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Journal of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars (Canada)
Spring-Summer 2006
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JOURNAL OF THE CANADIAN CHAPTER
FELLOWSHIP OF CATHOLIC SCHOLARS
Spring-Summer 2006
ISSN 1201-284X
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Spring-Summer 2006
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Contents for Spring - Summer 2006
Editorial Robert Nicholas Bérard p. 4
The Techno-Sapiens Are Coming C. Christopher Hook p. 6
Chrysostom and Augustine on Sex, Marriage, and Love Paul Flaman p. 12
Vatican II and the Absurdity of The Passion of the Christ Sean Murphy p. 39
Church Teachings and the “Delayed Personhood” Ruse Dianne N. Irving p. 42
“ALPHA” – Christian, but not Catholic [Caveat emptor!] John E. G. Stone p. 50
Aquinas on Sex, Marriage, and Love Paul Flaman p. 54


This title is published normally three times a year. Any article, except those copyrighted — for which separate permission is required — may be reproduced provided that reference is made to this publication as its source.


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For Canadian Residents
Full membership, which includes membership in the Canadian Chapter and the U.S. Fellowship, both with full privileges, including all publications, is Cdn $50. Membership in the Canadian Chapter only is Cdn $30.
Student membership — subsidized by the Canadian Chapter — for those registered as students at Catholic secondary schools or as undergraduates at any Canadian University is Cdn $20 and includes our journal.
We are a registered Charitable Organization and solicit your donations in support of the Chapter, for which tax receipts will be issued.
Membership communications should be directed to:
Dr Patrick Redmond
270 Fincham Avenue
Markham, ON L3P 4E6
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Board of Referees: Dr J. Patrick Atherton, Ms Teresa Bobrow, M.Phil.; Prof. Paul Flaman, S.T.D.; Rev. Msgr V.N. Foy, P.H., J.C.D.; Rev. Joseph Hattie, O.M.I., Ph.D.; Rev. Fr Leonard Kennedy, C.S.B., Ph.D.; Dr Gino Sturino, M.A., D.Ed.; Mr Humphrey Waldock, B.A., A.T.L.A.; Prof. Jim Wishloff, M.B.A., Ph.D.
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The Editorial
It is with the greatest humility that I take up the two positions of President of the Canadian Chapter of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars and editor of the Chapter’s Journal. This work has been done, faithfully, conscientiously, and cheerfully since the foundation of the Chapter by the late Dr John E.G. Stone, and in the past couple of months, I have come to appreciate the effort that he expended on behalf of our members.
I have received, through one of the members of our Board of Directors, Fr Joseph Hattie, O.M.I., a letter from Dr Stone’s widow, Rita, asking that we convey to the Directors and members of the Fellowship her gratitude for their prayers and expressions of sympathy after her husband’s death. She conveys her thanks as well to Patrick Redmond for his help both to her and to the Chapter after Dr Stone’s sudden passing. Our members, for their part, owe a great debt to Mrs Stone, who carefully proof-read previous issues of the Journal and helped prepare it for mailing. We thank Mrs Stone for her all her work, for her support for Dr Stone, and for her continuing prayers for the work of the Fellowship.
Most of the material for this issue of the Journal had been assembled by Dr Stone, and my role has been to make some additions and bring the work to print. Future issues of the Journal, however, will depend heavily on the ability and willingness of members of the Fellowship to contribute articles, reviews, and notes for publication. In the past, the Journal made extensive use of reprinted material, and it is
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my hope that we will be able to focus almost exclusively on original material submitted for publication to the Journal. We are, of course, open to contributions from scholars who are not (or not yet) members of the Fellowship, and we actively solicit members to encourage their graduate and undergraduate students to consider submitting manuscripts to the Journal. We also welcome briefer communications that keep us informed about the work of members and the experience of being a Catholic scholar in Canada today and the place of faith in Canadian academic life. Members are encouraged also to volunteer their time to serve as referees for the manuscripts that we receive to ensure the Journal’s continuing quality. I welcome, as well, your advice and assistance in trying continually to improve the Journal, both in content and presentation.
Stepping into my other role as President of the Chapter, I ask for your support in executing those duties and for your efforts to bring others into the Fellowship. Unlike our counterparts in the United States (and even Australia) Canadian Catholic scholars who work in post-secondary institutions find themselves overwhelmingly in secular settings. Even those Canadian universities that were founded as Catholic institutions have, for the most part, become indistinguishable from their secular sisters. While there are some scholarly associations that focus on Catholic matters – the Canadian Catholic Historical Association has been a very important part of my academic life – the Fellowship offers an opportunity for mutual support and encouragement for scholars across the disciplines, throughout the whole country, and, in its association with the Fellowship in Australia and the United States, on a trans-national scale as well.
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Such support and solidarity is particularly important as serious and orthodox Catholic scholars often find themselves isolated or marginalized in their institutions, increasingly called to be, in the words of the late Pope John Paul II, “signs of contradiction”. What has impressed me about the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars in both the United States and Canada has been its openness to all Catholic scholars faithful to the teaching authority of the Church, no matter what their subject field, site of employment, or political point of view. I would ask all of our members, then, to spread the word about the benefits of belonging to the Fellowship and the importance of involvement in the Canadian Chapter in particular.
Finally, as I assume the presidency of the Chapter, I ask for your prayers and support and for your wise counsel. The Fellowship has great potential to strengthen us personally in our faith and our work and to direct our collective efforts both to serve and to challenge contemporary Canadian society.
Robert Nicholas Bérard, Ph.D. is the president of the Canadian Chapter of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars/Amicale des savants catholiques Canada and editor of its Journal. He is an historian and Director of Teacher Education at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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Sapiens Are Coming
The promise and peril of nanotechnology invite a closer look at its ethical implications
Dr C. Christopher Hook
Dr C. Christopher Hook is a Hematologist, Director of Bioethics Education for the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine and Chair of the Mayo Clinical Ethics Council. He is a prolific author. This material, Parts 1 and 2, is published with his kind permission.
Eradicate cancer. Retain and recall everything you can find on the Internet. Give your child a high IQ. Drastically reduce fatalities of U.S. soldiers involved in wars. Give sight to the blind. Soon, you won't have to be God to fulfill this wish list, but you may not be human, either. Such is the promise and peril of nanotechnology.
First defined by engineer and scientist K. Eric Drexler in the 80s and 90s, nanotechnology uses tools that operate on the "nano" scale. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter in length. The DNA molecule is 2.3 nanometers wide. Nanotechnology, then, deals with the manipulation of matter at the atomic or molecular level. While an average layperson may have seen some depictions of this technology, few know what its current and future applications are. Fewer yet can wrap their minds around nanotechnology's ethical implications.
Nanotechnology is developing in two ways. The top-down approach creates microscopic machines, or delivery systems. The bottom-up approach harnesses the biological world. For
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example, the ribosome me, present in every cell, is an amazing nanoscale factory: it takes RNA, a long strand of translated genetic information, and turns it into a protein that can then serve as an enzyme. In either case, nanotechnology makes the stuff of miracles possible.
Oncologists use a biological nanomachine-antibodies attached to ball-shaped molecules-to deliver the radiation drug Zevalin to the cells specifically affected by lymphoma, which saves healthy tissue from exposure to radiation.
Wired magazine reported in September 2002 that the Dobelle bionic eye system enables the blind to see. And Optobionics Corporation in Naperville, Illinois, has so far successfully tested its artificial silicon retina-a 2-millimeter-wide chip with 5,000 photodiodes---on patients with damaged retinal cells. In my practice as a hematologist, I may soon deal with bioengineered blood cells. They could serve as a blood alternative to carry oxygen and help us avoid many risks and liabilities of blood transfusions.
Other future applications include devices that would: 1) generate and lay down new connective tissue to heal arthritic joints and torn ligaments; 2) dissolve plaque in heart and brain blood vessels; 3) manufacture and deliver certain drugs in the body, such as insulin; and 4) replace or repair damaged brain cells in people with disorders such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease.
When you combine nanotechnology with cyborg technology (interfacing living nervous tissue with electronic devices), the results are breathtaking. Researchers in Georgia are helping people stricken with a horrible disorder called locked-in syndrome. Its sufferers appear to be in a persistent vegetative
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state but are in fact completely aware of their surroundings. Via electrodes implanted near the motor regions of these patients' brains, they have been taught to control the cursor on a computer screen by their thoughts. This means they essentially type with their thoughts and thus can communicate with others.
It's not hard to imagine that such tools will move beyond therapy into augmentation, or enhancement, of 'normal" individuals - or what is more objectively called "bioengineering."
Direct neural interfacing with computer systems would be attractive to people who need to have access to lots of information. Centers such as MIT, Stanford, and the University of Toronto have programs in developing 'wearable computers," devices that seamlessly become part of our day-to-day apparel, yet allow 24/7 connection to the Internet and other computer databases. The interlace uses optical projectors in specially 3ngineered glasses and a small handheld module. Hitachi and Charmed Technologies are already marketing s such devices. We're very close to taking the ultimate step toward "seamless" interlacing by direct brain implants.
Astronomer and physicist Robert Jastrow, for example, envisions this in his 1983 book The Enchanted Loom: “A bold scientist will be able to tap the contents of his mind and transfer them into the metallic lattices of a computer.... It can be said that this scientist has entered the computer and now dwells in it. At last the human brain, ensconced in a computer, has been liberated from the weakness of the mortal flesh.... It is in control of its own destiny... housed in
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indestructible lattices of silicone, and no longer constrained in its span of years... such a life could live forever." (Well, at least as long as one can supply the needed batteries or power.)
Many scholars are anticipating cyborg and nanotech enhancements as means of forestalling aging or even pursuing immortality. The possibilities belong mostly in the realm of science fiction right now, but they seem less and less improbable as the years go by. The ethical implications of nanotechnology are great, but even more troubling, is the philosophy of some of its proponents, who subscribe to transhumanism. This is the belief that someday we will reengineer our natures to such an extent that a post-human species, or several new species, will be created that are “superior” to homo sapiens.
That we are biological creatures is simply our current status, transhumanists believe, but it is not necessary for defining who we are or who we should be. Bart Kosko, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Southern California, puts it more bluntly in his book Heaven in a Chip: "Biology is not destiny. It was never more than tendency. It was just nature's first quick and dirty way to compute with meat. Chips are destiny."
British roboticist Kevin Warwick put it this way: "I was born human. But this was an accident of fate - a condition of merely of time and place." This sounds startlingly reminiscent of what nihilist Frederick Nietzsche wrote in Thus Spake Zarathustra: "I teach you the overman. Man is something to be overcome."
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Transhumanism is in some ways a new incarnation of Gnosticism. It sees the body as simply the first prosthesis we all learn to manipulate. As Christians, we have long rejected the Gnostic claims that the human body is evil. Embodiment is fundamental to our identity, designed by God, and sanctified by the Incarnation and bodily resurrection of our Lord. Unlike Gnostics, transhumanists reject the notion of the soul and substitute for it the idea of an information pattern.
Katherine Hayles, a professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles, says in How We Became Posthuman that "in the posthuman, there are no essential differences, or absolute demarcations, between bodily existence and computer simulation, cybernetic mechanism and biological organism, robot technology and human goals." She concludes her book with a warning: "Humans can either go gently into that good night, joining the dinosaurs as a species that once ruled the earth but is now obsolete, or hang on for a while longer by becoming machines themselves. In either case... the age of the human is drawing to a close."
Are these ideas the musings of a small band of harmless tech no geeks? Unfortunately not. Two summers ago, the National Science Foundation, the National Science and Technology Council, and the Department of Commerce published the proceedings of a December 2001 conference on "Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance." This seminal document is a manifesto for government sponsorship of nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, and cognitive science/cybernetics to enhance human beings.
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The report sporadically acknowledges that there may be ethical and social concerns with implementing these goals and technologies, yet nowhere does it specifically articulate them. It assumes that ethicists, when involved at all, will simply provide pragmatic justification for the plan, rather than actually raising substantive questions about the underlying philosophy behind the program. On December 2, 2003, President Bush signed into law the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act. The bill, as Small Times reported, gives nanotech "a permanent home in the federal government" and assigns nearly $3.7 billion over four years for nano research and development programs.
My hope is that those involved in this research will heed the wisdom of the report of the President's Council on Bioethics released last October, which examines the ethical and social meanings of using biotechnologies for purposes "beyond therapy." It is a statement appropriately skeptical of transhumanist and scientific utopianism.
Examining nanotechnology and transhumanism from a Christian perspective
Is there really anything wrong with enhancing our attributes? Each of us engages in various forms of augmentation. We go to school. We train to improve our endurance and agility. We take vitamins. We use corrective lenses, false teeth, and hearing aids.
True. But none of these items and activities seeks to transcend our species' normal capabilities. They are accepted because they merely optimize performance within the
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natural constraints of homo sapiens.
How about calculators and computers? They augment our ability to obtain, store, retrieve, and process vast amounts of information, more than our brains ever could. But having access to technologies that are separate from ourselves and that we can turn off is quite different from permanent implants, or structural or genetic modifications that can potentially be passed on to subsequent generations.
There are several key questions that our churches and theologians will have to address. Is it appropriate for members of the Body of Christ to engage in alterations that go beyond therapy and are irreversible? Is it just to do so in a world already deeply marked by inequities? What does it mean that our Lord healed and restored in his ministry-never enhanced? Is it significant that the gifts of the Holy Spirit-wisdom, love, patience, kindness-cannot be manufactured by technology? How would the transformation from homo sapiens to tech no sapiens affect our identity as bearers of the image of God? If Christians should conclude that such enhancements are not appropriate for them to receive, should they oppose their use by others?
If we do, we can expect severe rejection. Embryonic stem cell research and cloning exploit other helpless human beings, so they become an ethical problem to many more people. But enhancement technologies may seem unquestionably beneficent since they are used only by those who choose to use them. You cannot deprive people of their right to "better" themselves, especially if it affects only them, right?
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The military feels a moral imperative to do whatever is necessary to make sure that each soldier comes home alive and well. If it takes genetic, cybernetic, or nanotechnological modifications to do that, so be it. After all, how could we deny our soldiers the greatest chance of survival?
Market forces will likely push people to undergo enhancements to be competitive in the marketplace. It’s already happening. Those with faulty vision cannot be a Navy Seal - unless they undergo irreversible and still risky LASIK eye surgery. It's only a matter of time before members of the armed forces will be required to undergo other forms of augmentation.
Many things are being sold to the public in the name of compassion-but at what price? A quick look at the history of technology shows that for almost every technological "fix," myriad other problems arise. Nuclear power is but one example.
The human lifespan may be expanded, but at what cost to social structures? What will be the effect on employment and retirement? If we alter our bodies with stronger components, what is the cost to our humanity? Although we may not understand the value of our weaknesses, Paul says, even our imperfections give us opportunities (2 Cor. 12:9, Phil. 4:11).
Nano-engineered cybernetic implants may provide us access to vast amounts of information, but will they lead to increased wisdom or knowledge of the Lord?
Cyber-connections in the brain are going to be two-way means of communication. This means that the last bastion
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of privacy-our minds-may no longer be secure. 'Will such implanted mechanisms force us to be exposed to unwanted images and ideas? We can't even control Spam in our current computer networks. Imagine computer viruses that could be engineered to injure brain cells through cybernetic implants!
Transhumanist philosophy claims that technology can correct the fundamental problems of humankind. As Christians, we know that our elemental problems arise from the corruption of the human heart (Mark 7:21-23)
Sin is real, observable, and unexplained by empirical tools. All technological innovations will not only fail to produce true happiness but also be corrupted intrinsically by sin. Tools offered to produce liberation will also be used to further tyranny.
Transhumanist philosophy claims that technology can correct the fundamental problems of humankind. As Christians, we know that our elemental problems arise from our natures. But Christians must not become techno-dystopians, suspicious of all new technologies. While technology is not our salvation, neither is it intrinsically evil. Technology has enhanced our ability to show compassion and to spread the gospel. Christians need to be tech no-realists, recognizing the potential goods of innovation, but realistically anticipating and restricting its potential harms. This requires a correct understanding of human nature and of God's ultimate plans for our species that only the gospel can provide. Christians must boldly engage in the discussion of these issues, both among themselves and in the public square.
Government policies to deal with the ethical and social
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consequences of bioengineering do not now exist. But this isn't stopping the researchers or the government. As of the end of October, Congress was estimating that the government would have to spend about $4 billion for nano research over the next four years.
Woody Allen once quipped, "More than at any time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly."
It is my prayer that the Body of Christ, inspired by the Holy Spirit and the Gospel's perfect vision for human flourishing, can help us avoid either path. Instead, I pray that we will be able to guide our surrounding culture to a truly human future.

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Stem Cell Research Boosted By Launch of Regenerative Medicine Journal
Dr. Dianne N. Irving, M.A., Ph.D.
Dr Irving is professor of Philosophy, The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.
[Note: Talk about "institutionalization" — we now have a new international MEDICAL journal — Regenerative Medicine! I wonder how many "pre-embryo" advocates will flood through their doors and make their ways into its pages and its Board of Directors? If you ever doubted that the pharmaceutical industry has an enormous global and unprecedented financial interest (aka, "conflict of interests") in the very design of the protocol and the "positive" data outcome of bench level human cloning and human embryonic stem cell research (as in so many other areas of research), doubt no more. The gross neglect of accurate basic science and valid ethics, and the mis-management of the politics of pure bench research, are about to come to your home to roost. That pure "research" — as contentious, convoluted, fraudulent and purely hypothetical as it is – is about to be translated into “medicine”. That is, what will soon be applied to you and your family as "medicine" will really be pure "therapeutic RESEARCH" in either global clinical trials run by the "industry", or camouflaged as "innovative therapies" to individual patients behind closed doors of the offices of private physicians who earn enormous financial bonuses for each patient they recruit for the “industry”. Good-bye to the Declaration of Helsinki and the Nuremberg Code. The socially privileged “industry” – like the scientists on their boards – wants to privately
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regulate and be legally accountable only to itself. The "free market" is one thing. The "libertine" market is truly quite another. Buyer beware, I guess. (And does "future science "and "future medicine" have anything to do with the ideology of "futurism"?)

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CHRYSOSTOM AND AUGUSTINE ON SEX, MARRIAGE AND LOVE
Paul Flaman, B.A., S.T.D.
Prof. Flaman is Associate Professor of Christian Theology at St. Joseph’s College, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
In this article the views on sex, marriage and love of two great representatives of Christian tradition will be treated to some extent. The two authors treated, John Chrysostom and Augustine of Hippo, have each been and continue to be widely read. They have exerted an enormous influence on much subsequent Christian thinking, writing and theology. They are also included among the Doctors and Saints of the Church, in recognition of their outstanding teaching, orthodoxy and holiness of life. Although the writings of each of them cover many subjects, we will focus here on their views on sex, marriage and love. Something is also said about their lives to give a context to their teachings. Some of the details of their lives have relevance to our topics.
The last section of this article provides some analyses, noting, among other things: some of the morally relevant values and norms that these "classical" Christian theologians propose, whether their teachings are consistent with and represent an authentic development of biblical teachings, the distinction between Christian Tradition and traditions, and some considerations for evaluating other Christian traditions.i
A. St. John Chrysostom
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1. His Life and Character
St. John Chrysostom is regarded as the greatest pulpit orator and biblical commentator of the Greek Church. The name "Chrysostom" meaning "gold mouth" was given to him because of his outstanding preaching skills. He is more widely read than any other Eastern Father of the Church. (A "Father of the Church" is an early non-scriptural Christian writer who has been accepted as a representative of the tradition of the Church.) Chrysostom is one of the greatest apologists of Christian marriage.
Born in 347 in Antioch, Chrysostom was raised by his widowed mother, Anthusa. During his youth he was taught the Bible, Greek classics and rhetoric. He became a rhetorician and practiced law. The influence of the study of the Scriptures, his mother, Bishop Meletius and a friend led to a gradual change in his character. His baptism in 369 or 370 marked a radical and permanent change in his life. He completely renounced the world and dedicated himself to the service of Christ. Although he wanted to become a monk, he remained with his mother at her request. He turned his home into a monastery and studied Scripture under Diodorus, the founder of the Antiochan School of Theology.
In 374, after his mother died, he became a monk and spent the next six years in monastic solitude, theological study, meditation and prayer. From 381-98 he was a deacon, priest and preacher at Antioch. As a deacon he became acquainted with the needs of the poor and sick. It was during this period that the greater part of his homilies and commentaries were composed. Most of his sermons were taken down by short-hand writers. There were many nominal Christians (i.e.,
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heathen in practice) in his time. Christianity, which had recently been legalized, was confronting pagan society and Greek philosophical thought.
In 398 he was consecrated bishop (Patriarch) of Constantinople. He sold the costly Episcopal furniture for the benefit of the poor and hospitals. He was popular at first, but made enemies, including the Empress, Eudoxia, by his uncompromising denunciation of sin and vice, including the vices of the clergy and aristocracy. In 403 he was sentenced to banishment for life on false charges, but was restored at the demand of the people. In 404 he was banished to exile again. His deposition was condemned and annulled by Pope Innocent I, but without effect. During his exile Chrysostom continued to exert a wide influence by correspondence with faithful friends. He died in 407 while on a forced foot journey to the most inhospitable parts of the Empire. Although irritable of temper, his character was perfected by suffering. He was charitable and led an exemplary life of purity and holiness. Chrysostom was an ideal priest - a man for his and for all times. He considered the study of the Bible, which he recommended also to lay people, as the best means of promoting the Christian life. His biblical commentaries are generally guided by common sense and practical wisdom. He put himself into the psychological state and historical situation of the writer, and is more free from arbitrary and absurd interpretations than almost any other patristic commentator. Chrysostom had great respect for Scripture as the inspired Word of God, and tends to pay attention to every detail of the text. He taught that close search and earnest prayer are needed to discover the meaning of the Divine Scriptures.ii Although he stands within the Antiochan patristic exegetical tradition that emphasized the literal sense, he knew how to
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derive spiritual nourishment from the Scriptures and make them profitable for instruction. He preached the whole truth of the Gospel faithfully, fearlessly and in an interesting manner.
2. A Summary of Some of His Related Biblical Commentaries
With regard to Genesis, Chapter 1:26-27, Chrysostom understands the human beings, male and female, being created in the "image of God" as meaning that they were created by God to have authority and control over everything else. They were to have control over even their own ideas, submitting them to the rule of reason. All the other visible creatures were made for human beings. He understands their creation in the "likeness" of God as meaning their resemblance to God in virtue (i.e. gentleness, mildness...). Concerning Gn 2 speaking of woman as a helpmate like and of the same kind as the man, Chrysostom says woman was created with the same properties including the possession of reason, of equal esteem, and in no way inferior to man. The couple's feeling no shame before the fall, he interprets as a blessed, carefree condition, as if in heaven.
He interprets the temptation and sin of Gen 3 as their not being content to remain within their proper limits. By disobeying God the human beings lost their position of trust and lost the control (although not all of it) that they originally had. Chrysostom speaks of woman's subjection to man as a consequence of the fall, not as part of God's original creation. He views God's punishments of the human beings as expressing God's care lest they go further astray, to remind them of their limits. One of the main purposes of his
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homilies on the first chapters of Genesis is to show how good and kind God is to us, and how grateful we should be. He underlines God's wisdom in arranging everything, and thus how it is intelligent to obey and folly to disobey God.iii
Concerning Gn 4:1 Chrysostom speaks of the generation of children as the greatest consolation for human beings once mortality had come on the scene. Regarding the account of Abraham and Sarah in Egypt (Gn 12:10-20), Chrysostom notes that Sarah's beauty is a work of God and not the cause of disaster. Rather, depraved will is the cause of every evil. He emphasizes God's providence in delivering them without harm. Concerning Abraham and Sarah's involvement with Hagar (Gn 16), Chrysostom notes Abraham's restraint and respect for Sarah though she is sterile. He says the account instructs us to prize domestic peace, that husband and wife are not to contend against each other.iv
On a Few Relevant Gospel Texts
With respect to the Gospel according to Matthew, Ch. 5:27-28, Chrysostom says that not mere looking, but lustful looking is prohibited. Women who invite such looks will receive the utmost penalty. Adultery in the heart soon leads to that in the flesh. Jesus removes the beginning and seeds of evil. Chrysostom says we should admire the Artificer when we behold the beauty of God's creatures.
Concerning Mt 15:18-20 Chrysostom speaks of youth being unrestrained as the cause of fornications and adulteries. If they are brought to marriage after countless stains in their youth, it will be without purpose and fruit. Temperance among youth, both men and women, is a marvelous thing. He
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prays that the Holy Spirit be sent forth on them and its fire burn up all wicked desires. The sword of the Spirit slays lawless lusts, sloth, wrath, drunkenness, fornication (he refers to Gal 5:24). Chrysostom criticizes fathers who take great care to tame their horses but allow their own young ones to go unbridled without temperance, disgracing themselves by fornications, gamings and wicked theaters.
If Isaac remained a virgin until he married at the age of forty, how much more ought young men under grace to practice restraint? Referring to Lk 12:47 Chrysostom says that there are different punishments for sins, according to times, persons, their rank, their understanding and other things. He notes the different punishments for fornication in Scripture: one is punished more after the law is given; a priest and his daughter are more severely punished; a woman forced receives no punishment. He asks how much more severe will be the punishment after the coming of Christ and the grace of the Spirit, especially for one bearing the priest's office now?
Regarding Mt 18:19-20 Chrysostom says that if you love your neighbors for Christ's sake and are virtuous, Christ will be with you. Love for Christ's sake is firm, impregnable, not to be broken. Nothing can tear it asunder. Let us imitate Christ's love Who even treated His enemies with kindness.
Concerning Mt 19:3-12 Chrysostom holds that divorce is not only against the law of God. It is also against nature since it involves severing "one flesh". The expressions "cleaving" and "one flesh" denote that God in creation sought for a great union in marriage. Virginity for Heaven's sake is exceeding in greatness. It is not a matter of law but of gift from above and free choice. Regarding the parable of the ten virgins (Mt 25:1-
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13), however, he says virginity without virtue is of no benefit.v
On a Few Relevant Passages of 1 and 2 Corinthians
With respect to 1 Cor 5-6 Chrysostom says unclean desire makes the soul captive and blinds one. This is why fornication, drunkenness and gluttony do not seem evil to the heathen and worthy of punishment. "Flee fornication" here means that we should deliver ourselves from that evil with zeal. In the fornicator the entire body becomes defiled. Fornication is a dreadful thing, an agent of everlasting punishment. Even in this world it brings with it 10,000 woes (anxieties, fears...). Drunkenness is the mother of fornication. Abortion is murder before birth, making the chamber of procreation a chamber for murder. It is an abuse of a gift of God and involves fighting with His laws. We should reverence Christ who dwells within us and continue to be chaste.vi
Regarding 1 Cor 7:1-2 Chrysostom says marriage is a remedy to eliminate the evil of fornication. Marriage was instituted for two purposes, to make us chaste, and parents. The reason of chastity takes precedence, especially now when the whole world is filled with our kind. Marriage does not always lead to child-bearing, but it sets a limit to desire by teaching us to keep to one wife. Before the hope of resurrection, offspring were a great comfort - they continued one's image and memory. With the hope of the resurrection there remains only one reason for marriage - to avoid fornication.vii
Concerning 1 Cor 7:3-5 Chrysostom says husband and wife are not their own masters but each other's servants. Both are equally responsible for the honor of their marriage bed.
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Adultery is worse than fornication. A husband must keep his wife's property (i.e. his body) intact, without diminishing or damaging it. The wife should do the same. Here there is complete equality. If you diminish chastity you will pay the penalty to God who instituted marriage. Do not neglect your salvation. Adultery empties out love and undermines good will. By such sins many families are broken, many battles started. Virtue on the other hand gives birth to love that brings innumerable blessings. Why should husband and wife not refuse one another? Because great evils - adulteries and broken homes, often result from such abstinence without the other's consent. Regarding their abstaining by agreement to devote themselves to prayer, Chrysostom says this refers to unusually intense prayer since Christians are to pray all the time. He notes that sexual relations do not make prayer unclean. They simply occupy one's attention.viii
With respect to 1 Cor 7:7-9 Chrysostom interprets Paul as saying that continence is better than marriage, but if you suffer violent, burning passion, then relieve it through marriage. God has annexed carnal desire to the generation of children, to maintain a succession among us, without forbidding us from traveling the higher road of continence. Regarding verses 17-24 Chrysostom says Paul attacks slavery in its worst form, slavery to evil/sin. He notes that a person freed from passions and vices of the mind is truly free even if he (she) is a slave. For example, Joseph's master's wife (Gn 39:7-30), although free, was a slave to lust (she was not even free to disobey her lust). Although a slave, Joseph was free to practice virtue and everything he did brought him glory.
Concerning 1 Cor 7:25-40 Chrysostom says that one does not sin in marrying unless one has vowed to be a virgin. With
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respect to remaining a virgin or marrying Paul uses gentle persuasion and leaves the choice to those concerned. Sex is not evil, but it is a hindrance to one who desires to devote all one's strength to prayer. Abstaining from marriage, gives one, more leisure for the service of God, but this is of no advantage if not employed so. Anyone anxious about worldly affairs is not really a virgin. On the other hand, one with an uncorrupt soul is a "virgin" (cf. 2 Cor 11:2), even though she (he) has a husband (wife). The Lord seeks after virginity of soul. To marry "in the Lord" means to marry with the virtues of prudence and decency. Whether one is a virgin, in a first marriage, or a widow (widower) who has remarried, Chrysostom urges that we seek holiness that we may be counted worthy to see God and attain the Kingdom of heaven.ix
In commenting on 2 Cor Chrysostom states that no self-indulger has fellowship with Christ. Lust (every inordinate desire) is engendered from habit and idleness (i.e., having nothing to do). The cure is to give oneself to other things to distract the soul: books, prayer, assisting others, necessary cares, wisdom. A healthy fear of God, remembrance of hell and desire of the kingdom of heaven are able to quench the fire of lust. Do not continually associate with someone who tempts you, who enkindles lust. Chastity does not involve being a passionless person, but self-restraint. Choose to see the beauty of soul (i.e., character and virtue) in others. Let us strive to please God continually - this is life, the kingdom, 10,000 goods. Referring to the golden rule (Mt 7:12) Chrysostom says that Jesus shows us that virtue is natural.x
On the Relationship of Husband and Wife (Eph 5:22-33)
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In a long homily on Eph 5:22-33xi Chrysostom says that no relationship between human beings is as close as that of husband and wife if they are united as they ought to be. God providentially created this close union. The love of Eros, planted deep within our inmost being, attracts the bodies of men and women to each other. Man and woman are not independent or self-sufficient of each other. The love of husband and wife is a force that welds society together. When harmony prevails in marriage, the children are raised well, the household is kept in order, and great benefits, both for families and states, are produced. When it is otherwise, everything is thrown into confusion, turned upside down.
Chrysostom understands the wife's submission to her husband to be for the sake of harmony.xii Where there is equal authority there never is peace. Neither a household nor the Church can be a democracy. When we are led by the Spirit of Christ, then there is peace. Authority must necessarily rest in one person. The wife is a secondary authority. She possesses real authority and equality of dignity with her husband. Chrysostom says the wife's submission is to be considered primarily as part of her service to the Lord rather than for her husband's sake. The Church (including both husband and wife) is to be submissive to Christ.
The husband as head has the responsibility of leader and provider. He is to behave as Christ, caring for his wife as Christ cares for the Church. He should be willing to endure any suffering for her, even to give his life if necessary. The husband should not threaten or disgrace his wife, but relate to her with kindness, love and patience, even if she mocks him. The wife should not be afraid of her husband. Where love prevails, everything else follows. Where love is absent fear will
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be of no use. Fear is no substitute for the power of love that binds husband and wife together in harmony. A wife who loves her husband will respect him and not stubbornly contradict him. A husband and wife should each do their duty, obey God's law, even if the other does not.
Whoever you marry, Chrysostom continues, you will never be as estranged as the Church was from Christ. The Church was corrupt, foolish, disobedient; Christ sacrificed Himself for Her in Her corrupt state (cf. Rm 5:7-8). He accepted Her and made Her beautiful (Ep 5:26-27). Chrysostom reminds each husband that his wife is God's creation. A husband who reproaches his wife whom he considers not beautiful - something over which she has no control - condemns the One who made her. Praise, hatred and love based on outward beauty come from impure souls. Pride, foolishness, and contempt of others are evils that arise if outward beauty is a concern. Outward beauty only gives pleasure for a short time. Familiarity causes admiration of it to fade and it can be immediately lost by disease. Instead seek beauty of soul, which God requires, and imitate the Bridegroom of the Church. Look for affection, gentleness and humility in a wife. Love that begins on honest grounds (i.e., its object is beauty of soul) continues ardently. Let us seek beauty of soul not wealth and social status that are external things. Passion for money corrupts and ruins us.
Eph 5:28-29, which calls husbands to love their wives as their own bodies, presents a plain demanding illustration. If the head (husband) despises its body (wife) it will itself die, since the head is a member of the body as well. Spouses are no longer two bodies, but one in the same way as Christ and the Father are one. Concerning the "one flesh" union of spouses,
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Chrysostom says, when a woman receives a man's seed with rich pleasure and it is mingled with her own substance she returns it as a child. A child, formed from the substance of each, is a bridge connecting mother and father, so the three become one flesh. Even if there is no child, the intercourse of spouses effects the joining of bodies and they are made one.xiii
We are members of Christ's body, recreated and sharing His nature, by partaking of His mysteries (baptism, communion). Marriage is a great mystery. Married love is not invalidated by its allegorical meaning; by its reference to the greater mystery of Christ marrying His Bride, the Church (v. 32). Marriage is a mystery in that one leaves one's parents with whom one has been in such close contact for many years and unites more closely to another whom one has not always known. The text (in quoting Gn 2:24) does not say the husband merely dwells with his wife, but that he clings to her. This demonstrates the closeness of the union and the sincerity of love intended. To marry in Christ is spiritual, not of blood, nor will of the flesh. If marriage were to be condemned, Paul (Chrysostom assumes Paul wrote Ephesians) would never call Christ a bridegroom and the Church a bride.
The Christian household is a little Church. By seeking the things that please God and by becoming a good husband and wife it is possible to surpass all others in virtue. Chrysostom presents the household of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and their servants united in harmony and piety as a perfect illustration of the precept concerning "headship" and "submission". Abraham in love always did what Sarah, his wife, asked; she respected him; their son was virtuous; and their chief servant was most trustworthy. Spouses should avoid quarrels and disagreements. They should not be unreasonably suspicious
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of each other.
A husband should love his wife and do everything for Christ's sake, in a spirit of obedience to Him. Chrysostom urges that we painstakingly care for our wives and children. Then we will have a good defense before the judgment seat of Christ. Let us be detached from money, strive above all else for virtue and keep the fear of God before our eyes. A husband should teach his wife not only with words, but by his example of detachment from high social position, and by his gentleness, temperance, and self-control. (Elsewhere he says a wife of good example will be able to give her husband fitting counsel, and no teacher is so effective as a persuasive wife.xiv) A husband should advise his wife against expensive clothes and jewelry. Her appearance should be dignified; their house furnished neatly and soberly. By taking no pleasure in worldly excess, by shunning immodest behavior and by not engaging in idle conversations, their marriage will be free from the evil influences that are so popular these days. A young bride will soon discover how delightful it is to live in this way.
Whenever a husband gives his wife advice, he should always begin by telling her how much he loves her, more than gold or his own life. Their only hope should be that the two of them pass through this life so as to be united in the world to come, in Christ's kingdom, in perfect love - perfectly one with Him and each other, and their pleasure will know no bounds. Life here is brief and fleeting. A husband should show his wife that he values her company. He should esteem her in the presence of friends and children, and praise her good acts. If she does anything foolish he should advise her patiently. A wife should never nag her husband.
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Pray together at home and go to Church, Chrysostom continues. Afterwards ask each other the meaning of the readings and prayers. Remind one another that nothing in life is to be feared except offending God. If your marriage is like this, your perfection will rival the holiest of monks.
Since your bodies are one, your possessions should not be divided but held in common in marriage. You should not speak of "yours" and "mine", but say to each other, "I (i.e., everything) am yours" (cf. 1 Cor 7:4). Husbands praise your wives. Do not call her by name alone but with terms of endearment, honor and love. Prefer her above all others; teach her to fear God and your house will be filled with 10,000 blessings. Seek what is perfect (the kingdom of God) and secondary things will follow (cf. Mt 6:33). Children generally acquire the character of their parents. If we study the Scriptures we will find lessons to guide us in everything we need. In this way we will please God and gain the blessings He promised to those who love Him.
On Parents and Children (Eph 6:1-4)
Regarding Eph 6:1-4 Chrysostom first says that husband and wife together have authority over the children.xv The passage is short since children have a short span of attention. It addresses them on their level. It does not speak of the kingdom to come, which they are not able to understand, but of a long life, what they want. If parents live according to God's law, children will willingly submit to the same law. To obey in the Lord means to obey in what pleases, not displeases the Lord. This passage lays a foundation for the virtuous life. One who does not honor parents will never treat others with kindness. Anything begun on a good foundation proceeds to
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the proper conclusion.
Parents do not provoke your children to anger, by overburdening them as if they were slaves or by disowning them. Everything should take second place to bringing your children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Concern for spiritual things will unite the family. Children are exposed to all sorts of folly and bad examples; they need remedies for these. Give them a pattern to imitate. Children about to go out into the world stand in greater need of Scriptural knowledge than monks. From their earliest years teach them to study the Bible and to love true wisdom. Consider how Hannah commended her son Samuel to God, who was able to make him great. It is praiseworthy to dedicate children, whom God has given, to God.
Bring up your children with good rules. Form them in good habits from the earliest age. Let us not indulge them. Especially let us train them in chastity - much attention will be necessary. The one who is chaste before marriage will be chaste after marriage. Sometimes it will be necessary to advise, sometimes to warn, and sometimes to threaten our children. Children are a great charge. Let us bestow great care upon them. It is absurd, as many do, to take more care of one's possessions than one's children. Mothers, prepare your daughters for marriage. Instruct them to be pious, modest, despisers of wealth, indifferent to ornament. They will then save not only themselves but also their husbands, their children and grandchildren. Good branches shoot forth from a good root. Let your sons be steady, sober, modest, learn to govern their appetites, be good economists, affectionate and submissive to rule.
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Teach your children to think lightly of this life's passing glories. These lessons are not learned from a skillful professor but from divine revelation. Give your child great things as true wisdom, not little things as possessions and rhetoric. Character not cleverness is needed. Worldly learning is not worthless, but it should not be an exclusive preoccupation. Wealth is a hindrance. It leaves us unprepared for the hardships of life. Let us raise children in a way that they can face any trouble. When we teach our children to be gentle, forgiving, good (attributes of God), generous, and to love their fellow human beings, we instill virtue in their souls and reveal the image of God within them.
Our task is to educate both ourselves and our children in Godliness. If a man whose children are unruly is unworthy to be a bishop (cf. Tit 1:6), how can he be worthy of the kingdom of heaven? The virtue of those for whom we are responsible is also necessary for our salvation. Let us beg God to help us in our task. God will bring this work to perfection if we try to do our task. Let all we do be to the glory of God and our salvation through Christ Jesus our Lord.
On Marrying Well
Chrysostom also has some interesting things to say concerning choosing a wife (and husband), and how a wedding should be celebrated.xvi Show foresight when you are about to marry a wife, he says. You cannot return her. First of all read the laws of the Church (not only those of the State). Neglect of God's law brings inescapable punishment. Take every care to choose a good, kind, docile wife who is well-ordered and compatible
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with your character. A benefit of this is that you will love her intensely. If you marry a surly woman you must reform her with gentleness and kindness, as Christ did the Church. If there is some wickedness in your wife, do not reject her but expel the evil. Even if your wife is incurable, she is your limb, "one flesh" with you. We will receive great reward for our attempts to teach and educate her, for our patience.
Do not consider marriage, such a great mystery, lightly or casually. Marriage is not a business venture but a fellowship for life. To marry with concerns of money and possessions as though buying and selling, rather than inquiring into the way of life and morals of the other, is an insult to the gifts of God. Let us seek virtue of soul and nobility of character that we may enjoy tranquility, harmony and lasting love. Marriage exists not for strife and contention, but that we may have a refuge, a consolation in times of trouble, and enjoy another's help. Seek a gentle, pious and chaste wife who will use well what we have. In a good marriage a warm and genuine friendship holds between spouses. A man who truly loves his wife continues always content with her.
Chrysostom urges parents to weep for your sons and daughters when you see them led astray. Since marriage is a bond ordained by God and an image of something far greater, the Church and Christ, why celebrate it in a silly and immodest manner? Our mysteries (including marriage) are to be celebrated quietly, with decency, reverence and modesty. Referring to Heb 13:4, he says, I want to purify your wedding celebrations and restore marriage to its due nobility. When drunkenness arrives, chastity departs. Choose edifying songs not satanic ones for your wedding. If you ask Christ he will perform an even greater miracle than in Cana (cf. Jn 2). He
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will transform the water of your unstable passions into the wine of spiritual unity. There is nothing more pleasurable than virtue, nothing sweeter than orderliness, nothing more honorable than dignity. Look for a husband with piety, gentleness, wisdom and fear of the Lord, not superfluous things as money and social position, if you want happiness.
Parents, pray that your children will each find a virtuous spouse. Chrysostom favors early marriage - the bodies of the spouses being pure, he says, their love will be more ardent. Beseech Christ to be present at your wedding, as He was at Cana. Christ is not ashamed to come since marriage images His presence in the Church. Invite people of good character, the clergy (this will assure Christ's presence - cf. Mt 10:40), and the choirs of the poor. Christ is present when the poor enter. The prayer of widows and the poor is more beneficial than any amount of laughter and dancing. Avoid excessive expense, and may the bride dress modestly. Let there be no drunkenness but an abundance of spiritual joy at your banquets. Chrysostom wonders whether we can even call most weddings such, the way they are celebrated as spectacles these days. Christ present at a wedding brings cheerfulness, pleasure, moderation, modesty, sobriety, health; Satan brings anxiety, pain, excessive expense, indecency, envy, drunkenness. Let us avoid such evils and may God count us worthy to obtain the good things He has promised to those who love Him.
On Love
Concerning love Chrysostom says God is loving and beneficent towards us. He does not force but draws all that will to Himself by persuasion and benefits. It is ridiculous to
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say we love God in words and oppose Him by our deeds. Love abstains from evils, performs good deeds and fulfills the Law. We shall be like God if we love all people, even our enemies. Nothing so much causes a right life as love - this attracts the heathen more than miracles. Love is the beginning and end of every virtue. Virtue leads to life and has a great deal of pleasure attached to it. Vice, however, has a great deal of pain attached to it. If we are earnest in succeeding in virtue it will be light and palatable to us. Nothing makes us so wise as virtue. All wickedness has its beginning in folly - sin is unreasonable. Let us school ourselves in one virtue this month, and when we have got into the habit of this virtue let us go to another, guarding what is already gained and acquiring others. Marriage, which is honorable (cf. Heb 13:4), is not a hindrance to virtue. Rather the ill use of marriage is. Paul's greetings to Priscilla and Aquila, his helpers in Christ (Rm 16:3-5), prove that it is possible in the married state to be noble and virtuous, and to love Christ.
Regarding Jesus' new commandment, Chrysostom asks, do you see how the love of God is intertwined with our own? True brotherly affection and friendship is eager to help the other in spiritual things. Let us love with brotherly affection, without dissimulation. Let us love Christ as we ought to, doing everything for His sake, not for reward. One caught with the fire of Christ's love is as far from being taken captive by any passion, as gold refined in the fire and purified is free from alloy. If we love Christ, we would know that to offend Him Whom we love would be more painful than hell. We do not have language to describe the experience of blessedness, the spiritual joy and the untold treasure of good things when we have Christ as our beloved and lover. Let us leave everything to cling to that love.xvii
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B. St. Augustine of Hippo
1. His Life and Influence
Augustine was born November 13, 354 at Tagaste, a village in North Africa near Hippo Regius. His father, Patrick, who was pagan, embraced Christianity shortly before dying in 371. His mother, Monica, was a saintly Christian. Augustine studied philosophy and rhetoric at schools of Madaura and Carthage.
In his Confessions [C] (his autobiography), 2:2, Augustine says that in his sixteenth year he gave himself wholly to the service of the life of his flesh. He speaks of his "hot confusion", "foolish youth" and "shameful actions", and says, "Through my fornications I was scattered and poured out, and my ebullience was dissipated.... I was controlled by the madness of sensuality, legitimate by human standards but illicit in terms of Thy [God's] laws." In his relationships the moderate relation of mind to mind was not maintained according to the bright bond of friendship, but darkened and beclouded by concupiscence and lust. Augustine says he broke the bonds of God's lawful restrictions regarding sex and marriage, but he did not escape God's punishments. All his illicit pleasures were befouled with most bitter aversions - God makes suffering a lesson, striking that He may heal (cf. Dt 32:39).xviii
Augustine says that at that time his father took no pains as to how he was growing up before God or how chaste he was. His mother, however, a faithful follower of the Lord, "most carefully admonished me, that I should not indulge in fornication and, above all, not commit adultery with the wife of another man." He says he did not realize then that God
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was speaking through her. He was ashamed to be less wanton than his contemporaries who boasted about their shameful exploits. He found pleasure not only in debased actions, but also in boasting of such, some things of which he had not actually done.(C 2:3)
Augustine says he sought to love and be loved, but he muddied friendship with the filth of concupiscence and the scum of lust. He took pride in being cultured, but experienced bitterness, jealousy, suspicions, fears, fits of anger and quarrels.(C 3:1) He lived with a woman, not in lawful marriage but in a restless union of wanton love and imprudent passion, in which a child that was not wanted was born. Augustine notes the great difference between this and the moderated pleasure of conjugal love mutually entered into for the generation of offspring (C 4:2). His son Adeodatus was born in 372.
In 374 he joined the Manichean sect, which he remained with for nine years. Concerning his time as a Manichean, Augustine says they were led astray and led others astray through a variety of passions, teachings that they call liberal and the false name of religion. They pursued the emptiness of popular glory and immoderate lusts (C 4:1). When one of his friends died, the weariness of life and fear of death weighed heavily upon him. Although other friends consoled him, Augustine says he did not know how to love people then as they should be loved. He loved them as a substitute for God (C 4:6-8).
Augustine abandoned Manicheanism in 383 after meeting and being disillusioned at the ignorance of one of their teachers, Faustus (cf. C 5:6-7). Later that year he journeyed to
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Italy and obtained a position as teacher of rhetoric in Milan. He read various Neo-Platonist writings (in Latin translation) that helped to correct some of his ideas concerning God and being. Although these presented certain beautiful ideals, they did not provide him with power to conform to them (Cf. C 7:9 and 21). The prayers of his mother, the preaching of Ambrose, bishop of Milan, a biography of St. Anthony and the Epistles of Paul were instrumental in his conversion to Catholic Christianity, which took place in several stages.
Before his conversion to God and Christianity were complete, Augustine relates how he delayed to devote himself wholly to God. He thought he would be very unhappy if he was deprived of feminine embraces. At that time he believed continence was a result of one's own power that he did not have. He was not yet aware that it was granted by God and so did not ask for it (cf. Wis 8:21) (C 6:11). Chiefly through the efforts of his mother, who was concerned for his salvation, he was engaged to a girl who was two years too young to marry. The woman he had lived with was torn from him because she was an impediment to his marriage. But, because he was still a slave of lust rather than a lover of marriage, he was impatient to wait the two years. He took up with another woman but not as a wife. Nothing kept him from falling deeper into the abyss of carnal pleasures, he says, except the fear of death and God's future judgment (C 6:13-16).
Further on he says, "Lust is the product of perverse will, and when one obeys lust habit is produced, and when one offers no resistance to habit necessity is produced. By means ... of these interconnected links ... I was held in the grip of a harsh bondage."(C 8:5) At that time his new will to serve God for His own sake and enjoy Him as the only sure joyfulness was
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not yet capable of overcoming the older will. As he became more aware of his iniquity and wretchedness he even prayed, "Give me chastity and self-restraint, but not just yet."(C 8:7) He was afraid God would quickly cure him from the disease of concupiscence, which he preferred to have satisfied rather than extinguished. And so he was hesitant to tear away from the vanities of the flesh when first aware of the call to him to be continent. The chaste dignity of continence, tranquil and joyful, began to manifest itself. He became aware of continence as a fruitful mother of joys coming from espousal with God. Worldly things did not delight him then in comparison to God, but he was still held in thralldom by woman and hesitated to choose the better state of celibacy.(Cf. C 8:1 and 11)
Augustine then relates how upon reading Rm 13:13-14 a peaceful light streamed into his heart and the dark shadows of doubt fled away (C 8:12). He says the instant he bowed under the gentle yoke and burden of Christ Jesus, his Helper and Redeemer, it suddenly became sweet for him to do without the trifling things he had been afraid of losing. Christ, brighter than any light, sweeter than every pleasure of sense entered into their place. He says, "Now, my mind was free from the biting cares of ambition, of acquisition, of rolling about and scratching the scab of lust."(C 9:1)
Augustine then retired for several months to prepare himself to receive Baptism, which he received with his son from Ambrose on Easter Sunday 387. Augustine gave up his profession and sold his possessions for the poor, to devote himself exclusively to the service of Christ until he died. A few months later his mother died in Ostia. Augustine returned to Africa and spent the next three years at Tagaste in
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contemplative and literary refinement. His son died in 389. In 391 he was ordained to the priesthood (chosen against his will by the voice of the people) by the bishop of Hippo, Valerius, whom he succeeded in 395. In this office he labored for thirty-five years.
Augustine's outward mode of life was extremely simple and mildly ascetic. He was devoted to the poor and lived with his clergy in an apostolic community of goods. He made and kept a voluntary vow of poverty and celibacy. His house was made into a seminary of theology. In combining the clerical and monastic life, he was unwittingly the founder of the Augustinian order. He also founded religious societies of women. The object of his preaching was that all might live together with Christ. Augustine was the intellectual head of the Western Church of his time. He took an active interest in all theological and ecclesiastical questions. He was a champion of orthodox doctrine against various heresies including Manicheanism, Donatism and Pelagianism. Augustine engaged in controversy with a genuine Christian spirit, patience and love in truth.
In the latter part of his life, increasing bodily infirmities and the spread of the barbarian Vandals over his country troubled him. The last ten days of his life were spent in prayer and retirement. On August 28, 430 he died peacefully, in full possession of his faculties and in the presence of many friends and pupils.
Augustine's numerous writings were composed over a forty-four year period, although those before his conversion are lost. His Confessions, written in 397, are the most widely read of all patristic literature. His De Civitate Dei (City of God),
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begun in 413 and completed in 426, is the deepest and richest apologetic work of antiquity.
Augustine is generally most highly regarded among the church fathers in both the Roman Catholic Church and Protestant churches. He, however, has had little influence on the Greek Church. His writings ruled the theology of the Middle Ages. In virtue of his dialectic mind and devout heart, he can be considered the father of both scholasticism and mysticism. Augustine's theology is grounded less upon biblical exegesis than upon his Christian and churchly mind which was saturated with scriptural truths. He believed we ought to wish our view be that of the Scriptures rather than the other way around. Augustine excels in insight. He is more of a thinker than a scholar. He sought to apprehend the divine with united power of mind and heart, of bold thought and humble faith. He never depreciated reason, but subordinated it to faith and used it to defend revealed truth. Augustine is properly the founder of a Christian philosophy and he will always be consulted in speculative discussions of Christian doctrine.
Augustine is a philosophical and theological genius of the first order who also had a heart full of Christian love and humility. Although he is a great and original thinker, many today would find some of his views questionable or objectionable. For example, he thought that only a minority of people were saved. Although he first supported religious freedom, he later supported coercion (but never the death penalty) in this area. Augustine, however, submitted his private judgment to the authority of the Church. We will consider below (see a few of the notes) how official Catholic teaching has modified some of his teachings on marriage.
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2. A Summary of his Teaching on Marriage, Sex and Chastity
Augustine begins his De Bono Coniugali ("The Good of Marriage"[M]),xix written in 401, by speaking of human nature as social and friendship as a great and natural good. The first natural tie of human society is that of man and wife. The marriage of male and female is something good and is confirmed in the Gospel (cf. Mt 19:9 and Jn 2:1-11). Marriage is good not solely because of procreation, but also because of the natural companionship between the two sexes (M 1-3). Marriage and intercourse are goods for the sake of friendship (a good sought for its own sake) since from them comes the propagation of the human race in which friendly association is a great good (M 9.) Marriage was instituted so that children might be born properly and decently (M 17).
Against those who hold otherwise (e.g., the Manicheans of his time), Augustine affirms that marriage is a good that can be defended by right reason against all charges. He speaks of a threefold good of marriage: proles, the generation of children, their spiritual regeneration to new life and raising them to be children of God (cf. 1 Tm 5:14); fides, the mutual fidelity of chastity of the spouses and their mutual service of sustaining each other's weakness for the avoidance of illicit intercourse (cf. 1 Cor 7:4); and sacramentum, the sanctity of the marriage bond which in the case of marriage in the City of God (i.e., in the Church) is indissoluble until the death of one of the spouses (cf. 1 Cor 7:10). Augustine says marriage "is a good in which the married are better in proportion as they fear God more chastely and more faithfully, especially if they also nourish spiritually the children whom they desire carnally."(M 19; see also M 6, 15, 20, 24)
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Augustine calls his readers to love these nuptial blessings. The union of male and female for the purpose of generation is a natural good of marriage. Spouses owe fidelity equally to each other regarding the marriage debt. They each have authority or power over the other in a certain sense (cf. 1 Cor 7:3-5). Adultery violates marital fidelity. Breaking off an adulterous union (i.e., repenting of sin and returning to conjugal chastity), however, does not violate fidelity. Believing Christian spouses are to be faithful on account of each other and Christ. They are members of Christ and are not to form a new connection with another as long as both of them live. The sacramental bond (i.e., the nuptial contract in the city of our God) is neither lost nor destroyed (dissolved) by separation, divorce, adultery, or sterility (cf. 1 Cor 7:10-11). Concerning the latter, Augustine says, in the marriage of our women the sanctity of the sacrament is of more importance than the fecundity of the womb. Husband and wife with concord and chastity should guard the marriage bond. The sacrament of marriage is great regarding Christ and the Church, small regarding the married couple, but even then it is a sacrament of an inseparable union. There is no divorce or separation forever in the case of Christ and the Church. The conjugal bond is so strong because it is a symbol of something greater than what could arise from our weak mortality (Cf. Eph 5:32 - the Greek mysterion commonly translated as "mystery" in English is translated to sacramentum in the Latin Vulgate. See M 4, 7, 15 and 18; MC 1:5, 11, 19 and 23).
Regarding Gen 1:27-28 Augustine holds that the blessing and command to increase, multiply and fill the earth is the very mission that God gave to marriage when He instituted it from the beginning. This is why He made the bodies of the two
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sexes so manifestly different. "The simple truth is, as is luminously clear from the bodies of the different sexes, that males and females were made as they were for the purpose of increasing and multiplying, and filling the earth by becoming fathers and mothers."(CG 14:22) The difference of the two sexes, their union pertaining to procreation, and their fruitfulness belongs to the blessing pronounced on the marriage institution. These things are all of God. All the natural endowments of soul and body are gifts of God made by God (MC 1:4 and 2:14).
Augustine interprets woman's being made from the side of man (see Gen 2:18-24) as showing clearly how highly we were meant to esteem the relationship between husband and wife (CG 12:28). The first married pair shows one husband with one wife. This better promotes the good purpose of marriage than one husband with many wives. Augustine, referring to New Testament texts concerning headship and submission in marriage, says it is more consonant with the order of nature that men rule over women than women over men.xx
Sin, Intercourse and Fornication
Before the sin of our first parents, he says, the soul subject to God originally had mastery over the body. But, with the soul deliberately deserting God, the flesh began to rebel against the spirit (cf. Gal 5:17) (CG 13:5). Before sin our first parents' love was perfectly serene, their mutual affection was that of a true and faithful married couple (CG 14:10; and MC 1:10)
The man and woman were naked and felt no shame (Gen 2:25) because "no desire stirred their organs in defiance of their deliberate decision." After sin, however, they were aware
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of their nakedness because they had been stripped of grace which had taken away shame as long as there was no law in their members warring against the law of their minds because of sin (cf. Rm 7:23) (CG 14:17). Augustine believed the organs of generation would have obeyed the will simply (as the hands and feet do) in the absence of lust. It is just, that in not obeying God human beings lost the obedience to their wills of their members responsible for their greatest function, the procreation of children. If our first parents had not sinned, the generation of children would have been through sexual intercourse. In Paradise sex and conception would have been as need required by deliberate choice and not by uncontrollable lust (M 2; MC 1:7 and 2:53; CG 14:23 and 24). He says the "modesty of our human nature ... makes even the purest of parents to blush over the element of lust in the generative act" (CG 15:16). Carnal concupiscence is not of the essence of marriage, but an evil which is an accident of original sin.(MC 1:19) Augustine thinks that both sexes will remain in the resurrection, but then there will be none of that lust which is the cause of shame in connection with sex. All will be as before the first sin (CG 22:17).
Original sin (cf. Rm 5:12) arose from Adam's depraved will. Whence the corrupt will of human beings sprang. By Adam's sin the human race has become a wild olive tree. The remission of sins is referred to baptism and repentance. Jesus shall save His people from their sins (cf. Mt 1:21) (MC 1:37-38 and 2:37 and 60).
No one is wicked by nature but only by some defect. We should hate the sin but love the sinner.(CG 14:6) Sin arises when because of an immoderate leaning to lower goods, the higher - God, His Truth and Law - are deserted.(C 2:5)
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Concerning the sins of those making progress, Augustine says these acts by people of good judgment are both blamed from the rule of perfection and praised because of the hope of fruit to come, as is the growing stalk because of the harvest. He says there is "often a difference between the species of the deed, and the mind of the agent, and the critical situation of hidden circumstance." Although God may command something and hide for a time the reason, who should doubt that it should be done even though opposed to the social conventions of some people? Only that society is just that serves God. True justice does not base its judgments on custom, but on the supremely right law of the omnipotent God (C 3:7 and 9).
If a woman is involved in a sexual relationship of unmarried cohabitation, who would say she did not sin, even if she remains faithful to him, since she had relations with a man though she was not his wife. If she plans to marry another then this is adultery. It is honorable to refuse to have intercourse and not to give birth except with a husband. This equally applies to a man in such a situation. Marriage protects a couple from adultery and fornication (see 1 Cor 7:2-9). It is disgraceful to make use of a wife or husband for purposes of lust (M 5-6).
Intercourse in marriage for the purpose of generating children involves no fault or sin because the mind's good will leads bodily pleasure instead of following its lead. Believers generate offspring with the purpose of their becoming children of God. 1 Th 4:3-5 (regarding knowing how to possess his vessel - interpreted as wife by Augustine - in sanctification and honor), he says, is to be applied to the carnal generation of children to be spiritually generated.
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Marital embraces not having procreation as their object, but serving concupiscence, are permissible and pardonable, that no lapse occur into damnable (mortal) sins, fornications and adulteries (cf. 1 Cor 7:5-6). The Greek syngnoma of v. 6, commonly translated as "concession" in English, was translated to venia in the text Augustine used. This Latin word meaning permission also means forgiveness. Hence, it is understandable that Augustine thought that intercourse for satisfying concupiscence (in desiring carnal pleasure) with a spouse involves "venial" (i.e., pardonable) sin. He held that it is no sin to render the conjugal debt, but venial sin to exact it beyond the need of generation. Beyond this intercourse no longer obeys reason but passion. Augustine says the Latin term passio (passion) is usually understood as a term of censure in ecclesiastical usage. If a spouse prefers to live in perpetual continence, he or she is not to deny what the other wants because of weakness and incontinence, lest the other fall into damnable seductions through temptations of Satan and sin mortally. The somewhat immoderate demanding of the debt or intercourse in marriage that interferes with prayer is granted as a concession (cf. 1 Cor 7:6).xxi Marriage itself does not force this but endures it. Being demanding in marriage is a lesser sin than fornication (see M 6-7, 10-11, 13; MC 1:5, 9, 13, 16-17, and 2:55).
Those who attempt to prevent propagation by wrong desire or evil appliance are not really spouses according to Augustine. He speaks of resorting to methods to secure barrenness or slaying offspring before birth as cruel lust. He says too that changing the natural use of sex into that which is contrary to nature (cf. Rm 1:26) is all the more damnable in a spouse (M 10; MC 1:17).
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Unholy spouses do not put a stain on the married state. Neither do concubines who have intercourse for the sake of children justify their concubinage. A subsequent honorable agreement, however, can unite in marriage those who had not been rightly united (see M 14). "For, what food is to the health of man, intercourse is to the health of the race, and both are not without carnal pleasure, which, however, when modified and put to its natural use with a controlling temperance, cannot be a passion."(M 16) In his Retractationes, 2:22, Augustine says, "This was said since the good and proper use of passion is not a passion."xxii As the fathers of New Testament times took food because of the duty to care for others, so the fathers of Old Testament times had intercourse because of the duty of caring for others. Children are to be propagated (then carnally and now spiritually) for charity, because of that great Mother Jerusalem (cf. M 16).
The soul fornicates when it seeks things away from God (see C 2:6). People who love fleeting things while despising God fornicate against Him (C 5:12).
Concupiscence
Marriage is also good in that carnal lust (something bad) is turned to the honorable task of begetting children. Parental affection tempers and represses concupiscence of the flesh. A kind of dignity prevails when in the marital act husband and wife think of themselves as mother and father.(cf. M 3) Censuring lust, a disease, is not a condemnation of marriage.(cf. MC 1:6 and 2:55)
God commands us to refrain from concupiscence. Spouses should love each other but not the world and what is in it - lust of the flesh and of the eyes, and the pride of life (cf. 1 Jn
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2:15-17 and 1 Cor 7:29-31). They should not love carnal concupiscence in themselves or each other (cf. MC 1:15 and 20). Concupiscence of the eyes (1 Jn 2:16), Augustine says, means a craving to know, "a certain vain and curious desire - cloaked under the name of knowledge and science ... for gaining personal experience through the flesh." Augustine speaks of "a lust for experience and knowledge" not only regarding the beautiful and attractive, but also regarding a curiosity to try the contraries of these (cf. C 10:35).
Concupiscence, a certain affection of an evil quality, remains after baptism as languor after recovery from disease. In the regenerate it is not itself sin any longer whenever they do not consent to it for illicit works. Concupiscence may be greater or less in different individuals according to their progress in renewal of the inner self. The mighty grace of God renews the inward self day by day, enabling us to delight in the law of God, to progress by perseverance and to be truly free, with love that cheers, not with fear that torments. As God's gifts increase more and more, the soul can escape the snare of concupiscence even in sleep and follow God, that is, so as not to consent to sensual images.(Augustine refers to his own experience regarding this in C 10:30) Concupiscence pulls down, but charity's power through God's Spirit lifts up (cf. C 13:7). The grace of Christ delivers us so that we can serve the law of God with our minds by refusing our consent to the law of sin (cf. Rm 7:24-25). Even though we are not yet entirely freed of the desires of sin, there is real freedom and no condemnation for those in Christ even now (Rm 8:1-2; cf. MC 1:25, 28, 30, 33 and 35-36).
Everyone, however exemplary, yields to some promptings of concupiscence and sins, however venially.(CG 1:9) A young
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child in which reason has not yet begun to fight yields practically to all pleasure. But, as a boy grows older, he must take on the war against passion like a man. As long as passions have not been strengthened by constant victory they are easily conquered and put to rout, but if they have acquired the habit of conquest and domination, they can be defeated only by difficult effort. This can only be truly and sincerely made with love of true holiness. Such love can be found only through faith in Christ. There exist cases where open vices are overcome by hidden vices which pass for virtues, but which in reality are ministers of pride and self-complacency. Vices in truth are only vanquished by the love of God, a gift that none but God can give. This love is given in no other way than through Jesus, the Mediator (cf. 1 Tm 2:5). Few from early adolescence continue free from every mortal sin. Most, after they become conscious of responsibility to law, are first overcome by passion and violate the law. Then when they have recourse to grace they grieve and struggle against passion until with their will in subjection to God and their reason in control of the flesh, they conquer themselves (cf. CG 21:16). Concerning the training of a child we love, Augustine speaks of law, education, corporal punishment and fear in disciplining the waywardness of growing children, lest they grow stubborn and too wild to be tamed (Sir 30:12; cf. CG 22:22).
"...a prohibition always increases an illicit desire so long as the love of and joy in holiness is too weak to conquer the inclination to sin; and, without the aid of divine grace, it is impossible for man to love in and delight in sanctity."(CG 13:5) Concerning the power of sin coming from the Law, which in itself is holy, Augustine refers to Rom 7:12-13 and 1 Cor 15:56.
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Lust for sexual excitement can take such complete possession of the whole person that it practically paralyzes all power of deliberate thought (cf. CG 4:16). One makes oneself bad by loving the good of any nature perversely and so losing something better. Lust is not a defect in bodies that are beautiful and pleasing, but a sin of loving corporal pleasures perversely by abandoning temperance that joins us in spiritual union with more beautiful realities. Reason is a capacity infused by God that awakens in a life that involves learning the perception of the true and pursuit of the good. It then flowers into that wisdom and virtue which enables the soul to battle with prudence, fortitude, temperance and justice against error, waywardness and other inborn weaknesses and to conquer them with the sole purpose of reaching the supreme and immutable Good.(cf. CG 22:8 and 24)
Chastity and Holiness
1 Cor 6:19 is said to all the faithful - this actual bodily substance and nature of ours is already God's temple in all the faithful. Therefore, the bodies of the married who remain faithful to themselves and the Lord are holy. Chastity in the married state is a gift of God (cf. 1 Cor 7:7). If not possessed we should seek it from Him; if possessed give Him thanks. The crown of marriage is the chastity of procreation and faithfulness in rendering the carnal debt. Holy spouses observe in all things a chaste and religious harmony. Spouses who are believers, religious, chaste and of good will please the Lord and each other.(cf. M 11 and 18; MC 1:1, 15 and 35) Having been invited, the Lord came to a marriage (cf. in 2:1-11) in order to affirm conjugal chastity and to show that marriage is a sacrament. The "good wine" is His Gospel.xxiii
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Separation in the case of adultery is lawful, but the bond of chastity remains; it is adultery to remarry or to marry a separated married person whose spouse is still alive (cf. Rm 7:2-3).xxiv "...it is of the essence of chastity not to commit fornication, not to commit adultery, not to be stained with any illicit intercourse." Whoever does not observe these precepts acts against the commands of God and is not obedient (cf. M 23).
There is no true chastity, conjugal, vidual (re widowhood) or virginal, except which devotes itself to true faith (cf. Heb 11:6). A person is not really chaste who observes marital fidelity from any other motive than devotion to the true God, for example, to please people or to avoid trouble. Some sins are overpowered by others. cf. MC 1:4-5).
Virginity or Celibacy
Augustine says continence (celibacy) is a gift of God - no one can be continent without God giving it. "Through continence, in fact, we are gathered in and returned to the One from whom we have flowed out into the many."(C 10:29)
Marriage and continence are two goods, the second of which is better (cf. Lk 10:39 regarding Martha and Mary). Although celibacy is better, it is better to marry if one does not have self-control. The weakness of incontinence is hindered from falling into the ruin of profligacy by the honorable estate of marriage (cf. 1 Cor 7). Concerning this he says he wants both younger women and men to marry to be mothers and fathers of families to give no occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully (see 1 Tm 5:14). With respect to continence,
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Augustine thinks that with all nations abundantly producing offspring, there is no necessity to do so.(cf. MC 1:18) Abstention from the function of human generation (marriage) is not good in itself, but only when inspired by faith in God, who is the Supreme Good (cf. M 8, 10; MC 1:18; CG 15:20). "Continence as such is better than wedlock, yet, by any sound and true criterion, a married Christian is better than a celibate pagan.... a married man of great faith who is most obedient to God is certainly better than a continent one who has less faith and obedience."(CG 16:36).
Obedience is a greater good than continence. In a certain sense obedience is the mother of all virtues. Continence, not of the body but of the soul, is a virtue. Both the celibacy of John and the marriage of Abraham did service for Christ in accord with the needs of the time. The patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) were spouses and parents for the sake of Christ. Augustine warns virgins dedicated to God to be humble (cf. Sir 3:20) (cf. M 21, 23 and 26). Nevertheless, the chastity of the unmarried is better than the chastity of marriage (cf. M 21-22).
Augustine holds that it is no sin to marry (1 Cor 7:9 and 28), but when virginal continence (and that of widowhood) "has been sought and chosen and consecrated in the obligation of a vow it is damnable not only to enter upon a marriage but, although one does not actually marry, even to desire to marry." He says that Christ wanted virginity to be of free choice. "In being born of a Virgin who chose to remain a Virgin even before she knew who was to be born of her, Christ wanted to approve virginity rather than to impose it."xxv
Concerning virginity, Augustine also says that the virginal
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marriage of Joseph and Mary was a true marriage. Their marriage effected the entire good of marriage. There was offspring, faithfulness and a marriage bond. Their mutual pledge (i.e., regarding remaining virgin) and keeping it would have led to a firmer bond.
By this example it is strongly intimated to the married faithful that even when continence is observed by their common consent, their marriage can still perdure and still be called a marriage, not by a physical joining of the sexes but by the maintaining of the affections of the mind.xxvi
Augustine speaks of the time before Christ as a time for marriage and propagation, to preserve a people for Christ's coming. In the time after Christ's coming propagation is no longer of the same necessity. The way is open for the regeneration of an abundance of spiritual offspring (cf. MC 1:12-14).
3. On Love and Friendship
Concerning the two commandments of love Augustine says it is not wrong to love oneself so long as one loves God. We must help all we can influence (spouse, children...) to love God and wish to be similarly helped by our fellow human beings. Right order means to harm no one and help whomever one can. Two societies have issued from two kinds of love: worldly society from a selfish love which dared to despise even God; the communion of saints is rooted in a love of God that is ready to trample on self (cf. CG 14:14 and 28).
God's Love, Good Spirit and Gift inflame us and lift us up to the peace of Jerusalem. The simple love of God and neighbor
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may be expressed in many ways by a multiplicity of symbols and innumerable tongues. God's works praise Him, so that we may love Him (cf. C 13:10, 24 and 33).
"Bodily beauty, created as it is by God, is still but a lowly good, fleeting and fleshly, and cannot be loved without sin if it is preferred to God, who from eternity to eternity is Goodness itself." Any created thing can be loved both well (when due order is observed) and ill (when that order is disturbed). "It is only when the Creator is rightly loved, that is, when He is loved for what He is, and when no creature is loved in place of Him, that there cannot be too much love." "The best brief definition of virtue is to say it is the ordering of love." He refers to Can 2:4 praying "Order charity in me."(CG 15:22) Whether a person leads a more contemplative or active life, "What is not indifferent is that he love truth [contemplate God] and do what charity demands [regarding the needs of his/her neighbor] (CG 19:19).
"There are two kinds of love, divine and human." It is licit for one to love one's spouse, children, friends and fellow citizens with a human love. But, even the impious are capable of that love.xxvii A married man is not to allow anything in his love and pleasure regarding his wife to come before Christ, his foundation. The pleasures of passionate love on earth are made legitimate by means of the marital union. With respect to Mt 10:37 Augustine says that one who puts his human loves (i.e., regarding father, mother, wife, son, daughter) above the love of Christ, will not be saved.(cf. CG 21:26) In a good marriage the order of charity flourishes.(cf. M 3)
A good person is someone who loves rightly. If someone loves rightly, he (or she) also believes and hopes rightly. How can
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one, who does not believe in God, love God? To live well is nothing else than to seek and love God, the greatest good, with all one's heart, soul and mind. It is the task of temperance, fortitude, justice and prudence (i.e., the cardinal virtues) to preserve such love. God, who is the good of every good, should not be loved as this or that good, but as good itself. Nothing is more excellent than the gift of God's love, without which His other gifts are productive of nothing. Concerning love Augustine says, too:
For without the Gift of God, that is, without the Holy Spirit, through whom love is poured out into our hearts (Rm 5:5), the law could command but could not help. Moreover, the law could make a man a transgressor, who could not excuse himself on grounds of ignorance. Where there is no love of God, carnal desire does reign.
[The faith of Christ which works through love (Gal 5:6) asks for whatever it does not yet have in love.] God, therefore, does not command what is impossible, but in commanding He also admonishes you to do what you are able, and to ask His help for what you are unable to do. [To love freely is to desire only God for your reward, who alone can satisfy you.]
Let us love our Lord God, let us love His Church; Him as a Father, her as a Mother; Him as a Master, her as His Handmaid; for we are the children of the Handmaid herself. But this marriage is held together by a great love; no one offends the one and gains favor with the other.xxviii
"Friendship among human beings," says Augustine, "brings sweetness through the loving knot whereby from many minds a union is formed."(C 2:5) Friendship is not true unless God cements it between those who cleave to Him with charity
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diffused into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (cf. Rm 5:5).(cf. C 4:4) "Happy is he who loves Thee [God], and his friend in Thee, and his enemy because of Thee."(C 4:9)
Augustine notes though that all human relationships are fraught with misunderstandings. He speaks of the pain of unfaithful friends and the sadness of the death of a close friend. But, it is harder to see a loved one lose his or her faith or fall into grievous sin (spiritual death). It is a joy for Christians when our friends die a holy death. "There is no greater consolation than the unfeigned loyalty and mutual love of good men who are true friends."(CG 19:5 and 8)
C. Analysis
This section first provides some analysis of the teachings summarized above (sections A and B) of Chrysostom and Augustine, two "classical" Christian writers. Some of the contributions, as well as a few of the limitations, of their theology are noted. It then treats the question of the development of Christian doctrine and the distinction between Christian Tradition and traditions. Finally, some considerations for evaluating other Christian traditions are presented.
St. John Chrysostom's theology, in the form of biblical commentaries, is very much rooted in the Bible. In providing many pastoral and practical insights with respect to living as true Christians, whether married or not, he has made a significant theological contribution. He recommends the study of the Bible for all people including children, and prayer, to know the whole truth of the Gospel and to live in the world as true Christians. With respect to morally relevant
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values and norms, Chrysostom first of all emphasizes God's goodness and wisdom, and his care, kindness and providence in our regard. It is therefore intelligent to obey and strive to please God, whereas sin is unreasonable folly.
Chrysostom persuasively provides a variety of motives for learning to be virtuous and to avoid vice. One is truly free who is freed from vices and free to practice virtue. One should live virtuously for Christ's sake, the glory of God and our salvation. Virtue, imitating Christ's love, makes us like God and worthy to have fellowship with Christ and see God. Innumerable benefits or blessings including harmony and much pleasure are also associated with virtue, whereas innumerable evils including much pain are associated with vice. With respect to Christian character and virtues, Chrysostom speaks of caring for each other, gentleness, humility, affection, self-restraint, temperance, chastity, true wisdom and the rule of reason, mildness, gratitude, prayer, and so forth. Vices or evils, the result of depraved will, include, among others, unrestraint, folly, drunkenness, gluttony, wrath, adultery, fornication, divorce and abortion. Chastity involves reverencing Christ who dwells within us. Fornication fails to do this and brings 10,000 woes. Not being chaste empties out love and makes marriage less fruitful.
Chrysostom also shows a high appreciation of celibacy for Heaven's sake, if lived virtuously, the greatness of the marital union, and domestic peace. He esteems very much a strong love and warm, genuine friendship between husband and wife. This has great benefits for families and states. He sees Christian marriage as something spiritual and the Christian household as a little Church.
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St. Augustine's remarkable conversion from a life of vice, including sexual immorality, to the love of God, in itself speaks powerfully to our topics. With respect to morally relevant values and norms, Augustine is aware of a "hierarchy" of goods. God is the supreme good. Human friendship, the natural companionship of the sexes, marriage, the harmony of spouses, sexual intercourse, procreation, parental affection, and so on, are also goods. Bodily beauty is also good, but it is a lowly good compared to God, who is Goodness itself. Augustine very much appreciates everything that is good as a gift of God. He understands sin as involving a depraved will, an immoderate love of lower goods and deserting God - His Truth and Law - the highest good. Virtue involves a proper ordering of love, subjecting our wills to God, which is possible with God's grace.
Augustine distinguishes human and divine love. He affirms that only the love of God, which only God can give, can vanquish vices and enable us to love and find joy in holiness. He contrasts selfish love, also with respect to sex, both outside and within marriage, with the love of God. It is in the light of this that he considers such things as adultery and fornication as sinful, as against commands of God. He speaks of virtues such as prudence, temperance, justice, fortitude, self-restraint, continence, chastity including chaste marital fidelity, and the service of Christ; and vices such as pride, self-complacency, and lust. Augustine had a real appreciation of the true, good and beautiful. With respect to his great love for the truth, he appreciated reason, which he thought ought to be subordinated to Catholic Christian faith.
Augustine made a significant contribution to the theology of marriage. Among other things, his treatment of the good of marriage has influenced much subsequent theology and
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Catholic teaching. The threefold good of marriage, according to Augustine, includes the generation of offspring and raising them to worship and serve God; chaste marital fidelity; and the sacred marriage bond. Although Augustine articulated many truths, often in a powerful and eloquent way, the main theme running through his writings is the love of God.
While Chrysostom and Augustine have each made significant contributions to Christian theology, including the theology of sex, marriage and love, we should also note here a few of their limitations. For example, they both present a somewhat limited view of the purposes of marriage. Although they each do say some valid things with respect to this, neither of them speaks of mutual self-giving conjugal love as the fundamental reason for marriage.xxix Their interpretations of the New Testament teaching on the husband's headship and the wife's submission, although quite enlightened for their times, need to be understood in the light of mutual submission out of reverence for Christ. They also do not explicitly speak about marital sexual relations as an expression of conjugal love and affection, and that it is proper for husband and wife to enjoy sexual relations with each other, provided they properly respect each other and God's will in this area. With respect to these limitations, see also notes 7, 12, 20 and 21 of this article. In spite of such limitations, however, contemporary Christians and non-Christians, can learn much from Chrysostom and Augustine. In general their theology is consistent with and represents an authentic development of biblical teaching. They were very intelligent and committed followers of Jesus. Their writings, for the most part, can provide a great stimulus for theological reflection today, as they have in the past, and assist us in the proper formation of our consciences.
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In this section, I think it is also relevant to say something about the development of Christian doctrine, and the distinction between Christian Tradition and traditions. Jesus, according to the Gospel of John, promised to send his disciples the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, who would lead them into the complete truth (cf. 14:16-17 and 26 and 16:12-15). In the light of this, we can appreciate that God can and does enlighten people who are open to him. Christians, individually in their lives and collectively through the centuries, can grow in understanding God's truth and revelation in Christ. We can thus speak of a development of Christian doctrine. As Christians face new questions and issues, with the help of the Holy Spirit, they can grow in understanding the truth. An authentic development of doctrine does not involve contradicting eternal truths that were perceived in the past, but a development in the articulation of certain truths.(cf. the Second Vatican Council, DV, n. 8, and GS, nn. 44 and 62; and the Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], n. 94)xxx
According to Catholic teaching,
[The living transmission of God's revelation in Christ] accomplished in the Holy Spirit, is called Tradition, since it is distinct from Sacred Scripture, though closely connected to it. Through Tradition, "the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes."[DV, 8, par. 1] "The sayings of the holy Fathers are a witness to the life-giving presence of this Tradition, showing how its riches are poured out in the practice and life of the Church, in her belief and her prayer."[DV, n. 8, par. 3](CCC, n. 78)
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Tradition is to be distinguished from the various theological, disciplinary, liturgical or devotional traditions, born in the local churches over time. These are the particular forms, adapted to different places and times, in which the great Tradition is expressed. In the light of Tradition, these traditions can be retained, modified or even abandoned under the guidance of the Church's magisterium (CCC, n. 83).xxxi
The theological traditions originating in Chrysostom and Augustine (cf. this article), can and should be evaluated in the light of this distinction between Christian Tradition and traditions. This would also apply to other Christian traditions, for example, those originating with the Protestant Reformer, Martin Luther.xxxii
In evaluating the proposals of various Christian traditions (as well as those of contemporary theologians, ethicists and others), one can and should ask and attempt to answer a number of questions. Both Christians and non-Christians can ask whether the proposals are true, do they correspond to the breadth and depth of reality and human experience? Does the author have an integral understanding of goods or values and love? One can also examine any norms or recommendations proposed, and try to understand why they were formulated. What values are they intended to protect and promote? Christians also ask whether or not these proposals represent an authentic development of biblical teaching. Along these lines they ought to try to discern whether these proposals are compatible or not with the fullness of God's revelation in Jesus Christ. A Catholic perspective also asks whether these proposals are compatible or not with the truth expressed in Catholic teaching.
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Notes
1 Note: This article is adapted from part of Ch. 3 of my book, Premarital Sex and Love: In the Light of Human Experience and Following Jesus. For more information on the book see: <www.ualberta.ca/~pflaman/psal.html>.
2 Homily 21 on John, NPNF (A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series, a multi-volume work, ed. by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1956.), Vol. XIV, 72. For more details concerning St. John Chrysostom's life and character see: Philip Schaff, "Prolegomena," in NPNF, Vol. IX, 5-23; Robert C. Hill, trans., FOC (The Fathers of the Church, a multi-volume work published by The Catholic University of America Press, Washington, D.C., 1961 ff.), Vol. 74, 2-17; and Catharine P. Roth, "Introduction," St. John Chrysostom On Marriage and Family Life, trans. by Catharine Roth and David Anderson (Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1986).
3 See Homilies 8-17 on Genesis (FOC, Vol. 74, trans. by Robert C. Hill, 107-246). Concerning Genesis, Chrysostom did not know Hebrew. He used the Greek translations of his day. His commentaries on Genesis are not critical in the modern sense - e.g., he takes Genesis as the words of Moses (cf. ibid., 13-14).
4 See Homilies 18, 32 and 38 on Genesis (FOC, Vol. 82, trans. by Robert C. Hill, 12, 266, and 355-6).
5 See Homilies 17, 49, 59, 61-2, 70, 75, 78 and 87 on Matthew (NPNF, Vol. X, 117, 309, 371, 374, 382, 384, 429, 455, 470-1 and 585); and Homily 30 on Acts (NPNF, Vol. XI, 192).
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6 See Homilies 11, 12 and 18 on 1 Corinthians (NPNF, Vol. XII, 61, 101-2); Homily 43 on John (NPNF, Vol. XIV, 235); and Homily 24 on Romans (NPNF, Vol. XI, 520).
7 From a Catholic perspective, Chrysostom's view on the purpose of marriage should be understood in the light of later Catholic teaching on marriage which holds in part that the "matrimonial covenant" is by its nature ordered toward both "the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring..." CCC (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Ottawa: List of Catechism Changes”, Origins: CNS Documentary Service, 25 Sept. 1997, pp. 257-62.), n. 1601, quoting CIC (Codex Iuris Canonici, promulgated by the authority of Pope John Paul II. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1983. The English translation used in this book is The Code of Canon Law: In English Translation. London: Collins Liturgical Publications, l983.), c. 1055,1
8 See "Homily 19 on 1 Corinthians 7" and "Sermon on Marriage", in Roth (see note 2), 26-28 and 81-88.
9 See "Homily 19 on 1 Corinthians 7" in Roth (see note 2), 29-42; and Homily 85 on John and Homily 28 on Hebrews (NPNF, Vol. XIV, 318 and 498).
10 See Homilies 1, 7, 11, and 17 on 2 Corinthians (NPNF, Vol. XII, 274, 316-17, 335 and 362-3); and Homily 6 on 2 Timothy and Homily 36 on John (NPNF, Vol. XIII, 496, and Vol. XIV, 127, respectively).
11 See Homily 20 on Ephesians 5:22-33 in Roth (see note 2), 43-64.
12 Concerning "submission" and "headship" within marriage, I think it is worthwhile to refer to Pope John Paul II's teaching in Mulieris Dignitatem (Ottawa: Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1988), n. 24. Referring to Eph 5:21 he says in part, "All the reasons in favour of the
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'subjection' of woman to man in marriage must be understood in the sense of a 'mutual subjection' of both 'out of reverence for Christ'". We can also note here that Chrysostom's own teaching on this subject was quite enlightened within his context of a society that did not question patriarchy as our society does.
13 See also Homily 12 on Colossians 4:18 in Roth (see note 2), 76.
14 See Homily 70 on John in NPNF, Vol. XIV, 256; and Homily 19 on 1 Cor 7 in Roth (see note 2), 33, respectively.
15 See Homily 21 on Ephesians 6:1-4 in Roth (see note 2), 65-72. I have also integrated here some of Chrysostom's teaching on bringing up children as found in Homily 9 on Timothy (NPNF, Vol. XIII, 436-7.
16 See "How to Choose a Wife," "Homily 12 on Colossians 4:18" and "Sermon on Marriage" in Roth (see note 2), 89-114, 73-80 and 81-83 respectively; Homily 73 on Matthew (NPNF, Vol. X, 443); and Homily 9 on Timothy (NPNF, Vol. XIII, 436-7).
17 Regarding love and virtue see Homily 52 on Acts and Homilies 5, 10, 12, 21, 23 and 30 (NPNF, Vol. XI, 312, 366, 401, 424, 503, 514, and 530); and Homilies 10, 19, 20, 42, 72, 76 and 77 on John, and Homilies 3, 5, 7 and 25 on Hebrews (NPNF, Vol. XIV, 35, 67, 72, 150, 266, 280, 282, 381, 392, 402 and 477).
18 FOC, Vol. 21, trans. by Vernon J. Bourke. Besides Augustine's own Confessions [C], for material in this section I have relied on FEF (The Faith of the Early Fathers, selected and trans. by William A. Jurgens (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1970-vol. 1, 1979-vols. 2 and 3.), Vol. 3, pp. 1 and 82; and "Prolegomena: St. Augustine's Life and Work" by Philip Schaff, NPNF, Vol.1, 1-24. References to Augustine's works will first be given in the notes here.
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Subsequent references will be given in the text in abbreviated form, noting book (if applicable) and chapter numbers.
19 For Augustine's whole treatise on "The Good of Marriage" [M] see FOC, Vol. 27, 9-51, trans. by Charles T. Wilcox, M.M. Two other works of Augustine that will often be referred to are: "On Marriage and Concupiscence" [MC] (written 419-20), NPNF, Vol. 5, 263-308; and "City of God" [CG] (written 413-26), FOC, Vols. 8 (trans. by Demetrius B. Zema and Gerald G. Walsh, 1950), 14 (trans. by Gerald G. Walsh and Grace Monahan, 1952) and 24 (trans. by Gerald G. Walsh and Daniel J. Honan).
20 See note 12 above.
21 A number of contemporary exegetes think that the "concession" of 1 Cor 7:6 applies instead to marrying (E.g., Richard Kugelman, JBC [The Jerome Biblical Commentary, ed. by Raymond E. Brown, S.S., Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., and Roland E. Murphy, O.Carm. (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1968)], 51:37, says it refers to marrying lest one commit fornication - cf. vv. 2 and 7; and Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, NJBC [The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, ed. by Raymond E. Brown, S.S., Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., and Roland E. Murphy, O.Carm. (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1990)], 49:36, says the "this", Greek touto of v. 6 points forward not backward.) or to periods of periodic abstinence within marriage (NJB [The New Jerusalem Bible, General ed. Henry Wansbrough (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1985)], p. 1899, note e). Official Catholic teaching has implicitly modified some of Augustine's teaching concerning conjugal relations. Concerning sexual pleasure Pope Pius XII in an "Address to Midwives," Oct. 29, 1951, says: "The Creator in His goodness and wisdom has willed to make use
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of the work of the man and the woman to preserve and propagate the human race, by joining them in wedlock. The same Creator has arranged that the husband and wife find pleasure and happiness of mind and body in the performance of that function. Consequently, the husband and wife do no wrong in seeking out and enjoying this pleasure. They are accepting what the Creator intended for them. ...the use of the natural, generative instinct and function is lawful in the married state only, and in the service of the purposes for which marriage exists. ...only in the married state and in the observance of these laws are the desires and enjoyment of that pleasure and satisfaction allowed."(Official Catholic Teachings: Love and Sexuality, 119-20, ed. Odile M. Liebard, Wilmington. N.C.: McGrath, 1978). Concerning conjugal love and the marital act the Second Vatican Council, GS, n. 49, says in part: "This love is uniquely expressed and perfected through the marital act. The actions within marriage by which the couple are united intimately and chastely are noble and worthy ones. Expressed in a manner which is truly human, these actions signify and promote that mutual self-giving by which spouses enrich each other with a joyful and a thankful will."
Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae (Boston: Daughters of St. Paul, 1968) speaks of true conjugal love as involving a reciprocal personal gift of self. Sexual relations between husband and wife "do not cease to be lawful if, for causes independent" of their will, "they are foreseen to be infecund, since they always remain ordained toward expressing and consolidating their union."(n. 11) He speaks of the conjugal act as having two God-given meanings, unitive and procreative, which are to be safeguarded. One is not to directly will an impediment to procreation and deliberately make a conjugal act infertile. But when procreation is not
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desirable for just motives, spouses can have sexual relations during the infertile periods only "to manifest their affection and to safeguard their mutual fidelity. By so doing, they give proof of a truly and integrally honest love."(n. 16) Cf. also Pope John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio (Boston: Daughters of St. Paul, 1981), n. 32, regarding the value and innate language of total reciprocal self-giving of conjugal love.
22 FOC, Vol. 27, p. 32, note 1.
23 "Homilies on John," 9:2, FEF, Vol. 3, 116.
24 Cf. "Adulterous Marriages," 2:4:4, FEF, Vol. 3, 133.
25 "The Advantage of Widowhood," 9:12, and "Holy Virginity," 4:4, FEF, Vol. 3, 110 and 71 respectively.
26 "The Harmony of the Evangelists," 2:1:2, FEF, Vol. 3, 61.
27 "Sermons," 349:1, FEF, Vol. 3, 33.
28 Regarding the quotations see "Enchiridion of Faith, Hope, and Love," 31:117, "Nature and Grace," 43:50, and "Psalms," 88:2:14, in FEF, Vol. 3, 153, 111 and 19 respectively; see also 23, 27, 36, 78, 80, and 152
29 See, e.g., Dietrich von Hildebrand, Marriage: The Mystery of Faithful Love (New Hampshire: Sophia Institute Press, 1984), Ch. 1 "Love and Marriage".
30 For a translation of the documents of Vatican II see, e.g., Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, ed. by Austin Flannery, O.P. (Dublin: Talbot Press, 1975). Re the Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC] see note 7 above.
31 Cf. also Yves Congar, Tradition and Traditions: An Historical and a Theological Essay (New York: Macmillan, 1967), and I Believe in the Holy Spirit (New York: Seabury, 1983).
32 See, e.g., Lisa Sowle Cahill, Between the Sexes: Foundations for a Christian Ethics of Sexuality (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985), Ch. 7. Her treatment of
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Martin Luther's views on sexuality and marriage is generally sympathetic but critical of certain aspects. With respect to Christian theological traditions on sex and marriage see also, e.g.: George Hayward Joyce, Christian Marriage: An Historical and Doctrinal Study (London: Sheed and Ward, 1948); Edward Schillebeeckx, Vol. II: Marriage in the History of the Church, in Marriage: Human Reality and Saving Mystery (London: Sheed and Ward, 1965); and Ronald Lawler, Joseph Boyle and William E. May, Catholic Sexual Ethics (Huntington: Our Sunday Visitor, 1985), Ch. 2 "Sex in the Catholic Tradition".
It should be noted, however, that Christian traditions do not only include theological traditions. The wealth of the Christian heritage also includes, among other things, various liturgies and other forms of prayer, Christian art and literature, and Christian saints, all of which can help us better appreciate Christian values. It is beyond the purposes of this article to discuss all of these here.
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Vatican II and the Absurdity of The Passion of the Christ
Sean Murphy
Sean Murphy is a lawyer and President of the Canadian Catholic Civil Rights League
"We preach Christ crucified," wrote St. Paul, a "stumbling block" and an "absurdity". (1 Cor. 1:23)
Some of the criticisms levelled at The Passion show that little has changed since Paul’s time, though Paul might be surprised to discover some professed Christians among those discomfited by Mel Gibson’s film.
Certainly, the film is not the Gospel, nor a replacement for the Gospel. Nor does it conform to the ordinary demands of story-telling, since it picks up the Gospel narratives only in the last hours of Jesus’ earthly life. It is as if, in making a film version of The Lord of the Rings, a director started with Frodo’s ascent of Mount Doom and ended with the destruction of the Ring. Granted, the destruction of the Ring is central to the plot, but a director who left everything else out would be justifiably criticized for having produced an incomplete film that would be unintelligible to anyone who didn’t know the story, and annoying to those who did.
Such criticism of The Passion is misplaced because it is not a story. It is a cinematic Lenten meditation, not unlike the Catholic custom of the Stations of the Cross. But, of all New Testament narratives, why meditate on the suffering and death
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of Jesus? Why not, for example, meditate on the Sermon on the Mount? Why not make a movie about that?
The short answer is that one could meditate on the Sermon on the Mount, but it would be a different meditation. A director could make a film about it, but it would be a different film.
A longer answer is found in the documents of the Second Vatican Council, in which the Council Fathers saw the origin and growth of the Church "symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of the crucified Jesus."1 Echoing St. Paul, they described the Church as "announcing the cross and death of the Lord until he comes,"2 and advised Christians to carry the death of Jesus about with them.3
Certainly, the Council acknowledged that the whole life of Jesus - "words, works, signs and miracles" - completed and perfected divine revelation,4 but the Fathers taught that our redemption and restoration to true human freedom was accomplished on the cross.5 It was by His death and resurrection that Jesus made all things new.6
Again, it is true that He set an example which teaches us that "the flesh and the world" will inflict the cross of suffering upon "all who seek after peace and justice,"7 and that we are, nonetheless, expected to follow His example.8 But Christ did not suffer and die just to set an example.
The Church always held and continues to hold that Christ, out of infinite love, freely underwent suffering and death because of the sins of all men, so that all might attain salvation. It is the duty of the Church, therefore, in her
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preaching, to proclaim the cross of Christ as the sign of God’s universal love and the source of all grace.9
Mankind’s slavery to sin was not ended by Jesus’ birth, nor by His teachings, nor by the miracles He worked during His ministry. It was Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection that "freed us from the power of Satan;"10 our ransom was paid with His blood.11 It is from this sacrifice that the proclamation of the Gospel and "all sacraments and sacramentals" draw their force and power.12
Once this is understood, one can see Gibson’s film as an opportunity to meditate upon the ransom paid for us, the same ransom that is re-presented in the holy sacrifice of the mass, where Christ again offers Himself to the Father in expiation of our sins.13 The Passion of the Christ allows us to focus on the key salvific event in human history.
Contrary to what some might expect, this focus does not exclude non-Christians. Given the specious accusations of anti-Semitism levelled against the film, special note should be taken of the Council statement that Jews and Gentiles have been reconciled by Christ through his cross.14
Beyond this, the Fathers explained that God desires all men to be saved,15 that Jesus died for all men,16 and that no salvation comes to men except through Jesus.17 The conclusion, it seems, is that when salvation comes to those outside the Church, it is effected by the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ, in some manner known to God.18 As the cross is raised in Gibson’s film, a flashback briefly transports the audience to the Last Supper, and they hear the words of consecration: "This is my body, which will be given
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up for you." This scene, so significant for believing Catholics, depicts not only the essence of the Eucharist, but the point at which all men are drawn to Christ.19
Does this not overstate the case? Is it realistic to believe that Muslims or Jews, for example, would be drawn to anything in this?
"Islam" is an Arabic word that means "submission"; a Muslim is "one who submits" to the will of God. Jesus demonstrated perfect trust and submission to the will of God in His prayer in Gethsemane and in His resolute acceptance of suffering on the way of the cross. A Muslim watching Gibson’s film would reject the divinity of Christ, certainly. But it is possible that a Muslim might see in the beaten, scourged and crucified Jesus a man who understood and lived the essence of Islam before Mohammed taught its precepts.
In Treblinka, in 1942, four hundred naked Jews passed between SS men with dogs, whips and clubs, unaware that they were walking to a gas chamber. After they had been locked inside, the gas was released. Cries of, "Papa!" "Mama!" came from the chamber, but also shouts of "Hear O Israel!" - the Shema:20
Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One. Blessed be the Name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be in your heart.21
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For centuries, the Shema has been the final profession of faith and love for God by Jewish martyrs. It, too, is a prayer of trust and submission, and it was the first great commandment of Jesus of Nazareth,22 the Jew who lived the Shema on the way of the cross.
Christ crucified remains an absurdity and a stumbling block to many, so the attacks on The Passion of the Christ are not surprising. Nonetheless, the film provides an opportunity to reflect, not only upon "the mystery of love which the Lord revealed to the world by his death and resurrection,"23 but upon the relationship of the children of Abraham - Christians, Muslims and Jews.
Notes
1.cf. Jn. 19:34; Vatican II (1964) Dogmatic Constitution on the Church [Lumen Gentium] 3; Vatican II (1963) The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy [Sacrosanctum Concilium] 5
2. cf. 1 Cor. 11:26; Lumen Gentium, 8
3. cf. 2 Cor. 4:10 ff; Vatican II (1965) Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity [Ad Gentes Divinitus] 25; Sacrosanctum Concilium, 12
4. Vatican II (1965) Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation [Dei Verbum] 4
5. Vatican II (1965) Declaration on Religious Liberty [Dignitatis Humanae] 11
6. Ad Gentes Divinitus, 5
7. Vatican II (1965) Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World [Gaudium et Spes] 38
8. Mt. 16:24; Vatican II (1965) Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People [Apostolicam Actuositatem] 4; Vatican II (1965)
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Decree on the Training of Priests [Optatam Totius] 9; Ad Gentes Diviniutus, 6; Gaudium et Spes, 22; Lumen Gentium, 42
9. Vatican II (1965) Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions [Nostra Aetate] 4
10. Gaudium et Spes, 2; Sacrosanctum Concilium, 5, 6
11. Dignitatis Humanae, 11,13; Gaudium et Spes, 22; Lumen Gentium, 5, 9, 50;Ad Gentes Divinitus, 3, 7; Optatam Totius, 4; Vatican II (1965) Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests [Presbyterium Ordinis] 11
12. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 61; Presbyterorum Ordinis, 2
13. Ad Gentes Divinitus, 14; Lumen Gentium, 3, 8; Presbyterorum Ordinis, 4, 13; Sacrosantum Concilium, 6, 47; Vatican II (1964) Decree on Ecumenism [Unitatis Redintegratio] 22.
14. cf. Eph. 2:14-16; Nostra Aetate, 4
15. Dignitatis Humanae, 7,14; Lumen Gentium, 16; Presbyterorum Ordinis, 15; Sacrosanctum Concilium, 5;
16. Ad Gentes Divinitus, 3, 7; Gaudium et Spes, 10, 22, 32; Lumen Gentium 5, 50; Nostra Aetate, 4.
17. Ad Gentes Divinitus, 7; Gaudium et Spes, 10
18. Gaudium et Spes, 22; Ad Gentes Divinitus, 7
19. Dei Verbum, 17; Dignitatis Humanae, 11; Lumen Gentium, 3 48; Sacrosanctum Concilium, 2
20. Yahil, Leni, The Holocaust: The Fate of European Jewry. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 361
21. For the full text of the Shema in Hebrew and English- http://www.jewfaq.org/prayer/shema.htm
22. Mt. 22:37
23. Gaudium et Spes, 52
19. Dei Verbum, 17; Dignitatis Humanae, 11; Lumen Gentium, 3 48; Sacrosanctum Concilium, 2
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20. Yahil, Leni, The Holocaust: The Fate of European Jewry. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 361
21. For the full text of the Shema in Hebrew and English- http://www.jewfaq.org/prayer/shema.htm
22. Mt. 22:37
23. Gaudium et Spes, 52

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Church Teachings and the "Delayed Personhood" Ruse
Dianne N. Irving, M.A., Ph.D.
Dr Irving is Professor of Philosophy, The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.
"Having written a 400-page doctoral dissertation precisely on this issue over 13 years ago which analyzed in excruciating detail the "delayed personhood" positions of over 23 different bioethics arguments still used today [[for summary of pros and cons, see Irving, "Scientific and philosophical expertise: An evaluation of the arguments on 'personhood"', at: www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_04personl.html, and having been immediately engaged in the various "disputes" since then, it is my considered opinion at this point, at least, that these current "delayed personhood" debates are nothing more than a huge, very sophisticated, and very successful RUSE - a rhetorical attempt to confuse good people in order to do things that most people would instinctively know to be fundamentally and unequivocally unethical."
INTRODUCTION:
Perhaps it is time for Catholics and others of good faith to stand back for a moment, take a deep breath, and just consider for a moment the question as to whether or not the horrific "confusion" over whether or not the earliest human embryos - regardless if they are sexually or asexually reproduced - are human "persons" is really so relevant to these abortion, cloning, and stem cell debates after all. Is the hotly debated "distinction" between a "human being" and a "human person" simply just another one of the many false distinctions that have permeated these bioethics debates on abortion, cloning and stem cell research - like the false distinction between "therapeutic" and "reproductive" cloning?
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Having written my doctoral dissertation precisely on this issue which analyzed in excruciating detail the "delayed personhood" positions of over 23 different bioethics arguments still used today, and having been immediately engaged in the various "disputes" since then, it is my considered opinion at this point, at least, that these current "delayed personhood" debates are nothing more than a huge, very sophisticated, and very successful RUSE — a rhetorical attempt to confuse good people in order to do things that most people would instinctively know to be fundamentally and unequivocally unethical.
Often, unfortunately, this perpetuation of what is nothing more than programmed "confusion" emanates even from some Church sources — thus increasing the confusion and scandal further.
Regardless of one's religion or "position" on these issues, perhaps it is time also for those who are sincerely interested or concerned to take just a few minutes to read for themselves direct quotations from decades of formal Church teachings on "delayed personhood" — irrespective of whatever particular "philosophical" bent one's particular "theology" happens to incorporate at any one time. At least it should make clear once and for all what the formal teachings of the Church on this "personhood" issue really are. It might be surprising - even refreshing - what one discovers!
Below I have simply set out such a list — drawn from one of my earlier articles on cloning and stem cell research. [Irving, "Playing God by manipulating man: Facts and frauds of human cloning", at:
http://www.mocatholic.org/uploads/IrvingCloning3.pdf; and at:
http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_22manipulatingmanl .html. I have taken the prerogative of "holding" just a few key
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words here and there throughout these direct quotations in order to facilitate even a brisk scrolling through the various passages. What is crystal clear from these formal teachings might actually shock some — especially because most Catholics today are essentially "unschooled" in the formal teachings of the Church (let's be honest, when is the last time they read any encyclical — if ever?).
Thus below please find, free of personal, organizational, or political bias, the exact words from the various teachings of the Church on "personhood" — whether the issue concerns sexually or asexually reproduced human beings. What one discovers is that the issue of whether "personhood" can be empirically, philosophically or theologically proven and/or documented is IRRELEVANT. What is relevant — morally speaking — is whether or not a human BEING is known to already exist. If this is empirically knowable — which it is — then it automatically follows that there is also a "person" present immediately as well. This is because of the philosophical and theological "anthropology" that the Church has traditionally used for centuries on which to base her formal moral teachings — informal personal theological speculations aside.
Again, although "personhood" can be reliably reasoned back to as beginning immediately when the human being begins to exist (using the accurate empirical facts of human embryology and human genetics), the issue is morally irrelevant for purposes of these debates — and has been turned into nothing more than a rhetorical ruse to confuse people. Rather, these moral teachings are grounded in the inviolable dignity and equality of every single human BEING from the first moment of their existence. And this is clearly, unambiguously stated in the following direct quotations — over and over again.
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PART 1: PARTIAL LIST OF FORMAL (AND OTHER) CHURCH DOCUMENTS RELEVANT TO ABORTION, HUMAN EMBRYO RESEARCH, HUMAN CLONING, HUMAN EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH, SCIENCE, LAW, THE MEDIA, EUGENICS, ETC.:
• Encyclical Letter: Humane vitae (July 1968),
• Encyclical Letter: Evangelium vitae (Mar. 1995),
• CDF, Declaration on Procured Abortion (Nov. 1974),
• CDF, Instruction on respect for human life in its origin and on the dignity of procreation - Donum vitae (Feb. 1987)
• CDF — Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the participation of Catholics in political life (January16, 2003.
• Pontifical Academy for Life: Statement on the so-called "morning-after pill (Oct. 2000), • — Pontifical Academy for Life, Eighth General Assembly, Concluding Remarks: Natural law in morality, law and ethics for pro-life issues (Feb. 2002),
• Pontifical Academy for Life: Third Plenary Assembly: Concluding Document: Identity and Status of the Human Embryo (Feb. 1997),
• Pontifical Academy for Life, Declaration on the Production and the Scientific and Therapeutic Use of Human Embryonic Stem Cells (Aug. 2000),
• Pontifical Academy for Life, Notes on Cloning (Sept. 1998)
• Pontifical Academy for Life, Reflections on Cloning (Sept. 1997),
• Pontifical Academy for Life, Observations on the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights [UNESCO], (November 1997)
• Pontifical Council for the Family, Charter of Rights of the Family (Oct. 1983)
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• Vatican's Mission to the United Nations, Speech by Archbishop Migliore to the 58th U.N. General Assembly on the International Convention Against Human Cloning
• Vatican’s Mission to the United Nations, The views of the Holy See on Human Cloning (February 2003)
• Vatican's Mission to the United Nations, U. N. Speech by Archbishop Migliore, Holy See's Call for a Ban on All Human Cloning (Sept. 30,2003), (Zenit)
• Vatican’s Mission to the United Nations Speech by Archbishop Martino, Consequences Would Desecrate the Future of Humankind (Nov. 21,2001), (Zenit)
• United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Religious and Ethical Directives for Health Care Institutions (4th ed.) (2001),
• Message of John Paul II to the President of the Catholic Social Weeks of France, "Biology, Medicine and Society: What Will We Do with Man?", (2001),
• Manifesto of Doctors and Surgeons of Rome, The Embryo As Patient, in '"Embryo as Patient' Hailed by Conference", Rome, Feb. 4,2002 (Zenit)
• Archbishop John P. Foley, President, Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Ethics in Communications (June 2000).
• Archbishop Foley, Address on Media and Bioethics: Political Correctness Producing Blind Spots, He Warns, presented at conference, "Power in Health Care Research and the Mass Media", Nov. 18, 2001 (Zenit)
PART 2: DIRECT QUOTES FROM MANY CHURCH DOCUMENTS ON ABORTION, CLONING AND HUMAN EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH
CONSISTENT TEACHING: KILLING INNOCENT HUMAN BEINGS IS MORALLY ILLICIT
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** [CDF, Instruction on respect for human life in its origin and on the dignity of procreation - Donum vitae (Feb. 1987)
"... no one can, in any circumstance, claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being."
** [CDF, Declaration on Procured Abortion, 11.6 (Nov. 1974),
... The tradition of the Church has always held that human life must be protected and favored from the beginning, just as at the various stages of its development.... Most recently, the Second Vatican Council, presided over by Paul VI, has most severely condemned abortion: 'Life must be safeguarded with extreme care from conception; abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.' The same Paul VI, speaking on this subject on many occasions, has not been afraid to declare that this teaching of the Church 'has not changed and is unchangeable.'
** [CDF, Declaration on Procured Abortion, 11.7(Nov. 1974),
... In the course of history, the Fathers of the Church, her Pastors and her Doctors have taught the same doctrine — the various opinions on the infusion of the spiritual soul did not introduce any doubt about the illicitness of abortion.
** [Encyclical Letter: Humane vitae (July 1968),
... Human life is sacred,' Pope John XXIII recalled; 'from its very inception it reveals the creating hand of God.'
** Encyclical Letter: Evangelium vitae, 60 (Mar. 1995).
... Some people try to justify abortion by claiming that the result of conception, at least up to a certain number of days, cannot yet be considered a personal human life But in fact, "from the time that the ovum is fertilized, a life is begun which is neither that of the father nor the mother; it is rather the life of a new human being with his own growth. It would never be
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made human if it were not human already. This has always been clear, and ... modem genetic science offers clear confirmation. It has demonstrated that from the first instant there is established the program of...: a person, this individual person with his characteristic aspects already well determined. Right from fertilization the adventure of a human life begins, and each of its capacities requires time — a rather lengthy time — to find its place and to be in a position to act." Even if the presence of a spiritual soul cannot be ascertained by empirical data, the results themselves of scientific research on the human embryo provide "a valuable indication for discerning by the use of reason a personal presence at the moment of the first appearance of a human life: how could a human individual not be a human person? Furthermore, what is at stake is so important that, from the standpoint of moral obligation, the mere probability that a human person is involved would suffice to justify an absolutely clear prohibition of any intervention aimed at killing a human embryo. Precisely for this reason, over and above all scientific debates and those philosophical affirmations to which the Magisterium has not expressly committed itself, the Church has always taught and continues to teach that the result of human procreation, from the first moment of its existence, must be guaranteed that unconditional respect which is morally due to the human being in his or her totality and unity as body and spirit: "The human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception; and therefore from that same moment his rights as a person must be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life.
** [Encyclical Letter: Evangelium vitae, 61 (Mar. 1995),
... Human life is sacred and inviolable at every moment of existence, including the initial phase which precedes birth. All
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human beings ... belong to God.... Throughout Christianity's two thousand year history, this same doctrine has been constantly taught by the Fathers of the Church and by her Pastors and Doctors. Even scientific and philosophical discussions about the precise moment of the infusion of the spiritual soul have never given rise to any hesitation about the moral condemnation of abortion.
** [Encyclical Letter: Evangelium vitae, 63 (Mar. 1995),
.. This evaluation of the morality of abortion is to be applied also to the recent forms of intervention on human embryos that though carried out for purposes legitimate in themselves inevitably involve the killing of those embryos. This is the case with experimentation on embryos, which is becoming increasingly widespread in the field of biomedical research and is legally permitted in some countries. Although "one must uphold as licit procedures carried out on the human embryo which respect the life and integrity of the embryo and do not involve disproportionate risks for it, but rather are directed to its healing, the improvement of its condition of health, or its individual survival," it must nonetheless be stated that the use of human embryos or fetuses as an object of experimentation constitutes a crime against their dignity as human beings who have a right to the same respect owed to a child once born, just as to every person.... This moral condemnation also regards procedures that exploit living human embryos and fetuses — sometimes specifically "produced" for this purpose by in vitro fertilization — either to be used as biological material" or as providers of organs or tissue for transplants in the treatment of certain diseases. The killing of innocent human creatures, even if carried out to help others, constitutes an absolutely unacceptable act.
** [Pontifical Academy for Life, Reflections on Cloning (Sept. 1997), at]
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... Judgment - as an act of the human mind - on the personal nature of the human embryo springs necessarily from the evidence of the biological datum which implies the recognition of the presence of a human being with an intrinsic active capacity for development, and not a mere possibility of life.... The ethical exigency of respect and care for the life and integrity of the embryo, demanded by the presence of a human being is motivated by a unitary conception of man (Corpore et anima unus”)whose personal dignity must be recognized from the beginning of his physical existence.... The theological perspective, beginning with the light which revelation sheds on the meaning of a human life and on the dignity of the person, supports and sustains human reason in regard to these conclusions, without in any way diminishing the validity of contributions based on rational evidence. Therefore the duty of respecting the human embryo as a human person derives from the reality of the matter and from the force of rational argumentation, and not exclusively from a position of faith.... From the juridical point of view, the core of the debate on the protection of the human embryo does not involve identifying earlier or later indices of "humanity" which appear after insemination, but consists rather in the recognition of fundamental human rights by virtue of the presence of a human being. Above all, the right to life and to physical integrity from the first moment of existence, in keeping with the principle of equality, must be respected.
SCIENCE CONFIRMS WHEN A HUMAN BEING BEGINS TO EXIST
** [CDF, Declaration on Procured Abortion, III.12 (Nov. 1974),
... In reality, respect for human life is called for from the time that the process of generation begins. From the time that the ovum is fertilized, a life is begun which is neither that of the
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father nor of the mother; it is rather the life of a new human being with his own growth. It would never be made human if it were not human already." [III.13]: To this perpetual evidence — perfectly independent of the discussions on the moment of animation — modem genetic science brings valuable confirmation. It has demonstrated that, from the first instant, there is established the program of what this living being will be: a man, this individual man with his characteristic aspects already well determined. Right from fertilization is begun the adventure of a human life
NO SUCH THING AS A “PRE-EMBRYO”
** [Pontifical Academy for Life, Reflections on Cloning (Sept. 1997),
... From a biological standpoint, the formation and the development of the human embryo appears as a continuous, coordinated and gradual process from the time of fertilization, at which time a new human organism is constituted, endowed with the intrinsic capacity to develop by himself into a human adult. The most recent contributions of the biomedical sciences offer further valuable empirical evidence for substantiating the individuality and developmental continuity of the embryo. To speak of a pre-embryo thus is an incorrect interpretation of the biological data.
SCIENTIFIC LIES ABOUT HUMAN EMBRYOLOGY
** (Vatican's Mission to the United Nations, Speech by Archbishop Migliore to the 58th U.N. General Assembly on the International Convention Against Human Cloning (Oct. 27,2003),
... It must be clear that the position my delegation takes is not, in the first instance, a religious one. It is a position informed
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by the process of reason that is in turn informed by scientific knowledge.
** [Encyclical Letter: Evangelium vitae, 58 (Mar. 1995),
... [W]e need now more than ever to have the courage to look the truth in the eye and to call things by their proper name, without yielding to convenient compromises or to the temptation of self-deception.... Especially in the case of abortion there is a widespread use of ambiguous terminology, such as 'interruption of pregnancy,' which tends to hide abortion's true nature and to attenuate its seriousness in public opinion .Perhaps this linguistic phenomenon is itself a symptom of an uneasiness of conscience. But no word has the power to change the reality of things: procured abortion is the deliberate and direct killing, by whatever means it is carried out, of a human being in the initial phase of his or her existence extending from conception to birth.
** [Encyclical Letter: Evangelium vitae, 100 (Mar. 1995),
.. Let us therefore discover anew the humility and the courage to pray and fast so that power from on high will break down the walls of lies and deceit: the walls which conceal from the sight of so many of our brothers and sisters the evil of practices and laws which are hostile to life. May this same power turn their hearts to resolutions and goals inspired by the civilization of life and love.

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“ALPHA” – Christian, but not Catholic [Caveat emptor!]
John E.G. Stone, F.C.A.M., Ch.E.
The late John E. G. Stone, F.C.A.M., Ch.E., was President of the Canadian Chapter, a retired businessman, author and lecturer.
Adapted from an analysis by Gillian van der Lande
Well then, what is ALPHA? It is a ten-week course that originated in the Anglican “church” of Holy Trinity Brompton, London, England, [in Brompton?!! – where John Henry Cardinal Newman founded the second Oratorian House – oh, the irony of the situation!] some twenty years ago, and is defined by the originators as a practical introduction to the basics of Christianity, and to explore the validity and relevance of the Christian faith for our lives today. The Reverend Nicky Gumbel’s book: “Questions of Life” contains the course syllabus.
ALPHA Canada puts it this way: “It is a practical introduction to the basics of Christianity with loads of opportunity for debate and discussion [very debatable]. The style of ALPHA is informal, friendly and non-pressured – a style that seems to be appreciated in Canadian culture – currently, the “culture of death.”
To put the title of this review in the context within which the article is framed, let me say that today, there are some 48,000 different “Christian” groups, either described or self-proclaimed as sects, communities, communions, congregations, assemblies, unions, fellowships and “churches,” that proclaim to preach the “word of God,” from the basis of “sola scriptura,” [in many cases, amended, translated, interpreted and edited to suit their particular foci], to the whole world. They are to be found in every country, and use
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every form of communicative media to proclaim their message.
And yet, here is the prayer that John Henry Newman composed on their behalf: “ O Lord Jesus Christ, Who, when Thou wast about to suffer, did pray for Thy disciples to the end of time that they might all be one, as Thou art in the Father, and the Father in Thee, break down the walls of separation that divide one party and denomination of Christians from another. Teach all men that the see of Peter, the Holy Church of Rome, [The only One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, instituted by Christ: “ And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against It. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.”(Matt. 16:18&19)] is the foundation, center, and instrument of unity. Open their hearts to the long forgotten truth that our Holy Father, the Pope, is Thy Vicar, so that as there is one holy company in heaven above, so likewise there may be one communion, confessing and glorifying Thy Holy Name here below.”
There are now over 32,000 ALPHA courses running in 155 countries, and they have been translated into 55 different languages, and in addition to the usual parochial locations, they are now to be found in the military, prisons, university campuses, businesses and schools. In Canada, there are about 3,000 courses now running and already, some 700,000 Canadians, including several thousands of Catholics, have participated in them.
To the question: “Should ALPHA be used in a Catholic context?” a Catholic who attended the full course in a Catholic parish, gave these two basic reasons for a “NO”
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answer: “By commission and omission, the ALPHA material proposes an ecclesiology and a sacramental theology that are in essence contrary to the teaching of the Church.”
One of the key factors in the course presentation is the setup. The evening begins with supper, followed by a talk, after which, the participants are divided into smaller groups (cells), to discuss any questions that arose from the talk. The problem is with the manner in which the questions are formatted, so that answers or responses are made only from subjective criteria that promote Protestant Evangelicalism, and not from the objective criteria of Catholic teaching.
ALPHA Ecclesiology: ALPHA teaches that Revelation is based on the Bible alone, but in his Encyclical Letter “Fides et Ratio”(No.55) Pope John Paul II said: “ …One currently widespread symptom of this fideistic tendency is a “biblicism” that tends to make the reading and exegesis of Sacred Scripture the whole criterion of truth. In consequence, the Word of God is identified with Sacred Scripture alone, thus eliminating the doctrine of the Church…Having recalled that the Word of God is present in both Scripture and Tradition, Dei Verbum continues emphatically: “Sacred Tradition and Sacred scripture comprise a single sacred deposit of the Word of God entrusted to the church. Scripture, therefore, is not the Church’s sole point of reference. The supreme rule of her faith derives from the unity that the Spirit has created between Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church in a reciprocity that means that none of the three can survive without the others.”
Further, ALPHA’s understanding of “universal Church” is an amalgamation, a sum total, of a gathering of Christians who believe in Christ, and who get together to worship God, to hear what He is saying, and to encourage one another. Quite understandably, since A:LPHA is an Evangelical programme,
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the Catholic Church is referred to as one of many Christian denominations and thus the term “Church” can be used to refer to any one particular denomination that Nicky Gumbel in his book drives home with great energy and force as he promotes his idea of an “universal church” when he answers the rhetorical question: How can I be filled with the Spirit?:
“ No one cares anymore as to what denomination we belong to, because we are one in Christ….All that matters is that we know and love Christ, we are Christians. There is a unity of the Spirit. What matters is our relationship with God.” The Church teaches, on the contrary, the necessity of a Unity of faith.
ALPHA Methodology: It has to be recognized that ALPHA is copyrighted and “AfC” (ALPHA for Catholics) cautions this when it states that Catholic ALPHA uses the course as it stands, yet, even as it recognizes its serious deficiencies from a Catholic point of view, it still continues to be used in a Catholic context. One must ask the question: “WHY!?”
On the question of the sacraments, ALPHA recognizes only two, Baptism and the Eucharist; and its teaching on these are at the lowest common denominator that will be found acceptable by the majority of the major denominations, but is aware that some denominations may want to add more. Thus, no clear understanding of the nature of a sacrament is given; that it was instituted by Christ as a means of communicating grace.
Unless these errors are corrected, on point, and at the time when ALPHA is used in a Catholic context, those errors stand and are absorbed by many of those present, given their reason for being on the course their lack of knowledge of their faith in the first instance. Two basic questions – so in tune with “political correctness” of today’s hedonistic culture – formulate and control the directions of the discussions, the
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very subjective: “What do you “think?” and “ What do you feel?” so as to preclude any objective discussion in clarifying and defending the authentic teachings of Holy Mother Church.
ALPHA – Sacramental Theology: ALPHA recognizes only one priest-hood, “The priesthood of believers,” [Questions of Life, p.230] and in that, the “priest” is understood simply to be an “elder,” or a “leader in the church,” but not one ordained in the Order of Melchisedech to offer sacrifice. The Eucharist is understood solely as the Lord’s Supper and not as a holy sacrifice as in Catholic teaching.. The explanation given in ALPHA is that: “since Jesus, our great high priest has made the supreme sacrifice of his own life on our behalf, no further sacrifices are necessary, and [hence] no further priests are necessary.” [ibid., p.229] – Contrary in essence to Church’s teaching.
As regards the Sacrament of Baptism, it is regarded by ALPHA simply as a mark of being “a member of the Church” - a Church membership ritual. ALPHA understands that the Holy Spirit is received prior to Baptism when a person commits him or herself publicly to Christ, and has hands laid on them. You’ll find this almost any day on TV at any evangelical service.
ALPHA – Contrary to the Faith and Reason: To quote Gillian van der Lande: “ALPHA is not Catholic. As a catholic I am stunned that it can be promoted for use in catholic parishes in such a way in leaflet handouts and advertisements in the Catholic press, so as to give the impression that there is nothing contrary to the Church’s teaching. I am still more surprised that the Catholic ALPHA Office can promote its use in its integrity in Catholic parishes and recommend its literature when it recognizes publicly, in print, that it is deficient as regards Sacramental Theology from a Catholic
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prospective. It is a fact that ALPHA’s teachings are to a great degree contrary in essence [and this is the important word, ‘essence.’ Subjective discussions deal principally with ‘accidentals’ and “cosmetics” rather that with the ‘substance’ of objectivity] to the teachings of the Church in fundamental respects and that ALPHA’s methodology silences the truths of Catholicism as proclaimed by the Magisterium.
The result is that what should be a period of catechesis to learn more about the Church and our Faith, becomes in many instances, and absorption into a particular ‘vision’ of the Church or a ‘church community’ and a formation according to that community. If so, how then is it that there are those in the Church who choose to use ALPHA in the name of the Church in a Catholic parish? How is it that material containing such errors can be used with equanimity by those concerned [the Shepherds of the flocks]? Is it not a serious matter that the faithful’s understanding of the Faith will be endangered and confused, and those seeking to know the Catholic Faith will be misled? A combination of this type of catechesis from the launching pads of ALPHA cannot be what the Church’s call for a new evangelization is asking of us Catholics. In short, it cannot be right.”
I will end with the comments by Mr. Rod Pead, the editor of “Christian Order” published in the UK, devoted to the defense and propagation of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith, with subscribers around the world: “The latest in the long line of New Age/Protestant Trojan horses to be wheeled into Catholic parishes with Episcopal blessing is ALPHA, zealous in its application of commercial principles of ‘to feel good evangelization.’”
ALPHA is Big Business – built on copyrights, target figures, line charts and multi-million dollar advertising budgets. It emerged from Holy Trinity Brompton [THB], an Anglican
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church behind the Brompton Oratory in London [see comments at beginning of article]. In recent years this “church” has ventured to the furthest edge of the charismatic movement in its promotion of the Toronto Blessing – a so-called Baptism of the Holy Spirit that induces hysterical, animal-like behaviour (uncontrolled laughing, shaking, gibberish, grunting, howling etc.) among congregations. Mr. Nicky Gumbel who introduced this alien ‘spirit’ into England via HTB in 1994, is the prime mover behind ALPHA: ‘I believe it is no coincidence,’ he stated in May 1995, ‘that the present movement of the Holy Spirit [Toronto Blessing and its derivatives] has come at the same time as the explosion of the ALPHA Course. I think the two go together.’
One would have thought this connection alone sufficient to alert Catholic Bishops and clergy to keep their distance from ALPHA; to dissuade them from flirting with such ‘angels of light’[2 Cor. 11:13-15]. ”
Alas, such has not been the case and it seems that world-wide, the Shepherds have rolled out the red carpet instead.

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AQUINAS ON SEX, MARRIAGE AND LOVE
Paul Flaman, Ph.D
Prof. Flaman is an Associate Professor of Christian Theology at St. Joseph’s College, University of Alberta, Edmonton
In this article the views on sex, marriage and love of a great representative of Christian tradition will be treated to some extent. The author treated, Thomas Aquinas, has been and continues to be widely read. He has exerted an enormous influence on much subsequent Christian thinking, writing and theology. He is also included among the Doctors and Saints of the Catholic Church, in recognition of his outstanding teaching, orthodoxy and holiness of life. Although the writings of Aquinas cover many subjects, we will focus here on his views on sex, marriage and love. Something is also said about his life to give a context to his teachings. Some of the details of his life have relevance to our topics. The last section of this article provides some analyses, noting, among other things: some of the morally relevant values and norms that this "classical" Christian theologian proposes, whether his teachings are consistent with and represent an authentic development of biblical teachings, the distinction between Christian Tradition and traditions, and some considerations for evaluating other Christian traditions.xxxiii
St. Thomas Aquinas
1. His Life
Born about 1225, Thomas was the youngest son of Landolfo, count of Aquino (near Naples), and Teodora. His father was a man of the world - a military man and nephew to the Holy
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Roman Emperor. At the age of five Thomas entered the Abbey of Monte Cassino as a Benedictine oblate. Nine years later he went to the University of Naples for undergraduate arts studies. At seventeen he became a Dominican novice. He refused to join his father's military force. Fearing family opposition his superiors planned for him to go to Paris. But on the way his brothers, instigated by his mother, kidnapped him. Thomas was made a prisoner in Roccasecca, the family castle. They attempted to bring him to his senses, even tempting him to forsake his religious vocation by means of a beautiful female companion. His father offered him the honourable position of abbot at Monte Cassino, but he preferred to be a poor Friar, a humble follower of the Lord rather than a leader. He spent his time studying Scripture, Peter Lombard and Aristotle. Seeing his resolve, and through the influence of his sister Marietta, his family released him after a year.
Thomas Aquinas then (1245) went on foot to Paris and later to Cologne for several years of theological and seminary studies. He was ordained sometime between 1248 and 1252. His fellow students called him "the dumb ox" due to his offering no comments in discussions and his huge head and frame. The learned and famous lecturer, Albert the Great, however, discovered Aquinas' great gifts of mind and is said to have announced: "You call our brother Thomas a dumb ox, do you? I tell you that someday the whole world will listen to his bellowing."xxxiv
In 1252 Aquinas returned to Paris for graduate theological studies. He received the license to teach as a master of theology in 1256 by papal dispensation (four years before the required age). As a teacher he attracted crowds of students who recognized his depth, beyond all the other teachers of his day. Aquinas devoted himself to the intellectual interests of
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his time and read many classical works, Christian and non-Christian. With a conviction to let everyone speak for himself, he obtained a Greek expert to translate Aristotle's original texts into Latin (the translations of the day were far removed from the original).
In 1259 he was called to the papal court as lecturer. At the direction of Pope Urban IV he brought together the commentaries of twenty-two Latin and fifty-seven Greek Fathers of the Church on the Four Gospels under the title Catena Aurea. His first Summa, Summa Contra Gentiles, written from 1258-9 was intended to promote Christian unity. It is a reasoned discussion with those who do not accept the Catholic faith - pagans, Jews, Mohammedans and Greek schismatics. He began his most famous work the Summa Theologiae in 1266. This was composed as a textbook for students, but never completed.
In 1270 Aquinas was recalled to Paris to meet the threat of Latin Averroism. He confronted the liberals of his day in open forum, but was himself opposed by the conservatives of his day. The latter called themselves "Augustinian" and feared that Aristotelian ideas would destroy the purity of the Christian faith. Aquinas himself meditated and commented on Scripture throughout his intellectual life. He thought of himself as a collaborator of Augustine, never his opponent.
In 1272 he was assigned to the University of Naples where he continued teaching and writing. On December 6, 1273, however, he put down his pen saying: "I cannot; such things have been revealed to me that all that I have written seems to me as so much straw." He was summoned by Gregory X to attend the Church Council at Lyons that aimed at reunion with the Greek Church. He fell ill on the way and died at the Cistercian monastery of Fossa Nova in 1274 at the age of forty-nine. As he received the last rites he prayed: "I receive
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Thee, ransom of my soul. For love of Thee have I studied and kept vigil, toiled, preached, and taught...."xxxv
Aquinas was a remarkable man, a man for all ages. In his short life, in spite of his teaching and other assignments, he produced some 100 works of carefully reasoned, creative thinking. Aquinas' thought involves a synthesis in which faith and reason, nature and grace, matter and spirit are fused rather than juxtaposed. He uses analogy recognizing the likenesses in diversity and the kinship between all parts of reality. His theology is positive and speculative, showing an appreciation for real and allegorical truths, as well as a sense of history. He studies God's revelation through Jesus Christ, and the new life He brings, in a scientific, logical, dialectical and explanatory manner. Concerning the unity of all truth, the study of the theology of Aquinas, among the doctors of the Church, has been especially recommended in the formation of priests and in Catholic schools of higher learning.xxxvi The thought of St. Thomas Aquinas has influenced such diverse artists as Dante, T. S. Eliot and James Joyce; such unlike philosophers as Jacques Maritain and Edith Stein; and such different theologians as John Courtney Murray and Karl Rahner.xxxvii
2. A Summary of His Teaching on Love
Aquinas distinguishes natural love (regarding a sense of affinity in an inanimate entity that accords with its nature), sensory love (regarding the sense of affinity for some sensory good, feeling for its attractiveness, attachment, felt in the sensory appetite or affective faculty) and intellectual or rational love (regarding the sense of affinity for some rational good, feeling for its attractiveness, attachment, felt by the rational appetite, the will. Concerning love he says the Latin term amor has the widest reference. Dilectio, which is
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confined to rational creatures, adds to the notion of love reference to antecedent choice. Caritas adds a note of perfection to the notion of love. Amicitia means friendship. Love may be divided into amor concupiscentiae (love-of-desire) and amor amicitiae (love-of-friendship). The object of love-of-friendship (someone) is loved for its own sake. This is the primary sense of love. The object of love-of-desire (the good thing wanted for someone) is loved for the sake of something (someone) other than itself. This is love in the secondary sense. A person is properly our friend when we want some good for him or her. We are said to desire something when we want it for ourselves.(cf. ST [Summa Theologiaexxxviii]1-2,26)
Only what is good can be an object of love. A thing's good lies in that with which it has affinity (connaturality) and proportion (kinship). Evil is never loved except under some good description. Love is evil when directed towards something which is not genuinely good (verum bonum). Good is that which is desirable, that in which the appetite takes pleasure. Beautiful adds to good a reference to the cognitive powers - the beautiful gives pleasure when it is perceived or contemplated. A good can be the object of the appetite only in so far as it is known, therefore, some knowledge of the object is necessary before it can be loved. Regarding natural love the knowledge is possessed by the author of nature. Similarity, in the sense that two persons possess the same qualities, gives rise to love-of-friendship or love-of-goodwill (benevolentiae) - one wishes well to the other as to oneself. Similarity regarding potentiality and its corresponding actuality gives rise to love-of-desire or friendship based on convenience or pleasure.(cf. ST 1-2,27,1-3)
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Love is a unifying force. It moves one to desire and seek the presence of the loved object. It consists in union by inclination or feeling, union of hearts. The lover sees the object as part of himself (herself) in love-of-friendship or as part of his (her) property in love-of-desire. Mutual indwelling is both a cognitive and affective effect of love. The beloved is constantly present in the lover's thoughts and feelings. The lover strives for personal insight into everything about the beloved, even to penetrate into the beloved's very soul (cf. 1 Cor 2:10). We often speak of love as "intimate". Love-of-friendship is mutual or reciprocal. Ecstasy or transport means to be carried outside oneself. Cognitive transport is caused by love dispositively - love turns a person's thoughts to the beloved which withdraws the mind from other things. Affective transport is caused by love directly. In love-of-desire one is anxious to enjoy something yet outside one's grasp. In love-of-friendship the ultimate term of a person's feelings is located outside oneself. In wanting some good for one's friend, one exercises care and thought about the friend's interests for the friend's sake.(cf. ST 1-2,28,1-3)
A person is better for love of a good that is appropriate for oneself (the love of God enriches a person supremely), but suffers harm for love of a good inappropriate for oneself (one suffers the greatest harm by loving sin). Love is the cause of everything the lover does. A person's end is a good he (she) desires and loves, therefore, every agent performs every action out of love of some kind. God makes all things because of His Love. Love causes all the other emotions.(cf. ST 1-2,28,5-6; and SCG [Summa Contra Gentilesxxxix] III,116,5)
...every movement of feeling is derived from love, for no one desires, hopes, or rejoices except because of a good which is loved. Likewise, neither does anyone experience repugnance, fear, sorrow, or anger except because of what
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is opposed to the good that is loved.(SCG III,151,4. For more details concerning the emotions see ST 1-2,22-48.)
Charity (caritas - the love of God) is a friendship of a human being and God (cf. Jn 15:15). Our charity in this life is imperfect, but it will be made perfect in heaven. The act of charity is beyond the human will's natural power. The motion of charity springs from the Holy Spirit, but not in a way that the human mind is passive and in no sense an active source of motion. To be an act of will (a voluntary, loving choice) is the very nature of loving. Charity is the root of merit. The divine essence itself is charity as it is goodness and wisdom. The divine power which is the source of charity has an infinite nature. Charity for our neighbour is sharing in divine charity. Charity is immediately united to the soul as the soul is to the body.(cf. ST 2-2,23,1-2)
Acts and habits get their specific character from their objects. The proper object of love is the good. Charity is love of divine good. God is the principal object of charity; we love one another for his sake. The friendship of charity is based on the fellowship of eternal happiness.(cf. ST 2-2,23,4-5)
The norm of all good human actions is twofold: human reason and God himself. Virtue is ordered to the good, which is realized principally in an end. End and good are twofold: ultimate and proximate. Charity directs a person to the ultimate and principal good, God. A secondary and particular good can be truly good (capable by its nature of being directed to the ultimate good and end) or not a true good (but seems so) since it leads a person away from his (her) ultimate good. True virtue in an unqualified sense directs a person to the principal good. There is no true virtue in this sense without charity. Without charity an act can be good of its kind, though not fully good since it lacks reference to our ultimate end. Charity is a virtue, the greatest of all virtues (cf. 1 Cor
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13:13), since it attains God, the first measure of human reason, most fully and joins us to him. Charity directs the acts of all the other virtues to our final end. Charity is called the mother of the virtues because from the desire of the ultimate end it conceives their acts by charging them with life.(cf. ST 2-2,23,3,6-8)
Since charity's object, divine good, is known by intellect alone, it is found in the intellectual appetite, the will. Charity goes beyond reason (cf. Ep 3:19) - it is ruled not by reason as are the human virtues, but by the wisdom of God. Charity is not acquired by natural powers but is infused by the Holy Spirit who is the love of the Father and Son (cf. Rm 5:5). The quantity of charity depends on the Holy Spirit who distributes his gifts as he pleases (cf. Ep 4:7). The intensity, depth, and fervour of charity can grow in this life. This means its subject (the person) participates more and more in the likeness of the Holy Spirit. We can speak of various stages of growth in charity, but compare the beginning, middle and end of a continuum. "Beginners" are involved in withdrawing from sin and resisting the appetites opposed to charity. The chief preoccupation of "those making progress" is to advance in virtue. Their concern is that their charity grow and become strong. "Perfect" refers to those who apply themselves chiefly to cleaving to and enjoying God (cf. Phil 1:23).(cf. ST 2-2,24,1-9)
Mortal sin destroys charity; venial sin and ceasing to do the works of charity can indirectly weaken charity. God withdraws his grace as a punishment for sin. It is impossible for the Holy Spirit to move a person to make an act of love and for the person to lose charity by committing sin at the same time. Charity cannot commit sin. Charity can be lost in this life, but not in heaven. The way of true love is not to propose to love for a time and then to leave off loving.
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Charity's act rules out every motive for sinning. Every act of mortal sin is contrary to the essential character or nature of charity which is to love God above all. This means that one wills to obey God in everything, keep his commandments in their entirety, subject oneself entirely to him and refer to him all one has. The purpose of divine law, which is offered to us as an aid to natural law, is to make people good. It is obvious that all mortal sin, which is contrary to God's commandments (will), constitutes an obstacle to the infusion of charity. There are two ways of losing charity: directly, by contempt of God; and indirectly, when some passion of concupiscence or fear leads us to do something opposed to charity. Only disordered affection for created goods that is utterly opposed to the divine will amounts to mortal sin. Mortal sin, which consists in turning away from God, is contrary to charity which denotes union with God.(cf. ST 2-2,24,10-12; and SCG III, 116,3 and 117,6)
It is specifically the same act which loves God and neighbour. We love all our neighbours with the same love of charity, seeing them in relation to God. Irrational creatures are not loved from the love of charity in the sense of friendship, but they can be loved as goods we wish ourselves or others to have (i.e., cherished for God's honour and human service). Our love for ourselves is the model and root of friendship. Our attitude to others is the same as to ourselves. Out of charity one loves oneself as belonging to God. Our body is from God and we can use it for God's service. We ought to love our body with the same charity that we love God. Loving our neighbour out of charity for God's sake involves loving what is good and hating what is bad for him (her). It means loving one's nature (capacity for eternal life), but hating the fact that one is a sinner, since sin is opposed to God and an obstacle to eternal happiness. Those weak in virtue are in danger of being
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led astray by contact with sinners, but it is good for those strong in virtue to mix with sinners so as to convert them (cf. Mt 19:10-11).(cf. ST 2-2,25,1-6)
Both good and bad people love their own self-preservation. The good love the "inner man" (their rational nature) integrally; the wicked do not but love the corruption that affects the "outer man" (the sensitive and bodily part of one's nature) (cf.. 2 Cor 4:16). We are to love our enemies as human beings, as God's children. Perfect charity not only makes us avoid being overcome by evil but also to desire to overcome evil with good (cf. Rm 12:21). It tries by kindness to induce an enemy to love us. Charity's friendship takes in the angels also. Concerning loving devils, Aquinas astutely notes that this is to be according to God's will (i.e., desiring the preservation of their natural being for the glory of God).(cf. ST 2-2,25,7-12)
There must be an order among the objects of charity with reference to God, the first principle of this love. God is to be loved in charity above all and primarily since he is the cause and source of eternal happiness. God's greater goodness makes him more lovable than our neighbour. By charity one loves God more than oneself since his good is greater than the good one receives from him (both regarding the good of nature and the good of grace). We are bound to love ourselves (our spiritual nature) more than our neighbour. One may not sin even to free another from sin. My neighbour is not as close to me as I am to myself. But, one ought to love one's neighbour more than one's own body, even putting up with bodily harm for a friend's sake (cf. Jn 15:13).(cf. ST 2-2,26,1-5)xl
Charity makes us love all people equally in the sense of wanting the same good (eternal happiness) for them. We should have good will to all people, but we cannot do good to
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everyone equally. With respect to preserving God's justice, charity loves those who are better and closer to God more in the sense of willing for them a greater good. A person loves those closer to oneself more intensely, however, willing them good more intensely. We love those connected to us in more ways than others since other friendships than charity come into play. Virtuous friendships are to be subordinated to and directed by charity. Concerning kindred Aquinas notes, for example, that one ought to love one's spouse (with whom one has greater intimacy) more intensely than one's parents, but show greater reverence for one's parents (as principles in one's natural origin). He holds that the order of charity remains in heaven. The motives underlying any virtuous love here on earth will not cease to inspire the blessed in heaven.(cf. ST 2-2,26,6-13)
Charity's function is to love rather than be loved. Love as an act of charity includes goodwill, but adds to it a union of the affections. God (as ultimate end, exemplar of all goods and the source of whatever goodness there is in other things) is not loved because of anything else. Other things (favours, hope of rewards and purposing to avoid punishments), however, can dispose us to advance in loving God. In this life we come to know God through other things, but by charity we love him without any intermediary. We ought to love God wholly and with all our might (cf. Dt 6:5), loving everything that belongs to God and subordinating all we have to God. The more we love God, the better we love.(cf. ST 2-2,27)
The spiritual joy that comes from God is an effect of charity. The joy of the blessed in heaven is more than full. Not only their desire for God but all their other desires come to rest. They obtain more than they desired (cf. 1 Cor 2:9). Charity brings about peace: 1) it brings all one's desires to an ordered unity - in loving God with our whole heart all our desires
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become focused on one object, we refer everything to him; and 2) it brings about a union between the desires of persons - love makes us want to do the other's will as our own. Kindness, doing good to another, is an act of friendship or love. Fraternal correction aims at a sinner's improvement and is an act of charity. It is also an act of justice since sin tends to hurt others too. A superior should always correct with regard to the common good, but one should refrain from fraternal correction if it is probable that it will only make the other worse. Such things as feasting and carousing are banished by instructing and advising rather than by bitterness, harshness, highhandedness ... (cf. ST 2-2, 28, 29, 31, 33 and 150,1ad4)
Christ dwells in our mind through faith. We can be certain that he does when we know we believe what the Catholic Church holds and teaches. Christ dwells in our heart through faith quickened by charity. We can be confident of this if we find ourselves so prepared and ready that no temporal object will be allowed to make us act against Christ (cf. 1 Jn 3:21).xli
3. On Chastity, Virginity, Lust, and Matrimony
Aquinas treats chastity as a specific type of the virtue of temperance. Human virtue directs us toward intelligent living. The virtues are connected with one another by prudence (practical wisdom) and charity (the love of God). Moral virtue safeguards reasonable values (goods) against passions that conflict with them. Bodily goods of sense are not of their nature opposed to reason, but are there to serve its purposes. The clash comes from the tendency of the sensory appetite to seek gratification from them beyond the bounds of reason. Using corporal and sensible things in a proper way to revere God raises one's mind to God. Improper use of them either completely distracts the mind from God (when the end of the will is fixed in inferior things) or slows
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down the inclination of the mind toward God (when we are more attached to these things than necessary).
As a general virtue temperance signifies a tempering or moderating of human activities and emotions by the reason which is present in all virtue. As a special virtue temperance reins our appetites for the most delightful pleasures. Because pleasure follows from connatural activity, pleasures are more vehement when they attend our most natural activities, those which serve the individual through food and drink and the species through the coupling of male and female. Temperance is about these tactile pleasures. The standard of temperance is set by the needs of the present life.(cf. ST 2-2, 141, 143, 152,3ad2; and SCG 3,121) The word "chastity" (castitas) comes from the chastising of concupiscence by reason. Chastity is a virtue which charges the acts of our members with the judgment of intelligence and the choice of the will. Properly speaking chastity is a special virtue which has its own well-defined material, the desires for sexual pleasure centered on bodily intercourse. Lust (luxuria) is the opposite vice. We can also speak of spiritual chastity (regarding its metaphorical use, meaning having God as our heart's delight, cleaving to him, and refraining from enjoying things against his design - cf. 2 Cor 2:2) and spiritual fornication (delighting in things against God's order - cf. Jer 3:1). Every virtue holds us back from embracing illicit things. The desire for pleasure is like a child. We are born with it. It grows the more we give in to it; like a spoilt child it needs salutary correction. The activities of eating which preserve the individual are different in kind from the activities of sex which preserve the species. Usage applies chastity to the act of intercourse; purity (pudicitia) deals with what surrounds it such as looks, kisses and touches. Sensitivity to shame applies very much with respect to acts of
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sex since our genital motions are less subject to reason than our other bodily members.(cf. ST 2-2,151)xlii
Virginity
Aquinas defines virginity (virginitas) in terms of moral integrity; the unbroken hymen is incidental to it. Immunity from the pleasure of orgasm is its material. The purpose of perpetually abstaining from this pleasure gives it completion and meaning. Vicious human acts (vices) are against right reason. Virginity is not vicious but praiseworthy (cf. 1 Cor 7:25 and 34). Doing without bodily pleasures in order to more freely devote oneself to the contemplation of truth is in harmony with reason. Aquinas interprets Gen 1:28 (regarding increasing and being fruitful) as a command (duty) that falls not on every individual (as eating) but on the group as a whole. "To multiply" means not only in body, but also to grow in spirit. The human family is sufficiently provided for if some undertake the responsibility of bodily generation. Others are free to devote themselves to the study of divine things for the health and beauty of our race. A virgin abstains from pleasures of sex not out of dislike for them (like a boor), but according to right reason which fixes the virtuous mean.(cf. ST 2-2,152,1-2)
Human beings possess the material element of virginity (bodily innocence of the pleasure of sex) at birth. But as a virtue, virginity involves the purpose of keeping this for God's service. Concerning the loss of virginity, its material is gone beyond recall (not even God can make the past to not have been), but its form (dedicated resolve) can be restored by repentance.(cf. ST 2-2,152,3)
To deny that the state of virginity should be placed higher than the married state is refuted by Christ's example, who chose a virgin mother, by the Apostle who counsels virginity as a greater good (cf. 1 Cor 7:38), and by reason. Divine good is
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better than human good. Virginity pertains to the contemplative life (considering the things of God); marriage to the active life (the married must think of the things of this world - cf. 1 Cor 7:33). Nonetheless, a married person, who is more excellent in virtue and ready to do what is asked of one, can be better than a virgin. Both virginity and marriage are honoured in the person of Mary, the Mother of God, who was both a virgin and espoused. Of all forms of being chaste though, virginal chastity is best, surpassing the chastity of marriage and widowhood. Virginity is not the greatest virtue. The theological virtues and the virtue of religion which are directly occupied with the things of God take precedence over virginity. Martyrdom (laying down one's life) and monastic life (includes poverty and obedience as well) are also greater than virginity (renouncing the pleasures of sex) since they engage one more powerfully to cleave to God.(cf. ST 2-2,152,4-5 and 3,29,1)
Lust
Concerning the vice of lust (luxuria), Aquinas says that although voluptuousness goes with many other pleasures it is especially referred to those of sex. Sin implies a breach of the reasonable plan of life, which requires that things be fittingly ordered to their ends. Sex, in due manner and order in keeping with its purpose of human generation, is without sin. The abundance of pleasure in a well-ordered sex-act is not inimical to right reason, even though one cannot give free attention to spiritual things at the same time. Nor is it against virtue when reason suspends its activity according to right reason to go to sleep. That sexual desire and pleasure are not subject to the sway and moderation of reason is part of the penalty of original sin. The pleasures of intercourse would have been greater had the human race not fallen into original sin.(cf. ST I,98,2ad3 and 2-2,153,1-2)
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The order of reason is urgently required regarding the exercise of sex since it is necessary for the common good, the preservation of the human race. Whatever strikes at this is wrong, therefore, lust is a sin. Using one's body for lechery wrongs the Lord, its principal owner (cf. 1 Cor 6:20). Unfeelingness (insensibilitas), found in those who so dislike intimacy with women that they are not fair in rendering the conjugal debt to their wives, is a rare vice since most of us are very prone to pleasure. Some abstain from lechery from hope of future glory. Despair destroys this (cf. Ep 4:19). Lust causes blindness of mind (regarding apprehending an end as good), interferes with deliberation (regarding what should be done to attain the end), can hold up the decision (regarding what should be done), and causes inconstancy. Lust also causes inordinateness of will: an inordinate desire for pleasure, a hatred of God who forbids its undue attachment to this world and its pleasures, a despair about the future world and no taste for spiritual joys (cf. ST 2-2, 153, 3-5).
Fornication and Other Kinds of Lust
Fornication is included in Gal 5:19 with other sins that shut one out from the kingdom of heaven. No one is excluded from this kingdom except for mortal sin. Beyond all doubt we should hold that simple fornication (fornicatio) is a mortal sin. A sin which directly attacks a requirement for human life is deadly. Fornication is an inordinate act of a sort to injure the life that may be born from the intercourse. In animals where the female alone suffices to rear the offspring, intercourse is promiscuous (e.g. dogs). In animals where raising the young requires both male and female their mating is not promiscuous (e.g., certain birds). The human child requires care of both a mother and a father, therefore, indiscriminate intercourse is against human nature. The
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union of one man with one woman for a long period (even a whole lifetime) is postulated.
Men have a natural solicitude to be certain about who are their children, a certainty destroyed by sexual promiscuity. Being committed to one woman is called matrimony and is of natural law. Since intercourse is ordained to the common good of the human race it also falls under the control of human law. Since fornication (intercourse between people not married to each other) is outside matrimony, which is for the good of the child, it is a mortal sin. What the law determines is judged according to what happens in the general run, not in special cases. Thus it makes no essential difference if a fornicator provides for his (or her) child's education.(cf. ST 2-2,154,2)
Fornication is contrary to right reason which is measured by God's will, the supreme law. It is contrary to love of our neighbour since the act of generation is performed in a setting disadvantageous to the good of the child to be born (i.e., not according to what is fitting to the child). A person who sins (regarding the flesh) is freed from eternal loss if he (she) repents and makes satisfaction for wrongs he committed, not if he persists in carnal wantonness impenitent until death. One act of intercourse can beget a child, therefore, inordinate intercourse, which handicaps a child to be born, is a grave sin from the kind of act it is. The gravity of a sin is assessed by considering the importance of the good with which it conflicts. Since fornication conflicts with the good of a child to be born, it is graver than sins against property (e.g., theft), but not as grave as sins directly against God or human life already in existence (as murder). Fornication offends God - not that the fornicator directly intends this, but he (she) accepts this as a consequence.(cf. ST 2-2,154,2-3; and SCG 3,122)
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Kisses, embraces and caresses can be done without libidinousness. They are not sinful acts in themselves, but can be made bad by a bad intention. Consent to the pleasure of a mortal sin is itself a mortal sin (cf. Mt 5:28), not only consent in the act. Therefore, kisses and the like for the sake of the pleasure of fornication are libidinous and mortal sins.(cf. ST 2-2,154,4) In itself a nocturnal emission is not a sin, for sin depends on the judgment of reason. Until they come under the control of reason first motions of sensuality have nothing sinful about them. During sleep reason does not exercise free judgment and so no fault is imputed to the person (cf. also when one is out of one's mind). The mind's awareness is less hindered during sleep than its judgment. Sometimes a nocturnal emission is the result of preceding sin, as when one while awake dwells on carnal sins with lust for their pleasure.(cf. ST 2-2,154,5)
A maiden's virginal intactness is a barrier to fornication. Her maidenhead is like a seal that should not be broken save by marriage. Seducing an unmarried maiden injures her (it prevents her from contracting honourable marriage) and satisfaction must be made (cf. Ex 22:16 and Dt 22:28). Adultery wrongs not only the child who may be born, but also the offspring of the marriage. It offends the spouse, violating the right to faithfulness, and is unfaithful to God's law (cf. Sir 23:32-34).(cf. ST 2-2,154,6 and 8)Incest contravenes the proper exercise of sexuality for three reasons: 1) because of natural instinctive feelings of honour towards one's parents (which extend to other kindred) which set up a certain reticence and sense of impropriety regarding sexual exposure (cf. Lv 18:7); 2) if blood relatives who have to live together closely were not debarred from sexual intercourse, opportunities would make it too easy and their spirits would be enervated by lust; and 3) incest would prevent people from
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widening their circle of friends - when one marries outside one's family, the spouse's relatives are as one's own. Violating a person who has vowed chastity to the service of God is a sort of sacrilege. Unnatural vice conflicts not only with right reason, but also with the natural pattern of sexuality for the benefit of the species. It happens variously: the sin of self-abuse (masturbation) - procuring orgasm for the sake of venereal pleasure outside intercourse; bestiality; sodomy (cf. Rm 1:26); when the natural style of intercourse is not observed as regards the proper organ or according to other beastly and monstrous techniques.(cf. ST 2-2,154,9-11; and SCG 3, 125 and 122,5)
On Matrimony as an Office of Nature, as a Sacrament, and its Definition
Matrimony is natural because natural reason inclines to it. Nature intends not only the begetting of offspring, but also its education and development, until it reaches the state of virtue regarding human beings. A child to be brought up and instructed needs definite parents. This requires a tie between the man and a definite woman. In this matrimony consists. One person is not self-sufficient in all things concerning life. Human beings are naturally inclined to political society, but even more to conjugal society. Some works necessary to life are becoming to men, others to women.(cf. Aristotle, Ethic. viii. 11,12) Since the human child needs parental care for a long time, there is a great tie between male and female, to which even generic human nature inclines. Scripture states that there has been matrimony from the beginning of the human race.(cf. ST Supp.,41,1)xliii
Marital friendship is useful (it serves to provide for domestic life), delightful (it brings the delight and pleasure of sex), and honourable (if spouses are fair to each other their friendship is virtuous and mutually agreeable).xliv It is fitting for
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matrimony to be completely indissoluble because the friendship between husband and wife is the greatest of human friendships. They unite not only in fleshly union, but also in a partnership of the whole range of domestic activity. The indissolubility of marriage also fosters good behaviour. Spouses, knowing their union is indivisible, will tend to love each other more faithfully and take better care of their domestic possessions. It also contributes to a more solid affection among the relatives. Marriage should be between one man and one woman so that marital friendship can be equal and strong. It is evident from experience that polygamy results in domestic discord and the wives having a status like that of servants.(cf. SCG 3, 123 and 124)
It is not a sin to marry and have children (see 1 Cor 7:28; 1 Tm 5:14; and 1 Cor 7:3), therefore, the marital act is not a sin. Since corporal nature is created by the good God, what pertains to its preservation and to which nature inclines can not be in itself evil. It can not be impossible to find the mean of virtue concerning the generative act. The marital act, which appears as an inordinate act by reason of the corruption of concupiscence, is wholly excused by the marital blessing and not a sin. The root of merit is charity. Fulfilling a precept, also regarding the marital act (see 1 Cor 7:3), is meritorious if done from charity. Rendering the conjugal debt is also an act of justice. For one in the state of grace, the marital act is always either meritorious if the motive is a virtue (as justice regarding the marital debt or religion regarding begetting children to worship God) or sinful if motivated by lust.xlv It is a venial sin if one does not exclude the marital blessings; mortal sin if one excludes them.(cf. ST Supp.,41,3-4)A sacrament denotes a sanctifying remedy against sin offered to us under sensible signs. This is the case with matrimony. Eph 5:32 speaks of matrimony as a sign of a sacred thing. The
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words expressing the marital consent are the form of this sacrament. In the sacrament of matrimony (as in penance) the matter is the acts of the recipients. The bond between the spouses resulting from mutual consent is reality and sacrament. The priest's blessing is a sacramental. Matrimony is conformed to Christ's passion as regards charity.
Matrimony had various institutions. As directed to the good of begetting children, which was necessary even before sin, it was instituted before sin. As a remedy for the wound of sin, matrimony was instituted after sin at the time of the natural law. Its institution belongs to the Mosaic Law with respect to personal disqualifications. Matrimony was instituted as a sacrament of the New Law in so far as it represents the mystery of Christ's union with the Church. Concerning other advantages of matrimony (friendship and mutual services) its institution belongs to civil law. Matrimony as a sacrament applies to fulfilling both offices of nature and of society.
Since matrimony is a sacrament, it is a cause of grace. Matrimony contracted in the faith of Christ is able to confer the grace which enables those works required for matrimony. Whenever God gives the faculty to do a thing, He gives helps to make becoming use of the faculty. The outward acts and words that express consent effect a tie which is the sacrament of matrimony. This tie by divine institution works to the infusion of grace. Since sacraments effect what they signify, the sacrament of matrimony confers on spouses grace whereby they are included in the union of Christ and the Church, that they may propose not to be disunited from Christ and the Church in fleshly and earthly things. It is also necessary that matrimony as a sacrament is a union of one man to one woman to be held indivisibly since the union of Christ and the Church is a union of one to one to be held forever.(cf. ST Supp.,42,1-3; and SCG 4,78)Matrimony is a kind of relation,
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a joining, a uniting (cf. Gen 2:24). By matrimony two persons are directed to one purpose - one begetting and upbringing of children, and one family life. The joining of bodies and minds is a result of matrimony. Noting the etymology of related Latin words, Aquinas says matrimony is called the "conjugal union" regarding its essence (the joining together), the "nuptial union" regarding its cause (the wedding), and "matrimony" regarding its effect (the offspring - cf. a mother's duty regarding bringing up children and matrimony's providing her with a support in the person of her husband). The joining of matrimony, conjugal union, is the greatest of all joinings since it is a joining of soul and body. We find three definitions of matrimony corresponding to its cause (marital consent), its essence (marital union between lawful persons, a man and a woman, involving living together in undivided partnership), and its effect (common life in family matters which is directed by divine and human law).(cf. ST Supp.,44)
On Marital Consent
In matrimony as an office of nature there is a material joining; as a sacrament there is also a spiritual joining. The joining is effected by the mutual consent. The spiritual joining is effected by divine power by means of the material joining. The instrumental causes in sacraments are material operations deriving their efficacy by divine institution. The consent signifies (symbolizes) Christ's will which brought about His union with the Church. The direct object of the consent is the union of husband and wife. The consent which makes a marriage must be expressed in words by the contracting parties which express their will to one another. Signs, for those who can not speak, can count for words.(cf. ST Supp.,45,1-2)Consent given in terms of the future tense does not make a marriage. One who promises to do a certain thing (e.g., to
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marry) does it not yet. Expressing consent in the future tense does not signify marrying (or make a marriage), but a promise to marry known as betrothal. Expression of words without inward consent also makes no marriage. If mental consent is lacking in one of the parties, on neither side is there marriage, since marriage consists in a mutual joining together. The party in whom there is no fraud is excused from the sin of fornication on account of ignorance. Concerning such cases the tribunal of the Church judges according to evidence (outward appearances). The Church may be deceived in the facts of a case.(cf. ST Supp.,45,3-4; cf. also q. 43 regarding betrothal)
What is essential to the sacrament of matrimony is necessary for validity. Consent expressed in words of the present between persons lawfully qualified to contract makes a marriage. If other things that belong to the solemnization of the sacrament (i.e., things fitting to its celebration, e.g., the priest's blessing) are omitted, the marriage is still valid. It is a sin, however, to omit these without a lawful motive. Children can marry without parental consent. There is something disgraceful about clandestine marriages. Many evils result from them (e.g., one of the parties is often guilty of fraud).(cf. ST Supp.,45,5) (Clandestine marriages were forbidden by the canon law of Aquinas' time, but not regarding validity. The Council of Trent, Sess. xxiv, later declared them invalid. Cf. DS 1813-16.xlvi)Even though an oath be added to a promise to marry, the marriage is not made yet. Fulfilling an unlawful oath is not of divine law. A certain circumstance can make a lawful oath unlawful (e.g., marrying someone else makes it unlawful to marry a person to whom one previously made an oath to marry). Intercourse after a promise to marry does not make a marriage if inward marital consent is lacking. One who consents to sexual union by deed does not for this reason
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consent to marry. An engaged person who has sex without intending to consummate marriage and thinking the other does too is guilty of fornication. According to the pre-Tridentine canon law (see the preceding paragraph) carnal intercourse following on betrothal was presumed to indicate real matrimonial consent, unless there appeared clear signs of deceit or fraud. Aquinas followed the canon law of his time.(cf. ST Supp.,46)
For marriage there must be complete voluntariness, because it has to be perpetual. Compulsion by fear invalidates a marriage. Consent with a condition regarding the present is valid if the condition is verified and not against marriage or its blessings. Consent with a condition regarding a future contingent makes no marriage.(cf. ST Supp.,47)
Consent that makes a marriage is a consent to marriage, which is a certain joining together of husband and wife ordained to carnal intercourse. Spouses receive power over the other in reference to carnal intercourse. Consenting to marriage involves consenting to carnal intercourse implicitly not explicitly. The object of consent is the power to have carnal intercourse which is the cause of carnal intercourse. Marriage corresponds to marriage consummated as power corresponds to the act which is its operation. The essential cause of marriage is its end to which marriage by its very nature is ordained, the begetting of children and avoiding of fornication.xlvii This is always good. There can be an infinite number of accidental causes in marriage (i.e., what the parties intend as a result of marriage), some of which are good and some bad.(cf. ST Supp.,48)
On the Goods of Marriage
There is a loss of reason incidental to the union of man and woman. They suffer from solicitude for temporal things (cf. 1 Cor 7:28) and reason is carried away by the vehemence of
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pleasure - it is not able to understand anything at the same time. Therefore, the choice of this union can only be made ordinate by certain compensations, the goods which excuse marriage and make it right. These goods belong to the nature of marriage. They are not extrinsic causes of its rectitude. By these goods marriage both fulfills an office and affords a remedy to concupiscence.(cf. ST Supp.,49,1)
There are three goods of marriage. As an office of nature marriage is directed by two things (like every other virtuous act): 1) intention of due end on the part of the agent (here offspring - proles); and 2) due matter on the part of the act (here fidelity - fides, the spouses only having intercourse with each other). Marriage also has a certain goodness as a sacrament - sacramentum. The principal end (offspring, the begetting and education of children) includes the secondary end (the entire communion of works existing between husband and wife which is directed to the primary end). Fidelity here regards keeping the promise concerning the marital debt and not committing adultery. It is a part of justice. The sacramental aspect is a condition added to marriage considered in itself. The sacramentality of marriage pertains to its indissolubility and its signification. All those things that result from marriage are a sign of Christ's union with the Church.(cf. ST Supp.,49,2)The sacrament is the most excellent of the goods of marriage. It belongs to marriage considered as a sacrament of grace whereas the other two belong to marriage as an office of nature. A perfection of grace is more important than a perfection of nature. Grace, however, does not destroy nature, but perfects it. The sacrament is also more essential to marriage in the sense that there is no marriage without inseparability (denoted by sacrament), but there can be marriage without fidelity and offspring. A marriage would be invalid, however, if anything
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contrary to these were expressed in the consent to marry. Although consent to marry may be succeeded by a contrary act, it is a consent to an everlasting bond or it makes no marriage. Consent for a time makes no marriage. In another sense offspring is the most essential to marriage, fidelity is second and sacrament third, since for us it is more essential to be in nature than grace. To be in grace, however, is more excellent.(cf. ST Supp.,49,3; 1,1,8ad2)
The human act with respect to the marital act derives its goodness from those things which place it in the mean of virtue, here the goods of fidelity and offspring. By the goodness of the sacrament the act is said to be not only good but holy - the marital union signifies the union of Christ with the Church. It is possible to interrupt a generically better act (as contemplation) for some less good act (as the marital act) without sin, and it is sometimes fitting to do this. Fidelity and offspring, the goods of marriage relating to the marriage act, make it honest. When spouses come together in order to have offspring or to pay the marital debt, they are wholly excused from sin. Otherwise it is always at least a venial sin. The good of the sacrament makes marriage itself honest, not its act, as though it were wholly excused from sin by being done for some signification. Offspring as a good of the sacrament of marriage includes directing children to God, besides the good of the species.(cf. ST Supp.,49,4-5)Pleasure in a good action is good, in an evil action evil (Aristotle, Ethic. x.3,4). The marital act is not evil in itself. If pleasure is sought in the marital act in such a way as to exclude the honesty of marriage (e.g. treating one's spouse not as a spouse but as another), it is a mortal sin. Seeking pleasure within the bounds of marriage is a venial sin.xlviii The marital debt may be asked for explicitly (in words) or implicitly (made known to one by certain signs even though the other does not ask for it
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explicitly). One is bound to pay the debt when the other shows signs of wishing it, even if not asked for explicitly. Husband and wife are equals regarding paying for and asking for the debt. It is a sin for either to take a vow contrary to the marital debt without the other's consent. It is unlawful, but not a mortal sin, to ask for the marital debt on holy days, when one ought especially to give one's time to spiritual things. One should, however, pay the marital debt to one's spouse who asks at any season, with due regard for the decorum required in such matters.(cf. ST Supp., 49,6 and 64. Impediments to marriage and certain things annexed to marriage are treated in ST Supp.,50-68.)
Analysis
This section first provides some analysis of the teachings summarized above of Thomas Aquinas, a "classical" Christian writer. Some of the contributions, as well as a few of the limitations, of his theology are noted. It then treats the question of the development of Christian doctrine and the distinction between Christian Tradition and traditions. Finally, some considerations for evaluating other Christian traditions are presented. St. Thomas Aquinas possessed a remarkable depth of understanding. In his writings, one finds many clear and helpful distinctions. For example, with respect to morally relevant values and norms, he makes a number of distinctions concerning goods and kinds of love. God, the ultimate good and end, is the exemplar and source of all other goods. Aquinas distinguishes sensory good and rational good (cf. our sensory and rational appetites), genuine versus apparent good, divine good, the good of nature and the good of grace. Of significance he teaches that God's grace does not destroy our human nature but perfects it. With respect to love, he distinguishes natural love, sensory love, rational
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(intellectual) love, love-of-desire and love-of-goodwill/friendship, and charity (love of God).
The norm (moral) of good human actions, according to Aquinas, is human reason and God himself - God's wisdom, law, will. Like his predecessor Augustine of Hippo,xlix Aquinas advocates a proper order of love. One should love the good that is appropriate for one. The love of God (charity) brings all of one's desires to an ordered unity. Charity is the mother of the virtues. True virtue directs a person to God. Aquinas provides a systematic and quite extensive treatment of the virtues, including the virtue of chastity.
Aquinas also made a significant contribution to the theology of marriage. Of note are his clarifications or clear expressions of prior developments regarding valid marital consent, the goods of marriage, and his understanding of Christian matrimony as a sacrament instituted by Christ, a sacred sign and instrument of grace. Among other things, Aquinas appreciates marriage as a partnership, and its advantages regarding friendship and mutual service. He held that marital friendship is the greatest of all human friendships. Monogamy respects the equal dignity of the spouses and promotes strong marital friendship. Aquinas also held that the marital act, if motivated by virtue, was not only not a sin, but meritorious, that is, a means to grow closer to God. In general his treatment of pleasure is balanced and enlightened.
Aquinas provides reasons for his moral conclusions, which are in harmony with Catholic teaching. For example, he considers fornication to be contrary to the good of a possible child, God's will and right reason. Marriage is for the good of man and woman, and children. Aquinas also considers sexual intercourse in relation to the common good.
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While Aquinas has made significant contributions to Christian theology, including the theology of sex, marriage and love, we should also note here a few of his limitations. For example, he presents a somewhat limited view of the purposes of marriage. Although he does say some valid things with respect to this, he does not speak of mutual self-giving conjugal love as the fundamental reason for marriage.l He also does not explicitly speak about marital sexual relations as an expression of conjugal love and affection, and that it is proper for husband and wife to enjoy sexual relations with each other, provided they properly respect each other and God's will in this area. With respect to these limitations, see also notes 15 and 16 of this article. In spite of such limitations, however, contemporary Christians and non-Christians, can learn much from Aquinas. In general his theology is consistent with and represents an authentic development of biblical teaching. He was a very intelligent and committed follower of Jesus. His writings, for the most part, can provide a great stimulus for theological reflection today, as they have in the past, and assist us in the proper formation of our consciences. In this section, I think it is also relevant to say something about the development of Christian doctrine, and the distinction between Christian Tradition and traditions. Jesus, according to the Gospel of John, promised to send his disciples the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, who would lead them into the complete truth (cf. 14:16-17 and 26 and 16:12-15). In the light of this, we can appreciate that God can and does enlighten people who are open to him. Also Christians, individually in their lives and collectively through the centuries, can grow in understanding God's truth and revelation in Christ. We can thus speak of a development of Christian doctrine. As Christians face new questions and issues, with the help of the Holy Spirit, they can grow in
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understanding the truth. An authentic development of doctrine does not involve contradicting eternal truths that were perceived in the past, but a development in the articulation of certain truths.li
According to Catholic teaching,
[The living transmission of God's revelation in Christ] accomplished in the Holy Spirit, is called Tradition, since it is distinct from Sacred Scripture, though closely connected to it. Through Tradition, "the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes."[DV, 8, par. 1] "The sayings of the holy Fathers are a witness to the life-giving presence of this Tradition, showing how its riches are poured out in the practice and life of the Church, in her belief and her prayer."[DV, n. 8, par. 3] ….
Tradition is to be distinguished from the various theological, disciplinary, liturgical or devotional traditions, born in the local churches over time. These are the particular forms, adapted to different places and times, in which the great Tradition is expressed. In the light of Tradition, these traditions can be retained, modified or even abandoned under the guidance of the Church's Magisterium.lii
The theological tradition originating in Aquinas (cf. this article), can and should be evaluated in the light of this distinction between Christian Tradition and traditions. This would also apply to other Christian traditions, for example, those originating with the Protestant Reformer, Martin Luther.liii
In evaluating the proposals of various Christian traditions (as well as those of contemporary theologians, ethicists and others), one can and should ask and attempt to answer a number of questions. Both Christians and non-Christians can ask whether or not the proposals are true, do they correspond
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to the breadth and depth of reality and human experience? Does the author have an integral understanding of goods or values and love? One can also examine any norms or recommendations proposed, and try to understand why they were formulated. What values are they intended to protect and promote? Christians also ask whether or not these proposals represent an authentic development of biblical teaching. Along these lines they ought to try to discern whether these proposals are compatible or not with the fullness of God's revelation in Jesus Christ. A Catholic perspective also asks whether these proposals are compatible or not with the truth expressed in Catholic teaching.liv
Endnotes
xxxiii Note: This article is adapted from part of Ch. 3 of my book, Premarital Sex and Love: In the Light of Human Experience and Following Jesus. For more information on the book see: <www.ualberta.ca/~pflaman/psal.html>.
xxxivLiving Biographies of Great Philosophers, by Henry Thomas and Dana Lee Thomas (Garden City: Blue Ribbon Books, 1946), 74. For more details of Aquinas' life than offered here see ibid., 67-80; An Aquinas Reader, ed. and introduced by Mary T. Clark (Garden City: Image Books, 1972), 7-27; and St. Thomas Aquinas: Theological Texts, selected and trans. with notes and introduction by Thomas Gilby (Durham, North Carolina: The Labyrinth Press, 1982), xi-xvii.
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xxxvBoth quotes are from Clark (see note 2), 20.
xxxviSee, e.g., Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, ed. by Austin Flannery, O.P. (Dublin: Talbot Press, 1975), "Decree on Priestly Formation" Optatam Totius, 16; and "Declaration on Christian Education" Gravissimum Educationis, 10; respectively.
xxxviiCf. Gilby, xi-xiii, and Clark, 9 (see note 2).
xxxviiiSumma Theologiae, by St. Thomas Aquinas (London: Black-friars in conjunction with Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1964, 60 vols.).
xxxixSumma Contra Gentiles, by St. Thomas Aquinas (Rome: Marietti Editori Ltd., 1961-vols. II and III, 1967-vol. I).
xlIn On the Perfection of Religious Life, Chs. 13-14 (see Clark, note 2 above, 279-89), Aquinas develops the theme of perfect love of neighbor in detail. Such love is genuine (not loving the other to the extent he or she is useful to us), orderly and just (preferring the greater good - the good of soul is greater than the good of body which is greater than the good of external things), holy (ordered to God), and efficacious and dynamic (i.e., one takes positive measures and exerts oneself to procure what is good and repel what is evil - cf. 1 Jn 3:18).
xliCf. Aquinas' "Commentary, 2 Corinthians, xiii, lect. 2." Gilby (see note 2 above), 208-18, translates this text and selected others concerning Aquinas' teaching on love.
xliiIn On the Perfection of the Spiritual Life, Ch. IX, Aquinas speaks of "Helps to Preserving Chastity": 1) keep the mind
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occupied with prayer and the contemplation of divine things - praising God keeps one from the distractions of sin (cf. Eph 5:18-20 and Is 48:9; 2) study Scripture (cf. 1 Tm 4:12-13); 3) keep occupied with any type of wholesome thought (cf. Ph 4:8); 4) avoid idleness (cf. Sir 33:28); and 5) endure disturbances of the mind. See Clark (note 2 above), 511-16, for his full treatment of these.
xliiiAquinas died before this part of the ST (Supplement) was finished. It was completed by a disciple of Aquinas from other writings of Aquinas (cf. Aquinas' Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard). For an English translation of the Supplement to the ST see the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, trans. by Fathers of the English Dominican Province, Vol. 5 (Westminster, MD: Christian Classics, 1981). Concerning Aquinas following Aristotle in saying that some works necessary to life are becoming to men, others to women, we should appreciate that the question of the roles of men and women was not discussed in their times to the same extent that it is today. In any case, even today, it is not an unfair stereotype to say that generally men are better suited to heavy manual labor and only women can beget babies and nurse them at the breast.
xliv"Commentary, VIII Ethics, lect. 12," in Gilby (see note 2), 385.
xlvThe Second Vatican Council (see note 4), GS, 47-52, speaks beautifully and positively about marriage and the family, including sexual relations within marriage. It, however, also speaks of the need for the virtue of chastity and that the dignity of conjugal partnerships and married love is often
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dishonored by so-called free love, selfishness, hedonism and so on.
xlvi[DS] Henricus Denzinger and Adolfus Schönmetzer, S.J., eds., Enchiridion Symbolorum Definitionum et Declarationum de Rebus Fidei et Morum (Rome: Herder, 36th ed. 1976).
xlvii From a Catholic perspective, Aquinas' view on the purpose of marriage should be understood in the light of later Catholic teaching on marriage which holds in part that the "matrimonial covenant … is by its nature ordered toward” both "the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring..." [CCC] Catechism of the Catholic Church (New York: Doubleday, 1997), n. 1601, quoting the 1983 Code of Canon Law, c. 1055, 1.
xlviiiLater Catholic teaching has implicitly modified some of Aquinas' teaching, as well as that of his predecessor St. Augustine of Hippo (see the following note), concerning conjugal relations. Regarding the legitimate seeking of sexual pleasure within marriage and marital sexual relations as a way for spouses to manifest their affection consider the following official Catholic teaching.
Concerning sexual pleasure Pope Pius XII in an "Address to Midwives," Oct. 29, 1951, says: "The Creator in His goodness and wisdom has willed to make use of the work of the man and the woman to preserve and propagate the human race, by joining them in wedlock. The same Creator has arranged that the husband and wife find pleasure and happiness of mind and body in the performance of that function. Consequently, the husband and wife do no wrong in seeking out and enjoying this pleasure. They are accepting what the Creator
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intended for them. ...the use of the natural, generative instinct and function is lawful in the married state only, and in the service of the purposes for which marriage exists. ...only in the married state and in the observance of these laws are the desires and enjoyment of that pleasure and satisfaction allowed."(Official Catholic Teachings: Love and Sexuality, 119-20, ed. Odile M. Liebard, Wilmington. N.C.: McGrath, 1978). Concerning conjugal love and the marital act the Second Vatican Council (see note 4 above), GS, n. 49, says in part: "Married love is uniquely expressed and perfected by the acts proper to marriage. Hence the acts in marriage by which the intimate and chaste union of the spouses takes place are noble and honorable; the truly human performance of these acts fosters the self-giving they signify and enriches the spouses in joy and gratitude."
Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae (Boston: Daughters of St. Paul, 1968) speaks of true conjugal love as involving a reciprocal personal gift of self. Sexual relations between husband and wife "do not cease to be lawful if, for causes independent" of their will, "they are foreseen to be infecund, since they always remain ordained toward expressing and consolidating their union."(n. 11) He speaks of the conjugal act as having two God-given meanings, unitive and procreative, which are to be safeguarded. One is not to directly will an impediment to procreation and deliberately make a conjugal act infertile. But when procreation is not desirable for just motives, spouses can have sexual relations during the infertile periods only "to manifest their affection and to safeguard their mutual fidelity. By so doing, they give proof of a truly and integrally honest love."(n. 16) Cf. also Pope John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio (Boston: Daughters of St. Paul,
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1981), n. 32, regarding the value and innate language of total reciprocal self-giving of conjugal love.
xlix For a treatment of St. Augustine of Hippo on sex, marriage and love see my book (see note 1 above), Ch. 3.B.
lSee, e.g., Dietrich von Hildebrand, Marriage: The Mystery of Faithful Love (New Hampshire: Sophia Institute Press, 1984), Ch. 1 "Love and Marriage".
liCf. the Second Vatican Council (see note 4), DV, n. 8; GS, nn. 44 and 62; and CCC (see note 15), n. 94.
liiCCC (see note 15), nn. 78 and 83. The references within the quote to DV are from the Second Vatican Council (see note 4 above). Cf. also Yves Congar, Tradition and Traditions: An Historical and a Theological Essay (New York: Macmillan, 1967), and I Believe in the Holy Spirit (New York: Seabury, 1983).
liiiSee, e.g., Lisa Sowle Cahill, Between the Sexes: Foundations for a Christian Ethics of Sexuality (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985), Ch. 7. Her treatment of Martin Luther's views on sexuality and marriage is generally sympathetic but critical of certain aspects. With respect to Christian theological traditions on sex and marriage see also, e.g.: George Hayward Joyce, Christian Marriage: An Historical and Doctrinal Study (London: Sheed and Ward, 1948); Edward Schillebeeckx, Vol. II: Marriage in the History of the Church, in Marriage: Human Reality and Saving Mystery (London: Sheed and Ward, 1965); and Ronald Lawler, Joseph Boyle and William E. May, Catholic Sexual Ethics (Huntington: Our Sunday Visitor, 1985), Ch. 2 "Sex in the Catholic Tradition".
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It should be noted, however, that Christian traditions do not only include theological traditions. The wealth of the Christian heritage also includes, among other things, various liturgies and other forms of prayer, Christian art and literature, and Christian saints, all of which can help us better appreciate Christian values. It is beyond the purposes of this book to discuss all of these here.
liv With respect to this, my book (see note 1), Ch. IV, considers the role of the Church's magisterium and some Catholic Church teachings that are relevant to sex, marriage and love.
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We as Catholic Scholars in various disciplines join in fellowship in order to serve Jesus Christ better, by helping one another in our work, and by putting our abilities more fully at the service of the Catholic Faith.
We wish to form a fellowship of scholars who see their intellectual work as an expression of the service they owe to God. To Him we give thanks for our Catholic Faith and for every opportunity He gives us to serve that Faith.
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support the renewal of the Church of Christ undertaken by Pope John XXIII, shaped by the Second Vatican Council, and carried out by succeeding Pontiffs.
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The questions raised by contemporary thought must be considered with courage and dealt with in honesty. We will seek to do this, faithful to the Truth always guarded in the Church by the Holy Spirit, and sensitive to the needs of the family of Faith. We wish to accept a responsibility which a Catholic scholar may not evade: to assist everyone, so far as we are able, to personal assent to the mystery of Christ as made manifest through the lived Faith of the Church, His Body, and through active Charity, without which the Faith is dead.
To contribute to this sacred Work, our Fellowship will strive to:
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