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NOVIZATSARBEIT Frater Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist. Cistercienserabtei Stift Heiligenkreuz, 2007 ______ “PRAISE THE LORD, O JERUSALEM; praise thy God, O Zion: for He hath strengthened the bars 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 programmatic text for monasteries. The monastery, built to the praise of the Lord, is a kind of ecclesiola, a little 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 is often 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 and pursues it.” (Psalm 33:15)1 Indeed the whole form of coenobitic monasticism might have been 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 celebrated definition, 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 borders is fines: “qui posuit fines tuos pacem.” While fines has “borders” as one of its meanings, it can also mean a number of other things. The inspired of genius of St. Augustine read fines to mean 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
Vide: Regula Sancti Benedicti, Prologus, 17. 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.
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 even in 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 made it the end of the City of God; on how Augustine can say He has made peace our end. PART I. NATURE “GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST HEAVEN, 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 possesses plenitude of Glory in the perfection of His essence; he has no need for anything besides Himself to give Him glory. He is the one who Is, he possesses absolute fullness of being, in the perfect simplicity of His essence. He is Perfection. Since God is infinite being and perfection He is infinite good. Now, the unity of God belongs to the very account of this infinite 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 would cease 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 Divine Goodness appears as order. “All the works of God are founded on unity,” says the venerable prelate, 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 His attributes and His acts, as they present themselves to our minds, it follows that order and 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 be at 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
See: De Cuvitate Dei, XIX., Ch. 11. 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). 9 St. Thomas. Summa Theologiae, Ia, Q. 103, A. 3, c. 2
utterly incomprehensible order, 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 to create 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 and multiplied as much as possible.” 11 Therefore, since God loves His infinite Goodness with an infinite 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 the Divine 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, a reflection, of the Divine goodness. The complete goodness which God possesses in a perfectly 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 can represent the Divine goodness as a whole.14 Since, as we saw, it belongs to the very account 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 can discover this from the nature of representation. If the purpose of creation is to reflect the Divine 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) the beautiful.”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 the following about the purpose of creation:
Sermons Preached on Various Occasions, p. 184-185. St. Thomas, Summa Contra Gentiles, I, 75 12 Ibid. 13 Ibid. 14 Vide: Idid., II, 45. 15 Commentary on Denys the Areopagite On the Divine Names (Marietti: Turin, 1950) p. 115, n. 35354
The multitude and distinction of things has been planned by the divine mind and has been instituted in the real world so that created things would represent the divine goodness in various ways and diverse beings would participate in it in different degrees, 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 the beauty of its order. Of course, since each thing reflects an aspect of the Divine goodness, it is in itself a good, an end, so that each thing is also for itself. But there is a hierarchy of these ends. 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 shall find, 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 parts are for the perfection of the whole… In the parts of the universe also every creature exists for its own proper act and perfection, and the less noble for the nobler, as those creatures that are less noble than man exist for the sake of man, whilst each and every creature exists for the perfection 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 shows forth 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 the creation account in Genesis: The good of order among diverse things is better than any one of those things that are 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 things that 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 account of the order of the universe, which is the ultimate and noblest perfection in things.18
St. Thomas, Compendium theologiae, Lib. 1, cap. 102, end. Summa Theologiae, Ia, Q 65, A 2, c. 18 Summa Contra Gentiles, II, 45. 4
In his commentary on Pseudo-Dionysius On the Divine Names, St. Thomas, after showing that beauty is the purpose of creation, explains that beauty consists of two things: splendor, and harmony or proportion.19 In creation, he continues, splendor corresponds to the reflection of the Divine Essence which belongs to each thing, while harmony corresponds to the order of the whole. This order itself consists in two things: the order of things to each other, and the order of creatures to God. The order of things among themselves consists chiefly in what is called “the hierarchy of forms.”20 The universe has perfection or completeness from having all degrees of being—each of which is a different participation in the One Divine Essence. This order appears in the creation account of Genesis, where diverse things, are created in hierarchal order. But it belongs to this order also that things are proportioned to one another, and subordinate to each other. The lower creatures are for the sake of the higher, and therefore subordinate to them. This subordination is not accidental to the order of the universe, but belongs essentially to its beauty as a representation of the Divine Goodness. We can see this from the sermon of Cardinal Newman’s quoted above. After the passage positing order in God the Venerable preacher continues thus: Moreover, the very idea of order implies the idea of the subordinate. . . Thus God's power, indeed, is infinite, but it is still subordinate to His wisdom and His justice; His justice, again, is infinite, but it, too, is subordinate to His love; and His love, in turn, is infinite, but it is subordinate to His incommunicable sanctity. There is an understanding between attribute and attribute, so that one does not interfere with the other, for each is supreme in its own sphere; and thus an infinitude of infinities, acting each in its own order, are combined together in the infinitely simple unity of God.21 We saw the subordination of creatures to one another in the text quoted above on the hierarchy of good:22 “those creatures that are less noble than man exist for the sake of man, whilst each and every creature exists for the perfection of the entire universe.” Man is essential to the good of the universe.
St. Thomas, Commentary on Denys the Areopagite, p. 114-15, n. 349. For an account of how inequality of form is constitutive of the order of the universe vide: Susan Waldstein, The Theological Significance of Natural Hierarchy, (Gaming: International Theological Institute, 2005). 21 Sermons Preached on Various Occasions, p. 185. 22 Summa Theologiae, Ia, Q 65, A 2, c.
For to irrational creation the good of order remains in a way extrinsic to them. It is “their” good only insofar as they contribute to it and exist principally for it, but it is not a good that they enjoy. Man by his rational nature is able to attain to this good of the universe, insofar as he can comprehend and love it; moreover he becomes a co-principle of this order insofar as he shares in the ordering governance of God: “fill the earth and subdue it.” (Gen 1:28) Since man participates more in the order of the universe he is more for it than the other creatures. In fact, St. Thomas teaches that among the irrational creatures it is chiefly the species that is for the order of the universe, while the individuals are intended chiefly for the preservation of those species; with man on the other hand each individual is more directly for the order of the universe.23 But here one might say ask whether it is not true that it belongs to the dignity of man that he is sui causa, as the Second Vatican Council put it, “man is the only creature on earth that God willed for its own sake.”24 How then can one say that men are more for the order of the whole universe? The great Thomist Philosopher of the last century, Charles De Koninck, points us to the solution of this difficulty. He shows how it is precisely because of his ordering to a good outside himself that man is for himself: The rational creature, insofar as it can itself attain to the end of God’s manifestation outside Himself, exists for itself. The irrational creatures exist only for the sake of this being which can by itself attain an end which will belong to irrational creatures only implicitly. Man is the dignity which is their end. But, that does not mean that rational creatures exist for the dignity of their own being and that they are themselves the dignity for which they exist. They draw their dignity from the end to which they can and must attain; their dignity consists in the fact that they can attain to the end of the universe, the end of the universe being, in this regard, for the rational creatures, that is for each of them. Still, the good of the universe is not for rational creatures as if the latter were the end of the former. The good of the universe is the good of each of the rational creatures insofar as it is their good as common good.25 The key word here is “common good.” Because the order of the universe is a common good in which men participate, to be for it is to be for themselves. To
C.f.: Summa Theologiae, Ia, Q. 23, A 7, c. Gaudium et Spes, 24. 25 On the Primacy of the Common Good: Against the Personalists, (Aquinas Review Vol 4, No 1, 1997), pp. 39-40. 6
manifest this it is necessary to briefly consider what is meant by a “common good.” In a beautiful passage of The City of God, St. Augustine taught that the good is not diminished by being shared, “on the contrary,” he writes, the possession of goodness is increased in proportion to the concord and charity of each of those who share it. In short he who is unwilling to share this possession cannot have it; and he who is most willing to admit others to a share of it will have the greatest abundance himself.26 Now if we consider some kinds of good Augustine’s teaching is clearly false. A Sachertorte is good, but I can have it without sharing it and, so far from being increased by being shared, it is actually diminished the more it shared, since the piece that is eaten by one cannot be eaten by another. As one ascends through the hierarchy of goods, however, to things which have more fully the account of good, Augustine’s words become more zutreffend. A proposition in Geometry, for example, is not diminished by being shared. In fact, when someone learns such a truth, his first impulse is to show it to others—as though his enjoyment of it were increased by communicating it. Nevertheless, it would be odd to say that the possession of a mathematical truth is “increased in proportion to the concord and charity of each of those who share it.” If we ascend further to the good in question, the order of the universe, Augustine’s words seem to be really true. The tradition of Perennial Philosophy gives the kind of good that Augustine was writing about the name common good—from its ability to be shared by many—and the kind of good that a Sachertorte is the name private good.27 An essential difference between a common good and a private good is that the private good is ordered to the one who enjoys it, it is for the one whose good is. A Sachertorte is ordered to the one who eats it, the one who eats it is better than the Torte, he is its end. A common good on the other hand is not ordered to the one who enjoys it, one must say rather that he is ordered to it, it is better than he,28 it is his end. This is why a brave man will give his life for the
De Civitate Dei, XV, 5. For an account of the common good, its definition, its properties, and its place in the tradition, vide: Michael Waldstein, The Person and the Common Good, (Gaming: unpublished manuscript). 28 C.f. Treatise on Separate Substances, Ch 12, where St. Thomas argues that the good of order is better than singular things because it is the common good: “The good of order is that which is best in the universe of things, for this is the common good; while other goods are singular goods.”
common good of a family or a city, but the man who gives his life for a Sachertorte is foolhardy. It is important that we see that the common good while it is not ordered to the ones who enjoy it, is nevertheless their good, in the sense that they are the ones who delight in it. A family, a state, or the universe, is has no collective soul by which it could delight in its good—the good of a family, or state, or the universe is delighted in by the persons who share in it.29 The man who gives his life for the common good is not an altruist; it is his good that he gives his life for. But neither is he an egoist; the good that he gives his life for is better than his. In this light we can understand De Koninck’s point: the rational creatures are for themselves insofar as they are for their good, the good that they enjoy, but this good is better than them and they are ordered to it as to an end. And it is from the order to this greater good that they derive their dignity. Of course, rational creatures derive dignity from their order to a good which they are to attain much greater than “God’s manifestation outside Himself,” namely God Himself. God is the Good itself and therefore He is the most common of all common goods. If the good of order is the intrinsic common good of the universe, God is its extrinsic common good: He transcends the universe of things, but He is the Good which all desire.30 He is the end of the universe: The entire universe, with all its parts, is ordained towards God as its end, inasmuch as it imitates, as it were, and shows forth the Divine goodness, to the glory of God. Reasonable creatures, however, have in some special and higher manner God as their end, since they can attain to Him by their own operations, by knowing and loving Him.31 Above we explained that the order of the universe has two aspects—the order of things to each other, and the order of things to God—we have now arrived at the second aspect. We saw that rational creation participates more than irrational in the first aspect of order; how much more in the second aspect! Rational creation is ordered to enjoy the good of God Himself. This brings us out of the order of nature into the order of Grace. PART II. GRACE
C.f. The Person and the Common Good, especially pp. 21-22. For an explanation of the intrinsic vs. the extrinsic common good of the universe vide: St. Thomas Aquinas, In Libros Metaphysicorum, XII, lect. 12. 31 Summa Theologiae, Ia, Q 65, A 2, c.
AFTER EXPOUNDING THE ORDER IN THE DIVINE ESSENCE, in the texts quoted in the first part of this essay, Cardinal Newman turned to the mystery of the Blessed Trinity: How strong, how severe, how infinitely indivisible, must be that Unity of God, which is not compromised by the truth of His being Three! How surpassing is that Unity of substance which remains untroubled and secure, though it is occupied and possessed wholly and unreservedly, not only by the Father, but also by the Son; not only by Father and Son, but by the Holy Ghost also! And, moreover, as there is a subordination, as I have said, of attribute to attribute, without any detriment to the infinitude of each of them individually, and this is the glory of the God of Nature; so also does an order, and, as I may say, a subordination exist between Person and Person, and this is the incommunicable glory of the God of Grace.32 We have considered how the unity of order among creatures is a reflection of the Goodness of the Divine Essence, dare we say, in the light of Newman’s words, that it is also a reflection even of the Holy Trinity? “Indeed,” the Second Vatican Council teaches, the Lord Jesus, when He prayed to the Father, “that all may be one. . . as we are one” (John 17:21-22) opened up vistas closed to human reason, for He implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons, and the unity of God’s sons in truth and charity.33 What is the connection between the good of order and “the unity of God’s sons in truth and charity”? We considered St. Thomas’s account of the beauty of creation as harmony, or order, in his commentary on Pseudo-Dionysius, in another part of the same work he says the following about harmony: Everything that in some way belongs to harmony comes from the divine beauty… the agreements of all rational creatures in respect to the intellect exist because of the divine beauty; and friendships in respect to affection, and communion with respect to acts and anything extrinsic. In general all creatures, to the degree in which they have union, have union from the power of (God’s) beauty. 34
Order, the Witness and Instrument of Unity (Sermons Preached on Various Occasions, pp. 185-186). Gaudium et Spes, 24. 34 Commentary on Denys the Areopagite On the Divine Names, n. 349. 9
In the harmony of love between rational creatures the order of the universe becomes truly peace: the tranquility of order. But the Sacred Council continues, “This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.”35 What does this mean? A distinguished theologian at the Council— who today holds the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven—has given us a text which is helpful. He describes how “the sons of God” are to be likened to the Son of God: When it thus becomes clear that the being of Jesus as Christ is a completely open being, a being “from” and “towards,” that nowhere clings to itself and nowhere stands on its own, then it is also clear at the same time that this being is pure relation (not substantiality) and, as pure relation pure unity. This fundamental statement about Christ becomes, as we have seen, at the same time the explanation of Christian existence… being a Christian means being like the Son, becoming a son; that is, not standing on one’s own and in oneself, but living completely open in the “from” and “towards.”36 Man is called to be radically oriented to a good outside of himself: not to stand on his own, but to find himself through “a sincere gift of himself.” And in this radical ordering outward he is an image of the Eternal Son. But the call to live completely in the “from” and “towards” carries with it a risk: the risk that the creature will prefer to live for himself alone—the risk of sin. Every sin occurs when a lesser good is sought against a higher.37 Now everything desires its own perfection and cannot desire the contrary. Therefore, since God’s perfection is the highest good, the highest end, God cannot sin. Creatures, on the other hand, are ordered to a good greater than their own perfection: to God Himself, and to peace, “the manifestation of God.” It is therefore possible for a creature to turn away from the higher and more
Gaudium et Spes, 24. J. Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, (New York: Herder and Herder, 1970), p.134. 37 C.f. Summa Contra Gentiles, III, 109: “Just as there is an order in active causes, so also in final causes, such that the secondary end depends on the principal end, as the secondary agent depends on the principal agent. But a defect occurs in active causes when the secondary agent falls out of the order fixed by the principal agent; thus, when the leg, from being bent, fails to execute the motion that was commanded by the appetitive virtue, this fault causes defective walking. Therefore likewise for final causes, each time the secondary end recedes from the order of the principal end, the will is at fault.”
common good in favor of his private good—even though he thereby loses even his proper good. 38 Lucifer turned away from God towards his private good; he was too proud to submit to and serve a common good,39 a good which was not ordered to himself. Above all it was the intrinsic common good of peace that he would not submit to. “The very idea of order implies the idea of the subordinate,” says Cardinal Newman, thus he who loves the order of peace loves his own subordination; he loves to be bound, to others, to serve the whole. And this is above all what the proud Lucifer cannot abide: “I have broken my yoke, I have broken bonds, I have said: I will not serve.” (c.f. Jer 2:20) Thus the sin of Lucifer is a sin against peace: “And there was war in heaven.” (Rev 12:7) This turning of Lucifer away from the common good, that which has most the account of “desirable,” towards his private good remain a mystery; as does the fall of all those whom he tempted from the demons to our first parents. But equally mysterious is that the God of Infinite Mercy, “the giver of every good gift,” Who is perfectly able to give all creatures sufficient and overabundant grace to chose the good, should have allowed creatures to chose evil. The Universal Doctor does, however, show us how we can at least approach this mystery: It is otherwise with one who has care of a particular thing, and one whose providence is universal, because a particular provider excludes all defects from what is subject to his care as far as he can; whereas, one who provides universally allows some little defect to remain, lest the good of the whole should be hindered… Since God, then, provides universally for all being, it belongs to His providence to permit certain defects in particular effects, that the perfect good of the universe may
C.f. De Koninck, On the Primacy of the Common Good, p. 42: “God’s dignity is the only dignity which is identical to his being and hence infallible. Because no other agent is its own ultimate end, and because the proper end of all other beings can be ordered to a higher end, the rational creature is fallible and can lose its dignity; its dignity is not assured except insofar as it remains in the order of the whole and acts according to this order. Unlike irrational creatures, the rational creature must keep itself in the order which is established independently of itself; but to remain in this order is to submit oneself to it and allow oneself to be measured by it; dignity is thus connected to order, and to place oneself outside of it is to fail of one’s dignity.” 39 C.f. Ibid., Foreward: “[Lucifer] preferred his proper good to the common good, to a beatitude which was participated and common to many; he refused this latter because it was participated and common… by this invitation to participate he felt injured in his proper dignity. ‘Taking hold of their proper dignity (the fallen angels) desired their 'singularity,' which is most proper to those who are proud.’ (John of St. Thomas, Curs. Theol. ed. Vives, V. IV, d. 23, n. 3, nn. 34-5)” 11
not be hindered, for if all evil were prevented, much good would be absent from the universe. A lion would cease to live, if there were no slaying of animals; and there would be no patience of martyrs if there were no tyrannical persecution. Thus Augustine says (Enchiridion 2): “Almighty God would in no wise permit evil to exist in His works, unless He were so almighty and so good as to produce good even from evil.”40 “O happy fault,” sings the Church, “O necessary sin of Adam, which brought for us so great a Redeemer.”41 The principle reason why God allowed Satan to fall, and to tempt our first parents to fall, was to allow for the greatest manifestation of his Goodness and Mercy: the Redemption of the world. The work of the Redemption is the very opposite of the sin of Lucifer. “Though He was in the form of God, He did not account equality with God something to be grasped at, but emptied Himself, taking on the form of a servant.” (Phil 2:6) He, who is the Good which absolutely transcends the order of the universe, subjected Himself to that order, becoming a servant of it, “being born in the likeness of men.” He was bound “in bands of cloth,” (Lk 2:7) and was subject to His own creatures: Et erat subditus illis. (Lk 2:52)42 “Glory to God in Heaven, and on earth peace to men of good will.” (Lk 2:14) The mission of the Christ is to give glory to God by restoring peace on earth. And His love of the order of peace is manifested by all of his actions on earth. Cardinal Newman has shown this in masterful manner from the sending of the Apostles (Luke 9:2-4): “These words…may be called the ceremonial with which the preachers of the New Law were ordered to go forward…their very dress, their carriage, and their journeying, were anticipated for them, and were to be of one kind, not of another.” 43 They show, “how utterly contrary it is to the character and spirit of the Divine Appointments to do anything without order and prescription… the Apostle’s rule is to be verified: Non est dissentionis Deus sed pacis.”44 “He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2:8) The meek one, the lover of peace, suffered the punishment of a rebel, a disturber of the peace; He who “did not regard equality with God something to be grasped at” died the death of a proud grasper after kingship. Thus He restored peace between God and man, “and therefore God hath
Summa Theologiae, Ia, Q. 22, A. 2, ad 2. Exsultet. 42 C.f. Cardinal Newman’s comments on these texts from Luke’s gospel in the sermon Omnipotence in Bonds (Sermons Preached on Various Occasions, pp. 74-90). 43 Order, the Witness and Instrument of Unity (Sermons Preached on Various Occasions, p. 183-184). 44 Ibid. 12
highly exalted Him.” (Phil 2:9) But He did not win this exaltation for Himself (He had no need of it), but for those purchased by His blood. He unites those whom He has saved in His mystical body so that they can be raised with Him. He forms them, through the grace which He has won, into a new creation, His City. “Man, through grace,” writes St. Thomas, “becomes as it were a citizen and a sharer in this blessed society which is called the heavenly Jerusalem.” Now, “When man becomes a citizen of a state, certain virtues are suitable, necessary even, for doing those things which are a citizen’s duty.”45 Thus Christ raises the elect into His City by infusing the virtues of His grace— a share in life of God. The virtue that is above all necessary to be a part of a city is to love the common good of the city as common: To love the good of a city in order to appropriate it and possess it for oneself is not what the good political man does; for thus it is that the tyrant, too, loves the good of the city, in order to dominate it, which is to love oneself more than the city; in effect it is for himself that the tyrant desires this good, and not for the city. But to love the good of the city in order that it be conserved and defended, this is truly to love the city, and it is what the good political man does, even so that, in order to conserve or augment the good of the city, he exposes himself to the danger of death and neglects his private good. Thus to love the good in which the blessed participate in order to acquire or possess it does not make man well disposed towards it, for the evil envy this good also; but to love it in itself, in order that it be conserved and spread, and so that nothing be done against it, this is what makes man well disposed to this society of the blessed; and this is charity, to love God for himself, and the neighbor who is capable of beatitude as oneself.46 Charity is what is most necessary for the building of the City of God, and it is what Christ has chiefly taught us. Therefore, St. Paul writes, “Let each of you look not only to his own good, but also to the good of others. Have this in mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God etc.” (Phil 2:5-6) The peace of the Heavenly Jerusalem, which will not come in its full flower till the second coming, is already present “in mystery,” 47 in the Holy Church. “Behold, how good and pleasant it is,” sings the Psalmist,
De Caritate, 2, c. Ibid. 47 C.f. Gaudium et Spes, 39. 13
When brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down upon the beard, Upon the beard of Aaron, Running down to the very skirts of his robe. (Psalm 132:1-2). By this he means that, the peace of the Church comes from the oil of Divine grace, flowing from her divine Head, the Christ, and descending through the ordered ranks of the hierarchy to “the very skirts of his robe.” Already now the Church can say, “He hath made my borders peace; he hath filled me with finest wheat.” (c.f. Psalm 147:3) This takes place above all in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass when, through the hands of the bishops and priests, the faithful are sacramentaly united to their Divine Head. How fittingly the Church prays immediately before communion: Domine Iesu Christe, qui dixisti Apostolus tuis: pacem relinquo vobis, pacem meam do vobis: ne respicias peccata nostra, sed fidem Ecclesiae tuae; eamque secundum voluntatem tuam pacificare et coadunare digneris. In our monastery this prayer is followed by a beautiful representation of what is about to take place in Holy Communion: the Abbot gives the osculum pacis from the altar to the oldest concelebrants, and it passes from them through the whole community according to rank, sicut unguentum quod descendit. And yet, St. Paul tells us, these are but the first fruits of the Spirit: “we groan inwardly as we await the adoption as sons.” (Rom 8:23) We have not yet reached the final peace; we are still at war. “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth,” says our Lord, “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Mat 10:34) The life of the Christian is a war against the world the flesh and the Devil. Against the world which seeks to make us conform to its wisdom, its peace. For, the children of this world must have some kind of peace, if they are to have anything at all. It is an arrangement by which each seeks to order all to his private good. (The Devil, as Dr. Johnson remarked, was the first Whig; he understood the principle of, “self-interest well understood.”48) Against the flesh which rebels against our internal order, bringing strife to the microcosm of our nature, and pulling us away from what is common to the private good. And most of all against the Devil, who whispers in our ears: “do not be a servant, do not live in chains; be free, be a god, order all to yourself.”
C.f. Thomas Waldstein, Unity, Order, and Peace: On the Superiority of Traditional Hereditary Monarchy Over Modern Liberal Democracy, (Santa Paula: Thomas Aquinas College, 2006), p. 33. 14
St. Augustine teaches that war is always for the sake of peace; those who break the peace for war do it for the sake of a better peace.49 The better peace that we fight for has already been won, by He who sits at the right hand of the Majesty in Heaven till all His enemies are put under His feet. He will come in glory and hand over to the Father, “a kingdom eternal and universal, a kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice love and peace.” 50 From that day on, the glorious array, washed white in the blood of the lamb, drawn up by Him into the very life of the Blessed Trinity, will sing eternal praise to God; the Apostles, the Patriarchs and Prophets, the Martyrs and Confessors, drawn up in one order with the nine choirs of Angels. Then shall God look on that order and see an image of His Glory, and He shall say, “Thou art beautiful as Thersa, my beloved, graceful as Jerusalem, terrible as an army arrayed for battle.” (Song 6:10) And that is what St. Augustine saw in the words, “He hath strengthened the bars of thy gates; He hath blessed thy sons within thee; who hath made thy ends peace:” For when the bars of her gates shall be strengthened, none shall go in or come out from her; consequently we ought to understand the peace of her ends as that final peace we are wishing to declare.51 In that peace material creation, which now “groans in travail” will share: “creation itself will be free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the sons of God.” (Rom 18:21) Purified by fire it will contribute to the beauty of the New Creation, “so that in all things God might be glorified through Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet 4:11) ENVOI LET US THEREFORE love the good of peace, and submit ourselves wholly to it. Let us not imitate the pride of Satan, who despised this good, but rather the humility of Christ. Let us not listen to the proud one who sought to usurp the glory of God, but to our humble Father Bernard, whose voice now rings in our ears: Shall a man be jealous of his own glory and yet dare to wish to defraud God of his, as if God were indifferent? But God says otherwise: “I will not yield my glory to another.” (Is 48:11) “But what will you give to us,
Vide: De Civitate Dei, XIX, 12. Gaudium et Spes, 39; the Council is quoting the Preface of the Feast of Christ the King. 51 De Civitate Dei, XIX., Ch. 11. 15
O Lord, what will you give to us?” “Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you.” (Jn 14:27) “It is enough for me; I accept gratefully what you give and I give up what you keep for yourself. This contents me, I do not doubt that it is for my advantage. I renounce all claim to glory lest by usurping what you do not permit, I may deservedly lose what you offer. I wish for peace, I yearn for it and for nothing more. The man who is not satisfied with peace is not satisfied with you. For you are our peace, you have made us both one. (Eph 2:14) To be reconciled with you, to be reconciled with my self, this is necessary for me, and it suffices. For whenever you set me in opposition to yourself I become a burden to myself. (Job 7:20) I am on my guard, and I will neither be ungrateful for the gift of peace nor intrude sacrilegiously on your glory. May your glory remain yours, O Lord, in undiminished splendor; all will be well with me if I have your peace.52 Let us pray that we might have that peace. Let us, “work out our salvation in fear and trembling,” that we might not be confounded forever with the proud, but exalted with the humble. “For God resists the proud, but exalts the humble.” Let pray that we may not serve the final peace only by violent punishment in Hell; where the proud are trampled under foot to manifest the justice of God, and contribute to the beauty of the last order, as St. Augustine somewhere says, “as shadows contribute to the beauty of a picture.” Let us pray that instead we may be found humble enough to be exalted to share in that peace as sons of God; to share peace with the elect company of those whom God has predestined from before the foundation of the world to the manifestation of His Infinite Mercy; those of whom the Psalmist sings, “He has not dealt thus with any other nation,” (Psalm 147:20) and who eternally follow his exhortation: Lauda, Jerusalem, Dominum; Colauda Deum tuum, Sion. Quoniam confortavit seras portarum tuarum, Benedixit filiis tuis in te. Qui posuit fines tuos pacem...
St. Bernard of Clairvaux, On the Song of Songs I, (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1971) Sermon 13, VI, pp. 90-91. 16