Perfection of Love – On the Perfection of the Spiritual Life II

Perfection Is Found Both According to Love of God and Love of Our Neighbor

[Since to be alive spiritually means to love, Thomas concluded that to be perfect in the spiritual life means to be perfect in love. Here he continues to examine what kind(s) of love that is.]

Having considered that perfection consists primarily in regard to charity, it is clear in what the perfection of the spiritual life consists. For there are two precepts of charity, one pertaining to the love of God, the other to the love of neighbor. These two precepts have a certain order to each other, according to the order of charity. For what we should primarily love out of charity is the supreme good that makes us happy, namely God, while secondarily we should love our neighbor out of charity, with whom we are joined in a certain social bond, in the participation of happiness; hence we should love in our neighbor out of charity in reference to a mutual attainment of beatitude. [Thomas explains (1) that we should love God in the first place, and our neighbor in relation to God, and (2) why this is so, namely because God is the ultimate locus of union with our neighbor; by Christian love we love our neighbor in God and for God, and thus we love God primarily.] And the Lord showed this order of the precepts of charity in Mat 22:37-39, saying, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself." [Thomas follows the analytical explanation of the primacy of love of God before love of neighbor with a reference to the definitive, revealed foundation of this doctrine.] Therefore the perfection of the spiritual life consists first and principally in the love of God; [Divine, spiritual love is first of all love of God; therefore perfection in spiritual life principally means perfection in love of God.] hence the Lord, speaking to Abraham, says, "I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be perfect" (Gen 17:1). We walk before God not by bodily steps, but by spiritual affections. [Again, he follows the analytical argument with a scriptural basis and illustration of the doctrine.] But secondarily the perfection of the spiritual life consists in the love of neighbor; hence the Lord, having said "Love your enemies," (Mat 5:44), and having added a number of other precepts pertaining to the love of neighbor, concluded by saying, "Be therefore perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mat 5:48).

[Divine love, and therefore spiritual life, consists primarily in love of God, and secondarily in love of neighbor. This does not mean, however, that one could seek exclusively love of God, to the neglect of love of neighbor. First, because the love of charity is the love of friendship. To love God implies loving and willing what God loves and wills. This love of God is revealed to us in Christ, who came not to be served but to serve, to give his life for us. "We love, because he first loved us." So genuine love of God as a friend necessarily flows into love of neighbor. Secondly, because we are temporal, physical beings, who are related to other human beings, and if our love does not at all express itself in the temporal, physical order towards other human beings, it can scarcely be a genuine love. As St. John puts it, "he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen."]

Evolution and Creation II – Church and Family

From Hugh Owen's The Importance of the Traditional Doctrine of Creation

My comments are in red.

2. Theistic evolutionism fosters an anti-hierarchical vision of reality, including the Church and the family; the traditional doctrine of creation supports a hierarchical vision of reality, including the Church and the family.

The traditional understanding of Genesis conveys a hierarchical vision of reality, including a hierarchical understanding of the Church. Theistic evolutionism fosters an anti-hierarchical understanding of the Church. By envisioning the emergence of the first man and woman from ape-like parents, theistic evolution denies any kind of hierarchical relationship between Adam and Eve—although this flatly contradicts the traditional understanding of Genesis. According to patristic understanding, Adam was literally created before Eve. [Here I won't address the question of whether Eve was literally created from Adam's side, as I'm not familiar enough with the patristic texts on it. The theory of evolution does not, in any case, necessarily entail that Eve was the natural result of evolution, rather than miraculously formed from Adam. More importantly, the issue does not have the theological significance ascribed to it in this article. Literal historical fact or not, Eve's relationship to Adam does not depend on her coming from Adam insofar as it is (or is not) a historical fact, but insofar as it is symbolic. If God creates sons of Abraham from the stones, they are not more children of the stones than of Abraham because of a literal derivation from stones. There is a specific relationship between man and woman, found in human nature, which is expressed by the account of woman's creation in Genesis, and, if the creation from man's side is a literal historical fact, by this fact of the creation of woman from man's side. But this relationship is neither established by nor does it depend on a literal creation of woman from man; it is signified by it.]

As dogmatically decreed at the Ecumenical Council of Vienne, Eve was literally created from Adam’s side, forming a type of the creation of the Church from the side of Christ on the Cross. [This statement is misleading statement; the Council teaches that Adam, from whose side Eve was taken, is a type of Christ, from whose side (the blood and water flowing out) the Church was formed. It does not teach that Eve was literally created from Adam's side… nor in fact that the Church was literally created from Christ's side. It is a question what "literally" would mean in this case.]

In this way the creation of Eve mirrored the eternal generation of Christ by the Father. As Christ is “eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God . . . one in being with the Father,” so Eve was brought forth from the side of Adam, and shared the same nature as Adam. And just as the Holy Spirit is the endless living Love who proceeds from the Father through the Son, so the offspring of Adam and Eve were intended to be the fruit of their parents’ love, thus completing, in the human family, a perfect finite reflection of the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. [This analogy doesn't have much patristic support, most likely because of the fact that Christ is the Son of the Father, while Eve is not the Son of Adam, and the Holy Spirit is not the Son of the Father and of the Word, while Seth (like Cain and Abel) is the Son of Adam and Eve.]

By denying the supernatural creation of Eve from Adam’s side, theistic evolutionism denies the Trinitarian and hierarchical nature of the human family. [The hierarchical nature of the family does not consist in a past fact, but is found in the nature of the family itself–as the Magisterium has frequently emphasized, the nature of the family is not something extrinsic and accessible only by revelation, but is rooted in human nature. Thus the "Trinitarian and hierarchical nature" of the human family does not depend on the manner of formation of the first family.] For the theistic evolutionist, Adam and Eve both arise from the lower animals by a process of natural evolution. The sexual act through which human children are propagated is thus reduced to an animal activity rather than a reflection of the Trinitarian mystery. [This claim is simply a concession to materialism… it assumes that if Adam and Eve were derived from lower animals, then they are essentially no different from those animals, nor does their sexual activity have any many other than that found in the lower animals. Of course evolution interpreted in a materialistic lens is contrary to the Christian faith… but then we are not talking about theistic evolution. This is a straw-man argument.]

According to the patristic understanding of Genesis, Adam was created to be Eve’s mediator, teacher, and protector. [For this reason the Hebrew words for “guard and to keep” connote the activities of a priest.] [More fundamentally, they denote the activities of a servant, as a priest also is. And these terms are used in reference to the guardian, not in reference to Eve.] Adam alone receives the divine command not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And the Fall does not take place until Adam—seeking to please his wife rather than God—joins her in disobedience to God’s command. [Genesis does not tell us why ]

By denying each human father’s God-given responsibility to teach, govern, and sanctify his family, theistic evolutionism has contributed much to the emasculation and degradation of Catholic men. No longer reminded of his duty to teach, discipline, and spiritually direct his wife and children, the Catholic father now cheerfully abdicates his most important responsibilities, leaving his wife and his children’s teachers to teach, discipline, and sanctify his sons and daughters. [If the Father does not see his duty towards his wife and children in his role as a man and as Father, there's a problem there, which won't be solved by an extrinsic reminder as such. Again, the creation account is significant inasmuch as it teaches something about the real nature of man, male and female, and family.] But—since no one can take the place of a father—this is a burden they cannot bear. And so his abdication sets in motion the total disintegration of society.

The effects of this deviation from Tradition extend far beyond the human family to the very Household of God. By denying the divine design for the human family, theistic evolutionism challenges the hierarchical structure and male character of Church leadership. If Adam was not created before Eve but evolved at the same time as she did from ape-like creatures, then he has no special role in relation to her. [No more true than it was before. This is just as invalid as saying that if a twin-brother and sister are conceived are born together, then the brother should relate to the sister exactly as she should relate to him, ignoring the real difference of male and female.] And, since the Church is the “household (or family) of God,” if there is no divinely-designed hierarchy in the family placing man at the head, then why should there be a hierarchy in the Church, and why should men hold any special role as priests of the Church, since men and women have both “evolved” from the apes through natural processes? Indeed, if man was not created by God to be a priest to his wife and children, then why should the Church insist on a male priesthood? Why should the leader of the Church be a “Holy Father” instead of a “Holy Mother”? [This argument is sufficiently answered by the fact that man and woman's role in God's creation and in the Church does not depend on the physical manner of their original creation. But also, I think this argument suggests a misunderstanding of why only men can be priests. There are lines of analogy connecting the natural relationship of man and woman, the spiritual relationship of God to his people as bridegroom to bride, of Christ, incarnate as a man, to the Church, and ministerial priests, who sacramentally take the role of Christ. But in terms of the theological exposition of the matter, the primary point of reference is Christ, who is the true high priest, and is a man. The reason why Christ is the high priest is not because he is the second Adam; rather, Adam's priesthood is a type of Christ's.]

What is Perfection – On the Perfection of the Spiritual Life I

I will be doing a series of posts commenting on the work On the Perfection of the Spiritual Life by Thomas Aquinas (parallel to the posts on evolution, faith, and theology).


Since certain persons, knowing nothing about perfection, have presumed to speak follies concerning the state of perfection, our purpose is to treat of perfection: what it is to be perfect; how perfection is acquired; what is the state of perfection; and what befits those who take up this state.
[Here Aquinas states the occasion that led him to write this work, his aim in writing it, and what he will consider in the main parts of the work. The occasion of this work was various attacks made on the religious orders, on the religious vows as means of attaining perfection, and on the occupations which religious could lawfully undertake. His aim is to treat of perfection [of the spiritual life] generally, and descend from there to consider how one attains perfection, what are the stable states of life oriented in a special manner to perfection, which are therefore called "states of perfection", and what works a religious community may take up.]

Chapter 1
The Perfection of the Spiritual Life Simply Speaking is Found According to Charity

We must first consider that "perfect" is said in several ways. For something may be simply speaking perfect, or something may be called perfect in a certain respect. Something is simply speaking perfect when it attains to the end that belongs to it according to its proper nature, while something can be called perfect in a certain respect when it attains an end in regard to things accompanying its proper nature, as an animal is said to be perfect simply speaking, when it reaches the end that it lacks none of those things that constitute animal life: e.g., when it lacks nothing in number or disposition of its limbs, or the proper size of the body, or the power by which the activities of animal life are accomplished; an animal can be said to be perfect in a certain respect, however, if it is perfect in something that accompanies animal nature: e.g., if it is perfect in whiteness, or in odor, or something like this.
[Thomas's first aim is to establish what perfection is, what it means to be perfect. It is taken as a given, something understood as a matter of course, that the perfection which ultimately matters to a human and to a Christian, is spiritual perfection, being perfect in the spiritual life. But because the spiritual life, just like animal life, comprises many aspects–knowledge, decisions, attitudes, love, Thomas makes a general distinction about what it means to be perfect. A thing that has many aspects can be perfect in some particular aspect, but be lacking in other aspects, and perhaps more important ones. We cannot then say it is perfect, without qualifying our statement. Only when a thing is perfect in the respect that is most important or essential to it, can we say that it is perfect without needing to qualify ourselves (if we do qualify our statement, it will be to make explicit, perhaps, that there is some aspect of perfection that it is lacking; e.g., no matter how perfect a man's health is, it lacks the perfection of being incorruptible; he is able to die).]

Thus also a man is said to be simply speaking perfect in the spiritual life, with respect to that in which spiritual life primarily consists, while he can be called perfect in a certain respect, as regards anything that is connected with spiritual life. [Thomas notes that the general principle applies to the spiritual life; a man who is perfect in that which is essential to the spiritual life can be called perfect without adding a qualifier to "perfect".]

Now spiritual life consists primarily in charity, and he who does not have charity, is regarded as spiritually nothing. Hence the Apostle says, "If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing" (1 Cor 13:2). Blessed John the Apostle also declares that the whole of spiritual life consists in love, saying, "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death" (1 John 3:14). [The next step: to be alive spiritually means to share in the life of God, the God who "is love", and this share in God's life is attained in the love of God, in charity. The quotes Thomas chooses here seem to pertain immediately to love of neighbor, though ultimately it is the same gift of charity by which we love God and neighbor.]

Therefore, it is he who is perfect in charity who is simply speaking perfect in the spiritual life. [The primary conclusion of the chapter. "To be perfect" without qualification means to be perfect in charity.] But some can be called perfect in a certain respect, as regards anything connected with the spiritual life. [The other side of the conclusion: one can be perfect in other aspects of spiritual life, and then one is said to be perfect in a certain respect.]
This can also be clearly shown from the words of Holy Scripture. [The conclusion just drawn was based on Scripture, but attained in a more abstract way; here Thomas illustrates the truth more directly by Scripture.] For the Apostle in Col 3:14 attributes perfection primarily to charity: for having enumerated many virtues, such as compassion, benignity, and humility, he adds, "But above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection" (Col 3:14). [Charity is the bond of perfection of all virtues, and so it is by charity that we are perfect in the most fundamental sense.] But some are also said to be perfect as regards understanding; for the same Apostle says, "Be babes in evil, but in sense be perfect." (1 Cor 14:20). Elsewhere in the same epistle, he says, "be perfect in the same mind and in the same judgment" (1 Cor. 1:10), although as was said, no matter how perfect knowledge a man has, without charity he is to be judged as nothing. So also a man may be said to be perfect in patience, which "has a perfect work," as St. James says, and in any other virtues. [Having cited examples of Scripture using perfection in a qualified sense, even though such perfection without love is not really worth anything, Thomas proceeds to the most extreme examples, of "perfection" used in regard to something bad.] This need not be surprising, for someone may be perfect in a bad thing, as when one speaks of "a perfect thief" or "a perfect robber." And Scripture also sometimes speaks this way: for it is said, "the fool's heart heart will work iniquity to perfect hypocrisy” (Isa 32:6).

Evolution and Creation I – Scripture and Tradition

From Hugh Owen's The
Importance of the Traditional Doctrine of Creation

My comments are in red.

1. Theistic evolutionism fosters contempt for Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and undermines confidence in God and his Word. The traditional understanding of Genesis fosters a love and appreciation for Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and strengthens trust in God.

Theistic evolutionists and defenders of the traditional doctrine of creation both agree that the literal historical interpretation of Genesis was upheld by all [Not true!] of the Fathers, Doctors, and magisterial pronouncements of the Catholic Church for more than 1800 years. According to this common doctrine:

  1. God created all of the different kinds of creatures [that is, plants, animals, fish, etc.–that "species" or "kinds" are fixed in such a way that new kinds could not develop after creation is not common patristic or magisterial teaching] ex nihilo in six days or less. [Irenaeus allows that the sixth day could be a thousand years, in accordance with the text "a day of the Lord is as a thousand years," and Justin Martyr makes the same interpretation. Origen and Augustine do not take the six days as a narrative of the historical order of creation at all, but as a manner of revealing God's creation of the world.]
  2. Adam was created before Eve who was formed from Adam’s side. [This is not necessarily contradicted by the theory of evolution. If someone interprets the formation of Eve from Adam's side figuratively, it will be primarily for exegetical reasons rather than scientific ones.]
  3. God created a perfectly harmonious world for Adam and Eve. There was no human sickness, death, disease, harmful mutations [nothing harmful for man, or nothing harmful for any living being? The latter cannot be affirmed as common doctrine in the same way as the former] or man-harming natural disasters prior to the Fall. ["Prior to the fall" can be taken as referring to the state of Adam and Eve before they fell, regardless of what preceded them, or as referring to the entire history of time before Adam and Eve's fall. The former account is sufficient for the doctrine of the introduction of evil into the world by the fall. Precisely speaking, the common doctrine is that the death and pain we experience is a result of the fall. But this does not imply that pain did not exist at all before Adam and Eve.]
  4. Prior to the Original Sin, all of nature was under the dominion of Adam and Eve and was subservient to them. [Yes, but it is not clear how this should be understood.]
  5. Original Sin brought human death, disease, harmful mutations, and man-harming natural disasters in the world. [Inasmuch as it withdraw God's special protection from man. Man is subject to death, disease, etc, according to his nature, and would only have been preserved from them by God's special gift and providence.]
  6. There was a global flood in Noah’s day which killed all of the people and animals on the earth except for those on Noah’s ark. [According to the Septuagint chronology, Methuselah lived a good fourteen years after the flood, which suggests that the flood is not understood as absolutely universal. (According to the Hebrew chronology, he died just aroung the time of the flood.) According to the Catholic Encyclopedia (1912), Tostatus exempts the earthly Paradise, were Enoch was, from the flood. We might also note that the narrative is written as an eye-witness account, which would fit with a limited flood. The Fathers do teach "doctrine" is that Noah's ark is an image, a "type" of the Church, outside which no one can be saved–but this does not imply the actual death of all persons on earth.]
  7. Early man was physically and mentally, superior to modern man. The patriarchs lived to the long ages ascribed to them.
  8. All of the basic language-families complete with their unique grammars and modes of thought were instantaneously created by God during the Tower of the Babel incident. [As far as I am aware, this was never a magisterial doctrine, and in most cases the Fathers and Doctors do not intend it as doctrine of faith, either. The Fathers do not take up the question directly enough to affirm this as a common doctrine; in particular they do not address the narrative of Genesis 10 which indicates differences of language prior to Babel–which suggest that either there were some differences of language before, and that the unity was local (Gen 11:1 being then "the whole land" rather than "the whole earth" was of one language, or that the account of Babel is a figurative/spiritual description of God's providence.]

Only number 1 (and probably number 6) is contrary to the theory of evolution. Neither of these in fact pertain to the substance of the Christian doctrine of creation.

Like Jesus, who taught that the Scripture "cannot be broken," all the Apostles and Fathers of the Church taught and believed that Scripture was "God-breathed" and free from all error, and that the Holy Spirit moved the sacred authors to write exactly what He wanted them to say. Later, at several ecumenical councils, the Church recognized the unanimous interpretation of the Fathers as a certain rule of Scriptural interpretation. Without exception [not quite!], the Apostles and Fathers believed and proclaimed the literal historical truth of Genesis 1-11, including all of the particular ideas mentioned above. [Misleading, since they don't all address all of these issues.]

Consequently, the Catechism of the Council of Trent, backed by the authority of an ecumenical council, authoritatively taught this interpretation of Genesis and interpreted the words of the Apostles Creed and the Fourth Lateran Council on creation in accord with that interpretation. [The Catechism of the Council of Trent does not have the authority of the Council of Trent. Moreover, it does not in fact teach this interpretation of Genesis, not because it teaches something different, but because it is more general. If we take the whole order it presents as definite sequence over time, we would have to say that man first existed (and was subject to pain, corruption, etc.) and then was granted the gift of original righteousness, by which his natural defects were removed.]

It follows that if theistic evolutionism is true then God permitted his one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church to teach authoritatively—if not in every instance dogmatically—a completely erroneous account of the creation and early history of the universe. Moreover, He willed that the correction of this error come not "from the contemplation and study of believers" and the teaching of the bishops—as Dei Verbum says that it should—but from the speculations of non-believers whose theories eventually fomented a revolution in the conventional wisdom within the Catholic Church. If this is true, who would trust such an incompetent, self-contradictory "god"? [The teaching was not completely erroneous, but was in its essential points correct, and only these essential points were definitely taught by the Church! (Lateran IV, for example, does not make any statement about "six days.")]

Theistic evolutionism not only proclaims an incompetent god who contradicts himself, but breeds contempt for any kind of wisdom handed down from the "primitive" past. Since theistic evolutionists believe that the world is in a state of continuous evolution, they hold that man’s knowledge is continually superseded by "new developments." [First, the theory of evolution in the natural order does not imply a continuous progression from imperfect to perfect. Secondly, evolution in the natural order does not imply evolution in knowledge. The theory that man's knowledge increases is also based on experience and evidence. Aristotle, seeing that man's knowledge had increased, but was not infinite, though he held that the universe was eternal, was led to posit indefinite cycles of knowledge lost and gained. Thirdly, that the premise that knowledge increases leads to contempt for wisdom handed down from the past applies only where present knowledge is independent of the past.]

[A not completely relevant anecdote removed.]

[Of course, if one thinks that what Scripture teaches is incompatible with the theory of evolution, then accepting the theory of evolution can lead to "contempt" for Sacred Scripture. But in fact, the actual teaching of Scripture is not incompatible witht the theory of evolution. Similarly, the actual teaching of Sacred Tradition is not incompatible with it. If we take an "all or nothing" approach to tradition (in a broader sense), thinking that either every traditional and common opinion in the Church is right, or that tradition is useless as a vehicle of revealed truth, then interpreting Genesis in a manner different from the traditional manner of interpretation can lead to contempt for tradition. But if we can distinguish what is taught as essential to the faith, and what is taught as an opinion, even when that opinion is a common one, then the fact that a mistaken view (as granted the theory of evolution, the view of six-day creation presented in this article is mistaken) was not declared definitively as part of the faith is even an indication of God's providence over tradition, and so far from leading to contempt for tradition, can lead to a greater confidence in it.]

Evolution and Creation – Definitions

Hugh Owen's The Importance of the Traditional Doctrine of Creation

My comments are in red.

Theistic evolutionism holds that God created matter in the beginning, and then used billions of years of natural processes, including death, destruction, mutations, and disease, to produce the various kinds of living things, including the human body. Generally speaking, theistic evolutionists deny the historicity of Genesis 1-11 [To be fair, one should distinguish between denying the historicity of these chapters, and interpreting them as a particular genre of history, in which figurative language plays an important part] and believe that Noah’s Flood was a local flood, that the Tower of Babel incident never actually happened, and that human languages evolved from primitive to more complex over long periods of time. [If one accepts the theory of evolution of life on the basis of the evidence for it, one is naturally quite likely to accept the theory of evolution of language on the basis of the evidence for it, since the kinds of evidence are rather similar. Similarly with the evidence for the flood and the exegetical considerations involved.]

The traditional, patristic, magisterial doctrine of creation holds that God created all of the different kinds of creatures during a very brief creation period at the beginning of time by an act of his Divine Will. According to this understanding, God created a perfectly harmonious world for our first parents, Adam and Eve, a few thousand years ago. He created Adam first, and then created Eve from Adam’s side. There was no human sickness, death, disease, harmful mutations or man-harming natural disasters before the Fall. Prior to the Original Sin, all of nature was under the dominion of Adam and Eve and was subservient to them. Even after the Original Sin, early man was physically and mentally [mental superiority after the fall cannot realistically be called part of a common traditional doctrine of creation] superior to modern man, and the early patriarchs actually lived to the long ages ascribed to them. There was a global flood in Noah’s day which killed all of the people and land animals except for those on Noah’s ark, [as the interpretation of the flood as a local flood was said to be mostly connected with the acceptance of the evolution of life, so the interpretation of the flood as global should be said to be mostly connected with this other interpretation of creation, rather than part of it.] and all of the basic language-families complete with their unique grammars and modes of thought were instantaneously created by God during the Tower of the Babel incident. [A more reasonable interpretation of the common understanding of the Tower of Babel event, would be to say that some basic language-families were created at that time. The assumption on the part of the authors that languages can not diverge from each other to an extent equal to the difference between any of these "basic language-families", is neither part of the doctrine of creation, nor is it pertinent to the interpretation of the Tower of Bable event.]

It is already evident from the contrast between these two definitions, that several things are mixed in here: what is being opposed is not only two doctrines of how God created the world, life, and languages, but also different hermeneutical approaches to understanding the natural world and interpreting Scripture. I'll come back to this point in a later post.

Evolution and Christian Faith

In the coming posts I will be commenting on the significance that the recognition of evolution has for faith and theology. I will begin with commentary and critique of an article by Hugh Owen that was recently brought to my attention: The Difference it Makes: The Importance of the Traditional Doctrine of Creation (This article has changed location on the site since I originally made this post–I did not notice changed content, but it is possible, particularly as the article is not dated). He gives differences between "theistic evolutionism" and the "traditional doctrine of creation", and reasons why theistic evolutionism should be rejected and the traditional doctrine of creation restored:

1. Theistic evolutionism fosters contempt for Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and undermines confidence in God and his Word. The traditional understanding of Genesis fosters a love and appreciation for Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and strengthens trust in God.
2. Theistic evolutionism fosters an anti-hierarchical vision of reality, including the Church and the family; the traditional doctrine of creation supports a hierarchical vision of reality, including the Church and the family.
3. Theistic Evolutionism confuses and undermines the distinct divinely-instituted roles of men and women and indirectly contributes to the confusion of sexual roles. The traditional understanding of Genesis defines and strengthens the God-given roles of men and women and protects the dignity of both sexes and the leadership role of men.
4. Theistic evolutionism perverts the relationship between man and nature. The traditional doctrine of creation fosters a right relationship between man and nature.
5. The traditional understanding offers hope for the future of mankind. Theistic evolutionism fosters either a false hope or a deep despair.
6. Theistic evolutionism breeds indifference to the Lord’s Day and a wrong view of natural science. The Traditional doctrine of creation fosters appreciation and reverence for the Lord’s Day and a correct view of natural science.
7. The Traditional doctrine of creation fosters a realistic understanding of the spiritual forces of evil and attributes the evils of the world to man’s cooperation with them. By denying the literal historical of Genesis 1-11, theistic evolutionism blinds its adherents to the supernatural dimension of life, reduces many of the supernatural actions of God, angels, and demons, to natural causes, and thus makes its disciples unfit for spiritual warfare.
8. The Traditional doctrine of creation fosters an intimate relationship between Christians and God, their Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. Theistic evolutionism erodes this intimacy.

Year for Priests

As many readers may know, last Friday, the feast of the Sacred Heart, began the year for priests, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the patron saint of parish priests, John Marie Vianney's birth into heaven. (It was entirely by coincidence that priestly ordinations here were on the same date; the ordinations were scheduled before the announcement of the year for priests.) Both in his letter proclaiming the year for priests, and in his homily on the opening day, he cited the saint's words, "The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus," words which reveal the tremendous gift of the priesthood, "tremendous" both in its original sense of awe-inspiring, and in its present sense of great.

As the Pauline year draws to a close, Pope Benedict drew a connection between St. Paul and St. John Marie Vianney: To let oneself be totally won over by Christ! "This was the purpose of the whole life of St. Paul… the goal of the entire ministry of the Holy Curé d'Ars." The effective ministry of priests depends not in the first rank upon study, upon pastoral or theological formation, but upon the "knowledge of love," the knowledge that is learned in the heart to heart encounter with Christ

The Church needs holy priests; ministers who can help the faithful to experience the merciful love of the Lord and who are his convinced witnesses. In the Eucharistic Adoration that will follow the celebration of Vespers, let us ask the Lord to set the heart of every priest on fire with that "pastoral charity" which can enable him to assimilate his personal "I" into that Jesus the High Priest, so that he may be able to imitate Jesus in the most complete self-giving.

The Congregation for the clergy has also set up a special website for the Year for Priests:

Blogs Added to the Sidebar

I've added several blogs to the sidebar, which I've found of interest:

God in all things – short stories with a spiritual moral or meaning.

Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus – a blog devoted to explaining the true meaning of the Catholic teaching that "there this is no salvation outside the Church." On both the liberal and the ultra-conservative side one hears that the Vatican II contradicted the previous Church teaching on this matter. There is in fact development and differences of emphasis, but also continuity.

A Catholic Life – by a seminarian on the other side of the pond (in Minneapolis).

Roman Catholic Vocations – the topic is self-explanatory.

Renewal in Linz

Yesterday and today the Holy Father and representatives of the Roman Curia met with the bishops of Austria to speak about the situation of the diocese of Linz and the Church in Austria, as well as solutions for present problems.

The Holy Father called to mind the urgency of a deepening of faith, of complete faithfulness to the Second Vatican Council and to the post-conciliar magisterium of the Church, and the renewal of catechesis in light of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

In addition, doctrinal and pastoral questions, and questions concerning the situation of clerics and laity, of the seminaries and theological faculties in Linz and in the other dioceses were discussed.

The Austrian Bishops thanked the Holy Father for his fatherly care and for this meeting, a sign of his union with the Church in Austria, and declared their complete communion with and faithfulness to him. The Austrian bishops also thanked the Roman Curia for its fruitful collaboration and helpfulness.


(For readers who aren't aware, Linz is overall the most liberal diocese within Austria, even infamously so–though it is somewhat split between the liberals and those who want to preserve fidelity to liturgical and doctrinal tradition, to the pope, etc.)