Mystical Nativity - Sandro Botticelli
(c. 1500)

The Burning Babe
Robert Southwell

As I in hoary winter's night stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat which made my heart to glow;
And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,
A pretty babe all burning bright did in the air appear;

Who, scorchëd with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed
As though his floods should quench his flames which with his tears were fed.
Alas, quoth he, but newly born in fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel my fire but I!

My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns,
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scorns;
The fuel justice layeth on, and mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought are men's defilëd souls,
For which, as now on fire I am to work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath to wash them in my blood.

With this he vanished out of sight and swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I callëd unto mind that it was Christmas day.

Venerable bretheren:

Thank you all for the posts that have been given. I truly have learned much about this way and the different parts and concepts necessary for it However, there is something that I have been musing over that has given me some pause as to how to take the argument. It is Thomas' use of the words 'res' and 'aliquid'. Thomas only uses the noun 'res' in the first two sentences of the Fourth Way and afterwards uses the pronoun 'aliquid'.

I am wondering 'res' is meant to signify THING, concretely understood and as objectively existing outside and through itself, in other words substance(s), as more and less according to something immediately apprehended, such as the comparison of a man and a worm or rock. In this case it seems, without much to do, that when asked even the common man would say that the man is better than the worm or the rock because he is a self mover or he is free or he can think, etc. This seems to be a concrete and common human experience and I think that this might be what Thomas is getting at in the first two sentences. Just a plain and simple comparison of higher and lower beings.

After the second sentence he does not use 'res' again. Instead he opts for the indeterminacy of the pronoun 'aliquid'. Futher, I think it fair to say that it is important to note that this word is first used in the same sentence that Thomas gives the first example with respect to heat. For in this example he does not say 'ignis', instead he says 'maxime calido'. At this point i think it important to examine the example. Thomas never once indicates here in what manner the 'maxime calido' is. At this point, all we know is that heat is some effective quality. This 'maxime calido' might be a subsisting qualitative form, heat in the hottest of beings, or just a concept, etc. It is with reference to the maximum of that by which we can say truer, better, and nobler that Thomas uses 'aliquid'. It seems that he has purposely used a word, while not opposed to signifying substance, is indeterminate to such a degree that it in no way indicates the manner of existence of this maximum. It is at this point where the common farmer is now out of his league. Things are or are not for the farmer. But here it is not that simple. The argument does not allow for that kind of determination of the kind of existence of the maximum.

Finally, it seems that the last part of the argument is used to eliminate some of the possibilities of kinds of existence that the maximum that we are talking about have. For it must have the kind of existence that would allow it to cause in THINGS the effect that we are comparing. This means that the maximum, for example, cannot have as its proper existence that kind of existence which concepts or imaginations have.

So it is possible that the last part of the way is to be understood as restrictive, that is restricting certain modes of existence from the maximum. This much is clear, we are not talking about ideas. That is the import of the last sentence. Intelligible existence is ruled out. However, it seems that Thomas is not being attentive in this argument to the kind of existence that might still be possibile at this point. Anyway, these are some of my musings, more will follow. Let me know what you might have to say.


A Sermon of St. Bernard on the Feast of All Saints

For All the Saints
For all the saints,
who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Apostles’ glorious company,
Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

All Holy Saints of God, orate pro nobis.

Happy Feast Day everyone!

Every argument for the existence of God proceeds from effects to their Cause.1 Some of St. Thomas' Five Ways proceed from sensibly manifest effects - such as motion, in the First Way - whereas the starting points of other Ways need arguments or manifestations to establish their existence or to clarify their proper natures before proceeding. The effect of the Fourth Way seems especially difficult to determine. First, because St. Thomas is even more terse than usual in this argument, so even understanding how to take his words is problematic. Second, the existence of gradations in truth, nobility, and goodness seems not to be evident. This post will attempt to elucidate different ways of understanding St. Thomas' words when positing these effects, point out clear examples of said effects, and compare this starting point to that of a similar argument given in the Summa Contra Gentiles.

Quarta via sumitur ex gradibus qui in rebus inveniuntur. Invenitur enim in rebus aliquid magis et minus bonum, et verum, et nobile, et sic de aliis huiusmodi.
The Fourth Way is taken from the gradations which are found in things. For there is found in things something more and less good, and true, and noble, and so on with others of this sort.
Frater Asinus made a good beginning already in clarifying what we mean by "good" and "true" and "noble". I only want to point out again the two senses of "truth" the Frater mentioned. Aristotle affirms that truth and falsity are primarily found in the intellect, particularly in affirmations and negations.2 This doesn't seem to be what St. Thomas has in mind in the Fourth Way, because he specifies that more and less truth is found "in things". There is, however, a secondary sense of "truth" that exists in things:
Et quia bonum, sicut dictum est, dicit ordinem entis ad appetitum, verum autem dicit ordinem ad intellectum; inde est quod philosophus dicit VI metaphys., quod bonum et malum sunt in rebus, verum autem et falsum sunt in mente. Res autem non dicitur vera nisi secundum quod est intellectui adaequata; unde per posterius invenitur verum in rebus, per prius autem in intellectu.3
I take this "adequation to the intellect" to be a thing's ability to underlie a true proposition. Food can be called healthy insofar as it causes health in an animal. Similarly, insofar as a thing is a principle of truth in the primary sense, it can derivatively be called true. This is as much to say that something can be called true if it is intelligible, for true predications can be made about anythng that is understood.

We come to the question of the existence of such gradations. Again, truth, more than the others mentioned, requires some work. For it is fairly evident that some things are better than others. For instance, who would deny that a saint (or a humanitarian, to satisfy even the secularists) is better than a mass-murderer? Or that a beautiful work of art is better than a pile of dung? Again, it seems obvious that a king is more noble than a worm, or that courageously dying in battle is more noble than betraying one's friends. But how can one thing be more true than another? Isn't something either true or not?

Using the secondary sense of truth mentioned above, we can see that some things are indeed more apt to be principles of true statements than others. A beaver, for example, is more intelligible than the dam he builds. For understanding the dam completely would still not exhaust the intelligibility of the beaver, but a comprehension of the beaver would include a perfect knowledge of his dam. (N.B. - This higher grade of intelligibility does not refer to the number of true propositions that could be made about the thing, but means that what is intelligible in one includes in principle what is intelligible in the other, with some excess.) Similarly, the knowledge of a whole thing includes whatever is intelligible in its parts, but not necessarily vice-versa. For example, a human being is more true, is more a principle of true statements, than a finger. Therefore, it is clear that there exist some things less true, and some things more true.

Let us now turn to the starting point of an argument given in the Summa Contra Gentiles similar to the Summa Theologiae's Fourth Way:
Potest etiam alia ratio colligi ex verbis Aristotelis. In II enim metaphys. Ostendit quod ea quae sunt maxime vera, sunt et maxime entia. In IV autem metaphys. Ostendit esse aliquid maxime verum, ex hoc quod videmus duorum falsorum unum altero esse magis falsum, unde oportet ut alterum sit etiam altero verius; hoc autem est secundum approximationem ad id quod est simpliciter et maxime verum. Ex quibus concludi potest ulterius esse aliquid quod est maxime ens. Et hoc dicimus deum.4
We notice that the arguments begin similarly. Although - unlike the argument in the Summa Theologiae - the major premiss is given second in this text, it seems to concern a gradation. In this argument, however, St. Thomas specifies one particular gradation, that of truth, rather than lumping several gradations together under a common account. Furthermore, he manifests the gradation of truth (which is taken as given in the Summa Theologiae) by pointing out that of two falsehoods, one can be more false than another; therefore, one truth may be more true than another. But, recalling the two senses of truth given above, it seems that St. Thomas here could only mean truth in the primary sense. For, although "truth" has a secondary meaning insofar as things are principles of true statements, there is no analogate in things to falsity. What would it mean for a thing to be a principle of falsity? Things are not principles of false statements; that role belongs to the will. Therefore, he must mean truth in the first sense, that is, true propositions. So not only is the effect more determined in the argument from the Summa Contra Gentiles, but even the part the arguments seem to share in common is said analogously.

For my next post, I want to explore the meaning of "gradation" more fully. In the meantime, I look forward to your input on my thoughts given above.
1. S.T. Q.3,a.2
2. c.f. De Interpretatione, I.1 (16a 9-18) and Metaphysics, VI.4 (1027b 18-29)
3. De Veritate q.1, a.2, c.
4. Summa Contra Gentiles I.13

Christ in Majesty - Fra Angelico (c. 1395 – 1455)

Te Saeculorum Principem

Te saeculorum Principem, Te, Christe, Regem Gentium,
Te mentium, Te cordium Unum fatemur arbitrum.

Scelesta turba clamitat: Regnare Christum nolumus:
Te nos ovantes omnium Regem supremum dicimus.

O Christe, Princeps Pacifer, Mentes rebelles subiice:
Tuoqu(e) amore devios, Ovil(e) in unum congrega.

Ad hoc cruent(a) ab arbore, Pendes apertis brachiis:
Diraque fossum cuspide Cor igne flagrans exhibes.

Ad hoc in aris abderis Vini dapisqu(e) imagine,
Fundens salutem filiis Transverberato pectore.

Te nationum Praesides Honore tollant publico,
Colant magistri, iudices, Leges et artes exprimant.

Submissa regum fulgeant Tibi dicat(a) insignia:
Mitique sceptro patriam Domosque subde civium.

Iesu, tibi sit gloria, Qui sceptra mundi temperas,
Cum Patr(e) et almo Spiritu, In sempiterna saecula. Amen.

V. Multiplicabitur eius imperium.
R. Et pacis non erit finis.

Thou, Prince of all ages, Thou, O Christ, the King of the nations,
we acknowledge Thee the one Judge of all hearts and minds.

The wicked mob screams out. "We don't want Christ as king,"
While we, with shouts of joy, hail Thee as the world's supreme King.

O Christ, peace-bringing Prince, subjugate the rebellious minds:
And in Thy love, bring together in one flock those going astray.

For this, with arms outstretched, Thou hung, bleeding, on the Cross,
and the cruel spear that pierced Thee, showed man a Heart burning with love.

For this, Thou art hidden on our altars under the form of bread and wine,
and pour out on Thy children from Thy pierced side the grace of salvation.

May the rulers of the world publicly honour and extol Thee; May teachers and judges reverence Thee;
May the laws express Thine order and the arts reflect Thy beauty.

May kings find renown in their submission and dedication to Thee.
Bring under Thy gentle rule our country and our homes.

Glory be to Thee, O Jesus, supreme over all secular authorities;
And glory be to the Father and the loving Spirit through endless ages.

V. His empire shall be multiplied.
R. And there shall be no end of peace.

Greetings Friends-

The very excellent blog Novus Motus Liturgicus recently linked this excellent collection of religious images on Flickr. The prints are large, and while NML notes that they would be useful for liturgical programs, I think one could print them on high quality paper and hang it on the wall, IMO--They are that good.


Points of Order

As blog owner, and lover of truth, I am pleased with the volume of discussion generated by one of the recent posts. Considering that: further discussion about the Highest Thing (quite obviously the highest in this case) is eminently worthwhile; the subject matter is, as Mathetes points out, extremely subtle; the interpretations of St. Thomas' argument among our group seem to be wildly different; the scope of the topic is quite large for blog-sized posts, with many sub-topics being covered in each comment; and finally, precision and order are most helpful to intellectual progress; I have decided to expand the post into a series, each installment offering a forum for discussing a particular aspect of the argument.

This first post will lay out the topics to be covered by subsequent posts.

The goal of our discussion is to come to an understanding of St. Thomas' Fourth Way, both in the sense of St. Thomas' intention and of its truth. Although it's been posted already in bits and pieces, here is the argument for the sake of reference:

Quarta via sumitur ex gradibus qui in rebus inveniuntur. Invenitur enim in rebus aliquid magis et minus bonum, et verum, et nobile, et sic de aliis huiusmodi. Sed magis et minus dicuntur de diversis secundum quod appropinquant diversimode ad aliquid quod maxime est, sicut magis calidum est, quod magis appropinquat maxime calido. Est igitur aliquid quod est verissimum, et optimum, et nobilissimum, et per consequens maxime ens, nam quae sunt maxime vera, sunt maxime entia, ut dicitur II Metaphys. Quod autem dicitur maxime tale in aliquo genere, est causa omnium quae sunt illius generis, sicut ignis, qui est maxime calidus, est causa omnium calidorum, ut in eodem libro dicitur. Ergo est aliquid quod omnibus entibus est causa esse, et bonitatis, et cuiuslibet perfectionis, et hoc dicimus Deum.
Based on our initial discussion, it seems important to be able to account for the following:
  1. What is the nature of the effect from which the argument proceeds? Especially, why does St. Thomas point out gradations in certain kinds of things: good, true, noble, etc.?

  2. How is the existence of a maximum implied by gradation, especially keeping in mind his example?

  3. Why does he switch from good, true, noble, etc. to being?

  4. Why does he append a "second half" to the argument, especially in light of the similar argument in the Summa Contra Gentiles?

  5. Why must the highest in a genus be the cause of the others, again being attentive to his example?

  6. Why does the argument end in "we" calling such a being God, not "all men", as in other arguments?
I'm assuming Mathetes' question about other texts will be answered in conjunction with the above points. I realize that some discussion is very difficult without addressing the argument as a whole, but hopefully this method will give us greater clarity by limiting the comment threads to one train of thought at a time. Let's leave the original post for discussion solely about Mathetes' proposed argument. Any methodological comments (suggestions for additional questions to consider, etc.) should go here, and, if there are no objections, I'll begin posting on the specific topics right away (meaning tomorrow night, since it's late). Disputemus!

Happy Feast of Saint Teresa of Avila, Virgin, Doctor

Monday, 15 October 2007, On the Memorial of her Transverberation of Heart

b. 1515 d. 1582

Teresa of Avila was born a Spanish noble, the daughter of Don Alonso Sanchez de Cepeda and Doña Beatriz. She grew up reading the lives of the saints, and playing at "hermit" in the garden. Crippled by disease in her youth, which led to her being well educated at home, she was cured after prayer to Saint Joseph, to whom she kept a great devotion to throughout her like. Her mother died when Teresa was 12, and she prayed to Our Lady to be her replacement. She was famed for her beauty; this was both a cause for youthful licentiousness and later conversion and conviction to enter religious life. Her father opposed her entry to religious life, so she left home without telling anyone, and entered a Carmelite house at 17. Seeing her conviction to her call, her father and family consented. Soon after taking her vows, Teresa became gravely ill, and her condition was aggravated by the inadequate medical help she received; she never fully recovered her health. She began receiving visions, and was examined by Dominicans and Jesuits, including Saint Francis Borgia, who pronounced the visions to be holy and true. She considered her original house too lax in its rule, so she founded a reformed convent of Saint John of Avila. She founded several houses, often against fierce opposition from local authorities, and yet stated "May God protect me from gloomy saints," and governed her convents thus. Later, having made the acquaintance of Antonio de Heredia, prior of Medina, and St. John of the Cross (who became her spiritual director), she established her reform among the friars. She is a renowned mystical writer, celebrated for her Autobiography, her Interior Castle, and her Way of Perfection. She died 4 October 1582 at Alba de Tormes in the arms of her secretary and close friend Blessed Anne of Saint Bartholomew. Her body is incorrupt with the relics preserved at Alba; her heart shows signs of Transverberation (piercing of the heart), and is displayed, too. She was beatified in 1614 and canonized in 1622 by Gregory XV. She wasproclaimed a Doctor of the Church on 27 September 1970 by Pope Paul VI. The requisite elements required to be endowed with the title 'Doctores Ecclesiae' are enumerated as three: eminens doctrina, insignis vitae sanctitas, Ecclesiae declaration.

She is, therefore, a great friend and guide to the life of faith and reason.

God gave us faculties for our use; each of them will receive its proper reward. Then do not let us try to charm them to sleep, but permit them to do their work until divinely called to something higher.

-St. Theresa of Avila

Hello Friends,

Heard of this interesting new group this morning. Seems like there is much to like about them. I am curious about your opinions of it.

I found their 'third principle' regarding The Commentator as strange- we are aware of Cajetan's misunderstandings about analogy. Moreover, the church certainly has not spoken of him as having authority likened to Thomas, and so I wonder if "energetically" defending "the philosophic doctrines of the Scholastic Expositor in his explanations of them, even if he does not fully grasp their meaning or import," as they say, is really a fitting docility.

Also in the 'fourth principle' DeKonnick was excluded from the list of 'faithful' and 'continuous line of Thomist,' though they admit that the list is not limited to what they include.

Lastly, I wonder at the significance in excluding the mention of Aristotle as "The Philosopher."


Best wishes.

Aquinas in the Quarta Via argues that there must be something that is most true, best, etc. and most of all being. The reason for this is due to the fact that "magis et minus dicuntur de diversis secundum quod appropinquant diversimode ad aliquid quod maxime est, sicut magis calidum est, quod magis appropinquat maxime calido. "

Why is it that more and less must be said with reference this sort of necessarily existing maximum?

It seems to me that it is inadequate to say it is in the very meaning of relatives that there be an external exemplar, due to the fact that a further argument is needed to manifest that the proposed exemplar measure is more than something arbitrarily posited.

I am not clear about how such an argument would be conducted to answer my question generally. However, it is unwise to ignore the examples given in the argument: good, true, noble, "et sic de aliis huiusmodi." So I would like to propose an argument I recently encountered that I think satisfactorily answers my question in the case of the good. It is still fresh in my mind and I apologize for the lack of formality in my formulation....

Here it is:
-It is the nature of the good not to be limited in its essence.
-Those things which have the good in a limited way therefore do not possess goodness by their essence.
-If it is not from a thing's nature to possess the good, i.e. its essence is not the cause of its goodness, then there must be some other cause whereby it possesses the good.
-This cause either must possess the good in a greater, but similar manner as said things, and is subject to the same explanation, or it must possess the good in an essential way.
-The former case may not go on infinitely.
-That which possesses the good in an essential way therefore possesses the good in an unlimited way.
-And surely to possess any thing in an unlimited way is the maximum or most way it can be possessed.

Therefore, etc. (Corollary: it also seems you could argue similarly with the other examples)

My next question is: What exactly is the common ratio of the aliis huiusmodi? Are they all transcendentals?

Secondly, where in Aristotle and Aquinas is there a greater explanation of these things (I think I should have asked this long ago...)?

Thirdly, is there an answer to my general question posed above?

A recent difficulty was posed in an article entitled "Aquinas and Newton on the Causality of Nature and of God: The Medieval and Modern Problematic" by William Wallace, which I was assigned for a Natural Theology class I am taking. The article states a difficulty about the role of the efficient cause in nature I was hoping to get some help resolving.

He argues, in conformity to Physics II.2, that nature in Aristotle is obviously argued to be a cause formally and materially, and later also argued to be a final cause insofar as it is a telos in II.8. However he contest, despite the obvious numbering of efficient cause by Aristotle in II.3, that Aristotle does not argue that "nature acts as an efficient cause." There is an obvious exception, shown in the De Anima, where the soul is a sort of self-moving efficient cause. But he contest that there is no account of natural efficient causality amongst the non-living. There seems to be some ground for this position, he holds, for the principle "Omnes quod movetur ab alio movetur" seems to assume it, and Aristotle clearly takes up this principle later in Physics VII.

The other qualification is that natural things obviously, self-evidently in fact, are the efficient cause with respect to moving other things, c.f. I-I q.2 art 3. So the question lies more in the role efficient causality plays as an intrinsic cause of some natural being, say, for the sake of contention, a falling ball.



Dull sublunary lovers’ love

A deuely dele in my heart denned

He dein’d cam with wind wavis stille

With heart whose love twas innocent

Glad Hesper o’er buried Phob'

Shone forth bout wan wood mine

Stille resteth sae, O empeyreal skye

Nae tremblith (effraide –alarmed)my brest pro thine

Late weary waited I through wayward thought

Stir hartiness for my heart and yet I the hind

In close awayt for that hew

O Orpheus bid that forest move!

The forward footing tward an hidden shade

Vertue gives her selfe light, through darkenesse for to wade

My self prepayre for he is coming strayt

With naked foot he softly step

to I in chamber made wait

He doth dripth aryse fayre love

Lyllies born rusl’ed feth turtledoeve

Song Thousand shield coateh waitih grove

Strong An gartheth lions pomegrans

Mandrakes long give foth fragrance

And thus did they depart


Line 1: From Donne’s “A Valediction Forbidding Mourning”

Line 2: From “Pearl” by unknown 14th century author: “Me in the doleful dread and bound”

Line 3: C.f. "I Sing of a Maiden”

Line 6: Evening star

Line 7: Wan =dark

Line 12: Note puns on hartiness; hart = male dear, and hind = female deer

Line 13: close/awayt = secret/ambush

Line 13: hew = form

Line 14: Orpheus was the son of the muse Calliope. His music was said to charm wild animals and makes stones and trees move.

Line 17: Direct quote from Spencer- I think from F.Q.

The following is a re-articulation of an online dialectic I gave for the existence of concepts as part of the experience of 'thought.' It was given to an unusual audience of self-described material atheists and agnostics within a very casual forum. It is “just an introduction to my ideas of mind and concepts” to such an audience and I was not interested in pointing out the scientific (or unscientific) nature of the arguments given (in the sense of episteme in Posterior Analytics Bk. 1, 2). More specifically, I try merely to manifest, describe, and explain basic properties of a part of the conscious experience- touching on science but as a philosopher. Given the audience, the arguments are correspondingly somewhat atypical in form and matter for its subject, at least for those from the same school of thought, namely Thomism, as I the author. I am posting it with the hope that such like minds may provide their estimation of the essay’s veracity.

To begin, I will take the term ‘thought’ vaguely here, and am not in any way excluding it to humans or even primates (that issue is outside of my prerogative). Also, I want to leave behind certain arcane and stinging-sounding terms that for my purposes would be more of a distraction than an aid. I am here deliberately absconding from describing the phenomenon at hand as being 'of the soul.' 'Soul' for the Greeks really didn't commonly mean more that 'principle of living (or principle of any certain operation of life, such as thought) and it just doesn't mean the same nowadays, now it is something far more specific and kooky. I think there is a need to recognize the phenomenon of thought vaguely. So take thought here as merely the discursive process where the conscious 'mind' beholds something outside itself (or itself as outside itself). Let's begin with an example.

Think about a cat. Obviously you have some image of a cat. Was it fat or skinny? Say it was skinny. Does that mean a fat cat is not a cat? It would seem that you would still call a fat cat a cat. In fact, if I told you to think of, oh, five cats, one of them probably would have been fatter or skinnier that the other. Suppose, after a bit of reflection, we may see, at least for the sake of argument, that our thoughts about cats include a certain limit to their dimension. At this point we leave the cats behind. Consider that the range of size itself conceptualized does not have a greater dimension. A two foot thing is bigger than a one foot thing. But is a notion of 'two' a bigger one than 'one?' There would seem to be something nonsensical (pardon the double entendre) to about notions being a strictly measurable thing in the first place, and one notion would not measure the other as a notion with respect to size. These so called 'notions' or 'concepts' are the part of thought I am interested in.

This dialectic is certainly inconclusive but I think it also points to something described in another ubiquitously pragmatic neurological pretext as the "storage" problem. A 'concept,' just considering the meaning of the word, is a perplexing thing. They're abstract: 'two-ness' itself isn't simply found as 'two-ness' in any thing's definition. Further, they're common. Taking their meaning alone, their common or universal: "Two-ness" explains any case of 'two,' i.e. you can find them in any appropriately applicable case. How does would an abstract, common thing come from something that is has quite concrete operations, and is particular?

Some, as far as I can tell, mainstream neurobiologist seems to be open to the idea of concepts being at least a very unusual case (according to my neophyte understanding). It is true, that many particular cases of brain operations such as the neural processes behind discernment, reportability, perception, etc are rapidly being explained by neuroscience. But one example of the neurobiology papers I have encountered that notices the peculiarity of concepts (Semantic Memory and the Brain: Structure and Process, by Alex Martin and Linda Chao, found in Current Opinion in Neurobiology 11, 2001) states the problem this way:

Clearly it would be difficult, as well as unwise, to argue that there is a 'chair area' in the brain. There are simply too many categories, and too little neural space to accommodate discrete, category-specific modules for every category. In fact, there is no limit on the number of object categories.
If you think about this, if it is true, it is strange. The claim is that loci in the brain for categorical thought are limited by the fact that the brain itself is limited by what it is. Even more paradoxically, it seems we are able to know a potential infinity of categories of concepts, each category containing therein an infinite number of its own exemplars. Take as an example that there is no limit to how many geometrical figures one could learn, and one can easily imagine an infinity number of any one of those figures, as a case take a circle and continuously extend it's radius). In other words, there is no saying "my brain is full" like the Far Side cartoon. I think it is a sufficient to show that, but not why, there is really is such an infinite is a possibility of mind just by considering such aforementioned geometrical cases, or a case of infinite conjunction (there is something algorithmic about it, actually). See Noam Chomsky's comments on this "creativity" in Aspects of the Theory of Syntax, Ch. 1.

Another difficulty with concepts is from the property of simplicity that is found in certain concepts. Consider the first and most fundamental act of the mind, sometimes referred to as the simplex apprehensio. In this act the mind first apprehends merely that something is. Contextual examples or illustration is the only means of describing this concept. That is, seeing something as a "this" prior to any sort of defining. Suppose that a neuroscientist claimed to explain a concept 'black dog' via showing how the parts of the meaning were spatially distributed and correlated in different sectors of the brain; i.e. black is at location A, dog is at location B, and the relation (be it some mediation or overlapping cortical regions) between the two give rise to the concept of 'black dog.' Would the concept of unity understood in the unity of the words also be "overlapping?" I think with this explanation you run into a similar situation that Plato was criticized for in Aristotle's 'third man argument,' where an explanation leads the fact that another 'overlap' would be needed to distinguish how the 'black dog' and 'unity' are both 'one', et cetera ad infinitum. Scientifically speaking, how conceptualization may differ in kind from imagining, memory, or other related processes which, to my knowledge, has been shown to have a direct correlation to brain activity might be elaborated on by the argument above. I admit again, however, that my neurobiological knowledge is nothing really more than what I have studied on my own, and I imagine this isn't at all responding to other opposite positions regarding the status of mind in neurobiology.

Of course the greater historical dispute of how concepts seem to differ from other significant mental beings or processes, such as those often related to imagination, has long (even all the way back to the pre-Socratics) taken place is in the philosophical sciences. Hume, as you well know, was the main advocate of conflating concepts and images and making them the same thing fundamentally. I'd like here to provide a brief response to his position. First of all, it seems to me easy to see that, at least at first appearance, there is a difference in speech of 'a cat' and 'what it is to be a cat (whatever that may be)'. The difference is this: that in the first case there is only one example you can give, and in the second there is an indefinite. This can be seen even easier if you consider 'some two,' say two feet, and 'two' as something that is said of many. I am deliberate in using 'said' here because the case seems indisputable as a linguistic phenomenon. We simply speak this way. Moreover, what is understood when a word that can be said of many things is that (at least with the basic definition of the word being applied) it retains its meaning in any case it could be applied to.

Hume's reply is that this 'universalizing' is merely a linguistic convenience, useful for commerce and conversation, but what really is happening in the mind is merely a compiling of particular cases; lining them up, if you will. To me this somewhat misses the point (not to deny it has been developed to a more powerful position by analytic philosophy). To quote his Enquiry, Section 12, 1:
Let any man try to conceive of triangle in general, which is neither Isosceles nor Scalene, nor has any particular length or proportion of sides; and he will soon perceive the absurdity of all the scholastic notions with regard to abstraction and general ideas.
Actually, if there is to be any science at all that is not tautological generalization must happen. Algebra is a great example of how science per se in some way general. However, I think the better response is in the simple fact that thought doesn't ordinarily differ from speech. Our thoughts are in fact the source of meaning in the words we use, and we speak abstractly. Really, whose interior monologue is really different that how they speak?

The analytic philosophers here raise the more fundamental objection to abstract thought. They are permissive of my reply, but then ask coyly, 'but what makes the thoughts anything more than words?' The more despondent of the analytics (including, I think, the late Wittgenstein) end up thinking there is nothing more than words and their proported 'meanings,' which are also just words - amounting to scepticism.

There are a few different ways to counter to this argument. One way that I will not attempt here would be to appeal to the first principles of knowledge; such as the fact there is a self-contradicting incoherence in their claim (or non-claim, for that matter) that is meaningful that concepts are mere convention. This works for me, but the fleshed out argument is very involved, has gotten massive attention by most of the history of philosophy's 'big guns' whom I would be obliged to consider, and may come up anyway if and when we ever discuss Kant. Rather, I'd like to give an argument derived from a discussion Kripke has considering a problem first posed by Wittgenstein.

Suppose your math teacher asks you do a computation you have never done, say 68+57. Suppose further in adding you have never arrived at a solution over 57. You add and get 125, mathematically and metalinguistically correct; metalinguistically meaning just the '+' was the same function you intended the same meaning you always have when you add. But the skeptic classmate to your conclusion and insist that if you really had intended the same function you would have said 68+57= 5. Obviously this doesn't seem right. But the skeptic argues that you couldn't have given yourself perfectly explicit instructions that 125 is the answer here, by hypothesis. What you are doing is applying the rule you have used when adding in the past, and hence you have only instantiated the rule a finite number of times. Further, he continues, in previous operations, the function you were denoting by a '+' was actually a '£,' which will derive the sum x and y if x and y are >57, but will solve with a '5' if otherwise. So, he would conclude, you were not actually using '+,' you were using '£.' To clarify, the skeptic is not asking "How do you know that 68+57= 125?" Rather the question is "How do you know that in '68+57' the '+' used in the past will denote 125? Perhaps before, he will claim, you meant '£,' and so 68+57= 5. You know this is wrong and scour the past usages of '+,' all with sums less than 57. But you find that the facts of your past usages are compatible with either sign. This is when a different matter of fact occurs to you. You are able to articulate the rule of addition, without having to utilize in that definition any particular case. But in order for you to claim this, the fact must be apart from the particular instances you have done. This is not to deny you may have arrived at the fact in someway via dealing with cases of adding. But it also is to say that at some point you saw something behind the cases you had to deal with. The solution hence lies in the fact that we understand what we mean-- despite the fact that material cases of our thought do not disambiguate them from meanings distinct from, but close to, the thoughts intended. I think this is a big deal. The same physical structures instantiate different functions (Tangentially, super computer processes, have brought this more to light, with chess and other examples) but only via the usage of concepts does one disambiguate.

So if I were to summarize my points so far I suppose I would say that the phenomenon of concepts has unusual and distinctive qualities that require explanation. I think a lot of time could be spent disputing and defending even what I have said. Some of the conclusions that would follow from the properties of concepts I have elucidated are also quite contentious, as you probably can infer. It strikes me something like getting groceries at the market; you don't need to be in the market while having them just because you needed the market to get them in the first place. Perhaps such an explanation is needed for concepts too. I wish I knew science better. But now I'm rambling.

When considering the dignity of man, or specifically, the dignity of the human person, it is important to understand that such a notion is not a first principle and that this dignity must arise from what it is to be a human person. If this is not done, then the phrase loses all meaning and relevancy, and becomes like an anchorless boat in the harbor, carried on the tide of human emotion and opinion now drifting towards the rocks of error, now towards the open ocean of meaninglessness. Rather, it is important to anchor this concept to a true principle and thereby give it both meaning and relevancy. I propose as that necessary first principle, the definition of a person as manifested by, first Boethius1 and then St. Thomas Aquinas2, namely, “an individual substance of a rational nature.”3 Taking this as my true principle I then propose that the source of the dignity of the human person arises not from our being an individual substance, but from our rational nature.

The very word, dignity, is itself somewhat ambiguous as to its meaning, and it must first be tied down in order to guide this consideration. In light of the thesis of this paper I do not mean to find some very determinate account of dignity, but rather something general that will fit its uses today. The word is derived from the Latin dignitatis, which is translated as worthiness. This is not far beyond what the word means today for it seems that when we speak of the dignity of some one or some thing, we intend to say that it is worthy of some respect and/or honor because of its character or quality. For example, we rebuke a man for having lost his dignity on account of doing something shameful, such as flinging himself at some woman after she has already poorly used him several times before. We say this because we see that he is not acting in a way worthy of a man, but is being compelled by some weakness within himself. The definition of dignity, then, as worthiness of some respect and/or honor, seems to be sufficient.

It is therefore true that dignity must arise from what is most noble in a thing, for we do not respect or honor something because of what is base in it, but because we see what is most excellent in it. For example, we do not give honor to war hero because he has appetites, but rather because he has shown an excellence in virtue, specifically in courage. The dignity of a human person therefore, must arise from what is most noble in the human person. That a man's rational nature is the most dignified part of his person is clear from the following argument: First, as manifested by Aristotle in De Anima, the rational nature of man arises from his intellect, which is immaterial. What is immaterial is more excellent than what is material because it is not parted, it therefore has no principle of corruption, and is therefore incorruptible. The intellect, therefore, is the most noble part of a man. But his intellect is that by which man is said to have a rational nature. His rational nature is therefore most worthy of respect and honor, and is therefore the source of his dignity.

That man's dignity does not arise from his individuality is clear first of all by considering that if this were true in man, then it seems that there is no reason it would not be true universally. Therefore, any individual substance would have dignity. Therefore a man and a stone would both have dignity, based on individuality, but this is manifestly absurd, for no one speaks of the dignity of a stone.

Even if it is objected that the individuality of man might more properly arise from a higher principle, such as God willing and loving the individual, this does not suffice as an account for man's dignity. For, according to natural reason we can understand God's willing and loving the individual in so far as God is the agent cause of being.4 Here again we see that there is no essential difference, with reference to being alone, between the man and the stone. If then, we bring in the idea that man is more of an individual than the stone on account of his rational nature, then it must be asked why would one take rationality together with individuality, if rationality is sufficient.

Further, if one holds that God loving and willing the individual man is not as agent cause of being, but rather as redeemer of this individual, then he departs from the realm of philosophy. For, man does not relate to God as redeemer according to the order of nature, but according to the order of grace and inasmuch as he is a child of God. This, then, misses the purpose of the inquiry and fails to give an account of man's dignity from his nature.5

Finally, it seems that the most common argument for the dignity of the human person arising from his individuality is as follows: each human person is one of a kind and therefore rare. Things that are rare are valuable, and have worth. Therefore, each person, on account of his individuality and rarity has dignity. This argument, however, fails to consider that just because something is rare does not mean that it is good. There was only one Hitler, and it seems to be good that there is only one and we would not consider it a loss to not have more. Rather, if something rare is to be valuable, it must also have something good and excellent that arises from its nature that makes that thing desirable. This is not to deny that rarity is a principle of value, but it must presume that the rare thing is good.

It is therefore clear that man's dignity arises from his rational nature and that individuality in no way causes his dignity.

1. De Persona et Duabus Naturis Contra Eutychen et Nestorium , 4
2. I, Q.29, a.1,2
3. It is not my intent to defend this principle here, but rather take it as my starting point. The two great minds above have sufficiently shown this definition to be true.
4. For, insofar as God wills something he brings it into act. To will any other being is to cause its being and since being and good are the same in re, it follows that being as being is lovable.
5. This is not to say that an argument from theological principles cannot be made. Only, it is not my purpose here to make such an argument.

Unwilling Martyrs?

The Church has long celebrated the Holy Innocents as martrys slain for the sake of Christ. The Collect of the Missa "Ex Ore Infantium" on their Feast Day is sufficient to show the Church's position in this regard:

O God, whose praise the martyred Innocents on this day confessed, not by speaking, but by dying: destroy in us all the evils of sin, that our life also may proclaim in deeds Thy faith which our tongues profess. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost . . .
But how can infants, who are too young to use their wills, be considered martyrs? For not everyone who dies violently is considered a martyr. Even if someone were to die at the hands of an enemy of Christ, it seems they would not be martyrs unless they WILLINGLY suffered death. For example, imagine a citizen of a predominantly Catholic country who is killed by terrorists. The terrorists may have killed him out of hatred for Christ and His Church, but they could be mistaken in their assumption that killing the man was an attack on the Church. The man could be a non-Christian or even an anti-Christian. Our imaginary victim would have died because of the Faith, but he would not be celebrated as a martyr because he did not suffer death willingly for the sake of Christ. Similarly, granting that the Holy Innocents suffered death because Herod hated Christ, they did not suffer their deaths willingly since they were not old enough to exercise reason. How, then, can they be martyrs?

The kind of thinking that gives rise to this objection is, at the root, Pelagian (or semi-Pelagian at best). Most martyrs do willingly suffer death, but this act of the will is not a natural movement - it proceeds from charity infused by God. If the martyrs' act of will is a gift of God, cannot God also give the reward of the act of will, namely the crown of martyrdom, to whomever He pleases?

Why, then, should we celebrate the Holy Innocents as martyrs but not our hypothetical anti-Christian slain for the Faith? Cannot God also give that man the grace of martyrdom? Surely God can, but it seems that God did not if the man had an IMPEDIMENT in his will against dying for such a cause. We can assume an anti-Christian would consciously resist dying for the sake of the Faith if he were sufficiently warned of imminent danger; the infants would have no such willful resistance.1 We should distinguish, then, between "unwilling," such as is the anti-Christian who chooses against dying for Christ, and "non-willing," such as are the babes who do not choose one way or the other.2

The case is similar with Baptism. A baby can receive the grace of Baptism without willing it. A grown man, however, must desire Baptism; for, if he does not desire it, since he has use of his will and is presented with the choice, he desires NOT to have it. Whether it be the salvific grace conferred at Baptism, or the glorious palm of martyrdom, he who denies that a baby can receive it denies the graciousness of God's gift. Hence Augustine says, addressing the Holy Innocents:
A man that does not believe that children are benefited by the baptism of Christ will doubt of your being crowned in suffering for Christ. You were not old enough to believe in Christ's future sufferings, but you had a body wherein you could endure suffering of Christ Who was to suffer.3
1. We can say that the anti-Christian has an impediment in his will even if he isn't reflecting on the decision at the time of his death, e.g. if he is attacked by surprise. For he has willfully formed an habitual inclination to choose against dying for Christ.
2. c.f. a similar distinction made by Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Bk. III
3. De Diversis lxvi, as quoted by St. Thomas in II-II Q.124 a.1.

For anyone interested in philosophy of science, here's a paper on how to classify Galileo's science of local motion according to the principles of St. Thomas laid out in his commentary on Boethius' De Trinitate.

Discovering why St. Luke spends so much time describing the Nativity, when according to St. Thomas his main purpose is extolling the priesthood of Christ, involves looking at the details of the Evangelist's account:

  1. St. Luke begins by noting the occasion of Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem: a world-wide census. Why record this detail? The Tradition tells us that the enrollment is a figure of Christ enrolling the whole company of the elect in the Book of Life at the Last Judgment.
    GREGORY: But the registering of the whole world when our Lord was about to be born was mystical; for He appeared in the flesh Who should write down the names of His own elect in eternity.
    AMBROSE: There is described a secular registration, implied a spiritual, to be laid before the King not of earth but of Heaven; a registering of faith: a census of souls. For the old census of the Synagogue was abolished, a new census of the Church was preparing. And to decide that the census was not of Augustus, but of Christ, the whole world is ordered to be registered. For who could demand the registration of the whole world but He who had dominion over it, for the earth is not of Augustus, but the earth is the Lord's?
    ORIGEN: To those who attentively consider it, there seems to be expressed a kind of sacrament, in its being necessary that Christ should be put down in the registration of the whole world; in order that His name being written with all, He might sanctify all, and being placed in the census with the whole world, He might impart to the world the communion of Himself.
    AMBROSE: This was then the first public enrollment of souls to the Lord, to Whom all enroll themselves not at the voice of the crier, but of the Prophet, who says, O clap your hands, all you people. cite a few authorities. It is fitting that St. Luke should include this detail , as it is pre-eminently the role of Christ the High Priest to offer redemption to the world and salvation to the elect.

  2. Our Lord is conceived in Nazareth, but St. Luke notes that he is born in Bethlehem. This name, which means "House of Bread," has a mystical significance:
    THEOPHYLUS: He condescended to become incarnate at that time, that after His birth He might be enrolled in Caesar's taxing, and in order to bring liberty to us might Himself become subject to slavery. It was well also that our Lord was born at Bethlehem, not only as a mark of the royal crown, but on account of the sacrament of the name.
    GREGORY: Bethlehem is by interpretation the house of bread. For it is the Lord Himself who says, I am the bread of life which came down from heaven. The place therefore where the Lord was born was before called the house of bread, because it was there that He was to appear in His fleshly nature who should refresh the souls of the elect with spiritual fullness.
    Christ's birth in the House of Bread can be taken as a foreshadowing of the Blessed Sacrament, or as a figure of the redemptive nourishment Christ provides to his elect. Either way, this detail is intimately connected with his priesthood.

  3. St. Luke goes on to describe Christ's birth, noting his rest in a manger. The detail also has a priestly significance:
    THEOPHYLUS: He is confined in the narrow space of a rude manger, whose seat is the heavens, that He may give us ample room in the joys of His heavenly kingdom. He Who is the bread of Angels is laid down in a manger, that He might feast us, as it were the sacred animals, with the bread of His flesh.
    CYRIL: He finds man in his corrupt affections become like the beasts that perish, and therefore He is laid in the manger, in the place of food, that we changing the life of beasts, might be brought to the knowledge that befits man, partaking not of hay, but of the heavenly bread, the life-giving body.
    Once again, Luke's description of our Lord's birth is ordered toward demonstrating his role as High Priest and Redeemer.

  4. Next, we have the angel's message to the shepherds: "Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy that shall be to all the people: For, this day is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David." Compare this announcement of Christ's birth, in which he is referred to as "Saviour" with that of the Magi, who declare him "King."

  5. Finally, the heavenly army's Gloria testifies to the saving power of Christ's Priesthood. For they not only praise God, singing, "Glory to God in the highest," but also add, "and on earth peace to men of good will." Why should the angels include the peace of men in their song of joy at Christ's birth? Once again, the Fathers interpret:
    GREGORY: At the same time they also give praises because their voices of gladness accord well with our redemption, and while they behold our acceptance, they rejoice also that their number is completed.
    THEOPHYLUS: They wish also peace to men, as they add, On earth peace to men, because those whom they had before despised as weak and abject, now that our Lord has come in the flesh they esteem as friends.
    CYRIL: This peace has been made through Christ, for He has reconciled us by Himself to God and our Father, having taken away our guilt, which was the ground of offense also. He has united two nations in one man, and has joined the heavenly and the earthly in one flock.
    THEOPHYLUS: For whom they ask peace is explained in the words, Of good will. For them, namely, who receive the new born Christ. For there is no peace to the ungodly, but much peace to them that love the name of God.
    ORIGEN: But the attentive reader will ask, How then does the Savior say, I came not to send peace on the earth, whereas now the Angels' song of His birth is, On earth peace to men? It is answered, that peace is said to be to men of goodwill. For the peace which the Lord does not give on the earth is not the peace of good will.
    AUGUSTINE: For righteousness belongs to good will.
    CHRYSOSTOM: Behold the wonderful fill working of God. He first brings Angels down to men, and then brings men up to heaven. The heaven became earth, when it was about to receive earthly things.
    ORIGEN: But in a mystery, the Angels saw that they could not accomplish the work committed to them without Him Who was truly able to save, and that their healing fell short of what the care of men required. And so it was as if there should come one who had great knowledge in medicine, and those who before were unable to heal, acknowledging now the hand of a master, grudge not to see the corruptions of wounds ceasing, but break forth into the praises of the Physician, and of that God who sent to them and to the sick a man of such knowledge; the multitudes of the Angels praised God for the coming of Christ.
The Church Fathers1 have given me at least plausible answers to my question: it's time to move on with the commentary.

1. via the Catena Aurea

The account of the Magi in the Gospel according to Matthew is given as a manifestation of the Incarnation, not only as a figure of the universal redemption of Christ the High Priest.1

In fact, of the senses of Scripture, the interpretation of the Magi as manifestation of the Incarnation seems to be the more literal one. Therefore, since the literal sense is the foundation of all other senses and is the primary intention of the human author, it makes sense for St. Matthew, focusing on the Incarnation, to discuss the Magi at length.

But why does St. Luke, primarily interested in Christ as Priest, detail the Nativity? To be continued...
1. At least, according to St. Thomas' interpretation.

Nativity vs. Adoration

Another comparison of the Gospels according to Matthew and Luke makes one question St. Thomas' distinction between the two. For, as has been said, St. Thomas claims that, "Matthew takes up describing the carnal generation of Christ...Luke, however, chiefly intends to commend in Christ the priestly character."1 Why, then, does St. Luke present a more detailed exposition of the Nativity of Christ, while St. Matthew emphasizes more the Adoration of the Magi? It would seem that the Evangelist wanting to describe the Incarnation would spend more time talking about the Nativity, and the one focusing on Christ the High Priest - who reconciled the world to God2 - would highlight the gentile kings coming from afar to worship the Infant King.

To be continued...
(meaning: I don't have an answer yet)
1. Super Evangelium Matthaei, Ch. 1, lect.2
2. ST, III, Q.22, a.1, c.

Lauda Sion

The Institution of the Eucharist - Joos van Wassenhove (active c.1460-80)

Sequence for the Octave of Corpus Christi

Lauda Sion Salvatorem;
lauda ducem et pastorem
in hymnis et canticis
Quantum potes, tantum aude
quia major omni laude,
nec laudare sufficis.

Laudis thema specialis
Panis vivus et vitalis,
hodie proponitur.
Quem in sacrae mensa cenae
turbae fratrum duodenae,
datum non ambigitur.

Sit laus plena, sit sonora,
sit jucunda, sit decora,
mentis jubilatio
Dies enim solemnis agitur,
in qua mensae prima recolitur
hujus institutio.

In hac mensa novi Regis,
novum Pascha, novae legis,
phase vetus terminat.
Vetustatem novitas
umbram fugat veritas,
noctem lux eliminat.

Quod in cena Christus gessit,
faciendum hoc expressit
in sui memoriam.
Docti sacris institutis,
panem vinum in salutis,
consecramus hostiam.

Dogma datur Christianis,
quod in carnem transit panis
et vinum in sanguinem.
Quod non capis, quod non vides
animosa firmat fides,
praeter rerum ordinem.

Sub diversis speciebus
signis tantum et non rebus
latent res eximiae
Caro cibus, sanguis potus
manet tamen Christus totus
Sub utraque specie.

Asumente non concisus,
non confractus, non divisus:
integer accipitur
Sumit unus, sumunt mile:
quantum isti, tantum ille:
nec sumptus consumitur

Sumunt boni, sumunt mali:
sorte tamen inequali,
vitae vel interitus.
Mors est malis, vita bonis:
vide panis sumptionis
quam sit dispar exitus.

Fracto demum sacramento,
ne vaciles, sed memento,
tantum esse sub fragmento,
quantum toto tegitur.
Nulla rei fit scissura:
signi tantum fit fractura,
qua nec status, nec statura
signati minuitur.

Ecce panis Angelorum,
factus cibus viatorum:
vere panis filiorum,
non mittendum canibus.
In figuris praesignatur
cum Isaac immolatur:
Agnus Paschae deputatur:
datur manna patribus.

Bone pastor, panis vere,
Jesu, nostri miserere:
Tu nos pasce, nos tuere:
tu nos bona fac videre
in terra viventium.
Tu qui cuncta scis et vales:
qui nos pascis hic mortales:
tuos ibi commensales,
coheredes et sodales,
fac sanctorum civium.

Amen. Alleluia.

Praise thou, Sion, praise thy Saviour!
Praise thy Prince with all thy fervour!
Anthems to thy Shepherd sing.
All thou canst, do thou endeavour,
Yet thy praise can equal never
Such as merits thy great King.

Duty this today thou'rt owing,
Bread the living, life-bestowing,
Full to honour with Thy praise.
Same the bread that Christ in leaving
To the twelve, each one receiving,
Gave, no one doubt can raise.

Let thy praise be loud and swelling,
Be it joyous, loud and welling
From a full, exulting heart.
Mem'ry of that feast we render,
Keeping rites in solemn splendour,
When Christ did first Himself impart.

This new Feast, the old repeating,
Newer King and Pasch revealing,
Usher in a newer rite.
What is new to age succeedeth:
Place to Truth the shadow cedeth;
Radiance puts the gloom to flight.

What He did, that eve reclining,
Done anew He willed, assigning
This a token of His love
By His sacred precepts guided,
Make we bread and wine provided,
A saving victim from above.

Christian truth uncontroverted
Is that bread and wine converted
Sacred flesh and blood become.
Mind and eye whilst unperceiving
What's beyond their own conceiving
Strenuous faith to them brings home.

Hidden under varied species,
Signs, not things, the untold riches,
Choice and rare beyond conceit.
Flesh and Blood our life sustaining,
Christ intact in both remaining,
'Neath each sign we greet.

Christ, to whomsoever given,
By Him is neither rent nor riven
Each unparted Christ receives.
Come there one, come there many,
Each partakes as much as any,
Nor the less for other leaves.

Good and bad this banquet sharing
Are an unlike lot preparing,
Life or death to either falls.
Life to those, to these perdition,
Though to both the same fruition,
How unlike the fate that calls.

When the host in pieces breakest,
If thou waver, thou mistakest,
For each fragment thou partkest
Holds no less than does the whole
Of the substance no division,
Signs alone admit partition,
Whence unlessened the condition
Of the symboled Body and Soul.

Lo ! angelic bread reviving
Pilgrims worn to heaven striving,
Children from it strength deriving,
Sacred bread to dogs denied.
This the ancient types saluted,
Isaac victim constituted,
And the lamb for pasch deputed,
Manna to our sins supplied.

Jesu, bread of life, protect us!
Shepherd kind, do not reject us!
In Thy happy fold collect us,
And partakers of the bliss elect us
Which shall never see an end.
Thou the wisest and the mightiest,
Who us here with food delightest,
Seat us at Thy banquet brightest,
With the blessed Thou invitest,
An eternal feast to spend.

Amen. Alleluia.

If St. Matthew is principally concerned with describing Christ's generation according to the flesh (as has been said), why does he record our Lord's genealogy through Joseph and not through Mary?

First, it is important to realize that Christ's carnal descent (at least insofar as he is of David's line, thus fulfilling the prophecies1) can be inferred even from Joseph's ancestry. This is because it was a custom among the Jews to marry into the same tribe and family.2 That Mary, as well as Joseph, was of the house of David, can be seen from the fact that they both return to the city of David when ordered to return to their own cities for enrollment.3 Therefore, giving Joseph's genealogy is sufficient to show that Jesus was biologically of the House of David.

But why not just give Mary's genealogy? Here, St. Matthew demonstrates in a more subtle way how God "humbled himself to share in our humanity."4 For it was a custom among the Jews, in fact, a custom among most cultures, to trace genealogies through the father. The Holy Spirit inspired St. Matthew to follow this custom in order to show Christ's assumption of the whole human condition. Given that our Lord's carnal generation through Mary and her Davidic line could also be shown at the same time, by respecting the human custom of patriarchal genealogy the condescension of the Incarnation is all the more emphasized.

1. See, for example, II Kings 7:12, 1 Chr. 17:11, Ps. 131:11, Jer. 23:5
2. c.f. Num 36:6-10
3. Luke 2:1-5
4. Roman Mass, Offertory Prayer

Gospel Genealogies

There is no shortage of non-believers who blaspheme Holy Scripture by citing its numerous "errors and contradictions". A common complaint concerns the supposed contradictions in the genealogies of Christ presented in the Gospels according the Matthew and Luke.1
Worse than the incredibly bad logic of atheists, however, is the attempt of some nominally Catholic scholars to impute error to Holy Writ.2 This is, of course, against the Church's teachings, who holds the inerrancy of Scripture3 and the historicity of the Gospels4.

St. Thomas, in his Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, points out differences in the genealogies much more clearly than the heretics. Such discrepancies are not only not troubling to the Catholic scholar, they are helpful in understanding the texts. He groups the differences into five categories:

  1. 1) Difference in Position: St. Matthew starts out his Gospel with our Lord's genealogy, but St. Luke waits until Ch. 3, after the baptism in the Jordon. As St. Augustine says, this difference is due to the different intentions of the Evangelists. The whole of the Gospel according to Matthew is principally concerned with describing the generation of Christ according to the flesh. Hence it is entitled "the book of the generation of Jesus Christ". Therefore it is fitting that it begins with the genealogy. The Gospel according to Luke, however, is principally concerned with the priestly character of Christ, that is, with Christ's expiation of sins. Therefore, it begins with Zachary performing his priestly functions in the temple. It is fitting, then, that St. Luke place the genealogy after our Lord's baptism, which is the means by which sins are removed.

  2. 2) Difference in Order: St. Matthew begins with Abraham and descends down through the generations to Christ. St. Luke, on the other hand, begins with Christ and ascends through Adam to God. This is due to the different purposes of the aforementioned offices of Christ, Son of Man and High Priest. "He who was the Son of God became the Son of man, that man, having been taken into the Word, and receiving the adoption, might become the son of God."5 St. Matthew emphasizes the former part of that process, St. Luke the latter. Therefore, it is fitting that St. Matthew proceeds by descent, St. Luke by ascent.

  3. 3) Difference in Manner: St. Matthew connects adjoining generations with the verb "begot", while St. Luke uses the phrase "was of". Because the descending generations recorded by Matthew are begotten, Matthew has recorded the physical, carnal ancestors of Christ. The ascending ancestors of Christ recorded by St. Luke, on the other hand, simply belong to subsequent generations. This formulation allows Luke to record legal parents, according to either of two Jewish customs: the brother of a widow without children must marry the widow6, so that the legal father (the deceased) may not be the biological father; the parents of a woman without male siblings would sometimes adopt her husband7, so that his legal ancestors (the wife's biological ancestors) may not be his biological ancestors.

  4. 4) Difference in End: Matthew begins with Abraham and descends down to Christ. Luke starts with Christ and ascends, not only to Abraham, but all the way to Adam and to God. This has to do with their respective audiences: St. Matthew is writing to Hebrews, to whom Abraham is more known than Christ; but St. Luke writes to Greeks, who only know of Abraham by hearing of Christ. And so Matthew introduces Christ to the Hebrews through Abraham, while Luke introduces Abraham and Abraham's God to the Greeks through the man Christ.

  5. 5) Difference in Persons Enumerated: St. Thomas has already explained the simple difference in names by distinguishing between legal and biological parents. Here, he points out that Matthew includes women in the genealogy, but Luke does not. Particularly, the women St. Matthew includes are all known sinners: Thamar was a fornicator8, Ruth was a idolater (because she was a Gentile)9, and Bathseeba was an adulteress10. This could be to show that Christ descended through sinful man, in the form of a sinner (although without sin), to redeem sinners.
1. c.f. Forgery in Christianity (about 3/4 of the way down the page), and Bible Perspectives and Christian Contradictions to cite a couple. -WARNING: these sites present blasphemous and ridiculously incorrect readings of Scripture.-
2. For example, Fr. Raymond E. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah (pp. 93-94). -WARNING: Fr. Brown was not an orthodox scripture scholar.-
3. Pope Leo XIII, Providentissimus Deus, 21
4. Vatican Council II, Dei Verbum, 19
5. St. Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, Bk III, Ch 19:1
6. Deut 25:5-6
7. c.f. 1 Chron 2:34
8. Gen. 38:24
9. c.f. Ruth 1
10. II Kings 11

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