Category Archives: Dominican Life

The Divine Missions and the Indwelling of the Trinity

The Divine Missions and the Indwelling of the Trinity in the Souls of the Just

The divine missions of the Son and the Holy Spirit are temporal, but they are directly related to the procession of the Son from the Father and of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son.  The so called economic Trinity can never be separated from the immanent Trinity, and the way in which God acts, his gift of salvation through grace, are not merely external works of a transcendent God but an indwelling of this very God in the souls of the just.

“The notion of ‘mission’ of a divine person includes two elements: (1) the eternal procession of this person from another; (2) the gift of a created effect in time, namely sanctifying grace.”It is the two aspects towards which our reflection must turn, the second dependent upon the first.

The Father is the principle of the Son and the Spirit.  While not preceding them in time, as all are equally eternal and equally the one Being, God, the Father is prior as principle of the others. The Son, so to speak, comes from the Father, and likewise, the Son is one principle along with the Father of the procession of the Holy Spirit. The Father, however, has no such origin, but is rather the unbegotten principle of the other persons, and we call this innascibility. This understanding of the procession of the Son and of the Spirit, and likewise, lack of any procession of the Father, are necessary to understand the temporal missions of the Son and the Spirit in creation.

The Father is never sent, but the Son and the Spirit, each in their own way and in conformity with their manner of procession, are sent. All three Persons, however, dwell in the souls of the just.

All of creation is made in the image of God, and all creation shows forth something of God, his mind, and his love. Creation, St. Thomas tells us, is a reflection not merely of God as God, but as the Persons in their relation to one another. We get some idea of this when we contemplate the fact that God does not know things through discursive knowledge, but rather knows them all through His own understanding. He can be said, in a simple way, to know them through His Son, the Word. Likewise, He does not “come to know” these things and love the goodness in them, but rather, they are created and good because He loves them. “The heavens declare the glory of God” says Psalm 19.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness” (Gen 1:26). Man and the angels are created with free will and with intellects, and so can participate in the life of God in a way no other creature can, whether living or inanimate. While God is in all things as their cause, He can also be in intelligent beings in a unique way, since, like God, they can know and love. This is what man and the angels were made for, but because of the fall, both need a special gift of God to be what they were created to be.

This gift of the Creator is none other than the gift of Himself.  Sanctifying grace, that gift which saves fallen man, is the life of God truly given to man, so much so that we are told that we become “partakers of the divine nature” and that we will “be like God, for we shall see Him as He is.” So it is truly the Triune God that comes and makes His dwelling with us.  But we must examine the special way in which the Son and the Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Father and sent into the world for the salvation of man, come to live in us. We will look at their invisible missions, which can be seen even in the Old Testament, now that we have the fullness of Revelation in the New, and in the New Testament, where we have the Son Incarnate and visible manifestations of the Holy Spirit Himself.

“’Visible mission’ means the manifestation of the Son in the Incarnation and the manifestation of the Spirit in physical signs. ‘Invisible mission,’ conversely, means the sending of the Son and Holy Spirit into the hearts of the faithful.”We can see the visible missions exemplified especially in the Gospel According to John, where we are told that “In the Beginning was the Word…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” and that ““I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.”

These two visible signs of course are manifestly different in that the Son became man, and entered into creation in a unique way.  The Holy Spirit did not become a dove or fire, but manifested himself in this way for the sake of man. Still, we see that both Persons that proceed from the Father also were sent and seen by men in a way that the Father is not. What is more, the Word of God, as generated, becomes Incarnate, but not so the Holy Spirit.  The Person are all one God, but are truly unique both in the eternal immanent Trinity and in their temporal relation to man.

The invisible missions of these two Persons are likewise unique, yet they never are separate from one another. In fact, wherever the Father is, there is the Son, and likewise with the Spirit. The unity and Trinity of the Persons eternally is hardly less mysterious than their unified yet Trinitarian, if we may call it that, way of indwelling in the saints.

Jesus said that He must go to the Father and He would send another helper.  Yet we may take quite literally the words of the Apostle who says “it is no longer I that live but Christ that lives in me.”

The indwelling of God in the just is pure gift, and this gift of sanctifying grace can never be separated from the Persons themselves.  Certainly, actual grace can and does exist apart from the indwelling of the Persons, as this initial grace is required for man to even move toward repentance and faith in the first place.  But one is never sanctified without the very Triune God dwelling in him.

In fact, without sanctifying grace, God does not, dwell in us. So it is not only insufficient to know God philosophically, as in natural theology, or even to know Him with an imperfect faith, as He is known by one, for instance, in the state of mortal sin.  When God, through grace, lives within us, we have the infused virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We then can truly say that it is no longer I but Christ that lives in me.  We can then say that it is the Spirit that groans within us, perfecting our prayers, crying Abba, Father.

The Doctrine of the Trinity, concluded in the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas in Question 43 with the Mission of the Divine Persons, is not merely a speculative doctrine for contemplation, but rather, reflection on the Trinity is central to the entire Christian faith, both as it is known and lived. We were created by God, in the image and likeness of God, and for the purpose of knowing and loving God.  The Trinity, God as He exists eternally in and of himself, is at the center of our faith, for it is the center of reality, of everything “that is.”

 

 

Bibliography

The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version. San Francisco, CA, Thomas Nelson Publishing,  2006

Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles 4, translated by Charles J. O’Neil, Notre Dame, IN, 1975

Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province, Ava Maria Press, 1948

Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica: A Concise Translation, edited by Timothy McDermott, Notre Dame, IN, Ave Maria Press, 1989

Giles Emery, O.P., Trinity in Aquinas, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Ave Maria Press, 2003

Giles Emery, O.P., The Trinitarian Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas, Oxford, 2007

Reginald Garrigou-LaGrange, O.P., Reality, originally published 1950, Ex Fontibus Co, 2007

Reginald Garrigou-LaGrange, O.P., The Three Ages of the Interior Life, Volume I, originally published 1947, Rockford, IL, TAN Books, 1989

Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Tan Books, 1960

A Short Reflection on Augustine and Pelagius

Pelagius and Augustine on Grace

St. Augustine is commonly referred to as the Doctor of Grace, as his reflections on the necessity of grace in the life of man to do anything good at all permeate his writings.  His contemplation of grace as a free gift of God certainly appears in the pages of his great works such as the Confessions, The City of God, and the Trinity. However, a more systematic view can be gleaned from his encounter and dialogue with the doctrines of Pelagius, a monk and moralist who taught at Rome around the turn of the 5th century A.D. The contrary views on man, human nature, and the doctrine of grace is in many ways the greatest legacy of Augustine and his mark on the teaching of the Catholic Church to this day.

Pelagius seemed to be primarily concerned with right conduct, and the pessimistic views of man as a lump of sin could be demoralizing to those who would desire to live an upright life in service to God. He was distressed by Augustine’s prayer of “Give what thou command, and command what thou will,”1 for it seemed to make mere puppets of men in God’s hands. If we are wholly determined by divine grace, it might seem hardly necessary to give a real personal effort to do the Lord’s will. Pelagius, therefore, rejected such a view, as he understood it, so as to ensure the responsibility that men must take for their own action and their own failures.

Pelagius argued for three features of our action: power, will, and realization.  For him, the first came completely from God, but the latter are found in us.  God gave us our free will, and therefore we cooperate or reject to do that which God has given us the power to do.  This gives us both the merit or the blame for our actions, and it would seem difficult for us to be blamed for our failures if these were due completely to God not giving us the grace to will to do them. This, in essence, was the struggle for Pelagius in accepting the position of Augustine.

For man to have a truly free will that might receive real praise for what he does as well as real culpability, Pelagius’ understanding of the Fall and the nature of original sin had to differ as well from that of Augustine. To Pelagius’ understanding, the nature of original sin was more by way of bad example of each sinful parent, rather than a soiling of the soul handed down by the parents.  Man must be truly free to choose good or evil, and not unduly influenced by God in either direction to have true freedom and thus true responsibility for his actions. Grace was then limited to the external, be it good influence, preaching of the Gospel, etc.

In fact, because of his belief in the soul being created immediately by God, it seemed impossible for this stain of sin to be handed down.  Pelagius actually saw the belief in a handing down of the stain of sin as compatible only with a traducian theory of the soul’s origin, and could in some instances accuse Augustine of having an old residue of his Manichean past still about him.

Before moving on to Augustine’s position on grace, it is important to note that Augustine never seemed to work out his view on the origin of the soul, vacillating between a creationist and traducianist view.  He seemed to know that his doctrine of the handing on of original sin from the first man was favorable to the traducianist theory.2

Saint Augustine contrasts the initial state of man with his fallen condition after original sin, and his view of free will here is slightly different than that of Pelagius.  For Augustine, the distinction must be made that before the fall, Adam had the power not to sin, but sinned. After the fall, man cannot not sin, and his nature is wounded. “Man’s liberty is curtailed since he is drawn towards sin by concupiscence. Augustine sees the role of grace as breaking this slavery and thereby freeing man. On his own man would have eternally been held captive…Pelagius is held to have taught that man can begin his work of salvation, that he can merit God’s help and grace. Saint Augustine holds that grace is not subject to merit, rather it precedes man’s actions.”3

The fundamental mystery here is that of free will and grace.  Certainly, both men held that our power to do good comes from the good God alone.  In an effort to defend the free will of man, Pelagius would say that man must be able to somehow cooperate with God of man’s own volition. For Augustine, this cooperation is itself a good, and so must be preceded by some action of God. Otherwise, man takes his first steps back towards God on his own.  This makes man the “first mover” in this way, and this cannot be, not only by the doctrine of revealed truth, but even in a metaphysical sense.

The mystery of grace and free will remains with us today, and likely always will, this side of Heaven.  Man’s freedom and God’s absolute providence are difficult if not impossible for the human mind to reconcile.  Whether it is Augustine and Pelagius, the John Calvin and Jacob Arminius, or even, at times in the past, the Jesuits and the Dominicans, we will always in our mind have the tendency to, in attempted to uphold the truth of one or other of these truths (free will and Divine providence) find ourselves somehow emphasizing one to the detriment of the other.

Saint Augustine won the day with his defense of the absolute necessity of God’s grace being preceded by no action of ours and this initial grace merited in no way by man, and likewise the doctrine of original sin, as understood by the Church, is heavily influenced by the reflections of Augustine. For example, the Catechism explicitly states that “The Church’s teaching on the transmission of original sin was articulated more precisely in the fifth century, especially under the impulse of St. Augustine’s reflections against Pelagianism, and in the sixteenth century, in opposition to the Protestant Reformation. Pelagius held that man could, by the natural power of free will and without the necessary help of God’s grace, lead a morally good life; he thus reduced the influence of Adam’s fault to bad example.”4 Nevertheless, through the centuries, many great minds have prayerfully pondered these truths more and more deeply. Almost every great mind, however, that has spoken well on this most difficult of subjects, has certainly had to wrestle with the brilliant teachings of the Doctor of Grace.

 

 

Notes:

 

  1. J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, pg. 357
  2. The Cambridge Companion to Augustine, pg. 122
  3. International Catholic University, Patristics, Lecture 5
  4. Catechism of the Catholic Church 406

Prayer: Meditation and Contemplation

What is the difference between meditation and contemplation as an approach to mental prayer?

There are many forms of prayer and levels of prayer, although prayer is always a lifting of the mind and heart to God.  Prayer requires both the intellect and the will, for we desire God and we desire to know Him.  Often one will use the terms meditation and contemplation synonymously, but though certainly related, these are not the same. One simple method to distinguishing the two is to divide them between the ascetical and mystical forms.

“Ascetical theology treats especially of the mortification of vices or defects and of the practice of the virtues. Mystical theology treats principally of docility to the Holy Ghost, of the infused contemplation of the mysteries of faith, of the union with God which proceeds from it, and also of extraordinary graces, such as visions and revelations, which sometimes accompany infused contemplation” (Three Ages of the Interior Life). Generally, meditation can be said to belong to the ascetical stage and contemplation to the mystical stage of one’s prayer life. However, such a strict distinction, although helpful in discerning the difference, can also be misleading, as can any theology which would separate ascetical and mystical stages too sharply.

“Discursive meditation can be defined as a reasoned application of the mind to some supernatural truth in order to penetrate its meaning, love it, and carry it into practice with the assistance of grace. The distinguishing note of meditation is that it is a discursive type of prayer, and therefore attention is absolutely indispensable” (Spiritual Theology).  The will is turned to God and some aspect of truth, rather revealed or naturally known, is meditated upon.  This truth is pondered so as to come to a greater understanding of it, a greater understanding of its relation to other truths, and an understanding of how to apply the truth in one’s daily life. “Meditation is not completed by arousing love for the supernatural truth on which one has speculated. Any meditation that is properly made should terminate in a practical resolution for the future” (Spiritual Theology).

The guiding principle for the subject matter to be reflected on is to select what is needed at a particular time and will be beneficial to the one praying. A married person may often meditate upon certain truths more often than others, while a religious or professed single person may reflect on others. An older person, or one who has lived many years in the faith may reflect on different truths than one new to the faith. With contemplative prayer, this is often not the case, but the subject of reflection is rather guided more directly by the action of the Holy Spirit than it is as chosen by the one contemplating.

Truth is certainly to be known for its own sake, as an end itself and not simply as a means.  However, it must be stressed again that that which is meditated upon should carry over into action, into the way the life of the believer is lived in the concrete circumstances of his or her life.

“The word contemplation signifies knowledge accompanied by delight, and the object of the knowledge is usually of such a type that it arouses admiration and captivates the soul…contemplation is an operation of the cognitive powers…” (Spiritual Theology) In true contemplation, the will and intellect are more passive.  They are both still involved, to be sure, but are noticeably more moved by the direct action of the Holy Spirit interiorly.  Meditation can certainly become contemplation, as the will is turned to God and His graces operate in the one who is praying.  But contemplation is distinct in the way the intellect and will are moved to knowledge of God not in a discursive manner but much more directly.

One may, for example, know that God exists through discursive knowledge.  One can meditate on the truth that all contingent things need a cause, and that there is therefore a cause that is not contingent but necessary. One may also meditate on the Trinity, which, as object of meditation, requires faith, since it cannot be known by reason, yet this knowledge may still be discursive in nature.  Beyond this, contemplation involves experiential rather than discursive knowledge, and this can only be brought about by a direct action of the Holy Spirit in a soul so disposed by grace.

“Supernatural or infused contemplation has been defined by various formulas, but the essential note that all definitions have in common is that supernatural contemplation is an experimental knowledge of God. Moreover, as a supernatural activity, infused contemplation requires the operation of faculties that are likewise supernatural, both in their substance and in their mode of operation” (Spiritual Theology).

Infused contemplation is a grade of prayer made possible by the operation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and it necessarily requires sanctifying grace and the impulse of actual grace. (adapted from Spiritual Theology) One could, of course, even in the state of sin, meditate on the mysteries of the faith.  While charity has been lost due to sin, as long as faith and hope remain, the believer can reflect in a real way upon the truths of the faith.  But for contemplation, sanctifying grace must be present. As with all good things done by man, the impulse of actual grace is necessary as well. The believer must be in a state of grace and moved by grace interiorly, and this cannot come from the believer directly but from the Holy Spirit.  The person must be open and not resistant to grace, but contemplation can never be brought about through the effort of the believer.

The infused virtues of the affective order are not the immediate, formal, and eliciting principles of the act of contemplation, although they may serve as antecedent dispositions or consequent effects. The immediate eliciting principles of contemplation are the gifts of wisdom and understanding perfecting the act of faith informed by charity. (adapted from Spiritual Theology) In other words, it is not the infused virtues that bring about in a direct way the act of contemplation.  They are necessary, and are given already with sanctifying grace as gifts of the Holy Spirit.  They are, for all that, not the direct cause of contemplation, but rather it is the Holy Spirit moving one through the gifts of wisdom and understanding.

In summary, meditation can be closely linked with ascetical prayer in that, although it still requires grace, can be brought about by human effort.  Contemplation, however, although requiring certainly our cooperation, is passive in that the Spirit moves one directly to the object of contemplation. So while we must never divide ascetical and mystical theology into completely separated and unrelated categories, and likewise with meditation and contemplation, we can indeed make distinctions so that we may reflect more deeply upon the workings of grace and the Holy Spirit in our lives of prayer as we journey ever closer to God.

 

Jesus, Primary Education, and a Return to the Liberal Arts

The following is not my own (but truth belongs to no one except by participation, except truth Himself, which “just so happens” to be the point of my sharing this).  It is from an old work no longer in print (if I am wrong about this, please let me know, and I will purchase a new physical copy) by Fr. Benedict Ashley, O.P., on the Liberal Arts:

After giving an account of learning, the practical and recreational arts from Genesis and from ancient cultures:

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THE ONE TRUE TEACHER

The attempts of savage people to restore paradise on earth by their corrupt arts had ended in such disasters as the flood. The attempts of the great ancient cities to restore paradise on earth had ended in warfare and vain schemes like the Tower of Babel. The search of the Greeks after wisdom seemed at first to succeed, but it too came to an end when the Romans established a world empire in which wisdom became only a tool to gain power and wealth. In Rome the emperor was made a god, and Rome began to go down to the same destruction that had followed all the foolish pride of previous civilizations.

Of all the people in the world only the Jews had kept the true idea of God, of his law, of the relation of man to nature; but they kept themselves pure only by remaining narrow. The fate of their great wise man Solomon had shown them the danger of mixing with foreign nations, and they knew no way to combine the wisdom of the Greeks with the truth contained in their own Bible. This truth that the whole world needed was stored up in Jerusalem, and, like grain that is kept too long in storage, it had begun to mildew. Who would open the granaries of truth and feed the famished nations?
Mankind had proved that by itself it could not restore paradise. Then from a most unlikely place the true teacher of mankind, the second Adam of the human race, appeared. He seemed to be only a poor young workman, a carpenter of the Jewish nation. He was not a student of the philosophy of the Greeks. Nor was he a king like Solomon. He was the Son of God, who had become a man like us to save us and to teach all men by his example and his preaching.

Jesus Christ was not a student of the philosophers. He was the supreme philosopher and teacher who required no one to teach him. He gave an example to those who practice the useful arts by himself working for years as a carpenter. He gave an example also of fitting recreation, for he did not hesitate to come to the banquets of the people. In his teaching he used stories which are masterpieces of poetics and of rhetoric. He corrected our understanding of nature when he showed how all things in the world follow the law of God’s providence and how man has a dignity above all other visible creatures. He also corrected our understanding of life and society by teaching that all law, is summed up in the love of God and neighbor. Finally, he revealed to us the supreme secret about God himself, that he is one God in three divine Persons, a truth hidden (except in shadowy outlines) from all ancient thinkers.

Now that Jesus Christ has shown us the true way we need never be in any doubt as to where to find the truth. He taught us all the great truths we will ever need. Until he comes again, we have only to remain faithful to that truth, strive to understand it better, and use it as a guide in our search for the lesser truths that will complete the picture. Our Lord has even provided the Church and the help of his grace to guide us in remaining faithful to his teaching. When he ascended into heaven he left this Church, headed by his apostles and their successors, the bishops, to educate the whole human race.

He warned his apostles, however, that this work of educating the world would be a difficult task which would not be completed before he comes again. Many would not understand what the Church was trying to do and would claim that the bishops were trying to suppress the truth, because they were correcting teachings which were only partly true.
Jesus promised that gradually the Church would go on gathering together the fragments of truth wherever they were to be found, cleansing them of error, and fitting them into the broad framework of his own teaching.

CHRISTIAN EDUCATION

In order to bring the truth of Christ to the world, the Church had to overcome three great efforts of the forces of darkness to put out the light which she held so high.

The first threat was the effort of pagan Rome to absorb the Christians, when it found that it could not destroy them by persecution. The pagan philosophers tried to water down the truth of Christ’s teaching and turn it into a mere form of pagan philosophy. The great Fathers of the Church — teachers like St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Irenaeus, St. Basil, St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. Augustine, and St. Jerome — defeated this threat by showing how much greater was the teaching of Christ than that of the philosophers, although whatever was true in philosophy might be used in Christian education.

The second great threat was the period of disorder called the Dark Ages. The Roman government, weakened by its failure to accept Christianity wholeheartedly, collapsed under the onrush of Germanic barbarians from the north and Mohammedan barbarians from the south. During this dark time of war and confusion the Church kept patiently at work building the foundations of a new civilization. It was in the monastery schools, especially those of the Order of St. Benedict, that the ancient education was not only kept alive, but purified of its paganism and given a new and truer form based on the study of the Sacred Scriptures.

Gradually peace was restored in Europe; many of the barbarians were converted, others were driven back. The Church at last was able to establish the great schools called the universities. Here the wisdom of the Lyceum and the Museum was restored, except that now on the throne of wisdom sat a new queen, no longer natural theology, but Sacred Theology based on the teaching of Christ. In the beautiful cathedrals of the Middle Ages we see Sacred Theology portrayed in stone, surrounded by all the arts and sciences which made up medieval education. They are symbolized as follows:

I. THE LIBERAL ARTS:

A. The Trivium or three ways to knowledge:

1. Grammar (and with it poetics), symbolized by the figure of Donatus, a Roman teacher who wrote the Latin grammar book used in all medieval schools.

2. Rhetoric, symbolized by the figure of Cicero, the great Roman orator.

3. Logic (including both demonstrative and dialectical logic), symbolized by the figure of Aristotle.

B. The Quadrivium or four ways to knowledge:

1. Arithmetic or algebra, symbolized by the figure of Pythagoras.

2. Geometry, symbolized by the figure of Euclid.

3. Music, symbolized by the figure of Tubalcain (rather than his brother Jubal, because in the Middle Ages bells were a favorite musical instrument and Tubalcain was the inventor of metal work).

4. Astronomy, symbolized by the figure of Ptolemy.

II. PHILOSOPHY (science), symbolized by a noble woman with her head in the clouds and her feet on the earth:

A. Natural science and with it medicine, sometimes symbolized by the figure of Galen, the great Greek doctor and disciple of Aristotle.

B. Social or moral science and with it law, sometimes symbolized by the figure of Justinian, the Christian Emperor who codified the Roman law.

C. Metaphysics or natural theology, represented by Plato, who was regarded by the earlier Middle Ages as the great pagan theologian.

III.SACRED THEOLOGY, symbolized by a queen holding the Sacred Scriptures, or later by St. Thomas Aquinas, the Common Doctor of the Church.

This system of education was perfected by the great Doctors of the Church (of whom St. Thomas Aquinas was the chief, along with St. Bonaventure and St. Anthony of Padua, St. Albert the Great, and later St. Robert Bellarmine and St. Peter Canisius) and by educators like St. Ignatius Loyola, St. John Baptist de la Salle, and St. Angela Merici. It remains the foundation of all education today, even of that given in non-Catholic schools.

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Faith in Christ does not excuse us from learning, but rather compels us to seek Wisdom, and to have confidence that, guided and corrected by Christ and His Church, we may find it, on earth through prayer and study, enjoying a taste of eternity, when we will contemplate Truth face to face.

The progress in art, in science, in invention, and in geographical exploration were all achievements which had their roots in the education given Europe by the Church, but men forgot this and began to attack the Church as the enemy of progress.

When teaching our children (which we all must do) and monitoring what they are learning in the schools we send them to for EXTRA education (parents are responsible to be the PRIMARY educators of their children, Canon 226-2) we should ask ourselves where we stand on such a statement as this:

Those who conceive of the high school program in terms of a body of information to be inculcated and who make high school education into a pocket edition of college education. emphasizing surveys of facts or the acquisition of some particular vocational skill do not understand the needs and opportunities of our times. The chief task of the high school is, on the contrary, to equip the student with a developed ability to learn on his own.

 

 

My Formation Process

Here I will simply keep a sort of journal of my formation process, separately than the other material on the blog which, for a Dominican, is all part of formation, for we see prayer and study in a unity as we are, after all, intellectual beings who seek to know Being itself and thus, all of reality.

 

Chaplet of St. Michael the Archangel

The prayer starts:

O God, come to my assistance. O Lord, make haste to help me. Glory be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Then one ‘Our Father’ and three ‘Hail Marys’ are to be prayed after each of the following nine salutations

1. By the intercession of St. Michael and the celestial Choir of Seraphim may the Lord make us worthy to burn with the fire of perfect charity. Amen.

2. By the intercession of St. Michael and the celestial Choir of Cherubim may the Lord grant us the grace to leave the ways of sin and run in the paths of Christian perfection. Amen.

3. By the intercession of St. Michael and the celestial Choir of Thrones may the Lord infuse into our hearts a true and sincere spirit of humility. Amen.

4. By the intercession of St. Michael and the celestial Choir of Dominions may the Lord give us grace to govern our senses and overcome any unruly passions. Amen.

5. By the intercession of St. Michael and the celestial Choir of Powers may the Lord protect our souls against the snares and temptations of the devil. Amen.

6. By the intercession of St. Michael and the celestial Choir of Virtues may the Lord preserve us from evil and falling into temptation. Amen.

7. By the intercession of St. Michael and the celestial Choir of Principalities may God fill our souls with a true spirit of obedience. Amen.

8. By the intercession of St. Michael and the celestial Choir of Archangels may the Lord give us perseverance in faith and in all good works in order that we may attain the glory of Heaven. Amen.

9. By the intercession of St. Michael and the celestial Choir of Angels may the Lord grant us to be protected by them in this mortal life and conducted in the life to come to Heaven. Amen.

Next, one Our Father is to be said in honour of each of the following leading Angels: St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael and our Guardian Angel.

Concluding prayers

A Saint Michael rosary.O glorious prince St. Michael, chief and commander of the heavenly hosts, guardian of souls, vanquisher of rebel spirits, servant in the house of the Divine King and our admirable conductor, thou who dost shine with excellence and superhuman virtue deliver us from all evil, who turn to thee with confidence and enable us by your gracious protection to serve God more and more faithfully every day.

Pray for us, O glorious St. Michael, Prince of the Church of Jesus Christ, that we may be made worthy of His promises.

Almighty and Everlasting God, Who, by a prodigy of goodness and a merciful desire for the salvation of all men, has appointed the most glorious Archangel St. Michael Prince of Thy Church, make us worthy, we beseech Thee, to be delivered from all our enemies, that none of them may harass us at the hour of death, but that we may be conducted by him into the August Presence of Thy Divine Majesty. This we beg through the merits of Jesus Christ Our Lord.

Amen.


The Dominican Order and the Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People (Apostolicam Actuositatem)

A vocation to the Order of Preachers, most often referred to as the Dominicans, is one that has ancient ties to the deep traditions of our faith and yet is ever new.  It involves deep contemplation and action based on that contemplation.  Truth is the Preachers’ primary concern.

The Third Order allows those men and women that are laymen to work in the community of Preachers towards the same mission given to it by her founder, and perfectly in accord with the recent Church reiteration of the importance of the role of the laity in the work of the Church.

“In the Church there is a diversity of ministry but a unity of mission…the laity are made to share in the priestly, prophetical, and kingly office of Christ…The characteristic of the lay state being a life led in the midst of the world and of secular affairs, layman are called by God to make of their apostolate, through the vigor of their Christian spirit, a leaven in the world (Apostolicam Actuositatem, Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People).”

Through its pillars of study, prayer, community, and the apostolate, one can live out the call to “share the fruits of our contemplation (Contemplari et contemplata aliis tradere).”

“On all Christians therefore is laid the preeminent responsibility of working to make the divine message of salvation known and accepted by all men throughout the world (Apostolicam Actuositatem).”

You cannot share what you do not know, and thus, prayer and study have the preeminent role in not only the right living of our own lives, but the conversion of sinners.  We are channels of God’s grace, mere instruments.  But, like soldiers, we have a responsibility to keep the instruments of our trade ready for combat.  Our war is not with flesh and blood but with principalities and powers, and we follow the divine Commander.  Our prayer and our study are our training to be God’s soldiers, His hounds.

The life of community and of the apostolate follow upon our prayer and study.  We love our neighbor as ourselves and love him in and through Christ.

“This charity of God, ‘which is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us’ (Rom. 5:5), enables the laity really to express the spirit of the beatitudes in their lives (Apostolicam Actuositatem).”

The Dominicans have always held a special place for the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes in particular.  The Gospel According to Matthew is said to have been carried everywhere by St. Dominic. To be a part of the Order of Preachers is to make a commitment to strive, with God’s grace, to live the teachings of Christ and to share them, lovingly but firmly, with the world.

To be a member of the Preachers, whether clergy or layman, is to be in the world, but not of the world.  As a community, we strive to “preach the Gospel to all nations” and to, within the temporal order, bring live the charity of God. “God’s plan for the world is that men should work together to renew and constantly perfect the temporal order (Apostolicam Actuositatem).”

I, especially, hope to build up others, that they may in turn do the same.  I believe, like St. Dominic, that we can set the world ablaze for Christ if we pray and work for His Kingdom each day. I wish to teach others, through my actions and through my words, to multiply these same efforts, for the salvation of souls.

The place of prayer can be overemphasized in no Christian life.  But the place of study in the Dominican Order is of special significance to me.  In the modern world, no less for certain than at any other time, we must be prepared to meet all people and cultures to preach and especially defend the truth.

Again, the teaching of the Second Vatican Council teaches this clearly:

“The formation for the apostolate presupposes a certain human and well-rounded formation adapted to the natural abilities and conditions of each lay person. Well-informed about the modern world, the lay person should be a member of his own community and adjusted to its culture.

However, the lay person should learn especially how to perform the mission of Christ and the Church by basing his life on belief in the divine mystery of creation and redemption and by being sensitive to the movement of the Holy Spirit who gives life to the people of God and who urges all to love God the Father as well as the world and men in Him. This formation should be deemed the basis and condition for every successful apostolate.

In addition to spiritual formation, a solid doctrinal instruction in theology, ethics, and philosophy adjusted to differences of age, status, and natural talents, is required. The importance of general culture along with practical and technical formation should also be kept in mind (Apostolicam Actuositatem).”

All religious orders and vocations outside of these orders have their place in the Church, and the various parts of the body, the various talents of each person and each community, are certainly needed.  But for me, a vocation to the Order of Friars Preachers seems most in conformity with the placing of my talents at the service of the Church, as she has called each of us to do.

Short reflection 1/15/2012

It seems that the spiritual life is as often about what we don’t do as about what we do. Sanctity seems to be, when we consider that all goodness comes from God, who is Goodness Himself, mostly about not getting in the way.  We must not place obstacles in the path He wants to work through us. Better to have said “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30) than to hear it said to us “Get behind me, for you are a hindrance to Me” (Matt 16:23)

“I must decrease, but He must increase” is not a negative view of humanity, but rather a true understanding that it was created in His image and likeness.  The “I” that must decrease is not the whole “I” but the “I” of fallen man.  That individual lost in his own pride, who wants to “be like God” (Gen 3:5) as the Serpent has deceived us. We must decrease inasmuch as we think we are autonomous, and let what is truly good in us increase.  That true good is only Goodness itself, the source and exemplar of what we are meant to be.  God say all that He had made, and saw that it was “very good” (Gen 1:31)

By grace, we can be lifted back to this “very good,” and indeed beyond it. This is the source of the saying, “O felix culpa.”

“O felix culpa quae talem et tantum meruit habere redemptorem,” “O happy fault that merited such and so great a Redeemer.” But we must not be a hindrance to our redeemer.  We can be “very good” and “be perfect, as our Father in Heaven is perfect”(Matt 5:48) if “it is no longer I, but Christ who lives in me.” (Gal 2:20)

How to change the world:

Start with yourself:

Prayers of Adoration
O my God,
I am heartily sorry for
having offended Thee,
and I detest all my sins,
because I dread the loss of heaven,
and the pains of hell;
but most of all because
they offend Thee, my God,
Who are all good and
deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve,
with the help of Thy grace
to confess my sins,
to do penance
and to amend my life.

Amen.

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:

TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND EAT OF IT, FOR THIS IS MY BODY, WHICH WILL BE GIVEN UP FOR YOU.

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:

TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND DRINK FROM IT, FOR THIS IS THE CHALICE OF MY BLOOD, THE BLOOD OF THE NEW AND ETERNAL COVENANT, WHICH WILL BE POURED OUT FOR YOU AND FOR MANY FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS. DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME.

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.

Amen.