Saint Bonaventure, Saints, Theology

The Seraphic Doctor

Saint Bonaventure PrayingThe Seraphic Doctor

The title by which St. Bonaventure is most readily known was given him while he was still alive. And it is apt for several reasons. His thought is entwined with love; it quickly springs to seraphic or angelic heights. As a teacher, he gives intellectual expression to the life of the Seraphic Saint, St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis pursued a way of life that kept reaching out to God with the fullness of an ardent nature, the sternness and intensity of a logic that looked at things reduced to ultimate simplicity, and the color of a rich emotion. Everything spoke to St. Francis of God because its very nature is made by Him. Everything pointed to the Sacred Humanity of Christ, and in return the Sacred Humanity shed its glow on everything.

St. Bonaventure saw all created things as flowing in a necessary way from God: not that creation is or was necessary, but creation, once decided upon, had to mirror the perfections of God. Each part of creation according to its dignity is either a shadow, a trace, an image or a similitude of God.

Since in Christ all the stages of creation are contained as in a perfect exemplar, there is no true knowledge, understanding or wisdom if He is left out. “In Christ are contained all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge of the hidden God, and He is the medium for all knowledge.”

To St. Bonaventure Christ is therefore necessary for any full philosophy. There is no such thing as a philosophy based completely on reason. Faith has to enter in and present Christ as the Supreme Exemplar of all creation. If you leave out this centerpiece of creation, then not only would theology be empty, but philosophy would be weakest where it should be strongest. St. Bonaventure’s philosophy rests squarely on faith and on reason.

St. Bonaventure was by no means opposed to the arts. He has, however, said that you cannot judge them rightly unless you look at them in the light of higher values. St. Bonaventure therefore turns to the Incarnate Word “as the touchstone at which to measure the human enterprise.”

The great value of this system is that learning can proceed in the spirit of devotion. In this way, there is less chance for reason to drop into the pitfalls of rationalism, to run to the extremes of empty intellectualism. The proud spirit of man is kept more humble as it learns by tasting “in the darkness of faith” as well as by seeing in the light of reason.

“Taste and see that the Lord is sweet.” This is the invitation of St. Bonaventure to all who would delve into the secrets of the universe. You can taste “in the darkness of faith” and come to a surer knowledge than by seeing in the light of reason. When it comes to ultimate, important truths, you cannot judge by reason any more surely than you can tell whether an object is sweet or bitter by looking at it. You must taste it.

St. Bonaventure “made every truth a prayer to God and a praise of God.” He has been called “the totally religious soul.” “Multifarious, infinitely diverse and subtly shaded, his thought is but an ever-active charity, whose whole movement strives toward objects which escape our view or toward unknown aspects of those things we do in part perceive.”

Sometimes we read in the lives of holy people that they had a knowledge of natural science and of human nature that amazed learned men. The usual assumption is that this knowledge was preternaturally infused. Perhaps this knowledge was not so much infused as naturally developed from using the system of St. Bonaventure, letting faith and reason work together.

It has been said that St. Bonaventure rejected Aristotelianism. It may be more true to say that he used it as part of his eclectic system. He used it as far as he could, and then passed beyond it. He could see no sense in riding in the buggy of pure philosophy when he had the strong chariot of Christian wisdom to carry him faster and further forward – a wisdom already refined through centuries of thought. To St. Bonaventure, philosophy is a good as far as it goes, but it is too obscure on the most important questions.

St. Bonaventure has been placed on an equal footing with St. Thomas Aquinas by two different Popes. Yet he has not found general acceptance even among Catholic philosophers. Compared to St. Thomas, he remains practically unknown as a philosopher. In the future this may be different.

“What the Seraphic Doctor’s ultimate ranking as a Christian philosopher is to be, must be left to a generation which will again experience the speculative and pragmatic necessity of Christ as the center of philosophy.”

“The oft-repeated phrase is well-known: ‘Thomas is the Christian Aristotle; Bonaventure, the second Augustine.’ But this difference must not be stressed, for the two complement each other in an admirable way: Thomas is the angel of the schools, Bonaventure the master of the practical life; Thomas enlightens the intellect, Bonaventure elevates the heart. Sixtus V justly places both side by side, and grants Bonaventure the same ecclesiastical honors as Pius V granted Thomas. ‘They are,’ he says, ‘the two olive trees and the two shining lights in the house of God, who by the plenitude of their love and the light of their erudition illumine the entire Church. By the special providence of God, they are similar to two stars appearing at the same time. During their earthly pilgrimage they were intimately united by the bond of a true friendship and by the intercourse of holy labors. With equal step did both hasten toward their heavenly fatherland, that both might at the same time enter the joys of Heaven.”

– The 35 Doctors of the Church – 


 

– Lucas G. Westman

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Catechism, Saint Robert Bellarmine, Saints, Theology

Catechism of St. Robert Bellarmine: Chapter III – Part II

Saint Robert Bellarmine & CrucifixExplanation of the Creed, that is, the twelve articles 

Explanation of the Second Article 

S. Tell me now about the second article, namely, “And in Jesus Christ, His Son, Our Lord.”

T. God Almighty, about Whom the first article treats, has a true and natural Son, Whom we call Jesus Christ. So that you might understand how God begot this Son, take the similitude of a mirror. When someone gazes into a mirror, an image is immediately produced that is so like him that he cannot discover any difference, in as much as it not only reflects his countenance, but even represents individual movements, so that the image moves exactly in the way the man does. Such an image is so like the man without any labor, without time, without instrument yet it is formed suddenly and in a moment in the flash of an eye. Consider in the same arrangement that when God gazes upon the mirror of the God head with the eye of the intellect, immediately He forms an image similar to Himself, and because God directs His whole essence and nature to this image (which we cannot do by gazing), therefore this image is the true Son of God, even if our own image which we behold in the mirror is not our son. For that reason you have to gather how the Son of God is God, in the same way as the Father is God and the same God with God, because He is/has the same substance with the Father. Next, the Son is not younger than the Father, but was always just as the Father always was. Accordingly, He advanced from the only vision of God, and God always saw and regarded Himself at length, the Son of God was not begotten in time from the cooperation of a woman, nor from the vicious lust, or from other related imperfections, but only by God, only, as was said, from his vision and by the most pure eye of the Divine Intellect.

S. Why is the Son of God called Jesus Christ?

T. The name of Jesus means Savior, while Christ, because it is the last name, means High Priest and King of Kings, as we touched upon the explanation of the sign of the Cross, that the Son of God became man to redeem us in His blood and to restore us to eternal salvation. Therefore, after He became man, He took this name of Savior to himself, to show that He came to save man. He was also given the title of High Priest and Supreme King by the Father, all of which this name Christ designates, and by such a name we are called Christians.

S. Why do we remove our hat or genuflect whenever the name of Jesus is said, but we do not do this after we hear the name “God”?

T. The reason is because this name is proper to the Son of God, since all the rest are common; likewise, we are taught by this name how God, by becoming man for our sake, humbled Himself. Furthermore, we genuflect in an Act of Thanksgiving when we hear this name. Not only do we men genuflect, but even the angels of God in heaven, and the demons in hell, on account of this name the former from voluntary love, the latter are compelled by fear. God also willed that all rational creatures should genuflect in the presence of His Son, seeing that He Himself so bent Himself and humbled Himself even to death of the Cross.

S. Why is Jesus Christ called Our Lord?

T. Because He, together with the Father, created us, therefore He is our Patron and Lord just as the Father. More to the point, He freed us from the power and Captivity of the devil by bitter torments and His Passion, which we will speak of in a little while.

The Catechism of St. Robert Bellarmine: Chapter I

The Catechism of St. Robert Bellarmine: Chapter II

The Catechism of St. Robert Bellarmine: Chapter III – Part I

 

– Lucas G. Westman

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Natural Theology, Philosophy, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saints, Scholasticism, Theology, Thomism

Natural Theology & the Thomistic Synthesis

RGL on Thomism

Natural Theology

That which is, is more than that which can be, more than that which is on the road to be. This principle led Aristotle and Aquinas to find, at the summit of all reality, pure act, understanding of understanding, sovereign and good. But Aquinas rises above Aristotle and Leibnitz, for whom the world is a necessary consequence of God. St. Thomas shows, on the contrary, the reason why we must say with revelation that God is sovereignly free, to create or not to create, to create in time rather than from eternity. The reason lies in God’s infinite plenitude of being, truth, and goodness, which creatures can do noting to increase. After creation, there are more beings, it is true, but not more being, not more perfection, wisdom, or love. “God is none the greater for having created the universe.” God alone, He who is, can say, not merely “I have being, truth, and life,” but rather “I am being itself, truth itself, life itself.”

Hence the supreme truth of Christian philosophy is this: In God alone is essence identified with existence. The creature is only a capability to exist, it is created and preserved by Him who is. Further, the creature, not being its own existence, is not its own action, and cannot pass from potency to act, either in the order of nature or in that of grace, except by divine causality.

We have thus shown how Thomism is an elevated synthesis, which, while it rejects unfounded denials, assimilates the positive tendencies of current philosophical and theological conceptions. This synthesis recognizes that reality itself is incomparably more rich than our ideas of that reality. In a word, Thomism is characterized by a sense of mystery, which is the source of contemplation. God’s truth, beauty, and holiness are continually recognized as transcending all philosophy, theology, and mysticism, as uncreated richness to be attained only by the beatific vision, and even under that vision, however clearly understood, as something which only God Himself can comprehend in all its infinite fullness. Thomism thus keeps ever awake our natural, conditional, and inefficacious desire to see God as He is. Thus we grow in appreciation of the gifts of grace and charity, which move us, efficaciously, to desire and to merit the divine vision.

This power of assimilation is therefore a genuine criterion whereby to appraise the validity and scope of Thomism, from the lowest material elements up to God’s own inner life. Economy demands that any system have one mother-idea, as radiating center. The mother-idea of Thomism is that of God as pure act, in whom alone is essence identified with existence. This principle, the keystone of Christian philosophy, enables us to explain, as far as can be done here below, what revelation teaches of the mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation, the unity of existence in the three divine persons, the unity of existence in Christ. It explains likewise the mystery of grace. All that is good in our free acts comes from God as first cause, just as it comes from us as second causes. And when we freely obey, when we accept rather than resist grace, all that is good in that act comes from the source of all good. Nothing escapes that divine and universal cause, who without violence actualizes human freedom, just as connaturally as He actualizes the tree to bloom and bear fruit.

Let Thomism then be judged by its principles, necessary and universal, all subordinated to one keystone principle, not a restricted principle as is that of human freedom, but by the uncreated principle of Him who is, on whom everything depends, in the order of being and activity, in the order of grace and nature. This is the system which, in the judgment of the Church, most nearly approaches the ideal of theology, the supreme branch of knowledge.

– Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, Reality: A Synthesis of Thomistic Thought


 

– Lucas G. Westman

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Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saints, Scholasticism, Theology, Thomism

Catholic Theology & Philosophical Foundations

Saint Thomas Aquinas the Angelic Doctor Background“As we will see, Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical Fides et ratio strenuously upholds the tradition of giving priority to faith in the question of the relationship between faith and reason. To do otherwise, of course, would be to flirt with rationalism. Faith, however, must be understood; it is always, to borrow from St. Anselm, “seeking understanding,” What rational tools will one use to understand one’s Christian faith? Of the many philosophies that human culture knows and has known, which one ought to be chosen to aid in the comprehension of faith? Is every philosophy equal to this task?

As is well-known, St. Thomas chose the philosophy of Aristotle for this task. He found that Aristotle’s thought served the faith well; he found, most precisely, that the metaphysics of Aristotle provided a strong foundation upon with to “think the faith.” In light of this, and in light of Pope Leo XIII’s Thomistic revival, theologians began to ask if Catholic theology must be forever wedded to the philosophy of Aristotle. Many said no and attempted to change the philosophical foundations of Catholic theology – none with great success.

The University of Fribourg’s eminent philosopher, I.M. Bochenski, sets the stage for an answer as to why this was so. He explains that modern philosophy, that is, philosophy during the time between 1600 and 1900,

“came into being with the decline of scholastic philosophy. Characteristic of scholasticism is its pluralism (assuming the plurality of really different beings and levels of being), personalism (acknowledging the preeminent value of the human person), its organic conception of reality, as well as its theocentric attitude – God the Creator as its center of vision. Detailed logical analysis of individual problems is characteristic of scholastic method. Modern philosophy opposes every one of these tenets. Its fundamental principles are mechanism, which eliminates the conception of being as integral and hierarchical, and subjectivism, which diverts man from his previous concentration of God and substitutes the subject as the center. In point of method modern philosophy turned its back on formal logic. With some notable exceptions, it was characterized by the development of great systems and by the neglect of analysis.”

The mechanistic and subjectivist a prioris of modern philosophy, along with a whole set of reductionisms in contemporary philosophy, simply do not provide a solid enough grounding for Christian faith.”

 

– Lucas G. Westman


*Taken From The Sacred Monster of Thomism

 

 

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Apologetics, Metaphysics, Philosophy, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saints, Theology, Thomism

Pope Leo XIII on Saint Thomas Aquinas – Aeterni Patris

Taken From the Encyclical – Aeterni Patris:

St Thomas Aquinas Framed and Labeled TSC17. Among the Scholastic Doctors, the chief and master of all towers Thomas Aquinas, who, as Cajetan observes, because “he most venerated the ancient Doctors of the Church, in a certain way seems to have inherited the intellect of all.”[34] The doctrines of those illustrious men, like the scattered members of a body, Thomas collected together and cemented, distributed in wonderful order, and so increased with important additions that he is rightly and deservedly esteemed the special bulwark and glory of the Catholic faith. With his spirit at once humble and swift, his memory ready and tenacious, his life spotless throughout, a lover of truth for its own sake, richly endowed with human and divine science, like the sun he heated the world with the warmth of his virtues and filled it with the splendor of his teaching. Philosophy has no part which he did not touch finely at once and thoroughly; on the laws of reasoning, on God and incorporeal substances, on man and other sensible things, on human actions and their principles, he reasoned in such a manner that in him there is wanting neither a full array of questions, nor an apt disposal of the various parts, nor the best method of proceeding, nor soundness of principles or strength of argument, nor clearness and elegance of style, nor a facility for explaining what is abstruse.

18. Moreover, the Angelic Doctor pushed his philosophic inquiry into the reasons and principles of things, which because they are most comprehensive and contain in their bosom, so to say, the seeds of almost infinite truths, were to be unfolded in good time by later masters and with a goodly yield. And as he also used this philosophic method in the refutation of error, he won this title to distinction for himself: that, single-handed, he victoriously combated the errors of former times, and supplied invincible arms to put those to rout which might in after-times spring up. Again, clearly distinguishing, as is fitting, reason from faith, while happily associating the one with the other, he both preserved the rights and had regard for the dignity of each; so much so, indeed, that reason borne on the wings of Thomas to its human height, can scarcely rise higher, while faith could scarcely expect more or stronger aids from reason than those which she has already obtained through Thomas.

19. For these reasons most learned men, in former ages especially, of the highest repute in theology and philosophy, after mastering with infinite pains the immortal works of Thomas, gave themselves up not so much to be instructed in his angelic wisdom as to be nourished upon it. It is known that nearly all the founders and lawgivers of the religious orders commanded their members to study and religiously adhere to the teachings of St. Thomas, fearful least any of them should swerve even in the slightest degree from the footsteps of so great a man. To say nothing of the family of St. Dominic, which rightly claims this great teacher for its own glory, the statutes of the Benedictines, the Carmelites, the Augustinians, the Society of Jesus, and many others all testify that they are bound by this law.

 

– Lucas G. Westman

 

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Catechism, Pope Saint Pius X, Saints, Theology

Catechism of Pope St. Pius X: The First Article of the Creed – God The Father Almighty

Pope St. Pius X PortraitThe First Article of the Creed

God The Father Almighty

 

Q. What does the First Article of the Creed: I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, teach us?

A. The First Article of the Creed Teaches us that there is one God, and only one; that He is omnipotent and has created heaven and earth and all things contained in them, that is to say, the whole Universe.

Q. How do we know that there is a God?

A. We know that there is a God because reason proves it and faith confirms it.

Q. Why do we call God the Father?

A. We call God the Father because by nature He is the Father of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, that is to say, of the Son, begotten of Him; because God is the Father of all men, whom He has created and whom He preserves and governs; finally, because by grace He is the Father of all good Christians, who are hence called the adopted sons of God.

Q. Why is the Father the First Person of the Blessed Trinity?

A. The Father is the First Person of the Blessed Trinity, because He does not proceed from any other Person, but is the Principle of the other two Persons, that is, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.

Q. What is meant by the word Omnipotent?

A. The word Omnipotent means that God can do all that He wills.

Q. God can neither sin nor die, how then do we say He can do all things?

A. Though He can neither sin nor die, we say God can do all things, because to be able to sin or die is not an effect of power, but of weakness which cannot exist in God who is most perfect.

Catechism of Pope St. Pius X: Preliminary Lesson – On Christian Doctrine And Its Principal Parts

Catechism of Pope St. Pius X: The Apostles Creed in General

 

– Lucas G. Westman

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Catechism, Saint Robert Bellarmine, Saints, Theology

Catechism of St. Robert Bellarmine: Chapter III – Part I

Saint Robert BellarmineExplanation of the Creed, that is, of the Twelve Articles

Student. Now let us come to the first part of Christian Doctrine, for I want to learn more about the Apostles’ Creed.

Teacher. The Apostles’ Creed contains twelve parts, which we call articles, and they are twelve for the number of Apostles who composed it. These are:

  1. I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth.
  2. And in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son our Lord.
  3. Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.
  4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried.
  5. He descended into hell, on the third day He rose from the dead.
  6. He ascended into Heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
  7. From thence He will return to judge the living and the dead.
  8. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
  9. The Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints,
  10. The remission of sins.
  11. The resurrection of the body,
  12. And life everlasting. Amen.

Explanation of the First Article

S. Explain to me the first article in more detail, starting with “I believe”.

T. It is just as much as if one were to say, I believe firmly and without question all the things which are contained in these twelve articles. Therefore, what God Himself taught His Apostles, which the Apostles handed on to the Church, and at length the Church has passed the same thing on to us. Therefore I believe the articles more firmly than what I see with my eye or touch with my hands.

S. What does it mean when it says “in God”?

T. It is the same thing as if one were to say that one must firmly believe that there is one God, even if we do not use our bodily eyes. That God is one, for which reason it says, “I believe in God,” and not “I believe in a god”. Nor should one think that God is like some corporeal thing, however big and beautiful you may like, but rather, one should imagine that God is a spiritual thing, which always was and is always going to be; He created all of those things which exist, and in like manner, fills all things, governs all things, and knows and sees all things. Lastly, anything represented either to the eyes, or in your imagination, if you were compelled to speak about it then what is represented to me is not God because He is infinitely better.

S. Why is God called “the Father”?

T. Because He really is the Father of His only begotten Son, on which the second article treats; thereupon, because He is the Father of all goods, not by nature but by adoption; next, because He is the Father of all creatures, not by nature or adoption but by creation, just as we will say in the second article.

S. Why do you say “Almighty”?

T. Because there is only one from the Divine Names proper to God, and although there are many of this kind, such as Eternal, Immense, Infinite, etc., just the same, in this place, He is most suitably called Almighty, that way we do not run into difficulty in the creed that He made the heavens and the earth from nothing; in the same way it appears from the following words. Certainly nothing can be difficult to the One who makes whatever He wants, and therefore He is Almighty. But if someone would say that God cannot die or sin, so He can’t really do everything; then I answer that to die and sin are not in potency, but impotency, and if one were to speak about any aggressive soldier you like, that he cannot conquer all things nor indeed can be conquered by any one, then one has not really detracted from his strength by saying that he cannot be conquered, because to be conquered is not strength by weakness.

S. What does the name “Creator” mean?

T. It means God created all things from nothing, and only He can return all things into nothing. Now truly angels and men can make and destroy something, and even demons can: but they cannot do that except with pre-existing material, nor can they reduce something into nothing, but only change one thing into another, just as a stone cutter cannot build a house from nothing, but needs stones, limestone, wood and like things for that work. Moreover, he cannot so destroy what he has built that it is returned to nothing, but returned to stones, dust, wood and like things. On the other hand, God alone is called Creator because He alone does not need to create and build something from pre-existing matter.

S. Why is it said that He is “Creator of heaven and earth?” Didn’t God also create the air, water, stones, animals, men, and all other things?

T. By the phrase “of heaven and earth,” all those things must be received which heaven and earth contain. Moreover, even if anyone would say that man consists of body and soul, he certainly means also all the things that are discovered in man; obviously veins, blood, bones, nerves etc. Likewise, all the things which are discovered in the soul; clearly the intellect, will, memory, interior and exterior senses, etc. So by the name of “heaven” the air, birds of the sky, clouds and stars of the heavens are embraced and at length, angels. But by the name of the earth all of those things are embraced that deal with the earth, such as the waters of the sea and rivers, which are constituted in the lowest parts of the earth, and above all, animals, grass, stones, metals, and all things embraced by the earth of the lap of the sea. Therefore, God is the Creator of Heaven and earth because these are the two principal parts of the world. Indeed the higher one is where the Angels dwell, while the lower is the one in which men live. Now, since these are the principal creatures, whom all the rest serve, just the same both (to the extent that they were created ex nihilo and were exalted to such a dignity) are obliged to serve God.

The Catechism of St. Robert Bellarmine: Chapter I

The Catechism of St. Robert Bellarmine: Chapter II

 

– Lucas G. Westman

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Catechism of Pope St. Pius X: The Apostle’s Creed in General

The Twelve ApostlesThe Apostle’s Creed

The Creed in General

Q. What is the first part of Christian Doctrine?

A. The first part of Christian Doctrine is the Symbol of the Apostles, commonly called the Creed.

Q. Why do you call the Creed the Symbol of the Apostles?

A. The Creed is called the Symbol of the Apostles because it is a summary of the truths of faith taught by the Apostles.

Q. How many articles are there in the Creed?

A. There are twelve articles in the Creed.

Q. Recite them.

A. (1) I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; (2) And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; (3) Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost; born of the Virgin Mary; (4) Suffered under Pontius Pilate: was crucified, died, and buried; (5) He descended into hell: the third day He rose again from the dead; (6) he ascended into Heaven: sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; (7) From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. (8) I believe in the Holy Ghost; (9) The Holy Catholic Church; the Communion of Saints; (10) The forgiveness of sins; (11) The resurrection of the body; (12) Life everlasting. Amen.

Q. What is meant by the word: “I believe”, which you say at the beginning of the Symbol?

A. The word: I believe, means I hold everything that is contained in these twelve articles to be perfectly true; and I believe these truths more firmly than if I saw them with my eyes, because God, who can neither deceive nor be deceived, has revealed them to the Holy Catholic Church and through this Church to us.

Q. What do the articles of the Creed contain?

A. The articles of the Creed contain the principal truths to be believed concerning God, Jesus Christ, and the Church, His Spouse.

Q. Is it useful to recite the Creed frequently?

A. It is most useful to recite the Creed frequently, so as to impress the truths of faith more and more deeply on our hearts.

Catechism of Pope St. Pius X: Preliminary Lesson – On Christian Doctrine and its Principal Parts

 

– Lucas G. Westman

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Catechism of St. Robert Bellarmine: Chapter II

Trinity IconAn Explanation of the Sign of the Holy Cross

Student. Before we begin the first part of this doctrine, I would like you to propose to me what we are obliged to believe, starting with a simple explanation of the accompanying mysteries and also the matters contained in the creed that are more necessary in themselves.

Teacher. This is a good question. You ought to know that there are two principal mysteries of our faith contained in that which is called the sign of the Cross. The first mystery is the unity and the Trinity of God, while the second is the Incarnation and Passion of our Savior.

S. What do you mean by unity and Trinity?

T. These are sublime matters, and so they must be explained in the progress of this doctrine. But now it will be enough if you would take hold of, and understand these names. Unity of God is merely some matter transcending all created things; He did not have a beginning but always was and always will be; on the other hand, He preserves all other created things as well as rules them; this unity is the highest of all things, the most beautiful, the most noble, and the most powerful, the mistress of all things: it is called God, Who is One, accordingly it could only be one true Godhead, this is, only one nature and essence, infinite power, good wisdom, etc. Just the same, this Godhead is discovered in three persons, namely Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, threefold in regard to their persons but in regard to their nature and essence, which is the same, one. I will clarify the matter by an example. If three persons were merely on earth, of which one was Peter, another Paul, and the third, John, and they had one and the same soul and body, they would be said to be three persons because one would be of Peter, the other of Paul, and the third of John; just the same, it would be one man, not three, since neither have three souls nor three bodies, but one body and one soul. Clearly that is impossible among men, since their essence is meager and finite, therefore they cannot be in many persons. The essence of God, however, (since divinity is infinite) the same essence and the same divinity may be discovered in the Father, and in the Son, and in the Holy Spirit. Therefore they are three persons, for one is of the Father, one of the Son and one of the Holy Spirit, still God, although the Godhead has one will, one essence, one power, one wisdom, one goodness and so on and so forth.

S. Now tell me, what is the Incarnation and Passion of Christ our Savior?

T. This must be known; the second person in the Trinity, whom we name the Son, had a divine nature which He had before the creation of the world, nay more, from all eternity and He took up human flesh and a human soul; that is, He united our whole nature to Himself in the womb of the most chaste Virgin; He who had first been only God, thereafter began to be God and man. After He had lived with men for 33 years, had shown the way of salvation, performed many miracles and finally permitted Himself to be put on the cross and breathed His last to make satisfaction to the Father for the sins of the whole world; just the same he rose on the third day, and after the fortieth day after the Resurrection, He ascended into heaven. We will speak of this more in the explanation of the twelve articles of the Creed. And these things are what the Incarnation and Passion of our Savior mean.

S. Why is this particular matter a mystery of our faith?

T. Firstly, because it absolutely encompasses the beginning and the final end of man himself; secondly, because it offers the most unique and efficacious means to know this first beginning and end that must undeniably follow. Next, through faith and confession of these two mysteries we are set apart form the false sects of the heathen, such as Turks, Jews, and heretics. Next, because without faith and confession of these two mysteries no man can be saved.

S. In what arrangement are these mysteries understood in the most holy sing of the Cross?

T. When we make the most holy sign of the cross we say, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” and we sign ourselves in the manner of the cross. We touch our forehead with our right hand while saying “In the name of the Father,” next the breast when saying, “of the Son,” and lastly, we raise our right hand, moving it from the left shoulder to the right while saying, “and of the Holy Spirit.” The phrase “in the name of,” signifies the unity of God, for we say, “in the name,” not names; likewise, it shows the Divine Power that is in the three persons alone. Next, the words, “of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” point out the persons of the Trinity. Moreover, the manner of signing oneself with a cross not only represents the Passion, but consequently also the Incarnation of the Son of God. The progression from the left to the right shoulder (but not from the right to the left), while using the right hand means we have been transported from transitory to eternal things, and from death to life.

S. For what reasons would we make the sign of the Cross?

T. First of all, we make it to call to witness that we are Christians, i.e. soldiers of Christ our General, and thus it is a specific symbol and becomes like a banner by which the soldiers of Christ are distinguished from the enemies of the Church, such as pagans, Jews, Turks, and Heretics. Secondly, we make this sign of the cross to invoke the Divine Assistance in all of our actions. For by this sign we invoke the most Holy Trinity through the merits of the passion of Christ our Savior. For this reason good Christians customarily make this sign when they rise from bed, or leave a house, or sit down for a meal, or leave the table, or when they undertake some business that must be made ready. Lastly, this sign is made so that we will be armed against diabolic temptations. The devil is certainly very scared of this sign, and he flees from it like criminals when they see the torture chamber. Therefore, by the sign of the cross a man is very often freedom from many dangers both spiritual and temporal, if he exercises the use of it with true faith and is equipped with confidence in the mercy of God and the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Catechism of St. Robert Bellarmine: Chapter I

 

– Lucas G. Westman

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Catechism, Pope Saint Pius X, Saints, Theology

Catechism of Pope St. Pius X: Preliminary Lesson – On Christian Doctrine and its Principal Parts

Catechism of Pope Saint Pius XCatechism of Pope St. Pius X: Preliminary Lesson – On Christian Doctrine and its Principal Parts

Q. Are you a Christian?

A. Yes, I am a Christian, by the grace of God.

 

Q. Why do you say: By the grace of God?

A. I say: By the grace of God, because to be a Christian is a perfectly gratuitous gift of God, which we ourselves could not have merited.

 

Q. Who is a true Christian?

A. A true Christian is he who is baptized, who believes and professes the Christian Doctrine, and obeys the lawful pastors of the Church.

 

Q. What is Christian Doctrine?

A. Christian doctrine is the doctrine which Jesus Christ our Lord taught us to show us the way of salvation.

 

Q. Is it necessary to learn the doctrine taught by Jesus Christ?

A. It certainly is necessary to learn the doctrine taught by Jesus Christ, and those who fail to do so are guilty of a grave breach of duty.

 

Q. Are parents and guardians bound to send their children and those dependent on them to catechism?

A. Parents and guardians are bound to see that their children and dependents learn Christian Doctrine, and they are guilty before God if they neglect this duty.

 

Q. From whom are we to receive and learn Christian Doctrine?

A. We are to receive and learn Christian Doctrine from the Holy Catholic Church.

 

Q. How are we certain that the Christian Doctrine which we receive from the Holy Catholic Church is really true?

A. We are certain that the doctrine which we receive from the Holy Catholic Church is true, because Jesus Christ, the divine Author of this doctrine, committed it through His Apostles to the Church, which he founded and made the infallible teacher of all men, promising her His divine assistance until the end of time.

 

Q. Are there proofs of the truth of Christian Doctrine?

A. The truth of Christian Doctrine is also shown by the eminent sanctity of number who have professed it and who still profess it, by the heroic fortitude of the martyrs, by its marvelous and rapid propagation in the world, and by its perfect preservation throughout so many centuries of ceaseless and varied struggles.

 

Q. What and how many are the principal and most necessary parts of Christian Doctrine?

A. The principal and most necessary parts of Christian Doctrine are four The Creed, The Our Father, The Commandments, and The Sacraments.

 

Q. What does the Creed teach us?

A. The Creed teaches us the principal articles of our holy faith.

 

Q. What does the Our Father teach us?

A. The Our Father teaches us all that we are to hope from God, and all we are to ask of Him.

 

Q. What do the Commandments teach us?

A. The Commandments teach us all that we are to do to please God – all of which is summed up in loving God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.

 

Q. What does the doctrine of the Sacraments teach us?

A. The doctrine of the Sacraments shows us the nature and right use of those means which Jesus Christ has instituted to remit our sins, give us His grace, infuse into and increase in us the virtues of the faith, hope, and charity.

 

– Lucas G. Westman

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