Wednesday, September 14, 2011

On Faith, Proof, And The Sovereignty Of God

Faith is different from proof. One is human and the other a gift of God. 'The just shall live by faith' (Rom. 1:17). This is faith that God himself puts into our hearts, often using proof as the instrument. 'Faith comes by hearing' (Rom. 10:17). But this faith is in our hearts, and makes us say not, 'I know' but 'I believe'.

- Blaise Pascal, Pensées, trans. A. J. Krailsheimer (Great Britain: Penguin Group, 1966), #7

Thursday, September 8, 2011

On Mariology, Christology And The Ark

Today is the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Although I remain a material heretic to my friends at the University of Dallas, I will engage in thinking and reflecting on Luke 1:42-45 and of course Luke 11:27-28. Earlier in August, Pope Benedict XVI presented some thoughtful insights:
In the First Reading we heard: “God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the Ark of his Covenant was seen within his temple” (Rev 11:19). What is the meaning of the ark? What appears?

For the Old Testament, it is the symbol of God’s presence in the midst of his people. However, the symbol has given way to reality. Thus the New Testament tells us that the true ark of the covenant is a living, real person: it is the Virgin Mary. God does not dwell in a piece of furniture, he dwells in a person, in a heart: Mary, the One who carried in her womb the eternal Son of God made man, Jesus our Lord and Saviour.

In the ark — as we know — the two Tables of the Mosaic Law were kept. The Law expressed God’s wish to preserve the Covenant with his People, pointing out the conditions for being faithful to the pact with God in order to conform to God’s will and thereby also to our own profound truth.

Mary is the Ark of the Covenant because she welcomed Jesus within her; she welcomed within her the living Word, the whole content of God's will, of God’s truth; she welcomed within her the One who is the new and eternal Covenant, which culminated in the offering of his Body and his Blood: a body and blood received through Mary.

Therefore Christian piety rightly turns to Our Lady in the litanies in her honour, invoking her as Foederis Arca, that is, “the Ark of the Covenant”, the Ark of God’s presence, the Ark of the Covenant of love which God desired to establish with the whole of humanity, in Christ, once and for all.
- Pope Benedict XVI, Homily on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at St. Thomas of Villanova Parish, Castel Gandolfo (Monday, 15 August 2011).

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

On Geneva, Calvinism And Universals In Political Discourse

In 17654, definitively estranged from Catholicism, Rousseau, once more the proud "citizen of Geneva," dedicated his second discourse to his native city-state. And a few years later, as he meditated on the political treatise that was to become the Social Contract, it was Genevan society, Genevan scenes, Genevan political controversies, as he recalled and reshaped them in the urgency of intellectual creation, that dominated his mind. His celebrated assault on representation in the Social Contract is a striking instance of how much Geneva was on his mind as he laid down principles he proclaimed to be universally valid.
And later:
As passages in the Social Contract testify, [Rousseau] was enough of a relativist -the disciple of Montesquieu in this matter as in others- to see the possibility of freedom in moderate aristocracies or elective monarchies. But his ultimate preference was for a Geneva purified, the Geneva in his fertile mind.
And to be more explicit:
And "Geneva" also implied a powerful incentive toward a certain religious style. Rousseau's native city was, of course, a Calvinist stronghold -the very home of Calvinism. ANd while secular doctrines of the Enlightenment had invaded cultivated circles in Geneva, the Calvinist atmosphere remained a palpable legacy even among Voltaire's sophisticated Genevan friends. And this is the atmosphere that pervades Rousseau's Genevan friends. And this is the atmosphere that pervades Rousseau's thinking. He was never an orthodox believer; never a good Calvinist, never a good Catholic. As a mature thinker, he adopted the deism current among the philosophes of his time: the doctrine that a beneficent god had created the world with its laws and then withdrawn from it to leave virtuous men to discover its moral rules and live according to its dictates.
- Peter Gay, "Introduction," in Jean Jacques Rousseau: The Political Writings, trans. Donald A. Cress. (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co., 1987).

On Metaphysics, Objects, And Phenomenology

The first implies that we move round the object; the second that we enter into it. The first depends on the point at which we are placed and on the symbols by which we express ourselves. The second neither depends on a point of view nor relies on any symbol. The first of knowledge may be said to stop at the relative; the second, in those cases where it is possible, to to attain the absolute.
- Henri Bergeson, La Pensée et le mouvant

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Ave Redemptor, Sancte Redemptor

Ave redemptor, Domine Jesus:
Cuius ob opus
Superatur mors, enim salvatio
Nunc inundavit super universam terram.

Sancte redemptor, reputata
Fides est nobis peccatoribus,
Nunc et in morte, ad iustitiam.
- Ave Redemptor

Thursday, September 1, 2011

On Christology, Union With Christ And Glorification

‎So I hold out my arms to my Redeemer, who, having been foretold for four thousand years, has come to suffer and to die for me on earth, at the time and under all the circumstances foretold. By His grace, I await death in peace, in the hope of being eternally united to Him. Yet I live with joy, whether in the prosperity which it pleases Him to bestow upon me, or in the adversity which He sends for my good, and which He has taught me to bear by His example.
- Blaise Pascal, Pensées, trans. A. J. Krailsheimer (Great Britain: Penguin Group, 1966), #737.