Monthly Archives: June 2011

Praying Eucharistic Prayer I

Although this is, of course, the Roman Canon used in the Novus Ordo Mass, it can certainly be prayed and contemplated on its own. It is a composition of deep prayer and reflection on our salvation through the love and grace of Christ, acknowledging His sacrifice for us and the unity of all His Church:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts.

Heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest.

To you, therefore, most merciful Father, we make humble prayer and petition through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord: that you accept and bless these gifts, these offerings, these holy and unblemished sacrifices, which we offer you firstly for your holy catholic Church.

Be pleased to grant her peace, to guard, unite and govern her throughout the whole world,

together with your servant Benedict XVI our Pope and N. our Bishop,

and all those who, holding to the truth, hand on the catholic and apostolic faith.

Remember, Lord, your servants Benedict XVI and N. and all gathered here,

whose faith and devotion are known to you.

For them, we offer you this sacrifice of praise or they offer it for themselves and all who are dear to them: for the redemption of their souls, in hope of health and well-being, and paying their homage to you, the eternal God, living and true.

In communion with those whose memory we venerate, especially the glorious ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ, and blessed Joseph, her Spouse,

your blessed Apostles and Martyrs, Peter and Paul, Andrew, (James, John, Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Jude; Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus,

Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian) and all your Saints; we ask that through their merits and prayers, in all things we may be defended by your protecting help.

(Through Christ our Lord. Amen.)

Therefore, Lord, we pray: graciously accept this oblation of our service,

that of your whole family; order our days in your peace, and command that we be delivered from eternal damnation and counted among the flock of those you have chosen.

(Through Christ our Lord. Amen.)

Be pleased, O God, we pray, to bless, acknowledge, and approve this offering in every respect; make it spiritual and acceptable, so that it may become for us the Body and Blood of your most beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

On the day before he was to suffer, he took bread in his holy and venerable hands,

and with eyes raised to heaven to you, O God, his almighty Father, giving you thanks, he said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to his disciples, saying:


In a similar way, when supper was ended, he took this precious chalice in his holy and venerable hands, and once more giving you thanks, he said the blessing and gave the chalice to his disciples, saying:


The mystery of faith.

We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection until you come again.

Therefore, O Lord, as we celebrate the memorial of the blessed Passion, the Resurrection from the dead, and the glorious Ascension into heaven of Christ, your Son, our Lord, we, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty from the gifts that you have given us, this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation.

Be pleased to look upon these offerings with a serene and kindly countenance, and to accept them, as once you were pleased to accept the gifts of your servant Abel the just,

the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and the offering of your high priest Melchizedek, a holy sacrifice, a spotless victim.

In humble prayer we ask you, almighty God: command that these gifts be borne by the hands of your holy Angel to your altar on high in the sight of your divine majesty, so that all of us, who through this participation at the altar receive the most holy Body and Blood of your Son, may be filled with every grace and heavenly blessing.

(Through Christ our Lord. Amen.)

Remember also, Lord, your servants N. and N., who have gone before us with the sign of faith and rest in the sleep of peace.

Grant them, O Lord, we pray, and all who sleep in Christ, a place of refreshment, light and peace.

(Through Christ our Lord. Amen.)

To us, also, your servants, who, though sinners, hope in your abundant mercies, graciously grant some share and fellowship with your holy Apostles and Martyrs: with John the Baptist, Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, (Ignatius, Alexander, Marcellinus, Peter, Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia) and all your Saints; admit us, we beseech you, into their company, not weighing our merits, but granting us your pardon, through Christ our Lord.

Through whom you continue to make all these good things, O Lord; you sanctify them, fill them with life, bless them, and bestow them upon us.

Through him, and with him, and in him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, for ever and ever.


Let’s be controversial


Pro-abortion businessman Patrick Murphy has announced he will challenge Rep. West, no matter where the district lines are drawn. Right on his campaign website, Murphy expresses support for abortion:

“I fully support a woman’s right to choose and believe that efforts to curtail this right amount to an unacceptable intrusion by the government into the private lives of its citizens.   This right has been under continual assault by the courts and Republican legislatures for decades, and we should not be passive in its defense.”


Why don’t these same democrats protect my “right” to rape women? After all, what business does the govt. have getting into what I do with my own body? Obviously, the fact that another human body is involved should NOT be a factor…if it was, abortion wouldn’t be defended as a “right to do with one’s own body” what they choose. It’s simply a matter of no principles, no intelligent thoughts, etc; par for the course among liberals if you ask me.

Now, let’s say they rebut that the grown woman that is included in my “plans” is “obviously” a human person.  Well, the same group says that some elderly, some that are in a coma, and other grown persons are no longer persons.  After all, this is their justification for assisted suicide, etc, a la Terri Shiavo. Are “people” such as this human persons? If yes, why is it “no issue” to put them to death?  If not, why wouldn’t we be allowed to do whatever we want with them?

They don’t answer these kinds of questions, for the most part, because they never even think of them.  The problem is not what their principles are so much as that they simply have but one: whatever I feel like makes me materialistically better off. It is the end all and be all of the liberal mentality. (Did I say mentality? I am not even sure if that word is appropriate)


I said it.  Deal with it.


Matt Menking

Ten Books you can’t “not read”

There are some books you read.  These books, you read, and read again, and read again, and probably never stop repeating this process:

Product Image

Product Image

Product Image

Product Image

Product Image

Product Image

Product Image

Product Image

Product Image

Product Image

At some point I will try to discuss each of these, their value, and suggestions on “how to use” them.  They are not simply books; they are resources for a life of growth.

The first two are simply a primer on thinking straight.  The next three get you focused on the Word of God, Jesus Christ, who is Truth Himself.  To know the Truth is to know Christ, and vice versa.  After that, three books go deeper into some specific truths of reality, informed by faith, but not entirely derived from it. The second to last book, Reality, is just that:  a synthesis of reality, informed by both faith and reason (in this it derives much from Thomas’ five volume Summa  above, but with a much different presentation). The last selection needs no explanation to those who are drawn by grace to the highest in truth.

For now, regarding the Summa Theologica in Five Volumes as listed above, see my earlier post on the Concise Translation of the Summa.

Virtue: What will it effect?

The greatest proof of love is the perfect gift of self. Generosity is essentially self-communicative. Goodness is naturally self-diffusive. St. Thomas tells us that “It belongs to the essence of goodness to communicate itself to others…hence it belongs to the essence of the highest Good to communicate itself in the highest manner to the creature.”

In the same manner, the virtuous man inspires others to virtue, and the apostle, passionately in love with goodness, gives the best of himself to the souls of his fellow men, to lead them to God.

Action follows being, and its effects are like those of the sun.  It shines forth, because it simply is what it is, and so it does what it does. We, like St. Francis of Assisi, should preach the Gospel without ceasing (and when necessary, yes, we will use words).  But our actions will usually have the greatest influence on others, whether we see it or not. (does the sun know the great effects of its light and warmth?)  Like begets like.  Christ tells us, in the Sermon on the Mount:

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men. You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house. So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 5:13-16)

Be a man.  Be the light on the hill.

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.  For the things that are done by them in secret, it is a shame even to speak of. But all things that are reproved, are made manifest by the light; for all that is made manifest is light.” (Eph 5:11-13)

Be that light.  If others are exposed, if others are scandalized by you, so be it. Be what you are meant to be…and let people deal with it.

Aristotle, Thomas, and the law of conservation of energy‏

From Aristotle’s Physics

(the context is disproving the need for a void for contraction and expansion of objects specifically and for movement in general)

@217a26-31: The same matter also serves for both a large and a small body. This is evident; for when air is produced from water, the same matter has become something different, not by acquiring an addition to it, but has become actually what it was potentially, and, again, water is produced from air in the same way, the change being sometimes from smallness to greatness, and sometimes from greatness to smallness.

Similarly, therefore, if air which is large in extent comes to have a smaller volume, or becomes greater from being smaller, it is the matter which is potentially both that comes to be each of the two.

St. Thomas’ commentary says:

@ 554: Therefore condensation does not take place by certain parts moving into others, or rarefaction by inhering parts being extracted, as those thought who posited a void within bodies. Rather it is because the matter of the same parts now has greater, now lesser, quantity: hence, to become rare is nothing other than for matter to receive greater dimensions by being reduced from potency to act; and the opposite for becoming dense. For just as matter is in potency to definite forms, so it is in potency to definite quantity. Hence rarefaction and condensation do not proceed ad infinitum in natural

Basically, I gather from this that the matter, the more or less it is in act can be seen between states of energy and matter as scientists understand them today. (Of course, Fr. William Wallace, O.P.’s book, The Modeling of Nature, was very helpful in seeing things such as this).  But I am working through St. Thomas’ commentary on myown right now and this seemed to really show how philosophy had this figured out pretty accurately well before our modern scientists.

Modern science not only more and more sees that there probably is no true void, no true vacuum (with ether and dark matter and everything else that seems to come along), and also “discovered” the law of conservation of matter and energy.

Faith and Reason

In Fides et Ratio, Pope John Paul II tells us that “A quite special place …belongs to Saint Thomas, not only because of what he taught but also because of the dialogue which he undertook with the Arab and Jewish thought of his time. In an age when Christian thinkers were rediscovering the treasures of ancient philosophy, and more particularly of Aristotle, Thomas had the great merit of giving pride of place to the harmony which exists between faith and reason. Both the light of reason and the light of faith come from God, he argued; hence there can be no contradiction between them.”


The natural dictates of reason must certainly be quite true: it is impossible to think of their being otherwise. Nor again is it permissible to believe that the tenets of faith are false, being so evidently confirmed by God. Since therefore falsehood alone is contrary to truth, it is impossible for the truth of faith to be contrary to principles known by natural reason. (SCG 1, 7)


In defending both faith and reason, St. Thomas Aquinas found himself fighting a two front war.  There were traditionalists who thought Aristotle a danger to the orthodox faith, and there were those who seemed almost to disregard matters of faith in defending the genius of Aristotle and his works.  Thomas view of the controversies could be summed up in the advice he gave to one ‘Brother John’:  “Never mind who says what, but commit to memory what is said that is true: work to understand what you read, and make yourself sure of doubtful points.”


For Thomas, the truth was one, and whether it was come to by a pagan or a Christian, whether by revelation or by reason alone, truth was truth. We can learn truth from the pagans without adopting their errors.  Indeed, reason helps us to see if we are clearly understanding revelation, and revelation will keep us from erring in our reason on certain points (or at least by helping us see that “reason” has reached its limit, beyond which truth can only be known by revelation, so as to avoid the errors of rationalism).


St. Thomas disputed with Latin Averroism, a controversy said to teach Aristotle in its original form, with no reconciliation to the Christian faith in places where it was in conflict (or was perceived to be, based on the commentaries of certain Arabic philosophers) with the Catholic faith.  For example, Siger of Brabant, probably Thomas’ most noteworthy opponent in this dispute, was accused of teaching that one thing could be true through reason, and that something contradictory could be true through faith. Therefore, Aristotle’s demonstration of the eternity of the world was “true philosophically” but not by revelation.  Thomas thought this absurd.


Now, one such as Siger of Brabant might  answer that something was philosophically ( i.e. naturally) true, yet, through a miracle of God, its contrary was actually true, and thus no real contradiction existed.  Still, this would make God’s creation incomprehensible, and is contrary to the nature of God Himself, according to St. Thomas.


Let us return for the moment to the question hinted above, that of the eternity of the world. Thomas also separated himself, for example, from St. Bonaventure, by saying that the eternity of the world could not be proven or disproven, but rather, reason could not come to a definitive conclusion on the subject.  However, faith’s role here taught us a truth we could not know by reason, that is, the creation of the world (even ” creation,” said Thomas, did not contradict, philosophically, an eternally existing world, which we shall examine below).  But besides this, revelation therefore could help reason, in that it could show us where our reasoning may have gone astray and allow us to search for our errors.  Therefore, the “fullness of the faith” can aid reason without becoming part of its demonstration, thereby leaving philosophy still to itself, and not confusing the two (faith and reason) all the while maintaining that the same God who gave us the “book of creation” likewise gave us the “book of Revelation” and that the two could never contradict one another, because they both spoke of one truth, the eternal Truth.


The church had made use of much of Aristotle’s logical works for centuries, but discounted much of the rest of his teaching as dangerous to orthodoxy.  Eventually, “pagan” institutes of learning, such as at Alexandria, were closed. However, the Islamic world continued the study of Aristotle and Plato, highly commented upon by the neoplatonists, and sought to reconcile it with faith in one god who was not only prime mover, but who created the world. By the time of Thomas career, much of the “Aristotle” known to the Latins came with commentaries by Islamic philosophers.  Often, their views of Aristotle conflicted with the Christian faith (and often with orthodox Islamic thought as well).


Thomas, therefore, had two issues to work out with Aristotle’s thought.  The first one was to show that the Arab philosophers did not have a monopoly on what Aristotle actually meant.  In fact, late in his short life, Thomas took the time to write extensive commentaries on many of Aristotle’s works, and even secular philosophers to this day generally regard them as faithful commentaries of the texts themselves.


There was perhaps no greater debate on reconciling Aristotle’s thought with Christianity than that of the Arabic interpretations of de Anima, especially as it relates to the immortality of  individual persons.  The overriding topic was that of the interpretation that Aristotle taught that that was one intellect in all men.  In his Quastiones Disputatae de Anima (This work alone comprises about 150 typed pages, showing the emphasis Thomas placed on this dispute), Thomas responds to the question of Whether there is one possible intellect, or intellective soul, for all men:


“…if the possible intellect is a substance having existence separate from the body, it must be unique; because those things which have existence apart from a body can in no way have a multiple existence as a result of a multiplicity of bodies. However, the unicity of the intellect must be given special consideration because it involves a peculiar difficulty. For it is at once apparent that there cannot be one [possible] intellect for all men. It is, indeed, clear that the possible intellect is related to the perfections, which sciences are, as a primary perfection to a secondary one, and that we have scientific knowledge potentially because of a possible intellect. This fact compels us to maintain that a possible intellect exists. Moreover, it is obvious that not all men possess the same scientific knowledge, because some know sciences which others do not. Now it is evidently incongruous and impossible for one and the same primary subject to be in act and in potency with regard to the same form. For example, [it is impossible that] a surface be at, the same time, potentially and actually white. (Quastiones Disputatae de Anima, Article 3)


We see here that Thomas does not deny reason’s place in understanding the truth of things, but takes pains to demonstrate the conformity of reason, properly applied, and the truths revealed in revelation.  He did not, for the most part, deny that Aristotle taught the truth, but rather, showed that his Arabic interpreters did not always come to the correct conclusions.

However, St. Thomas was not an “Aristotelian” in the proper sense.  Where Aristotle was wrong, Thomas was clear in saying so, and he would take the time to show where Aristotle was in error.  Again, the revelation of God was the final authority on truth.  However, we must remember that the same Author of Truth has “written” both creation and revelation.

We again return to our example of the eternity of the world.  Where some would use Aristotle’s arguments as definitive, others would try to show the errors in his “proofs” of the world’s eternity.  Thomas approach differed from both of these.


There are certain truths that cannot be known by reason.  For Thomas, the creation in time of the world was one such truth.  Only through revelation could we know for certain that the world had a beginning in time.  The task of the philosopher or theologian in this case was not to prove, by reason, that the world had a beginning, but rather, to demonstrate that arguments to the contrary were not demonstrations of fact.


We will take this opportunity to see how Thomas examines philosophical questions in light of the faith.  He begins his work On the Eternity of the World:


“Let us assume, in accordance with the Catholic faith, that the world had a beginning in time. The question still arises whether the world could have always existed, and to explain the truth of this matter, we should first distinguish where we agree with our opponents from where we disagree with them.” (de Aeternitate Mundi)


Thomas, in looking at this problem, states the following:


We thus ought to determine whether there is any contradiction between these two ideas, namely, to be made by God and to have always existed. And, whatever may be the truth of this matter, it will not be heretical to say that God can make something created by him to have always existed. (de Aeternitate Mundi)


Here, Thomas is not concerned to show that the world was or was not created in time, but to see if the eternity of the world, as searched by reason alone, was contradictory in and of itself.  Later, he states the following conclusion:


Therefore, there is no contradiction if we suppose that a cause instantaneously producing an effect does not precede its effect in time. A contradiction does obtain if the cause involved is one that produces its effects through motion, for the beginning of the motion precedes in time the end of the motion. Since people are accustomed to considering the type of cause that produces effects through motion, they do not easily grasp that an agent cause may fail to precede its effect in time, and so, having limited experience, they easily make a false generalization….


Therefore, at any instant at which God exists, so too can his effects, and thus God need not precede his effects in time. (de Aeternitate Mundi)


Here, St. Thomas shows us that there is no logical contradiction of a creating god and an eternal world.  His argument is not to prove that the world is in fact eternal, but merely to show that God as creator and an eternal world are not mutually exclusive concepts.  After this, Thomas examines another possible problem:


It remains to be seen, then, whether there is a contradiction in saying that something made has always existed, on the grounds that it may be necessary that its non-being precede it in time, for we say that it is made out of nothing. (de Aeternitate Mundi)

Thomas answers using a quote of St. Anselm’s:


“The third sense in which we can say that something is made out of nothing is this: we understand that something is made, but that there is not something from which it is made. In a similar way, we say that someone who is sad without reason is sad about nothing. We can thus say that all things, except the Supreme Being, are made by him out of nothing in the sense that they are not made out of anything, and no absurdity results.” On this understanding of the phrase “out of nothing,” therefore, no temporal priority of non-being to being is posited, as there would be if there were first nothing and then later something.  (de Aeternitate Mundi)


St. Thomas Aquinas’ intellectual honesty shines forth in examples such as this.  You see a man who lets the arguments take him wherever they lead.  Because of his great faith in revelation, he need not fear reason, even when it cannot prove the tenants of his faith.

The Old Law as preparation for Grace

The Old law as a necessary preparation for the New Law of Christ and grace.

We have already examined, in an earlier essay, the truth of original sin and the twofold darkness of malice and ignorance that it brought when we were deprived of our supernatural and preternatural gifts, as well as the need for grace to restore and heal our fallen nature.

This need for grace could only be received as a gift of God.  But what is received is received according to the mode of the receiver.  Even to receive the saving grace of the New Law in Christ, a certain healing had to begin.

What follows here is a summary of the Thomistic teaching, as presented in the Summa Theologica, of the Old Law and its purpose in forming a chosen people in preparation of the sending of the Christ, who would be the savior of the whole world through the grace He merited for us.

According to St. Thomas, Law is a standard of measurement for behavior, fostering certain actions and deterring from others.  Thomas notes that, according to Aristotle, “the aim of legislation is the fostering of virtue.”  Now moral virtue, or excellence of character, concerns what we do voluntarily, and not what we do because we are forced to do so, but as Thomas himself will tell us in his treatise on law, “they (the non-virtuous) start doing from choice what they earlier did from fear and so grow virtuous.”  Here he was speaking in particular of human law, but I think we can see the same pattern in the divine law of the Old Covenant.  Our fallen nature was such that we needed time, and by God’s wisdom, apparently a very long time, merely to right our actions and dispositions enough to be prepared for the coming of the new law, established by Christ.

Now law is an ordinance of reason, for the general good, made by whoever has care of the community, and promulgated. Clearly, in the Old Law, we must understand all of these elements at work to understand it purpose.  After a short explanation the four kinds of law, we will be able to see the place of divine law in the eternal law.

The eternal law is indeed nothing else than God’s wise plan for directing every movement and action in creation.  So the eternal law is one single, universal plan.  All laws that proceed from right reason derive from the eternal law. Everything created, whether it could have been otherwise or had to be as it is, is subject to the eternal law.

Now, man participates in this eternal law with what he can know through his own reason.  By nature, we know simple precepts, such as that good is to be done and evil avoided.  However, we often fail to do the good because of our fallen nature.  We now seek lesser goods, or those things perceived as a particular good, over and above the good itself.  As St. Thomas tells us of the most general premises of natural law, there is no way that they can be altogether removed from the human heart; but passion can stop reason from applying general premises in a particular case.

Now humans can form and promulgate law, and they do this in order to live peacefully in society and hopefully to build virtue in men.  Reason’s ultimate standard is the law we have in us by nature, and law framed by men is law only to the extent it derives from that law. If it runs counter in any way to the natural law, it is no longer law but a breakdown of law.  Given the fallen nature of man and our weakness in living out the law that is in us by nature, as mentioned above, mere human law itself is distorted and has no power to bring us back to God.

The goal of God’s law, then (divine positive law), is to lead us to eternal happiness.  Any wrongdoing, internal or external, will hinder that.  This law alone could not save us, but it was given to be a remedy for man’s ignorance.  The Old Law was given us by the good God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to direct us towards Christ, by witnessing to Him – Moses wrote of Me, says Jesus – and by preparing us for Him,  withdrawing us from idolatry into the worship of the one God who was to save the whole human race through Christ.  The same God that was to save men through Christ’s grace also gave them the law.  But commands given to children must be suited perfectly to the child’s condition rather than be perfect in some abstract sense.

Now Christ was destined in the future to save all nations, but still He had to be born of one particular people.  So, although certain injunctions of the Old Law proclaimed the natural law and as such had to be observed by all, not as Old Law but as natural law, certain other injunctions of the Old Law were peculiar to it and obliged only the people of the Jews, designed to give that people a special holiness out of reverence for Christ, who would be born from them.

The Old Law is one law with one goal, but issues different commands to cover the different steps to be taken toward that goal.  The goal of the law is charity, for all law aims at fellowship of men with each other and with God.  Love is based on likeness, and to love God, who is most good, man must become good himself, so the Old Law had to contain moral injunctions commanding virtuous behavior.

As we noted at the opening of our essay, according to St. Thomas, Law is a standard of measurement for behavior, fostering certain actions and deterring others. The law, therefore, imposes a certain conformity, at least externally, toward doing good and avoiding evil.  As mentioned,  to do good and avoid evil is the principle of all natural law.  Our fallen nature, however, has caused this an ignorance in us in respect to the particulars of this natural law in its application.  The Old Law restored us from this ignorance in many ways.

What it did not do was give us the ability to will the doing of good and avoidance of evil.  In the fall, we attained not only ignorance but malice.  The Old Law itself could never correct this.  However, as we said above, the aim of legislation is the fostering of virtue, and the non-virtuous might start doing from choice what they earlier did from fear and so grow virtuous. Accordingly, Thomas can say that the Old Law did not save men on its own, but God did not fail men.  Together with the law He gave the saving help of faith in a go-between to come: faith in Christ saved our forefathers just as it saves us.

Clearly then it is appropriate for God’s law to command acts of virtue, obliging us to behavior without which orderedness of reason and virtue is impossible, and counseling us to behavior which will perfect virtue.  According to Aristotle, we act virtuously when we act knowingly, choosing what we do voluntarily for some intended goal, and doing it wholeheartedly with a firm  and unwavering commitment. Human law, even when conceived and promulgated correctly and in accordance with natural law, cannot fulfill this.

Both human and divine law take ignorance into account when punishing or pardoning; but choosing and punishing are inner acts subject only to God’s law. Human law doesn’t punish those who want to do wrong but don’t.  Human law does not and should not punish one who wants to kill but does not do so.

Another example can be taken directly from the Old Law: someone who honors his parents and yet is devoid of the love of charity does not infringe the particular commandment regarding parents; but he does infringe the commandment to love and so earns punishment.

Now the laws used as an examples here are of the Ten Commandments.  However, the law of charity derives completely from the natural law, that we could know by reason alone.  This is an example of the divine law clearly stating what we could know by reason alone, but given as a cure for our state of ignorance.  In fact, all of the Ten Commandments, save one, could be known from natural law.  The keeping holy of the Sabbath, as a particular day, would be unknowable by reason alone, but all others were given simply to destroy our ignorance in things we know perfectly before the loss of grace in original sin.

In addition to these moral laws, certain ritual laws were given.  These too had saving a saving purpose, even though they have been fulfilled in Christ.  Thomas tells us that the worship of God has two parts: the first- external bodily worship – is at the service of the second – an interior worship of our minds and hearts to God.  As bodily creatures, we derive all our knowledge first from our senses.  As such, God’s truth can only express itself to us in symbols we can sense.  The Old Covenant rituals, then, not only prefigured the truth to come in our heavenly home, but also Christ, who is our way home.

While the rituals of the Old Covenant are no longer binding, they are fulfilled and not abolished.  The incarnation is God’s ultimate revelation to us, and in this He was not shy to condescend to us.  We are spiritual beings but also material.  Our worship, even now, likewise involves both. Ritual continues to be how we worship God, but this worship is internal primarily and external only secondarily.

Indeed, the sacraments have fulfilled the primary Old Law rituals.  Baptism has replaced circumcision, and the Eucharist is the fulfillment of the Passover meal.  Indeed, the sacraments are at one and the same time the worship we give God and the means by which we receive grace.

Thomas, before study would say a prayer that included these lines: remove far from me the twofold darkness in which I was born, namely, sin and ignorance. The Old Law was primarily given so that this ignorance would be removed.  Being saved from our ignorance, we would know what to do, but unable to do it. Yet this Law would not fail to lead us to salvation:

For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? hanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:22-7:25)

Functional Training for Men

Narcissism is the personality trait of egotism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness. Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism or an indifference to the plight of others.

Now that I got that out of the way, we by NO MEANS think that to be a Man of Virtue in any way involves weakness.  In fact, the be a good man is to possess strength.  Virtue means both manliness and power, because the two are not opposed, but are assumed to each other.


Pride is the root of all sin, and certainly, the physical strength that comes with being in shape can lead to it, but it need not do so.  We are soldiers for Truth. (Please see my article on Confirmation for a Sacramental aspect of becoming a warrior)

Our bodies are temples of the Lord, and we were created in His image.  I do not want to overemphasis this aspect, for it would be easy to get lost in thinking that physical training could be sufficient to be the man one was made to be.  The same problem comes from a superficial understanding of other aspects of our lives, such as “work as prayer.” Certainly, our work can be “prayer.” However, we dare not decide that “our work is prayer” and neglect taking time to concentrate soley on prayer itself.  Likewise, I reiterate this upfront: physical fitness IS an important aspect of being a good man, a Christian man.  But it is certainly not all. It is one part of our body/mind/soul make-up as God’s creatures.


For now, I would like to suggest a couple workout programs that have great health benefits, are certainly very challenging (offer it up) and help forge a level of fitness that goes beyond show to one that makes a man capable of living the adventure, fighting the battle, and saving the beauty (those that have read Wild at Heart will understand, and those that have not…should)

Escalating Density Training

Convict Conditioning

Let me state briefly that I certainly do not agree with everything philosophically about these programs and those that designed them (the second title should make that clear).  Nevertheless, these programs themselves I highly recommend: look into them.

Much more will be said about workouts and how to align them with the faith lived completely, body, mind, and soul. For now, do a little research and hit me back with your thoughts.


In Him,

Captain Matthew Menking, U.S. Army, Infantry


The Eucharist (Feast of Corpus Christi update)

CCC 1324 The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.””The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.”

The chalice of benediction, which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? And the bread, which we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord? For we, being many, are one bread, one body, all that partake of one bread. (1 Cor 10:16-17)

The Eucharist considered as a Passover, the matters used in the Eucharist, and the meaning of wheat bread and of grape wine

The Eucharist is the fulfillment of the Passover.  Christ is our paschal lamb, and He is the one sacrifice that is acceptable to the Father. He is perfect man, and offered Himself in perfect love, and now makes intercession for us to the Father in Heaven, “For he testifieth: Thou art a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedech…Whereby he is able also to save for ever them that come to God by him; always living to make intercession for us.” (Heb 7:17, 25)

At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ’s Body and Blood. Faithful to the Lord’s command the Church continues to do, in his memory and until his glorious return, what he did on the eve of his Passion: “He took bread. . . .” “He took the cup filled with wine. . . .” The signs of bread and wine become, in a way surpassing understanding, the Body and Blood of Christ; they continue also to signify the goodness of creation. Thus in the Offertory we give thanks to the Creator for bread and wine, fruit of the “work of human hands,” but above all as “fruit of the earth” and “of the vine” – gifts of the Creator. The Church sees in the gesture of the king-priest Melchizedek, who “brought out bread and wine,” a prefiguring of her own offering. (CCC 1333)

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “The necessity of wheaten bread is deduced immediately from the words of Institution: “The Lord took bread” (ton arton), in connection with which it may be remarked, that in Scripture bread (artos), without any qualifying addition, always signifies wheaten bread.” (

We see St. Ignatius of Antioch, at the beginning of the second century and on the way to his martyrdom, use this vivid imagery:

“I am writing to all the Churches and I enjoin all, that I am dying willingly for God’s sake, if only you do not prevent it. I beg you, do not do me an untimely kindness. Allow me to be eaten by the beasts, which are my way of reaching to God. I am God’s wheat, and I am to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts, so that I may become the pure bread of Christ.” (Epistle to the Romans)

In speaking of the wine to be used, St. Thomas says

This sacrament can only be performed with wine from the grape. First of all on account of Christ’s institution, since He instituted this sacrament in wine from the grape, as is evident from His own words, in instituting this sacrament (Matthew 26:29): “I will not drink from henceforth of this fruit of the vine.” (ST III, Q. 74)

We see the connection between the wine and the blood throughout Scripture.  A few examples shall suffice:

“Tying his foal to the vineyard, and his ass, O my son, to the vine. He shall wash his robe in wine, and his garment in the blood of the grape.” (Gen 49:11)

“I have trodden the winepress alone, and of the Gentiles there is not a man with me: I have trampled on them in my indignation, and have trodden them down in my wrath, and their blood is sprinkled upon my garments, and I have stained all my apparel.” (Isaiah 63:3)

And the angel thrust in his sharp sickle into the earth, and gathered the vineyard of the earth, and cast it into the great press of the wrath of God: And the press was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a thousand and six hundred furlongs. (Rev 14:19-20)

Thanks be to God for the most precious gift of His Body and Blood, which unites us in our created and earthly state to our Lord in Heaven, who takes common things and raises them up, as He takes fallen man and offers him divine and eternal life.

“Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the bread of life.”

“Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this wine to offer, fruit of the vine and work of human hands. It will become our spiritual drink.”

The Eucharist as a sacrifice in the Council of Trent and in Vatican II and the Real Presence

The Eucharist is called The Holy Sacrifice, because it makes present the one sacrifice of Christ the Savior and includes the Church’s offering. The terms holy sacrifice of the Mass, “sacrifice of praise,” spiritual sacrifice, pure and holy sacrifice are also used,150 since it completes and surpasses all the sacrifices of the Old Covenant. (CCC 1330)

“…the celebration of this sacrament is called Christ’s sacrifice. Hence it is that Ambrose, in commenting on Hebrews 10:1, says: “In Christ was offered up a sacrifice capable of giving eternal salvation; what then do we do? Do we not offer it up every day in memory of His death?” Secondly it is called a sacrifice, in respect of the effect of His Passion: because, to wit, by this sacrament, we are made partakers of the fruit of our Lord’s Passion.” (ST III, Q.83)

A priest is only a priest if He offers sacrifice.  And there is only an altar if there is a sacrifice to be offered.  Our High priest is Christ, who “offered Himself once” on the altar of the Cross, yet continually offers this same Sacrifice as in intercession for us (“Whereby he is able also to save for ever them that come to God by him; always living to make intercession for us.” Heb 7:25) In fact, in the Sermon on the Mount, our Lord tells us “If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath any thing against thee; Leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother: and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift” (Matt 5:23-24).

There is to be an altar, and to be a Sacrifice, offered forever (see also Malachi 1:11) to God.  This Sacrifice, pleasing to God, can only be the one Sacrifice of Jesus Himself.  As Johannes H. Emminghaus says well in his book The Eucharist, “Time is, after all, only relative; that is, it is simply a quality of our created order (according to place and time) existing in the succession of events. God’s action transcends and surpasses time.  In the ritual symbol, therefore, Christ’s action is really and continually present” (pg. xvii, introduction).

Christ is truly present, in a unique and substantial way, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  His once for all Sacrifice is constantly offered on behalf of His creatures who live in time. He is the Bread of Life, and whoever eats His Body and Drinks His Blood has Zoe, that is, divine life.  It is thus that we become “partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet 1:4)” and come to eternal life.

The Councils and the Magisterium reaffirm His real and substantial presence in the Eucharist:

First of all, the holy council teaches and openly and plainly professes that after the consecration of bread and wine, our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and true man, is truly, really and substantially contained in the august sacrament of the Holy Eucharist…For there is no repugnance in this that our Savior sits always at the right hand of the Father in heaven according to the natural mode of existing, and yet is in many other places sacramentally present to us in His own substance by a manner of existence which, though we can scarcely express in words, yet with our understanding illumined by faith, we can conceive and ought most firmly to believe is possible to God. (Trent, Session XIII)

In these words are highlighted both the sacrifice, which pertains to the essence of the Mass which is celebrated daily, and the sacrament in which the faithful participate in Holy Communion by eating the Flesh of Christ and drinking His Blood, receiving both grace, the beginning of eternal life, and the medicine of immortality. According to the words of Our Lord: “The man who eats my flesh and drinks my blood enjoys eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (Mysterium Fidei)

“Through him, with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever.”

So much is left unsaid in this brief treatment of the most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, but I pray you will wait patiently with me until I can treat of it more deeply…

On second thought, I do not pray you wait patiently but, rather, seek to learn on your own; there are great books and many Scriptures that can build our understanding of the Eucharist, but I recommend above all else that you present yourself to the Lord in Eucharistic adoration and ask Him, who is our one Master, our one Teacher.

Go to our Lord

This is a traditional English translation of the “Pange Lingua” written by St. Thomas Aquinas for the Feast of Corpus Christi.

Pange Lingua

Sing, my tongue, the Savior’s glory,
of His flesh the mystery sing;
of the Blood, all price exceeding,
shed by our immortal King,
destined, for the world’s redemption,
from a noble womb to spring.

Of a pure and spotless Virgin
born for us on earth below,
He, as Man, with man conversing,
stayed, the seeds of truth to sow;
then He closed in solemn order
wondrously His life of woe.

On the night of that Last Supper,
seated with His chosen band,
He the Pascal victim eating,
first fulfills the Law’s command;
then as Food to His Apostles
gives Himself with His own hand.

Word-made-Flesh, the bread of nature
by His word to Flesh He turns;
wine into His Blood He changes;
what though sense no change discerns?
Only be the heart in earnest,
faith her lesson quickly learns.

Down in adoration falling,
Lo! the sacred Host we hail;
Lo! o’er ancient forms departing,
newer rites of grace prevail;
faith for all defects supplying,
where the feeble senses fail.

To the everlasting Father,
and the Son who reigns on high,
with the Holy Ghost proceeding
forth from Each eternally,
be salvation, honor, blessing,
might and endless majesty. Amen.


Acts 10:38 “I take it you know what has been reported all over Judea about Jesus of Nazareth, beginning in Galilee with the baptism John Preached, of the way God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing.”

The sacrament of confirmation presupposes the mark of baptism, and cannot be given without it. The character of Confirmation, of necessity supposes the baptismal character: so that, in effect, if one who is not baptized were to be confirmed, he would receive nothing, but would have to be confirmed again after receiving Baptism. (ST III, 72)

Confirmation makes us soldiers of God.  It has been variously designated a making fast or sure, a perfecting or completing, as it expresses its relation to baptism.It is, after baptism, the next Sacrament of Initiation.  But what does it do?  Again, we listen to St. Thomas:

“Now it has been said above (1; 65, 1) that, just as Baptism is a spiritual regeneration unto Christian life, so also is Confirmation a certain spiritual growth bringing man to perfect spiritual age. But it is evident, from a comparison with the life of the body, that the action which is proper to man immediately after birth, is different from the action which is proper to him when he has come to perfect age. And therefore by the sacrament of Confirmation man is given a spiritual power in respect of sacred actions other than those in respect of which he receives power in Baptism. For in Baptism he receives power to do those things which pertain to his own salvation, forasmuch as he lives to himself: whereas in Confirmation he receives power to do those things which pertain to the spiritual combat with the enemies of the Faith.” (Summa III, Q.72)

“There has been much discussion among theologians as to what constitutes the essential matter of this sacrament. Some, e.g. Aureolus and Petavius, held that it consists in the imposition of hands. Others, with St. Thomas, Bellarmine, and Maldonatus, maintain that it is the anointing with chrism.” ( However, both are always present when the sacrament is given. Only the bishop may consecrate the oil, and it is preferred that it always be the bishop that administers the sacrament itself, because it symbolizes communion with fullness of apostolic ministry and origins of the Church.

St. Thomas, quoting the letter of an early pope in the Summa Theologica,  puts it as straight forward as possible:

Pope Eusebius says: “The sacrament of the imposition of the hand should be held in great veneration, and can be given by none but the high priests. Nor is it related or known to have been conferred in apostolic times by others than the apostles themselves; nor can it ever be either licitly or validly performed by others than those who stand in their place. And if anyone presume to do otherwise, it must be considered null and void; nor will such a thing ever be counted among the sacraments of the Church.” Therefore it is essential to this sacrament, which is called “the sacrament of the imposition of the hand,” that it be given by a bishop.(Summa III, Q.72)

Besides sanctifying grace, the sacrament also confers the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.  These are, according to Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David. They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations.(CCC 1831)