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On Peace as the Final Cause of the Universe

On Peace as the Final Cause of the Universe

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Published by Sancrucensis
That which God primarily wills in creation is the good of the harmony and order of the whole; this most perfectly reflects the divine beauty.
That which God primarily wills in creation is the good of the harmony and order of the whole; this most perfectly reflects the divine beauty.

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Published by: Sancrucensis on May 18, 2010
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02/07/2014

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Q
UI
P
OSUIT
F
INES
 T
UOS
P
 ACEM
 
N
OVIZATSARBEIT
 Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist.
Cistercienserabtei Stift Heiligenkreuz, 2007 
 ______ “P
RAISE THE
L
ORD
,
 
O
 
 J
ERUSALEM
;
 
praise thy God, O Zion: for He hath strengthened thebars of thy gates; He hath blessed thy sons within thee; who hath made peace in thy borders.” (Psalm 147:1-3) These words of the Psalmist have become a kind of programmatictext for monasteries. The monastery, built to the praise of the Lord, is a kind of 
ecclesiola,
alittle church, an image of the Universal Church; and it is precisely the Church as
 Jerusalem,
as“The City of Peace” that the monastery seems especially to reflect.
Pax: 
this one word isoften inscribed over the doors of the monasteries that follow the Holy Rule, as though the whole monastic vocation were summarized in it. The monk is the one who “seeks peace andpursues it.” (Psalm 33:15)
1
Indeed the whole form of coenobitic monasticism might havebeen devised as an illustration of St. Augustine’s famous definition of peace:
tranquilitas ordinis 
: “the tranquility of order.”
2
The monastery is not the place of, “confusion, of discordance, of accidental, random, private courses…
 
but of determinate, regulated,prescribed action;”
3
it is the place of order and subordination, of harmony and tranquility.In the nineteenth book of 
The City of God 
, where
 
St. Augustine gives his celebrateddefinition, he takes up the very verse of the Psalm that we have quoted: “Praise the Lord Jerusalem;… for He hath strengthened the bars of thy gates:… who hath made
 peace 
in thy borders.” In the Latin version of the Psalm that Augustine quotes from the word for bordersis
 fines 
: “qui posuit
 fines 
tuos pacem.” While
 fines 
has “borders” as one of its meanings, it canalso mean a number of other things. The inspired of genius of St. Augustine read
 fines 
tomean the
ends 
in the sense of 
 purposes.
 Thus, according St. Augustine, the Psalmist is saying that God made peace to be the
 purpose, the final cause 
of Jerusalem the City of God,
4
and thus
our 
purpose and “the end of our good”
5
as citizens of that city. And that is the reason why the very name “Jerusalem” means “City of Peace.”
6
 In the present essay I shall reflect a little on why peace is “a good so great that evenin this earthly and mortal life there is no other word which we hear with such pleasure;”
7
on why the principle of order is “so dear to Almighty God;”
8
on what it means that he has madeit the end of the City of God; on how Augustine can say He has made peace our end.
1
Vide:
Regula Sancti Benedicti,
Prologus, 17.
2
 
De Civitate Dei,
XIX, Ch. 13.
3
John Henry Cardinal Newman,
Sermons Preached on Various Occasions 
(Westminster, Md.: Christian Classics,1968; 1857), Sermon XI:
Order, the Witness and Instrument of Unity 
(Preached Nov. 9, 1853); p. 184.
4
See:
De Cuvitate Dei,
XIX., Ch. 11.
5
Ibid.
6
Ibid. To be precise, Augustine translates Jerusalem as “visio pacis.”
7
Ibid., Ch. 11.
8
Newman,
Order, the Witness and Instrument of Unity 
Sermons Preached on Various Occasions,
p. 186).
 
2
P
 ART
I.
 
N
 ATURE
 “G
LORY TO
G
OD IN THE
H
IGHEST
H
EAVEN
, and on earth peace to men of good will:”(Luke, 2:14) these words sung “in the fullness of time” express the final cause of all things.“Glory to God in the highest;” all that
is 
is for the glory of God. But God already possessesplenitude of Glory in the perfection of His essence; he has no need for anything besidesHimself to give Him glory. He is the one who Is, he possesses absolute fullness of being, inthe perfect simplicity of His essence. He is Perfection. Since God is infinite being andperfection He is infinite good. Now, the unity of God belongs to the very account of thisinfinite goodness. For, as St. Thomas Aquinas teaches, “Unity belongs to the idea of goodness… as all things desire good, so do they desire unity; without which they wouldcease to exist. For a thing so far exists as it is one.”
9
In his brilliant sermon,
Order the Witness and Instrument of Unity 
, John Henry Cardinal Newman shows how this unity of the DivineGoodness appears as
order 
. “All the works of God are founded on unity,” says the venerableprelate,for they are founded on Himself, who is the most awful, simple, and transcendent of possible unities. He is emphatically One; and whereas He is also multiform in Hisattributes and His acts, as they present themselves to our minds, it follows that orderand harmony must be of His very essence. To be many and distinct in His attributes,yet, after all, to be but one,—to be sanctity, justice, truth, love, power, wisdom, to beat once each of these as fully as if He were nothing but it, as if the rest were not,— this implies in the Divine Nature an infinitely sovereign and utterly incomprehensibleorder, which is an attribute as wonderful as any, and the result of all the others.
10
 “All the works of God are founded on unity.” But from whence come these works? Why does the perfectly self-sufficing God create? St. Thomas teaches that God chose tocreate out of love for His own goodness. For it belongs to the nature of the good, being 
as desirable 
, that he who loves the good for its own sake
 
desires that it ever be, “bettered andmultiplied as much as possible.”
11
Therefore, since God loves His infinite Goodness with aninfinite love, He desires that it be multiplied, but since the Divine essence is absolutely simple and one, it cannot be increased and multiplied in itself. The only way in which theDivine essence can be multiplied is by likeness, by representation, “which is shared by many,”
12
that is, by creatures. “Therefore God wishes
things 
to be multiplied, because He wills and loves His essence and perfection.”
13
  The multitude of creatures is thus created to give God glory by being a likeness, areflection, of the Divine goodness. The complete goodness which God possesses in aperfectly simple and undivided way is reflected by the multitude of creatures in a divided way; each creature reflects a different
aspect 
of the Divine goodness as no one creature canrepresent the Divine goodness as a whole.
14
Since, as we saw, it belongs to the very account
9
St. Thomas.
Summa Theologiae,
Ia, Q. 103, A. 3, c.
10
Sermons Preached on Various Occasions,
p. 184-185.
11
St. Thomas,
Summa Contra Gentiles 
, I, 75
12
Ibid.
13
Ibid.
14
 Vide: Idid., II, 45.
 
 
3
of the goodness that creation is an image of that it be
one,
it follows that the multitude of creatures must be brought together, in some way, so as to imitate the Divine Unity.Of course, the multitude of creatures remains
multitude 
and cannot have the unity of essence that belongs to God. In what way then is the Divine unity able to be imitated by multitude? What aspect of God’s unity is reflected by the multitude of creation? We candiscover this from the nature of 
representation.
If the purpose of creation is to reflect theDivine
 goodness,
it follows from its nature as representation to imitate that goodness as
beauty.
 “All things are made, so that they in some way imitate the divine beauty,” writes St. Thomas,for, “nobody takes care to shape and represent anything, except to (the image of) thebeautiful.”
15
Now, just as unity belongs to the account of goodness, so that mode of unity  which is order belongs to the account of beauty. This is way St. Thomas can write thefollowing about the purpose of creation: The multitude and distinction of things has been planned by the divine mind and hasbeen instituted in the real world so that created things would represent the divinegoodness in various ways and diverse beings would participate in it in differentdegrees, so that
out of the order 
of diverse beings
a certain beauty 
would arise in things.
16
  The purpose of creation is to give glory of to God by reflecting His Goodness through thebeauty of its
order.
Of course, since each thing reflects an aspect of the Divine goodness, it isin itself a good, an end, so that each thing is also for itself. But there is a hierarchy of theseends. St. Thomas explains this from a general principle:If we wish to assign an end to any whole, and to the parts of that whole, we shallfind, first, that each and every part exists for the sake of its proper act,… secondly,that less honorable parts exist for the more honorable, … and, thirdly, that all partsare for the perfection of the whole…In the parts of the universe also every creature exists for its own proper act andperfection, and the less noble for the nobler, as those creatures that are less noblethan man exist for the sake of man, whilst each and every creature exists for theperfection of the entire universe. Furthermore, the entire universe, with all its parts,is ordained towards God as its end, inasmuch as it imitates, as it were, and showsforth the Divine goodness, to the glory of God.
17
  Thus, while God intends each creature as a good in its own right, that which He principally intends is the good of the order of the whole universe. St. Thomas manifests this from thecreation account in Genesis: The good of order among diverse things is better than any one of those things thatare ordered taken by itself: for it is formal in respect of each, as the perfection of the whole in respect of the parts… Hence it is said (Gen 1:31): God saw all the thingsthat He had made, and they were very good, after it had been said of each that they are good. For each one in its nature is good, but all together are very good, on
15
 
Commentary on Denys the Areopagite On the Divine Names 
(Marietti: Turin, 1950) p. 115, n. 353-54
16
St. Thomas,
Compendium theologiae 
, Lib. 1, cap. 102, end.
17
 
Summa Theologiae 
, Ia, Q 65, A 2, c.

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