Author Topic: The Thomistic Soul  (Read 5220 times)

Offline Maximilian

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Re: The Thomistic Soul
« Reply #30 on: September 02, 2014, 04:28:16 PM »

I got the sense from Max's post that he was using "paradox" to convey a connotation of "contradiction" or "inconsistency." Perhaps I misread him.

No, you are quite right. That's just what I meant. "Contradiction" would have been a better word than "paradox."
 

Offline ludimagister

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Re: The Thomistic Soul
« Reply #31 on: September 02, 2014, 05:59:30 PM »
Maximilian, you seem to be misunderstanding several of the points I made. For instance, I never suggested that the gift of knowledge was God's knowledge of Himself; I was merely trying to argue that the term knowledge is analogical, and that this discussion was about human knowledge (which, says I, always comes through the senses) and not Divine and angelic knowledge (which obviously doesn't). I'm sure it's my fault for not expressing myself clearly enough.

Another example is the point about Fr Faber, where I entirely agree with you, but there seems to be a confusion between 'sweetness and consolations' (which I can't see as a type of knowledge) and the extraordinary charisms I was talking about (which I think theologians call Gratiae Gratis Datae). I'm pretty sure, from my reading of Fr Faber, that he did not hold that the Gratiae Gratis Datae were "things that we need", and if he did he would be disagreeing with the general teaching of theologians.

Perhaps to bring the discussion to a fine point, you could give an example of a specific type of knowledge that does not come through the senses and which is not strictly miraculous (because a miracle obviously breaks the laws of nature and can't be used to refute St Thomas' point).
 

Offline Maximilian

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Re: The Thomistic Soul
« Reply #32 on: September 02, 2014, 06:47:46 PM »

I was merely trying to argue that the term knowledge is analogical, and that this discussion was about human knowledge (which, says I, always comes through the senses) and not Divine and angelic knowledge (which obviously doesn't). I'm sure it's my fault for not expressing myself clearly enough.

No, I think you expressed yourself clearly. We simply disagree -- at least ad arguendo, if not in reality. Man's knowledge of the supernatural is real human knowledge. There is a level of such knowledge which we can acquire "by hearing." But there is another level which we attain through prayer -- in silence with our eyes closed.


Another example is the point about Fr Faber, where I entirely agree with you, but there seems to be a confusion between 'sweetness and consolations' (which I can't see as a type of knowledge) and the extraordinary charisms I was talking about (which I think theologians call Gratiae Gratis Datae).



They do bring knowledge with them.


Perhaps to bring the discussion to a fine point, you could give an example of a specific type of knowledge that does not come through the senses and which is not strictly miraculous (because a miracle obviously breaks the laws of nature and can't be used to refute St Thomas' point).

The miraculous does not break the laws of nature. God has created the world to include the miraculous. Nevertheless, the knowledge that we gain in prayer is not strictly speaking miraculous. But neither does it come from the senses.

Here is Fr. Faber on the subject:

"Our first duty is to get a clear view of the question.
Spiritual favours belong to what may be called the
uncommon order. Nevertheless there are two classes
of them. One class consists of the raptures, extasies,
visions, locutions, touches, wounds, thirsts, stigmata,
and transformations, which belong to the saints. The
second class includes only two things, spiritual sweetnesses
and spiritual consolations, which are the frequent
and often daily gifts of the middle-class Christians
,
that is, those who rise above mere precept, and walk
by counsels, without entering into the higher mystical
world of the saints.

I confine myself therefore to the second division
of gifts, and whenever I speak of spiritual favours I
shall mean only one or both of two things, either
spiritual sweetnesses or spiritual consolations, which,
though of the uncommon order and gratuitous, are
the ordinary gifts not only of the perfect, but of every
soul honestly striving after perfection. It is as if they
were merited by our having no reserves with God, and
followed as a spiritual consequence from generosity
,
although from various causes they are often withdrawn
or suspended.

First, let us speak of the offices of these spiritual
favours. St. Bonaventure sums them all up in five
things:
1. They fill the memory with holy thoughts.
2. They give us a vast intelligence of God.
3. They inspire us efficaciously with conformity to His will.
4. They cause reverence and composition of body and outward
demeanour.
5. They lead us to delight in hard work,
and, if need be, in suffering for God.

Thirdly, emboldened by the doctrine of Alvarez de
Paz, I will go on to say that some measure of these
spiritual favours is necessary, and that the necessity may
be shown by their effects
.

Can we do without fervour,
which it is their special office to produce ? Are not
copious and tender affections something more than a mere
help to us in prayer ? Do we not actually measure our
growth in holiness by our facility in the exercise of
virtues ? Shall we persevere in mortifying ourselves,
if we do not at last come to love mortifcations ? We
are full often in absolute need of something more than
their own light to be thrown on the truths of faith .
Even to preserve reverence, mysteries must sometimes
be compelled by pressure to give out the savoury taste
and the recreating odour they contain. Worldliness is a
wide thing with an obstinate life, and it sometimes
bursts out, even in a devout soul, like a devouring conflagration.
Nothing can extinguish it but an abundance
of spiritual sweetness. A drunken man dares what a
sober man will not dare, from a leap out hunting to
higher things. So in the spiritual life we have many a
leap to take in the darkness of faith, which we never
should take were we not inebriated with divine love
and the wine of spiritual consolations. Discretion is
indispensable to the spiritual life ; but the delicacies of
it are never found apart from the serenity of spiritual
sweetness. This is the reason St. Ignatius tells us never
to decide on anything in times of dryness and desolation.

Now look at these nine wants. Are they not absolute
wants to the spiritual man ? Yet what are the satisfactions
of these wants but the nine effects of spiritual
favours ?
 

Offline ludimagister

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Re: The Thomistic Soul
« Reply #33 on: September 02, 2014, 07:05:41 PM »
Thanks for your full and detailed reply. As I said I agree with you and Fr Faber about consolations, but he clearly makes the distinction between those and gratiae gratis datae. I also agree with your point about what Fr Garrigou-Lagrange called the quasi-experiential knowledge of God that comes through prayer and should be the normal term of Christian life.

I'm not sure I agree with your point about miracles, but let's leave that there.

Maybe our differences are more verbal than real, but I defend St Thomas' principle on the grounds that all our concepts ultimately come through the senses. God doesn't infuse new concepts into our minds (except as a miracle), but through His grace and gifts we can, using those naturally acquired concepts, come to a deeper and firmer knowledge and understanding of God, and participate in His Divine Nature as His adopted children. But I don't think that contradicts St Thomas' principle!
« Last Edit: September 02, 2014, 07:07:58 PM by ludimagister »
 

Offline Maximilian

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Re: The Thomistic Soul
« Reply #34 on: September 02, 2014, 08:21:33 PM »

I agree with you and Fr Faber about consolations, but he clearly makes the distinction between those and gratiae gratis datae.

The subject of the discussion is not special extraordinary favors granted to the saints. Those are a sidetrack from the topic, which is knowledge, and where does it come from?

St. Bonaventure says that spiritual favors which are available as daily bread to the ordinary Christian:

1. Fill the memory with holy thoughts.
2. Give us a vast intelligence of God.

 

Offline ludimagister

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Re: The Thomistic Soul
« Reply #35 on: September 03, 2014, 02:34:29 AM »
Neither of which is new knowledge: memory and understanding. St Bonaventure doesn't say that God puts new concepts into our minds which aren't ultimately derived from our senses. In learning we go from the known to the unknown.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2014, 02:48:11 AM by ludimagister »