

The Primates of the Orthodox Churches, meeting over the last three days in the Patriarchal Cathedral of Saint George in Istanbul, Turkey, have just released a document titled "Message of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches".

Here's one section:

"The Orthodox Church, having the understanding of the authentic interpretation of the teaching of the Apostle to the Nations, in both peaceful and difficult times of its two-thousand year historical course, can and must promote to the contemporary world the teaching not only regarding the restoration in Christ of the unity of the entire human race, but also regarding the universality of His work of redemption, through which all the divisions of the world are overcome and the common nature of all human beings is affirmed. Nevertheless, the faithful promotion of this message of redemption also presupposes overcoming the internal conflicts of the Orthodox Church through the surrendering of nationalistic, ethnic and ideological extremes of the past. For only in this way will the word of Orthodoxy have a necessary impact on the contemporary world." (my emphases)

Amen. There is one phrase later in the document that made my ears perk up:

"In this respect we welcome the proposal by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to convene Panorthodox Consultations within the coming year 2009 on this subject, as well as for the continuation of preparations for the Holy and Great Council.

There has been talk among the Orthodox for some time about an "Eighth Ecumenical Council". Pray that this "Holy and Great Council" would be an Ecumenical Council, including West and East together. Wouldn't that be a beautiful and fitting resolution to this 954 year-old schism?

"Μόνον πίστευε"! [Only believe!] (Mark 5:36)

(H/T: Catholic Culture)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Orthodox Delegate Speaks of Pope as Sign of Unity

Archimandrite Ignatios Sotiriadis
"Your Holiness," he said, "our society is tired and sick. It seeks but does not find! It drinks but its thirst is not quenched. Our society demands of us Christians -- Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Anglicans -- a common witness, a unified voice. Here lies our responsibility as pastors of the Churches in the 21st Century."

"Here," the Orthodox pastor continued, "is the primary mission of the First Bishop of Christianity, of him who presides in charity, and, above all, of a Pope who is Magister Theologiae: to be the visible and paternal sign of unity and to lead under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and according to Sacred Tradition, with wisdom, humility and dynamism, together with all the bishops of the world, fellow successors of the apostles, all humanity to Christ the redeemer."

"This is the profound desire of those who have the painful longing in their heart for the undivided Church, 'Una, Sancta, Catholica et Apostolica,'" he concluded. "But it is also the desire of those who, again today, in a world without Christ, fervently, but also with filial trust and faith, repeat the words of the apostles: 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!'"

(Source: Zenit, October 12, 2008)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Without a Pope: Orthodoxy & Unity

"His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew addresses the heads of the Orthodox churches in the Patriarchal Cathedral of Saint George." (October 10, 2008, Photo by N. Manginas)

Patrick Archbold of Creative Minority Report published this post on Patriarch Bartholomew's Friday address to the heads of the Orthodox churches. I recommend reading the Patriarch's complete address, because it is almost all about unity, especially starting in section 5. The most interesting part comes at the end, however, when the Patriarch says this:

We need, then, greater unity in order to appear to those outside not as a federation of Churches but as one unified Church. Through the centuries, and especially after the Schism, when the Church of Rome ceased to be in communion with the Orthodox, this Throne [i.e. in Constantinople] was called -- according to canonical order -- to serve the unity of the Orthodox Church as its first Throne. And it fulfilled this responsibility through the ages by convoking an entire series of Panorthodox Councils on crucial ecclesiastical matters, always prepared, whenever duly approached, to render its assistance and support to troubled Orthodox Churches. (my emphases)

Patrick Archbold writes:

The Ecumenical Patriarch rightly sees the problem. The Church needs to be Visibly unified to the world, not just a federation of independent State churches. That visible unity must come by way of public and open Communion with One See and its Patriarch. The Ecumenical Patriarch even goes so far as to say that this responsibility falls to his see and his person only because of the break with Rome. I think, although I may be reading into this with Roman eyes, that the Ecumenical Patriarch might even agree that were communion with Rome re-established, the role of being the visible unifier of the Church would no longer fall to him and his See.

Now I know that the Patriarchs of many of these autocephalous Churches would vehemently disagree with such a notion, whether Rome or Constantinople. With that said, I think that the Ecumenical Patriarch's pitch to his fellow Orthodox is an important step in the road to full and visible Unity of the Church as Jesus prayed. If these national Churches come to realize the importance of that visible unity to the world, we will be that much closer to being one, as Jesus and the Father are one.

I agree with Patrick's comments. It is a basic principle of metaphysics that you can't get unity from non-unity, just as you can't get being from non-being. Patriarch Bartholomew wants visible unity, saying, "We need, then, greater unity in order to appear to those outside not as a federation of Churches but as one unified Church." If the Orthodox are not a mere federation of Churches, but are in fact a visible unity, then there should be no worry about their appearing as a mere federation of Churches. But if they are a mere federation of Churches, then they can't solve this disunity problem by redoubling their efforts to be more unified with each other, because the problem is in that case an ontological problem, not merely a deficiency of cooperation or collaborative effort.

Trying to achieve or establish visible unity by means of a principium unitatis, i.e. being united to an existing visible unity, likewise faces the following dilemma. If Christ did not found the Church with a principium unitatis, then clearly we should not seek to outdo Christ by establishing one. But if Christ did found the Church with a principium unitatis, then visible unity can be attained only by union with that divinely appointed principium unitatis.

Patriarch Bartholomew seems to be aware of the need for a principium unitatis for visible unity. This is revealed in his emphasis on the importance of his own Throne for the visible unity of the Church. He is thus in a difficult situation. On the one hand, without a principium unitatis there cannot be actual visible unity. On the other hand, insofar as he seeks to elevate his own Throne as a principium unitatis, he highlights the intrinsic need for Orthodox reunion with the Chair of St. Peter.

Speaking as a Catholic, it is our constant prayer and desire for the restoration of full communion with our Orthodox brothers and sisters. We long for that day of reconciliation and reunion. We pray for full visible unity among all Christians, for this is the desire of the sacred heart of our Lord Jesus, that we would be one, as He and the Father are one.

Holy Spirit, hasten the day when we are one with one another. Make our hearts to beat with the same deep desire and passion as that of Christ's heart. Heal the wounds that divide us. Help us overcome the obstacles that keep us separated. Clothe us in true humility and fill us with charity toward one another. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Baptism, Schism, Full Communion, Salvation

St Ansanus Baptizing
Giovanni di Paulo, 1440s

What does the Catholic Church believe and teach about the state of persons who are baptized but not in full communion with the Catholic Church? There are two not entirely uncommon misunderstandings of the Catholic Church's teaching on this question. One is that such persons are entirely separated from the Body of Christ and from Christ. The other is that such persons are perfectly joined to the Body of Christ and to Christ.

In order to understand the Catholic Church's teaching on this question, we first have to understand what she believes about baptism. Consider the following paragraphs from the Catechism:

"Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission" (CCC 1213)

"Baptism makes us members of the Body of Christ: "Therefore . . . we are members one of another." Baptism incorporates us into the Church. From the baptismal fonts is born the one People of God of the New Covenant, which transcends all the natural or human limits of nations, cultures, races, and sexes: "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body." (CCC 1267)

According to the Catholic Church, in baptism, the Holy Spirit frees us from sin and gives us new birth and incorporates us into Christ and His Body, the Church. But, baptism is not the end of the story.

"From the time of the apostles, becoming a Christian has been accomplished by a journey and initiation in several stages. This journey can be covered rapidly or slowly, but certain essential elements will always have to be present: proclamation of the Word, acceptance of the Gospel entailing conversion, profession of faith, Baptism itself, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and admission to Eucharistic communion." (CCC 1229, my emphasis)

Notice that according to the Catholic Church, becoming a Christian is not accurately understood as an instantaneous event, but rather as a process involving "several stages." For adult converts, baptism follows a profession of faith. But baptism is not the end of the process of becoming a Christian. Baptism is followed by an additional sacrament (Confirmation / Chrismation) in which one receives the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. And this is followed by admission to the highest sacrament: Holy Eucharist, a sign of full communion with the Church.

That is because although baptism incorporates a person into the Church, it does not bring a person into full communion with the Church if the person being baptized professes anything contrary to the true faith. Baptism puts such a person into an actual but "imperfect communion" with the Body of Christ. In his encyclical titled Mystici Corporis Christi, Pope Pius XII writes:

Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed. [Para. 22]

A baptized person who, due to invincible ignorance does not profess the true faith may, in virtue of his baptism, retain imperfect communion with Christ and His Church. That is, he can possibly remain in a state of grace. Likewise, a baptized person who does profess the true faith may, by committing a mortal sin, cease to be in a state of grace. Being in full communion with the Catholic Church does not entail being in a state of grace, and being in a state of grace does not entail being in full communion with the Catholic Church. But being in full communion with Christ's Church provides the greatest access to the sacramental means of grace, and thus the means of sanctification and perfection.

One objection here is that the online translation of Unitatis Redintegratio says the following:

But even in spite of them it remains true that all who have been justified by faith in Baptism are members of Christ's body,(21) and have a right to be called Christian, and so are correctly accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church. (Unitatis Redintegratio, 3)
First, the translation is misleading. The Latin does not say "are members of Christ's body." It reads, "Christo incorporantur," i.e. are incorporated into Christ. Second, this statement references the Council of Florence, which stated "Holy baptism holds the first place among all the sacraments, for it is the gate of the spiritual life; through it we become members of Christ and of the body of the church." (source) The Council of Florence is only teaching that baptism makes one a member of the Body of Christ. It is not teaching that baptized persons who deny some article of the Catholic faith, or who are in a state of excommunication or are in schism from the Church, are members of the Church. The meaning of this phrase "Christo incorporantur" in Unitatis Redintegratio 3 in reference to Protestants is specified earlier in that same paragraph, which explains, "For men who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are brought into a certain, though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church. Undoubtedly, the differences that exist in varying degrees between them and the Catholic Church -- whether in doctrine and sometimes in discipline, or concerning the structure of the Church -- do indeed create many and sometimes serious obstacles to full ecclesiastical communion." As soon as a baptized person denies some article of the Catholic faith, or separates himself from the visible unity of the Catholic Church, then he is no longer a member in the proper sense defined by Mystici Corporis Christi, even though he remains imperfectly joined to the Church through baptism.

Though baptism does not entail full communion, baptism is the gateway for all the subsequent sacramental graces, as the Catechism explains:

"Baptism constitutes the foundation of communion among all Christians, including those who are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church: "For men who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in some, though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church. Justified by faith in Baptism, [they] are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church." "Baptism therefore constitutes the sacramental bond of unity existing among all who through it are reborn." (CCC 1271, my emphasis)

"The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter." Those "who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church. With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound "that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord's Eucharist." (CCC 838, my emphasis)

This statement shows that the Protestant is "joined in many ways" to the Catholic Church, being in a "certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church". (The communion of the Orthodox with the Catholic Church is much fuller, for we share the same sacraments, apostolic succession, and the faith as defined by the first seven Ecumenical Councils.) When a Protestant was baptized in a Protestant community (assuming it was a valid baptism), he was brought into an actual, but "imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church." Being "in the Catholic Church" is not a simple either/or; there are different stages of being "in" (or "in communion" with) the Catholic Church. Baptism is the first stage, the foundation for the others. It is the will of Christ, according to the Catholic Church, that all baptized believers be fully incorporated into His Body, the Church. This involves professing the very same faith that the Church teaches, sharing in all the same sacraments (especially the Eucharist), and recognizing and submitting to the successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him as the successors of the Apostles. The Catechism states:

"For it is through Christ's Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, that we believe that our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant, in order to establish on earth the one Body of Christ into which all those should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the People of God." (CCC 816, my emphases)

Here's what it means to be "fully incorporated" into the Catholic Church:

"Fully incorporated into the society of the Church are those who, possessing the Spirit of Christ, accept all the means of salvation given to the Church together with her entire organization, and who - by the bonds constituted by the profession of faith, the sacraments, ecclesiastical government, and communion - are joined in the visible structure of the Church of Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. Even though incorporated into the Church, one who does not however persevere in charity is not saved. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but 'in body' not 'in heart.'" (CCC 837)

It should be clear from this in what sense the Protestant is not "fully incorporated" into the Catholic Church. The Protestant, though having some communion with the Church through his baptism, does not profess the entire Catholic faith, share the other Catholic sacraments or accept and submit to the government of the Catholic Church. Does that mean that those baptized persons who are not in full communion with the Catholic Church are unable to grow in Christ, or unable to be saved? No. The Catechism explains:

"Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth" are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements." Christ's Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church." (CCC 819)

Notice the phrase "visible confines of the Catholic Church." Even though, as we saw above, the Protestant is, through his baptism, in an "imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church", yet because he has not been received into full communion with the Catholic Church, he is "outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church." So, there are degrees or stages of union with (and separation from) the Catholic Church.

Does that mean that those baptized persons who believe in Christ but are not fully incorporated into the Catholic Church are guilty of the sin of separation? Not necessarily.

"However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers . . . . All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church." (CCC 818)

Those who are born into ecclesial communities that are not in full communion with the Catholic Church are not guilty of the sin of separating from the Catholic Church. From the point of view of the Catholic Church, they are brothers and sisters in Christ, even though they are not yet in full communion with the Church. The Catholic Church prays that all such persons and communities will be restored to full communion with her. Why are such persons not guilty of the sin of separating from the Catholic Church? Because they did not choose to separate from the Catholic Church, nor do they "know that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ".

"How are we to understand this affirmation ["Outside the Church there is no salvation"], often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it." (CCC 846, my emphasis)

The Church is very clear on this point. Those who know that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, and refuse either to enter it or remain in it, cannot be saved. (This is because schism is a grave matter, and such persons would be committing a mortal sin.) That is why those who are born into separated ecclesial communities are not ipso facto guilty of the sin of separation (i.e. schism), because they know not what they do. They do not know that the Catholic Church is the Church that Christ founded and to which all men are called to enter for salvation as that of which Noah's ark was a type. Hence the Catechism says:

"This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church: Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation." (CCC 847)

The statement "no salvation outside the Church" refers to this broadest, minimal degree of communion with the Catholic Church. That is why Catechumens (who by definition have not yet been baptized), can still be saved even if they die before their baptism, because they have what is called a "baptism by desire," and thus are already (in an initial and imperfect way) spiritually joined to the Catholic Church.

"Catechumens "are already joined to the Church, they are already of the household of Christ, and are quite frequently already living a life of faith, hope, and charity." (CCC 1249)

The Catechism thus teaches that salvation always comes from Christ through the Church, which is His Body. The necessity of baptism for salvation is a basic teaching of the Church, because the necessity of baptism is understood to be a basic teaching of Christ. The Church's teaching that it is possible for those who have never heard the Gospel to achieve eternal salvation does not negate the necessity of baptism or the necessity of Christ or His Church. It is an acknowledgment that the mercy and power of God are not necessarily limited to what we perceive with our senses. Just because we do not see a person receiving baptism, that does not mean we are justified in concluding that this person, upon death, must be in hell. That is why we cannot justifiably say that "that atheist" who died some time ago is in hell. The Church makes official declarations about certain people being in heaven (i.e. Saints), but it does not presume to be judge of which persons received eternal damnation. The Church can spell out and explicate the state of soul that leads to eternal damnation, but she does not presume to determine the eternally damned state of any particular soul; she leaves them to the mercy of God. The Catholic Church does teach that full incorporation into the Church is so important that those who know that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, and yet refuse to enter it or remain in it, cannot (in that state) be saved.

The short of it is that through baptism the Protestant is actually, but imperfectly, and only invisibly, joined to the Catholic Church. Baptism is a Catholic sacrament, because it was entrusted by Christ to the Catholic Church, and has its validity through the Catholic Church, even when it is administered by a Protestant. But a Protestant (while Protestant) is not fully incorporated into the Catholic Church, or in "full communion" with the Catholic Church. That is why a Protestant cannot receive the Holy Eucharist at a Catholic parish. Does that mean that a Protestant's salvation is in jeopardy? Yes and no. Those Protestants who do not know "that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ" can be saved. But no one should use the Church's acknowledgment that those not in full communion with the Church can be saved as an excuse for not seeking full communion with the Church, or as a justification for remaining in schism from the Church that Christ founded. Apart from the sacraments Christ established in His Church it is much more difficult to attain to the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

For more on the relation of baptism to Christian unity, see my post titled "Baptism and Christian Unity".

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Love and Unity: Part 3

The Visitation
Mariotto Albertinelli (1503)

Part 1 is here, and part 2 is here.

In this part of my discussion on the relation of love and unity, I focus on St. Thomas Aquinas's distinction between two different kinds of love, and the types of unity to which they are ordered.

Two Types of Love
In his answer to the question "whether in God there is love", Aquinas writes the following:

An act of love always tends towards two things; to the good that one wills, and to the person for whom one wills it: since to love a person is to wish that person good. Hence, inasmuch as we love ourselves, we wish ourselves good; and, so far as possible, union with that good. So love is called the unitive force, even in God, yet without implying composition; for the good that He wills for Himself, is no other than Himself, Who is good by His essence, as above shown (6, 1, 3). And by the fact that anyone loves another, he wills good to that other. Thus he puts the other, as it were, in the place of himself; and regards the good done to him as done to himself. So far love is a binding force [vis concretiva], since it aggregates another to ourselves [quia alium aggregat sibi], and refers his good to our own. And then again the divine love is a binding force, inasmuch as God wills good to others; yet it implies no composition in God. (ST I Q.20 a.1 ad.3)

This consideration of the nature of love reveals the basis for Aquinas's distinction between love of friendship and love of concupiscence (amorem amicitiae et amorem concupiscentiae). (ST I-II Q.26 a.4) First he refers to Aristotle's statement that "to love is to wish good to someone." From this Aquinas draws the conclusion that love by its very nature has a twofold tendency: "towards the good which a man wishes to someone (to himself or to another) and towards that to which he wishes some good." This twofold tendency intrinsic to love makes possible the difference between love of friendship and love of concupiscence. He explains the difference between these two kinds of love when he says that "man has love of concupiscence towards the good that he wishes to another, and love of friendship towards him to whom he wishes good." These two kinds of love are related as primary and secondary, in this way: "that which is loved with the love of friendship is loved simply and for itself (simpliciter et per se amatur); whereas that which is loved with the love of concupiscence, is loved, not simply and for itself, but for something else."

If we love something in the sense of wishing good to it for its own sake, that is the type of love Aquinas calls 'love of friendship'. But if we love something in the sense of wishing it to be the good of something or someone else, that is the type of love he calls 'love of concupiscence'. For example, if we love an apple, we love it in the sense of wishing it to be a good for someone (either our self or someone else) when it is eaten. The type of love we have for the apple, in that case, is 'love of concupiscence'. But if we love a friend with the 'love of friendship', we love our friend not as a means to a further good to ourselves, but simpliciter et per se, that is, for his own sake, and that is why we wish good to come to him.

Aquinas then adds: "the love with which a thing is loved, that it may have some good, is love simply; while the love, with which a thing is loved, that it may be another's good, is relative love." So love of concupiscence is relative love; it is directed toward a good with the intention that it may be another's good. Love of friendship, by contrast, is love simply; it is directed toward something with the intention that it have some good.

If we are loving something as a good for ourselves, it is plain that such love is unitive in this respect, that we seek to be united to that good such that it becomes our good. In the example of loving the apple, we desire the apple to be united to us through eating the apple, so that it provides the goods of nourishing our body, satisfying our hunger and pleasing our palate. So the type of unity aimed at by the 'love of concupiscence' is the having of the beloved good by the lover.

In what way then, does the love of friendship aim at unity? Given what I have said about the manner in which love of concupiscence is unitive, it may seem initially that, as directed toward other persons, love of friendship is unitive only in the sense that the lover wishes that what is good for his friend be united to his friend. What I wish to show here and in part 4 is how the the love of friendship also seeks union of the lover and the friend.

Unity as a Cause of Love
In order develop this argument, we need to consider the ways in which union is both a cause and an effect of love. First, let us consider briefly how, according to Aquinas, union is a cause of love. According to Aquinas, union is a cause of love in two ways. The type of union that causes the love with which one loves oneself is substantial union. (ST I-II Q.28 a.1 ad.2) This claim has its basis in what Aquinas said earlier, namely, that "everything has this aptitude towards its natural form, that when it has it not, it tends towards it; and when it has it, it is at rest therein. It is the same with every natural perfection, which is a natural good." (ST I Q.19 a.1 co.) And elsewhere he writes, "But it is common to every nature to have some inclination; and this is its natural appetite or love." (ST I Q.60 a.1 co.) The transcendental relation of being, unity and goodness shows that insofar as everything is naturally inclined to its perfection, so it is naturally inclined to its being and unity. Hence Aquinas says elsewhere, "[H]ence it is that everything guards its unity as it guards its being." (Et inde est quod unumquodque, sicut custodit suum esse, ita custodit suam unitatem.)(ST I Q.11 a.1 co.)

The second way in which unity causes love is by unity of likeness. We have seen this already in our discussion of connaturality in Part 2, where we saw that the principle of movement in the appetite is the appetitive subject's connaturality with the thing to which it tends. Connaturality is a kind of likeness of natures. According to Aquinas, there are two types of likeness between things, and each type of likeness causes a different type of love. One type of likeness between two things arises when each thing has the same quality actuality. The other type of likeness between two things arises when one thing has "potentially and by way of inclination, a quality which the other has actually". (ST I-II Q.27 a.3 co.) The first type of likeness, that is, the type of likeness that arises when each thing has the same quality actuality, is love of friendship. Aquinas writes, "For the very fact that two men are alike, having, as it were, one form, makes them to be, in a manner, one in that form: thus two men are one thing in the species of humanity, and two white men are one thing in whiteness. Hence the affections of one tend to the other, as being one with him; and he wishes good to him as to himself. But the second kind of likeness causes love of concupiscence, or friendship founded on usefulness or pleasure: because whatever is in potentiality, as such, has the desire for its act; and it takes pleasure in its realization, if it be a sentient and cognitive being." (ST I-II Q.27 a.3 co.) Thus we can be caused to love another person by likeness in two general ways. Either the other person has actually some good quality that we have potentiality, or the other person has actually some quality that we have actually. In the former case, either we love the other as a means to the actualization of our potentiality, or we love the other as a pleasing subjunctive depiction of what we would be were our potentiality actualized. But in the case where both the lover and the beloved share the likeness of actuality to actuality, that which is like need not be only a quality or set of qualities; it may also be a nature, for example, human nature. Love caused directly by apprehended likeness of this sort is love of friendship.

Two types of Unity
Aquinas teaches that the union of lover and beloved is fundamentally of two sorts. "The first is real union; for instance, when the beloved is present with the lover. The second is union of affection: and this union must be considered in relation to the preceding apprehension; since movement of the appetite follows apprehension." Aquinas explains this when he says, "The first of these unions [i.e. real union] is caused effectively by love; because love moves man to desire and seek the presence of the beloved, as of something suitable and belonging to him (quasi sibi convenientis et ad se pertinentis). The second union is caused formally by love; because love itself is this union or bond. In this sense Augustine says (De Trin. viii, 10) that "love is a vital principle uniting, or seeking to unite two together, the lover, to wit, and the beloved." For in describing it as "uniting" he refers to the union of affection, without which there is no love: and in saying that "it seeks to unite," he refers to real union." (ST I-II Q.28 a.1 co.)

Again, in the reply to the second objection he writes, "There is also a union which is essentially love itself. This union is according to a bond of affection, and is likened to substantial union, inasmuch as the lover stands to the object of his love, as to himself, if it be love of friendship; as to something belonging to himself, if it be love of concupiscence. Again there is a union, which is the effect of love. This is real union, which the lover seeks with the object of his love." (ST I-II Q.28 a.1 ad.2)

In this first article of question 28, Aquinas is making two points. First he is showing that the union of affection is essentially love itself, and this union is likened [assimilatur] to substantial union inasmuch as the lover stands to the beloved as to himself (i.e. in love of friendship), and to a lesser degree if the lover stands to the beloved as one stands toward something belonging to oneself (i.e. in love of concupiscence).

Aquinas's second point is that real union is the effect or goal of love; real union is what the union of affection seeks to bring about. Regarding real union as an effect of love he says, "Moreover this union [real union] is in keeping with the demands of love (convenientiam amoris: for as the Philosopher relates (Polit. ii, 1), "Aristophanes stated that lovers would wish to be united both into one," but since "this would result in either one or both being destroyed," they seek a suitable and becoming union--to live together, speak together, and be united together in other like things." (ST I-II Q.28 a.1 ad.2) In seeking real union love does not seek to destroy its own possibility, but seeks rather that which preserves its own actuality. Both types of love seek real union of the lover with the beloved.

In the middle of this article, Aquinas distinguishes between the two types of unity that are apprehended by the lover, and which give rise to the love of concupiscence and the love of friendship, respectively. He writes, "Now love being twofold, viz. love of concupiscence and love of friendship; each of these arises from a kind of apprehension of the oneness of the thing loved with the lover. For when we love a thing, by desiring it, we apprehend it as belonging to our well-being (quasi sibi convenientis et ad se pertinentis). In like manner when a man loves another with the love of friendship, he wills good to him, just as he wills good to himself: wherefore he apprehends him as his other self (vult ei bonum sicut et sibi vult bonum, unde apprehendit eum ut alterum se), in so far, to wit, as he wills good to him as to himself. Hence a friend is called a man's "other self" (Ethic. ix, 4), and Augustine says (Confess. iv, 6), "Well did one say to his friend: Thou half of my soul." (ST I-II Q.28 a.1 co.)

The kind of unity that when apprehended gives rise to love of concupiscence is one in which the lover stands to the beloved as to something belonging to himself (ut ad aliquid sui). This unity seems to be apprehended as a potential unity. The kind of unity that when apprehended gives rise to love of friendship is one in which the lover stands to the beloved as to himself (ut ad seipsum) [ST I-II Q.28 a.1 ad.2]. This unity seems to be apprehended as an actual unity, though this leaves open the discovery and dynamic creation of further actual unity, as well as the apprehension of potential unity.

So to summarize, first, substantial unity gives rise to self love. Second, there are two types of apprehended unity that give rise to the two types of love. These two types of apprehended unity are an accidental unity (i.e. of having or possessing a good for oneself) and a formal subjective unity of being another self. They give rise to love of concupiscence and love of friendship, respectively. In the former, the union aimed at by the appetite is the union of possessing the good loved, such that this good actualizes the lover's potential and thus perfects the lover. In the love of friendship, by contrast, the union aimed at by the appetite is a union of subject with subject, and this grounds the love of concupiscence towards the good that the lover wishes to his friend. The object of the love of friendship is not loved as a means to one's own perfection, but as another self. This is primarily a spiritual union of a self with another self, an outward extension of the love that one has for oneself to that which is another self. But the beloved as an object of the 'love of friendship' does not cease to be apprehended as a good any more than in self-love the self ceases to be apprehended as a good. On the contrary, just as the self is apprehended as a qualitatively greater good than all those goods perfecting of the self, so likewise the beloved as an object of the 'love of friendship' is apprehended as a qualitatively greater good than all those goods perfecting either oneself or the beloved (God excepted).

In the next part in this series I will examine the three ways in which love effects mutual indwelling, focusing most especially on the third way. I will be focusing particularly on the way in which love of friendship seeks not only that what is good for one's friend be united to one's friend, but also seeks the union of the lover with the friend. For this I will draw on Aquinas's commentary on chapter four of book nine of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics.

A false dilemma regarding development of doctrine

At Michael Liccione's blog Philosophia Perennis, Iohannes presented a dilemma as a criticism of the Catholic notion of development of doctrine. Iohannes has since referred to the dilemma, as though the dilemma is not a false dilemma. But the dilemma is a false dilemma. Here's the dilemma, in my own paraphrase:

If the Magisterium can see that the proposed doctrine is implicit in the deposit of faith, then the Magisterium can in principle see more than other informed persons, and so tradition is no longer public in a meaningful sense. But if the Magisterium cannot see that the proposed doctrine is implicit in the deposit of faith, then the Magisterium lacks warrant to declare that the proposed doctrine is implicit in the deposit of faith.

This is a false dilemma because the consequent of the conditional in the first horn of the dilemma does not follow from the antecedent. Just because the Magisterium can see that the proposed doctrine is implicit in the deposit of faith, it does not follow that the Magisterium can in principle see more than other informed persons. The ability of the Magisterium to see that the proposed doctrine is implicit in the deposit of faith is fully compatible with other informed persons also seeing that the proposed doctrine is implicit in the deposit of faith. And since the consequent of the conditional in the first horn of this dilemma does not follow from the antecedent, therefore it does not follow that "tradition is no longer public in a meaningful sense". A dilemma is shown to be a false dilemma when one of its horns can be embraced by those holding the position against which the dilemma is directed. I have shown that Catholics can embrace the first horn of the dilemma without facing the negative consequences Iohannes claims follow from doing so. Therefore, I have shown that the dilemma Iohannes presents against the Catholic notion of development is a false dilemma.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Two years ago today

The Institution of the Eucharist
Joos van Wassenhove (1473-1475)

Composed by Arvo Pärt

On this day in 2006, my wife and two daughters and I were received into full communion with the Catholic Church, were all confirmed, and all received first communion. Seventeen days later I wrote the following:

"I am deeply moved in my soul at every mass. I find it to be extremely enriching, edifying, and profoundly beautiful. I sit in the very front, and after I partake, I kneel in prayer and I keep hearing the priest say over and over, "the body of Christ", as each person receives the Eucharist. I hear Christ given to each person; I hear Christ giving Himself to each person; I hear the body of Christ all around me, every beautiful person of all races and ages, all joined together by that act on Calvary and in that act on Calvary, all united in our love for Christ and sharing in His act of self-giving. I have never experienced anything more spiritually edifying and upbuilding in my entire life. In the Eucharist, I experience the love of Christ, that love than which no love is greater, the love shown in His giving up of His very body and blood for my salvation. In the Eucharist I am made a fellow participant in the sufferings of Christ; as I receive His body and blood I am so brought into union with Him that I feel as though I am also encountering His sufferings, the sufferings for which and by which my sins are removed. In the Eucharist I am raised up with Christ to where He is; I am assured of the resurrection of my body and life everlasting joined mysteriously but truly to Him who is Life Itself. In confession I am confronted with the gentleness and patience of Christ whose mercy is without limit. In Catholicism, particularly the mass and the sacraments, I encounter the living Christ, and am deeply and truly blessed and raised up in my faith and my love for God."

To all those who helped me find the way home, your gifts of courage, charity, gentleness, prayer and patient listening will always remain a part of me and my family. We are eternally indebted, and ever grateful. Thanks be to God.