Tuesday, March 31, 2015

"The ultimate basis of happiness lies in the vision"

“NOW, the end of our desires is God; hence, the act whereby we are primarily joined to Him is basically and substantially our happiness. But we are primarily united with God by an act of understanding; and therefore, the very seeing of God, which is an act of the intellect, is substantially and basically our happiness. However, since this action is most perfect and most appropriate to its object, it is therefore followed by the greatest enjoyment, which adorns and perfects this operation, as beauty does youth, to quote the Ethics (X, 4). As a result, this joy which belongs to the will is a formal complement of happiness. Thus, the ultimate basis of happiness lies in the vision, while its complement consists in the fruition.”

~St. Thomas Aquinas: from Quodlibetal Questions, VIII, 9, 19. (c. Trans. V.J. Bourke)

Meditations & Readings: Holy Week—Tuesday


"He riseth from supper, and layeth aside his garments,
and having taken a towel, girded himself."—John xiii. 4.

1. Christ, in his lowly office, shows Himself truly to be a servant, in keeping with His own words, "The Son of Man is not come to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give His life a redemption for many" (Mt. xx. 28). Three things are looked for in a good servant or minister:

(i) That he should be careful to keep before him the numerous details in which his serving may so easily fall short. Now for a servant to sit or to lie down during his service is to make this necessary supervision impossible. Hence it is that servants stand. And therefore the gospel says of Our Lord, "He riseth from supper." Our Lord himself also asks us, "For which is greater, he that sitteth at table or he that serveth?" (Lk. xxii. 27).

(ii) That he should show dexterity in doing at the right time all the things his particular office calls for. Now elaborate dress is a hindrance to this. Therefore Our Lord "layeth aside his garments." And this was foreshadowed in the Old Testament when Abraham chose servants who were well appointed (Gen. xiv. 14).

(iii) That he should be prompt, having ready to hand all the things he needs. St. Luke (x. 40) says of Martha that "she was busy about much serving." This is why Our Lord, "having taken a towel, girded himself." Thus he was ready not only to wash the feet, but also to dry them. So He (who "came from God and goeth to God"—Jn. xiii. 3), as He washes their feet, crushes down for ever our swollen, human self-importance.

2. "After that, he putteth water into a basin, and to wash" (Jn. xiii. 5). 

We are given for our consideration this service of Christ; and in three ways his humility is set for our example.

(i) The kind of service this was, for it was the lowest kind of service of all! The Lord of all majesty bending to wash the feet of his slaves.

(ii) The number of services it contained, for, we are told, he put water into a basin, he washed their feet, he dried them and so forth.

(iii) The method of doing the service, for He did not do it through others, nor even with others helping him. He did the service Himself. "The greater thou art, the more humble thyself in all things" (Ecclus. iii. 20).
(In John xiii.)
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St. Thomas Aquinas. Meditations for Lent. Passages selected from the works of St. Thomas by Fr. Mezard, O.P.; translated here by Fr. Philip Hughes. London: Sheed and Ward, 1937. 130-132.

No. 30—Scenes from the Life of Christ: 14. Washing of Feet. 
By Giotto di Bondone.
Fresco, 1304-06; Cappella Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua

Monday, March 30, 2015

Meditations & Readings: Holy Week—Monday


1. "If I wash thee not, thou shaft have no part with me" (Jn. xiii. 8). No one can be made a sharer in the inheritance of eternity, a co-heir with Christ, unless he is spiritually cleansed, for in the Apocalypse it is so stated. "There shall not enter info it anything defiled" (Apoc. xxi. 27), and in the Psalms we read, "Lord who shall dwell in thy tabernacle?" (Ps. xiv.) Who shall ascend into the mountain of the Lord; or who shall stand in his holy place? The innocent in hands, and clean of heart (Ps. xxiii. 3, 4).

It is therefore as though Our Lord said, "If I wash thee not," thou shalt not be cleansed, and if thou art not cleansed, "thou shalt have no part with me."

2. "Simon Peter saith to him: Lord, not only my feet but also my hands and my head" (Jn. xiii. 9). Peter, utterly stricken, offers his whole self to be washed, so confounded is he with love and with fear. We read, in fact, in the book called The Journeying of Clement, that Peter used to be so overcome by the bodily presence of Our Lord, which he had most fervently loved, that whenever, after Our Lord's Ascension, the memory of that dearest presence and most holy company came to him, he used so to melt into tears, that his cheeks seemed all worn out with them.

We can consider three parts in man's body, the head, which is the highest, the feet, which are the lowest part, and the hands which lie in between. In the interior man, that is to say, in the soul, there are likewise three parts. Corresponding to the head there is the higher reason, the power by means of which the soul clings to God. For the hands there is the lower reason by which the soul operates in good works. For the feet there are the senses and the feelings and desires arising from them. Now Our Lord knew the disciples to be clean as far as the head was concerned, for He knew they were joined to God by faith and by charity. He knew their hands also were clean, for He knew their good works. But as to their feet, He knew that the disciples were still somewhat entangled in those inclinations to earthly things that derive out of the life of the senses.

Peter, alarmed by Our Lord's warning (v. 8), not only consented that his feet should be washed, but begged that his hands and his head should be washed too.

"Lord," he said, "not only my feet, but also my hands and my head." As though to say, "I know not whether hands and head need to be washed." "For I am not conscious to myself of anything," yet am I not "hereby justified" (I Cor. iv. 4). Therefore I am ready not only for my feet to be washed, that is, those inclinations that arise out of the life of my senses, but also my hands, that is, my works, and my head, too, that is, my higher reason.

3. "Jesus saith to him: He that is washed, needeth not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly. And you are clean" (Jn. xiii. 10). Origen, commenting on this text, says that the Apostles were clean, but needed to be yet cleaner. For reason should ever desire gifts that are better still, should ever set itself to achieve the very heights of virtue, should aspire to shine with the brightness of justice itself. He that is holy, let him be sanctified still (Apoc xxii. n).

                                                                                         (In John xiii.)
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St. Thomas Aquinas. Meditations for Lent. Passages selected from the works of St. Thomas by Fr. Mezard, O.P.; translated here by Fr. Philip Hughes. London: Sheed and Ward, 1937. 128-130.

Christ Washing the Apostles Feet, by Dirck van Baburen
Oil on canvas, c. 1616; Staatliche Museen, Berlin.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Meditations & Readings: Holy Week—Palm Sunday


The Passion of Christ is by itself sufficient to form us in every virtue. For whoever wishes to live perfectly, need do no more than scorn what Christ scorned on the cross, and desire what He there desired. There is no virtue of which, from the cross, Christ does not give us an example.

If you seek an example of charity, "Greater love than this no man hath, than that a man lay down His life for his friends" (Jn xv. 13), and this Christ did on the cross. And since it was for us that He gave his life, it should not be burdensome to bear for Him whatever evils come our way. "What shall I render to the Lord, for all the things that He hath rendered to me" (Ps. cxv. 12).

If you seek an example of patience, in the cross you find the best of all. Great patience shows itself in two ways. Either when a man suffers great evils patiently, or when he suffers what he could avoid and forbears to avoid. Now Christ on the cross suffered great evils. "O all ye that pass by the way, attend and see, if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow" (Lam. i. 12). And He suffered them patiently, for, "when he suffered he threatened not" (I Pet. ii. 23) but "led as a sheep to the slaughter, he was dumb as a lamb before his shearer" (Is. liii. 7).

Also it was in His power to avoid the suffering and He did not avoid it. "Thinkest thou that I cannot ask my Father, and he will give me presently more than twelve legions of angels?" (Mt. xxvi. 53). The patience of Christ, then, on the cross was the greatest patience ever shown. "Let us run by patience to the fight proposed to us: looking on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, who having joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame" (Heb.xii. i, 2).

If you seek an example of humility, look at the crucified. For it is God who wills to be judged and to die at the will of Pontius Pilate. "Thy cause hath been judged as that of the wicked" (Job xxxvi. 17). Truly as that of the wicked, for "Let us condemn him to a most shameful death" (Wis. ii. 20). The Lord willed to die for the slave, the life of the angels for man.

If you seek an example of obedience, follow Him "who became obedient unto death" (Phil. ii. 8), "for as by the disobedience of one man, many were made sinners; so also by the obedience of one, many shall be made just" (Rom. v. 19). If you seek an example in the scorning of the things of this world, follow Him who is the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom. Lo! on the cross He hangs naked, fooled, spit upon, beaten, crowned with thorns, sated with gall and vinegar, and dead. "My garments they parted among them; and upon my vesture they cast lots" (Ps. xxi. 19). 

Error to crave for honours, for He was exposed to blows and to mockery. Error to seek titles and decorations for "platting a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head, and a reed in his right hand. And bowing the knee before him, they mocked him, saying Hail, king of the Jews" (Mt. xxvii. 29).

Error to cling to pleasures and comfort for "they gave me gall for my food, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink" (Ps. lxviii. 22).
(In Symb.)

St. Thomas Aquinas. Meditations for Lent. Passages selected from the works of St. Thomas by Fr. Mezard, O.P.; trans. by Fr. Philip Hughes. London: Sheed and Ward, 1937. 126-128.

Scenes from the Life of Christ, by Fra Angelico.
Tempera on panel, 1451-52; Museo di San Marco, Florence.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Meditations & Readings: Passion Week—Saturday


"If I then being our Lord and Master, have washed your
feet; you also ought to wash one another's feet."—(Jn. xiii. 14).

Our Lord wishes that His disciples shall imitate His example. He says therefore, "If I", who am the greater, "being your master and the Lord, have washed your feet, you also, all the more who are the less, who are disciples, slaves even, ought to wash one another's feet. Whosoever will be the greater among you, let him be your minister. . . . Even as the Son of Man is not come to be ministered unto, but to minister" (Mt. xx. 26-28).

St. Augustine says every man ought to wash the feet of his fellows, either actually or in spirit. And it is by far the best, and true beyond all controversy, that we should do it actually, lest Christians scorn to do what Christ did. For when a man bends his body to the feet of a brother, human feeling is stirred up in his very heart, or, if it be there already, it is strengthened. If we cannot actually wash his feet, at least we can do it in spirit. The washing of the feet signifies the washing away of stains. You therefore wash the feet of your brother when, as far as lies in your power, you wash away his stains. And this you may do in three ways:

(i) By forgiving the offences he has done to you. "Forgiving one another, if any have a complaint against another: even as the Lord hath forgiven you, so do you also" (Col. iii. 13).

(ii) By praying for the forgiveness of his sin, as St. James bids us, "Pray for one another, that you may be saved" (Jam. v. 16). This way of washing, like the first, is open to all the faithful.

(iii) The third way is for prelates, who should wash by forgiving sins through the authority of the keys, according to the gospel, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them" (Jn. xx. 23). We can also say that in this one act Our Lord showed all the works of mercy. He who gives bread to the hungry, washes his feet, as also does the man who harbours the harbourless or he who clothes the naked. 

"Communicating to the necessities of the saints" (Rom. xii. 13).
(In John xiii.)
+ + +
St. Thomas Aquinas. Meditations for Lent. Passages selected from the works of St. Thomas by Fr. Mezard, O.P.; translated here by Fr. Philip Hughes. London: Sheed and Ward, 1937. 124-126.

Washing of the Feet, by Pieter van Edingen van Aelst (or Pieter van Aelst III).
Gold thread, silk and wool on a woolen warp, 1510's; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Friday, March 27, 2015

"Mary bears the price of our redemption"

“MARY bears the price of our redemption. The water which gushed out of the rock to refresh the people of Israel is her symbol (Num. 20:8). Hers is the integrity of maidenhood, the fruitfulness of wedlock, the purity of chastity. Let us bless her often, and sing her praises: “for behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed” (Lk. 1:48).”

~St. Thomas Aquinas: Sermon for the Fourth Sunday of Lent, 47.

Meditations & Readings: Passion Week—Friday


"Thy own soul a sword shall pierce." —Luke ii. 35.

In these words there is noted for us the close association of Our Lady with the Passion of Christ. Four things especially made the Passion most bitter for her.

Firstly, the goodness of her son, "Who did no sin" (1 Pet. ii. 22).

Secondly, the cruelty of those who crucified Him, shown, for example, in this that as He lay dying they refused Him even water, nor would they allow His mother, who would most lovingly have given it, to help Him.

Thirdly, the disgrace of the punishment, "Let us condemn him to a most shameful death" (Wis. ii. 20).

Fourthly, the cruelty of the torment. "O ye that pass by the way, attend and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow" (Lam. i. 12). 

The words of Simeon, "Thy own soul a sword shall pierce," Origen, and other doctors with him, explain with reference to the pain felt by Our Lady in the Passion of Christ. St. Ambrose, however, says that by the sword is signified Our Lady's prudence, thanks to which she was not without knowledge of the heavenly mystery. For the word of God is a living thing, strong and keener than the keenest sword (cf. Heb. iv. 12).

Other writers again, St. Augustine for example, understand by the sword the stupefaction that overcame Our Lady at the death of her Son, not the doubt that goes with lack of faith but a certain fluctuation of bewilderment, a staggering of the mind. St. Basil, too, says that as Our Lady stood by the cross with all the detail of the Passion before her, and in her mind the testimony of Gabriel, the message that words cannot tell of her divine conception, and all the vast array of miracles, her mind swayed, for she saw Him the victim of such vileness, and yet knew Him for the author of such wonders.
(S.T. III, Q. 27, a. 4, ad 2.)

Although Our Lady knew by faith that it was God's will that Christ should suffer, and although she brought her will into unity with God's will in this matter, as the saints do, nevertheless, sadness filled her soul at the death of Christ. This was because her lower will revolted at the particular thing she had willed and this is not contrary to perfection.
(I Dist. 48 q unica a 3.)

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St. Thomas Aquinas. Meditations for Lent. Passages selected from the works of St. Thomas by Fr. Mezard, O.P.; translated here by Fr. Philip Hughes. London: Sheed and Ward, 1937. 122-124.

The Seven Sorrows of the Virgin, by Albrecht Dürer.  
Oil on panel, c. 1496; Alte Pinakothek, Munchen and Gemäldegalerie, Dresden.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Meditations & Readings: Passion Week—Thursday


It would seem that Christ gave us a greater sign of His love by giving us His body as our food than by suffering for us. For the love that will be in the life to come is a more perfect thing than the love that is in this life. And the benefit that Christ bestows on us by giving us His body as food is more like to the love of the life to come in which we shall fully enjoy God. The Passion that Christ underwent for us is, on the other hand, more like to the love that is of this life, in which we, too, are to suffer for Christ. Therefore it is a greater sign of Christ's love for us that he delivered His body to us as our food, than that He suffered for us.

Nevertheless, it is an argument against this that in St. John's gospel Our Lord himself says, "Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (Jn. xv. 13). 

The strongest of human loves is the love with which a man loves himself. Therefore this love must be the measure, by comparison with which we estimate the love by which a man loves others than himself. Now the extent of a man's love for another is shown by the extent of good desired for himself that he forgoes for his friend. As Holy Scripture says, "He that neglecteth a loss for the sake of a friend, is just" (Prov. xii. 26). Now a man wishes well to himself as to three things, namely, his soul, his body, and things outside himself. 

It is then already a sign of love that, for another, a man is willing to suffer loss of things outside himself.

It is a greater sign if he is also willing to suffer loss in his body for another, that is, by bearing the burden of work or undergoing punishment. 

It is the greatest of all signs of love if a man is willing, by dying for his friend, to lay down his very life. 

Therefore, that Christ, in suffering for us, laid down His life was the greatest of all signs that He loved us. That He has given us His body for our food in the sacrament does not entail for Him any loss. It follows then that the first is the greater sign. Also this sacrament is a kind of memorial and figure of the Passion of Christ. But the truth is always greater than that which figures it, the thing is always greater than the memorial that recalls it.

The showing forth of the body of Christ in the sacrament has about it, it is true, a certain figure of the love with which God loves us in the life to come. But Christ's Passion is associated with that love itself, by which God calls us from perdition to the life to come. The love of God, however, is not greater in the life to come than it is in this present life.
(Quodlibeta 5, Q. 3, A. 2.)
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St. Thomas Aquinas. Meditations for Lent. Passages selected from the works of St. Thomas by Fr. Mezard, O.P.; translated here by Fr. Philip Hughes. London: Sheed and Ward, 1937. 120-122.

Deposition from the Cross (Pala di Santa Trinità), by Fra Angelico.
Tempera on panel, 1437-40; Museo di San Marco, Florence.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Annunciation of the Lord

"IT WAS reasonable that it should be announced to the Blessed Virgin that she was to conceive Christ. First, in order to maintain a becoming order in the union of the Son of God with the Virgin—namely, that she should be informed in mind concerning Him, before conceiving Him in the flesh. Thus Augustine says (De Sancta Virgin. iii): "Mary is more blessed in receiving the faith of Christ, than in conceiving the flesh of Christ"; and further on he adds: "Her nearness as a Mother would have been of no profit to Mary, had she not borne Christ in her heart after a more blessed manner than in her flesh."

"Secondly, that she might be a more certain witness of this mystery, being instructed therein by God.

"Thirdly, that she might offer to God the free gift of her obedience: which she proved herself right ready to do, saying: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord."

"Fourthly, in order to show that there is a certain spiritual wedlock between the Son of God and human nature. Wherefore in the Annunciation the Virgin's consent was besought in lieu of that of the entire human nature."

~St. Thomas Aquinas: Summa Theologica, III, Q. 30, A. 1.

Annunciation, by Federico Fiori Barocci. Oil on canvas, 
1592-96; Santa Maria degli Angeli, Perugia.

How to argue with unbelievers

"FIRST of all I wish to warn you that in disputations with unbelievers about articles of the Faith, you should not try to prove the Faith by necessary reasons. This would belittle the sublimity of the Faith, whose truth exceeds not only human minds but also those of angels; we believe in them only because they are revealed by God.

"Yet whatever come from the Supreme Truth cannot be false, and what is not false cannot be repudiated by any necessary reason. Just as our Faith cannot be proved by necessary reasons, because it exceeds the human mind, so because of its truth it cannot be refuted by any necessary reason. So any Christian disputing about the articles of the Faith should not try to prove the Faith, but defend the Faith. Thus blessed Peter (1 Pet 3:15) did not say: "Always have your proof", but "your answer ready," so that reason can show that what the Catholic Faith holds is not false."

~St. Thomas Aquinas: De Rationus Fidei (Reason for the Faith Against Muslim Objections), Chap 2.

Triumph of St. Thomas Aquinas, by Benozzo Gozzoli.
Tempera on panel, 1471; Musée du Louvre, Paris.

Meditations & Readings: Passion Week—Wednesday


The sepulchre is a figure by which is signified the contemplation of heavenly things. So, St. Gregory, commenting on the words of Job (iii. 22), "They rejoice exceedingly when they have found the grave" says, "As in the grave the body is hidden away when dead, so in divine contemplation there lies concealed the soul, dead to the world. There, at rest from the world's clamour, it lies, in a three days burial through, as it were, its triple immersion in baptism. 'Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy face, from the disturbance of men' (Ps. xxx. 21). Those in great trouble, tormented with the hates of men, enter in spirit the presence of God and they are at rest." 

Three things are required for this spiritual burial in God, namely, that the mind be perfected by the virtues, that the mind be all bright and shining with purity, and that it be wholly dead to this world. All these things are shown figuratively in the burial of Christ.

The first is shown in St. Mark's Gospel where we read how Mary Magdalen anointed Our Lord for His burial by anticipation, as it were. "She hath done what she could: she is come beforehand to anoint my body for the burial" (Mk. xiv. 8). The ointment of precious spikenard (ibid, iii) stands for the virtues, for it is a thing very precious, and in this life nothing is more precious than the virtues. The soul that wishes to be holy and to be buried in divine contemplation, must first, then, anoint itself by the exercise of the virtues. Job (v. 26) says, "Thou shalt enter into the grave in abundance"—and the Gloss explains the grave as meaning here, "divine contemplation"—"as a heap of wheat is brought in its season," and the explanation given in the Gloss is that eternal contemplation is the prize of a life of action, and therefore it must be that the perfect, first of all, exercise their souls in the virtues and then, afterwards, bury them in the barn where all quiet is gathered.

The second of the three things required is also noted in St. Mark, where we read (xv. 46) that Joseph bought a winding sheet, that is, a sheet of fine linen, which is only brought to its dazzling whiteness with great labour. Hence it signifies that brightness of the soul, which also is not perfectly attained except with great labour. "He that is just let him be justified still" (Apoc. xxii. n). "Let us walk in newness of life" (Rom. vi. 4), going from good to better, through the justice inaugurated by faith to the glory for which we hope. Therefore it is that men, bright with a spotless interior life, should be buried in the sepulchre of divine contemplation. St. Jerome, commenting on the words, "Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God" (Mt. v. 8), says, "The clean Lord is seen by the clean of heart."

The third point for consideration is given by St. John where, in his gospel (xix. 30), he writes, "Nicodemus also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight." This hundred pounds weight of myrrh and aloes, brought to preserve the dead body, symbolises that perfect mortification of the external senses, the means by which the spirit, dead to the world, is preserved from the vices that would corrupt it. "Though our outward man is corrupted, yet the inward man is renewed day by day" (2 Cor. iv. 16), which is as much as to say the inward man is most thoroughly purified from vices by the fire of tribulation. Therefore man's soul must first, with Christ, become dead to this world, and then, afterwards, be buried with him in the hiding place of divine contemplation. St. Paul says, "You are dead" with Christ, to the things that, are vain and fleeting, "and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Col. iii. 3).

(De humanitate Christi, cap. 42.)

St. Thomas Aquinas. Meditations for Lent. Passages selected from the works of St. Thomas by Fr. Mezard, O.P.; trans. by Fr. Philip Hughes. London: Sheed and Ward, 1937. 118-120.

Burial, by Duccio di Buoninsegna.
Tempera on wood, 1308-11; Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Siena.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Meditations & Readings: Passion Week—Tuesday


"She hath wrought a good work upon me. She in pouring
this ointment upon me hath done it for my burial." —Mt. xxvi. 10-12.

It was right that Christ should be buried.

1. It proved that He had really died. No one is placed in the grave unless he is undeniably dead. And, as we read in St. Mark (ch. xv), Pilate, before he gave leave for Christ to be buried, made careful enquiry to assure himself that Christ was dead.

2. The very fact that Christ rose again from the grave gives a hope of rising again through Him to all others who lie in their graves. As it says in the gospel, "All that are in the grave shall hear the voice of the Son of God. And they that hear shall live" (Jn. v. 28, 25).

3. It was an example for those who by the death of Christ are spiritually dead to sin, for those, that is, who are hidden away from the turmoil of human affairs. So St. Paul says, "You are dead; and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Col. iii. 3). So, too, those who are baptised, since by the death of Christ they die to sin, are as it were buried with Christ in their immersion, as St. Paul again says, "We are buried together with Christ by baptism unto death" (Rom. vi. 4).

As the death of Christ efficiently wrought our salvation, so too is his burial effective for us. St. Jerome, for example, says, "By the burial of Christ we all rise again," and explaining the words of Isaias (liii. 9), "He shall give the ungodly for his burial," the Gloss says, "This means He shall give to God and the Father the nations lacking in filial devotion: for through his death and burial he has obtained possession of them." 

The Psalm (Ps. Ixxxvii. 6) says, "I am become as a man without help, free among the dead." Christ by being buried showed himself free among the dead indeed, for His being enclosed in the tomb was not allowed to hinder His coining forth in the Resurrection.
(S.T. 3, 51, 1.)
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St. Thomas Aquinas. Meditations for Lent. Passages selected from the works of St. Thomas by Fr. Mezard, O.P.; translated here by Fr. Philip Hughes. London: Sheed and Ward, 1937. 116-118.
Deposition of Christ, by Franceso Cabianca.
Marble, 1711; Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice.

Burial of Christ (detail), by Franceso Cabianca.
Marble, 1711; Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Jacques Maritain — On the Use of Philosophy


The Power of the Philosopher

A PHILOSOPHER is a man in search of wisdom, Wisdom does not indeed seem to be an exceedingly widespread commodity; there has never been overproduction in this field. The greater the scarcity of what the philosopher is supposed to be concerned with, the more we feel inclined to think that society needs the philosopher badly.

Unfortunately there is no such thing as the philosopher; this dignified abstraction exists only in our minds. There are philosophers; and philosophers, as soon as they philosophize, are, or seem to be, in disagreement on everything, even on the first principles of philosophy. Each one goes his own way. They question every matter of common assent, and their answers are conflicting. What can be expected from them for the good of society.

Moreover the greatness of a philosopher and the truth of his philosophy are independent values. Great philosophers may happen to be in the wrong. Historians bestow the honor of having been the “fathers of the modern world” upon two men, the first of whom was a great dreamer and a poor philosopher, namely Jean Jacques Rousseau; the second a poor dreamer and a great philosopher, namely Hegel. And Hegel has involved the modern world in still more far-reaching and still more deadly errors than Rousseau did.

At least this very fact makes manifest to us the power and importance of philosophers, for good and for evil. (Aesop, if I remember correctly, said as much of that valuable organ—the tongue.) If bad philosophy is a plague for society, what a blessing good philosophy must be for it! Let us not forget, moreover, that if Hegel was the father of the world of today insofar as it denies the superiority of the human person and the transcendence of God, and kneels before history, St. Augustine was the father of Christian Western civilization, in which the world of today, despite all threats and failures, still participates.

To look at things in a more analytical way, let us say that in actual existence society cannot do without philosophers.

Even when they are in the wrong, philosophers are a kind of mirror, on the heights of intelligence, of the deepest trends which are obscurely at play in the human mind at each epoch of history; (the greater they are, the more actively and powerfully radiant the mirror is). Now, since we are thinking beings, such mirrors are indispensable to us. After all, it is better for human society to have Hegelian errors with Hegel than to have Hegelian errors without Hegel—I mean hidden and diffuse errors rampant throughout the social body, which are Hegelian in type but anonymous and unrecognizable. A great philosopher in the wrong is like a beacon on the reefs, which says to seamen: steer clear of me. He enables men (at least those who have not been seduced by him) to identify the errors from which they suffer, and to become clearly aware of them, and to struggle against them. This is an essential need of society, insofar as society is not merely animal society, but made up of persons endowed with intelligence and freedom.

Even if philosophers are hopelessly divided among themselves in their search for a superior and all-pervading truth, at least they seek this truth; and their very controversies, constantly renewed, are a sign of the necessity for such a search. These controversies do not witness to the illusory or unattainable character of the object that these philosophers are looking for. They witness to the fact that this object is so difficult because it is crucial in importance: is not everything which is crucial in importance crucial also in difficulty? Plato told us that beautiful things are difficult, and that we should not avoid beautiful dangers. Mankind would be in jeopardy, and soon in despair, if it shunned the beautiful dangers of intelligence and reason. Moreover many things are questionable and oversimplified in the commonplace insistence on the insuperable disagreements which divide philosophers. These disagreements do indeed exist. But in one sense there is more continuity and stability on philosophy than in science. For a new scientific theory completely changes the very manner in which the former ones posed the question, whereas philosophical problems remain always the same, in one form or another. Nay more, basic philosophical ideas, once they have been discovered, become permanent acquisitions in the philosophical heritage. They are used in various, even opposite ways: they are still there. Finally, philosophers quarrel so violently because each one has seen some truth which, more often than not, has dazzled his eyes, and which he may conceptualize in an insane manner, but of which his fellow-philosophers must also be aware, each in his own perspective.

What is the Use of Philosophy?

At this point we come to the essential consideration: what is the use of philosophy? Philosophy, taken in itself, is above utility. And for this very reason philosophy is of the utmost necessity for men. It reminds them of the supreme utility of those things which do not deal with means, but with ends. For men do not live only by bread, vitamins, and technological discoveries. They live by values and realities which are above time, and are worth being known for their own sake; they feed on that invisible food which sustains the life of the spirit, and which makes them aware, not of such or such means at the service of their life, but of their very reasons for living—and suffering and hoping.

The philosophers in society witnesses to the supreme dignity of thought; he points to what is eternal in man, and stimulates our thirst for pure knowledge and disinterested knowledge, for knowledge of those fundamentals—about the nature of things and the nature of the mind, and man himself, and God—which are superior to, and independent of, anything we can make or produce or create—and to which all our practice is appendent, because we think before acting and nothing can limit the range of thought: our practical decisions depend on the stand we take on the ultimate questions that human thought is able to ask. That is why philosophical systems, which are directed toward no practical use and application have, as I remarked at the beginning, such an impact on human history.

The advocates of dialectical materialism claim that philosophy does not have to contemplate, but to transform the world: because philosophy is essentially praxis, instrument for action, power exercised on things. This is to return to the old magical confusion between knowledge and power, a perfect disregard of the function of thought. Philosophy is essentially a disinterested activity, directed toward truth loved for its own sake, not utilitarian activity for the sake of power over things. That is why we need it. If philosophy is one of the forces which contribute to the movement of history and the changes that occur in the world, it is because philosophy, in its primary task, which is the metaphysical penetration of being, is intent only on discerning and contemplating what is the truth of certain matters which have importance in themselves and for themselves, independently of what happens in the world, and which, precisely for that reason, exert an essential influence on the world.

Two aspects of the function of the philosopher in society have, it seems to me, special significance today. They have to do with Truth and Freedom.

The great danger which threatens modern societies is a weakening of the sense of Truth. On the one hand men become so accustomed to thinking in terms of stimuli and responses, and adjustment to environment; on the other hand they are so bewildered by the manner in which the political techniques of advertising and propaganda use the words of language that they are tempted finally to give up any interest in truth: only practical results, or sheer material verification of facts and figures, matter for them, without internal adherence to any truth really grasped. The philosopher who is pursuing his speculative task pays no attention to the interests of men or of the social groups, or of the state, reminds society of the absolute and unbending character of Truth.

As to Freedom, he reminds society that freedom is the very condition for the exercise of thought. This is a requirement of the common good itself of human society, which disintegrates as soon as fear, superseding inner convictions, imposes any kind of shibboleth upon human minds. The philosopher, even when he is wrong at least freely criticizes many things his fellowmen are attracted to. Socrates bore witness to this function of criticism which is inherent in philosophy. Even though society showed its gratitude to him in a quite peculiar way, he remains the great example of the philosopher in society. It is not without reason that Napoleon loathed idéologues, and that dictators, as a rule, hate philosophers.

Moral Philosophy

I have spoken above all of speculative or theoretical philosophy, the chief part of which is metaphysics. The name of Socrates calls forth another kind of philosophy, namely moral or practical philosophy.

Here the need of society for philosophy, and for sound philosophy, appears in a more immediate and urgent manner.

It has been often observed that science provides us with means—more and more powerful, more and more wondrous means. These means can be used for good or for evil, depending on the ends to which they are used. The determination on the true and genuine ends of human life is not within the province of science. It is within the province of wisdom. In other words, it is within the province philosophy—and, to tell the truth, not of philosophical wisdom alone, but of God-given wisdom. Society needs philosophers in this connection. It needs saints even more.

On the other hand the human sciences—psychology, sociology, anthropology—afford us with invaluable and ever-growing material dealing with the behavior of individual and collective man and with the basic components of human life and civilization. This is an immense help in our effort to penetrate the world of man. But all this material and this immense treasure of facts would be of no avail if it were not interpreted, so as to enlighten us on what man is. It is up to the philosopher to undertake this task of interpretation.

My point is that society is in special need of this sort of work. For merely material information, or any kind of Kinsey report, on human mores, is rather of a nature to shatter the root beliefs of any given society, as long as it is not accompanied by genuine knowledge of man, which depends, in the last analysis, on wisdom and philosophy. Only the philosophical knowledge of man permits us, for example, to distinguish between what is conformable to the nature and reason of man, and the way in which men do in fact conduct themselves, indeed in the majority of cases; in other words, to distinguish between the modes of behavior which are really normal and modes of comportment which are statistically frequent.

Finally when I comes to moral values and moral standards, the consideration of our present world authorizes us to make the following remark: it is a great misfortune that a civilization should suffer from a cleavage between the ideal which constitutes its reason for living and acting, and for which it continues to fight, and the inner cast of mind which exists in people, and which implies in reality doubt and mental insecurity about this same ideal. As a matter of fact, the common psyche of a society or a civilization, the memory of past experiences, family and community traditions, and the sort of emotional temperament, or vegetative structure of feeling, which have been thus engendered, may maintain in the practical conduct of men a deep-seated devotion to standards and values in which their intellect has ceased to believe. Under such circumstances they are even prepared to die, if necessary, for refusing to commit some unethical action of for defending justice or freedom, but they are at a loss to find any rational justification for the notions of justice, freedom, ethical behavior; these things no longer have for their minds any objective and unconditional value, perhaps any meaning. Such a situation is possible; it cannot last. A time will come when people will give up in practical existence those values about which they no longer have any intellectual conviction. Hence we realize how necessary the function of a sound moral philosophy is in human society. It has to give, or to give back, to society intellectual faith in the value of its ideals.

These remarks apply to democratic society in a particularly cogent way, for the foundations of a society of free men are essentially moral. There are a certain number of moral tenets—about the dignity of the human person, human rights, human equality, freedom, law, mutual respect and tolerance, the unity of mankind and the ideal of peace among men—on which democracy presupposed common consent; without a general, firm, and reasoned-out conviction concerning such tenets, democracy cannot survive. It is not the job of scientists, experts, specialists, and technicians, it is the job of philosophers to look for the rational justification and elucidation of the democratic charter. In this sense, it is not uncalled-for to say that the philosopher plays in society as to principles, as important a part as the statesman as to practical government. Both may be great destroyers if they are mistaken. Both may be genuine servants of the common good, if they are on the right road. Nothing is more immediately necessary for our times than a sound political philosophy.

I would betray my own convictions if I did not add that—given on the one hand the state of confusion and division in which the modern mind finds itself, on the other hand the fact that the deepest incentive if democratic thought is, as Henri Bergson observed, a repercussion of the Gospel’s inspiration in the temporal order—philosophy, especially moral and political philosophy, can perform its normal function in our modern society, especially as regards the need of democratic society for a genuine rational establishment of its common basic tenets, only if it keeps vital continuity with the spirit of the Judaeo-Christian tradition and with the wisdom of the Gospel, in other words, if it is a work and effort of human reason intent on the most exacting requirements of philosophical method and principles, equipped with all the weapons and information of contemporary science, and guided by the light of the supreme truths of which the Christian faith makes us aware.

I know that the notion of Christian philosophy is a controversial notion, and rather complicated. I have no intention of discussing that problem here. I should like only to point out that we cannot help posing it. As for myself, the more I think about the relationship between philosophy and theology in the course of history, the more I am convinced that in the concrete existence this problem is solved in a favorable to the notion of Christian philosophy.

One final point should be touched upon; I will limit myself to a few remarks on it. It has to do with the philosopher’s attitude toward human, social, political affairs.

Needless to say, a philosopher may set aside his philosophical pursuits and become an man of politics. But what of a philosopher who remains simply a philosopher, and acts only as a philosopher?

On the one hand we may suppose, without fear of being wrong, that he lacks the experience, the information, and the competence which are proper to a man of action: it would be a misfortune for him to undertake to legislate in social and political matters in the name of pure logic, as Plato did.

But, on the other hand, the philosopher cannot—especially in our time—shut himself up in an ivory tower; he cannot help being concerned about human affairs, in the name of philosophy itself and by reason of the very values which philosophy has to defend and maintain. He has to bear witness to these values, every time they are attacked, as in the time of Hitler when insane racist theories worked to provoke the mass murder of Jews, or as today before the threat by communist despotism. The philosopher must bear witness by expressing his thoughts and telling the truth as he sees it. This may have repercussions in the domain of politics; it is not, in itself, a political action—it is simply applied philosophy.

It is true that the line of demarcation is difficult to draw. This means no one, not even philosophers, can avoid taking risks, when justice or love are at stake, and when one is face to face with the strict command of the Gospel: haec oportuit facere, et illa non omittere, “these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone” (Mt 23:23).

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Source: On the Use of Philosophy: Three Essays, by Jacques Maritain. (1961)
("The Philosopher in Society" is the first of three essays.)

  The Death of Socrates, by Jean-François-Pierre Peyron. 
Oil on canvas, 1788; Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha.

Meditations & Readings: Passion Week—Monday


We find in the Passion of Christ a remedy against all the evils that we incur through sin. Now these evils are five in number.

(i) We ourselves become unclean. When a man commits any sin he soils his soul, for just as virtue is the beauty of the soul, so sin is a stain upon it. "How happeneth it, O Israel, that thou art in thy enemies land? Thou art grown old in a strange country, thou art defiled with the dead" (Bar. iii. 10, 1 1). 

The Passion of Christ takes away this stain. For Christ, by His Passion, made of His blood a bath wherein He might wash sinners. The soul is washed with the blood of Christ in Baptism, for it is from the blood of Christ that the sacrament draws its power of giving new life. When therefore one who is baptised soils himself again by sin, he insults Christ and sins more deeply than before.

(ii) We offend God. As the man who is fleshly-minded loves what is beautiful to the flesh, so God loves spiritual beauty, the beauty of the soul.

When the soul's beauty is defiled by sin God is offended, and holds the offender in hatred. But the Passion of Christ takes away this hatred, for it does what man himself could not possibly do, namely it makes full satisfaction to God for the sin. The love and obedience of Christ was greater than the sin and rebellion of Adam.

(iii) We ourselves are weakened. Man believes that, once he has committed the sin, he will be able to keep from sin for the future. Experience shows that what really happens is quite otherwise. The effect of the first sin is to weaken the sinner and make him still more inclined to sin. Sin dominates man more and more, and man left to himself, whatever his powers, places himself in such a state that he cannot rise from it. Like a man who has thrown himself into a well, there he must lie, unless he is drawn up by some divine power. After the sin of Adam, then, our human nature was weaker, it had lost its perfection and men were more prone to sinning.

But Christ, although He did not utterly make an end of this weakness, nevertheless greatly lessened it. Man is so strengthened by the Passion of Christ—and the effect of Adam's sin is so weakened—that he is no longer dominated by it. Helped by the grace of God, given him in the sacraments, which derive their power from the Passion of Christ, man is now able to make an effort and so rise up from his sins. Before the Passion of Christ there were few who lived without mortal sin, but since the Passion many have lived and do live without it.

(iv) Liability to the punishment earned by sin. This the justice of God demanded, namely, that for each sin the sinner should be punished, the penalty to be measured according to the sin. Whence, since mortal sin is infinitely wicked, seeing that it is a sin against what is infinitely good, that is to say, God whose commands the sin despises, the punishment due to mortal sin is infinite too. But by His Passion Christ took away from us this penalty, for He endured it Himself. "Who his own self bore our sins," that is the punishment due to us for our sins, "in his body upon the tree" (I Pet. ii. 24).

So great was the power and value of the Passion of Christ that it was sufficient to expiate all the sins of all the world, reckoned by millions though they be. This is the reason why baptism frees the baptised from all their sins, and why the priest can forgive sin. This is why the man who more and more fashions his life in conformity with the Passion of Christ, and makes himself like to Christ in His Passion, attains an ever fuller pardon and ever greater graces.

(v) Banishment from the kingdom. Subjects who offend the king are sent into exile. So, too, man was expelled from Paradise. Adam, having sinned, was straightway thrown out and the gates barred against him.

But, by His Passion, Christ opened those gates, and called back the exiles from banishment. As the side of Christ opened to the soldier's lance, the gates of heaven opened to man, and as Christ's blood flowed, the stain was washed out, God was appeased, our weakness taken away, amends made for our sins, and the exiles were recalled. Thus it was that Our Lord said "immediately" to the repentant thief, "This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise" (Lk. xxiii. 43). Such a thing was never before said to any man, not to Adam nor to Abraham, nor even to David. But "This day," the day on which the gate is opened, the thief does but ask and he finds. "Having confidence in the entering into the holies by the blood of Christ" (Heb. x. 19).
(In Symb.)

St. Thomas Aquinas. Meditations for Lent. Passages selected from the works of St. Thomas by Fr. Mezard, O.P.; trans. by Fr. Philip Hughes. London: Sheed and Ward, 1937. 113-116.

Crucifixion, by Pedro de Campaña.
Canvas backed by wood, c. 1550; Musée du Louvre, Paris.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Meditations & Readings: Passion Week—Sunday


"As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must
the Son of Man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth
in him may not perish; but may have life everlasting."
—John iii. 14, 15.

We may note here three things.

(1) The Figure of the Passion. "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert." When the Jews said, "Our soul now loatheth this very light food" (Num. xxi. 5), the Lord sent serpents in punishment, and afterwards, for a remedy, He commanded the brazen serpent to be made as a remedy against the serpents and also as a figure of the Passion. It is the nature of a serpent to be poisonous, but the brazen serpent had no poison. It was but the figure of a poisonous serpent. So also Christ had no sin, which is the poison, but He had the likeness of sin. "God sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and of sin" (Rom. viii. 3). Therefore Christ had the effect of the serpent against the movements of our blazing desires.

2. The Mode of the Passion. "So must the Son of Man be lifted up." This refers to His being raised upon the cross. He willed to die lifted up, (i) To purify the air: already He had purified the earth by the holiness of His living there, it still remained for Him to purify, by His dying there, the air; (ii) To triumph over the devils, who in the air, make their preparations to war on us; (iii) To draw our hearts to His heart, I, "if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself" (Jn. xii. 32). Since in the death of the cross he was exalted, and since it was there that He overcame his enemies, we say that he was exalted rather than that he died. He shall drink of the torrent by the wayside; therefore shall He lift up His head (Ps. cix. 7).

The cross was the cause of His exaltation. "He became obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross, wherefore God hath exalted Him" (Phil. ii. 8).

3. The Fruit of the Passion. The fruit is eternal life. Whence Our Lord says Himself, "Whosoever believeth in Him, doing good works, may not perish, but may have life everlasting" (Jn. iii. 16). And this fruit corresponds to the fruit of the serpent that foreshadowed Him. For whoever looked upon the brazen serpent was delivered from the poison and his life was preserved. Now the man who looks upon the Son of Man lifted up is the man who believes in Christ crucified, and it is in this way that he is delivered from the poison that is sin and preserved for the life that is eternal.
(In John iii.)

St. Thomas Aquinas. Meditations for Lent. Passages selected from the works of St. Thomas by Fr. Mezard, O.P.; trans. by Fr. Philip Hughes. London: Sheed and Ward, 1937. 111-113.

Lamentation over Christ, by Fra Angelico.
Tempera and gold on panel, 1436-41; Museo di San Marco, Florence.

Adler: The Difference of Man and the Difference It Makes

Recommended reading: The Difference of Man and the Difference It Makes, by Mortimer J. Adler.

If you are interested in the philosophical aspects of biological evolution and want to know how to think about and judge, from a philosophical standpoint, the various positions proffered by scientists and philosophers on the key issues regarding the nature of man, then this is the book to own.

Adler clearly lays out the key questions, as well as what the possible answers are to these questions.

For many years, this book has been my bible and trusted companion when it comes to understanding the philosophical dimensions of biological evolution theories (yes, "theories", the plural form, as there is not just one theory of evolution). ~Ben


(Note: I own a first edition of this book, so I can't comment on the introduction by Deal Hudson in this particular edition, though I trust that the intro is a good one.)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Meditations & Readings: 4th Week in Lent—Saturday


The suitability of any particular way for the attainment of a given end is reckoned according to the greater or less number of things useful to that end which the way in question brings about. The more things helpful to the end the method chosen brings about, the better and more suitable is that method or way. Now owing to the fact that it was through the Passion of Christ that man was delivered, many things, helpful to man's salvation, came together in addition to his being freed from sin.

(i) Thanks to the fact that it was through the Passion that man was delivered, man learns how much God loves him, and is thereby stimulated to that love of God, in which is to be found the perfection of man's salvation. God commendeth his charity towards us: because when as yet we were sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. v. 8).

(ii) In the Passion He gave us an example of obedience, humility, constancy, justice and of other virtues also, all of which we must practise if we are to be saved. Christ suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should follow His steps (I Pet. ii. 21).

(iii) Christ by His Passion not only delivered man from sin, but also merited for man the grace which makes him acceptable to God, and the glory of life with God for eternity.

(iv) The fact that it is through the Passion that man has been saved, brings home to man the need of keeping himself clear from sin. Man has only to realise that it was at the price of the blood of Christ that he was bought back from sin. You are bought with a great price. Glorify God and bear him in your body (I Cor. vi. 20).

(v) The fact that the Passion was the way chosen heightens the dignity of human nature. As it was man that was deceived and conquered by the devil, so now it is man by whom the devil in turn is conquered. As it was man who once earned death, so it is man who, by dying, has overcome death. Thanks be to God, who hath given us the victory through Our Lord Jesus Christ (I Cor. xv. 57).
(S.T. 3, 46, 3.)

St. Thomas Aquinas. Meditations for Lent. Passages selected from the works of St. Thomas by Fr. Mezard, O.P.; trans. by Fr. Philip Hughes. London: Sheed and Ward, 1937. 110-111.

Vision of St. Thomas Aquinas, by Santi di Ito.
Oil on panel, 1593; San Marco, Florence.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Meditations & Readings: 4th Week in Lent—Friday


1. Through the blood of Christ the New Testament was confirmed. "This chalice is the new testament in my blood" (I Cor. xi. 25). Testament has a double meaning.

(i) It may mean any kind of agreement or pact. Now God has twice made an agreement with mankind. In one pact God promised man temporal prosperity and deliverance from temporal losses, and this pact is called the Old Testament. In another pact God promised man spiritual blessings and deliverance from spiritual losses, and this is called the New Testament, "I will make a new covenant, saith the Lord, with the house of Israel and with the house of Juda: not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt: but this shall be the covenant: I will give my law in their bosoms and I will write it in their hearts and I will be their God and they shall be my people" (]er. xxxi. 31-3 3).

Among the ancients it was customary to pour out the blood of some victim in confirmation of a pact. This Moses did when, taking the blood, he "sprinkled it upon the people and he said, This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you" (Ex. xxiv. 8). As the Old Testament or pact was thus confirmed in the figurative blood of oxen, so the New Testament or pact was confirmed in the blood of Christ, shed during his Passion.

(ii) Testament has another more restricted meaning when it signifies the arrangement of an inheritance among the different heirs, i.e., a will. Testaments, in this sense, are only confirmed by the death of the testator. As St. Paul says, "For a testament is of force, after men are dead: otherwise it is as yet of no strength, whilst the testator liveth" (Heb. ix. 17). God, in the beginning, made an arrangement of the eternal inheritance we were to receive, but under the figure of temporal goods. This is the Old Testament. But afterwards He made the New Testament, explicitly promising the eternal inheritance, which indeed was confirmed by the blood of the death of Christ. And therefore, Our Lord, speaking of this, says, "This chalice is the new testament in my blood" (I Cor. xi. 25), as though to say, "By that which is contained in this chalice, the new testament, confirmed in the blood of Christ, is commemorated."
(In I Cor. xii.)

2. There are other things which make the blood of Christ precious. It is:

(i) A cleansing of our sins and uncleanness. "Jesus Christ hath loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood" (Apoc. i. 5).

(ii) Our redemption, "Thou hast redeemed us in Thy blood" (ibid. v. 9).

(iii) The peacemaker between us and God and his angels, "making peace through the blood of his cross, both as to the things that are on earth and the things that are in the heavens" (Col. i. 20).

(iv) A draught of life to all who receive it. "Drink ye all of this" (Mt. xxvi. 27). "That they might drink the purest blood of the grape" (Dt. xxxii. 14).

(v) The opening of the gate of heaven. "Having therefore brethren, a confidence in the entering into the holies by the blood of Christ" (Heb. x. 19), that is to say, a continuous prayer for us to God. For His blood daily cries for us to the Father, as again we are told, "You are come to the sprinkling of blood which speaketh better than that of Abel" (ibid. xii. 22-24). The blood of Abel called for punishment. The blood of Christ calls for pardon.

(vi) Deliverance of the saints from hell. "Thou also by the blood of thy testament hast sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit, wherein is no water" (Zach. ix. n).
(Sermon for Passion Sunday.)
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St. Thomas Aquinas. Meditations for Lent. Passages selected from the works of St. Thomas by Fr. Mezard, O.P.; translated here by Fr. Philip Hughes. London: Sheed and Ward, 1937. 107-109.

The Last Supper, by Jaume Serra.
Tempera on wood, 1370-1400; Museo Nazionale, Palermo.

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