Lecture Notes for September 15
Date Tuesday, September 13, 2005 Topic: Life in Christ and The Monasticism
Learning Objective: Distinguish how Christ is the way the truth and the life and describe how early monks understood monasticism as a following of Christ.
Teaching Strategy: Lecture and Discussion.
Evaluation Technique: Class participation, EBB, Blog and Midterm.
Assignment due Sept. 15: Spiritual Theology, Chapter 4, Christian Spirituality, Chapter 6
Date: Thursday, September 15, 2005 Topic: The Supernatural Organism and the Scholastics
Learning Objectives: Provide an explanation of the supernatural organism. Describe the relation of the different kinds of grace, virtues, gifts, fruits and beatitudes. Provide understanding of why the scholastics began to develop teachings on the supernatural organism and the divine indwelling.
Teaching Strategy: Lecture and Discussion
Evaluation Technique: Class participation, EBB, Blog, and Midterm.
Assignment due Sept. 20 : Spiritual Theology, chapter 5 and 6, Christian Spirituality, chapter 8 and Blog and EBB.
Date: Tuesday, September 20, 2005 Topic: Christian Perfection and The Catholic Reformers
Learning Objective: Define the nature of Christian Perfection and explain mystical experience in relation to it. Identify the basic teachings of John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila in relation to Christian Perfection.
Teaching Strategy: Lecture and Discussion
Evaluation Technique: Class participation, EBB, Blog, and Midterm.
Assignment due Sept. 22: Spiritual Theology, chapter 7
In our last lecture we considered how Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life (Spiritual Theology, pp 49-65). We ran out of time to properly review Christ our life. Under this aspect, Christ is the meritorious, efficient, and ecclesial cause of our spiritual life.
By meritorious cause, we mean that Christ merited our redemption through his obedience to the Father in his passion and death in such a way that our weakness serves as the basis of appealing to God’s mercy. This, along with Christ as the exemplar cause of the spiritual life, is foundational to the theology of St. Maximus the Confessor – we grow to spiritual maturity principally because the Word did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at but rather emptied himself; thus, the work by which we were redeemed is the pattern we must follow: we must imitate Christ (See Christian Spirituality, p. 56).
By efficient cause, we mean that all grace comes through him; his divinity is the source of the power that saves (sanctifying grace) and his humanity is the instrument through which that power acts. This means that if we are to become holy, we must have some kind of contact with Christ involving his sacred humanity.
As ecclesial cause of the Spiritual life, Christ leads us to see that nothing created can separate us from “the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” because the reality of what the Church is. Christ is the head of the mystical body, meaning that he has primacy of order (everything ordered to him), he has primacy of perfection (in him is the fullness of grace and truth), and he has primacy of power (the whole Body and each of its members draws its life from his fullness). The primacy of Christ’s perfection and power in the Church are the most important aspects to consider for the spiritual life because they touch on the life of grace. Christ communicates his power chiefly but not exclusively through the sacraments – the visible signs of grace that when received with the right disposition effect contact with Christ. This kind of contact is that which is given through a faith vivified by charity. St. Thomas teaches that “by faith Christ’s power is united to us” (ST III, q62, a5, ad 2).
Jordan Aumann also discusses the role of Mary as mother and mediatrix of graces. This is the proper subject of our Mariology course but for now we will simply observe that her maternal role is related to Christ as efficient cause in terms of her maternal relationship to him and to Christ’s ecclesial causality because of her unique relationship to the Church.
As we go into the next subject, we will see that imitation of Christ involves on the one hand the life of grace and on the other the cooperation of our freewill. How does God’s grace and our free will work together towards spiritual growth? The monastic and scholastic movements of the West explored this question and developed a theological understanding of this question that became identified under the term, “supernatural organism.”
His contribution was to stress the importance of one’s freewill in spiritual growth. By renunciation of the everything that leads from Christ, we imitate Christ in his self-emptying love. For him, what we choose determines whether we will grow. As we choose well, we become capable of deeper prayer.
Three phases of asceticism:
1. reject all pleasures and vices
2. renounce one=s very self B bad habits, unruly affections
3. withdraw from all things present and visible, apply self to eternal and invisible
Four kinds of prayer
1. Prayer for Mercy - or Prayer of Compunction (beginners)
2. Prayer of Good Resolutions (Proficient)
3. Prayer for the Salvation of souls (spiritually mature)
4. Thanksgiving (contemplatives engaged in the prayer of fire)
These kinds of prayer ultimately lead to what Cassian calls the Prayer of Fire, scriptural contemplation. This prayer begins by reading the Scriptures and leads back to it.
St. Augustine: From the Confessions, we know that Augustine was drawn to the communal life even before his conversion. He came to realize that apart from the grace of Christ, fraternal fellowship based on the pursuit of the truth was subject to futility. He saw that true fellowship was to be realized through a pursuit of Christ. His contribution to spiritual theology lies in his attempts to formulate a rule for the common life, a theology of grace, a theology of prayer, and a theology of the active and contemplative life. We will not be able to discuss his thoughts on the common life, but his theology of grace, prayer and modes of life deserve attention.
Theology of Grace and Spiritual Growth
This is his most controversial contribution, but perhaps the most important, at least for the development of the theology of grace in the West. In fact, Cassian reacts in his writings to what he perceives as an over-emphasis on grace in the writings of St. Augustine, an emphasis that seems to obscure the role of freewill. But it can be argued that St. Augustine actually presents a more balanced picture because he distinguishes between different kinds of grace. In his theology, grace is divided between sanctifying (a disposition of soul) and actual (a moment of action). Actual graces precede, aid and increase good choices. For Augustine, spiritual growth is primarily growth in grace. Grace grows in us through:
1) docility to the Holy Spirit in prayer
2) doing everything out of love for God, the imperation of charity (perfect charity is perfect justice), charity transforming natural virtues
Charity leads to union, union is the source of wisdom and spiritual maturity. He proposed 7 stages of growth:
(1) vegetive, (2) sensitive and (3) rational levels of life
(4) virtue and purification
(5) tranquility B control of the passions
(6) ingresso in lucem
(7) indwelling (mansions of the Soul)
Theology of Prayer
In his Letter to Proba, a widow whom he was advising, he discusses ceaseless prayer. Prayer without ceasing can be achieved by cultivating holy desires. This insight helped scholastic doctors understand that holy desires produced by the Holy Spirit as the cause of prayer.
Modes of Life
He also begins to work out a theology of the active and contemplative life. He uses Scriptural exemplars: Peter/Martha active (makes progress) John/Mary contemplative (attains goal)
But he never insists that these be completed separate expressions of the Christian life. The ideal is integration. Thus, he presents three modes or states of life: Active, Contemplative and both together.
St. Benedict: His contribution was to popularize monastic discipline in the West by producing a rule noted for its prudential balance in terms of discipline and human needs. He observed that there were four kinds of monks and of these only the first kind who lived in community were closest to the ideal of the Early Church: (1) cenobites B live with rule, (2) hermits B from cenobites ready to live in desert, (3) sarabaites B self-willed monks, and (4) gyrovagues B no stability, on the move.
The way to grow in holiness for Benedict is through obedience, practice of silence, and humility. The practice of humility unfolded in stages of maturity he envisioned in terms of twelve degrees and he described these in very practical terms.
Twelve Degrees of Humility:
(1) fear of God B no forgetting
(2) love not own will
(3) submit your superior
(4) obedeince under tough circumstances
(5) does not conceal from abbbot thought os heart confesses these
(6) content with bad treatment
(7) believes he is inferior to others
(8) does common rule
(9) controls tongue and keeps silence
(10) not given to laughter
(11) speaks gently and seriously
(12) heart and actions the same
The Middle Ages and Scholasticism
A priestly spirituality emerges first with the Norbertines and eventually with the Domincans in response to the reforms initiated by Gregory VII and the call to renewal of Innocent III. Along with the emergence of these clerical forms of spirituality, there were also lay movements, some of which were organized by St. Francis and his followers into new forms of religious life. For the purposes of our discussion, we note that Dominican and Franciscan scholars rose up with the development of the University. Their scholastic teaching was different than the monastic tradition in that they attempted to better organize and systematize the great theological questions monastic schools left unresolved. They did this by carefully integrated philosophy with theology and by returning to patristic and scriptural sources for theology. Concerns about how following Christ is both a matter of grace and freewill were organized into a body of teaching that would be called the supernatural organism.
The Supernatural Organism
This body of teaching utilized the gifts of the spirit, the fruits of the spirit, the beatitudes, and virtues derived from Greek philosophy to explain how grace and freewil were related to man's happiness, the perfection of all his powers. It presumes that man is called to a perfection of his powers which he is naturally not capable of. His natural life needs supernatural life to realize its destiny.
The Seven Gifts of the Spirit, The Virtues, The Fruits
Types of Life
Contemplative Life (Union)
Active Life (Illumination)
Life of Pleasure (Purification)
Messianic Gifts of the Spirit:
Fear of the Lord
The Fruits of the Spirit from Galations
Love, Joy Peace
Beatitudes of Matthew and Luke
the pure of heart
hunger and thirst for justice
Blessed are the meek
poverty of spirit
1. The whole moral life is oriented to union with God and is impossible without the life of grace.
2. The Life of Grace consists of the (1) its formal principal, sanctifying grace, the grace that makes us holy (2) infused virtues and gifts (3) the indwelling of the Spirit. (4) actual graces which spur is into action at specific moments.
3. Sanctifying grace gives physical, formal, analogous, and accidental participation in the divine nature the chief effects of which include chiefly divine adoption, rights to merit and the beginning of glory, and rights to the paternal blessing of the Father to the Son.
4. Secondary effects of sanctifying grace include the communication of supernatural life, Justification and sanctification, the capacity for supernatural merit, degrees of intensity of intimate union with God, and the indwelling of the Holy Trinity.
5. The purpose of the Indwelling is the mutual possession in love of the Trinity and the Soul, and its consequence is great joy and the power to do great things for God.
6. The power God provides comes in the form of infused virtues and gifts, [and other gifts freely given (charismatica) that are not properly part of the supernatural organism but for the building up of the Body of Christ].
7. Gifts are disposition to act under the impetus of the Holy Spirit. With this disposition, actual operative grace when freely sanctioned moves us from the possibility of acting (virtue) to action (the good act).
8. Actual grace can be operative or cooperative. Human effort aided by the life of grace allows us to fulfill the precepts of the law but not perfectly. This aid to human action is called cooperative grace and prepares for special operative graces when the soul chooses to cooperate with the gift that has been given.
9. This perfection is only possible through the divine mode of existence conferred through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We are divinized to the degree we more continually operate under the Holy Spirit=s impetus.
10. The purpose of these gifts is to (a) purify, (b) illumine and (c) unite us to God and to our neighbor.
Command of Christ to Perfection
We will lecture on this on September 20
St Thomas “Beatitude constitutes mans ultimate perfection” see I-II q 3 a 2 and 4; I, q 26
Christ is the efficient cause, meritorious cause, and mystical head of the spiritual life: That is life in union with Christ by which we enter into beatitude.
The glory of God is the ultimate end, our sanctification is the proximate end and incorporation in Christ is the only way of attaining both ends. Everything depends on living the mystery of Christ with ever increasing intensity because Christian spirituality is nothing other than an intimate participation in the mystery of Christ.
In this context we know that Christ commanded us to be perfect in this life. Given our sinfulness is this really possible? To answer this question we must consider the nature of Christian perfection.
Lecture The Perfection of the Christian Life
Perfection is the condition of being completed or finished without excess or defect – the end of a process, a totality and plenitude, a fullness of being – sense these words have many meanings depending whether we are speaking about specific or a totality of acts, the term perfection is analogous.
Perfection is absolute and relative – absolute perfection is found only in God, creatures are relatively perfect (in relation to him)
Relative Perfection can be
(1)essential (a perfection of the very substance of the soul),
(2)operative (a perfection of the psychological actions of a soul),
This is transitory in the life, permanent in the life to come.
(3) final (a permanent state, the beatific vision), instrumental, primary
(pertaining directly to charity) and secondary (pertaining to other virtues formed by charity).
In Christian perfection, it consists primarily, but not exclusively in charity, in charity friendship love of God. Essentially sanctifying grace and operatively charity either in itself or through other virtues. The acts of other virtues attain to a secondary perfection that serves the union with God that charity establishes. Instrumental perfection is expressed through the evangelical councils – they are instruments that aid in the pursuit of perfection.
St. Thomas explains that Christian perfection consists especially in charity because charity alone unites us with God while the other virtues initiate or prepare for this union. Summa II-II, 184 a 1.
How do we attain this perfect love – is it really possible in this life? Summa II-II, 184, a. 2
Not in terms of the object loved, that is God, we can’t love God perfectly as he deserves – this is absolute perfection possible only to him.
Not in terms of the lover, that is the soul in relation to God, we can’t always have our affections turned toward him – this is a final perfection possible only in the beatific vision.
However, on the part of the lover in relation to things impeding a perfect love, perfect love is possible in two ways:
1) By removing anything contrary to charity like mortal sin
2) By removing any desire that hinders one’s affection for God – these would not be sinful desires, but desires for otherwise good things that distract us from loving God.