'Nous' and the Sacred Heart
#11
(04-25-2020, 01:06 PM)JosefSilouan Wrote: According to this book about St. John's theology, even the act of "touching" is God Himself. But whatever is "touched", and every effect caused by the Divine "touching", belongs to the created realm. You can perceive God's uncreated Energies (His "obrar"/"working"), but only through your (created) perception of the (created) changes effected by His working (that is: the "obrado"/"worked").

So in that sense, it's essentially the same thing at the 'vestiges' of St. Bonaventure, as I suspected? Interesting.

Returning to the idea of Nous; I came upon another point of interest this morning in St. Bonaventure's Itinerarium (the Soul's Journey into God):

Quote:In a more excellent and immediate way, judgment leads us to see eternal truths more surely. Judgment takes place through our reason abstracting from place, time and mutability, and thus from dimension, succession and change, through reason which is unchangeable, unlimited and endless. But nothing is absolutely unchangeable, unlimited and endless unless it is eternal. Everything that is eternal is either God or in God. If, therefore, everything which we judge by such a reason, then it is clear that He Himself is the reason of all things and the infallible rule and light of truth, in which all things shine forth infallibly, indelibly, indubitably, irrefutably, indisputably, unchangeably, boundlessly, endlessly, indivisibly and intellectually. Therefore those laws by which we judge with certainty about all sensible things that come under our consideration--since they are infallible and cannot be doubted by the intellect of the one who apprehends them, since they are as if ever present and cannot be erased from the memory of the intellect of the one who judges because, as Augustine says, "no one passes judgment on them, but by them"--these laws must be unchangeable and incorruptible since they are necessary; boundless since they are without limits; and endless since they are eternal--and for this reason they must be indivisible since they are intellectual and incorporeal, not made, but uncreated, existing eternally in the Eternal Art [Christ], by which, through which and according to which all beautiful things are formed. Therefore we cannot judge with certainty except in view of the Eternal Art which is the form that not only produces all things, as the being which sustains the form in all things and the rule which directs all things. Through it our mind judges all things that enter it through the senses. - Ch. 2, pt. 9.


Jesus Christ is the Eternal Art, according to St. Bonaventure; He is the image of the Father and contains all forms in their perfection. And as He contains all forms, He also brings them forth. This is a refinement of the Augustinian adaptation of the Plato's world of ideas, where the forms of all things reside. When I originally read this concept, I would often think of the mind of God in a way of an almost separated element of the Divinity. But, thanks to Bonaventure, I now understand that the world of ideas is in fact the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, as all things come into being through Him and by Him, and all things must return to the Father, the Origin of all, through Christ.

Furthermore, it is by Christ, as the Just Judge, that we are able to make judgments of created and sensible things. As to make a judgment requires knowledge of that thing in its perfections, and these perfections are drawn only from the form of that thing; and as all forms are found in Christ, it is yet again that we must have recourse to Christ, the Eternal Art, to make judgment of all things. And herein lies the concept of Nous; where all men possess interior spiritual knowledge, and therefore validate all judgments by this knowledge. It is the "mirror of the soul" spoken of by St. Bonaventure (and the window of St. John of the Cross in the above example), and if this mirror is obscured and darkened, then it is difficult to properly assess creatures, as the Light is limited and dimmed. It is only through recourse to Christ, and the cleansing power of grace through baptism, that this mirror is cleared to allow the full Light of God to shine through and provide true illumination by which we can make judgments through our Divine Exemplar.

So, as we can see here, St. Bonaventure, as well as St. John, retain the idea of Nous as a necessary part of the soul in order for Christians to make right judgments according to the example of Christ.
"The Heart of Jesus is closer to you when you suffer, than when you are full of joy." - St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Put not your trust in princes: In the children of men, in whom there is no salvation. - Ps. 145:2-3

"For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables." - 2 Timothy 4:3-4
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#12
(04-25-2020, 01:16 PM)JosefSilouan Wrote: PD: I think the Eastern Orthodox approach leads to focus more on God's sensible consolations (because God's energies are God), while the Western approach makes you more skeptical toward sensible consolations (because the perception of God's energies is not God Himself).

To make the point, I would like to quote two archetypical passages for the Eastern Approach (by Theophan the Recluse) and for the Western approach (by Brother Lawrence)

Quote: Wrote:"The gift of feeling"
Guard this gift of feeling, given to you by the mercy of God. How? First and foremost by humility, ascribing everything to grace and nothing to yourself. As soon as you trust to yourself, grace will diminish in you; and if you do not come to your senses, it will cease to work completely. Then there will be much weeping and lamentation. Secondly, regarding yourself as dust and ashes, dwell in grace and do not turn your heart or thought to anything else except from necessity. Be all the time with the Lord. If the inner flame begins to die down a little, immediately hasten to restore its strength. The Lord is near. Turning to Him with contrition and fear, you will immediately receive his gifts.
Theophan the Recluse, in: "The Art of Prayer, An Orthodox Anthology"

Western hardliners might say to him: "Don't you know it isn't actually God himself, but a grace created by him that makes your heart burn ! You have to ignore it!"

And here the passage by Brother Lawrence:
Quote: Wrote:I am always content if I may pick a straw from the soil out of love for God, so that I only seek God and nothing else, not even God's gifts.
This attitude of the soul obliges God - as it were - to give her innumerable graces. But if you receive the fruit, which results from these graces, and which is Love, you have to reject the savor and tell yourself: All that isn't God himself! We know through faith that god is infinitely greater and different than that which we can feel and perceive from him. If a man behaves this way, a strange struggle is happening between God and the man; God gives his graces continuously. Yet the man keeps saying: Everything I am receiving isn't God, isn't himself. In this struggle the man, through faith, is equally strong than God, and even stronger, because God never can give so much that the man couldn't say anymore: What God gives to me is not himself!

Ecstasis and rapture only occur when a man enjoys a gift instead of rejecting it and going to God himself, beyond all his gifts. You also shouldn't be carried away be pleasant feelings, unless you are unexpectedly overwhelmed by them; but God is Lord and Master of everything.

In: "Practice of the Presence of God", Brother Lawrence, Second Conversation (own translation from German edition)



An Eastern Hardliner would probably accuse him: "Why are you rejecting God and his energies? Didn't you read St. Gregory Palamas who said that God and his gifts are the same?"

I personally believe that both Theophan and Lawrence are right in their approach. Even if they seem to be direct opposites.

I think both are correct as well. There's nothing wrong with accepting Divine Affectivity, we were given emotions for a reason. St. Bonaventure himself is not opposed to affectivity, and clearly the revelation of the Sacred Heart harkens to that same affectivity that was lost by the Western 'hardliners', the Jansenists.
"The Heart of Jesus is closer to you when you suffer, than when you are full of joy." - St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Put not your trust in princes: In the children of men, in whom there is no salvation. - Ps. 145:2-3

"For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables." - 2 Timothy 4:3-4
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#13
(04-25-2020, 04:39 AM)JosefSilouan Wrote: St. John of the Cross doesn't use the words "essence/energy" distinction, but He has a very similiar concept - which is much easier to grasp.
According to him, God's "working" or "effecting" (obrar) is fully Divine and uncreated. But the "effected" ("obrado")  - that is, the effect of God's working on us - is created.  

Some more thoughts: St. John of the Cross on Theosis and Uncreated Grace

St. John of the Cross was a good Scholastic, entirely trained in that milieu, and that quotation simply explains the consequences of grace as both the West and East can agree upon. The fact that in 400 years not a single Western theologian has interpreted St. John to be implying or even approaching anything like a denial of created grace is proof of that. Not only that, but Garrigou-Lagrange and all the systematic spiritual theologians of the 20th c. took St. John of Cross as affirming the traditional Scholastic notion. So one has to do quite a bit of reading into and jumping through hoops in order to say St. John was hinting at something equivalent to uncreated grace.

Everything in St. John's quotation there is perfectly applicable to the traditional Western ideas of sanctifying grace. I don't much like John Paul II, but his first dissertation actually fully develops the logic of St. John's arguments and notions on sanctifying grace vis-a-vis the purifying aspect of faith.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not trying to be antagonistic here. I would like to have an Easterner explain the Divine Energies/Esesence distinction and uncreated grace. What I always point out in these conversations is that until we are speaking the same language and ruthlessly cutting out what logically does and does not follow from these isolated passages of Aquinas or John of the Cross, we can't come to a mutual understanding. When I hear an Easterner say that the Thomistic idea is all wrong, I interpret that the same way as when I hear an atheist say he doesn't believe in God just as he doesn't believe in Santa Claus or Zeus. You know by his use of terms that he has no clue what he's talking about, and to engage him on that level would be fruitless and frustrating for everyone.

To go back to St. John, just one more point. The fact that the traditional Thomistic theologians saw such congruity between St. John's notions on the spiritual life and St. Thomas's notions of grace, etc., should indicate not that Thomism is the clunky, compartmental, philosophical dissecting table that it is often caricatured to be by its enemies or even by those who are more "attracted" to other schools of though, such as St. Bonaventure's. The fact that such congruity is entirely reasonable shows the richness of Thomism, but it is seen only by those who are approaching it with open and sympathetic eyes. I have nothing against Bonaventure, Augustine, etc. Who could? But I can't help think that when people say, "I find those spiritualities/theologies more attractive and mystical, etc. over Thomas," they really don't know how vast Thomism is. If you like John's expressions and comparisons, great. Just realize those are perfectly compatible with a Thomistic theology as they are with other Scholastic or pre-Scholastic schools.

And I further contend that Dominicans are still overall doing a terrible job at making that known to us lay people! They need to preach Scholastic fire, not read stuffy academic papers to enclosed conferences, recorded in bad audio and video. Those Dominicans are too few and far between.
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#14
(04-25-2020, 06:03 PM)piscis Wrote: I have nothing against Bonaventure, Augustine, etc. Who could? But I can't help think that when people say, "I find those spiritualities/theologies more attractive and mystical, etc. over Thomas," they really don't know how vast Thomism is.

The one little niggle I have with this line of thought, is that the same concern of favoring one school of thought over another is never brought up when someone goes all-in with Thomism on their reasoning. It is as though St. Thomas is the go-to de-facto theology of the Church, and all others are not; when, in reality, this is not at all the case as evidenced by Pope Leo XIII's identification of the theologies of both St. Bonaventure and St. Thomas in Aeterni Patris.

I appreciate the richness of Thomism, as you say. But I also believe that the Providential reason the Church has more than one valid school of theological thought is because one school may have a spiritual and intellectual appeal to some Catholics over others. Speaking personally, I've come more to identify my own understanding of theology with that of the Augustinianism of St. Bonaventure than I would with the Aristotelianism of St. Thomas. This is not to say I disregard or reject Thomism, but rather find more insight and understanding when reading Augustine or Bonaventure than I do St. Thomas. I personally appreciate the angle which St. Bonaventure takes to the same theological issues over the approach of St. Thomas. And there are others who do as well, or may prefer Scotus, or take an Eastern approach to these issues, etc. etc.

I don't mean to derail my own thread, but this has been bugging me a bit lately, as it seems any appeal outside of the realm of Thomistic thought seems to be met with immediate contrariety.
"The Heart of Jesus is closer to you when you suffer, than when you are full of joy." - St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Put not your trust in princes: In the children of men, in whom there is no salvation. - Ps. 145:2-3

"For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables." - 2 Timothy 4:3-4
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#15
As brilliant as St. Thomas was, I agree with Augustinian. One must be able to read and understand Thomas and his works properly, and have the right balance of reading other saints and theologians. There can be such an over-scholasticism of the faith to almost preoccupy oneself with trying to rationalize every aspect of the spiritual life, to where it becomes more of an academic exercise than a spiritual journey.
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#16
(05-07-2020, 09:14 PM)LionHippo Wrote: As brilliant as St. Thomas was, I agree with Augustinian.  One must be able to read and understand Thomas and his works properly, and have the right balance of reading other saints and theologians.  There can be such an over-scholasticism of the faith to almost preoccupy oneself with trying to rationalize every aspect of the spiritual life, to where it becomes more of an academic exercise than a spiritual journey.

And this is what I've found in Bonaventure. He certainly has his rational, Scholastic treatises, but there's also his more "mystical" theological works like the Soul's Journey to God, which not only establishes a path in the spiritual life to God, but a theological foundation for this mysticism as well.

And I've seen genuine detractors of Thomism point to the over-rationalization of the faith as 'making God an object of academic study rather than a Person to be loved'. This is not to say that St. Thomas looked at the faith this way, but there's a lot of modern self-purported "neo-Thomists" who have a tendency to do this. I personally was guilty of this when I first became Catholic.
"The Heart of Jesus is closer to you when you suffer, than when you are full of joy." - St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Put not your trust in princes: In the children of men, in whom there is no salvation. - Ps. 145:2-3

"For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables." - 2 Timothy 4:3-4
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