Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Angelic Doctor on Love of Neighbor and Truth

"We must love them both, those whose opinions we share and those whose opinions we reject. For both have labored in the search for truth and both have helped us in the finding of it."-St. Thomas Aquinas
Indeed! This is so hard, particularly in my school life right now. And I admit it: I'm not the best. I'm pretty horrible at this actually. I will leave the room really frustrated with people, sometimes to the point of seething, and it can go on and on for the rest of the day, into the next. I'm not sure what the cause of this is. Part of it is probably all the other sins I have piled up, and because I'm human, I haven't purged them (yet). For example, when sinful anger still remains, then in all likelihood lust has not been extinguished from the heart.

Part of it is also that I just don't tolerate the mass acceptance of any kind of paradigm. True, the Irish village Catholicism of my great-great-great grandparents requires a different standard: it just makes sense! James Joyce never became a Protestant, and this is reflected in The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man:
 Then, said Cranly, you do not intend to become a protestant?
— I said that I had lost the faith, Stephen answered, but not that I had lost self-respect. What kind of liberation would that be to forsake an absurdity which is logical and coherent and to embrace one which is illogical and incoherent?
I don't accept it when people just accept the default paradigm of cultural Marxism, welfare socialism, and sexual liberation that has pervaded our culture without challenging their premise of belief. They hold it up as religious dogma but for the wrong reasons: it makes life easier and comfortable, and it makes someone in particular-i.e. white Christian males- a bully. Nihilism and existentialism allow us to deny the existence of God. (Maybe that's too harsh of a generalization.).

But, I do have to recognize that this is where they are at with the pursuit of all that it is Good, all that is Beautiful, and all that is True. We are designed for this pursuit as we are made out of love, so that we can freely come back to God our creator.

One has to really try to tolerate-in the Thomistic sense- another's flaws including their incorrect beliefs. It's hard, but it's so worth it. And, give them some time, especially after you don't see them for a while.

But, y'know, we're not Pelagians or Semi-Pelagians. THANK GOD. Grace is freely given if we desire it. If we had to work to purge ourselves of sin and to be sanctified, we'd never make it. We're simply too frail.

So, next time: post something on Facebook to get someone to think. Maybe a quote from a saint, or Mother Teresa. That usually gets better reception than something inflammatory about Obamacare and the HHS Mandate, which doesn't mean don't post about those kinds of things. Just pick and choose your battles in the comment-box.


  1. "But, y'know, we're not Pelagians or Semi-Pelagians. THANK GOD. Grace is freely given if we desire it."

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but that's exactly what Semi-Pelagianism is. The whole controversy between Augustine and Pelagius was over whether the desire to be saved can before or after the Holy Spirit zaps you with grace. Both Pelagius and Augustine believed grace was necessary (despite Augustine's hissy fit and lying) as can be seen by reading Pelagius' commentary on Romans which is available in English translation on Where they differed is Pelagius believed that if one desired to please God or desired to be saved, God would give them grace; while Augustine believed that its impossible for us to desire salvation at all before grace and that grace is something God zaps people who have no desire to do right not desire to please God no desire to be saved with in order to create those desires in them.

    1. Whoa there. I appreciate comments and discussions, but not the 'Sorry to burst your bubble' bit. If this was WordPress, I would definitely cut that out of the comment.
      Anyways, it is a both/and as I understand it. Faith requires free cooperation, but faith comes through grace.

    2. I didn't mean that I disagree with you. I meant like "Sorry to burst your bubble but the Calvinists will still call you a Pelagian."

    3. LOL, well...that's different :)
      And yes, it did publish the first time. Blogger gets a ton of spam so I moderate everything (plus it keeps mean comments in the trash).

  2. By the way, I perceive you may be equating Pelagianism with Marxism and welfare socialism whereas in reality these would have to be associated with Augustinianism. Augustine's notion of grace is that we can't help ourselves at all so God must do it all for us: in secular terms this amounts to the gov'ment having to do it all for us. Wheras Pelagius taught personal responsibility and freewill which in secular terms amounts to free markets.

    1. I was saying that loving our neighbor even after intense disagreements is still possible because we cannot do it by willpower alone. That's where Pelagianism comes in: the Way of the Cross is not easy, but far from impossible because we are imperfect frail, little creatures loved by a perfect God.
      Marxism is the root of the paradigm held by my neighbors with which I disagree.

  3. "Nihilism and existentialism allow us to deny the existence of God. (Maybe that's too harsh of a generalization)."

    I hope this was sarcastic because it is not exaggeratory in the least. Right on the money (though there are some existential Thomists whom I hold in high esteem).

    Yes, evangelizing must take the form of edification if we wish to get anywhere: no one wants straight up truth these days! But Saintliness... This will certainly do. Well said.

    1. Should I have made that capital-E Existentialism, as in Jean-Paul Sartre?

  4. On existentialism, Solomon tried to give his life meaning through everything under the Sun but concludes in the end of Ecclesiastes that the only thing that will do it is fearing God and keeping his commandments. This is why so many are unfulfilled today, even or maybe especially in Christianity, because faith alone can't fulfill the human being any more than having a thousand man-singers and woman-singers or every brand of wine that ancient Israel could produce. Faith alone can't give our lives any more meaning than driving the newest car or riding the most expensive donkey: it takes obeying God's commandments to do that.