Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Maritain: "Democracy of the person"

THE subject treated in this chapter is, truly speaking, the fundamental subject of all social and political philosophy. But, at the same time, I must admit that it is an extremely difficult subject, and one which, in the beginning at least, is unavoidably arid.

Whence this aridity? It is due to the fact that it is impossible to discuss such matters without first embarking upon rather abstract philosophical considerations concerning individuality and personality—two notions which are usually confused and whose distinction I consider to be highly important.

After attempting to explain how man is as a whole an individual and also as a whole a person, and how at the same time the focus of individuality is quite different from that of personality, I will consider the applications of this distinction, especially in social matters. Lastly, I shall conclude by saying, that 'humanism of the individual' and democracy of the individual, in which the nineteenth century had placed its hopes, must be replaced to-day—if we want to save civilization—by humanism of the person and by democracy of the person.

~Jacques Maritain: Scholasticism and Politics, Chap. III, 'The Human Person and Society.'

Continue reading here.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Heresy and Schism

"HERESY and SCHISM are distinguished in respect of those things to which each is opposed essentially and directly. For heresy is essentially opposed to faith, while schism is essentially opposed to the unity of ecclesiastical charity. Wherefore just as faith and charity are different virtues, although whoever lacks faith lacks charity, so too schism and heresy are different vices, although whoever is a heretic is also a schismatic, but not conversely. This is what Jerome says in his commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians [In Ep. ad Tit. iii, 10]: "I consider the difference between schism and heresy to be that heresy holds false doctrine while schism severs a man from the Church." Nevertheless, just as the loss of charity is the road to the loss of faith, according to 1 Timothy 1:6: "From which things," i.e. charity and the like, "some going astray, are turned aside into vain babbling," so too, schism is the road to heresy. Wherefore Jerome adds (In Ep. ad Tit. iii, 10) that "at the outset it is possible, in a certain respect, to find a difference between schism and heresy: yet there is no schism that does not devise some heresy for itself, that it may appear to have had a reason for separating from the Church.""

~St. Thomas Aquinas: Summa Theologiae, II-IIa, q. 39, art. 1, ad 3.

Read more: Q. 39

Saturday, January 28, 2017

"The canonization of Saint Thomas"

"Friar Giacomo di Viterbo, Archbishop of Naples, often said to me that he believed, in accordance with the Faith and the Holy Spirit, that our Savior had sent, as doctor of truth to illuminate the world and the universal Church, first the apostle Paul, then Augustine, and finally in these latest days Friar Thomas, whom, he believed, no one would succeed till the end of the world." (Testimony of Bartolommeo di Capua at the hearing of the case for the canonization of Saint Thomas, August 8, 1319.)

~Quoted by Jacques Maritain in St. Thomas Aquinas, Chap. 1─'The Saint.
"He was the flower and the glory of the world."

For younger readers, see Saint Thomas Aquinas: The Angel of the Schools, by Ra├»ssa Maritain at Sophia Institute Press, or, read online at the Jacques Maritain Center.

Virgin and Child with Sts Dominic and Thomas Aquinas,
by Fra Angelico. 

Detached fresco transferred to canvas, c. 1445; 
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

John Paul II: "Philosophy's proper concern"

"THOMAS recognized that nature, philosophy's proper concern, could contribute to the understanding of divine Revelation. Faith therefore has no fear of reason, but seeks it out and has trust in it. Just as grace builds on nature and brings it to fulfilment, so faith builds upon and perfects reason. Illumined by faith, reason is set free from the fragility and limitations deriving from the disobedience of sin and finds the strength required to rise to the knowledge of the Triune God. Although he made much of the supernatural character of faith, the Angelic Doctor did not overlook the importance of its reasonableness; indeed he was able to plumb the depths and explain the meaning of this reasonableness. Faith is in a sense an “exercise of thought”; and human reason is neither annulled nor debased in assenting to the contents of faith, which are in any case attained by way of free and informed choice."

~John Paul II: Fides et Ratio, 43

Pope St. John Paul II

On Peace and Personal Dignity

By Jacques Maritain

WE all know that, if peace is to be prepared in the thoughts of men and in the minds of the nations, it can only be done if those minds come to a profound conviction of principles such as the following: that a good policy is first and foremost a just policy; that every nation must endeavour to understand the psychology, development and traditions, the material and spiritual needs, the personal dignity and historic vocation of other peoples, because each nation must keep in mind not only its own interests, but the common good of the family of nations; that this awakening of mutual understanding and of the consciousness of the civilized community, though it requires a sort of spiritual revolution, in view, alas, of the age-old habits of human history, is a necessity for public welfare in a world which henceforth is one for life or death, though remaining tragically divided as regards political interests and passions; that to place national interests above all is the surest way of losing all; that a community of free men is inconceivable without the recognition by it that truth is the expression of what is right and just and not of what, at any given moment, is most advantageous to a group of men; that it is not possible to put an innocent man to death because he has become a useless and costly burden to the nation or because he obstructs the activities of a particular group; that a human being has a dignity and which, in its own interests, it must respect, and that as a human being, as a civic being, as a social or working being, he has fundamental rights and duties; that the common weal must take precedence over industrial interests, that the working world is entitled to undergo the social changes demanded by the fact that it has come of age historically, and that the masses are entitled to their share of the benefits of culture and of the intellect, that freedom of conscience is inviolable; that men of different creeds and different spiritual associations must recognize mutually their rights as fellow-citizens in the civilized community; that, for the common good, it is the duty of the State to respect religious liberty and freedom of research; that because of the essential equality of men, racial, class or caste prejudices and racial discrimination are an affront to human nature and to personal dignity and are a crucial threat to peace.

Source: Christianity and Democracy, and The Rights of Man and Natural Law

Sunday, October 2, 2016

"The world of pure spirits"

“GOD’s universal providence works through secondary causes. . . . The world of pure spirits stretches between Divine Nature and the world of human beings; because Divine Wisdom has ordained that the higher should look after the lower, angels execute the divine plan for human salvation: they our guardians, who free us when hindered and help to bring us home.”

~St. Thomas Aquinas: Commentary on the Sentences, 2, 11, 1, 1.

Linaioli Tabernacle (detail), by Fra Angelico.
Tempera on wood, c. 1433;
Museo di San Marco, Florence.

Is it fitting for each man to have an angel guardian?

"MAN while in this state of life, is, as it were, on a road by which he should journey towards heaven. On this road man is threatened by many dangers both from within and from without, according to Psalm 141:4: "In this way wherein I walked, they have hidden a snare for me." And therefore as guardians are appointed for men who have to pass by an unsafe road, so an angel guardian is assigned to each man as long as he is a wayfarer. When, however, he arrives at the end of life he no longer has a guardian angel; but in the kingdom he will have an angel to reign with him, in hell a demon to punish him."

~ St. Thomas Aquinas: Summa Theologica, I, q. 113, a. 4

Read more about guardian angels here

The Guardian Angel, by Pietro da Cortana. Oil on canvas, 1656;
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome.

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