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Saturday, 7 December 2013

Consumerism and Materialism Part Two

Materialism is the philosophical system which emphasizes several points. Here is a short list of the most commonly held beliefs of the materialist.

1) The material universe is all there is. There is no spiritual life, no soul. Matter is primary.

2) God does not exist, only Man. Man is a god, and all "truth" emanates from humans.

3) Therefore, Man determines what is real and unreal. All reality ultimately is subjective.

4) The goal of humans is to create material utopias on earth as that is all there is.

5) Any type of spiritual realities are based on unseen energies or forces, which can be explained in material, not spiritual terms.

6) Materialism is connected to utilitarianism and functionalism, more isms which reduce humans to who is useful in a society (utiliarianism) and reduces all feelings, beliefs, thoughts as being located in sensory phenomenon, or learned behavior. For example, functionalism would dictate that morals are merely learned cultural norms and not related to anything spiritual, such as natural law.

7) Materialism leads to such other false ideas as intentionality, deconstructionism and post-deconstructionism and post-post modernism,etc.

8) Dialectic Materialism is Marxism, as defined by Marx himself based on Hegel, partly. This system of thought leads to Gramsci's ideas of hegemony.

Perhaps one can see overlaps in the two "ism" of materialism and consumerism.

Both remove the focus of the interior life of men and women. Both demand centering on the world and the flesh. Both deny the ultimate goal of humans, which is eternal life.

Both ultimately kill the soul, not only of individuals but of nations, cultures, even religious communities.

To be continued....

Consumerism and Materialism: Part One

In some Catholic circles, there is confusion as to two terms ending in "ism".  I want to clarify this as one can understand the predominant faults of two continents by examining this two seriously false manners of thinking.

First of all, consumerism is the plague and greatest evil of American society, imo. Consumerism is a philosophy and now, a complete way of life, which emphasizes the constant buying of things. Consumerism most likely grew up in the middle classes, who confused the American dream of happiness with having things.

The incessant preoccupation of buying and selling takes up the time of many families, including Catholic families.

This obsession with having things, the latest trends, reveals a mind-set of concentrating on the here and now and forgetting that we are made for eternal life. Ironically, many members of the Catholic Church in America have fallen into the idolatry of things, bigger, better, newer.

Part of the obsession with consumerism is the insistence on comfort. Few want to live without comfort. I think this really struck me many years ago when electric Venetian blinds, run with a remote, were invented.

Such frivolities cause American Catholics to read the sales, collect coupons, buy things which are not necessary.

Consumerism becomes a way of life, pushing people into shopping almost everyday, thinking they need things which they do not need. Shopping has become a form of entertainment, not something to be done for because one needs something.

Consumerism connects to the American ideal of conformity. America has always been a conformist society, at least since the end of the 19th century, but before that time, de Tocqueville warned us all about conformity.

A lady this last week told me how hard it was to keep up with the other women in her church group. She said that everyone talks about the newest thing or the latest vacation they have bought. She is a stay-at-home mom who thinks she has suffered from not having and not keeping up with her fellow Catholic sisters. I tried to encourage her in her good choices, but she feels pained by this lack of things and activity.

Consumerism dulls the conscience as well, as this philosophy demands a focus on the exterior world, rather than the interior life.

One reason I have loved living in Europe is the absence in many places of consumerism. The hot pursuit of things and comfort seem less, and the societal demand for conformism is definitely less. One can be more of an individual, even an eccentric, in Europe. I have a dear friend, who because of arthritis, wears slippers everywhere. She does not care what other people think.

But, the evil of that continent is materialism-the topic of the next post.

To be continued...

The Gagging of The Right

I have been noticing something in coming back to the States which I shall call a hardening of views and the very strong movement in the press against religion.

If I had newspapers from late 2010 on certain issues, and compared those with what I am seeing now, I am sure the distinctions would be clear. The left is rabidly anti-Christian. One only has to get a glimpse of television commentaries to see this.

The voice of the "socially conservative" has been severely marginalized. A neighbor asked me quietly if I was "socially conservative", which in this area, in this state, which allows ssm, means being against ssm. I  said "yes" and she was obviously relieved. Again, social conservatives find themselves marginalized and even afraid to speak up concerning their views. She had been involved in politics in her youth, but has stepped down in old age.

Now, the state of Iowa and the state of Illinois have both been liberal for a long time.  I had to deal with ssm in RCIA classes which I was teaching in the Summer of 2010. Iowa was one of the first to pass the law allowing ssm. Some of my catechumens were confused.

But, the overwhelming problem is the lack of discussion, the lack of even trying to find common ground with which to start a discussion.

Gone are the rational arguments, or rational discourse. Part of that huge problem is that the last two generations of high school students or college students were not required to take logic.

The second problem is one of those on the right. Too many want to avoid conflict totally and not engaged in discussions or even politics. They are too afraid of standing up for their opinions. Someone recently told me that he has to keep all his opinions to himself at work, or he would lose his jobs.

This is the gagging of the right. I no longer can discuss anything and retreated into silence in discussions in Iowa. This is even true on Public Television in this state, which is so liberal, there is never any discussions revealing both sides of issues.

Labels now define us, not rationality or natural law. Sadly, this is one of the signs of the last stages of persecution-complete marginalization.

PS. There are many Catholics in this area who do not understand or even know that many, many Catholic universities have sued the government over the contraception and abortion mandate. Why they do not know, is that is not covered in the msm.

The NDU lawsuit has been renewed recently

Here is the original statement on the lawsuit from Notre Dame from

May 21, 2012
A Message from Father John Jenkins, C.S.C.,
President, University of Notre Dame
Today the University of Notre Dame filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana regarding a recent mandate from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  That mandate requires Notre Dame and similar religious organizations to provide in their insurance plans abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization procedures, which are contrary to Catholic teaching.  The decision to file this lawsuit came after much deliberation, discussion and efforts to find a solution acceptable to the various parties.
Let me say very clearly what this lawsuit is not about:  it is not about preventing women from having access to contraception, nor even about preventing the Government from providing such services.  Many of our faculty, staff and students — both Catholic and non-Catholic — have made conscientious decisions to use contraceptives.  As we assert the right to follow our conscience, we respect their right to follow theirs.  And we believe that, if the Government wishes to provide such services, means are available that do not compel religious organizations to serve as its agents.  We do not seek to impose our religious beliefs on others; we simply ask that the Government not impose its values on the University when those values conflict with our religious teachings. We have engaged in conversations to find a resolution that respects the consciences of all and we will continue to do so.
This filing is about the freedom of a religious organization to live its mission, and its significance goes well beyond any debate about contraceptives.  For if we concede that the Government can decide which religious organizations are sufficiently religious to be awarded the freedom to follow the principles that define their mission, then we have begun to walk down a path that ultimately leads to the undermining of those institutions.  For if one Presidential Administration can override our religious purpose and use religious organizations to advance policies that undercut our values, then surely another Administration will do the same for another very different set of policies, each time invoking some concept of popular will or the public good, with the result these religious organizations become mere tools for the exercise of government power, morally subservient to the state, and not free from its infringements.  If that happens, it will be the end of genuinely religious organizations in all but name.
The details of the process that led to the mandate are publicly known.  In an Interim Final Ruling issued August 3, 2011, the federal government required employers to provide the objectionable services. A narrow exemption was given to religious institutions that serve and employ primarily members of their own faith, but, departing from a long tradition in federal law, organizations like Notre Dame—schools, universities, hospitals and charitable organizations that serve and employ people of all faiths and none—were granted no exemption, but instead were made subject to the law to the same extent as any secular organization.  On September 28, I submitted a formal comment encouraging the Administration to follow precedent and adopt a broader exemption.
Despite some positive indications, the Administration announced on January 20, 2012, that its interim rule would be adopted as final without change.  After an outcry from across the political spectrum, President Obama announced on February 10 that his Administration would attempt to accommodate the concerns of religious organizations.  We were encouraged by this announcement and have engaged in conversations with Administration officials to find an acceptable resolution.  Although I do not question the good intentions and sincerity of all involved in these discussions, progress has not been encouraging and an announcement seeking comments on how to structure any accommodation (HHS Advanced Notification of Proposed Rule Making on preventative services policy, March 16, 2012) provides little in the way of a specific, substantive proposal or a definite timeline for resolution.   Moreover, the process laid out in this announcement will last months, making it impossible for us to plan for and implement any changes to our health plans by the government-mandated deadlines. We will continue in earnest our discussions with Administration officials in an effort to find a resolution, but, after much deliberation, we have concluded that we have no option but to appeal to the courts regarding the fundamental issue of religious freedom.
It is for these reasons that we have filed this lawsuit neither lightly nor gladly, but with sober determination.

Sorry, I had to take two postings off as I am having trouble with formatting on a weak wifi signal. 
Hopefully, I can put those on later.

Doctors of the Church 2:13

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Doctors of the Church on Hell

'Since their eternal happiness, consisting in the vision of God, exceeds the common state of nature, and especially in so far as this is deprived of grace through the corruption of original sin, those who are saved are in the minority. In this especially, however, appears the mercy of God, that He has chosen some for that salvation, from which very many in accordance with the common course and tendency of nature fall short.' 

St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church

'Live with the few if you want to reign with the few.' 
St. John Climacus, Father of the Church

'If you wish to imitate the multitude, then you shall not be among the few who shall enter in by the narrow gate.' 

St. Augustine, Doctor and Father of the Church

'Do you not perceive how many qualities a priest must have that he may be strong in his teaching, patient, and hold fast to the faithful word which is according to doctrine? What care and pains does this require! Moreover, he is answerable for the sins of others. To pass over everything else: If but one soul dies without Baptism, does it not entirely endanger his own salvation? For the loss of one soul is so great an evil that it is impossible to express it in words. For if the salvation of that soul was of such value that the Son of God became man and suffered so much, think of how great a punishment must the losing of it bring.' 
St. John Chrysostom, Doctor and Father of the Church

'We were so fortunate to be born in the bosom of the Roman Church, in Christian and Catholic kingdoms, a grace that has not been granted to the greater part of men, who are born among idolaters, Mohammedans, or heretics. . . How thankful we ought to be, then, to Jesus Christ for the gift of faith! What would have become of us if we had been born in Asia, in Africa, in America, or in the midst of heretics and schismatic? He who does not believe is lost. He who does not believe shall be condemned. And thus, probably, we also would have been lost.' 
St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Doctor of the Church

In the Great Deluge in the days of Noah, nearly all mankind perished, eight persons alone being saved in the Ark. In our days a deluge, not of water but of sins, continually inundates the earth, and out of this deluge very few escape. Scarcely anyone is saved.' 
St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Doctor of the Church

'How few the Elect are may be understood from the multitude being cast out.' 
St. Hilary of Poitiers, Doctor and Father of the Church

'There are many who arrive at the faith, but few who are led into the heavenly kingdom. Behold how many are gathered here for today's Feast-Day: we fill the church from wall to wall. Yet who knows how few they are who shall be numbered in that chosen company of the Elect?' 
Pope St. Gregory the Great, Doctor and Father of the Church

'The greater part of men will set no value on the blood of Christ, and will go on offending Him.' 
St. Isidore of Seville, Doctor and Father of the Church

'They who are to be saved as Saints, and wish to be saved as imperfect souls, shall not be saved.' 
Pope St. Gregory the Great, Doctor and Father of the Church

'. . . let us bear in mind that unless we are humble we shall not only do no good, but we shall not be saved. "Unless you . . . become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." In order, then, to enter into the kingdom of heaven, we must become children, not in age, but in humility. St. Gregory says that as pride is a sign of reprobation, so humility is a mark of predestination.' 
St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Doctor of the Church

'It is certain that few are saved.' 
St. Augustine, Doctor and Father of the Church

'Many begin well, but there are few who persevere.' 
St. Jerome, Doctor and Father of the Church

'What is the number of those who love Thee, O God? How few they are! The Elect are much fewer than the damned! Alas! The greater portion of mankind lives in sin unto the devil, and not unto Jesus Christ. O Saviour of the world, I thank Thee for having called and permitted us to live in the true faith which the Holy Roman Catholic Church teaches. . . But alas, O my Jesus! How small is the number of those who live in this holy faith! Oh, God! The greater number of men he buried in the darkness of infidelity and heresy. Thou hast humbled Thyself to death, to the death of the cross, for the salvation of men, and these ungrateful men are unwilling even to know Thee. Ah, I pray Thee, O omnipotent God, O sovereign and infinite Good, make all men know and love Thee!' 
St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Doctor of the Church

'Out of one hundred thousand sinners who continue in sin until death, scarcely one will be saved.' 
St. Jerome, Doctor and Father of the Church

'It is certainly a great happiness for some sinners who after a bad life are converted at their death, and are saved; but these cases are very rare: ordinarily he that leads a bad life dies a bad death.' 

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Doctor of the Church

'So that you will better appreciate the meaning of Our Lord's words, and perceive more clearly how few the Elect are, note that Christ did not say that those who walked in the path to Heaven are few in number, but that there were few who found that narrow way. It is as though the Saviour intended to say: The path leading to Heaven is so narrow and so rough, so overgrown, so dark and difficult to discern, that there are many who never find it their whole life long. And those who do find it are constantly exposed to the danger of deviating from it, of mistaking their way, and unwittingly wandering away from it, because it is so irregular and overgrown.' 
St. Jerome, Doctor and Father of the Church

'I do not speak rashly, but as I feel and think. I do not think that many bishops are saved, but that those who perish are far more numerous.' 
St. John Chrysostom, Doctor and Father of the Church

'The Apostle commands us to rejoice, but in the Lord, not in the world. For, you see, as Scripture says, whoever wishes to be a friend of this world will be counted as God's enemy. Just as a man cannot serve two masters, so too no-one can rejoice both in the world and in the Lord.' 
St. Augustine, Doctor and Father of the Church

Doctors of the Church 2:12

Monday, 11 February 2013

Part Fourteen: Bonaventure continued in the Doctors of the Church series

I highly recommend reading some if not all the works of Bonaventure if you are attracted to Franciscan spirituality and perfection. He is a great theologian. One cannot praise his works enough. Unlike Thomas Aquinas, the Aristotelian, Bonaventure is a Platonist, and may appeal to that group of philosophers sympathetic to Plato today. He was made a cardinal and was present at the Council of Lyon.

Francisco de Zurbarán 1598 -1664
Saint Bonaventure and St Thomas Aquinas before the Crucifix

I can only look at his work briefly, as excellent as his many things are.

There is a story that St. Thomas Aquinas visited Bonaventure when he was writing his life of St. Francis,
and found him in ecstasy. Thomas said, "Let us leave a saint to work for a saint".

Out of all his writings, I am choosing a section on silence, the largest problem of the laity today.

This is from Holiness of Life.

"In the multitude of words there shall not 
want sin." I quote from the Book of Proverbs.
Obviously, a religious aiming to perfect 
his ways, will find silence a very helpful 
virtue. To speak seldom, and then but briefly, 
prevents sin. Where there is too much talk, 
God is in one way or another offended, and 
reputations suffer. On the other hand let only 
the virtue of silence come into its own and 
people get their due. If we deal fairly with 
one another, and practise the virtue of justice, 
we establish the bond of peace. This means 
that where silence is observed the fruits of 
peace are gathered as easily as fruit is gathered 
from a heavily laden tree. 

Of all places in the world peace is essential 
in the cloister. Silence is of paramount importance 
.... because by 

means of silence peace of mind and body is 
preserved. Dilating on the virtue of silence 
Isaias the prophet said: "The work of justice 
shall be peace, and the service of justice shall 
be quietness" ! or silence. It is as though he 
said : The nature of silence is such that it 
acts as a preservative of the godly virtue justice.

It encourages peaceful ways and enables 
men to live in peace and harmony. We 
may lay it down as a principle that unless a man 
diligently "sets a guard to his tongue," he 
must lose all the graces he has acquired and 
necessarily and quickly fall into evil ways. 

"The tongue," wrote the Apostle St. James, 
"is indeed a little member and boasteth great 
things." It is "a fire, a world of iniquity."  
According to the commentators, St. James 
meaning is that almost all evil deeds are inspired 
or perpetrated by the tongue. 

How can the lay person in the world create silence? I suggest several things.

The first is not having a television. The second is not having the radio on all 
the time. Third, simplify your life so that you are less busy. One does not need to do all the activities offered to one, even in a parish or community.

Learn to cultivate interior silence, so that you can be in a room with people
and still be silent.

If one cannot cultivate silence, one will be lost in the rush of chaos to come.

Doctors of the Church 2:11

Monday, 11 February 2013

St. Bonaventure Part Thirteen of the Doctors of the Church

The second Franciscan Doctor of the Church to be considered is St. Bonaventure, the great theologian of the Franciscan Order.

St. Bonaventure's writings are worth reading if anyone is interested in the development of "Franciscanism". I think it is fair to say that without Bonaventure, there would be no Franciscan Order, which to me, is the meaning of this painting.

As this series is concentrating on spirituality and perfection, I shall choose just a few sections from St. Bonaventure.  He is called the Seraphic Doctor and he died in 1274. He wrote quite a bit on the life of prayer and mysticism, so one is "spolied for choice."

The language is that of the Bride and Bridegroom.

Here is one small section and by now, those of you who are following this series, will recognize the movements of purification, illumination and unity. Bonaventure's language is similar to that of St. John of the Cross.

The flesh of Christ, therefore, flowered like the rose through the beauty of brightness (per pulchritudinem claritatis). For as the rose in its beauty is among flowers, so the splendour of light is among colour. "As the refulgent rainbow among the clouds of glory, and as the flower of roses in the days of spring, so did he shine in the temple of God" (Ecclus 50. 8, 7). The "clouds of glory" (or of the heavenly homeland) are those who have the first robe and are looking forward to the second. For a cloud has a relationship to the serenity that follows and the rain that precedes. The saints have a similar relationship to the flesh because of their desire for their bodies. The "refulgent rainbow" (the Son of God) has a stringed instrument, namely the uprightness of the inflexible divinity and the curved wood of the humanity in humility. "The flower of roses in the days of spring" refers to the flesh reddened in blood in springtime and now "shining in the temple of God", that is, the Church tnumphant. That "city has no need of the sun, nor of the moon, to shine in it. For the glory of God has enlightened it, and the Lamb is its lamp" (Apoc. 21. 23). And in another place, "the Gentiles shall walk in your light" (Is. 60. 7), when he "will conforin our lowly body to his glorious body" (Phil. 3. 21), so that we may shine like the sun, when its light will be sevenfold (cf Is. 30. 26) [44]

Doctors of the Church 2:28

Friday, 8 March 2013

Part 71: DoC: St. Ambrose and Justice--"the charm of human fellowship"

I cannot do justice, to make a pun, on Ambrose' excellent work on the four cardinal virtues. A tiny bit on his discussion of justice will wrap up his part in this perfection series. The next person to be considered will be St. Jerome.

Ambrose has a very interesting section on justice as regards marriage. Here is a snippet, plus more.

That man was made for the sake of man we find stated also in the books of Moses, when the Lord says: It is not good that man should be alone, let us make him an help meet for him. Genesis 2:18 Thus the woman was given to the man to help him. She should bear him children, that one man might always be a help to another. Again, before the woman was formed, it was said of Adam: There was not found an help-meet for him. Genesis 2:20 For one man could not have proper help but from another. Amongst all the living creatures, therefore, there was none meet for him, or, to put it plainly, none to be his helper. Hence a woman was looked for to help him.

That God is Just is one reason why He created Eve for Adam and Adam for Eve. One of the aspects of justice is that we are here for each other and not merely for ourselves.

God saw, of course, that man needed help in the perfection to which he was called. In other words, Man is made perfect with Woman. How wonderful that justice determines this relationship.

God created Man to compliment Woman and Woman to compliment Man. 

This is justice at work. Love is found in the mutual aid and support given each to each.

Meditate on this great mystery. This is more than mere sexual compatibility; it is spiritual wholeness.

135. Thus, in accordance with the will of God and the union of nature, we ought to be of mutual help one to the other, and to vie with each other in doing duties, to lay all our advantages as it were before all, and (to use the words of Scripture) to bring help one to the other from a feeling of devotion or of duty, by giving money, or by doing something, at any rate in some way or other; so that the charm of human fellowship may ever grow sweeter among us, and none may ever be recalled from their duty by the fear of danger, but rather account all things, whether good or evil, as their own concern. Thus holy Moses feared not to undertake terrible wars for his people's sake, nor was he afraid of the arms of the mightiest kings, nor yet was he frightened at the savagery of barbarian nations. He put on one side the thought of his own safety so as to give freedom to the people.

Ambrose gives us a profound example of justice in Moses. His willingness to go against the pagans in order to fulfill God's Plan for taking His People into the Holy Land. This is the great mystery, to use this word again, of the conquest of Canaan. People, including each one of us, need a place to be holy.

We need a holy land ourselves. Men need to conquer that land, to make safe havens for their wives and children. This was the reason for governments, for monarchies, for democracies.

Moses, in cooperation with God, made a slave people into a nation.

This is just. It is proper that we all have a God-space.

As Catholics, our space is the Church, and God's Justice is that all men are saved through the merits of the Catholic Church. 

136. Great, then, is the glory of justice; for she, existing rather for the good of others than of self, is an aid to the bonds of union and fellowship among us. She holds so high a place that she has all things laid under her authority, and further can bring help to others and supply money; nor does she refuse her services, but even undergoes dangers for others.

This is one reason why the Catholic Church condemns socialism. Governments are only as just as the individuals who create them. Justice must be a virtue found in the souls and hearts, intellects and wills of individuals, who carry out justice.

Can one imagine a beautiful society in which marriage, families, individuals all created by God, are protected in justice? Justice brings together citizens and binds them with a common vision of self-giving.

This is the true society and it is found in the Church.

137. Who would not gladly climb and hold the heights of this virtue, were it not that greed weakens and lessens the power of such a virtue? For as long as we want to add to our possessions and to heap up money, to take into our possession fresh lands, and to be the richest of all, we have cast aside the form of justice and have lost the blessing of kindness towards all. How can he be just that tries to take from another what he wants for himself?

The destroyers of justice are greed, narcissism, selfishness, hatred, strife, contentious spirits, consumerism, covetousness. unreasonable desires, idolatry, envy, jealousy and so on. These sins destroy an individual and a nation. All these things destroy Christian communities as well, which is tragic.

138. The desire to gain power also enervates the perfect strength and beauty of justice. For how can he, who attempts to bring others under his own power, come forward on behalf of others? And how can a man help the weak against the strong, when he himself aspires to great power at the cost of liberty?

Justice is beautiful as an attribute of God. Humility is the key to justice.

Without the abdication of power, there is no justice.

In this past month, we have had a great example of justice in the resignation of the Pope.

This is the last entry on Ambrose. I am sorry to leave him. The links are for you all to read more.

Doctors of the Church 2:27 Happy Feast of St. Ambrose

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Part 69: DoC and Perfection: St. Ambrose

I shall be jumping into the middle of a discussion on the Four Cardinal Virtues by Ambrose. The commentary by me is in red. As a reminder, these four virtues are, and I use upper case for emphasis, Prudence, Justice, Temperance and Courage or Fortitude. I have left on the links for those who want to read more.

I have written about these before, of course, but St. Ambrose has tremendous wisdom, so this is not merely a repetition of the basics. Ambrose relates these virtues to the lives of the Patriarchs of the Old Testament, but I skip to this section below.

126. The first source of duty, then, is prudence. For what is more of a duty than to give to the Creator all one's devotion and reverence? This source, however, is drawn off into other virtues. For justice cannot exist without prudence, since it demands no small amount of prudence to see whether a thing is just or unjust. A mistake on either side is very serious. For he that says a just man is unjust, or an unjust man is just, is accursed with God. Wherefore does justice abound unto the wicked? says Solomon. Nor, on the other hand, can prudence exist without justice, for piety towards God is the beginning of understanding. On which we notice that this is a borrowed rather than an original idea among the worldly wise, for piety is the foundation of all virtues.

As in this entire series on perfection, one notices a hierarchy of movement. Piety, that is, the virtue by which we give God His due reverence, worship and service, must accompany the four cardinal virtues. If we are merely "good atheists", these virtues cannot be brought to perfection, as God is not the source nor the goal of the life of virtue. Without the focus on God, these virtues lack the means as well as the end for which these are given. Prudence is practical, helping us judge our actions and those of others. Prudence allows us to walk in the world and make good and right decisions. But, these actions must have God as the goal, the focus.

127. But the piety of justice is first directed towards God; secondly, towards one's country; next, towards parents; lastly, towards all. This, too, is in accordance with the guidance of nature. From the beginning of life, when understanding first begins to be infused into us, we love life as the gift of God, we love our country and our parents; lastly, our companions, with whom we like to associate. Hence arises true love, which prefers others to self, and seeks not its own, wherein lies the pre-eminence of justice.

To be just, one give each person his due and God His due. But, again, in pursuing perfection, justice cannot be a mere exercise in fairness or magnanimity. God is the root and goal of justice.
He Himself is All-Just, All-Good, All-Righteous. Without Him, we can be thinking we are just when we are merely trying to please ourselves or others. Am I good to others for my sake, for their sake or for the sake of God Himself?

128. It is ingrained in all living creatures, first of all, to preserve their own safety, to guard against what is harmful, to strive for what is advantageous. They seek food and converts, whereby they may protect themselves from dangers, storms, and sun—all which is a mark of prudence. Next we find that all the different creatures are by nature wont to herd together, at first with fellows of their own class and sort, then also with others. So we see oxen delighted to be in herds, horses in droves, and especially like with like, stags, also, in company with stags and often with men. And what should I say on their desire to have young, and on their offspring, or even on their passions, wherein the likeness of justice is conspicuous?

129. It is clear, then, that these and the remaining virtues are related to one another. For courage, which in war preserves one's country from the barbarians, or at home defends the weak, or comrades from robbers, is full of justice; and to know on what plan to defend and to give help, how to make use of opportunities of time and place, is the part of prudence and moderation, and temperance itself cannot observe due measure without prudence. To know a fit opportunity, and to make return according to what is right, belongs to justice. In all these, too, large-heartedness is necessary, and fortitude of mind, and often of body, so that we may carry out what we wish.

I want to emphasize the phrases "large-heartedness" and "fortitude of mind".

Without generosity, without a heart which wants to be all and give all to God for His sake, one will be closing the door to perfection.

St. Francis said, "My God never says 'enough''. And, so, too, we are called to do the hard thing, to follow the difficult roads in order to perfect the virtues with which God has graced us.

"Fortitude of mind" is necessary. This is a kind of courage or steadfastness in the mind, created either by nature and grace or through grace and suffering.

Toughness of mind is absolutely essential for the path of perfection. Otherwise, one gives up when the going gets tough.

Can you decide to follow the call to perfection? Do you want to be perfect even as your heavenly Father is perfect?

To be continued........

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

DoC and Perfection: St. Ambrose: Part 70

I think a short comment from Ambrose is sufficient today for looking at Justice. How little there is in the world. Ambrose points out that justice, like all the virtues, comes from faith. Without real faith in Christ, there can be no justice in the world.

I like how the Doctor of the Church writes that the Church is the outward form of justice.

No state can be. The Church was instituted by Christ and therefore is the most perfect of all institutions. That the Church falls into sin is the result of the lack of justice of Her members.

And, if the leg is sick, the Body is sick, and so on.

Good works are just works, from a healthy, holy person.

God bless all just priests and laity. God protect all just nuns, sisters and mothers.

St. Joseph is called "just" because he was righteous, that is, holy.

Be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The foundation of justice therefore is faithfor the hearts of the just dwell on faith, and the just man that accuses himself builds justice on faith, for his justice becomes plain when he confesses the truth. So the Lord says through IsaiahBehold, I lay a stone for a foundation in Sion. Isaiah 28:16 This means Christ as the foundation of the Church. For Christ is the object of faith to all; but the Church is as it were the outward form of justice, she is the common right of all. For all in common she prays, for all in common she works, in the temptations of all she is tried. So he who denies himself is indeed a just man, is indeed worthy of Christ. For this reason Paul has made Christ to be the foundation, so that we may build upon Him the works of justice,1 Corinthians 3:11 while faith is the foundation. In our works, then, if they are evil, there appears unrighteousness; if they are goodjustice.

To be continued.....