Thursday, September 6, 2018

St. Thomas Aquinas: Mercy and truth are necessarily found in all God's works, if mercy be taken to mean the removal of any kind of defect. Not every defect, however, can properly be called a misery; but only defect in a rational nature whose lot is to be happy; for misery is opposed to happiness. For this necessity there is a reason, because since a debt paid according to the divine justice is one due either to God, or to some creature, neither the one nor the other can be lacking in any work of God: because God can do nothing that is not in accord with His wisdom and goodness; and it is in this sense, as we have said, that anything is due to God. Likewise, whatever is done by Him in created things, is done according to proper order and proportion wherein consists the idea of justice. Thus justice must exist in all God's works. Now the work of divine justice always presupposes the work of mercy; and is founded thereupon. For nothing is due to creatures, except for something pre-existing in them, or foreknown. Again, if this is due to a creature, it must be due on account of something that precedes. And since we cannot go on to infinity, we must come to something that depends only on the goodness of the divine will—which is the ultimate end.We may say, for instance, that to possess hands is due to man on account of his rational soul; and his rational soul is due to him that he may be man; and his being man is on account of the divine goodness. So in every work of God, viewed at its primary source, there appears mercy. In all that follows, the power of mercy remains, and works indeed with even greater force; as the influence of the first cause is more intense than that of second causes. For this reason does God out of abundance of His goodness bestow upon creatures what is due to them more bountifully than is proportionate to their deserts: since less would suffice for preserving the order of justice than what the divine goodness confers; because between creatures and God's goodness there can be no proportion.

I really, really wish we could reboot some things in the Church, things that happened in connection with the Second Vatican Council. Today, I am not talking about the discarding of the Tradition of the Mass and the invention of the form we have today. That’s a biggie, though. (Why did we get rid of the Requiem Masses?) I am, however, talking about the complete abandonment of the long-standing moral tradition of the Church.
The Second Vatican Council called for a renewal of moral theology, which I would suppose was meant to reinvigorate the study of Moral Theology for our modern times. What happened, though, was a profound break with the long-standing moral teaching of the Church going all the way back through St. Augustine, the Apostolic Fathers, and to the apostles. Now, you might think, Good. Moral teaching in the tradition was based so much upon the commandments and now we are all about love, or something like that. We are free now. We have grace and we don’t need to follow the law. It seems to me that the whole world thinks this way now. Otherwise, how could so many of us who call ourselves Christian think that keeping the moral law is not necessary if one wishes to go to Heaven. This, in spite of the fact that Jesus continually says exactly the opposite in the Gospel. "If you wish to enter life, keep the commandments." (Mt 19:17) Where did people find this new Jesus who says we don’t have to worry about the commandments? Where did he come from? How is it that many people we all know claim that even serious public sinners, as soon as they die, are in Heaven? At least we ought to be able to acknowledge that the Catholic Church traditionally held that we should pray for them, in case they were not in Hell and needed purification in purgatory. At least, that.

I think the problem with us modern people, including an untold number of bishops and priests, is that there is no longer any serious rational fear of the eternal punishment known as Hell. Or, if there is a consideration of such a state of life after death where there is nothing but torment, it is, according to the modern mindset, reserved for those who in fact are concerned about the Commandments. Those are the people that judge, no? You see, one considerate of the moral law is a person who hates.

It is disturbing that I see so many people who claim some authority, whether it is the authority of a Cardinal, the famous theologian, or the facebook guru, that suggest to us that Mercy renders concern for the commandments contrary to the heart of God. For thousands of years we had sound instruction and commandments. Now we have come to believe that there is just grace and love. It is certainly correct to say that God is merciful and we, too, should be merciful, forgiving, loving, reaching out to others, who, like me, are sinners. 

I would want those in my pastoral care to know, however, of the fallacy of thinking that mercy cancels out God’s justice. That because of mercy, we will not have to account for our actions, good and evil. Again, let’s remember what Jesus tells us. (Rev. 22:12: Behold, I am coming quickly with my reward with me to repay each one according to his deeds.) My point is this, the saints and the Church, herself, tells us that God’s instruction, including the law, is a work of Mercy. God does not owe us salvation. He gave His Commandments to human beings to bring about the salvation of the human race, out of love for sinners. That’s His mercy. He gave us his law. Jesus is the perfection of the law. We see this in his standing up to the Pharisees and preaching, as in the Sermon on the Mount, that one cannot divorce and remarry, that unjust anger is murderous, that cursing and swearing are evil, that adultery leads to hell, that one must honor parents and not hide money in the temple to avoid it. “You disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition."

"From within people, from their hearts,
come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile."

The current crisis in the Church and the hierarchy is the direct result of a lack of fear of God on the part of these seriously misled clerics and others who imitate them. Do not be like them. 

The Pharisees had an excuse for everything they did.

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