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On the Christian Idea of Man
By Josef Pieper
THE secondpartofthe Summa Theologicaofthe"Universal Doctor,"
ThomasAquinas,beginswith the followingsentence:Because man has beencreatedin God'simage,now after havingspokenof God, the we archetype, must still deal with His image whichis man. (Summa TheologicaI, II, Prologus.) There is somethingpeculiarabout this sentence;its meaningmust not be misunderstood. It is stated as a matterof fact but its meaningis not to be taken for granted. This first sentenceof Moral Theology expressesa fact which has almost from of of entirely disappeared the knowledge Christians today;namely, the fact that moraldoctrineis primarily aboveall a doctrineabout and mustplainlyrevealthe conception man,and of man;thatmoraldoctrine the moralsmustconcern Christhe that, therefore, doctrineof Christian tian modelof man. This fact was a matterof coursein'the Christianity of the high Middle Ages. This fundamental conception-which, to be sure,was not definitely takenfor grantedas the polemical wording after St. Thomas: shows-compelled Eckhartto say two generations peopleshouldnot thinkaboutwhatthey oughtto do, they shouldrather thinkaboutwhatthey oughtto be. But lateron Moral Theologyand above all Moral preaching and expositionhave more or less lost this awareness. This is so true that textbooksof Moral Theology, which to explicitly professed be written"in the spiritof St. Thomas"differed with him on this main point. Here lies the root of the fact that the of averageChristian; today does not expect to find in moraldoctrine anythingabout the true being of man or anythingabout the idea of man at all. On the contrary, average the Christian wont to associate is with the conception"moraldoctrine" idea of a doctrineaboutthe the deed and especiallyabout the omission, about the permissible and aboutthe impermissible, aboutwhat is biddenand especially especially aboutwhatis forbidden. But the first moralthesisof the "Universal Doctor"remains:moraldoctrine mustdeal with the trueconception of man. Naturallyit must also treatof actions,of duties, of commandmentsand of sins. But its primary subjectis the rightbeing of man, the idea of the good man. The resolution this problem the Christian of of idea of man can be in one sentence, even in one word: Christ. The Christian given ought
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he to be another of like Christ; oughtto be perfect the Father Jesus of Christ. Butthisideaof theperfection the Christian, all-comprehenneeds sive and, therefore, and inexhaustible, to be analyzed, applied Without interpretation fromtheempirical such proceeding interpreted. of be to nature manandreality, ideawouldalways exposed the this of abuse misunderstanding, by short-circuiting.is caused It and danger in the concrete the to action situadirectly concrete impossible derive idea tion fromthe highest ultimate of perfection."Beperfect and as in this of Father heaven."It is precisely formulation theultimate your in to the Council referred its famous ideaof a Christian which fourth Such a great similarity betweencreatorand creature cannotbe withoutat the sametime mentioning still greater mentioned a disThissentence directed is the of similarity. against possibility a direct of deification man. Man, the Christian, albeitthe perfect Christian, remains creature, finitebeing,even in eternal a a life. Now there is this Christian certainly morethanone wayof interpreting ultimate but idea, not only "theoretically" also historically.There are, for an and form instance, Eastern-Christian a Western-Christian of interpretation. ThomasAquinas,the greatteacher WesternChristianity, of decided marized follows: as non sentenceof the analogiaentis:Inter Creatorem creaturam potest et tanta similitudonotari,quin inter eos maiorsit dissimilitudo notanda.
to express Christian of manin seven the idea theses which be summay 1. The Christian a manwho-in faith-becomes is aware of theTriune God. 2. The Christian-in hope-waitsfor the finalfulfillment of hisnature theEternal in Life. 3. The Christian-in divinevirtue charity-inclines the of towards andhis fellowmen an affirmation God with exall natural of love. ceeding power 4. The Christian prudent, is, he doesnot permit is that the YesandNo of thewillto disturb viewof reality; his on thecontrary, makes Yes or No of thewilldepend he the on thetruth actual of things.
5. The Christian just, that is, he is able to live in truth is
"with other"; is conscious being member the he of a with
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others the Church, the nation,and in everycomin in
is 6. The Christian brave,that is, he is readyto suffer wounds if needbe, deathfor thesakeof truthand and, of therealization justice. that 7. The Christian moderate, is, he doesnot allowhis is willto haveandhiswillto enjoy destroy to himself. that Theseseventhesessuggest the ethicsof classical as theology, a of of an explanation the ideaof man,is essentially doctrine virtues. the of Moreexactly interpret Biblical of description theperfection they of the three of the Christian means the sevenfold image theological by to mostimportant reveal virtues. It is, I think, andthe fourcardinal of oncemoreto the general consciousness ourtimethis grandfresco of theideaof manas originally in a expressed classical theology, fresco whichhas fadedto someextentand-even worse-whichhas been over not painted manya time. This ideaof manis significant merely
as a matterof "historical" interest,as a matterof showing"how it was." This interpretation the ultimatehumanideal is one of actually that continuesto hold good and it is, I think,trulyessentialfor us to see clearlyand to acceptthis idea of man. I shall now try to mark
the contours thisimage, of above in the realm the fourcardinal all of at thosepointswhere image fadedor has the has virtues, particularly beenpainted over. At the outsetsomething must be said aboutthe conception of virtuein itself. A few yearsago, in a speech beforethe Academie Francaise virtue, on PaulValerysaid: "Virtue, the gentlemen, word is virtue dead,or at leastit is dying. It no longer itselfas a presents direct of of I expression a conceivable reality our time. Rather, have in heardit mentioned socialconversation rarely then in an and only ironical sense. ThiscouldmeanthatI mixwithbad company only, I unless addthatI don'tremember having ever foundvirtue today's in in mostoftenread most and esteemed.Furthermore books, those highly I do not knowof any paper which would it, prints nor,I am afraid, this riskprinting wordwithout humorous a intention.So it hascome aboutthatthe words'virtue' 'virtuous' be foundonly in the and can in the Academy in comicoperas."This diagnosis and of catechism, PaulValeryis undoubtedly correct.But thereis no reason be too to much it indicates entirely an surprised it. On theonehand, certainly by
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natural the fate phenomenon, natural of greatwords. On the other that rules hand,it is quitepossible in a de-christianized demoniacal era, of language effectively will the prevail.Accordingly, goodwillappear as ridiculous the "usage" a language.Apartfromthispossibility in of wemustnot forgetthatChristian moral literature moral and preaching havenot always it made veryeasyfor the average to perceive man the truesenseof the conception the reality virtue. of and Virtuedoesnot signifythe merecorrectness an isolated of action or omission.Rather virtuesignifies that man is rightin the supernatural natural and sense. Virtuemeansthe enhancing the being of of man. Virtue as Thomas theultimum is, says, potentiae (Quaest. disp. de virtutibus communi theultimate whatmanis ableto be. in of 17), The virtuous man "is"the manwho develops his goodness through deedsout of his innermost inclination substance.No less imand than and of is into portant the correct truenotion virtue a trueinsight the hierarchy the virtues. Today thereis muchtalk aboutthe of "heroic" character Christianity aboutthe "heroic" of or of conception life as the distinguishing characteristicChristian Suchexpressof life. ions are only half-true therefore and half-false.The first and disvirtue theChristian the supernatural of Godand of is love tinguishing And all the divinevirtuesare superior the cardinal to neighbour. virtues. And underthe cardinal virtues is not the first,but bravery thethird.
virtues ranks first. Prudence not is Amongthe cardinal prudence otherwise but birth" onlythe firstamong virtues; it "gives equivalent to all moral virtue. Thisthesis about priority prudence, true the of the of we able more meaning which arescarcely to conceive, expresses than a mere accidental of thecardinal virtues.As it is, it expresses sequence thefundamental constitution reality relation therealm ethics. of in to of Goodpresupposes andtruth truth presupposes reality. Forwhatdoes the priority prudence of mean? It means but nothing the realization of goodpresupposing awareness reality.The firstthingthatis the of of demanded anactive is thatheshould knowing, St. Thomas man be as card. says(Quaest. de virtutibus 17). Whoever notknow does the disp. truecondition realthingscannotdo good;for good is thatwhich of with reality. Naturally, here "knowledge" not mean complies does in the senseof the exact notions moder science.What of knowledge it doesmeanis realcontact withobjective for reality. This contact,
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instance, may be reached by a mode of revelation superior to the "scientific" mode. To prudence belongs also the quality of docility, which means an attentive submission to the genuine knowledge of a superiormind. In prudence the unbiased perceptionof reality is decisive for our actions. So the prudent person, on the one hand, looks at the objective reality of things, and on the other hand, concerns himself with the willing and doing. But it is the reality at which he looks in the first place. And then, in virtue of the knowledge of reality he decides what is to be done and what not, and how it should be done and how not. So, really, all virtue depends upon prudence. And somehow all sin contradictsprudence, omne peccatumopponitur prudentiae (Summa Theologica, II, II, 119, 37). Our habit of language, which is also our habit of thinking, has rather considerably deviated from this statement. According to our usage, prudence seems to be an evasion rather than a presupposition of good. It is hard for us to believe that it should always and necessarily be prudent to be just and true. And prudence and bravery above all seem to be most incompatible: to be brave is mostly imprudent. But we have to rememberthat the true sense of this connection is as follows: the just and the brave acting, all good acting, is not just and brave and good unless correspondingto the truth of real things; it is the virtue of prudence in which this truth of real things becomes effective, fertile and decisive. This doctrine of the priority of prudence has an immense "practical"importance. It includes, for instance, the educational principle that education and self-education aiming at moral development must be rooted in the virtue of prudence, that is to say, the ability to see objectively the realities surroundingour acts, and to make them decide our course of action. Furthermore,the classical doctrine of the virtue of prudence offers the only chance to overcome radically the phenomenon of "moralism." The substance of moralism, which most people regard as a thing peculiarly Christian,is that it severs what we are from what we ought to do, that it proclaimsa duty without perceiving and without showing that duty is rooted in what we are. On the contrary, the nucleus as well as the proper concern of the doctrine of prudence is as follows: to prove as necessary the coherence of what we ought to do with what we are; in the act of prudence what we ought to do is decided by what we are. Moralism says: good is what should be, because it should be. The doctrine of prudence says: good is what agrees with reality; it should be because it correspondswith reality. (It
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is perhaps to here innerconnection of important perceive thedistinctly "Christian" moralism moder voluntarism.) with And a third"practical"and"actual" The fundamental attitude pointmustbe intimated. of justness the senseof agreement reality),of objectivity, with as (in in the classical of doctrine prudence, summarized the in was expressed MiddleAges in the following bothgrandand a sentence, sentence if all things Wiseis man tasteto himas theyreally are. Now simple: it is an important of or, experience modern psychology moreexactly, of modern that psychotherapy a manto whomthingsdo not tasteas tastesin all things but because are,whoinstead they nothing himself he looksonlyat himself-thatthismanhas lost not onlythe realcafor (andforallmoral pacity justice virtue)butalsohispsychical sanity. Thusa wholegroupof psychical diseases substantially to such is due lack Suchexperience sanctions illumines and egotistic of objectivity. theethical realism thedoctrine thepriority prudence. of of of Prudence is oneof thespiritual where mysterious the connection between regions and between illness sinbecomes and visible. A psychosanity sanctity, which does not wilfully overlook themis likelyto see logicaltheory here. The ethical connections of doctrine prudence should verydeep be ableto illumine an amazing the central in notionof self-decepway tion (whichis nothing a lackof objectivity perceiving but in reality, andwhich rooted thewill). is in
Prudence justiceare morecloselyconnected and thanappears at firstsight. Justice, havesaid, theability livetruly we is to "with others." Now it is easy to see that this abilityto live in community (which the signifies abilityto live at all) depends nearly uponthe objective and of reality.Thismeans thisability that perception acknowledgment an objective is just;and lackof man depends uponprudence.Only and even of almost mean, in thevery objectivity injustice usage language, thesame thing. It is prudence which realcapacity beinggoodis rooted; in the for theprudent has,inpresupposition, capacity being man the for only good. Thisis whyprudence so high. Buttherank justice based ranks of is on the factthatjustice the highest truest is and modeof thisgoodness itself. Sucha statement be emphasized "Christian" must since middleclasspeoplehavefor somegenerations different proclaimed altogether and of thingsas the primary truecriterion a good man,specifically,
CHRISTIAN IDEA OF MAN
A so-called. goodmanis primarily Manasa member "morality" just. of thecommunity thetaskof realizing has justice.Onecanalmost say thatit is not so much individual represents the who justice(although, the and alonecan be "virtuous"), naturally, strictly speaking person but We, the socialentity,the people; which thatjustice the means is of theWe. perfection of on is based three fundaNow, thestructure eachcommonwealth mental and relations rightwe cansaythat are relations; if thesethree rulesin it. First, there themutual are of relations themembers; justice the justness theserelations of to the exchange justice of corresponds thereare the relations the whole of (justitiacommutativa). Second, to themembers; justness these the of relations to correspondsdistributive therearetherelations the inof justice (justitia Third, distributiva). dividual members the wholeWe; the justness theserelations to of corto responds "legal" justice(justitia legalis). Thesethingsmaysound as of verynatural, if theywerea matter course. But theyarenot a matter course. The socialdoctrine individualism, example, of of for seesonlyone of thesethreerelations, the mutual relations of namely, theindividual members. Individualism not acknowledge true does the of and it of independence the socialwhole, therefore knows no actual connection the individuals the whole, of thewholeto the inof to not of justice whichindividualism knowsof, if it is consistent.On the otherhand, anti-individualism createda "universalistic" has social doctrine whichfranklydeniesany existence relations of amonginas dividuals individuals, which, consequence, and in declares justitia the commutativa be an "individualistic to The of misconception." reality the "totalitarian state"showsthat suchan "academic is theory" not to inclined remain the levelof mere"theory"; coercive on its power admits relations individuals merely who hardly come "private" among as to the together functionariesserve endsof thestate. St. Thomas also life Aquinas saysthatthe wholemoral of manis boundto the bonum the closely commune; justitia legalis,therefore, has rank really a veryparticular andplace. Butwe mustnot overlook the ambiguity this statement St. Thomas. One of its senses of of is this: thereis a trueobligation the individual respect the of with to common weal,andthisobligation the man. Theother comprises whole senseis this: all individual virtue an importance the common has for weal. This means thatthe common wealneedsthe virtueof all individuals. And accordingly justitia commutativa the uniqueform the is
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that be unless individual the members the of dividuals, it cannot realized are good, not only just,but good, virtuous the most in community individual secret so to speak, and and, "private" way. IV Another error aboutjustice(at bottom but quiteliberalist not at all limited the era of liberalism) to declares: is possible be just it to without to aboutthe having be brave. This is not so muchan error of nature justice an error as about realstructure "this" the of in world, which is is in world constructed such justice to be realized.For"this" a manner justice, goodgenerally, that and couldnotbe successful its of ownaccord without fighting ready dieforit. Evilis mighty the to man, in "this" world:thisfactbecomes in manifest thenecessity fortitude for which means to readiness endure for the sakeof therealization injuries; of good. So, St. Augustine fortitude is anirrefutable itself witness says, of theexistence evilin theworld. Now.it is a badandfalseanswer of to the liberalist to believe it is possible be brave error that to without as Fortitude a virtue present where is is intended. being just. only justice Who is not justcannot brave the strict be in sense. Thomas Aquinas of Theosays: "Thepraise fortitude depends (Summa uponjustice" Thismeans:simultaneously praise I may II, logica, II, 123,12). anyone for his fortitude him only if I can praise for his justice. True is with connected thewillof justice. fortitude, therefore, essentially It is no lessimportant perceive the ideaof fortitude not to that is identical theideaof an aggressive with fearlessness all costs. There at evenis a sortof fearlessness is opposed thevirtue fortitude. which to of Herewe mustconsider placeoccupied fearin the structure the of by humanexistence. The common and mitigating of foreground-talk life on of of terrible. everyday is based thedenial theexistence anything The terrible pushed is backinto the realm mereappearances. of This effective noteffective) all times at findsa remarkmitigation, (or today ablecounterpart the factthatin thephilosophical, in and psychological literature ourtimeno conception sucha largepartas of poetical plays theconception fear. Another of of at counterpart thateveryday attempt human existence harmless "fearless"a newstoicism and is making which hasfoundan imposing human and formularepresentation a fascinating tion in literature.This new stoicism "proclaimed" all by a is above of the of group menwhoconsider events thelastwarsas a destruction whichincludes promise the threatof new, still greater the and and
CHRISTIAN IDEA OF MAN
And terrible, but apocalyptic catastrophes. the thesisis: life is always there nothing terrible a strong is so that mancouldnot endure with it of greatness.But if you readthe books,for example, ErnstJuenger, whois oneof themostremarkable of thisnew"Stoa," have heads you to agree nearly dreams these"adventurous that all of hearts" dreams are of anxiety. To thisquestion ultimate mostprofound the Christian and answer is: the notionof the fearof theLord. But this conception the runs riskof beingdepleted, of and deprived its reality, concealed the by Christian The common-consciousness. fearof theLordis notthesame as "respect" the absolute for God,but realfearin the strictsenseof theword. Thecommon of horror and signification fear, anxiety, fright, terror thattheyareall different is answers thedifferent to manners of the diminution being,the ultimate of which annihilation. of one is It is not at all thewayof Christian to denythe existence the of theology in fearsome human furthermore, Christian the of doctrine life does life; not say thatmanshould or mustnot fearthe fearsome.But the not Christian for theordotimoris; asksfor whatis really ultiasks he and of andhe is afraid fearing that is fearsome; mately perhaps which not at all really definitely and of and fearsome, afraid considering perhaps as harmless whichis definitely that fearsome.Thatwhichis properly fearsome comes this: thepossibility man's to of voluntarily separating himself fromhisultimate of being. Thisis theultimate of origin peril his existence.And it is man's of thispossible fear from separation the Ultimate of to the Origin being, which fearof theLordis theadequate answer.Thisfearwhich all life, accompanies human eventhatof the is saint,as a realpossibility, a fear that cannotbe overcome any by manner "heroism." the contrary, fearis the presupposition of On this of all genuine heroism.Thefearof theLordas a fearis to be endured andsuffered up to thedefinite of Life. When right security theEternal fortitude savesus fromlovingourlife in suchmanner we lose it that -then thisimplies thefearof theLord, a fearof losingEternal that as is the basisof all Christian fortitude. It shouldbe considered, Life, that however, the fearof the Lordis the negative of counterpart the loveof God. St. Augustine of hopeful says:all fearis thefeeling love. The fearof the Lordis the "fulfillment" the natural of of anxiety manwithrespect the diminution beingandof annihilation. to of All moral is a of goodness likewise sortof extension natural inclinations. And man fearsthe nihilby nature. And as the natural desirefor
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life in community accomplished the virtueof justice, as the is in and for natural is perfected the virtue magnadesire self-dependence in of for and is in nimity, as the natural impulse enjoyment perfected the virtueof temperance-so natural the of becomes anxiety annihilation alsodestructive, unless in perfected thefearof theLord. The factthat thefearof theLordin its proper as "timor form is filialis" a gift of the Ghostand not, as for example, with the cardinal the virtues, Holy natural fulfillment a natural of human thatonly faculty-thisfact implies realized is supernatural perfection ableto freemanfromthe tyranny of unsatisfied effect anxiety.As it is, thedestructive of thisunsatisfied and are not but anxiety its tyranny proved onlyin ethical spheres also in the sphere the natural of life-as psychiatry confirm. psychical may Hereis oncemore pointclearly a the of and revealing coherence sanity The distinctness, is limited the fact of this coto sanctity. however, herence:in whatprecise manner and aboveall sanityand sanctity and illnessare interwoven on whichtermsthis connection and guilt becomes effective-astatement about is hardly this possible.In anycase the "sanity" justice, magnanimity, temperance, fearof the of of of of Lordand of all virtueconsists theirconforming the objective in to bothnatural supernatural. and with is reality, Compliance reality the of and principle bothsanity goodness. V Earlier notedthatthe natural we desire enjoyment become for can destructive. factis concealed theliberalist This thesis:manis good. by liberalism, virtueof its mostfundamental Enlightened by presuppositionscouldnot acknowledge possible the existence manof a revolt in of inferior forcesagainst government mind;it denies the of spiritual thatmanhas lost the spontaneous orderof his nature inner through sin. fromthisaspect, virtue temperance the of original And so,judged nonsensical objectless.For the and necessarily passesfor something virtue temperance of thatthe above-mentioned destructive presupposes revoltof the sensesagainst mindis possible is perceived the and as of possible. This depletion the virtueof temperance enlightened by liberalism common the doctrine manyChristians willnot saythe of (I of doctrine theChurch, eventheology)hascountered an overnor by accentuation this veryvirtue. So for the Christian of common consciousness virtue temperance, its typical the of in forms chastity of and has the and abstinence, become conspicuous all-dominating of the trait
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Christian of man. Now this answer Christianity neverof idea has, a that remained childof its adversary, is, of liberalism. This theless, theliberalistic-individualistic becomes manidependence upon adversary of fest in so far as the virtue temperance the most"private" is among thefourcardinal as refers virtues; temperance to the individual an individual.So the most"private" virtuepasses the mostChristian for virtue. classical In character temperof this however, "private" theology, ancewastheveryreason declaring virtue be thelastinstead for this to of thefirstof thefourcardinal virtues. The overvaluation temperance hadveryconsiderable of has effects andextensions.The fact,for example, in oureveryday that usageof thewords "inclination" have "desire," language "sensuality," "passion," a received verynegative neutral meaning although they are ethically is due of But conceptions, partly to thisovervaluation temperance. if is meantsensuality revolting as by the word"sensuality" exclusively bad and againstthe spirit,and by "passion" exclusively passion, by "desire" mutinous desire-then course, of there no names are exclusively leftforthenon-mutinous which Thomas St. to sensuality, says,belongs virtue. And this defectof the usageof language inclines strongly toward dangerous a of confusion notions, evenof life itself. On the otherhand,this defectof the usuageof language arisen has froma confusion notions of life. of and it fromthe Summa Perhaps maybe good to cite herean example which schows whatthe "Universal Doctor" thinks this of Theologica matter. It is an example, a principle, an example not but which illustrates principle.In the Summa a I, (Summa Theologica Theologica, is II, 22-48)there a chapter about passiones the the of animae, passions suchas love,hate,desire, fear sadness, andanger. Oneof the delight, of this chapterdeals with the twenty-five approximately questions "remedies against griefand sadness" (Summa I, Theologica II, 38). In fivespecial articles Thomas St. enumerates suchremedies. five Beforementioning themwe should to posethe question: like Whatinformation couldbe giventodayby the moralcommon consciousness of Christianity the the of concerning "remedies against sadness soul?" the himself. The firstgeneral Everyone answer question may remedy mentioned St. Thomas anysortof delight, sadness likea is: for is by weariness the soul,but delight likea rest. The second of is remedy: tears! Thethird thecompassion friends.The fourth:the of remedy:
the soul. The expression involvesall motionsof the sensuousfaculty,
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of is contemplation truth(which moreableto alleviate griefthe more a manloves As to thefifthremedy mentioned St. Thomas, wisdom). by we should bearin mindthatwe havea textbook theology of before us, not one. The fifthremedy andcertainly an ordinary sadness against of soulis: sleeping bathing, a sleepanda bathcause feeling for and a of well-being thebodywhich return in in reacts uponthesoul. Naturis with and ally,St. Thomas wellacquainted thepossibilities necessities of a supernatural of he overcoming humansorrow; is even of the that of sorrow which can opinion thereareformsand degrees human be overcome supernatural But St. Thomas, the on only by energies. otherhand,does not thinkof puttingasidenatural possibilities-for and example, sleeping bathing.Andhe doesnotat all feelembarrassed to speak aboutthemin the midstof a theological discourse. VI All fourof thecardinal fortitude, virtues-prudence, justice, temperance-are principally with the naturalsphereof human connected virtues growout of thefertile of reality. Butas Christian they ground andcharity.Faith, are andcharity the answer the to faith,hope hope of is to revealed theChrisGod,which supernaturally reality theTriune tianbytherevelation Jesus of Christ.And thethree virtues theological arenot onlythe answer thatreality, theyareat the sametime to but thefaculty thesource thisanswer; arenot theanswer and of itself they but theyare,so to speak, the mouthwhichaloneis ableto give also this answer.All threetheological virtues closelyconnected are with eachother;"theyare,"as St. Thomas in his tractabouthope, says back in "flowing intothemselves a holyring;whoby hopehasbeenled to charity alsoa more has than perfect hope, as hisfaithis stronger just before" (Quaest. disp.de spe,3 ad 1). As thecardinal are virtues rooted thetheological in virtues superthe natural ethosof the Christian differs fromthe natural ethos of the that nobleman. This originitself,the gentleman, is, the naturally manner means thecoherence natural supernatural and of of and virtue, is expressed the well-known in sentence gracedoes not destroy that nature presupposes perfects Thissentence but and it. seems be very to clearandreally so. But its clearness is cannot affectthe impossibility of making mystery a statement. And there comprehensiblea simple by is nothing more thanthemanner which in Godactsin man, mysterious andmanin God.
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betweena Christianand a gentleman Nevertheless,the difference becomesclearlymanifestand in many ways. The Christiancan, for to to because his acting in example, appear act contrary natural prudence he must conformto realities whichonly faith perceives. Incidentally, about this supernatural prudenceSt. Thomas has writtena sentence I think, is particularly which, importantfor the Christianof today. St. Thomas says, "the naturalvirtue of prudencepre"Obviously," supposesquite a degree of acquiredknowledge." Now, when the manner the cardinal theologicalvirtues augment in a supernatural virtues,what aboutprudence? Does gracereplacethe naturalknowlthe estimateof edge of naturalthings? Does faith supersede objective the concretesituationor the concretedeed, or does it replaceit? In this case, how can graceand faith be useful to the "plainman,"who does not possessthisknowledge whichis sometimes rather difficult? To thesequestions Thomasgives, I thinka quitegrand,and also most St. consoling,answer: "The men who requirethe adviceand counselof others can, providingthey are in a state of grace, advise themselves in so far as they ask for the adviceof otherpeoplei that they (this and is most important)are able to distinguish good counselfrom a bad a one" (SummaTheologica,II, II, 47, 3). If they are in the state of is in grace! It goeswithoutsayingwhythisanswer consoling the present situationof the plain Christian. The difference betweena Christianand a gentlemanis especially evidentin the gap dividingChristian fortitude from the naturalbravery of the gentleman. This point really closes the consideration the of Christian idea of man. The difference betweena Christian fortitude and a merelynaturalfortitudelies eventuallyin the theologicalvirtue of hope. All hope says: it will turn out well, it will end well. Supernaturalhope says: for the man who stays in the realityof grace it will turn out well in a mannerwhichinfinitely exceedsall expectation; for this man it will end with nothingless than EternalLife. Now it may come to pass that in an era of to temptation despair, all imminent and secularprospects a "happyend" become for gloomy. So it can come to pass that there is nothing left to the naturalman limitedto naturethanthe desperate fortitude an "heroic of end." And the will particularly true gentleman considerthis way as the only possibility; for he of all personswill be able to renouncethe "wayout of (as happiness" ErnstJuenger it says). In short,sometimes mayhappen that supernatural remainsthe unique possibilityof hope at all. hope
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it is in This is not to be understood anysenseof "eudaemonism," not The a question anxiety of a of about lastpossibility subjective happiness. He kill me,neverthelessshallhopein Him" I Biblical sentence "May a about No, (Job,13,15.) is farfrom "eudaemonic" anxiety happiness. the Christian of hopeis firstand aboveall theexistential adjustment to of manto fulfillment, the ultimate to realization, the fullness being the of or of (to which,of course, fullness happiness rather beatitude If then all natural sometimes become senseless, corresponds). hopes it means supernatural formanremains theunique that hope truly possihis of fortitude the "heroic bilityof adjusting being. The desperate end"is at bottom since that the "nihilistic," it believes it cansuffer unknown. Christian is fortitude, however, fed by hopefor the abundant of and Life,for a newheaven for a new reality Life,for the Eternal earth.
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