Thursday, September 19, 2019

'Mid Foam and Rays

I Rise in Summer When the Warmed Breeze
by Thomas Caulfield Irwin


I rise in summer when the warmed breeze
Fails o'er the ocean with the morning haze,
To plunge in deep, cool waters from the blaze
Of the strong sun, just risen from the seas:
And thus, companioned by two deities
Sport elementally 'mid foam and rays:
Then breathe sweet hours along the sandy bays
Where scarce the ripple creams, and hum the bees
In the hot hush of the sea banks: and cool
The listless brow in the faint wind, where swing
The waves along the reefs, and in some pool
The anemony opens its soft purple ring
Refreshed : 'till o'er the tide, at evening full,
The gull floats, and the woodward crow makes wing.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Matteo Ricci, Jiaoyou Lun

Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), also known in China as Li Madou, wrote his work On Friendship somewhere around the year 1595, originally calling it You Lun, Essay on Friends, but changing it to Jiaoyou Lun, Essay on Friendship, at the recommendation of several Chinese friends. The original idea seems to have been to do it as a language exercise, translating and paraphrasing Western maxims on friendship into Chinese, but there was so much interest in the topic among those to whom he showed the work that he eventually worked it up so as to give it as a gift to the Prince of Jian'an Commandery, who was a cousin of the Emperor -- probably in the hope that the prince would help Ricci in his perpetual attempt to meet the Emperor.

The Essay was on just the right topic at exactly the right time. The late Ming dynasty had seen the rise of debating societies and similar organizations that were based on developing one of the five relations, that between friends. While it would be a mistake to say nothing had been written on this, friendship was often treated as the least of the five, and certainly less explored than the ruler-subject or the parent-child relationship. People were interested in the topic of friendship as they never had been before. At a later point, the powers that be would try to rein in the enthusiasm for discussions of the value of friendship -- too much association with bands of revolutionaries -- but this had not begun yet. Ricci's work was short, thus being in one sense easy to read, and yet challenging, presenting a foreign point of view. The scholars of China seem to have been struck by the strange-yet-fitting turn of several of his aphorisms, weirdly stated paradoxes that somehow captured exactly their experience of friendship, positions very much like the traditional Chinese positions on friendship but with an unexpected twist, stories and comments that they had never heard before clothing points that they knew well.

If Ricci had been deliberately calculating to capture the interest of intellectuals, he could not have done a better job. It certainly did. Everyone wanted a copy; finally, the inevitable happened, and pirated versions (as we would say) began to be printed. It became the first work by a European to be printed in a number of important influential Chinese anthologies and collectanea, and while approval and popularity have waxed and waned multiple times, it can rightly be said to have become one of the modern classics of Chinese literature.

I read the work in Timothy Billings's translation: Matteo Ricci, On Friendship: One Hundred Maxims for a Chinese Prince, Billings, tr., Columbia University Press (New York: 2009). It has a nice introduction that gives some of the biographical and historical context, on which I am drawing, and it seems to do well in tracing down Ricci's original sources.

The Thought and Structure

The work opens with an autobiographical proem about how Ricci has sailed the seas to China out of respect "for the learned virtue of the Son of Heaven of the Great Ming dynasty as well as for the teachings bequeathed by the ancient kings" (p. 87). He visits the Prince of Jian'an Commandery, who asks him about how friendship is understood in the Far West, and for this reason Ricci is writing his book. Billings notes in the introduction that there are a number of reasons not to take this as literal, and to treat it as a literary rather than a historical introduction. It functions in a way as a tactful dedicatory note: Ricci shows respect for the prince and in a way gives him credit for it.

After this follows a hundred maxims -- it was probably originally a shorter list later rounded out to a hundred. One of the aphorisms that seems to have particularly caught the attention of Ming philosophers of friendship is the very first, which Ricci draws from Augustine and Aristotle:

My friend is not an other, but half of myself, and thus a second me -- I must therefore regard my friend as myself. (p. 91)

Another very popular one was the 24th aphorism (also derived from Augustine):

The harm that is done by a friend's excessive praise is greater than the harm that is done by an enemy's excessive calumny.

COMMENTARY: If a friend praises me, I may become self-conceited. If an enemy slanders me, I may become more cautious.

Some of the aphorisms show Ricci taking good advantage of the differences that can arise when translating into another context; he will sometimes find a way to make a wordplay work in Chinese as well as the original, or will draw on the characteristics of Chinese script (like the fact that one way of writing the word for 'friend' looks like a double version of the character for 'another'). He also will draw subtle but undeniable links between the aphorisms he is translating and Chinese ethics. For instance, on one aphorism drawn from Plutarch (the 52nd), he comments:

Since my friends must be virtuous and benevolent, they will know whom to love and whom to hate. This is why I rely upon them. (p. 111)

The word translated here as 'virtuous and benevolent' is ren, which is perhaps the foundational virtue in Confucian ethics.

The aphorisms derive from a wide variety of sources: Aristotle, Cicero, Plutarch, Augustine, Seneca, Diogenes Laertius, and more. In some cases he pulls together several different sources, and in a few cases (like the popular 95th aphorism, on the sharing of wealth between friends), Ricci seems to be himself the originator of the aphorism, although always on a theme that was common.

The book ends with a colophon which we apparnetly have in two slightly different forms, one in which Ricci calls himself a shanren (a man of the mountains), which has Taoist overtones, and was commonly used among certain independent-minded intellectuals of the day, and another in which he calls himself a xiushi, a moral scholar, which has a more Confucian tone to it. Billings notes (pp. 17-18) that this is probably because the shanren text occurs at the transitional stage between the original Jesuit attempt to describe themselves in Buddhist terms and the later Jesuit attempt to describe themselves in Confucian terms, and that the Taoist word actually goes very well with the proem, in which Ricci describes his choice of residence in China in terms at least evocative of Taoism.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Bellarmino

Today is the feast of St. Roberto Bellarmino, Doctor of the Church. From his catechism:

God wants to be held for that which He is, without a doubt, for the One True God. This happens when a man cultivates within himself the four virtues pertaining to the Divine Majesty, this is faith, hope, charity and religion. For he who believes in God acknowledges God for God, i.e., for the Supreme Truth; in this, Heretics commit offense, because they do not believe in Him.One who hopes in God, he--in a similar fashion--acknowledges God as God, insofar as he holds Him as the most faithful, merciful and powerful, and trusts that He can and will help him in all necessities. Those who despair of the mercy of God sin against this, as well as those who hope in man more than in God, or certainly, trust in man as though he were God. One who loves God above all things, holds God for God, i.e. for the Supreme Good. Those men sin gravely against this who love any creature either before God or equally with God, or on the other hand--and more gravely-- those who hate God. Next, one who worships God with supreme reverence (which the virtue of Religion teaches), holds God as God because he acknowledges God as the Beginning and Author of all things. They sin against this who hold those things consecrated to God with little esteem, sucha s Churches, sacred vessels, the Priesthood and like things, as well as those who honor men either more or equally as they do God.

[St. Robert Bellarmine, Doctrina Christiana, Grant, tr., Mediatrix Press (2016) pp. 100-101.]

Monday, September 16, 2019

She Answered, Even So

Maternity
by Alice Meynell


One wept whose only child was dead,
New-born, ten years ago.
“Weep not; he is in bliss,” they said.
She answered, “Even so,

“Ten years ago was born in pain
A child, not now forlorn.
But oh, ten years ago, in vain,
A mother, a mother was born.”

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Evening Note for Sunday, September 15

Thought for the Evening: Non Aliud

In recent discussion, I mentioned Cusanus's Non Aliud as one possible parallel to Advaita nonduality, so I have been thinking a bit about the concept.

Nicholas of Cusa was probably the most talented German theologian of the fifteenth century. He was active at the Council of Basel and was a major figure in bringing about the Council of Florence. He was also actively involved in the resurgence of Platonism in the Renaissance, and in particular, the attempt to reclaim parts of the Platonic heritage of the Church that had begun to fall out of view. One of the difficulties of this project was the fact that there were really a lot of varieties of Platonism beginning to resurface, and one of Nicholas's major contributions was in trying to work out ways in which these varieties might be pulled together. A good example of this is his notion of God as Non Aliud, Not Other.

Of the Not Other (De li Non Aliud) looks specifically at a few sources for broadly Platonic ideas: Plato's Parmenides with Proclus's commentary, Proclus's Platonic Theology, the works of Dionysius (whom he also calls the Theologian), and the works of Aristotle. Nicholas recognizes that a concern common to all of these works (in one way or another) is definition. A definition is good when it can be put into a form like 'A is not other than B'; the limit case of this is 'A is not other than A'. All of the works Nicholas is considering make definition to be a central part of knowing; you know something when you know its particular definition. Definitions are called such because they are acts of delimiting.

On the basis of this, Nicholas considers the question of the act of defining that defines everything. This Definition must be not other than what it defines, which is everything, so, given this, Nicholas proposes that we call it Not Other. If definitions are in some sense 'not others', the all-defining Definition is the Not Other. It in some sense defines itself -- Not Other is not other than Not Other -- and its defining gives the things themselves. It is perfect defining. And of course, the all-defining defining is God. As he puts it, 'other' indicates a terminus or endpoint of understanding; that which is on the other end, the very beginning point of it all, has to be Not Other, on which everything else depends. Not Other is simply prior to anything and everything else that can be defined; insofar as it makes understanding possible we call it Light. But as everything is not other than itself, it also has its existence from Not Other as the Cause and Reason for everything.

This serves as the foundation for Nicholas's explanation of the tendency in Platonism to suggest that transcendentals like being, one, true, good, are posterior to God. Since one is not other than one, it presupposes Not Other (one is one because of Not Other that defines it as such), which is more simple; one is other than Not Other. Some Platonists, of course, will use One as a name for Not Other, but they will also usually recognize that this is stretching the term in some way. Likewise, we can say that Not Other is beyond being because any being is not other than a thing that is, and so for good, as well. But it's not as if being, one, good, and true follow after Not Other as something separate; they each are what they are through Not Other, so that Not Other is present to them all, and, of course, present to everything to which they pertain.

Because of this, Not Other is in whatever is other -- every other is not other than the other it is. Every other is lacking something, because it is contrasted to that to which it is other. But Not Other is not like this; all others, even the ones contrasting with each other, are what they are through the all-defining defining that is being called 'Not Other'. Thus everything that can exist or be thought is so because of Not Other. Not Other is, of course, absolutely not other than Not Other; but as all-defining, it is also not other than every other. In Nicholas's example, God is not any visible thing, because He is antecedent to them all; but as antecedent to all He is also not other than them. The sky is other than what is not sky; and God, being Not Other, is neither sky nor not-sky, both of which are other than each other. But in the sky, God is not other than the sky, without being the same as the sky, and in what is not sky, God is not other than what is not sky, without being the same as what is not sky. Being Not Other, He is not other than these things. Unnameable, He is that by which all else is nameable; indefinable, He is that by which all else is definable; illimitable, He is that by which all is limitable; all these other things cannot be opposed to Him as one thing to another thing, because that would be inconsistent with their existing at all. This is Nicholas's Non-Aliud way of characterizing what Platonists often call 'participation'. Likewise, this is another way to think of divine ideas and creation: in Not Other, the sky is Not Other than Not Other, which is the divine idea, and we get creation insofar as in the sky, Not Other is not other than the sky. And whenever we are considering the sky, we are, whether we realize it or not, always considering the sky and the Not Other that defines it. Thus everything becomes a sign of God, pointing to God. "The definition defining itself and all things is the definition every intellect seeks."

All names we give to God, then, are attempts to capture Not Other, prior and all-defining, with respect to some particular aspect of things that are posterior and defined, sometimes more and sometimes less precisely: Infinite Power (as in the infinite power of the First Mover), Creative Will, etc. We call God 'substance' or 'substance of substances' or 'supersubstantial substance' because substances are not other than their accidents, but they are limited because they are other than other substances; but God is prior to substances as Not Other, and there is no other that is opposed to Him so as to be able to limit Him. We say that God has power, will, intellect, etc., because in us these are things by which we are closest to Not Other. Intellect and will are less other and more not other than other things. Nicholas uses the example of Trajan's column: it's called Trajan because it exists by Trajan's will, which defined and delimited it, and it is not other than Trajan's will for it, what Trajan willed it to be. And because of this, the column is the sign of Trajan's will.

The whole discussion is a clever way to synthesize a very large number of very different Platonic approaches (Perhaps, Nicholas muses at one point, they were all trying to make the same point but were expressing it differently), even though in doing so he stretches both thought and language, as he himself recognizes. He spends quite some time trying to show that his account corresponds to things said by Plato, Proclus, and the Theologian, and to a lesser extent Aristotle, and therefore provides a more precise way to characterize the things they all talked about. But, a true Platonist, he also insists that 'Not Other' is not the name of God, who is beyond all names; it is merely a way to rise to Him.

Various Links of Interest

* Alexandre Costa-Leite, Oppositions in a line segment (PDF)

* Alexander Pruss on eleven varieties of contrastive explanation

* Paul R. Audi, Existential Inertia (PDF)

* An interesting discussion of the history of the Mormon Pearl of Great Price

* Quentin Ruyant, The Inductive Route to Necessity (PDF)

* Jud Campbell, Natural Rights and the First Amendment

* An interesting article on how chess grandmasters lose weight due to the stress.

* Ryszard Legutko, Nationalism, Conservatism, and the E.U.

* An interesting paper by Chad Vance: The World is a Necessary Being (PDF). The title is perhaps a bit misleading, although not through Vance's fault; it comes about because of the clunky terminological apparatus of possible world semantics as it is usually described. Possible worlds are often said to be 'the way the world can be', and The World in the title is just that whatever it is that is such that possible worlds are the way it can be. What the argument really does is establish that on certain common modal assumptions, something actually existing, on which different possibilities depend, must be necessary.

* This year is the 50th anniversary of Scooby-Doo, so various pieces have been coming out in commemoration. Far and away the best I have read is Eleni Theodoropoulos's How Scooby Doo Revived Gothic Storytelling for Generations of Kids.

* Phil Christman reviews John Warner's Why They Can't Write.

* Fr. Joseph Bolin on the seal of confession.

Currently Reading

Robertson Davies, A Mixture of Frailties
Penelope Maddy, What Do Philosophers Do?
Declan Finn, Hell Spawn
Johann Wyss, The Swiss Family Robinson

Then Draw Your Curtains, and Begin the Dawn!

Aubade
by Sir William Davenant


The lark now leaves his wat'ry nest,
And climbing shakes his dewy wings.
He takes this window for the East,
And to implore your light he sings--
Awake, awake! the morn will never rise
Till she can dress her beauty at your eyes.

The merchant bows unto the seaman's star,
The ploughman from the sun his season takes;
But still the lover wonders what they are
Who look for day before his mistress wakes.
Awake, awake! break thro' your veils of lawn!
Then draw your curtains, and begin the dawn!

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Spiritus Destructionis

A propensity to wanton destruction of what is beautiful in inanimate nature (spiritus destructionis) is opposed to a human being's duty to himself; for it weakens or uproots that feeling in him which, though not of itself moral, is still a disposition of sensibility that greatly promotes morality or at least prepares the way for it: the disposition, namely, to love something (e.g., beautiful crystal formations, the indescribable beauty of plants) even apart from any intention to use it.

[Immanuel Kant, The Metaphysics of Morals, Book I, Chapter II, Episodic Section, sect. 17, in Immanuel Kant, Practical Philosophy, Gregor, tr. & ed. Cambridge University Press (New York: 1996) p. 564.]

Friday, September 13, 2019

Dashed Off XIX

This begins a notebook that was begun in July of 2018.

To receive the sacraments is to accept Christ's taking moral and juridical responsible for us, and in doing so to receive a responsibility ourselves.

Every child is born already in relation to parents.

An endless amount of our lives consists in making the best of a bad thing.

The seal of confession is integral to the sacrament's character as the tribunal of mercy.

(1) Christ's occupancy of the sacraments by presence
(2) Christ's designation of the sacraments through his priests as representatives
-- (1) presupposes Christ's jural title by creation; (2) presupposes Christ's institution.

(1) Social relations are mutable and uncertain.
(2) The mutability and uncertainty of them is a significant impediment to the maintenance of society.
(3) Thus we tend naturally to submit to the easiest reasonable remedy available, because we are unwilling to leave everything in suspense.
(4) Thus we rely on biological parenthood as our default for understanding parenthood.

Analogies for sacraments
-- medicine in vial (Hugh of St. Victor)
-- tokens in demonic pact (William of Auvergne)
-- water in aqueduct (Augustine)
-- ring &c. of investiture (Bernard)
-- axe used by artisan (Aquinas)
-- promissory note issued by king (Bonaventure)
-- pencil used by artist (Bañez)
-- paid ransom (Cano)

"By His wine, union; by His oil, sanctification." Ephrem
"Jesus mingled His might in the water."

An instrument that is visible is, by the very fact of being such, a sign of the effect.

A divine pact with the Church gives the framework for the sacraments (the new covenant) but does not explain the actions specifically performed in the context of the pact.

"Non-experience of something can prove that it is absent only when positive experience of it can prove that it exists." Vatsyayana

(1) Suppose moral relativism.
(2) Then there are many moral standards.
(3) Then there are features of these standards that make them identifiable as specifically moral.
(4) Then there are conditions required for anything to count as a moral standard in the first place.
(5) Then there are general constraints on morality that are not relative.
-- Not that a family resemblance response would still fail -- there must be a way to sort family resemblance from its lack.
-- A stronger possible objection: we only call them moral by analogy; we could also regard them as just something different from morality. -- But this would have to be principled. And once one allows analogies, partial overlaps, and approximate convergences, it becomes impossible to take descriptive moral relativism (insofar as it suggests 'Moral disagreement is more pervasive than moral agreement') seriously: partial and loose agreements are pervasive.

Relative to any particular way of measuring, truth values may be glutty or gappy or both.

Morality // Laws of Nature:
emotivism // pure naive empiricism
expressivism // conventionalism
error theory // fictionalism?
nonnaturalism // Necessitarianism/primitivism
nonreductive naturalism // Aristotelianism/powers theory
reductive naturalism // counterfactualism

Because of its complexity and the difficulty of making and confirming estimates, utilitarianism in practice works more like a rhetorical method than an ethical account.

All arguments for separation of Church and State have analogies for separation of Press and State.

Booker T. Washington & the working man's cosmopolitanism

Law tends to accumulate endless idiosyncratic, quaint, and otherwise obsolete usages because precedent, and classes of precedents, are important for its reasoning, particularly since imprecision can hurt you badly. Thus keeping old usages is often the easiest way to avoid going wrong.

logical ampliation as shift of standpoint

the principle for perception that corresponds to the principle of credulity for testimony

The modern world is premised on the inexhaustibility of fertilizer results, accessible petroleum, and antibiotic efficacy.

Defeat by sin is a worse evil than suffering.

We should treat our imagination sometimes as if it were a sophist inside us. (Cp. Epictetus)

"The Council of Trent was a Council of Recapitulation." Manning

Standard probability theory cannot distinguish happenstance actuality, conditional necessity given causal factors, and simple necessity.

(1) dangerous -- (2) unhealthy -- (3) shameful -- (4) culpable -- (5) wicked
Each category overlaps the one before and the one next.
safe, healthy, honorable, decent, virtuous

Four things need to be explained in talking about the principium individuationis: being one and the same, being in fact undivided, being subject, being such as to be uncommunicated.

families of accounts of sacraments: Dualism, Organicism, Memorialism

sacramentals as linking public and private devotion

entertaining, supposing, suspecting, opining

arguments for realism about grace (donative realism)
(1) from miracles
(2) from religious experience
(3) from human requirement + divine ability
(4) from ordinary language of believers
(5) from sublimity of sainthood

forms of donative anti-realism (liberal theologies of grace)
(1) symbolic natural
(2) ordinative/prescriptive
(3) fictive
Each of these takes one of the genuine elements of the phenomena and treats it as exclusive: symbolism, action-guidance, and narrative.

All forms of moral noncognitivism focus on an associated feature fo moral life: expression (attitudinal, emotive), prescription, symbol-building, etc., There obviously has to be some form of associated feature from which to draw plausibility, and the strength and weakness of the noncognitivism lies entirely here.

forms of lay Catholic contribution
(1) Catholic Action
(2) Catholic Worker Movement
(3) Humanitarian Traditions
(4) Catholic Education

Advaita means 'nonsecondness' or 'no second'. And in much of its position that there is no second to Brahman, it is attractive. Avidya can in that sense be seen as the ignorance that is an idolatry-tendency (seeing the world and its parts as if they were ultimate). Nonsublatability (abbadhyatvam) is like Rosmini's ultimate reason.

Each of Advaita, Vishishtadvaita, and Dvaita Vedanta as a philosophy captures something important: Advaita the nonsecondness, Vishishtadvaita the distinctness of souls with aptness for union, Dvaita the personal real difference. Each arguably focuses too narrowly on something it definitely gets right.

Any possible evidence for an error theory of morality is also interpretable as evidence for a modest success theory of morality.

"Considered in general, competition through honest means is a natural right relative to all kinds of earning." Rosmini
"Titles are those factual conditions in which the application of law takes place."

It is essential to double effect in the case of self-defense that we have an obligation to defend ourselves, broadly speaking.

forms of acts of satisfaction: (1) attestative (2) honorific (3) pecuniary

Hope is what converts opportunity into freedom.

Diversity is primarily a strength within the context of friendship.

The laity have a right to episcopal protection and aid.

We experience ourselves as actualizing potential.

"The cogito in general is explicit intentionality. The concept of intentional experience generally already presupposes the opposition between potentiality and actuality...." Husserl

person-relative modalities: epistemic, doxastic, deontic
as-if modalities: fictional, hypothetical
alethic modalities: alethic proper, provable, temporal, locative, dynamic

The experience of potentiality and actuality is related to the experience of incompleteness and completeness in act.

Love, and everything then belongs to you.

recognition of the vastness of the universe --> sublimity of the mind --> teh sublime as such, which all call God

health (sanitive) nonnaturalism

Everything in later Christian doctrine must find its seminal reason in Apostolic teaching.

Doctrine, that is, teaching, by its very nature unfolds.

NB that Augustine holds that for the baptized concupiscence is not sin if there is no consent (Mar & Con 1.23); i.e., the regenerate have grace such that it does not immediatley produce sin, although it is an effect of sin and through consent can become sin.

The text is the governing guide for interpreting the text.

elements that are in Apostolic teaching 'invisibiliter, potentialiter, causaliter quomodo fiunt futura non facta'

preexistence in Apostolic doctrine
(1) materially
(2) in cause
(3) in active powers (germinally)
(4) by similitude
[Compare Aquinas, ST 1.73.1 ad 3.]

"In order to be successful in any kind of undertaking, I think the main thing is for one to grow to the point where he completely forgets himself, that is, to lose himself in a great cause." Booker T. Washington
"Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work."

three kinds of aporia
(1) variation according to perspective
(2) disagreement
(3) apparent infinite regress

"Once there is a religion, it must necessarily also be social." Schleiermacher

Once there is a religion, it must necessarily also be semiotic.

sign as an intentional instrument of cognition
sign as mediating instrument for cognition

example-diagrams vs analogy-diagrams

the Church as standing memorial of duty to God (Butler)

Philosophical accounts of artifacts too often drop the recognition that 'artifact' is a denomination relative to art (techne, skill).

The analogy between motion of particles and motion of cracks suggests a higher-order generalization of which both are merely specifications.

creation as giving readiness to appear (communication of readiness to appear)

sacraments as artifacts of divine art

artifacts as quasi-deontic objects

the sacramental economy as the material culture of salvation and deification

Never enter an argument without having some grasp on the larger context.

If the First Way yields sacraments as instruments (moved movers) and the Fifth Way as expressions of providential plan, what do the Second, Third, and Fourth Way yield?

God is the subsisting and exemplar principle of noncontradiction, the 'turhtmaker' and 'truthbearer' for all necessary truths, all of which 'unfold' from Him.

While we speak of contingent truths as a lot, not all contingent truths are contingent in exactly the same way.

sanctity as a sign of the Holy Spirit, as signifying the Holy Spirit

the Ascension as the initiation of the full sacramental economy (Cp Leo Serm 74.2)

sacraments as: artifacts, signs, instruments, gifts, mediations, memorials, occasions of presence, synergies/cooperations, pledges

Matrimony effects what it signifies by forming the domestic church.

Purgatory is like mystagogy, but away from the sacraments rather than to them.

the ivy of analogy threaded through the trellis of demonstration

kinship, friendship, patriotism, and worship

marriage as partial asceticism

Out of much foolishness an occasional brilliance can be born.

opening (Diamond), illustrative (True), and binding (Box) precedent

angelology : learning :: demonology : temptation

synousia with the saints through relics, icons, and hagiography

"No man, however truly he loved his betrothed and bride as a young man, has lived faithful to her as a wife in mind and body without deliberate conscious exercise of the will, without self-denial." Tolkien

partwise cooperation vs wholewise cooperation

the gifts of the Holy Spirit as forms of freedom

Golden Mouth

Today is the feast of St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church. From his Homily XXII on Hebrews:

"The lifting up of my hands" (it is said) "is an evening sacrifice." With our hands let us also lift up our mind: ye who have been initiated know what I mean, perhaps too ye recognize the expression, and see at a glance what I have hinted at. Let us raise up our thoughts on high.

I myself know many men almost suspended apart from the earth, and beyond measure stretching up their hands, and out of heart because it is not possible to be lifted into the air, and thus praying with earnestness. Thus I would have you always, and if not always, at least very often; and if not very often, at least now and then, at least in the morning, at least in the evening prayers. For, tell me, canst thou not stretch forth the hands? Stretch forth the will, stretch forth as far as thou wilt, yea even to heaven itself. Even shouldst thou wish to touch the very summit, even if thou wouldst ascend higher and walk thereon, it is open to thee. For our mind is lighter, and higher than any winged creature. And when it receives grace from the Spirit, O! how swift is it! How quick is it! How does it compass all things! How does it never sink down or fall to the ground! These wings let us provide for ourselves: by means of them shall we be able to fly even across the tempestuous sea of this present life. The swiftest birds fly unhurt over mountains, and woods, and seas, and rocks, in a brief moment of time. Such also is the mind; when it is winged, when it is separated from the things of this life, nothing can lay hold of it, it is higher than all things, even than the fiery darts of the devil.