Archive for the ‘Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange’ Category


The Error in Liberal Protestantism – Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.

October 25, 2012

The Christian religion presents itself not as a creation superimposed on nature, but as an elevation, an assumption, a transfiguration, a grace that makes use of normal faculties, fortifies them without destroying them, rests on rational foundations, and perfects without suppressing. Moreover, if it is true that the mysteries of faith remain impenetrable to our intellectual insight, just as the life of grace as such remains unconscious, still mysteries and grace bring with them a light that shines in what we know and in our conscience.
Maurice Blondel

The Error in Liberal Protestantism
This grave misconception concerning our supernatural life, reducing it essentially to faith in Christ and excluding sanctifying grace, charity and meritorious works, was destined to lead gradually to Naturalism; it was to result finally in considering as “just” the man who, whatever his beliefs, valued and practiced those natural virtues which were known even to the pagan philosophers who lived before Christ.
[Footnote: J. Maritain explains very clearly how Naturalism arises necessarily from the principles of Protestantism: “According to the Lutheran theology, it is we ourselves, and only we ourselves, who lay hold of the mantle of Christ so that with it we may “cover all our shame.” It is we who exercise this “ability to jump from our own sin on to the justice of Christ, thus becoming as sure of possessing the holiness of Christ as we are of possessing our own bodies.”]

The Lutheran theory of justification by faith may be called a Pelagianism born of despair. In ultimate analysis it is man who is left to work out his own redemption by stimulating himself to a despairing confidence in Christ. Human nature has then only to cast aside, as a useless theological accessory, the mantle of a grace which means nothing to him, and to transfer its faith-confidence from Christ to itself — and there you have that admirable emancipated brute, whose unfailing and continuous progress is an object of wonder to the universe. In Luther and his doctrine we witness — on the spiritual and religious plane — the advent of the Ego.

“We say that it is so in fact; it is the inevitable outcome of Luther’s theology. But this does not prevent the same theology in theory from committing the contrary excess…And so Luther tells us that salvation and faith are to such an extent the work of God and of Christ that these alone are active in the business of our redemption, without any co-operation on our part. . . .

Luther’s theology was to oscillate between these two solutions: in theory it is the first, apparently, that must prevail: Christ alone, without our co-operation, is the author of our salvation. But since it is psychologically impossible to suppress human activity, the second has inevitably prevailed in fact. It is a matter of history that liberal Protestantism has issued in Naturalism.

In such an outlook, the question which is actually of the first importance does not even arise: Is man capable in his present state, without divine grace, of observing all the precepts of the natural law, including those that relate to God? Is he able without grace to love God the sovereign Good, the author of our nature, and to love Him, not with a merely inoperative affection, but with a truly efficacious love, more than he loves himself and more than he loves anything else?

The early Protestants would have answered in the negative, as Catholic theologians have always done.[ Cf. St. Thomas, I-IIae, Q. cfx, art 3] Liberal Protestantism, the offspring of Luther’s theology, does not even ask the question; because it does not admit the necessity of grace, the necessity of an infused supernatural life. Nevertheless, the question still recurs under a more general form: Is man able, without some help from on high, to get beyond himself, and truly and efficaciously to love Truth and Goodness more than he loves himself? Clearly, these problems are essentially connected with that of the nature of our interior life; for our interior life is nothing else than a knowledge of the True and a love of the Good; or better, a knowledge and love of God.

A Fundamental Truth Of The Christian Spiritual Life Is Sanctifying Grace
Nevertheless, we may here emphasize a fundamental truth of the Christian spiritual life, or of Christian mysticism, which has always been taught by the Catholic Church.

In the first place it is clear that according to the Scriptures the justification or conversion of the sinner does not merely cover his sins as with a mantle; it blots them out by the infusion of a new life. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy great mercy,” so the Psalmist implores; “and according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my iniquity, Wash me yet more from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin…Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop and I shall be cleansed; thou shalt wash me and I shall be made whiter than snow…Blot out all my iniquities. Create a clean heart in me, O God; and renew a right spirit within my bowels, Cast me not away from thy face, and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and strengthen me with a perfect spirit.” [Psalms. 1, 3-14]

The Prophets use similar language. Thus God says, through the prophet Isaiah: “I am he that blot out thy iniquities for my own sake.” [Isaiah, 43:25] And the same expression recurs throughout the Bible: God is not content merely to cover our sins; He blots them out, He takes them away. And therefore, when John the Baptist sees Jesus coming towards him, he says: “Behold the Lamb of God. Behold him who taketh away the sin of the world!”

We find the same idea in St. John’s first Epistle:[1 John 1:7] “The blood of Jesus Christ…cleanseth us from all sin.” St. Paul writes, similarly, in his first Epistle to the Corinthians: “Not the effeminate nor the impure nor thieves nor Covetous nor drunkards nor railers nor extortioners shall possess the kingdom of God. And such some of you were. But you are washed; but you are sanctified; but you are justified; in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God.”[1 Corinthians 6:10

If it were true that by conversion sins were only veiled, and not blotted out, it would follow that a man is at once both just and ungodly, both justified, and yet still in the state of sin. God would love the sinner as His friend, despite the corruption of his soul, which He is apparently incapable of healing. The Savior would not have taken away the sins of the world if He had not delivered the just man from the servitude of sin. Again, for the Christian these truths are elementary; the profound understanding of them, the continual and quasi-experiment living of them is what we call the contemplation of the saints.

An Effective And Operative Love Produces Lovableness
The blotting out and remission of Sins thus described by the Scriptures can be effected only by the infusion of sanctifying grace and charity -- which is the supernatural love of God and of men for God’s sake.
Ezekiel, speaking in the name of God, tells us that this is so: “I will pour upon you clean water, and you shall be cleansed from all your filthiness; and I will cleanse you from all your idols, And I will give you a new heart, and put a new spirit within you; and Iwill take away the stony heart out of your flesh and will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit in the midst of you; and Iwill cause you to walk in my commandments.”[ Ezekiel  36:25]

This pure water which regenerates is the water of grace, of which it is said in the Gospel of St. John [John 1:16] “Of his fullness we have all received; and grace for grace.” “By (our Lord Jesus Christ) we have received grace,” we read in the Epistle to the Romans[Romans 1:5]:, “the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost who is given to us” [Romans 5:5] and in the Epistle to the Ephesians: “To every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the giving of Christ.”[Ephesians 4:7]

If it were otherwise, God’s uncreated love for the man whom He converts would be merely an idle affection, and not an effective and operative love. But God’s uncreated love for us, as St. Thomas shows, is a love which, far from presupposing in us any lovableness, actually produces that lovableness within us. His creative love gives and preserves in us our nature and our existence; but his life-giving love gives and preserves in us the life of grace which makes us lovable in His eyes, and lovable not merely as His servants but as His sons. (I, Q, xx, art, 2),

Sanctifying grace, the principle of our interior life, makes us truly the children of God because it makes us partakers of His nature. We cannot be sons of God by nature, as the Word is; but we are truly sons of God by grace and by adoption. And whereas a man who adopts a child brings about no interior change in him, but simply declares him his heir, God, when He loves us as adoptive sons, transforms us inwardly, giving us a share in His own intimate divine life.

The Nature Of Sanctifying Grace
Hence we read in the Gospel of St. John: “(The Word) came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them he gave the power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name. Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”[John1 11-13] And our Lord Himself said to Nicodemus: “Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again of Water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Wonder not that I said to thee: You must be born again”[John 3:5]

St. John himself, moreover, writes in his first Epistle [John 3:9]: “Whosoever is born of God committeth not sin; for God’s seed abideth in him. And he cannot sin because he is born of God.” In other words, the seed of God, which is grace — accompanied by charity, or the love of God — cannot exist together with mortal sin which turns a man away from God; and, though it can exist together with venial sin, of which St. John had spoken earlier[John 1:8]yet grace is not the source of venial sins; on the contrary, it makes them gradually disappear.

Still clearer, if possible, is the language of St. Peter, who writes: “By (Christ) he hath given us most great and precious promises, that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature,”[2 Peter 1:4]  and St. James thus expresses the same idea: “Every best gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change nor shadow of alteration. For of his own will hath he begotten us by the word of truth, that we might be some beginning of his creature.” [2 Peter 1:17]

Truly sanctifying grace is a real and formal participation of the divine nature, for it is the principle of operations which are specifically divine.

When in heaven it has reached its full development, and can no longer be lost, it will be the source of operations which will have absolutely the same formal object as the eternal and uncreated operations of God’s own inner life; it will make us able to see Him immediately as He sees Himself, and to love Him as He loves Himself: “Dearly beloved,” says St. John, [1 John 3:2] “we are now the Sons of God; and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. We know that when it shall appear we shall be like to him, for we shall see him as he is.”


The Importance Of The Interior Life And The Unum Necessarium – Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.

October 24, 2012

Réginald Marie Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. (February 21, 1877, Auch, France – February 15, 1964, Rome) was a Catholic theologian and, among Thomists of the scholastic tradition, is generally thought to be the greatest Catholic Thomist of the 20th century. Outside the ranks of Thomists of that sort, his reputation is somewhat more mixed. He taught at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, commonly known as the Angelicum, in Rome from 1909 to 1960.

By 1917 a special professorship in ascetical and mystical theology was created for him at the Angelicum, the first of its kind anywhere in the world. His great achievement was to synthesise the highly abstract writings of St Thomas Aquinas with the experiential writings of St John of the Cross, showing how they are in perfect harmony with each other.

Father Garrigou-Lagrange, the leading proponent of “strict observance Thomism,” initially attracted attention when he wrote against the Modernist Nouvelle Théologie theological movement. He is also said to be the drafter or “ghostwriter” of Pope Pius XII’s 1950 encyclical Humani Generis, subtitled “Concerning Some False Opinions Threatening to Undermine the Foundations of Catholic Doctrine.”

He is best known for his spiritual theology. His magnum opus in the field is The Three Ages of the Interior Life, in which he propounded the thesis that infused contemplation and the resulting mystical life are in the normal way of holiness of Christian perfection. This influenced the section entitled “Chapter V: The Universal Call to Holiness in the Church” in the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium

He taught many eminent Catholic theologians during his academic career, the most illustrious being the future Pope John Paul II, whose encyclical Fides et Ratio is the mature fruit of his training under the learned Dominican. Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange is also known to have introduced Thomism to fellow theologian and priest Yves Congar, an expert on historical theology.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The following are some reading selections from Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange’s classic The Three Ages of the Interior Life. Yes, you should buy a copy and become a monk.  Maybe get a blog and become like me, a living icon of Derek Jeter.


The Importance Of The Interior Life
The interior life is for all the one thing necessary
. It ought to be constantly developing in our souls; more so than what we call our intellectual life, more so than our scientific, artistic or literary life. The interior life is lived in the depths of the soul; it is the life of the whole man, not merely of one or other of his faculties.

And our intellectual life would gain immeasurably by appreciating this; it would receive an inestimable advantage if, instead of attempting to supplant the spiritual life, it recognized its necessity and importance, and welcomed its beneficial influence — the influence of the theological virtues and the gifts of the Holy Ghost.

How deeply important our subject is may be seen in the very words we have used: Intellectuality and Spirituality. And it is important to us not only as individuals, but also in our social relations; for it is evident that we can exert no real or profound influence upon our fellow-men unless we live a truly interior life ourselves.

Material Vs Spiritual Goods
The pressing need of devoting ourselves to the consideration of the one thing necessary is especially manifest in these days of general chaos and unrest, when so many men and nations, neglecting their true destiny, give themselves up entirely to acquiring earthly possessions, failing to realize how inferior these are to the everlasting riches of the spirit.

And yet St. Augustine’s saying is so clearly true, that “material goods, unlike those of the spirit, cannot belong wholly and simultaneously to more than one person.”[ St. Thomas often quotes this Augustinian thought: cf. I-IIae, Q, Xxviii, art, 4, ad ~ III, Q. xxiii, art, i, ad 3] The same house, the same land, cannot belong completely to several people at once, nor the same territory to several nations, And herein lies the reason of that unhappy conflict of interests which arises from the feverish quest of these earthly possessions.

On the other hand, as St. Augustine often reminds us, the same spiritual treasure can belong in its entirety to all men, and at the same time to each, without any disturbance of peace between them, Indeed, the more there are to enjoy them in common the more completely do we possess them. The same truth, the same virtue, the same God, can belong to us all in like manner, and yet none of us embarrasses his fellow-possessors. Such are the inexhaustible riches of the spirit that they can be the property of all and yet satisfy the desires of each. Indeed, only then do we possess a truth completely when we teach it to others, when we make others share our contemplation; only then do we truly love a virtue when we wish others to love it also; only then do we wholly love God, when we desire to make Him loved by all. Give money away, or spend it, and it is no longer yours. But give God to others, and you possess Him more fully for yourself. We may go even further and say that, if we desired only one soul to be deprived of Him, if we excluded only one soul — even the soul of one who persecutes and calumniates us — from our own love, then God Himself would be lost to us.

An Illuminating Principle About Spiritual Goods
This truth, so simple and yet so sublime, gives rise to an illuminating principle; it is that whereas material goods, the more they are sought for their own sake, tend to cause disunion among men, spiritual goods unite men more closely in proportion as they are more greatly loved. This principle helps us to appreciate how necessary is the interior life; and, incidentally, it virtually contains the solution of the social question and of the economic crisis which afflicts the world to-day. The Gospel puts it very simply: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.” If the world to-day is on its death-bed, it is because it has lost sight of a fundamental truth which for every Christian is elementary.

The profoundest truths of all, and the most vital, are in fact those elementary verities which, through long meditation and deep thought, have become the norm of our laws; those truths, in other words, which are the object of our habitual contemplation

The Unum Necessarium And The Modern Unemployment Crisis
God is now showing men what a great mistake they make when they try to do without Him, when they regard earthly enjoyment as their highest good, and thus reverse, the whole scale of values, or, as the ancient philosophers put it, the subordination of ends.
As though in the hope of compensating for the poor quality of earthly goods, men are striving to increase their quantity; they are trying to produce as much as possible in the order of material enjoyment. They are constructing machinery with the object of increasing production at a greater profit. This is the ultimate objective.

But what is the consequence? The surplus cannot be disposed of; it is wasted, and unemployment is the result. The worker starves in enforced idleness while others die of surfeit, The present state of the world is called a crisis. But in fact it is more than a crisis; it is a condition of affairs which, if men only had eyes to see, ought to be revealing; it ought to show men that they have sought their last end where it is not to be found, in earthly enjoyment — instead of God. They are seeking happiness in an abundance of material possessions which are incapable of giving it; possessions which sow discord among those that seek them, and a greater discord according as they are sought with greater avidity.

Do what you will with these material goods: share them out equally, make them the common property of all. It will be no remedy for the evil; for, so long as earthly possessions retain their nature and man retains the nature which is his, he will never find his happiness in them. The remedy is this, and this only: to consider the one thing necessary, and to ask God to give us saints who live only on this thought, saints who will give the world the spirit that it needs. God has always sent us saints in troubled times. We need them especially to-day.

A Radical Corruption Of The Notion Of The Interior Life
The notion of the interior life is radically corrupted in the Lutheran theory of justification or conversion. According to this theory the mortal sins of the convert are not positively blotted out by the infusion of the new life of grace and charity; they are simply covered over, veiled by faith in the Redeemer, and they cease to be imputed to the person who has committed them. There is no intrinsic justification, no interior renewal of the soul; a man is reputed just merely by the extrinsic imputation of the justice of Christ.

According to this view, in order to be just in the eyes of God it is not necessary to possess that infused charity by which we love God supernaturally and our fellow-men for God’s sake. Actually, according to this conception, however firmly the just man may believe in Christ the Redeemer, he remains in his sin, in his corruption or spiritual death. [Footnote: Luther went so far as to say “ Pecca fortiter et crede firznius, “Sin mightily and believe more mightily still; you will be saved.” Not that Luther intended thereby to exhort men to sin; it was merely an emphatic way of saying that good works are useless for salvation -- that faith in Christ alone suffices. He says, truly enough  that “if you believe, good works will follow necessarily from your faith.”]

But, as Maritain justly observes, in his thought these good works follow from salutary faith as a sort of epiphenomenon,” Moreover, the charity which will follow this faith is the love of our neighbor rather than the love of God. And thus the notion of charity is degraded, emptied gradually of its supernatural and God-ward content and made equivalent to works of mercy. In any case, it remains true that for Luther a man is justified simply by faith in Christ, even though the sin is not blotted out by the infusion of charity, or the supernatural love of God.


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