On Union with God, by Albertus Magnus

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Re: On Union with God, by Albertus Magnus

Postby admin » Tue Mar 27, 2018 7:33 am

CHAPTER IX: THE CONTEMPLATION OF GOD IS TO BE PREFERRED ABOVE ALL OTHER EXERCISES

Whatever exists outside of God is the work of His hands. Every creature is, therefore, a blending together of the actual and the possible, and as such is in its nature limited. Born of nothing, it is surrounded by nothingness, and tends to nothingness.[40]

Of necessity the creature depends each moment upon God, the supreme Artist, for its existence,[58] preservation, power of action, and all that it possesses.

It is utterly unable to accomplish its own work, either for itself or for another, and is impotent as a thing which is not before that which is, the finite before the infinite. It follows, therefore, that our life, thoughts, and works should be in Him, of Him, for Him, and directed to Him, Who by the least sign of His will could produce creatures unspeakably more perfect than any which now exist.

It is impossible that there should be in the mind or heart a thought or a love more profitable, more perfect or more blessed than those which rest upon God, the Almighty Creator, of Whom, in Whom, by Whom, towards Whom all tend.

He suffices infinitely for Himself and for others, since from all[59] eternity He contains within Himself the perfections of all things. There is nothing within Him which is not Himself. In Him and by Him exist the causes of all transitory things; in Him are the immutable origins of all things that change, whether rational or irrational.

All that happens in time has in Him its eternal principle.

He fills all; He is in all things by His essence, by which He is more present and more near to them than they are to themselves.[41]

In Him all things are united and live eternally.[42] It is true that the weakness of our understanding or our want of experience[43] may oblige[60] us to make use of creatures in our contemplation, yet there is a kind of contemplation which is very fruitful, good, and real, which seems possible to all. Whether he meditates on the creature or the Creator, every man may reach the point at which he finds all his joy in His Creator, God, One in Trinity, and kindles the fire of Divine love in himself or in others, so as to merit eternal life.

We should notice here the difference which exists between the contemplation of Christians and that of pagan philosophers. The latter sought only their own perfection, and hence their contemplation affected their intellect only; they desired only to enrich their minds with knowledge. But the[61] contemplation of Saints, which is that of Christians, seeks as its end the love of the God Whom they contemplate. Hence it is not content to find fruit for the intelligence, but penetrates beyond to the will that it may there enkindle love.

The Saints desired above all in their contemplation the increase of charity.

It is better to know Jesus Christ and possess Him spiritually by grace, than, without grace, to have Him in the body, or even in His essence.

The more pure a soul becomes and the deeper her recollection, the clearer will be her inward vision. She now prepares, as it were, a ladder upon which she may ascend to the contemplation of God. This contemplation will set her on fire with love for all that is heavenly, Divine, eternal,[62] and will cause her to despise as utter nothing all that is of time.

When we seek to arrive at the knowledge of God by the method of negation, we first remove from our conception of Him all that pertains to the body, the senses, the imagination. Then we reject even that which belongs to the reason, and the idea of being as it is found in creatures.[44] This, according to St. Denis, is the best means of attaining to the knowledge of God,[45] as far as it is possible in this world.

This is the darkness in which God dwells and into which Moses[63] entered that he might reach the light inaccessible.[46]

But we must begin, not with the mind, but with the body. We must observe the accustomed order, and pass from the labour of action to the repose of contemplation, from the moral virtues to those of sublime contemplation.[47]

Why, O my soul, dost thou vainly wear thyself out in such multiplicity of things? Thou findest in them but poverty.

[64]Seek and love only that perfect good which includes in itself all good, and it will suffice thee. Unhappy art thou if thou knowest and possessest all, and art ignorant of this. If thou knewest at the same time both this good and all other things, this alone would render thee the happier. Therefore St. John has written: "This is eternal life: that they may know thee,"[48] and the Prophet: "I shall be satisfied when thy glory shall appear."[49]
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Re: On Union with God, by Albertus Magnus

Postby admin » Tue Mar 27, 2018 7:34 am

CHAPTER X: THAT WE SHOULD NOT BE TOO SOLICITOUS FOR ACTUAL AND SENSIBLE DEVOTION, BUT DESIRE RATHER THE UNION OF OUR WILL WITH GOD

Seek not too eagerly after the grace of devotion, sensible sweetness and tears, but let thy chief care be to remain inwardly united to God by good will in the intellectual part of the soul.[50]

[66]Of a truth nothing is so pleasing to God as a soul freed from all trace and image of created things. A true religious should be at liberty from every creature that he may be wholly free to devote himself to God alone and cleave to Him. Deny thyself, therefore, that thou mayest follow Christ, thy Lord and God, Who was truly poor, obedient, chaste, humble, and suffering, and Whose life and death were a scandal to many, as the Gospel clearly shows.[51]

The soul, when separated from the body, troubles not as to what becomes of the shell it has abandoned—it may be burnt, hanged, spoken evil of; and the soul is not afflicted by these outrages,[52] but thinks only of eternity[67] and of the one thing necessary, of which the Lord speaks in the Gospel.[53]

So shouldst thou regard thy body, as though the soul were already freed from it. Set ever before thine eyes the eternal life in God, which awaits thee, and think on that only good of which the Lord said: "One thing is necessary."[54] A great grace will then descend upon thy soul, which will aid thee in acquiring purity of mind and simplicity of heart.

And, indeed, this treasure is close at thy doors. Turn from the images and distractions of earth, and quickly shalt thou find it with thee and learn what it is to be united to God without hindrance or impediment.

Then wilt thou gain an unshaken constancy, which will strengthen[68] thee to endure all that may befall thee.

Thus was it with the martyrs, the Fathers, the elect, and all the blessed. They despised all and thought only of possessing in God eternal security for their souls.

Thus armed within and united to God by a good will, they despised all that is of this world, as though their soul had already departed from the body.

Learn from them how great is the power of a good will united to God.

By that union of the soul with God it becomes, as it were, cut off from the flesh by a spiritual separation, and regards the outward man from afar as something alien to it.

Then, whatever may happen inwardly or in the body will be as little regarded as though it had befallen[69] another person or a creature without reason.

He who is united to God is but one mind with Him.

Out of regard, therefore, for His sovereign honour, never be so bold as to think or imagine in His presence what thou wouldst blush to hear or see before men.

Thou oughtest, moreover, to raise all thy thoughts to God alone, and set Him before thine inward gaze, as though He alone existed. So wilt thou experience the sweetness of Divine union and even now make a true beginning of the life to come.
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Re: On Union with God, by Albertus Magnus

Postby admin » Tue Mar 27, 2018 7:34 am

CHAPTER XI: IN WHAT MANNER WE SHOULD RESIST TEMPTATION AND ENDURE TRIALS

He who with his whole heart draws nigh unto God must of necessity be proved by temptation and trial.

When the sting of temptation is felt, by no means give thy consent, but bear all with patience, sweetness, humility, and courage.

If thou art tempted to blasphemy or any shameful sin, be well assured thou canst do nothing better than to utterly despise and contemn such thoughts. Blasphemy is indeed sinful, scandalous,[71] and abominable, yet be not anxious about such temptations, but rather despise them, and do not let thy conscience be troubled by them. The enemy will most certainly be put to flight if thou wilt thus contemn both him and his suggestions. He is too proud to endure scorn or contempt. The best remedy is, therefore, to trouble no more about these thoughts than we do about the flies which, against our will, dance before our eyes. Let not the servant of Christ thus easily and needlessly lose sight of his Master's presence, nor let him grow impatient, murmur, or complain of these flies; I mean these light temptations, suspicions, sadness, depression, pusillanimity—mere nothings which a good will can put to flight by an elevation of the soul to God.

By a good will man makes God[72] his Master, and the holy Angels his guardians and protectors.

Good will drives away temptation as the hand brushes away a fly.

"Peace," therefore, "to men of good will."[55]

In truth no better gift than this can be offered to God.

Good will in the soul is the source of all good, the mother of all virtues. He who possesses it, possesses without fear of loss all he needs to live a good life.[56]

[73]If thou desirest what is good and art not able to accomplish it, God will reward thee for it as though thou hadst performed it.[57]

[74]

He has established as an eternal and unchangeable law that merit should lie in the will, and that upon the will should depend our future of Heaven or hell, reward or punishment.[58]

Charity itself consists in nothing else but a strong will to serve God, a loving desire to please Him, and a fervent longing to enjoy Him.

Forget not, therefore, temptation is not sin, but rather the means of proving virtue. By it man may gain great profit,[59] and this the[75] more inasmuch as "the life of man upon earth is a warfare."[60]
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Re: On Union with God, by Albertus Magnus

Postby admin » Tue Mar 27, 2018 7:34 am

CHAPTER XII: THE POWER OF THE LOVE OF GOD

All that we have hitherto described, all that is necessary for salvation, can find in love alone its highest, completest, most beneficent perfection.

Love supplies all that is wanting for our salvation; it contains abundantly every good thing, and lacks not even the presence of the supreme object of our desires.

It is by love alone that we turn to God, are transformed into His likeness, and are united to Him, so that we become one spirit with Him, and receive by and from Him all our happiness: here in[77] grace, hereafter in glory. Love can find no rest till she reposes in the full and perfect possession of the Beloved.

It is by the path of love, which is charity, that God draws nigh to man, and man to God, but where charity is not found God cannot dwell. If, then, we possess charity we possess God, for "God is charity."[61]

There is nothing keener than love, nothing more subtle, nothing more penetrating. Love cannot rest till it has sounded all the depths and learnt the perfections of its Beloved. It desires to be one with Him, and, if it could, would form but one being with the Beloved. It is for this reason that it cannot suffer anything to intervene between it and the object loved, which is God, but springs[78] forward towards Him, and finds no peace till it has overcome every obstacle, and reached even unto the Beloved.

Love has the power of uniting and transforming; it transforms the one who loves into him who is loved, and him who is loved into him who loves. Each passes into the other, as far as it is possible.

And first consider the intelligence. How completely love transports the loved one into him who loves! With what sweetness and delight the one lives in the memory of the other, and how earnestly the lover tries to know, not superficially but intimately, all that concerns the object of his love, and strives to enter as far as possible into his inner life!

Think next of the will, by which also the loved one lives in him who loves. Does he not dwell in him[79] by that tender affection, that sweet and deeply-rooted joy which he feels? On the other hand, the lover lives in the beloved by the sympathy of his desires, by sharing his likes and dislikes, his joys and sorrows, until the two seem to form but one. Since "love is strong as death,"[62] it carries the lover out of himself into the heart of the beloved, and holds him prisoner there.

The soul is more truly where it loves than where it gives life, since it exists in the object loved by its own nature, by reason and will; whilst it is in the body it animates only by bestowing on it an existence which it shares with the animal creation.[63]

[80]There is, therefore, but one thing which has power to draw us from outward objects into the depths of our own souls, there to form an intimate friendship with Jesus. Nothing but the love of Christ and the desire of His sweetness can lead us thus to feel, to comprehend and experience the presence of His Divinity.

The power of love alone is able to lift up the soul from earth to the heights of Heaven, nor is it possible to ascend to eternal beatitude except on the wings of love and desire.

Love is the life of the soul, its nuptial garment, its perfection.[64]

[81]Upon charity are based the law, the prophets, and the precepts of the Lord.[65] Hence the Apostle wrote to the Romans: "Love is therefore the fulfilling of the law,"[66] and in the first Epistle to Timothy: "The end of the commandment is charity."[67]
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Re: On Union with God, by Albertus Magnus

Postby admin » Tue Mar 27, 2018 7:35 am

CHAPTER XIII: OF THE NATURE AND ADVANTAGES OF PRAYER—OF INTERIOR RECOLLECTION

Of ourselves we are utterly unable to attain to charity or any other good thing. We have naught to offer to the Lord, the Author of all, which was not His already.

One thing alone remains to us: that in every occurrence we should turn to Him in prayer, as He Himself taught us by word and example. Let us go to Him as guilty, poor, and miserable, as beggars, weak and needy, as subjects and slaves, yet as His children.

[83]Of ourselves we are utterly destitute. What can we do but cast ourselves at His feet in deepest humility, holy fear mingling in our souls with love, peace, and recollection?

And while we are fain to draw nigh with all lowliness and modesty, with minds sincere and simple, let our hearts burn with great desires, with ardour and heartfelt longings. And so let us supplicate our God, and lay before Him with entire confidence the perils which menace us on every side. Let us freely, unhesitatingly, and in all simplicity, confide ourselves to Him, and offer Him our whole being, even to the last fibre, for are we not in truth absolutely His?

Let us keep nothing for ourselves, and then will be fulfilled in us the saying of Blessed Isaac, one of the Fathers of the Desert, who,[84] speaking of this kind of prayer, said: "We shall be one being with God, and He will be all in all to us, when that perfect charity by which He loved us first has entered into our inmost hearts."[68]

This will be accomplished when God alone becomes the object of all our love, our desires, our striving, of all our efforts and thoughts, of all that we behold, speak of, hope for; when that union which exists between the Father and the Son, and between the Son and the Father shall be found also in our mind and soul.

Since His love for us is so pure, sincere, and unchanging, ought not we in return to give Him a love constant and uninterrupted?

So intimate should be our union[85] with Him that our hopes, thoughts, prayers breathe only God.[69] The truly spiritual man should set before him, as the goal of all his efforts and desires, the possession even in a mortal body, of an image of the happiness to come, and the enjoyment even here below of some foretaste of the delights, the life, and glory of Heaven.

This, I say, is the end of all perfection—that the soul may become so purified from every earthly longing, and so raised to spiritual things, that at last the whole life and the desires of the heart form one unbroken prayer.

When the soul has thus shaken off the dust of earth and aspires unto her God, to Whom the true religious ever directs his intention,[86] dreading the least separation from Him as a most cruel death; when peace reigns within and she is delivered from the bondage of her passions and cleaves with firmest purpose to the one Sovereign Good, then will be fulfilled in her the words of the Apostle: "Pray without ceasing,"[70] and "in every place, lifting up pure hands, without anger and contention."[71]

When once this purity of soul has gained the victory over man's natural inclination for the things of sense, when all earthly longings are quenched and the soul is, as it were, transformed into the likeness of pure spirits or Angels, then all she receives, all she undertakes, all she does, will be a pure and true prayer.

Only persevere faithfully in thy efforts and, as I have shown from[87] the beginning, it will become as simple and easy for thee to contemplate God and rejoice in Him in thy recollection as to live a purely natural life.
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Re: On Union with God, by Albertus Magnus

Postby admin » Tue Mar 27, 2018 7:35 am

CHAPTER XIV: THAT EVERYTHING SHOULD BE JUDGED ACCORDING TO THE TESTIMONY OF OUR CONSCIENCE

There is also another practice which will tend greatly to thy progress in spiritual perfection, and will aid thee to gain purity of soul and tranquil rest in God. Whatever men say or think of thee, bring it before the tribunal of thine own conscience. Enter within thyself, and there, turning a deaf ear to all else, set thyself to learn the truth. Then wilt thou see clearly that the praise and honour of men bring thee no profit, but rather loss, if[89] thou knowest that thou art guilty and worthy of condemnation in the sight of truth. And, just as it is useless to be honoured outwardly by men if thy conscience accuse thee within, so in like manner is it no loss to thee if men despise, blame, or persecute thee without, if within thou art innocent and free from reproach or blame. Nay, rather, thou hast then great reason to rejoice in the Lord in patience, silence, and peace.

Adversity is powerless to harm where sin has no dominion; and just as there is no evil which goes unpunished, so is there no good without recompense.

Seek not with the hypocrites thy reward and crown from men, but rather from the hand of God, not now, but hereafter; not for a passing moment, but for eternity.

Thou canst, therefore, do[90] nothing higher nor better in every tribulation or occurrence than enter into the sanctuary of thy soul, and there call upon the Lord Jesus Christ, thy helper in temptation and affliction. There shouldst thou humble thyself, confessing thy sins, and praising thy God and Father, Who both chastises and consoles.

There dispose thyself to accept with unruffled peace, readiness, and confidence from the hands of God's unfailing Providence and marvellous wisdom all that is sent thee of prosperity or adversity, whether touching thyself or others. Then wilt thou obtain remission of thy sins;[72] bitterness will be driven from thy soul, sweetness and confidence will penetrate it,[91] grace and mercy will descend upon it. Then a sweet familiarity will draw thee on and strengthen thee, abundant consolation will flow to thee from the bosom of God. Then thou wilt adhere to Him and form an indissoluble union with Him.

But beware of imitating hypocrites who, like the Pharisees, try to appear outwardly before men more holy than they know themselves in truth to be. Is it not utter folly to seek or desire human praise and glory for oneself or others, while within we are filled with shameful and grievous sins? Assuredly he who pursues such vanities can hope for no share in the good things of which we spoke just now, but shame will infallibly be his lot.

Keep thy worthlessness and thy sins ever before thine eyes, and[92] learn to know thyself that thou mayest grow in humility.

Shrink not from being regarded by all the world as filthy mud, vile and abject, on account of thy grievous sins and defects. Esteem thyself among others as dross in the midst of gold, as tares in the wheat, straw among the grain, as a wolf among the sheep, as Satan among the children of God.

Neither shouldst thou desire to be respected by others, or preferred to anyone whatsoever. Fly rather with all thy strength of heart and soul from that pestilential poison, the venom of praise, from a reputation founded on boasting and ostentation, lest, as the Prophet says, "The sinner is praised in the desires of his soul."[73]

Again, in Isaias, we read: "They that call thee blessed, the same[93] deceive thee, and destroy the way of thy steps."[74] Also the Lord says: "Woe to you when men shall bless you!"[75]
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Re: On Union with God, by Albertus Magnus

Postby admin » Tue Mar 27, 2018 7:36 am

CHAPTER XV: ON THE CONTEMPT OF SELF: HOW IT IS ACQUIRED: ITS PROFIT TO THE SOUL

The more truly a man knows his own misery, the more fully and clearly does he behold the majesty of God. The more vile he is in his own eyes for the sake of God, of truth, and of justice, the more worthy of esteem is he in the eyes of God.

Strive earnestly, therefore, to look on thyself as utterly contemptible, to think thyself unworthy of any benefit, to be displeasing in thine own eyes, but pleasing to God. Desire that[95] others should regard thee as vile and mean.

Learn not to be troubled in tribulations, afflictions, injuries; not to be incensed against those that inflict them, nor to entertain thoughts of resentment against them. Try, on the contrary, sincerely to believe thyself worthy of all injuries, contempt, ill-treatment and scorn.

In truth, he who for God's sake is filled with sorrow and compunction dreads to be honoured and loved by another. He does not refuse to be an object of hatred, or shrink from being trodden under foot and despised as long as he lives, in order that he may practise real humility and cleave in purity of heart to God alone.

It does not require exterior labour or bodily health to love God only, to hate oneself more[96] than all, to desire to seem little in the eyes of others: what is needed is rather repose of the senses, the effort of the heart, silence of the mind.

It is by labouring with the heart, by the inward aspiration of the soul, that thou wilt learn to forsake the base things of earth and to rise to what is heavenly and Divine.

Thus wilt thou become transformed in God, and this the more speedily if, in all sincerity, without condemning or despising thy neighbour, thou desirest to be regarded by all as a reproach and scandal—nay, even to be abhorred as filthy mire, rather than possess the delights of earth, or be honoured and exalted by men, or enjoy any advantage or happiness in this fleeting world.

Have no other desire in this perishable life of the body, no[97] other consolation than unceasingly to weep over, regret and detest thy offences and faults.

Learn utterly to despise thyself, to annihilate thyself and to appear daily more contemptible in the eyes of others.

Strive to become even more unworthy in thine own eyes, in order to please God alone, to love Him only and cling to Him.

Concern not thyself with anything except thy Lord Jesus Christ, Who ought to reign alone in thy affections. Have no solicitude or care save for Him Whose power and Providence give movement and being to all things.[76]

[98]It is not now the time to rejoice but rather to lament with all the sincerity of thy heart.

If thou canst not weep, sorrow at least that thou hast no tears to shed; if thou canst, grieve the more because by the gravity of thy offences and number of thy sins thou art thyself the cause of thy grief. A man under sentence of death does not trouble himself as to the dispositions of his executioners; so he who truly mourns and sheds the tears of repentance, refrains from delight, anger, vainglory,[99] indignation, and every like passion.

Citizens and criminals are not lodged in like abodes; so also the life and conduct of those whose faults call for sighs and tears should not resemble those of men who have remained innocent and have nothing to expiate.

Were it otherwise, how would the guilty, great though their crimes may have been, differ in their punishment and expiation from the innocent? Iniquity would then be more free than innocence. Renounce all, therefore, contemn all, separate thyself from all, that thou mayest lay deep the foundations of sincere penance.

He who truly loves Jesus Christ, and sorrows for Him, who bears Him in his heart and in his body, will have no thought, or care, or[100] solicitude for aught else. Such a one will sincerely mourn over his sins and offences, will long after eternal happiness, will remember the Judgment and will think diligently on his last end in lowly fear. He, then, who wishes to arrive speedily at a blessed impassibility and to reach God, counts that day lost on which he has not been ill-spoken of and despised.

What is this impassibility but freedom from the vices and passions, purity of heart, the adornment of virtue?

Count thyself as already dead, since thou must needs die some day.

And now, but one word more. Let this be the test of thy thoughts, words, and deeds. If they render thee more humble, more recollected in God, more strong, then they are[101] according to God. But if thou findest it otherwise, then fear lest all is not according to God, acceptable to Him, or profitable to thyself.
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Re: On Union with God, by Albertus Magnus

Postby admin » Tue Mar 27, 2018 7:36 am

CHAPTER XVI: OF THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD, WHICH WATCHES OVER ALL THINGS

Wouldst thou draw nigh unto God without let or hindrance, freely and in peace, as we have described? Desirest thou to be united and drawn to Him in a union so close that it will endure in prosperity and adversity, in life and in death? Delay not to commit all things with trustful confidence into the hands of His sure and infallible Providence.

Is it not most fitting that thou shouldst trust Him Who gives to all creatures, in the first place, their existence, power, and movement,[103] and, secondly, their species and nature, ordering in all their number, weight, and measure?

Just as Art presupposes the operations of Nature, so Nature presupposes the work of God, the Creator, Preserver, Organizer, and Administrator.

To Him alone belong infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, essential mercy, justice, truth, and charity, immutable eternity, and immensity. Nothing can exist and act of its own power, but every creature acts of necessity by the power of God, the first moving cause, the first principle and origin of every action, Who acts in every active being.

If we consider the ordered harmony of the universe, it is the Providence of God which must arrange all things, even to the smallest details.

[104]From the infinitely great to the infinitely small nothing can escape His eternal Providence; nothing has been drawn from His control, either in the acts of free-will, in events we ascribe to chance or fate, or in what has been designed by Him. We may go further: it is as impossible for God to make anything which does not fall within the dominion of His Providence as it is for Him to create anything which is not subject to His action. Divine Providence, therefore, extends over all things, even the thoughts of man.

This is the teaching of Holy Scripture, for in the Epistle of St. Peter it is written: "Casting all your care upon Him, for He hath care of you."[77]

And, again, the Prophet says: "Cast thy care upon the Lord and[105] He shall sustain thee."[78] Also in Ecclesiasticus we read: "My children, behold the generations of men; and know ye that no one hath hoped in the Lord, and hath been confounded. For who hath continued in His commandment, and hath been forsaken?"[79] And the Lord says: "Be not solicitous, therefore, saying, What shall we eat?"[80] All that thou canst hope for from God, however great it may be, thou shalt without doubt receive, according to the promise in Deuteronomy: "Every place that your foot shall tread upon shall be yours."[81] As much as thou canst desire thou shalt receive, and as far as the foot of thy confidence reaches, so far thou shalt possess.

Hence St. Bernard says: "God,[106] the Creator of all things, is so full of mercy and compassion that whatever may be the grace for which we stretch out our hands, we shall not fail to receive it."[82]

It is written in St. Mark: "Whatsoever ye shall ask when ye pray, believe that you shall receive, and they shall come unto you."[83]

The greater and more persistent thy confidence in God, and the more earnestly thou turnest to Him in lowly reverence, the more abundantly and certainly shalt thou receive all thou dost hope and ask.

But if, on account of the number and magnitude of his sins, the confidence of any should languish, let him who feels this torpor remember that all is possible to God, that what He wills must infallibly[107] happen, and what He wills not cannot come to pass, and, finally, that it is as easy for Him to forgive and blot out innumerable and heinous sins as to forgive one.

On the other hand, it is just as impossible for a sinner to deliver himself from a single sin as it would be for him to raise and cleanse himself from many sins; for, not only are we unable to accomplish this, but of ourselves we cannot even think what is right.[84] All comes to us from God. It is, however, far more dangerous, other things being equal, to be entangled in many sins than to be held only by one.

In truth, no evil remains unpunished, and for every mortal sin is due, in strict justice, an infinite punishment, because a mortal sin is committed against God, to Whom[108] belong infinite greatness, dignity, and glory.

Moreover, according to the Apostle, "the Lord knoweth who are His,"[85] and it is impossible that one of them should perish, no matter how violently the tempests and waves of error rage, how great the scandal, schisms and persecutions, how grievous the adversities, discords, heresies, tribulations, or temptations of every kind.

The number of the elect and the measure of their merit is eternally and unalterably predestined. So true is this that all the good and evil which can happen to them or to others, all prosperity and adversity, serve only to their advantage.

Nay more, adversity does but render them more glorious, and proves their fidelity more surely.

[109]Delay not, therefore, to commit all things without fear to the Providence of God, by Whose permission all evil of whatever kind happens, and ever for some good end. It could not be except He permitted it; its form and measure are allowed by Him Who can and will by His wisdom turn all to good.

Just as it is by His action that all good is wrought, so is it by His permission that all evil happens.[86]

[110]But from the evil He draws good, and thus marvellously shows forth His power, wisdom, and clemency by our Lord Jesus Christ. So also He manifests His mercy and His justice, the power of grace, the weakness of nature, and the beauty of the universe. So He shows by the force of contrast the glory of the good, and the malice and punishment of the wicked.

In like manner, in the conversion of a sinner we behold contrition, confession, and penance; and, on the other hand, the tenderness of God, His mercy and charity, His glory and His goodness.

[111]Yet sin does not always turn to the good of those who commit it; but it is usually the greatest of perils and worst of ills, for it causes the loss of grace and glory. It stains the soul and provokes chastisement and even eternal punishment. From so great an evil may our Lord Jesus vouchsafe to preserve us! Amen.
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Re: On Union with God, by Albertus Magnus

Postby admin » Tue Mar 27, 2018 7:37 am

_______________

Notes:

[1] Following the general tradition, we attribute this work to Albert the Great, but not all critics are agreed as to its authenticity.

[2] Albert the Great is speaking here in a special manner of religious perfection, although what he says is also true of Christian perfection in general.

[3] He speaks here of the obligation laid upon all Christians.

[4] Religious bind themselves to observe as a duty that which was only of counsel. To them, therefore, the practice of the counsels becomes an obligation.

[5] The vows of religion have as their immediate object the removal of obstacles to perfection, but they do not in themselves constitute perfection. Perfection consists in charity. Albert the Great speaks of only one vow, because in his day the formulas of religious profession mentioned only the vow of obedience, which includes the other two vows.

[6] John iv. 24.

[7] Matt. vi. 6.

[8] When Albert the Great and the other mystics warn us against solicitude with regard to creatures, they refer to that solicitude which is felt for creatures in themselves; they do not mean that we ought not to occupy ourselves with them in any way for God's sake. The great doctor explains his meaning in clear terms later on in this work.

[9] 1 Pet. v. 7.

[10] Phil. iv. 6.

[11] Ps. liv. 23.

[12] Ps. lxxii. 28.

[13] Ps. xv. 8.

[14] Cant. iii. 4.

[15] Wis. vii. 11.

[16] Matt. xvi. 26.

[17] Luke xvii. 21.

[18] Albert the Great supposes here that we give ourselves equally to God and to creatures, which would be wrong, and not that creatures are subordinated to God, which would be a virtue.

[19] This must be understood to mean that God is the principal and supreme end of all created activities.

[20] The perfect image of God in man does not consist merely in the possession of those faculties by which we resemble Him, but rather in performing by faith and love, as far as is in our power, acts like those which He performs, in knowing Him as He knows Himself, in loving Him as He loves Himself.

[21] In scholastic theology the term "form" is used of that which gives to anything its accidental or substantial being. God is the "accidental form" of the soul, because in giving it its activity He bestows upon it something of His own activity, by means of sanctifying grace. Yet more truly may it be said that God is also the "form" of the soul in the sense that it is destined by the ordinary workings of Providence to participate by sanctifying grace in the Being of God, enjoying thus a participation real, though created, in the Divine nature.

[22] We must avoid these things in so far as they separate us from God, but they may also serve to draw us nearer to Him if we regard them in God and for God.

[23] It is by the intelligence and will that man actually attains to this, but the use of the sensitive faculties is presupposed.

[24] The sensitive faculties, if used as a means, often help us to draw near to God, but when used as an end, their activity becomes an obstacle.

[25] This teaching is the Christian rendering of the axiom formulated by the Philosopher: "Homo sedendo fit sapiens"—"It is in quiet that man gains wisdom."

[26] This is especially true for religious.

[27] By this is meant that the Holy Scriptures, though always presupposed as the foundation of our belief, of themselves give only an objective knowledge of God, while that which the Holy Ghost gives is experimental.

[28] God knows and loves Himself in Himself by His own nature, while we know and love Him in Himself by grace.

[29] A very striking feature in the doctrine of this book is that it requires first the perfection of the soul and the faculties, whence proceeds that of our actions. Some modern authors, confining themselves to casuistry, speak almost exclusively of the perfection of actions, a method less logical and less thorough.

[30] Prov. viii. 31.

[31] The exterior powers of a man are the imagination and passions; the interior his intelligence and will, which sometimes find themselves deprived of all the aids of sensible devotion.

[32] In truth, all the designs of God in our regard are full of mercy, and tend especially to our sanctification; the obstacles to these designs come only from our evil passions.

[33] The book "De Spiritu et Anima" is of uncertain authorship. It is printed after the works of St. Augustine in Migne's "Patrologia Latina," vol. xl., 779.

[34] This darkness is the silence of the imagination, which no longer gains a hearing, and that of the intellect, which is sufficiently enlightened to understand that we can in reality understand nothing of the Divinity in itself, and that the best thing we can do is to remove from our conception of God all those limitations which we observe in creatures. The reason of this is that we can only know God naturally by means of what we see in creatures, and these are always utterly insufficient to give us an adequate idea of the Creator.

[35] Ps. lxxxiii. 8.

[36] We only lose God, the uncreated Good, by an unlawful attachment to created good; if we are free from this attachment, we tend to Him without effort.

[37] The subsequent condemnation, in 1687, of this doctrine, as taught by Molino, could not, of course, be foreseen by Blessed Albertus writing in the thirteenth century.

[38] John xiv. 6.

[39] And this she does because creatures no longer occupy her, except for God's sake.

[40] This is so because, according to true philosophy, the essence of a thing is distinct from its existence.

[41] Every actual cause is more intimately present to its accomplished work than the work itself, which it necessarily precedes.

[42] John i. 3, 4.

[43] We cannot always experience Divine things, and at first we can only compare them to the things which we experience here below.

[44] We deny that there is in God anything which is a mere potentiality, or an imperfection. We deny in Him also the process of reasoning which is the special work of the faculty of reason, because this implies the absence of the vision of truth. We deny "being as it is found in creatures," because in creatures it is necessarily limited, and subject to accident.

[45] "Nom. Div.," i.

[46] Exod. xxxiii. 11; Num. xii. 8; Heb. iii. 2.

[47] It would be well to quote St. Thomas, the disciple of Albert the Great, upon this important doctrine: "A thing may be said to belong to the contemplative life in two senses, either as an essential part of it, or as a preliminary disposition. The moral virtues do not belong to the essence of contemplation, whose sole end is the contemplation of truth.... But they belong to it as a necessary predisposition ... because they calm the passions and the tumult of exterior preoccupations, and so facilitate contemplation" ("Sum.," 2, 2ae, q. 180, a. 2).

This distinction should never be lost sight of in reading the mystic books of the scholastics.

[48] John xvii. 3.

[49] Ps. xvi. 15.

[50] This admirable doctrine condemns a whole mass of insipid, shallow, affected and sensual books and ideas, which have in modern times flooded the world of piety, have banished from souls more wholesome thoughts, and filled them with a questionable and injurious sentimentality.

[51] Matt. xi. 6; xiii. 57, etc.

[52] This shows an excellent grasp of the meaning of the celebrated maxim "Perinde ac cadaver."

[53] Luke x. 42.

[54] Ibid.

[55] Luke ii. 14.

[56] Nothing could be more conformable to the teaching of the Gospel than this doctrine.

At His birth Jesus bids the Angels sing that peace belongs to men of good will (Luke ii. 14); later He will declare that His meat is to do the will of His Father (John iv. 34); that He seeks not His own will, but the will of Him Who sent Him (John v. 30); that He came down from heaven to accomplish it (John vi. 38); and when face to face with death He will still pray that the Father's will be done, not His (Matt. xxvi. 39; Luke xxii. 42). Over and over again, in the Gospel, do we find Him using the same language.

He would have His disciples act in the same manner. It is not the man, He tells us, who repeats the words: "My Father, my Father," who shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of God (Matt. vii. 21; Rom. ii. 13; Jas. i. 22); and in the prayer which He dictates to us He bids us ask for the accomplishment of this will as the means of glorifying God, and of sanctifying our souls (Matt. vi. 10).

Finally, He tells us that if we conform ourselves to this sovereign will, we shall be His brethren (Matt. xii. 50; Mark iii. 35).

When certain persons, pious or otherwise, confusing sentiment with true love, ask themselves if they love God, or if they will be able to love Him always, we have only to ask them the same question in other words: Are they doing the will of God? can they do it?—i.e., can they perform their duty for God's sake? Put thus, the question resolves itself.

The reason for such a doctrine is very simple: to love anyone is to wish him well; that, in the case of God, is to desire His beneficent will towards us. Our Lord and Master recalled this principle when He said to His disciples, "You are My friends, if you do the things that I command you" (John xv. 14).

[57] We must, in virtue of the same principle, keep a firm hold of the truth, as indisputable as it is frequently forgotten, that we have the merit of the good which we will to carry out and are unable to accomplish, as we have also the demerit of the evil we should have done and could not.

[58] "Upon the will depends our future of Heaven or hell," because, given the knowledge of God, the will attaches itself to Him by love, or hates Him with obstinacy.

[59] We may notice, in particular, a three-fold benefit: first, temptation calls for conflict, and so strengthens virtue; then it obliges a man to adhere deliberately to that virtue which is assailed by the temptation, and so gain a further perfection; finally, there are necessarily included in both the conflict and the adherence to good numerous virtuous, and therefore meritorious, acts. Thus we may reap advantage from temptation both in our dispositions and our acts.

[60] Job vii. 1.

[61] 1 John iv. 8.

[62] Cant. viii. 6.

[63] The author is speaking here of the soul in so far as it is human, and it is as such that it is more where it loves than where it gives life.

[64] Without charity there is no perfect virtue, since without it no virtue can lead man to his final end, which is God, although it may lead him to some lower end. It is in this sense that, according to the older theologians, charity is the "form" of the other virtues, since by it the acts of all the other virtues are supernaturalized and directed to their true end—i.e., to God. Cf. St. Th. "Sum.," 2, 2ae, q. 23, aa. 7, 8.

[65] Matt. xxii. 40.

[66] Rom. xiii. 10.

[67] 1 Tim. i. 5.

[68] God can only love Himself or creatures for His own sake; if we have this love within our souls we shall be in a certain sense one being with Him.

[69] This teaching is based on the definition that prayer is essentially "an elevation of the soul to God."

[70] 1 Thess. v. 17.

[71] 1 Tim. ii. 8.

[72] Remission may be obtained in this way of the fault in the case of venial sins, of the punishment due in all sins.

[73] Ps. ix. 24.

[74] Isa. iii. 12.

[75] Luke vi. 26.

[76] St. Thomas explains as follows both the possibility and the correctness of this opinion of ourselves: "A man can, without falsehood, believe and declare himself viler than all others, both on account of the secret faults which he knows to exist within him, and on account of the gifts of God hidden in the souls of others."

St. Augustine, in his work "De Virginit.," ch. lii., says: "Believe that others are better than you in the depths of their souls, although outwardly you may appear better than they."

In the same way one may truthfully both say and believe that one is altogether useless and unworthy in his own strength. The Apostle says (2 Cor. iii. 5): "Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God" ("Sum.," 2, 2ae, q. 161, a. 6, 1m).

[77] 1 Pet. v. 7.

[78] Ps. liv. 23.

[79] Ecclus. ii. 11, 12.

[80] Matt. vi. 31.

[81] Deut. xi. 24.

[82] Cf. Serm. I. in Pent.

[83] Mark xi. 24.

[84] 2 Cor. iii. 5.

[85] 2 Tim. ii. 19.

[86] The teaching of Albert the Great on Divine Providence is truly admirable. It is based upon the axiom that the actions of the creature do not depend partly upon itself and partly upon God, but wholly upon itself and wholly upon God (cf. St. Thomas "Cont. Gent.," iii. 70).

Human causality is not parallel with the Divine, but subordinate to it, as the scholastics teach. This doctrine alone safeguards the action of God and of that of the creature. The doctrine of parallelism derogates from both, and leads to fatalism by attributing to God things which He has not done, and suppressing for man the necessary principle of all good, especially that of liberty.

It is the doctrine of subordinated causes also which explains how things decreed by God are determined by the supreme authority, and infallibly come to pass, without prejudice to the freedom of action of secondary causes. All this belongs to the highest theology. Unhappily, certain modern authors have forgotten it.
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