Bossuet and Silence

"The great things that God works within his creatures naturally happen in silence, in a certain divine movement that suppresses all speech.  For what could we say, and what could Mary have said that could have equalled what she felt?  Thus God's secret is kept under the seal unless he himself opens the lips and makes the words come forth.  Human advantages are nothing if they remain unknown and if the world does not lay hold of them.  Those God makes, however, have in themselves an inestimable worth that one wants to share with God alone.  Men, how vain you are, and how vain is the ostentation that moves you to make a display of your feeble accomplishments for the eyes of men just as vain as you!  'O men, how long will you love vain words and seek after lies?' (Ps. 4:2).  All the goods that one vaunts are nothing in themselves: opinion alone gives them their value.  There are no true goods but the ones that can be tasted in silence with God.  'Be still and know that I am God' (Ps. 46:10).  'O taste and see that the Lord is good' (Ps. 34:8).  Love solitude and silence.  Draw back from the noisy conversation of the world.  Stay closed, O my mouth, and do not deafen my heart, for it is listening to God.  Stop interrupting and troubling my sweet attentiveness.  Vacate et videte, says the psalmist: "live in holy leisure and see."  And again: 'Taste and see that the Lord is good.'  Allow this celestial taste to speak in you.  Gustate et videte, quoniam suavis est Dominus."

-- Jacques Bénigne Bossuet

The Right to Do your Duty

"To refuse to take part in committing an injustice is not only a moral duty; it is also a basic human right." - St. John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, n.74

"We have the strict obligation of obeying God, whose supreme rights found our first duties and every moral obligation properly speaking.  What we demand above all else is not freedom for its own sake, as liberalism does; it is the inalienable right to do our duty, or, the right of truth, above all the ultimate truth to be known and loved.   We can freely renounce certain rights of ours but not that of doing our duty…

One cannot better affirm the dignity of the human person whose superior duties are founded upon the imprescriptible rights of God, far above all the legitimate demands of the temporal common good that is end of the State.  By this, it is evident that the State is subordinated to the intellectual, moral, and spiritual perfection of the human person, whose destiny immensely exceeds the end and temporal duration of political society."

- Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange


Strong Words on Marriage by Douglas Farrow

"The church, which has been enabled evangelically and sacramentally to see into the heart of marriage—to recognize its covenantal as well as its contractual features, its eschatological as well as its civil consequences—has an obligation to nurture and protect marriage, not only for itself but for its neighbours.  It has an obligation to defend the family and civil society from the threat of absorption into the state.  It cannot do this, however, if it brackets the problem of homosexuality or fails to address the gnostic temptation inherent in the same-sex movement.  Still less can it do so if it insists on bracketing its own problem: the complicity of its members in the culture of sterile sex.  For it is only in that culture that same-sex marriage is thinkable."

- Douglas Farrow, "Same-Sex Marriage and the Sublation of Civil Society" in Desiring a Better Country

Temperance as a riverbank for virtue

"Discipline, moderation, chastity, do not in themselves constitute the perfection of man.  By preserving and defending order in man himself, temperantia creates the indispensable prerequisite for both the realization of actual god and the actual movement of man toward his goal.  Without it, the stream of the innermost human will-to-be would overflow destructively beyond all bounds; it would lose its direction and never reach the sea of perfection.  Yet temperantia is not the stream.  But it is the shore, the banks, from whose solidity the stream receives the gift of straight unhindered course, of force, descent, and velocity."

- Josef Pieper, Four Cardinal Virtues, 175

Anscombe, Natural Community of Marriage

"For we don’t invent marriage, as we may invent the terms of an association or club, any more than we invent human language.  It is part of the creation of humanity and if we’re lucky we find it available to us and can enter into it.  If we are very unlucky we may live in a society that has wrecked or deformed this human thing."

- Anscombe, "Contraception and Chastity"

Anscombe On Intentions in Contraception vs. NFP

“Contraceptive intercourse and intercourse using infertile times may be alike in respect of further intention, and these further intentions may be good, justified, excellent. .. But contraceptive intercourse is faulted, not on account of this further intention, but because of the kind of intentional action you are doing.  The action is not left by you as the kind of act by which life is transmitted, but is purposely rendered infertile, and so changed to another sort of act of altogether.”

- Elizabeth Anscombe, "Contraception and Chastity"

Anscombe, Human Dignity

"What people are for is, we believe, like guided missiles, to home in on God, God who is the one truth it is infinitely worth knowing, the possession of which you could never get tired of, like the water which if you have you can never thirst again, because your vital thirst is slaked forever and always. It’s this potentiality; this incredible potentiality, of the knowledge of God of such a kind as even to be sharing in his nature, which Christianity holds out to people; and because of this potentiality every life, right up to the last, must be treated as precious. Its potentialities in all the things the world cares about may be slight; but there is always the possibility of what it’s for. We can’t ever know that the time of possibility of gaining eternal life is over, however old, wretched, ‘useless’ someone has become."

- Elizabeth Anscombe, "Contraception and Chastity"

An Early Thomist Critique of Descartes

Taken from part 4, disp. 1, q. 1 of the Philosophia iuxta incon- cussa tutissimaque Divi Thomae Dogmata of Antoine Goudin, O.P. (1639-1695):

“And here Descartes is not to be endured, when he decrees (for the time placing aside every other principle as being doubtful) that the mind enters upon knowledge of things from this, “I think,” from which he immediately infers, “Therefore, I am.”  For, so that I may not press upon the others, if the mind sets aside even our principle (of contradiction) as being in doubt with all the others, there will also be doubt whether he who thinks is, or is not.  For, if it is possible for one and the same thing to be and not be, he could think and, nevertheless, not be.”

(Cited by Garrigou-Lagrange on several occasions.)

Theology is Not Merely Rational Knowledge of Revealed Truths

"To say that theology is philosophy applied to revealed truth is to say by definition that theology is the scientific misunderstanding of revealed truth (in the same way that a certain exegesis which, deprived of the theological habitus is nothing more than the purely rational light—'animal' in St. Paul's meaning of the word—of historical criticism applied to the word of God."

- Jacques Maritain, The Dream of Descartes [56]