Friday, January 29, 2010

Divine Love

"To every existing thing God wills some good. Hence, since to love any thing is nothing else than to will good to that thing, it is manifest that God loves everything that exists" ~St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica

.......As Fr. Hardon puts is, love is "to will good to someone." (Pocket Catholic Dictionary, definition of 'Love')
.......Pope Benedict elaborates further as he says in the Introduction of Caritas in Veritate, "To love someone is to desire that person's good and to take effective steps to secure it."
.......So God loves us and thus wills good to us and wants to give us that good. What is the best for us? Nothing less than God's love. Because God loves us he wants what is best for us, and what is best for us is His love, so He loves us, so He wants the best for us... Divine love is both the gift and the reason for giving. Moreover, it is the giver Himself.
.......In the light of this, all love between humans falls into place as a reflection of God's love. Human love is inspired by Divine love. "All people feel the interior impulse to love authentically." (Pope Benedict XVI, Introduction to Caritas in Veritate). Not only do people naturally want to love in response to the love of God, it is our mission to love. "As the objects of God's love, men and women become subjects of charity; they are called to make themselves instruments of grace so as to pour forth God's charity and to weave networks of charity." (Pope Benedict XVI, Introduction to Caritas in Veritate)
.......A proverb states, "Love elicits a response." So God's love elicits two responses: the one above, that we love one another and that we love Him. It is only by loving God and being open to the love He wishes to pour upon us (and that we need) that we are able to fully love others. For often, our love falls short. It is not enough. By opening ourselves to God's love, we can think, say, and do what is needed with love, though it is not our own. Consider this passage from The Jeweler's Shop by Pope John Paul II in which one of the characters is speaking of the marriage of a friend which had almost completely broken and is now slowly recovering:
"The cause lies in the past. The error resides simply there . The thing is that love carries people away like an absolute, although it lacks absolute dimensions. But acting under illusion, they do not try to connect that love with the Love that has such dimensions. They do not even feel the need, blinded as they are not so much by the force of their emotions as by lack of humility. They lack humility toward what love must be in its true essence. The more aware they are of it, the smaller the danger. Otherwise the danger is great: love will not stand the pressure of reality."
And the more we are open to God's love, the more our own grows. Because of God's love, we can transcend our weaknesses. God's love gives us the opportunity for an eternity in heaven, so it gives us a purpose for living now.
"Love is God's greatest gift to humanity, it is his promise and our hope" (Pope Benedict XVI, Introduction to Caritas in Veritate)
"Charity is love received and given. It is "grace" (charis). Its source is the wellspring of the Father's love for the Son, in the Holy Spirit. Love comes down to us from the Son. it is Creative love, through which we have our being; it is redemptive love, through which we are recreated. Love is revealed and made present by Christ (cf. John 13:1) and "poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit" (Rom 5:5)."
(Pope Benedict XVI, Introduction to Caritas in Veritate)

.......To consider further what love is, I have compiled this list of what charity is and is not, according to Bishop Fulton J. Sheen's' essay entitled Charity:


Charity
IS NOT...........................................IS
In emotions.................................In the will
Spasmodic....................Habit, Commandable
Contract..................................Relationship
From man or ................Supernatural, from God
anything sensual.........................................................
Picky about who ........................Wills to love
deserves to be loved...........everyone for God's sake
Isolated, countable acts................................Good habit
Occasionally good..................Growing and eternal virtue
A contract.............................A supernatural relationship
.......................................with God and neighbor
According to merit.................Loves the sinner,
..........................................hates the sin
Changed by ...........................................Eternal
and with time............................................................

.......The best place to learn what Love is is in the Bible, especially St. Paul's passage in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. My advice when you read it is, 'Since you have probably heard this a hundred times before, try to read it now with fresh ears and an inquisitive mind.'
.......Let us now conclude this discussion of Divine Love with another quote from The Jeweler's Shop:
...."Sometimes human love seems too short for love. At other times it is, however, the other way around: human love seems too short in relation to existence-or rather, too trivial. At any rate, every person has at his disposal an existance and a Love. The problem is: Hos to build a sensible structuree from it?
....But this structure must never be inward-looking. It must be open in such a way that on the one hand it embraces other people, whole on the other it always reflects the absolute Existence and Love; it must always, in some way, reflect them."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

All Virtues Essentially Come From Love

All virtues come from love. We can know this for two reasons:
1. God is Love, and God is the source of all things. Everything which comes directly from Him thus directly comes from love.
2. Goodness is a reflection of the ultimate good being, who is God. Virtues are good habits- that is, they are a way of acting, thinking, and speaking in a way that consistently reflects God. And since God is love, then reflecting God consistently is loving.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Playlist

Christmas is over, so my blog is back to the standard playlist, with several more songs added. I'ts long overdue for the next music experiment. This next experiment, which started yesterday, is one hour of music in the morning which I will dance to, and one hour at night to write to. I'm in the process of making a playlist of all the music I use to dance and write for these hours, and once it's of a substansive size, I will post it.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Year 'Round, Wonder, Winder

This is inspired by Lewis Carrol:

Little ideas skitter skatter
across the piano keys.
Notes, brokenly, clitter clatter.
And the snow
The snow is floating
past the window:
I'll go boating
In the spring, splitter, splatter;
in the rain my paddles
are dipping smoothly trishle, treshle.
There are fairies
thin as whispers
dancing on the reeds
in their fairy slippers.
Magic swirling the air, swirshle, swarshle
as I slip by in my canoe.
Water lilies white blooming, brundle, brindle
like little blooms
of promises to the autumn
that is fast nearing
With golden leaves fallin'.
The world spins round, wonder, winder,
and snow falls by the window
as I play the piano, wender, wainder.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Descartes III - Radical Doubt and Faith

Descartes (1596-1650) invented and used a method called 'Radical Doubt' with the goal of finding 'true ideas', or clear truths. The rules of this method are:
1. Never immediately accept anything as true. Question all ideas.
2. Break ideas down into smaller pieces.
3. Do all reasoning in order, from simplest to most complex.
4. Omit no ideas. Take everything into consideration and enumerate everything.

Lately I've been talking to one of the librarians at the public library, and she is Jewish. I've also been communicating to a fellow blogger who is Jewish. They both say that the central core premise of their beliefs is to not accept anything anyone tells you until you have questioned it, analyzed it, thought about it, and were sure it made sense.

Sound similar, don't they? And it sounds like a great way of going about things and shifting out the truth from all the lies we get shoved in our face every day. But, if reason is all there is to finding the truth, why does the Catholic Church put so much emphasis on faith? If we can use our reasons well, what need have we of faith? God gave us brains, didn't He? Are we supposed to just let ourselves be spoon fed what a bunch of priests and bishops and the Pope say? And then believe it just because they said it?

This is my answer to those questions:
If I try to reach the truth, and I decide to take this premise of always questioning everything before accepting anything as true and of using only my reason, I am putting faith in my reason. I am putting immense trust in one, limited faculty of my mind that is just as fallen as my every other faculty because I am human. And on what grounds? What reason have I to put faith in my reason? My reason can even tell me that since it is limited it cannot take me unguided and alone to the truth which we all seek.

Consider what would happen if everyone used only their own reasoning to find the truth: no one would agree or come to any conclusions. Everyone would have pieces of the truth, arguments would constantly break out, and everything- morals, principles, etc.- would become relative. (sounds sort of like today, doesn't it?) Truth, however, by its very nature, is universal and eternal.

Furthermore, I can use my reason to find that God is so beyond my comprehension that I cannot reach Him through human reason alone. Then, I can use my reason to find that since He is all-loving, He would not have abandoned His creatures on earth with nothing but their reasons to guide them to Him. God would reveal truths about Himself, truths which help us reach Him by believing in them, though such truths surpass our reason's ability to comprehend.

The more our reason is lit by the light of faith, the more we may understand what we believe in, and the more we understand, the more deeply we believe and love what we know by faith. And what we know by reason and believe in by faith become tightly and wondrously bound.

Finally, belief is not based on how much sense the believed-in thing makes. Rather, we believe in truths beyond our comprehension beyond God told us. We believe for the authority of the person (or Divine Person) who told us.

Once again I refer to my favorite source:

156
What moves us to believe is not the fact that revealed truths appear as true and intelligible in the light of our natural reason: we believe "because of the authority of God himself who reveals them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived".28 So "that the submission of our faith might nevertheless be in accordance with reason, God willed that external proofs of his Revelation should be joined to the internal helps of the Holy Spirit."29 Thus the miracles of Christ and the saints, prophecies, the Church's growth and holiness, and her fruitfulness and stability "are the most certain signs of divine Revelation, adapted to the intelligence of all"; they are "motives of credibility" (motiva credibilitatis), which show that the assent of faith is "by no means a blind impulse of the mind".30

157 Faith is certain. It is more certain than all human knowledge because it is founded on the very word of God who cannot lie. To be sure, revealed truths can seem obscure to human reason and experience, but "the certainty that the divine light gives is greater than that which the light of natural reason gives."31 "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt."32

158 "Faith seeks understanding":33 it is intrinsic to faith that a believer desires to know better the One in whom he has put his faith, and to understand better what He has revealed; a more penetrating knowledge will in turn call forth a greater faith, increasingly set afire by love. The grace of faith opens "the eyes of your hearts"34 to a lively understanding of the contents of Revelation: that is, of the totality of God's plan and the mysteries of faith, of their connection with each other and with Christ, the center of the revealed mystery. "The same Holy Spirit constantly perfects faith by his gifts, so that Revelation may be more and more profoundly understood."35 In the words of St. Augustine, "I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe."36

159 Faith and science: "Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth."37 "Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are."38

---------------------------------------
28 Dei Filius 3:DS 3008.
29 Dei Filius 3:DS 3009.
30 Dei Filius 3:DS 3008-3010; Cf. Mk 16 20; Heb 2:4.
31 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II,171,5,obj.3.
32 John Henry Cardinal Newman, Apologia pro vita sua (London: Longman, 1878) 239.
33 St. Anselm, Prosl. prooem.:PL 153,225A.
34 Eph 1:18.
35 DV 5.
36 St. Augustine, Sermo 43,7,9:PL 38,257-258.
37 Dei Filius 4:DS 3017.
38 GS 36 § 1.