Rorate Caeli

Where we see chaos and wretchedness,
He saw only order and beauty


There was in the thirteenth century a philosopher to whom the sight of the world did not give nausea, but a joy ever new, because he saw in it only order and beauty. Man did not seem to him a Sisyphus hopelessly condemned to the liberty of the absurd, for he read in his own heart the clear law of practical reason. On all sides, within as well as without, a single and self-same light enlightens the understanding and regulates things, for the spirit which is found in them reconstructs them in the mind according to the order of the same creative intelligibility. This harmony of thought and reality which in our time Einstein describes as the most incomprehensible of mysteries, does not astonish our philosopher, for he knows its source — that same God Whose pure existence is at the origin of all reality as well as of all knowledge. And what is liberty for created man, unless it be to accept himself lovingly, even as his Creator wants and loves him? What is it to act as a free man unless it be to regulate the will according to reason, and reason itself according to the divine law?

The vastest community is the universe. God, Who created it, governs it according to the eternal law, of which the natural law, the human and the moral law are only so many particular expressions. Not a sin, not a moral fault is there which is not first of all an error made to the detriment of intelligible light, in violation of the laws of the supreme reason.

Eminently habitable, because it is Christian, is this universe of St. Thomas Aquinas still ours? I am afraid not. It is, however, the only one in which man can live without having to create himself in the permanent anguish of his own nothingness, without having eternally to push up again and again the rock of Sisyphus or to yield to the fascination of a slavery which will deliver him even from the memory of liberty. This world is that of the divine wisdom which penetrates everything with its power and orders all with sweetness. ...

Salvation is the same today. There still remains only God to protect man against man. Either we will serve Him in spirit and in truth, or we shall enslave ourselves ceaselessly, more and more, to the monstrous idol which we have made with our own hands to our own image and likeness. The cause of so many miseries is indeed the ignorance which men have of an important message: they no longer know that a Savior is born to us. This is not the message of Zarathustra, it is the promise of peace which rang out, nearly two thousand years ago, in the skies of Bethlehem.
Étienne Gilson
Conference [published as Les terreurs de l'an deux mille (The terrors of the year two thousand)]
April 8, 1948

[On March 7, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Confessor, Doctor of the Church.]

12 comments:

Jason C. said...

Eminently habitable, because it is Christian, is this universe of St. Thomas Aquinas still ours? I am afraid not. It is, however, the only one in which man can live without having to create himself in the permanent anguish of his own nothingness, without having eternally to push up again and again the rock of Sisyphus or to yield to the fascination of a slavery which will deliver him even from the memory of liberty.

Gilson would have enjoyed Walker Percy's Lost in the Cosmos.

Gladius said...

If we do lead a virtuous Catholic life today, it is because we put our trust in the hands of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. "Whoever embraces this devotion, I promise salvation. Those souls will be cherished by God as flowers placed by me, to adorn His throne." -Our Lady of the Rosary at Fatima on June 13, 1917. You can judge by the reward offered, the severity of the trial to be endured.

LeonG said...

We may be nothing in the universe but with God we are not anonymous. This is personally for me the essential mystery of being. Amidst this chaos we may find ontological security since divine grace brings all things to order. Therein nestles the hope required to live through any ecclesiatical crisis or persecution and the foundation upon which to build our Faith.


Benedict Carter said...

Dogma scorned
Doctrine ignored
Theology a commodity
Philosophy sniggered at
Saints mocked
Only science, sociology and Yahoo! Health worshipped

We Moderns!

Dwarfs squatting toad-like on the shoulders of giants, imagining in our pride that we are wiser than they.

St. Thomas, pray for us.

Catherine of Siena said...

In the midst of terrible suffering and injustice, in the thick of the battle against the Adversary, the holiest among us remain joyful, and never lose hope. It is this childlike trust in Our Lord that allows them to be obedient to the Church, which is, as any child preparing for First Holy Communion knows, the ladder - the ONLY ladder - to Heaven. The grace that comes through legitimate and valid Sacraments is the means for a Catholic soul to attain eternal Salvation.

Matthias said...

Perhaps his last words (from the Old Catholic Encyclopedia on New Advent):

If in this world there be any knowledge of this sacrament stronger than that of faith, I wish now to use it in affirming that I firmly believe and know as certain that Jesus Christ, True God and True Man, Son of God and Son of the Virgin Mary, is in this Sacrament . . . I receive Thee, the price of my redemption, for Whose love I have watched, studied, and laboured. Thee have I preached; Thee have I taught. Never have I said anything against Thee: if anything was not well said, that is to be attributed to my ignorance. Neither do I wish to be obstinate in my opinions, but if I have written anything erroneous concerning this sacrament or other matters, I submit all to the judgment and correction of the Holy Roman Church, in whose obedience I now pass from this life.

Matt said...

Saint Thomas was so wise and so divinely inspired. Conversely, it's dreadful even to think of it but it seems to me we (our society and the world) are heading into another dark period of human history. What may be worse is this time we don't have the power of the Church to be that fortress, that strong tower against this descent. Now whether we wish to blame the Second Vatican Council or those who jacked it thereafter is pointless now, the aftermath is here, and because of it, we are all the more ill-equipped to repel this darkness and help put society back on an even footing.

Now is the time to embrace Our Blessed Lord through our Mother Mary as tightly as possible and manage life as best we can against the fetid winds which we know are going to blow soon.

Long-Skirts said...

LeonG said...

"Amidst this chaos we may find ontological security since divine grace brings all things to order. Therein nestles the hope required to live through any ecclesiatical crisis or persecution and the foundation upon which to build our Faith."

With 2 sons studying for the Priesthood in an SSPX Seminary I have nothing but HOPE to "live through any ecclesiatical crisis or persecution" for...

..."Joy comes in the morning" and with the morning of the next generation ready to confer the most romantic of all Christ's Sacraments, Extreme Unction upon us, our generation will not be left alone in the twilight of our evening!

ROMANTIC
SACRAMENT

Send me not roses
Carafes of wine
Send me your words
Of love divine.

Send me not jewels
Encased in gold
Send me your words
My heart will hold.

Send me not silver
In purple so plush
Send me your words
Oh, make my face flush.

Send me not silks
Of shimmering dyes
Send me your words
Bring tears to my eyes.

Send me not song
I sleep close to death
But send me your words
For my very last breath.

Wonderfullo said...

I've been reading Msgr. Glenn's Tour of the Summa lately. Wonderful!

Common Sense said...

Those who are governed are only as good as those who govern.

Real_Common_Sense said...

"Those who are governed are only as good as those who govern."

While this sounds good, it's totally false.

For example, as the great Theodore Dalrymple has pointed out, Africa is rife with horrid leaders. Yet there are many regular African people who don't share in the depravity of their leaders.

Similarly, there have been periods in which the hierarchy of the Church was rife with corruption, yet there were many faithful and virtuous people under them.

People definitely do NOT always get the leaders they deserve.

Common Sense said...

Is that really so RC Sense?I am husband and parent. The children follow our conduct and council and behave wisely.Where is the contradiction?