Sunday, April 13, 2014
Tuesday, April 01, 2014
"The Intertwining of Multiplicity and Unity
In Dionysius’ Metaphysical Mysticism"
Tópicos 44 (2013), 207-236
Francisco J. Romero Carrasquillo, PhD
Abstract: In St. Dionysius, the procession of things from, and their reversion to, the One, far from being distinct and clear-cut events, can be understood as intertwined, simultaneous, and co-eternal ‘moments’ of the same cosmic reality, whereby a given thing oscillates, or spirals, between unity and multiplicity. Moreover, St. Dionysius’ mystical itinerary is a special case of his procession-reversion metaphysics: mysticism is the soul’s own reversion to the One. This explains why the mind also intertwines cataphatic and apophatic mystical discourses, as it spirals between unity and multiplicity. This analysis has the advantage of bringing added coherence and realism to St. Dionysius’ metaphysical and mystical doctrines.
Key Words: Dionysius, Cataphatic, Apophatic, Affirmative and Negative Theology, Henosis.
Link to full article on PDF on Tópicos website.
Posted by Francisco Romero Carrasquillo at 1:48 PM
Saturday, February 15, 2014
On the 50th Anniversary of his Transitus (passage into heaven).
Taken from Mass of Ages, August 2006, The Latin Mass Society's quarterly magazine:
Original Source: www.latin-mass-society.org (now the article is available here.)
A Saint in Heaven
So who was this man, described rudely enough by the novelist François Mauriac as "that sacred monster of Thomism", but by Pope Paul VI as "this illustrious theologian, faithful servant of the Church and of the Holy See"? (The phrase "monstre sacré" is not easy to translate. It may be used colloquially of a 'legendary' media personality, such as a film star. Used of a theologian it was certainly meant ironically. I am grateful to Mr Brian Sudlow for supplying this information.)
Gontran-Marie Garrigou-Lagrange was born in 1877 into a solid Catholic family living in the south-west of France. In 1896 he began studies in medicine at the university of Bordeaux, but whilst there he read a book by the Catholic philosopher Ernest Hello which changed the direction of his life. Years later Fr Garrigou described the impression this one book made upon him: "I glimpsed how the doctrine of the Catholic Church is the absolute Truth about God, about His inner life, and about man, his origins and his supernatural destiny. As if in an instant of time, I saw how this doctrine is not simply 'the best we can put forward based on our present knowledge', but the absolute truth which shall not pass away..."
To this intuition the young university student would remain faithful for the remaining sixty-eight years of his life.
Medical studies abandoned, Gontran-Marie entered the French Dominicans at the age of twenty, and received the religious name Reginald. (Blessed Reginald of Orleans was a contemporary of St Dominic: our Lady appeared to him in a vision, cured him of a mortal sickness and gave to him a white scapular that thereupon became part of the Dominican habit.) Friar Reginald had the good fortune to receive his initial training from Dominicans committed to implementing Pope Leo XIII's encyclical letter Aeterni Patris, the document that insisted upon the unique place of St Thomas Aquinas in philosophy and theology. It was by studying the angelic doctor that the young Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange nourished the conviction that had brought him to the cloister: the unchangeableness of revealed truth.
In 1906, Fr Reginald was assigned to teach philosophy at Le Saulchoir, the house of studies of the French Dominicans. His pedagogic skill was such that in 1909, at the age of thirty-two, he was sent to teach at the Dominican University in Rome, the Angelicum. Here he remained for the next fifty years, teaching three courses: Aristotle, apologetics and spiritual theology. He had the gift of making the most difficult subjects clear, and of showing how sound philosophy and revealed truth fit together in a wonderful harmony. Father Garrigou clearly loved his work: one of his students remembered him exclaiming, "I could teach Aristotle for three hundred years and never grow tired!" He also possessed what is perhaps the rarer gift of communicating his own zest for a subject to his listeners, for his lectures, abstract though they were, were not dull affairs. One student paints this portrait of Fr Garrigou lecturing: "His small eyes were filled with mischief and laughter, his body was constantly moving, his face was able to assume attitudes of horror, anger, irony, indignation and wonder."
Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange was by nature and conviction a controversialist. He believed that the theologian's task was not simply to teach Catholic doctrine but also to be, in the scriptural phrase, a watchman, on guard against whatever might undermine it. In the spirit of St Pius X and his encyclical Pascendi, published in 1907, Fr Garrigou considered that the greatest threat to the Catholic faith was what is called 'Modernism' – that confused effort, made sometimes with good intentions and sometimes with bad, to 'reinterpret' Catholic doctrines in line with prevailing trends in history, philosophy and the natural sciences. Into the combat with Modernism he entered with vigour, attacking not people but errors, and desiring to lead those in error back to the integral truth of the Catholic Faith.
Two of the 'great names' of the day with whom Garrigou-Lagrange crossed swords early on were his former professor Henri Bergson and Maurice Blondel. Bergson, now almost forgotten, was then a greatly celebrated Jewish philosopher who seemed to many Catholics a useful ally in the struggle against materialism. Father Garrigou showed that Bergson's writings were incompatible with the Catholic belief that by our concepts we can grasp the unchanging natures of things, and thus can form dogmas that will never need to be revised. In the end Bergson was brought, in part by Garrigou's efforts, to the very brink of the Catholic Church, though he died unbaptised.
In his defence of Catholic doctrine according to the principles of St Thomas, Fr Garrigou was greatly aided by Jacques Maritain. Maritain, originally from a markedly anti-clerical family, entered the Church in 1906 and was to become the most brilliant Thomist philosopher of the twentieth century, dying in 1973. Between the two wars, Garrigou-Lagrange and Maritain organised the 'Thomist Study Circles'. These were groups of laymen committed to the spiritual life who studied St Thomas and the Thomist tradition, and who met once a year for a five-day retreat preached by Fr Garrigou at the Maritains' house in Meudon. The study circles were highly successful, and Meudon became a seed-bed of vocations. The young Yves Congar, who was later to write somewhat bitterly about Garrigou-Lagrange, was present at some of the retreats preached by the Dominican friar at Meudon, and later recalled: "He made a profound impression on me. Some of his sermons filled me with enthusiasm and greatly satisfied me by their clarity, their rigour, their breadth and their spirit of faith."
Throughout this period Garrigou-Lagrange's reputation grew and became international. His lectures at the Angelicum on the spiritual life were particularly in demand. According to one author they became "one of the unofficial tourist sites for theologically-minded visitors to Rome", attracting students from other universities and even experienced priests who wished to learn more about spiritual direction. (Father Garrigou himself was a sought-after spiritual director, valued alike for his knowledge, his firmness and his compassion.)
Call to holiness
It is perhaps in this field of mystical, or spiritual, theology that Garrigou's most original work was done. As early as 1917, a special professorship in 'ascetical and mystical theology' had been created for him at the Angelicum, the first of its kind anywhere in the world. His great achievement was to synthesise the highly abstract writings of St Thomas Aquinas with the 'experiential' writings of St John of the Cross, showing how they are in perfect harmony with each other. The one describes the spiritual life from the point of view, so to speak, of God, analysing the manifold graces that He gives to the soul to bring it into union with Himself; the other describes the same process from the point of view of man, showing the 'attitudes' that a faithful soul should adopt at various stages of the spiritual journey. It must have been particularly pleasing for Fr Garrigou when St John of the Cross, whose orthodoxy had once been doubted by some writers, was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI.
The other great theme of Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange's spiritual theology was the universality of God's call to the mystical life. He argued convincingly that while the more dramatic mystical phenomena such as visions and locutions are obviously reserved to a few, all the baptised are invited not just to a life of virtue, but to a life of close union with God in prayer. This union is in the most proper sense of the word mystical, since it is founded on the gifts of the Holy Ghost and on our sharing in God's own life by sanctifying grace. He went so far as to say that the transforming union as described by such saints as St John of the Cross and St Teresa of Avila was simply the full flowering of the grace of baptism. At the same time, Fr Garrigou's writings contain useful warnings against abusing this doctrine, for he often points out that any so-called mysticism not based on the practice of the virtues and on meditation on Christ and His Passion is an illusion.
The role of university professor naturally brought with it the obligation of supervising doctoral students. It is said that Garrigou considered his best student to have been his fellow French Dominican, Marie-Dominique Chenu. Chenu's later career, however, must have been a disappointment to his mentor, for he went on to distance himself from the kind of Thomism traditionally practised in the Dominican Order in favour of a far more 'historical' approach to the subject. Fr Garrigou, however, was always less interested in historical questions of who influenced whom than in discovering where truth in itself lay. It also seems unlikely that Garrigou would have been impressed by Chenu's involvement in the 'worker-priest movement'. Another doctoral student of Father Garrigou's, and one destined for an even more prominent role in the Church than Chenu, was a young Polish priest named Karol Wojtyla. Under Garrigou-Lagrange's direction the future Pope wrote a thesis on 'The meaning of Faith in the Writings of St John of the Cross.'
The disaster of world war in 1939 brought a special, personal suffering to Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange: estrangement from Maritain. When France fell, Fr Garrigou, in common with many Frenchmen, continued to recognise Marshal Pétain, the hero of the Great War, as the rightful head of state. It followed that Charles de Gaulle was a mere rebellious soldier attempting to usurp authority. Father Garrigou did not shrink from publicly stating the logical conclusion: objectively speaking, to support de Gaulle was a mortal sin. But Maritain was a Gaullist, and made radio broadcasts from America in favour of the Free French.
This practical disagreement was matched by a theoretical one: Maritain had come to advocate a 'pluralist' model of society, in which adherents of different religions or of none would be granted equal freedom of expression and of public practice; a shared 'sense of human brotherhood' would be enough, he argued, to create a basically just society. Garrigou-Lagrange considered that Maritain was compromising the social doctrine of the Church by his writings on this subject, and also that he was overly optimistic about the spiritual state of those outside the Church. He wrote a solemn letter to Maritain asking him to change course, but Maritain, despite the great esteem he had for Fr Garrigou as a theologian and as a man of prayer, refused to do so. The friendship between the two men was wounded, and could not be healed, or not in this life.
After the war Fr Garrigou continued to teach in Rome. Over the years, his lecture notes were turned into an impressive array of books, the more technical ones being published in Latin and the more popular ones in French. In particular he commented on St Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologiæ, taking his place in the line of the great commentators on that work, a line that stretches back to the Middle Ages. All the time, he was conscious, like Pope Pius XII, of how the dangerous tendencies against which he had striven in the days of St Pius X were still alive in the Church, threatening to undermine the integrity of doctrine. A famous article of his, called, 'Where is the New Theology Headed?' was written shortly after World War II. It contains this shrewd comment about Catholics who were unwittingly harming the Catholic cause: "They go to 'the masters of modern thought' because they want to convert them to the faith, and they finish by being converted by them". An interesting remark, perhaps, for these days of inter-religious dialogue.
No portrait of Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange would be complete without reference to his religious life. For if he was an internationally renowned professor (and a feared opponent), he was above all a friar of the Order of Preachers. He was known, in fact, for his fidelity to the regular life. Although dispensations from the choral office were readily available in the Dominican Order for someone with his teaching load, Fr Reginald was habitually present in choir. He would have gladly echoed a remark made by St John Bosco to his religious: "Liturgy is our entertainment". We are told that he was very modest in matters of food and drink and that he felt that it was hardly compatible with religious poverty to smoke. His 'cell' at the Angelicum was the most spartan in the priory, with no ornamentation, and a bed that was, in the words of one contemporary, "a pallet and a mattress so thin that it was virtually just an empty sack". It was not that he had no attraction for the things of the senses – as a young man he had learned to love the music of Beethoven, a love that remained with him through life. Yet – as he taught generations of Roman students – ascetism is a permanent necessity in this life, both because our fallen nature inclines us to sin, and also because we have to be made capable of the infinite good which is God.
Father Garrigou liked to emphasise that there is no incompatibility between external works such as teaching, preaching and retreat-giving and the monastic life that he had learned to live within the cloister. Following a dictum of St Thomas, he would remark that a friar's external activity should flow "from an abundance of contemplation", especially from liturgical prayer, mental prayer and above all the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. He was always troubled when anyone seemed to rank action more highly than contemplation, or spoke of the latter as a mere means to an end. He liked to emphasise that contemplation is an end in itself, a higher good, from the fulness of which preaching comes forth. To explain this idea, he would use the analogy of the Incarnation of the Word and man's redemption. From all eternity God willed the Incarnation, not as a means subordinated to our redemption, but as a greater good, from which our redemption would, so to speak, overflow.
In short, Fr Garrigou-Lagrange was not only a master of spiritual theology: he lived what he taught. Yet if his vocation lay principally in what are called 'the spiritual works of mercy', he did not forget the corporal ones. In his room he kept a box with the inscription, 'Pour mes pauvres', and into this he would invite his many visitors to put alms. When it was full he might be seen doing the rounds of the city of Rome, distributing the contents to the poor.
Father Garrigou had worked in various capacities for the Holy Office from the days of Benedict XV onwards, and in the late 1950s Pope John XXIII invited him to join the theological commission that was preparing documents for the Second Vatican Council. But by this time his strength was failing, and he had to decline. He gave his last lecture at the Angelicum shortly before Christmas, 1959. For the next five years Friar Reginald lived in a serene decline of his mental faculties. As his mind and his eyes failed, this great theologian who had once written so subtly of potentiality and act, of sufficient and efficacious grace, of the inner life of God and the glory of Heaven, would remain in his bare cell or in the priory church, praying his Rosary and awaiting his own transitus. He died on 15 February 1964, the feast of one of the greatest of Dominican mystics, Blessed Henry Suso.
Unanswerable questions are the most fascinating. What would Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange have said, what would he have done, if he had lived a little longer with his faculties intact? What would he have thought of the Second Vatican Council, and of the liturgical reform? Might he, like his confrère Roger-Thomas Calmel, have become an early ally of Archbishop Lefebvre in the struggle to maintain orthodoxy? Or would he perhaps, like Cardinal Ottaviani, have spoken once and then resigned himself and the Church to God? Who shall say? A merciful Providence spared him all such puzzles: he had fought the good fight long enough, and he was called home.
Let the last word be given to Jacques Maritain. In 1937 Maritain recorded in his diary a disagreement which he had had with Fr Garrigou over the Spanish Civil War. Years later, when Maritain published his diaries, the following note was appended to the passage in question: "This great theologian, little versed in the things of the world, had an admirably candid heart, which God finally purified by a long and very painful physical trial, a cross of complete annihilation, which he had expected and had accepted in advance. I pray to him now with the saints in heaven."
I should like to acknowledge my indebtedness for this article to a recent book by an American Dominican, Fr Richard Peddicord, entitled, The Sacred Monster of Thomism. As far as I know, it is the only book that has been written expressly on Fr Garrigou-Lagrange's life and legacy. It is published by St Augustine's Press.
Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange wrote 28 books and over 600 articles. His best-known work of mystical theology is the two-volume study, The Three Ages of the Interior Life. This is in effect a summa of his research in this field. Many people, laymen, religious and priests, have found it very valuable. It has recently been reprinted in English by TAN Books.
TAN Books have also reprinted various other of the more 'popular' works of Garrigou-Lagrange, including The Mother of our Saviour and Everlasting Life. These are full of solid doctrine, whilst also being suitable for devotional use.
Finally, there is a work called The Last Writings of Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, published in 1969 by the New City Press. This contains retreat talks given by Fr Reginald in his last years.
Thursday, February 06, 2014
Anthony Cekada. Work of Human Hands: A Theological Critique of the Mass of Paul VI. West Chester, OH: Philothea Press, 2010. 444pp.
Review by Dr. Francisco J. Romero Carrasquillo
This book is a bold, critical study of the ideology underlying the liturgical changes that occurred during the second half of the Twentieth Century in the Roman Rite. Theologically profound and well-researched, it can be seen as an important contribution to ‘traditionalist’ Catholic scholarship. Previous full-length monographs on this subject have focused mainly on criticizing the changes to the Ordinary of the Mass and on chronicling the historical circumstances that led up to them. This study, however, includes not only criticism of the changes to the Propers (variable parts), and in particular an unprecedented account of changes to the Lectionary, but also a ground-breaking theological analysis of the ideological influences that underlie all the changes. Despite the author’s admittedly sedevacantist background, his critique of the New Mass is based exclusively on sound, traditional Catholic theology and is, thus, independent of (or at least logically prior to) his ecclesiological views on the current status of the Papal See.
The work is divided into fourteen chapters of roughly equal length. After an introductory chapter that covers the motives and scope of the work, Chapters 2-6 focus on the general history of the recent liturgical changes to the Roman Rite, laying out the ideology behind them. Chapter 2 focuses on the thought of the scholars who headed the liturgical movement that brought about the reform, with particular emphasis on Josef Jungmann and Louis Bouyer; Chapter 3 identifies the Pre-Conciliar Pian Commission and Holy Week Reforms as being continuous in aim and motivation with the Post-Conciliar liturgical reform; and Chapters 5 and 6 deal separately with the 1969 and 1970 versions of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (or GIRM). Chapters 7-13 then analyze the new Mass point by point, from art, architecture, furnishings, and introductory rites all the way through the dismissal, including both the Ordinary of the Mass and the Propers. The author does this by comparing the salient elements of the New Mass with their traditional counterparts, and citing members of the hierarchy, ‘periti’, and other authorities to reveal the motives behind the particular changes. The book then concludes with a summary of the evidence and a recapitulation of the argument. Except for this overall summary at the end, every chapter ends with a rather helpful, if unconventional, point-by-point summary of chapter contents that adds clarity and cogency to the general argument. The book’s appendix is also worth mentioning: there, Cekada offers a compelling case for the use of the 1951 (or any pre-1955) Missal, rather than the 1962 Missal, an argument that could be well received by traditionalist groups that currently use the latter.
The book’s main thesis is that (A) the Mass of Paul VI, said according to its prescribed rubrics as they are found in the Editio Typica of the Missal, is gravely irreverent and destroys Catholic doctrine in the minds of the faithful. Cekada also defends two secondary theses that are corollaries of the first: The Mass of Paul VI, said according to prescribed rubrics, represents (B) a rupture with tradition, and (C) a spurious restoration of the ancient liturgy of the Church. The book can be seen as a 400-page inductive argument to support these three theses. Whereas I can agree entirely with theses (B) and (C), I believe that thesis (A) needs to be qualified significantly. I shall deal with (B) and (C) first, then (A).
The author offers strong evidence for his second and third theses, (B) and (C). The theological foundations of Cekada’s overall argument are found in Chapter 2, a true gem on the theological motives behind the liturgical reform. There, Cekada shows that the changes were intended to promote the nouvelle theologie (‘new theology’) of men like Pius Parsch, Romano Guardini, Josef Jungmann, and Louis Bouyer. As operative theological principles of the reform, Cekada specifically singles out the following four: (1) Josef Jungmann’s liturgical “Corruption Theory,” according to which the Roman Rite that was in use in the early 20th Century represented a departure from, and corruption of, primitive liturgical ideals. As a result, the liturgical reform—claims Jungmann—must recover this primitive ideal. Jungmann thus promoted a sort of resourcement in the area of the liturgy. (2) Jungmann’s “Pastoral Liturgy” view, which advocated refashioning the Mass in order to meet the perceived needs of contemporary man—a position that could also be characterized as a sort of liturgical aggiornamento. (3) Louis Bouyer’s “Assembly Theology,” according to which the essence of the Mass consists in an assembly of the ‘People of God’ that, together, celebrates the gathering, the priest merely acting as ‘presider’—a Protestantizing view that bypasses the traditional Catholic doctrine of the Mass as essentially a Sacrifice offered by the priest alone to God, to which the people unite themselves. (4) Bouyer’s theory of “Other ‘Real’ Presences,” which inflates Christ’s presence in the congregation and in Scripture in order to de-emphasize the faith in the Real Presence of Christ under the Eucharistic species—a technique of the reformers that pervades the New Mass and which Cekada calls ‘devaluation-by-inflation’. Whereas resourcement and aggiornamento characterize Jungmann’s principles, a strong ecumenical motivation is evident behind Bouyer’s views.
Cekada meticulously shows that these principles are at work in the recent liturgical changes. In Chapters 5 and 6, he shows how Bouyer’s “Assembly Theology” and his theory of “Other ‘Real’ Presences” are the central motifs in the New Missal and the GIRM. He also shows that, for every change that is a supposed to represent a ‘return to the ancient ideal’ (cf., Jungmann’s “Corruption Theory”), the real motive is not a fidelity to antiquity but a desire to abolish a rubric that is doctrinally unacceptable to ‘modern man’ (or to these new theologians). Hence the need ‘modernize’ the liturgy and make it acceptable to ‘contemporary sensibilities’ (cf., “Pastoral Liturgy”). Take, for instance, the “Prayer of the Faithful” or “Universal Prayer”: such prayers did exist in some ancient liturgies, and so the re-establishing of these prayers in the New Mass was presented as a return to antiquity. Yet the original text of these prayers, which the traditional Missal still prescribes for the Mass of the Presanctified on Good Friday, is emphatically un-ecumenical and offensive to ‘modern man’ and to new theology; moreover, they are invariable. The new “Universal Prayer,” on the other hand, is systematically de-Christianized, de-spiritualized, and de-supernaturalized, primarily to placate liturgists who complained that the original prayers had been written “in the direction of a devout and conventional religion, utterly foreign to the pastoral needs of today” (p. 256). In the end, even the de-supernaturalized prayers became optional, and their content is ultimately de-regularized and left up to the discretion of the priest, commercial liturgical publisher, local liturgical planning committee, or director of worship. The result is something that superficially resembles an ancient liturgical prayer (cf. “Corruption Theory”), but which was established to meet the ‘needs of contemporary man’ (cf. “Pastoral Liturgy”) and is, as Gamber puts it, “a novelty which stands completely against liturgical tradition” (p. 257).
Another extensive example of antiquity-as-an-excuse-for-novelty is given in Chapter 10, which concerns the changes to the Lectionary. Here—Cekada argues—despite the fact that, thanks to its three-year cycle, the New Lectionary contains more Scripture readings than the old Missal, nonetheless, through ‘adroit choices’ some important Scriptural texts—often a verse or two in the middle of a feast day or Sunday Gospel reading—are bracketed off as optional or altogether omitted, because of their ‘negative theology’, i.e., they doctrinally run afoul of the nouvelle theologie or of ecumenism. Thanks to these omissions, the average Catholic can attend Mass every Sunday for an entire Lectionary Cycle (three years) and never hear theologically ‘negative’ Scriptural passages such as Our Lord’s warnings against hell, St. Paul’s warning against receiving the Body of Our Lord unworthily, his teaching on heresy, heretics and their fate, or his command that women be submissive to their husbands, that they cover their heads, and remain silent in Church. In practical terms, this chapter is perhaps the most devastating for the defenders of the liturgical reform, and it alone, in my opinion, is worth the price of the entire book.
Now, Cekada’s main thesis (A), in my view, is not sufficiently nuanced. There are doctrinal problems with the new Missal and GIRM, to be sure; yet, contrary to what Cekada suggests, there is nothing in the Missal or GIRM that could explicitly be identified as heretical. In the 444 pages of the work, Cekada never successfully points to a single explicit heretical proposition in the text of the New Mass, whether in the Propers or the Ordinary. All of the doctrinal problems that he points out consist in omissions, ambiguous phrases, ‘devaluation-by-inflation’, or deficiencies in the many rubrics, expressions, and gestures that make up the Missal and GIRM. Nowhere is a dogma explicitly denied. As far as I could tell, there are only two places in the book where Cekada tries to identify a specific heresy that he thinks is present in the new liturgical reform. One of these is his discussion of the GIRM’s doctrine that the Mass is a re-presentation of the Last Supper. He claims that this is opposed to the Council of Trent’s dogma that the Mass is a re-presentation of the Sacrifice of the Cross. Yet Cekada does not sufficiently discuss or explain why these two notions contradict each other or are mutually incompatible. I do not see why someone who thinks that the Mass is in some sense a representation of the Last Supper must necessarily deny the dogma that the Mass is a representation of the Sacrifice of Calvary. While I do not defend the idea that the Mass consists in a representation of the Last Supper, I would not go so far as to claim it is necessarily a denial of a Tridentine dogma. A doctrinal novelty does not ipso facto involve heresy. There are different levels of theological error—and Cekada is well aware of this—yet he does not discuss whether the doctrinal problems of the new Mass could be categorized as otherwise than heresy.
Rather than state that the Mass contains heresies, I would admit that it was clearly motivated by novel doctrines, some of which are obviously dangerous. One could even admit that, in the context of current theological trends, the New Rite may indirectly promote these novel doctrines, and in the minds of most of the faithful these novel doctrines involve a denial of the traditional faith, yet this in no way means that the new Missal contains any proposition or gesture that inherently asserts heresy. Take, for example, the changes to the offertory prayers. The traditional prayers at the offering of the paten and chalice eloquently summarize the Catholic doctrine on the Sacrifice of the Mass, and offer the bread and wine already under the aspect of an ‘Immaculate Victim’ (Immaculatam Hostiam) that will be sacrificed later on, thus making an allusion to the future Consecration. The new prayers, however, do not make reference to the ‘Victim’ or to the Sacrifice. Instead, they are pervaded by a naturalistic tone, as they speak of offering of (mere) bread and wine, which are being considered as the ‘work of human hands’ and which will become ‘bread of life’ and ‘spiritual drink’. This is where Cekada makes his second accusation of heresy: he suggests that calling the bread and wine ‘the work of human hands’ amounts to stating that the matter of the Sacrament of the Eucharist consists in human work, and that this is heretical. Yet, the New Missal in no way states that the matter of the Holy Eucharist is human work. That some theologians read the Missal this way is one thing, but that the Mass itself says so explicitly is quite another. A more reasonable criticism of the new offertory prayers would be that, though not heretical, they simply fail to communicate the Catholic theology of the Sacrifice of the Mass. Perhaps the change was motivated by a novel theology that differed from the traditional theology of the Sacrifice of the Mass, yet no denial of the traditional doctrine is present in the rite itself.
Similarly, in the context of current theological trends (e.g., the ecumenical requirement of making the Mass less offensive to Protestants, and the desire of many to abandon the traditional Catholic theology of the Mass), the now-allowed gesture of receiving Holy Communion in the hand may be seen as an indirect attack on our faith in the Real Presence. Yet it is not inherently wrong or heretical in itself to receive Holy Communion in the Hand. Even the old De defectibus prescribes it in certain irregular situations. In itself, this change only amounts to an omitted profession of faith in the Real Presence—an omission that does not in itself imply a denial. So it is in context only, and not in itself, that this new concession can be seen as doctrinally problematic.
Interestingly, Cekada also offers two arguments for the invalidity of the New Mass. First, he gives the well-known ‘pro multis’–‘for all’ argument. To my disappointment, Cekada never addresses any of the detailed defenses of the validity of the ‘for all’ translation offered by scholars such as John McCarthy and Manfred Hauke, or even as much as mentions the Vatican pronouncement on this issue. His second argument, however, is more interesting: it is based on one of the criticisms in the Ottaviani Intervention regarding the requisite ministerial intention for saying a valid Mass. The traditional Mass left no room for the priest to be lacking in his requisite intention to change bread and wine into the Most Sacred Body and Blood of Our Lord: the texts made clear what was going on, and what ought to be the intention of the celebrant. The priest who pronounced those words meaningfully and assertively would automatically have the requisite intention. The New Mass, however, together with the 1969 GIRM, present what used to be called the ‘Consecration’ as a mere ‘Institution Narrative’, such that a priest is able to pronounce the new ‘Institution Narrative’ as a mere historical account of the Last Supper without the intention of effecting the Transubstantiation. This would result in an invalid Mass—as Cekada dramatically puts it: “No Body, no Blood, no Mass.” This, in my view, is a theologically sound criticism of the new ‘Institution Narrative’ terminology. Yet this criticism should be tempered by one important clarification that Cekada never makes: this argument applies only to individual Masses where the priest lacks the requisite intention—something that is also possible, though significantly more difficult, in the context of the Old Mass. The criticism does not apply to every Mass said according to the New Missal, for even in the New Rite, a priest who, despite the vague, new ‘Institution Narrative’ language, manages to pronounce the words of consecration meaningfully and assertively, with the requisite intention, bypasses this problem and truly brings about the Transubstantiation.
Cekada’s research is, overall, scholarly and profound, eye-opening and convincing. He leaves no room to doubt in the reader’s mind that the creators of the New Mass were seeking to promote doctrines in line with the ecumenical and nouelle theologie movements. Even though Cekada’s main thesis is not simpliciter warranted, the book successfully shows that the New Mass represents a theological novelty, a doctrinal rupture with tradition and a spurious return to primitive liturgy. Inevitably, the book will have to be taken seriously by contemporary theology scholars of all camps.
 Cekada abbreviates it as “GI,” but I shall follow the general convention in abbreviating it as “GIRM.”
 It must be noted that Cekada does not intend to criticize mere liturgical ‘abuses’—violations of the New Missal’s rubrics—that frequently take place in the context of the New Mass. Rather, he explicitly criticizes the new Missal itself as doctrinally problematic. According to Cekada, his view distinguishes him from other traditionalist authors who, he claims, have only criticized ‘abuses’ or who argue in favor of the traditional Mass on the basis of mere aesthetic preference or individual sentiment, and if they ever criticize the New Missal itself, they have merely held it is ‘ambiguous’, instead of acknowledging that it is inherently problematic in its doctrine. I think Cekada exaggerates a bit, however; there are plenty of other works that are critical of the doctrine contained implicitly and explicitly in the New Mass and the new liturgical laws, and not just its aesthetical problems or its ‘abuses’. To name a few of these works: Davies’ monumental, three-volume Liturgical Revolution, the SSPX’s The Problem of the Liturgical Reform: A Theological and Liturgical Study, and of course, A Short Critical Study of the New Order of Mass by Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci, commonly known as The Ottavianni Intervention.
 The 1970 GIRM saw itself forced to change the expression to ‘Institution Narrative or Consecration’.
 Oddly enough, although Cekada thinks the New Mass is invalid, he still thinks it is a sacrilege! Yet, if “no Body, no Blood, no Mass,” then how can it be sacrilege? Cekada appears never to make this connection.
Friday, January 31, 2014
Another Must-Buy from Editiones Scholasticae: Ed Fesser's Scholastic Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction
Here's another great volume published by Editiones Scholasticae. Looks like it hasn't come out yet (forthcoming May 2014), but from the description it sounds like the volume will be coming heavily from the 'analytical thomist' school. Naturally, it would mean the author is not using the scholastic method/style that is native to Thomism, but Fesser is a traditional Catholic and a well-formed Thomist, so I'm sure it is well worth reading. And being familiarized with that school is a must for any English-speaking Thomist today.
Link to Fesser's book on amazon.com.
See also my translation of Cosmologia by Edouard Hugon, OP (1867-1929), also published by Editiones Scholasticae, on amazon.com.
Friday, January 03, 2014
I've been studying this question recently, occasioned at first by a conversation with my wife, right before it providentially popped up in my daily philosophical readings--in Hugon's Cursus Philosophiae Thomisticae, Vol. 3 on Metaphysics.
The Thomistic response may sound impious to some, but it is affirmative. The alternatives are either that Our Lady is infinitely perfect, or that God is not omnipotent, neither of which will stand.
She is perfect as a creature, and the greatest creature God actually created, "higher than the cherubim, and more glorious beyond compare than the seraphim" (as the Byzantine hymn Axion Estin proclaims), yet not the greatest creature possible for God. There is no such thing as the greatest creature possible for God--it is a contradiction in terms.
Here is an excerpt from Hugon's Cursus Philosophiae Thomisticae, which I'm currently translating into English, Vol. 3: Metaphysica, p. 430. (The original Latin work is available from ITOPL):
III. – Second Conclusion: “It is impossible for a creature to be most perfect of all [possible creatures].” This is the view of St. Thomas, Suárez, and the Scholastics in general.
A creature, no matter how perfect, is infinitely distant from the participability of the divine perfection, which can never be exhausted. But between infinitely distant things there can be an infinite number of intermediaries. Therefore, between God and the most perfect creature there can be an infinite number of intermediary creatures that participate more and more in the divine perfection; and there will never be a creature that fully exhausts the divine participability.
– You will say: God knows the most perfect of all [possible] creatures. But God can produce what he knows. Therefore.
– I respond: I distinguish the major: That God knows that creature as something outside of the series of possible things, I concede; as something within the series of possible things, I deny. I contradistinguish the minor, and I deny the consequence. – Such a creature is impossible. Therefore, it is known by God as something outside the series of possible things.
Wednesday, January 01, 2014
The first time Our Lord shed His blood for our redemption. A deep mystery lies hidden in today's Gospel, despite its brevity. It narrates in two verses the circumcision and naming of Our Lord, thus linking together His first shedding of blood and his mission as 'Savior'--which is the meaning of the Holy Name of 'Jesus'. (Cf. Bl. Idelfonso Schuster, The Sacramentary, vol. 1, p. 397, available from ITOPL.)
The Feast of the Circumcision is also, coincidentally, a nice, traddy feast that was expunged from the new calendar because it clashed with modern sensibilities. It behooves us traditional Catholics to show devotion and attachment to this feast. If we want it back, that is. This should be in our minds and our hearts as we celebrate the 'New Year'.
PS. And don't forget you get a plenary indulgence by singing or reciting the Veni Creator, under the usual conditions.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Quaeritur: Reading more of Fenton's writings, I am becoming slightly confused... In several places he emphatically shows that the Church is a visible society, and that there is not an invisible Church, and thus that membership in the Church means something visible, and not invisible.
And yet, he also states that the Catholic dogma is not that one must be a member in order to be saved, only that one must be in some way within the Church; and that it is possible to be within the Church without actually being a member, if one has an implicit desire (hence baptism by desire or by blood).
My question is this: how can we say that even implicit desire makes one within the Church if the Church is a visible society? If you can be in the Church by some way other than visible membership, doesn't it follow that one can be in the Church invisibly?
I'm having a hard time seeing how Fenton doesn't contradict himself.
Respondeo: The Church, in addition to being the Mystical Body of Christ, which is primarily a supernatural, invisible reality, is also and secondarily a visible society, with a visible structure and hierarchy, visible worship, etc. And hence those of us who participate fully in this visible society are said to be its visible members.
Now someone who is in the state of grace and through no fault of his own is outside of its visible structure can be said to 'belong' to the Church invisibly, without being a visible member through its worship, government, etc. Being a member is much more than belonging. The latter implies somehow mystically participating in the Mystical Body of Christ (being branches of the vine), whereas the former implies also participating in the visible structure of the Church.
For example, a child who is baptized in a Protestant church is invisibly in the state of sanctifying grace and hence belongs to the Mystical Body, but does not visibly profess the Catholic faith, does not visibly attend Catholic worship, and is not part of the hierarchical and legal structure of the Church (e.g., is not bound by canon law).
I remember the pictures in the Baltimore Catechism (St. Joseph's edition): a boat with people in it (visible members) and some people out in the water hanging on to ropes attached to the boat, who are surviving thanks to the fact that they are still hanging on to the boat. Analogously you could say that some are members of the Mystical Body, whereas others merely 'belong' to the Mystical Body (participate in its saving nature) without being members. A picture that is really worth a thousand words.
For more on this, I recommend Fr. Romanus' three-part article on Church membership, which goes more technically into the relevant distinctions as presented by the majority of the Church's classical theologians.
Posted by Francisco Romero Carrasquillo at 4:01 PM
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
The other day in my philosophical psychology course I was teaching my students the differences and mutual relations between (a) sense appetite, (b) the practical intellect, and (c) the will or rational appetite. I brought up Aquinas' understanding of Aristotle's concept of continence (enkrateia) and incontinence (akrasia) from his Commentary on Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Book 7, which I think illustrates well these differences and relations. When the question came up of what exactly is the difference between the virtuous man, the continent man, the incontinent man, and the vicious man, I felt suddenly illuminated and saw myself come up with this nice, clean chart which illustrates the differences. The ensuing discussion was quite interesting.
The three columns state whether each of the four characters (virtuous, continent, incontinent, and vicious) is inclined towards good (G) or evil (E) by the sense appetite (SA), the intellect or practical reason ('R' is for rational, and 'C' is for cognitive), and the will ('R' is for rational, and 'A' is for appetitive). So the chart says that the virtuous man is inclined towards good both by his sense appetite and by his (practical) reason, and that he actually chooses good with his will. The continent man is like the virtuous man, except his sense appetite does not incline him towards the good that he knows and chooses, so there is a certain tension within him: he acts against his sense appetite. The incontinent man, like the continent man, is inclined towards evil by his sense appetite and yet is capable of knowing the good that he ought to do through practical reason, but unlike the continent man, he chooses evil. Finally, the vicious man is inclined towards evil, rationalizes his evildoing through practical reason, and chooses evil--in at least one respect he is like the virtuous man, namely, in that there is a certain harmony among his powers, albeit a perverse one.
This may be a somewhat simplistic view of Aquinas' doctrine, but I think it captures the basics pretty well.
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Quaeritur: If God's knowledge and will are immutable, unchanging, then why pray for things, if God has already decided what He will do, and knows infallibly what will occur? In other words, if He has already eternally decided that x will happen and infallibly knows it will happen, what's the point of praying for y to happen if it won't happen, and what's the point of praying for x to happen--if it will happen anyway? So what's the point of praying at all if our prayers are incapable of changing God's knowledge or will?
Respondeo: Correct. God's intellect and will are immutable, and our prayers cannot change them. Yet prayer is still valuable and may actually be the cause (a secondary cause, not the primary cause) of our receiving what we pray for. God's infallible decree that something will happen may be conditional upon your praying for it. In other words, God may infallibly decree that He will grant x to you if and only if you pray for x, and know that you will pray for x, and hence that you will get x (or that you won't pray for it and hence that you won't get it).
The reason why God would want us to pray, and especially why He would make our prayer a condition for granting what we pray for, is that prayer—as Aquinas tells us—is for our own benefit (not God's). Through it we become conscious that we need to receive benefits from Him; it is an act of religious worship (latria), whereby we become conscious of our dependence on and submission to Him.
Consider the following texts of St. Thomas:
ST II-II.83.2: Whether it is becoming to pray? I answer that among the ancients there was a threefold error concerning prayer. Some held that human affairs are not ruled by Divine providence; whence it would follow that it is useless to pray and to worship God at all: of these it is written (Malachi 3:14): "You have said: He laboreth in vain that serveth God." Another opinion held that all things, even in human affairs, happen of necessity, whether by reason of the unchangeableness of Divine providence, or through the compelling influence of the stars, or on account of the connection of causes: and this opinion also excluded the utility of prayer. There was a third opinion of those who held that human affairs are indeed ruled by Divine providence, and that they do not happen of necessity; yet they deemed the disposition of Divine providence to be changeable, and that it is changed by prayers and other things pertaining to the worship of God. All these opinions were disproved (in ST I.19.7-8, I.22.2-4; I.115.6; I.116).
Wherefore it behooves us so to account for the utility of prayer as neither to impose necessity on human affairs subject to Divine providence, nor to imply changeableness on the part of the Divine disposition. In order to throw light on this question we must consider that Divine providence disposes not only what effects shall take place, but also from what causes and in what order these effects shall proceed. Now among other causes human acts are the causes of certain effects. Wherefore it must be that men do certain actions, not that thereby they may change the Divine disposition, but that by those actions they may achieve certain effects according to the order of the Divine disposition: and the same is to be said of natural causes. And so is it with regard to prayer. For we pray not that we may change the Divine disposition, but that we may impetrate that which God has disposed to be fulfilled by our prayers; in other words "that by asking, men may deserve to receive what Almighty God from eternity has disposed to give," as Gregory says (Dial. i, 8)
To the first it must be said that we need to pray to God, not in order to make known to Him our needs or desires but that we ourselves may be reminded of the necessity of having recourse to God's help in these matters.
SCG I.119: That the immutability of divine providence does not suppress the value of prayer.
 We should also keep in mind the fact that, just as the immutability of providence does not impose necessity on things that are foreseen, so also it does not suppress the value of prayer. For prayer is not established for the purpose of changing the eternal disposition of providence, since this is impossible, but so that a person may obtain from God the object which he desires.
 Indeed, it is appropriate for God to consent to the holy desires of a rational creature, not in the sense that our desires may move the immutable God, but that He, in His goodness, takes steps to accomplish these desired effects in a fitting way. For, since all things naturally desire the good, as we proved above, and since it pertains to the supereminence of divine goodness to assign being, and well-being, to all in accord with a definite order, the result is that, in accord with His goodness, He fulfills the holy desires which are brought to completion by means of prayer.
Posted by Francisco Romero Carrasquillo at 3:32 PM
Saturday, September 07, 2013
I'm currently working on a paper on natural religion in Aquinas. This amazing text from Summa theologiae IIa-IIae has given me much food for thought.
Natural reason tells man that he is subject to a higher being, on account of the defects which he perceives in himself, and in which he needs help and direction from someone above him: and whatever this superior being may be, it is known to all under the name of God. Now just as in natural things the lower are naturally subject to the higher, so too it is a dictate of natural reason in accordance with man's natural inclination that he should tender submission and honor, according to his mode, to that which is above man. Now the mode befitting to man is that he should employ sensible signs in order to signify anything, because he derives his knowledge from sensibles. Hence it is a dictate of natural reason that man should use certain sensibles, by offering them to God in sign of the subjection and honor due to Him, like those who make certain offerings to their lord in recognition of his authority. Now this is what we mean by a sacrifice, and consequently the offering of sacrifice is of the natural law.
Just think of it: the natural law prescribes the offering of (physical) sacrifices, i.e., the actual immolation of a victim (hostia) to God in recognition of our dependence on him. Since grace far from destroying the natural law perfects it, it follows that our Religion's prescription of offering the sacrifice of the Mass is actually an instance of positive (divine) law specifying the natural law.
So what should we conclude of religions who for some reason or another ultimately deny man's actual need to offer sacrifice to God, such as Islam, post-Christian Judaism, and Protestantism? It seems this could be the foundation for a philosophical argument against the truth (or at least the moral adequacy?) of these religions...
 ST II-II.85.1c: [N]aturalis ratio dictat homini quod alicui superiori subdatur, propter defectus quos in seipso sentit, in quibus ab aliquo superiori eget adiuvari et dirigi. Et quidquid illud sit, hoc est quod apud omnes dicitur Deus. Sicut autem in rebus naturalibus naturaliter inferiora superioribus subduntur, ita etiam naturalis ratio dictat homini secundum naturalem inclinationem ut ei quod est supra hominem subiectionem et honorem exhibeat secundum suum modum. Est autem modus conveniens homini ut sensibilibus signis utatur ad aliqua exprimenda, quia ex sensibilibus cognitionem accipit. Et ideo ex naturali ratione procedit quod homo quibusdam sensibilibus rebus utatur offerens eas Deo, in signum debitae subiectionis et honoris, secundum similitudinem eorum qui dominis suis aliqua offerunt in recognitionem dominii. Hoc autem pertinet ad rationem sacrificii. Et ideo oblatio sacrificii pertinet ad ius naturale.
 Cf. ST I-II.95.2c: [S]ciendum est quod a lege naturali dupliciter potest aliquid derivari, uno modo, sicut conclusiones ex principiis; alio modo, sicut determinationes quaedam aliquorum communium. Primus quidem modus est similis ei quo in scientiis ex principiis conclusiones demonstrativae producuntur. Secundo vero modo simile est quod in artibus formae communes determinantur ad aliquid speciale, sicut artifex formam communem domus necesse est quod determinet ad hanc vel illam domus figuram. Derivantur ergo quaedam a principiis communibus legis naturae per modum conclusionum, sicut hoc quod est non esse occidendum, ut conclusio quaedam derivari potest ab eo quod est nulli esse malum faciendum. Quaedam vero per modum determinationis, sicut lex naturae habet quod ille qui peccat, puniatur; sed quod tali poena puniatur, hoc est quaedam determinatio legis naturae. Utraque igitur inveniuntur in lege humana posita. Sed ea quae sunt primi modi, continentur lege humana non tanquam sint solum lege posita, sed habent etiam aliquid vigoris ex lege naturali. Sed ea quae sunt secundi modi, ex sola lege humana vigorem habent.
Posted by Francisco Romero Carrasquillo at 5:45 PM
Monday, May 27, 2013
From Fr. Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. - Christian Perfection and Contemplation, pp. 12-14.
(Full work on PDF available from ITOPL.)
Saturday, May 25, 2013
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Hugon's Cosmology is one of the most methodically rigorous manuals of natural philosophy in the Latin scholastic tradition. It was a standard philosophy textbook in seminaries during the first half of the 20th Century, the kind of textbook that formed the young minds of men like Alfredo Ottaviani, Garrigou-Lagrange, Marcel Lefebvre, and Joseph Fenton. And thanks to the Ite ad Thomam Translation Project it now is available in English translation.
With this manual you will learn to use the scholastic method. Don't just believe what Thomists hold; learn to demonstrate it!
Order a copy now from Editiones Scholasticae!!!