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.

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