AND HIS DESTINY
Rev. C. C. Martindale, S.J.
volume already contains essays that speak of God and of the Angels.
Man and his Destiny come third.
order was demanded by respect: for
it would be unfitting in a work like this one to speak of God in any but
the first place; and even the Angels, being of a nature so superior to
man’s, have a just claim to be approached before Man is.
though this order be that of Nature, and indeed of time–for while God is
in any case eternal, we hold that the Angels were created before man
was–yet it is not the order in which we actually know things.
We are conscious of ourselves and of other limited objects before
we know anything of God: time,
experience and most probably some intellectual guidance are needed before
we become aware that God exists, and that he must be thought of in such
and such a way. Still less are we directly conscious of the Angels; and
though we might feel it very probable that such beings existed, and though
we might shrink from the extreme arrogance of asserting that human nature
exhausted all the possibilities of existence in itself, and though the
fancy of every age of the world’s history has proved how natural it is
to surmise that the universe is peopled with invisible inhabitants, yet
the Catholic knows that there are Angels because he is told so by the
Authority he recognizes as legitimate.
On the other hand, he knows, without the possibility of doubting,
that he exists himself; and he observes that there are other beings like
himself round about him; and while he is sure he is not numerically the
same as they are, he cannot but class them along with himself under one
at the root of all human philosophy is the double perception, that I
exist, and that I am not the same as what surrounds me.
It is largely because I observe that I am not the same, and that I clash
to some extent with my surroundings, resist them and am resisted by them,
that I develop an adequate consciousness of my own existence: but this
self-consciousness was involved in every act by which I became properly
aware of other things, and the proposition, “I exist,” is one of those
few propositions which I cannot so much as deny without asserting it.
it is not long before a man begins to ask himself two questions–(1) What
am I? (and generalizing, What is Man?); and (2) What am I for? (and
generalizing, What is the Purpose of Man’s Existence, if any?).
am inclined to think that in the concrete it is the second of these two
questions that most haunts mankind. Illogical
as it may be to ask what I exist “for,” till I have become clear as to
what “I” am, men are quite apt to take themselves for granted, but by
no means to take their destiny for granted.
If you want to see a thoroughly haunted man, you will find him in
the one who cannot see what he is “for,” and is tormented by the
surmise that he may not be “for” anything; that he is what he is owing
to a mixture of fluke and fate, and that after a meaningless spell of
irksome years he will relapse into the general stock of existence and be
thrown up thence again, who knows why, who knows when, like a bubble in a
scum. Few men have chilled me
more than the one who said to me: “I work, because I suppose I’ve got
to live. But what am I living
for? To work again tomorrow.” That
in itself is one of those sentences which, once heard, can never be
forgotten, “I work, in order to live: I live, in order to work again
tomorrow.” It is horrible to an intelligent man to observe that
everything in, say, the factory or workshop where he works has a purpose–windows;
ventilators–save himself. Do
not say that he has a “purpose,” that is, to do his particular
bit of the total job. He
knows that a hundred men could do it as well as he: it is not he as
he that matters; he could be dismissed tomorrow, and very often is, and
forthwith replaced: he is a name, a number, a “hand.”
Hence he cannot see why he exists, and he resents it.
in an earlier essay it has been shown that God created man and all things
else. It follows that man was
created with a purpose, for God cannot act without one.
God, it has been shown, is the perfect and ever active
intelligence, and cannot therefore create unintelligently, nor in a moment
of distraction. But to act without purpose is the very sign of
unintelligence–the man who acts always without knowing why, is off his
head: the one who does so intermittently may be charitably supposed to be
“in the moon” unless he does it too often, and then you begin to have
your doubts even about him. Moreover,
God cannot create man for a purpose which man cannot sufficiently know
(for you cannot do what you have no sufficient knowledge of), nor for one
which, however well he may know it, he cannot possibly carry out.
For it would be un-wisdom of the worst, to make a man for a
purpose, and forthwith render the carrying out of that purpose impossible. God cannot thus contradict himself. And finally, this purpose cannot be a mean or petty one, let
alone a bad one, for the Infinite Goodness cannot purpose anything evil,
nor even mean. Therefore,
even before we begin this essay, we have the right to assert that there
lies before Man, and before each man, a Destiny that he should aim at
fulfilling, that he can fulfill, and that will prove to be a high and
need but add here that what God purposes should be accomplished, he wishes
to be accomplishes: and when his wish concerns an intelligent creature
such as man is, God makes his wish known to him, and this amounts to
“calling” him. Therefore
you may at once declare that man, and each man, has a “vocation” and
must have. But since man
depends wholly upon God, he is under a total obligation to God, and
therefore not only will it be good for him to obey God’s call, but he ought
so to obey it, and would do wrong were he consciously to neglect or to
defy it. But since upon the
fulfillment of his vocation depends the whole of his well-being and his
happiness, his non-fulfillment of it implies his ill-being and his misery.
And finally, since God does not and cannot create a “world”
chaotically, but creates within it an order (and indeed it is “order”
that makes it into a “world”), and calls men to play their part in
perfecting that order, it follows that if man does not fulfill his
vocation, he introduces disorder into the world in general, and into human
society in particular. Therefore
it is of extreme importance both for each man and for society at large
that God’s purpose should be fulfilled.
Social misery and dislocation, as well as personal woe, attend upon
this you might deduce merely from reading the foregoing essays: I wish now
to get closer to the subject by studying man himself and in himself.
DUAL UNITY IN MAN
This is not an
essay of general philosophy, nor even of psychology, but one that is meant
to explain in what way the Catholic Church looks at man’s destiny.
Still, a minimum of explanation must be offered as to what she
holds that man is; and enough ought to be stated to show that this is not
out of keeping with what man, without any appeal to outside authority, is
conscious that he is.
The evidence of consciousness
else a man may think about himself, he is conscious of himself as urged
interiorly to certain things. He
experiences the urge to preserve himself–to extend himself–to
reproduce himself. For my
part, I consider all these “urges” to be aspects of one and the same
vital impetus or force: but it is convenient to think of them as three.
Quite without argument, the living creature feels the necessity to
eat–to drink–to defend itself by throwing up its arm and so forth when
attacked. But it does not
want just to remain as it is: it tries to be more–it tends to
“get,” to possess. And
when it has got a thing, it so identifies the thing with itself, that its
possession becomes somehow part of itself–one says one has “extended
one’s personality” over this or that.
If someone takes away what is mine, I feel that I am what is
attacked and injured. I need
a certain amount of outside apparatus to be, even, my proper self.
Finally, there is the urge towards self-reproduction: a man feels
deep within him that alone he is incomplete: it is not “good” for man
to be alone: he requires a mate, and the natural result of this
association of two lives is a child, and a home.
When I am alive, living with wife and child in a home, then the
fullness of my human nature has been acquired.
In any case, then, you observe that man is imperfect at first: he
strains towards something: he has a destiny.
observe that all these urges or instincts admit of a “too much” and
“too little.” As a rule
it is the “too much” that is noticeable.
A man may allow his instinct for self-preservation so to master him
that he cannot stop himself eating, though he knows that the food he likes
is bad for him in large quantities–and if “gluttony” in this sense
is on the whole observed in older men, so that the goutier an old man is,
the more he is sure to want to eat rich foods and to drink port, the
instinct for drink does not wait for old age before it starts to be a
nuisance in very many lives. Quite young men may let themselves become unable to resist so
much as the smell of drink, when the door of a public-house they are
passing swings open, but in they go.
Others cannot resist the craving to get, to take.
The glittering trinket fascinates them, and they pocket it.
If you are poor, this is called stealing.
If you are rich and important, they call it kleptomania; if you are
a politician, it is called “extending your sphere of influence.”
But it comes back to the fact that you cannot now keep your hands
off things, be they yours or not. And
everybody knows how the sexual urge can so increase within a man as to
make him, as they say, a sexual maniac.
All this means that instincts can get out of hand, and may master
you instead of serving you: you may become their victims and their slaves.
now–what is this “you” who should master and who may succumb to
instincts? Are not your instincts “you”?
Part, at any rate, of you? It
is I who want to eat, to get, to mate.
Am I then two “I’s”?
No. I say: “I
must not let myself eat sugar when I have diabetes; drink the
fifth, tenth, fifteenth glass that I should like to; fall in love with
Mrs. So-and-So.” “I
must not let myself . . . . ”
Sense and thought
I see then very
clearly that I am somehow double–there is in me something which is
“I” which yet has not to allow something else, which is “I,” to
act always according to the instinct of the moment, but must say to the
“instinctive self” –“No. Not
just now: later. Not
so-and-so–someone else. Not
so much: not so little: not like that: not at all!”
This at least suggests that the element in me which gives these
orders is the more important, the more dignified and to-be-attended-to, of
speaking roughly and without entering into details or subtleties–I can
observe that this “instinctive self’ resides in, or quite simply is
my body. Nothing will ever
induce men to think that they haven’t got bodies.
I shall always say: “My head aches: my back hurts: I have
sprained my ankle.” And so
far as instincts go, this is where they reside.
It is my body that requires food and drink: clothes and material
comfort: the sexual life. And
it is not a bodily thing that tells my body to do what it doesn’t
want to and not to do what it does want to–e.g., to get up and
dress when “I” want to stay in bed: not to drink another glass when
“I” want to drink another. Say
I am honestly very thirsty, and it is hot, and beer is accessible.
Left to itself, my instinctive “I” would fling itself on that
drink and swallow it and be unable to act otherwise.
But a thought, as we say, occurs to me–“I know beer
makes me sleepy: my business rival is just coming to discuss a plan–I
shall need all my wits about me. I
daren’t risk drinking.” I
still am thirsty: the flagon still is handy: I none the less don’t touch
it, for a thought has intervened. And
if there is still something “material” about a business rival, a
sleepy brain, and a financial transaction, you can think of something
still more “abstract”–for example, that the beer isn’t mine and
that it would be stealing to take it and that stealing is wrong.
The notion, then, of wrong, attended to, judged more important than
bodily pleasure, used as a motive, comes in to check my bodily instinct
and its natural sequel–action. I
already begin to see pretty clearly that these two elements that make me
up–these two coefficients–are, one of them bodily, one of them not.
Examine them now a little more closely.
is my body with its senses and instincts.
It sees, tastes, touches particular objects–round, square, red,
blue things: hard or soft things: sweet or sour things.
It hears a shout, a whisper, first one sound and then another.
Also it is my palate and my tongue and my throat that are soothed
or disgusted with food: and it is my system of internal organs that have
to deal with the food when I have eaten it.
It is my body too that exhibits the cravings I have mentioned,
especially that of appetite for what suits it, and shrinking from what
harms it. When a fly flicks
up to my eye, I blink without waiting to argue about it: a baby makes by
instinct for its mother’s milk and cries if it cannot get even that
which it does not know it wants.
how different is my “mind.” Thought
can do all sorts of things that are just the opposite to those which the
body does. I can think, for
example, of “circle,” which is an entirely abstract notion, and one
which you never find realized in the concrete.
You can have a small white round biscuit: a middling-sized black
round gramophone record: a large green round bowling-green: but
“circle” is neither white nor green nor black, nor two inches nor two
miles across: it has nothing to do with size, color, weight–you could
destroy all round objects in the world, and your notion of “circle”
would remain for ever as true as it for ever has been true. You realize at once that you cannot cut off a yard of
thought: nor weigh out an ounce of thought: not even have a colored
thought, whatever people may say about red rages and feeling blue. In other words, there is something in me which by nature
deals with individual concrete things, and something else which by nature
deals with universal abstract things–ideas.
this latter element is what sees order among things and even puts
it there. For example, so far
as the actual paint goes, which catches my eye, a portrait is merely a
number of daubs alongside of one another.
My mind holds them together into a “unity,” an order, a whole.
And it is the mind of the artist that has seen to it that the daubs
be put down not haphazard (as if he had thrown several pots of paint at a
canvas), but in an order. And
when an artist looks at a view, he invariably, for such is his peculiar
sort of mind, pulls it about in his thought till it makes a “picture,”
falls into proportions. If he
paints it, he will alter the masses of shadow, or intensify lights, and
even change the disposition of the buildings somewhat, till a kind of
rhythm is established. Critics then cry out: “But that is not like
Piccadilly,” or the Pyramids, or whatever the scene may be.
“No,” answers he, “but it’s better.
It’s less lopsided: it makes a better picture so.”
He has added order. Similarly,
what you hear with your ear is simply a number of sounds that beat upon
it: it is your mind that puts them together into a shape, a tune.
A tune is for the ear what a patter is for the eye.
Words, so to say, meaning nothing when taken separately, have been
put together so as to form a meaningful sentence for the mind, and by
means of the mind. Not that
everybody’s mind is equally good at doing this–most people who listen
to music have to leave out almost everything in order to retain the
“tune”: often that is all they so much as listen for: the musician
perceives and enjoys the harmony as well as the melody: he sees deep, as
well as “along”: he not only follows the music as it flows, but
delights in the sheer flow, the curving rhythmic changes.
far we have thought of “instincts” as proper to the body, and so in a
strict sense they are. But
people often call any “appetite,” or urge, or natural tendency, an
“instinct.” This breeds
confusion, for not all “appetites” are instinctive in the physical
sense. First and foremost,
our power of knowing has the appetite for knowing.
From sheer inquisitiveness up to an ardent and most pure desire for
truth, I experience in myself the desire to know.
In a moment I shall qualify this, for you can hear phrases spoken
like: “Don’t tell me: i Don’t want to know!”
But then you will observe that you fear a piece of knowledge that
would practically interfere with something you want to do.
On the whole people don’t like being ignorant.
I say “I know,” I mean that I have appropriated by my mind a thing
that is. I cannot even say, with any real meaning, that I know a thing
that isn’t: I can be mistaken, and think that a thing is so and
so when it is not: but I cannot desire to make a mistake–I always mean
to get at what a thing really is, unless, of course, it interferes with
me, as I said, and then I bluff myself.
Hence I want to strike an agreement between my mind and a thing.
When I do know a thing, I have, first, reached a fact: I
know the fact. And second, I
have enriched my mind to that extent–it stood neutral to the fact before
I knew it: there was no active harmony established between my mind and the
fact. When I know it, there
is. So I can say that my mind
has an appetite for “truth,” and by truth I shall mean, that a fact
exists, that I have turned my mind to it, and have adapted my mind so as
to lay hold of it in accordance with what it is.
So I can say, for example, There is a rose–a real rose–a true
rose. And I have a real and true
idea of what a rose is. My
mind does not misrepresent the rose.
living as we do, body-souls, we can normally only get at the rose,
or any other object, by way of our senses: we have to “see” it with
our eyes, and very likely augment our method of reaching it by smelling it
and even touching it. I have
a much “truer,” more adequate idea of a rose when I have not only seen
its shape and color but savored its fragrance and felt its velvety
softness. Even if someone
describes a thing to me that I have never seen, such as a Feather-Snouted
Yak, they have to help me out by saying that a yak is (or isn’t) like a
goat, and I presumably remember what feathers and snouts are like, and add
this knowledge in with what my informant has administered to my pictorial
imagination. So while I can
truly know a rose, and even a yak, I know them as my senses supply them to
me. I am grateful to my
senses for doing so, though they cannot do it always very successfully, as
when, for example, I catch my firs sight of a yak in a densish mist.
But at times the senses actually interfere with our ideas, as when
we try to “think” a “circle,” and cannot help “imagining” it
(as we saw) like a round thing, which it isn’t and never was or will be.
But even so, the senses assist us a little by providing the vague
floating image which helps us to rivet our attention.
But when you come on to conceptions like that of the fourth
dimension, the invasion of sense-imagery is a sheer disaster: what more
fatuous than the drawings of “fourth-dimensional” objects that
you sometimes see inserted into articles on that subject?
Similarly, and most of all, the senses are no suitable instrument
in any way for knowing God himself, whom even the purest idea cannot
we must say that the normal way of knowing, at least in this sort of life
which we are living and about which we are talking, is to “pick up”
some object by means of our senses, and forthwith, by the sheer natural
power of the mind, to get a “true idea” of it, which “true idea”
is nothing less than the mind itself adapted to the thing known.
Thus we are right to say that by means of our idea of the thing, we
know the thing. The upshot of all this is, that the mind wants to “know,”
and is healthy and happy when it is knowing, and when it is knowing
properly, that is, adapting itself successfully to what the object of its
knowledge really is. The
well-being, then, of our mind is its Knowledge of Truth (For
the sake of clearness, I want henceforward to call that thing which is
associated with our body so as to form a “person” (an “I”), the
soul: in so far as it is engaged in thinking and knowing in its normal
way, I want to call it “the mind”:
that which it is in itself, is spirit.
This, I repeat, for the sake of clearness, and not meaning to
discuss the relation of “thought” and “will,” as
“faculties,” to the “soul.” By
“faculties” I mean “powers”).
you observe that that which knows also wills.
The will too is a sort of appetite.
But not just any appetite–not one, for example, that in no way
involves and presupposes knowledge. You
cannot strictly speaking will what you do not know. In fact, it exhibits its action best of all in choice–when
it acts, as we say, freely. I
select one of two or several objects of which my mind takes stock.
Short of that, I may even know no more than this–that I lack
something: that I am in need of something.
Then my vague appetite goes forth in quest of it knows not what
exactly, save that whatever it is, I need it.
Moreover, it is chiefly for the sake of clearness that I thus mark
off the “will” form “knowledge”: for my will can quite well
stimulate my mind to inquire further–“I want something so much, that I
am sure that it exists: look for it!” or again, it can check my
knowledge–it can make me yield assent to something that I desire, even
though I half know that it will not be good for me; and it can prevent my
attending to what I fear may turn out to be true, and objectionably so.
But in all these ways of behaving there is always a certain amount
of knowledge that comes first. I
may not know a fact, but I may suspect that it is there, and be pretty
sure that I could find out if I hunted.
But the introduction of that word “good” gave us a hint.
It suggested that though in a sense I am bound to like pleasant
things, I am not bound to will them.
I choose very many things in which the pleasure is but incidental.
I may like taking exercise, but I would take it even if I did not
like it, because I have decided that it is good for me.
I am resolved to do, and in fact do, things I simply loathe,
because I hold that they are right, and that I ought to do them.
(And that word ought gives us another hint that we shall
take in a moment.) On the
other hand, my feeling that a thing is pleasant, or hateful, may quite
dominate my will, so that I yield to the pleasant action or shirk the
painful one, hating myself for succumbing all the while.
Nay, so far are such actions from being connected with knowing,
that they may involve forgetting. I
am insulted: I “see red”: I forget everything else–nay, I “forget
myself” –and I kill the man.
process of choosing seems really to be this–I become aware of two or
more facts: if neither attracts me–interests me–I pass them by.
If only one of them attracts me, I cannot but attend to it until I
see a reason for attending to the other, and then I may direct my
attention to that one. But
if they both attract me equally, and for just the same reason, my tendency
is so to hesitate as to stay paralyzed and do nothing with regard to
either. But if one attracts
me for one reason (e.g., that it is pleasant) and the other for
another (e.g. that it is good), my mind can bring itself so to
attend to the one, that the other practically fades out of sight, and the
attraction of the former becomes stronger.
Then it will turn from being an idea into being an ideal, and it
will no more a mere attracting force, but a reasonable motive.
Then I choose it. yet
even so, not inevitably. I
still have the consciousness that I can pause, and not yield to the
motive. It is, on the whole,
in this negative power of not yielding that I catch myself acting
that the real source of the difficulty of “free will” arises from my
using the imagination, and imagery drawn from the material world, by means
of which to examine and explain the activity of what we have seen to be
I cannot but picture my “mind” as a light I turn on to an
object. I turn it on to this object rather than that, or on this
“feature” in one object rather than on that.
But then, why do I so turn it?
Inevitably? or because I choose to?
The problem gets pushed one stage further back.
Then I think of an attractive object as “pulling” me towards
it. I allow one object to
pull me harder than the other. But
have I then not already made a choice? Why did I do so? Inevitably”
Or freely? Put it thus: In
order to choose X rather than Y, I must see X as more desirable, or good,
than Y. But why do I so see
it? Because I attend to it.
But have I chosen to attend to it? If so, why?
Apparently because I see a reason for attending to it, and choose
to give that reason priority.
Observe then that so long as you try to “picture” the process
of a free choice, you will always fail. For you will always be introducing
metaphors drawn from weights and physical forces, and will never do more
than get confused by applying these to the spiritual thing that the soul
will be far better advised to rely upon two facts–one is, your personal
consciousness. Nothing will
induce you, or has ever really induced anyone, to believe that all your
actions are sheerly automatic. Many
of them may be: indeed, you can “attend” to this or that fact so hard,
that far from being able to choose, you cease to be able so much as to
pause, and are swept to the thing that is tugging at you, and whose
“tug,” by the very fact of attending to it, you have increased.
However, there is always a residuum of activity in your life for
which you know quite well you are responsible, for which you deserve
reward or punishment, praise or blame.
And this radical fact of self-awareness–awareness of self as
responsible–clears itself up when you tie it down to the special
awareness of “I ought.” Not only that I can–e.g., choose tea, or choose
coffee–but, that I ought, e.g. to get up and not stay in
bed. If you think this out
carefully, you will see that you simply cannot reduce “I ought” to
meaning “I must.” Even if
you speak of “moral compulsion,” it is not coercion and inevitability.
If I “ought” I can and I need not.
Nor certainly is “I ought” the same as “it would pay.”
For often it doesn’t. Nor
yet, as “people expect of me”: for often I “ought” to do things
that people either will know nothing about, or, may even object to my
doing. Finally, “I ought”
does not mean that I impose an obligation on my self.
For did it mean merely that, well, the authority that imposes a
command, can abrogate it. By “I ought” I imply then two things–an Authority that
has the right to impose an obligation on me, and freedom in myself to
disregard it if I choose. It
is not here the place to prove that in the long run the source of such
Obligation must be God (See Essay iii), but so indeed it is.
these two irresistible data of our consciousness the whole world is
obviously and ever has been in accord.
So true is this, that not one of those very few theorists who argue
that we are in no sense free, can behave for five minutes as if they were
not, nor treat anyone else as if they were not.
A “determinist” will refuse absolutely to be treated as a
machine; and will not dream of bringing up his child as if it were a
machine. And even a naughty
child knows it isn’t a machine. When
you tell it to do so and so, its characteristic answer is: “Shan’t!”
It asserts its wicked little will against you.
It just won’t, and its joy is in its “won’t!”
(I might add that a
confusion arises sometimes, owing to people thinking that free-will
implies that you can act without a motive. We have not said that; but, that you are not forced instantly
to act according to even the stronger motive.
And again confusion arises owing to its being thought that we
suggest that all human acts are as a matter of fact “free.” I suppose there are very few fully free acts in a day of
life; and many that are not free at all.
Much is automatic; much is impulsive; much is very largely just
remains then that we have the power, and the obligation, of choosing what
is for our good, when we see it so to be.
MATTER AND SPIRIT
is worth noticing that already we have got, I think, quite clearly the
idea that there are two interacting elements in man; if I have presented
the instincts rather as in conflict with thought than as merely differing
from it, that is because in conflict the idea of contrast is
have now to speak of this thinking element as such, and in doing so, I
shall be forced to repeat parts of what I have already said: but in view
of the immense importance of the subject, this does not matter in the
Properties of matter
we are prepared to deny that “matter” exists at all we must study it,
and we must do so by way of those qualities through which it becomes
accessible to physics and to mechanics.
These are, on the whole: Extension, configuration, mensurability;
molecular intervallation, elasticity, compressibility, divisibility;
ponderabililty (according to surfaces, density and volume); and inertia,
displacement, acceleration (in regard to movement).
human body is manifestly then material.
Moreover, “sensation” and “feeling” (we use these words, at
first sight identical in meaning, as referring to more, or less, localized
effects–you have the “sensation” of being burnt in your tongue when
a dish is unexpectedly peppery: you may have the “all-over-ish”
“feeling” of “not being quite so well) are activities of living matter,
which, because it is living, does not for that lose the properties of
matter, but has them in its own way merely.
After a sense has been occupied with its proper object for some
time, it grows tired and can no longer function readily.
Sensation then and feeling are states of the whole organism in
general and of special parts in particular, and not merely of brain or
nervous system. It remains
that they are material, and belong to a material subject, i.e., the
body. I add, that they at
least share in the general determinism of matter: given the proper
stimulus, they cannot, normally, but react; and they do so in
response to the actual interior state of the organism, its movement ,
tone, and impressions, and also, in regard to its physical action and
reaction connected with other material bodies.
Even sense “appetency” or bodily instinct and emotion,
correspond normally to sense-perception and to feeling, and are limited
therefore to the material organism (It
does not follow from this that sense-activity occurs in isolation from the
rational life, of which we shall speak in a moment.
It has already been insisted that man is a whole, and, speaking of
what is normal, his activity is total.
I feel so and so, and think so and so concomitantly: I think so and
so, and experience emotion. A
whispered word can make me faint; and a scent can revive memories that
fill me with sorrow or delight. But
it will be seen, once more, that the sensation of scent is not the
thought, nor even the sadness or delight.
Nor does the sensation turn into the thought.).
we have already suggested that when we are aware of a thing, we are not
only experimentally aware of it, but also of the fact that we are
aware. There is an
“over-knowledge.” I know
that this is a red-hot coal, and that I have burnt myself with it and that
I am hurt. Being hurt is not
the same as the coal; and knowing that I am hurt is not the same as being
hurt. A reviewing faculty
exists, higher than what it reviews, which recognizes and assesses and
correlates sensations and other things.
“I touched that coal: that is why I am burnt and suffering: this
is bad for my hand–it will be sore–and most unfortunate because I am
booked to play at a concert tomorrow.”
Immateriality of the knowing self
have already seen that none of the properties of matter, such as those
enumerated above, can be applied to these thoughts or to any thought.
I cannot cut an inch off my thoughts about my finger, though I can
burn an inch off my finger, and so forth.
Correspondingly, what is proper to thought cannot be said about
matter. The “idea,” which
is the primary product of intelligence, not only has not the
properties above mentioned as belonging to matter, but has “meaning,”
which matter as such has not got. What
it “means” involves mind-play upon it.
The mental act, moreover, of seeing “relations” between ideas,
lies outside the scope of matter, and so, in fact, does the power of
seeing relations between material objects.
If I see two men, all that I do see is “two men”: it is my mind
that “relates” them as father and son or even as bigger and smaller. And when it comes to inter-relating two ideas, I see better
still that I see them as two and yet make them coexist. The two operations issuing into two ideas can yet be brought
under a single operation, “thinking them together” and not merely in
succession, and seeing in one single glance their relation as
similar or different.
is worth stating at once that this cannot take place in matter, which
consists of “part outside part” and is susceptible only of succession
in its modifications. The
mind which can be aware of two things simultaneously and of their
relation, is therefore, to be called “simple.”
This is here a technical word meaning, precisely, that a substance
that is thus simple has no parts outside parts.
The mind then is in substance and in kind different from the body,
which is material.
single judgment, classification, distinction or inference can be made
without involving this substantial simplicity of the mind, for, not only
have the two or more ideas to coexist, but I have to be able to think one
in terms of the other–for example, the man George, as King, and as Fifth
and so on. I must see these
two ideas at the same time in one “medium.” Did my mind consist of parts outside parts, as matter does, I
could not do this.
more does reasoning involve the “immateriality” of the intelligence
which reasons. For I either
pass from a general idea to a particular one, e.g. impurity is
evil–therefore adultery is: or, from a particular one to a general
one–men are part body; therefore they must be classed as animals.
But an idea cannot fall under the senses or the cognizance
of any material thing whatsoever. The
thinking mind must retain its identity of consciousness throughout the
operation, and yet be able to modify itself as it forms the new ideas
without any intervention or stimulus external to itself.
But the inertia of mater renders such immanent activity impossible. The mind thus seeing the meaning of the relation of two
ideas, involves not only its knowing the two ideas each with its meaning,
but also forming within itself further ideas concerning them which are not
actually there in the data supplied to it.
I see the immateriality of the knowing self best from the fact of
self-consciousness. I not
only am conscious of this and that, but I am aware of that very
consciousness as mine, as “I-conscious.”
It is obvious that the subjective aspect–the I-knowing–is
not given to me by those objects that are not I.
That would contradict their identity.
So the notion of Self arises from what is not those objects, and
yet in some sense has become identical with them.
I am my ideas. I
do not merely mirror them to myself.
I am they, and they are I. No
material object is, or can be, thus self-aware.
No form of “relation” is given by self-perception, and
least of all, this most intimate and impressive of relations–of one’s
own acts to one’s own nature. The power here involved is therefore of a quite different
order from that of the senses and of matter.
Perhaps in the act of choice is the identity of one’s acts with
one’s self revealed with supreme cogency.
Even when I see my motives to be interior to me–my self, in
short, presenting certain “final causes” to my self, I still have the
power of self-direction which is excluded from matter by reason of
Spirituality of the soul
you reflect upon this characteristic of “simplicity”– of existing not
so as to have “parts outside parts”–you will see that so to exist is
to be indestructible. For
from what does the destructibility of a thing emerge?
From its being composed of parts.
A blow from outside can shatter it: a force acting from within can
explode it. In no other way
can it cease to exist, unless, of course, God withdraws his sustaining
power. An object therefore
can be destroyed by being reduced to its component parts; that, then,
which is not composed of parts provides no starting-point for its
destruction. Therefore the immaterial, “spiritual” element in man id
imperishable–for I prefer to reserve the word “immortal” for
religious considerations later on.
is true that this order of ideas is an abstract one, and approached with
reluctance and difficulty by one who is not accustomed to thinking in that
sort of way. It does not therefore follow that it is a bad way.
And even those who do not apply this sort of thinking to this sort
of topic, constantly apply it to others–for they theorize.
Even when they deny the immateriality of the mind, they are
exercising reason when they offer “proofs.”
Yet, again, nothing is more common in the periodical discussions
about the immortality of the soul than to observe sentimental reasons
being given for the belief that it is immortal, such as: “Surely
we shall see those whom we loved once more?” or, “surely the
Beautiful, the Noble and the True are Eternal Values,” whatever that may
mean. And other reasons given
against it are no less sentimental, and indeed are more so, being most
decidedly not intellectual: such as, “I see no trace of two principles,
material and spiritual, in the brain”: “when I alter the brain, I
alter thoughts; therefore when the brain crumbles, thought ceases
altogether; there is nothing left to survive.”
It is because the soul is immaterial–spiritual (to put the
word positively)–that no scalpel ever will discover it.
The scalpel, a material object like the brain, can deal with
the brain; and the brain, a material object, contains material elements
proper to itself, and will not reveal the spirit any more than the
analysis of a wire as such will reveal the electricity with which it is
electrified–and even that is not a very good comparison, since after all
electricity is, ultimately, in the same order of existence as the wire is.
an electrified wire may be compared to the animated body,
which is then “I.” The
electricity does not run through the wire like water through a tube; it is
not even in the wire as water is in sponge, or air in lungs.
Still, there it is, and it works; and if you modify the wire, you
modify the way in which the electricity is able to work in and through it;
and no one has begun to say anything whatsoever against the immateriality
of the soul when they have said that by stimulating or injuring some part
of the brain they have altered your powers of thinking.
Of course. They have
made one of the two human coefficients more, or less, apt to co-operate in
the total activity of the self.
merely remains to say that while we can quite easily say negative things
of the soul–that it is immaterial, and therefore non-spatial, and
indestructible–it is obviously harder to describe it positively,
precisely because all our language is drawn from what is reached through
our senses, and necessarily keeps the qualities of its
starting-point–as, when I say “I see,” meaning” I
understand.” Yet we can say
that spirit is self-conscious, produces ideas, sees their meaning,
relation, value, becomes all things without losing its sense of personal
identity, is itself in all its acts, recognizes at once its limitations
and its possibilities. While
then it finds no adequate solution to the problem of the universe within
itself, it craves to solve it, and asks therefore to pass beyond the
prison of material things and to profit by its imperishable nature.
Yet even so, and seeing that its explanation of things scarcely
less limited than it is itself must needs be but a partial explanation, it
cries aloud for communion with that Being to which it must ultimately be
related in order even to exist, a Being not discernible by sense, nor
exhaustible even by intelligence, yet containing in its independent
Existence the adequate explanation of all that it is not. Finite Reality
was that which first evoked thought; and finite reality is thus seen to
lead, inevitably, towards the Infinite Reality, source and end of the
finite, and Alpha thus and Omega of all existence.
Unique nature of man
going any further, we can see how mysterious and unique a thing is Man.
At times he might seem to us almost a richer nature than that which
the Angels are: for they are unmitigated spirits, just as a stone is
matter and nothing else; man, however, includes in himself matter and
spirit too. I could not,
however, admit that this is so, for if there is space, I shall have to
show that associations with “body” does quite as much to cramp and
interfere with the full and free action of man’s spirit, as it does
towards supplying it with material for thought.
But already, we can admire the richness, at any rate, of God’s
creative action, which leaves no unbridged gulfs in his Universe, but has
linked spiritual with material in the person at any rate of man.
One more, and only one, Union of a personal sort remains to
be exhibited by Divine Revelation–that of God and Man in the Person of
Jesus Christ. But that is not
for this essay. I might,
however, suggest that the whole of God’s action can be contemplated by
us as tending to more and more perfect unions.
God is no schismatic: he binds the separate together in Communions
each more marvelous than what went before: and though the Universe itself
is never to be one person, and though men are not to be one person
with God, yet already you are finding a hint as to their destiny–one of
perfect harmony not only within themselves, but with all that is, and
indeed, through the God made Man, with God (The concept of
“spirituality” will be found more fully explained in Essay iii).
SUMMARY OF PRECEDING
concluding this part, I must point out that Man experiences in himself an
instinct quite as profound as any that we have mentioned–that which
prompts him not to live in isolation: which urges him to form groups: to
fulfill himself in a “society.” Man,
to use the old phrase, is a “social animal.”
We all recognize that the complete hermit is somehow abnormal.
We recognize that certain actions are bad most obviously because
they destroy the links that knit society closely together and make thus
for its well-being and permanence–lying, for example, not to insist on
murder or adultery. The
supreme form that society will take for each man is the State; and while
on the one hand we see that “treason” makes a man an “outlaw” or
at any rate is regarded as the worst crime of which he can be socially
guilty, we also see that if a State, as expressed in its Government or its
Chief, has become such as really to prevent the mass of the citizens, or
even their great majority, from developing their lives properly and being
able to live suitably from developing their lives properly and being able
to live suitably as individuals, it has ceased to be a true State at all,
and should disappear. I
cannot here embark on the discussion of when, for example, revolution is
permissible: suffice it to say that the citizen does not exist for the
sake of the State, but the State for that of the citizen, and for that
very reason must take the greatest possible care of that perfect human
unit which the family is. Of families the great unit of the State is composed.
Anything that injures the family, rots the very texture of Society.
You may therefore say that the individual man or woman finds, in
normal circumstances, his or her perfection in the family: and families
that are right and happy so compose the State as to make it a good State,
and to derive yet more strength, stability, and general well-being from
their mutual association within that State.
see then that whatever else may prove to be the destiny of Man, it is one
that must take cognizance of his body, his mind, his will, and his
aptitude for “social” life, and, what is more, of the fact that there
is in him somewhat that survives physical death, so that all his bodily
life, his use of ideas, and of his will and its choices, and of his life
as member of a family and as a citizen, lead up to the producing of a
thing that shall pass into a further way of being in good condition.
Hence to me,
the eternal fascination of human nature consists largely in this–that it
is one, yet manifold; complete, yet growing, and ever changing without
losing its identity; unique in its position, yet with an infinity of
attachments in this direction and in that–driving its roots to the very
depths of material existence, yet flinging its shoots and tendrils high
towards things that are wholly spiritual; adjusting itself, that it may be
that more permanent; yet shielding itself and retreating ever into the
secret recesses of personality, that never may, never can, be shared;
uniting itself with one, with a score, with a million individuals, yet
never fusing itself even with one, let alone with the race in its
entirety; a thing manifestly of time and place, yet peering over into
unfathomable futures, and reaching into worlds beyond all systems of
you behold man standing up on the surface of the earth and striding over
it, hunting its beasts and living on their flesh and on the plants, and
increasing thus his bones and blood and his muscles.
He seems so solid, so one with the other solids of existence, with
all that you can see and taste and handle and make no mistake about.
And then you suddenly find that you are thinking of man in his
maturity, of healthy man, of well-developed man, and are forgetting the
helplessness of his babyhood, and (what the Greeks, who loved the body,
did so detest and passionately shrink from) the fallings-to-pieces of old
age. You realize that the
prime of bodily life is a laboriously achieved and swiftly passing hour;
that there have been growing-pains, stresses and strains, and that
generally man notices his strength, and seeks to enjoy the gifts of the
body, most when they force themselves on his attention by their
then the most solid-seeming turns out to be beyond all else most
wraith-like, you half expect the paradox to verify itself, that the most
unsubstantial, the invisible, unseizable thing, thought, vision, the
“dream that cometh through the multitude of the business,” will prove
to be the strongest thing of all. You
turn then from flashing glowing limbs to that which after all alone
appreciates so much as the pleasure of bodily life–for without thought
you would not know you were alive, nor be conscious even of pleasure.
is often asserted that the whole medieval way of thinking about man has
been destroyed beyond hope of repair by the discovery that our planet, the
Earth, is not the material center of the Universe. We are constantly being told that our earth is but a whirling
grain of dust, one among millions of millions of such grains.
How, then, we are asked, can anything very dignified be perceived
in human nature? And anyhow,
the medieval notion of man’s being the crown of creation, and of all
things else having been created for his sake, must be once and for all
who write this are, first of all, victims of their imagination as never
the medievals were; and further, have but a faulty knowledge of history,
philosophical and theological; and finally, , are guilty of logical lapses
in their reasoning. For (1),
medieval thinkers were never so silly as to suppose that man was great in
origin or in destiny because he lived in a place that was center of the
universe: it was because they saw that man, being part spiritual, was
intrinsically great, that it seemed appropriate to them that his domicile
should hold even physically a central position among places where there
was no reason to suppose there were any inhabitants at all.
But (2), they are not to be supposed to have been the victims
of such a notion, as they would have been if they had held that anything depended
on a mere physical centricity of the earth.
That would have been to succumb to the vulgarest of illusions, one,
that is, of the imagination. But
the thinkers who worked out the theory of, say, transubstantiation were
the very last persons to succumb to the imagination, since the exclusion
of all imaginative data is the most obvious of prerequisites if anyone is
even to begin to understand the dogma–and discussion often shows that
non-Catholic controversialists are quite unable to grasp what Catholics
mean by transubstantiation because, precisely, they are unable to divest
themselves of their imagination, and persist in thinking that Substance
means a lump of something. Medieval writers surrounded their doctrine with all sorts of
imaginative decoration, but they never confused the two, any more than our
Lord did, when he described heaven in terms of feasting. And (3) even if there are “inhabitants” on e.g.
the planets, even we are able to perceive that they are not “men,”
since human life could not be lived on gaseous Jupiter or frozen moon and
so forth. But that our
Universe is densely “populated” by beings other than men, which indeed
far outstrip men in natural dignity, the Christian tradition has always
maintained, and tells of spiritual beings manifold in grade of
excellence–indeed, St. Thomas was perfectly prepared to admit (by way of
a quite different line of reasoning) that every “angel” or “pure
spirit was a species in itself! So
since the Christian religion does not even profess to exist save for
man’s sake, and to tell us more about man and his destiny and how he
should achieve it, and since the center of that religion is Christ who was
Man and upon this earth, the earth most certainly is and
ever must be the physical center of the Christian’s universe, and, for
him, everything else lies round it. Of
what may exist upon other planets or in the stars, and what wonders God
may work there, we know nothing at all, save the general truth that
through the Second Person of the most Holy Trinity God wills to establish
a communion between himself and all that he has created.
Enough for men that they live upon this earth, are what they are,
and achieve what they were created for by means of Jesus Christ, true God
and true Man. There is indeed
a singularly beautiful poem by the late Mrs. Alice Meynell on this very
subject. Neither the
geocentric theory, then, nor the heliocentric theory, have anything
whatsoever to do with the view we take of Man, nor ever had.
GOD THE END OF MAN
Evidence of order in man
have, so far, considered Man as it were in himself, examining the
constituents of nature, albeit these displayed themselves forthwith as tending
to this or that (truth, good, social life, etc.)
We are now able to think of him as it were from God’s end, and
thus to perceive more clearly man’s destiny.
Everything that exists is to perceive more clearly man’s destiny.
Everything that exists is so interlocked, interactive, that just as
it has been impossible even hitherto to speak about what man is, without
insisting upon that towards which he is tending, so now it will be
impossible to speak of what God means that man should become, without
assuming all that we have said as to what man already by nature is.
can at any rate see this–first, that man is made on a certain plan;
that he grows. Even his body
grows, though save in cases of violent abnormality a man does not grow
eight foot tall nor exist under eight inches long.
But the very fact that we can call a dwarf or a giant abnormal,
proves that there is a norm–a set of natural limits within which
a human body develops and establishes itself.
The human mind appears at first sight not to have any such limits
for its growth; for you can always learn more and more.
But this is a confused way looking at the facts; for, however much
the human mind can always go on acquiring knowledge and thereby growing,
it is always the same sort of knowledge that it gets, namely,
limited ideas which are always associated in some way with a physical
coefficient, and we shall have to say this even when the soul has become
discarnate after physical death; for, say Catholic theologians, it always
has and retains an aptitude and even an appetite for association with
“body,” whereas an angel never has any such thing.
Hence “man” lives within a certain “order” of nature; it is
“out of order” that he should be an imbecile, and he cannot struggle
out of his co-natural limits and be an angel.
If you throw a heap of stones down on the ground, however much you
may go on chucking stones on to the top of it, the group has no order
within itself, though it can enter into an intellectual “order”
with regard to its surroundings, like a cairn, for instance, which I can
build “in order to” show the way to travelers over a fell-side, or
even, “in order to” remind them that someone has died there.
It then enters into the “order” of cairns and is not a mere
haphazard heap any more. But
I can put order into and among the
very stones that I thus place one on the top of another, so as for example
to produce a house by means of them: then the building definitely enters
into the order of architectural stonework. Indeed, I can pick and choose the kind of order with
which I infuse the stonework, and I have not merely a column, but a Doric,
Ionic, or Corinthian order of column-work; I can put stones together so as
to make a building, and a building which is a cathedral, and a cathedral
which is Gothic, and a Gothic cathedral which is early English, Decorated,
or Perpendicular according to the “order” of architecture I am using
it is seen what God’s making man “according to plan” means–man has
a certain structure within himself, and he is meant to fit in with a plan
that God (to use human language) has in his mind.
Again, there is a certain “order” within man–all that is in
him is disposed so that each part “sets towards” each other part, and
all conspire so as to “other things, is what he is that he may fit in
with other parts of God’s far greater scheme, and is in order
that he may become, and so become as at last adequately to be.
Man made for God
God cannot possibly make or do anything save, in the last resort, for his
own glory. What does that
mean? I neither can nor need
go into details here, since the nature of God has been spoken of elsewhere
(Essay iii). But God cannot
have any end outside himself, since he would then be subordinated
to that end, and God is the crown of all that is, and the summit as well
as the source of all Order whatsoever.
“From him are all things, and unto him, and in him they all of
them subsist.” Yet, in this no “selfishness” is to be discerned; for
created things are God’s exterior glory, just by being what they
should be. Therefore man, at
his most perfect, is a marvelous exterior Glory given to God.
More than anything in our world, man is “in the image, in the
likeness” of God, for among all things of which we are aware, man knows,
and is free. But when
man is at his most perfect, he is in his best way of being; but happiness
is nothing else than the consciousness of well-being.
Therefore when Man is most truly giving glory to God and fulfilling
the final end of his existence, he is at his happiest.
So God made man to be happy.
have then first of all to say that God made man what he is in order
that he may become perfect in his “order” or “line,” and
reach thereby his happiness and give the perfect glory to his Creator.
God, in creating man, wished that a perfect harmony should exist, first of
all, between the body and the spirit that unite to make up man.
Such perfect harmony between the body with its instincts and the
soul with its power of knowing and choosing, was brought about by the
“gift of integrity,” a “preternatural” gift of which more will be
said in another essay (See Essay X: The Fall of Man and Original
Moreover, he willed that man should continue to be body-soul. Hence in Catholic Dogma the assertion of the resurrection of
the body is included (See Essay xxxiv: The Resurrection of the
Body). When my body dies, my soul survives, and survives, as I said,
with an aptitude for reanimating flesh.
The moment God’s omnipotence reunites them, the complete man,
“I,” is there once more. Such,
we are taught, is in fact our destiny–to be once more and for ever truly
man and nothing else whatsoever–perfected man.
Man made to know God
God created us to use our most noble possession, our intelligence, in the
best way of all, that is, upon the noblest object, that is, upon himself.
Hence the knowledge of God is at the root of our true happiness,
for after all you cannot love nor enjoy that of which you are quite
ignorant; and the destined happiness of our race is always, in Scripture,
stated in terms of this true knowledge–The earth is full of the
knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea–This is Life Eternal,
to know thee, the only true God. This,
once more, is a topic which is officially treated in other pages; it is
not for me here to prove that we can know God at all, nor, by means
of what intellectual mechanism, so to say.
I will but emphasize one fact of experience, as I believe it to be.
At the bottom of modern irreligion, but also, of modern forms of
religion itself, lies–I most definitely hold–an often unconfessed
conviction that you cannot and do not really know God at all.
In this country, where everyone in some way believes in God, it
occurs to no one that you can prove his existence or anything else about
him. Nothing seems to
astonish a convert more than what you are able to tell him and to show to
him about God. Perhaps this
is partly due to our national temperament: we hate abstract reasoning, and
we have been taught to distrust all authority in religion.
But a piece of reasoning is, most definitely, authority, for it may
bring us to a conclusion that we do not like, or that anyway we do not
“feel” to be true.
if the Englishman does not “feel” a thing, he is lost.
Not long ago a whole series of books on “Faiths” was published,
of which the authors were explicitly exhorted not to make any mere
catalogue of the articles of their creed, not to adduce arguments on its
behalf, but to inform an inquisitive public what their creed “Meant to
Them”: “I do feel . . . May one not feel . . . ?”–which has
a psychological or personal interest, but is, religiously, quite the least
important fact that you can know. I
may be interested to hear that Prof. X., Lady Y. (the earnest social
worker), the Rev. Mr. Z., the novelist A., the film-actress B., and a
football international C, “do feel” about God–I can even thank God,
in my heart, that they are occupied with him at all: but all this implies
that my only way of knowing anything about God is by way of studying the
impressions of my fellow-men, and that I cannot win any quite certain
knowledge of him at all, which can and must survive even in hours when I
do not feel anything whatsoever towards or about him, just as (to use a
brutal example) a newly married couple continue to love one another, not
to insist on the fact that they continue to know one another, even when,
on their honeymoon, they are both being sea-sick and are not feeling
anything whatsoever about one another.
It must most definitely be stated that this uncertainty about God
is sub-human, and not what is intended for mankind; and that the kind of
cult of uncertainty that you often see today in sophisticated persons, is
due, perhaps, at its very best, to a Zulu-like timidity of any close
contact with God, and a confusion of reverential awe with indecent
familiarity, but also, at its frequent worst, to a real fear of finding
yourself too compromised–too committed to consequences–should you have
to acknowledge that you knew certain things about God “for sure.”
It might demand of you certain ways of behaving, based not upon
your “feeling them to be right,” but upon your knowing that they are
right, little as you enjoyed that knowledge.
be honest, feeling (if it is to exist at all) should as a rule be itself a
consequence; and an habitual association with certain ideas about God does
generate very often a profound and quiet contentment which is far more
substantial, abiding, and productive than gusts of spiritual emotion are.
Truths about God that seem at first sight to be abstract and chill,
like those of his Eternity, his Unchangingness, his Omnipotence, and of
course his All-power, All-wisdom, and All-goodness, are able to produce in
the soul, even here and now, a very deep happiness.
So even the intellectual knowledge we can already gain concerning
God, leads us very far towards our true End, which is, as I said, so far
as it regards ourselves, Happiness.
am very far from saying that God cannot or does not impress the knowledge
of himself upon human minds in all manner of ways.
But I am saying that since the human mind is made by him to know
Truth, and can know much about himself, it ought to do so, and is not
fulfilling its end if it does not, nor providing man with that happiness
which God means him to have. And
I will even add a practical conclusion, which is, that children ought
to be taught about God, assimilating, first, the conclusions of
right reasoning about him, till they can begin to assimilate the reasoning
itself. But in any case and
by whatsoever method be judged best, they ought to be taught, for,
why should the human mind be expected to succeed in this matter all by
itself, if no one dreams that in any other department of knowledge it will
succeed without due training? I
repeat, the mere fact that people say: “A child ought to be allowed to
choose its own religion” (when no one would say the same about its food,
its dress, or its education in “lay” topics), or “no particular view
ought to be taught in schools–the child’s mind must not be put into a
religious strait-jacket”–this sort of language proves that people do
not really think you can know anything for certain about God, but that one
person feels this way, another person that, and no one has the right to
quarrel with either. Yet it is strictly true to say that it is far more certain
the God exists, and is what Catholic theology says he is, than that two
plus two make four. Because
God is the source of that truth, as of every subordinate and created
Man made to love God
God is the only true end of the will.
I mean, one chooses things because they seem “good.”
I don’t mean that one may not choose a thing that one knows very
well to be bad for one–but one chooses even that because from some
narrowed standpoint it seems somehow to be good; e.g., one knows
that another glass of wine will be bad for one in an hour’s time; but at
the moment it seems pleasant and “good” for the satisfying of one’s
sensual appetite, which indeed it is.
Even if a child does what in all but every way is “bad” for it,
and by sulking, for example, knows that it is merely hurting itself and
will be refused a treat it very much wants to have, and “cuts off its
nose to spite its face,” it still is giving itself a queer satisfaction
at the moment, even if it be nothing else than making its parents
miserable or annoyed. We
ought therefore to desire and to choose always the fuller, richer,
“better” good, in so far as we can; and we become able to do so by
doing so. The best good is
what God sees to be best; and since there is nothing better than himself,
we ought always to aim at choosing him, and we do so by acting according
to his “will,” for in choosing thus, we are choosing his
Doing the will of God
first step in this direction is never to choose what we know to be in
opposition to God’s will, for this is simply to oppose our wills, i.e.
ourselves, to what is God himself, that is, to Truth and to Life–that
is, to slay ourselves out of reality–to divert ourselves away from our
only true “end,” and to “come to nothing.”
The next step is positively to do whatsoever we know that God
commands us to do, for this is in keeping with God’s own nature, and
therefore we approximate ever more closely to him who is the absolute Good
and source of good and happiness. Then
we ought to try to find out those things which are not actually commanded
by him, but which in one way or another we know that he loves and prefers.
No doubt it is in part because this is so hard a thing to do, God
being invisible and unimaginable, that he wills us, as Christians, to
contemplate himself in the person of Christ, who has made God manifest to
us. But we are not speaking
for the moment of the Christian Revelation; and even without it, there is
possible for us a real love of God and adhesion to him, for to choose ever
what God wills marks a “love of preference,” carrying with it an
austere joy, devoid maybe of those “pathetic” experiences, those
sympathies, which the study of the human life of Christ can hardly fail to
arouse in us. But it is worth
always remembering that no emotion, however sublime or tender or noble or
pitiful, no ecstasy, however marvelous, is God.
I am not actually, at such moments, “feeling God,” but
experiencing results in myself–why, in my very nerves–that may be the
overflow into those semi-physical regions of a spiritual union with him.
It may indeed be much better for me to experience no such emotions:
for I continually tend to attach importance to them; to think myself good
when I have them, and to become attached to them.
But that would be to make idols of them, and to remove my spiritual
eye from its true object, and to fasten my will to what is not God at all.
Duty of social religion
God wishes me to tend to him as to my last End socially, since my
nature, made by himself, is “social.”
From the outset, it has been known that I am “my brother’s
keeper.” That is to say,
putting it at a minimu, that along of what I am, I “influence.”
I am all the while influencing my surroundings.
If I am dislocated, as within God’s plan, I put all with which I
am in contact “out of joint”; what is rotten, rots.
If, on the other hand, I am moving ever towards my Center, my
magnetism draws others with me towards it.
All “social” workers should remember this.
They endeavor might and main to bring men in closer contact with
one another; but they try ever to do so by shunting them, so to say,
towards each other upon a vast circumference.
As likely as not, thus to push one nearer to a second, is merely to
push him further from a third. But if I try to “set towards” the Center, and to carry
others with me towards It, necessarily all these disparate items move
nearer to one another too. Such
is the good Communion between men that Communion with God necessarily
God the solution of man’s problems
think that it becomes at once clear how grateful we should be to God for
telling us so clearly the way to Truth, to Right, and to Union.
The believer in God, even though he be not a Christian, ought I
think to see that any plan for social unification, or pacification, or
amelioration, is second-rate and partial, if not bound to fail, if the
origin and end of all reality be disregarded. Once
you can start from God, you already possess the foundation for all
fraternity and equality and liberty, for which you will find no adequate
foundation if you just examine human nature as it is.
You must see it as what it is meant to be, and that towards which
it tends, no less than that which starts from the One most Perfect God.
And when you can be certain about God, you are emancipated from
much fumbling and guessing and speculating, and also from the paralysis of
skepticism, and again from the fatuity of succumbing to the intellectual
fashion of the hour. You need
no more be guilty of the snobbishness of trying to keep “up to date,”
or “in harmony with modern thought.”
God is neither in date nor out of date.
I have no reason to suppose that “modern thought” is more right
than any other thought. For,
after all, modern thought is what most people think at the moment, or more
probably what a group of people who like to imagine that they are leaders
of thought are thinking at the moment.
But it has constantly occurred in history that the thought of a
certain epoch has been less good than that which went before.
Thought in our eighth century was not so good as that of our fifth
century; and that of our eighteenth century incomparably less good than
that of the thirteenth. God’s
Truth is timeless, and we are able, as we have seen, to participate more
and more in it. Even in this part, then, of life, we find more peace and
happiness in knowing God than in any amount of material research or
it is goodness on God’s part if he chooses to let us know what is right
and what wrong. “Religion”
is not a mass of arbitrary taboos. God
is not playing a cat’s part, on the look-out for wretched mice, to seize
and worry them. We are able
to find sign-posts on our path: we are able to distinguish what is
path. We are shown the precipice, and the morass. hence we can move
with safety and rapidity. I
cannot imagine anything more silly, or, at its worst, more conceited, than
to announce that you are going to carry a difficult thing through without
any help. What people would
describe as the behavior suited to an unlicked young cub, fresh to his job
in business or in civil service, coming out with his own ideas and
impressions and methods and regarding his predecessors as old fogies or
reactionary, is quite often recommended as the ideal way of approaching
the part of life that concerns the most enormous issues imaginable.
“Think your own thoughts: obey your private conscience: express
your Self.” Granted, if you
are so sure that your conscience is instructed sufficiently; that your
ideas are as true as they are original; that you possess a self worth
expressing, and not one that it would be more decent to keep discreetly
veiled for a time, until it has grown a little–until the days of awkward
writs and ankles and gawky foal-like limbs be just a little passed, and
some spiritual elegance be discernible in you. . . . Where a
self-expression is modest and diffident, tentative and most ready to ask
advice, well and good. And
the best advice is God’s.
will have been observed that hitherto I have not appealed to Catholic
doctrine as such, or as authoritative (which, for us Catholics, it is) to
recommend what I have said about the nature of man, or of God, or about
the relation in which man stands to God.
It is not even necessary so to appeal in order to decide that the
human soul is indestructible. Alone
the notion of the “resurrection of the body” needs such appeal.
It follows quite clearly from what I have said that the soul, on
separating itself from the body, stands in a relation to God which is
substantial–I mean, either it is thinking what God thinks and choosing
what he wills, or it is not. If
it is not, it is either totally alien to God in these matters, or
partially so. Possibly human
reasoning cannot prove that the soul is irrevocably united with God
once it is totally so at all; nor yet that it can totally exhale itself,
so to speak, in an irrevocable act of alienation from God.
Still, we can see that human reason is in no way conflicted with,
if we find further reason to assert that the soul which leaves the body in
complete union with God, stays for ever thus united; or that the soul
which has absolutely willed its own separation from the Truth and Right of
God, remains for ever thus dis-united.
It is hard for human thought to arrive at an “always,”
“never,” “wholly.” What
we can very easily imagine, and would most naturally assume, is, that
souls leave the body in as mixed a state as they have been while united
with the body–for is not ordinary experience entirely on the side of men
being mixtures? And if the
soul leaves the body, mixedly good and bad, may we not find it easy to
suppose that in the “next world” it pursues its course of degeneration
or improvement? As a matter of fact, Catholic doctrine will be wholly on the
side of improvement. Unless a
soul has so completely expressed itself in an anti-God act, bad as its
state may be, it yet is destined to improve.
A word upon this below! At
least we can see that the destiny put before man by God is the perfect
union of the intelligent soul with the Source of Truth, and of the
soul’s free will with God as Source of Right and Good itself.
And since there is no reason to suppose that God will ever
annihilate a soul, we can see that the proper destiny of a soul is to
endure for ever, thinking what God thinks, loving what he loves, and
therefore, united with him in intelligence and will, and happy beyond
words in consequence. This is
caught up into the Church’s doctrine and no part of it is denied, but
all of it is expanded as shall now be explained (The doctrine of
successive reincarnation can neither be proved nor disproved
philosophically. That a soul
requires further education after physical death, to accomplish in it the
perfect assimilation in thought and will to God, is intelligible and
usually true. But nothing can
show that this occurs by means of such new unions with a body.
The arguments usually adduced are, that certain people
“remember” that they were this or that in a previous
“incarnation.” Such claimants are anyhow very few; and if they
“remembered” that they had been Cleopatra’s scullery-maid as often
as they “remember” they have been Cleopatra, they might carry more
conviction. That you “feel you have been here before,” or take sudden
likes and dislikes to people you have never seen before, goes on distance
as an argument. Nor do
inequalities in birth or condition demand that we should see in them the
consequences of behavior in an earlier life.
For the mere fact that so and so is in bad material conditions,
viewed as uncomfortable, as nothing to do with his moral or spiritual
state: to suggest that the poor have less chance of becoming “good”
than the rich, and are therefore paying for pre-natal sin, is rebutted by
the fact that they are often much more good than the rich.
Finally, since no one is conscious of his previous state, if any,
there has been a moral snap in personality, and the continuity would be
purely mechanical. Hence I,
who now am living, would be perfectly right to resent paying for the
misdemeanors of Julius Caesar, assuming I had once been he.
Catholic doctrine, however forbids us to entertain the notion of
THE SUPERNATURAL LIFE
The life of grace
We now pass
into quite a different world–that
off the Christian Revelation and of Catholic Religion.
I hope that it has been perfectly clear that in what I have written
so far, I have not appealed to authority of any sort–whether scriptural
or ecclesiastical. I have
only alluded to these, if at all, as sanctioning or corroborating what
intelligence is able, unaided, to discover, save indeed in the note
concerning re-incarnation. There
exists, however, the Christian Revelation.
This Revelation contains, as St. Paul says, precisely what “eye
hath not seen, what ear hath not heard, and what it hath not so
much entered into man’s heart to conceive.”
We are told things that we not only do not, but cannot, find out by
ourselves. And one of these
is, that we are to be made to live by a life essentially higher than this
our co-natural human life–a supernatural life, which God always intended
for us, so that our true end is a supernatural end, such that we can
neither earn nor merit, nor most certainly be “improved into” it, by
any mere development of our human nature and its constituents, as a wild
rose may be developed into a garden rose.
The gift of this supernatural life has therefore to be a free gift
from God, for which reason it is named “grace,” or the “life of
grace,” for gratia means a “free gift.”
Immediate vision of God
discovery of scientific men has ever shown what was not alive turning into
a living thing, nor even a vegetable into an animal, still less, an animal
turning into a man. Were an
animal to turn abruptly into a man, this would be due to a life above
its nature being infused into it.
It would have been given, from the point of view of an animal, a
“supernatural” life. You
might ask, then, at once, whether I suggest that Man, when a supernatural
life has been given to him, is no more man?
Does he shift right out of his “species”?
I will answer forthwith that he does not.
He is and will remain man, though supernaturalized.
How can this be? Because,
as you will see, the first result of his “supernaturalization” is,
that he knows God in a way in which man, by his own natural forces,
cannot know him. But
observe–man is constructed to know.
A stone is not constructed so as to grow–a plant is not
constructed so as to feel–an animal is not constructed so as to know at
all. For a stone to grow, for
a plant to feel, for an animal to know intellectually, a totally new sort
of element, of constituent, would have to be inserted into it.
In the case of man, the power of knowing is already there.
He is already a spiritual being.
But he knows only by means of ideas.
Even in his discarnate state, when ideas will not reach him by way
of his senses, he would still know what he knows by means of ideas and of
reasoning. True, the reasoning would be much more rapid, and his
intuitions much more complete, than they are at present.
But in no case would that be verified of him, which St. Paul
asserts concerning the Christian’s state of heaven–“At present,”
says St. Paul (1 Cor. xiii 12), “I see in a fragmentary way, but then, I
shall know even as I am known.” He
means, that I know God, now, by means of ideas, and even, ideas derived
from creatures of which I first have knowledge: but in my destined state,
I shall contemplate God immediately.
Now, I know only truths about God: then, I shall know “as
I am known”–that is, directly and by contemplation.
He does not mean that I shall know God comprehensively, as God
knows me comprehensively–for so to know God would mean that I had an
exhaustive knowledge of God: but he means that I shall know God without
any medium between me and him, even as he requires no interposed
ideas in order to know me. We
shall, therefore, “see God as he is”(1John iii 2), and for that
reason, says St. John, we shall be “like him,” no more with that
likeness and in that image which is inevitable in those who are spiritual
creatures, as we are, but to those to whom power has been given to become,
from children of men, “sons of God”(John i 12); who not only are named
such sons of God, but truly are so(1 John iii 2), who have been born not
from human marriage merely nor by desire of man, but of God–who have
been “born anew”–born a second time, and, this time, supernaturally
(John i 13; iii 3).
because there is a new and supernatural life in us, we shall “see
God,” and because we see him that new life, already fully constituted in
us by grace, will spread and triumph and reveal itself within us and
assimilate us, so far as our human nature can admit of such a thing, to
God himself, having been made “partakers,” says St. Peter(2 Peter i
4), “of the Divine Nature.”
The Fall and Redemption
actual history of the gift of grace is related, we have recalled, in other
essays. Here I have but to
say that the Church teaches that this gift was given to our first father,
Adam, yet given to him under condition, and held by him precariously. A moral command, of which he was sufficiently conscious, was
imposed upon him, upon the fulfillment of which depended his retention of
that supernatural gift–since God will not force even his best gifts on
man’s free will. Adam
disobeyed, and was deprived of grace, and of those preternatural gifts of
immortality and “integrity”–or interior harmony of all the
constituent elements of his nature–that were the suitable complement of
grace. This was the Fall.
Because however Adam stood not for himself alone, but for us, and
was truly the Head of the human race, and because we were
“incorporate” in him, therefore we too in him were deprived of that
supernatural life that God meant us to possess, and “in Adam, all
died.” We are therefore
conceived and born deprived of somewhat that we were meant to have, “in
Original Sin,” to use the technical phrase.
In some way, then, or another, this Original Sin had to be made
away with–Death had to be slain–were we to live again supernaturally,
and attain the true and for which we were created.
We regain our life by being incorporated afresh in a Second Adam, a
Second Head to the human race–that is, in Christ, who being true man can
be for us, as he is in himself, the first of all men, and who, being God,
has in him no participated life merely, but the very source of life
itself. Hence, if a man be in Christ–behold! a new
creature(2 Cor. v 17): and on this theme, were it here in place, we
could linger very long. But,
as I have said, its proper place is to in another essay, and all that I
have to do here is to insist with a minimum of development, but
sufficiently clearly, that the triumph in man of this supernatural life is
his only true destiny in the full sense, and that for which God created
him, and that into which he redeemed him.
The modern reaction to this doctrine
has taught me that the paragraphs I have just written are those which the
“modern” non-Catholic Christian will above all others dislike.
I had occasion not long ago to repeat their contents in a society
composed of several modernist clergymen, or science-professors, and of
undergraduates. It was
interesting to observe the several reactions of my listeners.
The younger men had nothing to say against this supernatural
presupposition of my actual subject, which was sacrifice.
Young men and women, I suppose, not least today, have an appetite
for life, which is a very healthy asset and symptom!
They “take kindly” to any suggestion that they may have more
life even than they have. They
see that should the Catholic doctrine of supernatural life be proved
false, men simply stand to lose. They
lose a whole sort of life. A
whole world of vitality is hut to them.
All that they can do is to improve what they have got, and in a
human earth-lifetime, you cannot as a rule get very far with that, and a
generation taken as a whole most certainly does not get very far.
Therefore, among the very sensible questions that they asked and
criticisms that they made–all of which I was delighted to see were to
the point, which was more than could be said of most of the rest–no sign
was noticeable of dislike for the notion that God could thus infuse a
supernatural life into man, and indeed they appeared to welcome the
possibility of its being true. So
far has the genuinely modern generation, when it thinks at all, traveled
from the old materialist days of, say, 1880.
was a time when it was the fashion positively to exult if it could be
argued that nothing spiritual existed at all.
Materialism is now a system grimy with disuse, and rationalism
hardly less “dated.” Not
that a system need to be the worse for being unpopular at the moment, as I
shall say very soon. But our
modern generation is showing that the race, in history, has been right
when it has refused to think that matter is everything and that there is
no mind, and even, that a quite fatuous conceit is needed for a man to
assert that there is nothing higher than human thought, or even,
that if there is, men are for ever and totally shut out from coming into
any contact–having any dealings–with it.
representative of scientific anthropology suggested that whatever might be
the possibility or desirability of a supernatural life, its “history”
as I had outlined it was manifestly impossible, if research failed to show
any sign of things having happened like that, and if, in fact, it
displayed man as having struggled upwards from a low level, and not as
descending from a high one. I
had to ask the elementary question, first–what could research of
the kind that he and his companions most properly went in for, display to
him? He had to examine
ancient bones. Even if the
entire series of skeletons could be produced from the first “man” down
to his own father’s, what would that tell him–about even the mental
dispositions of those men? Nothing
at all. No analysis of our physical structure will tell us about our
mind, any more than the analysis of printer’s ink upon a page will tell
us of the music in the musician’s mind, close though the link be between
what the musician thinks and what he prints.
Further, since the whole doctrine of the supernatural life is
supernatural, how should a study of nature expect to tell us
anything about it? At least,
no study of nature can show us its impossibility.
speaker was prepared to acknowledge the justice of these considerations,
but also, that being unable to make use of any method other than the
observation of concrete facts for the formation of his theories, and being
unable (though he should not have been) to reach by that road any clear
belief in the existence or nature of God, he naturally could not
understand a belief like that in Supernatural Grace, which involves a very
definite belief in God and his power of entering into and acting within
his universe on his own conditions, so to say.
the attitude taken by the clergymen was far the most significant and I may
say discreditable, though they were eminent men in their departments.
They merely uttered lamentations to the effect that “all this
kind of thing” was so “alien to modern thought–so remote from
up-to-date interest”–the very words “grace, sanctification, original
righteousness” and so forth, had long ago become meaningless to them.
It was necessary to insist, first of all, that their difficulties
arose from a inability to achieve a clear and intelligible notion of what God
was. They had, certainly,
given up any attempt to reach a reasonable idea of God–an idea
obtained along the intelligible lines that are explained in the essay in
this volume which discusses the Existence and the Nature of God, and how
we know them. Therefore they
were reduced to impressionism, and, since men’s feelings may quite
likely differ from generation to generation, they were right, up to a
point, in trying to observe what men are “feeling” about God today.
But, they far outstripped the legitimate gifts of observation, when
they assumed that what men are feeling today is necessarily better than
what they felt a generation or a century or nineteen centuries ago.
I have already insisted that every sort of thought has at some time
or other been “modern” and up to date; but that there is not the
slightest grounds for assuming that it has always been better than what
preceded it. And apart from
all this, there was a grave begging of the question in what they said.
For, does “modern thought” coincide with what the
intellectual laboratories of Oxford and of Cambridge produce?
Most certainly not. It
is true that in any case I cannot imagine what “modern thought” is,
for the only general characteristic I can observe about it is, confusion.
But it is impertinence to suppose that the ordinary man cannot
think, and that only professors in their studies do so.
There is a deal of robust and honest thought outside such places,
and indeed, I have felt regularly that the mental air there is exhausted,
and I have sought intellectual bracing in very different haunts.
Indeed, I had to say, then and there, that the two best definitions
of Art had come to me, first, from St. Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth
century, and, from a gentleman who described himself as a Street-Corner
Bruiser in a mining town. . . .
to sum up this parenthesis. While
we hold that Thought, ancient or modern, is quite capable of reaching the
certainty that God exists, and that he created us, and has perfect power
over us, and while we might even surmise that he could raise us to a
supernatural way of living, we could never know that he had done so, or
even meant to do so, save by revelation.
Hence neither anthropological research nor any other kind of study
of material facts will ever begin to show us anything one way or the other
about this, nor can sheer intellectual deduction prove it to us.
It is, I repeat, an affair of revelation. If God has not revealed the matter to us, well and good: if
he has, his revelation is true eternally, and fashions do not alter it.
It is for us to adapt our minds to God, and not to adapt God and
his message to the preferences of our minds.
Some of the implications of the life of grace
remains to be said is far more a matter for meditation than for
explanation. I recall that we
are taught that into us God wishes to infuse a supernatural life, of which
the eternal consequence is that we “see God face to face,” and thereby
love him supernaturally, for the very fact of contemplating the Infinite
Beauty makes the purified soul to love It–and no soul could thus
contemplate It unless its purification had already been accomplished.
But, says St. John, “we shall be like him, for we shall
see as he is.” Love assimilates:
and since we cannot assimilate the eternal and immutable God to ourselves,
the likeness fulfills itself in us, who see him without the shadow of
falseness in our minds, and adhere to him without any defection in our
will being any more allowed. Therefore
in his Presence we shall taste for ever the fullness of Joy.
dogma fears no consequence of this principle of our supernatural union
with God. Indeed, Scripture
anticipates the deduction of dogma, and there is little left for the
theologian to do but to fit the assertions of Scripture into their several
places in his scheme. Thus,
for example, united with God, we are united with that One God who is the
Most Blessed Trinity. To the
essay on that Mystery we refer our readers.
Enough to say that while what God does, he does in his most simple
Totality, yet there is this activity or that which can be
“appropriated,” as they say, to each several Person.
We have told how the Fatherhood of God is as it were re-enacted in
our favor, owing to our new manner of filiation–I mean, we are now
adopted into so lofty a position as his sons, that we become truly
brethren of his Sole-Begotten. Incredible
prerogative–God actually adopts us into a position hitherto held by him
alone who is the Eternal Son by nature. And since he is Son, and we now are sons, we are brothers
with him, and also co-heirs with him, co-heirs of his own glory.
And, through our entry into his Church, we are also supernaturally
incorporated into him, and are in him, and he is in us.
Finally, we are taught that although God, by his very immensity, is
ever wholly “in” us, now, by virtue of our new supernatural union with
him, the Holy Spirit of God dwells in a special way within us, so that our
very bodies are become “temples of the Holy Ghost.”
are, then, to be associated in a special way with the whole Most Blessed
Trinity, and are united thus inevitably with whatsoever else is united
with It. Inanimate nature,
and living yet non-human creatures, are united with God after their
several kinds; and other human creatures besides ourselves are no less
united with him. Therefore
with all these are we “in union.”
In what way, precisely, will the communion between them and
us be effected? There is
little need to speculate on that. At
any rate we can see that it would suffice if we contemplated them, and
loved them, as God sees them, and loves them–as they are “in
himself.” In him we shall
see love, and meet all these good things radiant with the qualities that he
sees to be theirs, as he intends them to be.
And how far more rich our understanding of them, and more intimate
our love for them, than when we merely saw and tried to love that travesty
of themselves that things at present, in this low world of imperfection,
essay must have appeared very abstract, especially in its last part, to
those who are not accustomed to “endure as seeing him that is
invisible” (Heb. xi 27). Indeed,
the Catholic is often attacked on the grounds that he shifts the center of
gravity of life into the “next world.”
Hence, it is argued, he will not take trouble over improving the
sad conditions that prevail upon this earth.
It is curious that other critics of the Church are fond of calling
her “worldly,” “opportunist,” “materialist,” and so forth; and
indeed it is true that objections lodged against her cancel one another
out, for it is quite impossible that she should really be so many
contradictory things simultaneously.
is not the place, I think, to sing the praises of the Church’s history
of beneficence among men. Enough
to say that though it is perfectly true that our “conversation is in
heaven”–that is, our proper and full life will be hereafter, and our
life here below has to be ordered in view of this fact–yet precisely
because of that we are, first, able to be happy even in the hardest of
earthly circumstances, even as “for the joy set before him,” Christ
“endured the Cross, despising the shame,” and even as Saints and
Martyrs have displayed to the very eyes of men their joy in the midst of
suffering; and second, inspired to help our brothers in life’s struggle,
with motives of unique strength because they are all the more our brothers
seeing that we all possess that title because of Christ, which is far
better than the dubious consideration of our equality and fraternity as
sons of Adam. Moreover, we
who are Christians have the most explicit of injunctions from our Lord,
that we should work on behalf of our fellow-men for his sake.
Again and again I have been told that nuns, who regard their entire
service of their fellow-creatures as vocational, are the only ones who
can, as a class, be enduringly patient and self-forgetful in their toil. Allowing for exaggeration here, we at least may say that they
who can regard themselves as working for Christ and with him, ought
to be able to do a thousand times more and better than they who have to
tread their rough and lonely path, with its myriad disappointments, upon
the dry bread of mere philanthropical ideals, or social theories or hopes.
Therefore we dare to say that how supernatural soever we judge
man’s destiny to be, Catholics will not be found wanting in the simple
honest works of “corporal mercy,” nor on the whole are they, and
perhaps among them only is to be found, on a general scale, and
enduringly, the lofty practice of heroism.
God created men
therefore for a purpose. That
purpose is, that men should become their true selves, as he sees and
intends them, and thereby give him glory, and be happy.
happiness is therefore not merely an affair of the years we spend on
earth, but shall endure so long as we do ourselves, that is, for ever,
since, if God shall not let our soul lapse out of existence, it cannot of
itself cease to exist.
the less, this destiny, and this happiness, do not concern our soul only,
for Man is not merely soul. He
is also body, and in him body and soul are so joined as to make one person–a
unit complete yet twofold–not a gross amalgam, nor yet a mere container
and contained. It is man
therefore whom God makes for happiness.
All then that
God has made, he has made according to a plan–a plan already realized,
so far as a man is a man at all, and to be realized hereafter, since a man
grows and only tends to become what God means him, when perfect, to be.
order then to become this, man has to live according to certain rules;
else, he spoils himself. He
must therefore respect, yet subordinate his body, and govern it according
to reason, and be free choices. His
mind too must ever seek to know, and to know truth; just as his will must
ever perfect itself by choosing and adhering ever more and more constantly
and closely to what is Good.
man shall pass into his eternity, the consummate Man, the perfect success
that God intends, and already we see reasons for expecting that somehow he
will continue to be man, and not change into some discarnate spirit
only. He can also see that it may be at least possible so to spoil
himself as to become waste product–the total unsuccess.
God has done more than equip man with reasoning powers, able to reach to
these certainties and these surmises.
He has given him a revelation.
revelation tells him over again, and with divine authority, many things
that his reason already has told him, such as all those truths that we
have just recalled; also, it confirms certain surmises of his, such as,
that he will for ever be truly man, body-soul; and that there can
be total ruin in store for him, alongside of complete success.
God also reveals certain definite rules for success, and indicates
certain mortal dangers.
God also reveals truths that no reason might discover, no guess descry. He tells us that the co-natural union of our minds and wills
with himself is to be raised to a supernatural level–our whole human
life is to be supernaturalized, so that whatever happiness would by nature
have been ours, shall be enhanced not only in quantity or intensity, but
in kind. This is to be done
for us through the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom we may be, if
we but will, incorporated so as to live by his life, and in him to “see
God,” and, in him all that is in him.
the perfect Communion establishes itself.
The Bread of God is kneaded, and gives life to the world: the Vine
has blossomed, has reddened into clusters, and of that Wine God himself
shall drink. The House is built; the Temple becomes perfect from
foundation up to roof; the Body lives, and the Marriage of Christ is
consummated. From heaven the
New Jerusalem descends, and clothes the earthly Sion that becomes all the
world, and that which is in us now in germ–that secret Grace that is
ours–manifests itself as Glory, and thereafter “our joy no man taketh
C. C. Martindale, S.J.