Thursday, June 6, 2013

Thomas Aquinas on the Good of the Soul

"The good of our soul is more important than that of our body; we have to prefer the spiritual welfare of our neighbor to our bodily comforts." - Thomas Aquinas.
 There is something known as the serenity prayer. I'm sure some of you have seen it before. "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference."

The Angelic Doctor speaks of tolerance in the sense that we must strive to avoid all evil, and correct it, but that sometimes we are powerless to correct it, and that for the time being we must let sleeping dogs lie. Contraception is a good example. I know of people who freely admit to using birth control. For whatever reason they use it, either through disobedience or ignorance. However, God conquers all, and on earth that is achieved especially through prayer for the conversion of hearts and minds. Arguing until your red in the face isn't going to accomplish much.

I have found that the gateway towards conversion of others is the conversion of yourself. Be a good Christian. And by that, I mean don't just do good. Be good, strive for holiness. Make known the faith in Jesus Christ. Be a good friend. Love outside of yourself.

That doesn't mean one should not verbally correct error. In fact, we must, and this is also a Spiritual Act of Mercy. Unfortunately, this often comes off as hateful or angry in a vindictive way. Of course it's angry: Monsignor Pope has an insightful post on anger.
“I am angry. And I am angry because I really care about this matter. I am not merely a neutral observer. I fully admit I have an agenda, an agenda I passionately believe in, and I experience grief and anger when what I value is dis-valued. Yes, I am angry, and I care about this.”
I mean, when 54 million humans in the United States alone since 1973 have been murdered in abortions, I must be angry. That is the death of an innocent human life, and the annihilation of a soul.

Returning to the Angelic Doctor's words, we must strive to be saints and help our neighbors get there too. The intellectual life must proceed along with one's devotional life. One cannot be leaps and bounds ahead of the other. (This is why so many Protestants struggle to become Catholic before they finally do, and in a frustrating vein, it is why so many Catholics lack evangelical zeal. They slog through helping their neighbor, and they don't have a foundation for doctrine. Or they don't pray.)

Last week on May 31 was the feast of the Visitation, and so I present to you the Magnificat of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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