Philosophy of the Supernatural

Vlll. Philosophy of the Supernatural

The Two Philosophies


 Philosophy is the science of principles; not, as the superficial thinkers or unthinkers of our materialistic age would have us believe, of sensible or material facts, the proper object of the physical sciences, as astronomy, electricity, chemistry, mechanics, geology, hydraulics, etc. Principles precede facts, originate and govern them. Indeed, we know not facts themselves nor understand their significance or meaning until we have referred them to their principles. …All principles are supersensible and are objects of the intellect, in no case of the senses. Some of them are known or knowable by the light of nature; others only by the light of supernatural revelation. The science of the former is the philosophy of the natural; of the latter, is the philosophy of the supernatural.

 These two philosophies are of principles equally certain; for the light of reason and the light of revelation are both emanations of the divine light or Logos, and each is infallible. We may err and take that to be reason or that to be revelation which is not revelation; but neither can itself err, for both rest on the veracity of God, who is Truth itself and can neither deceive nor be deceived. The science of revealed principles is as truly science as is the science of principles known by the light of nature, and differs from it only as to its medium. We may, then, speak of the philosophy of the supernatural with as much propriety and confidence as of the philosophy of the natural.

 The philosophy of the supernatural follows the analogy of the natural. The philosophy of the natural presents the principles of the natural so far as they are cognizable by natural reason in their intelligible phase, their relation to one another, and the facts of the sensible order which they explain and govern. The philosophy of the supernatural presents the principles so far as revealed of the supernatural order, their mutual relation and reciprocal dependencies, and their relation to the natural order which they explain and complete, and which without them is not only incomplete, but absolutely without purpose or meaning. (Vol. 2, pp. 271-273.)


Defect of the Scholastic Method


 The questions treated belong properly to the domain of theology, but lie back of those ordinarily treated by our modern theologians. Since the rise of scholasticism theology has pursued the analytical method and has been, for the most part, studied in separate questions and articles in detail, rather than as a uniform and indissoluble whole. The articles and dogmas of faith have been dissected, analyzed, accurately described, and labeled, but except by a few superior minds not presented in their unity or as integral and inseparable members of one living body. The objection of the traditionalists to the scholastic method that it is rationalistic and of Dollinger and German professordom that it is theological, not historical, and places reason above revelation, deserves no respect and, of we are not mistaken, has been reprobated by the Holy See. As against the traditionalists and the German professors, the scholastic method is approved in the Syllabus, but this does not prohibit us from pointing out that it tends to make the student lose sight of the faith objectively considered as an organic whole. What moderately-instructed theologian ever regards the natural and the supernatural as parts of one dialectic system, distinct, if you will, but inseparable in the divine decree, or that does not look upon them as two disconnected and independent systems? Who ever thinks of looking below the dogma to the catholic principle that underlies it, governs it, and binds it to every other dogma, and integrates it in the living unity of the divine purpose in creation? (Vol. 2, p. 273.)


The Age has Lost Faith in the Supernatural


 All that we aim at here is to show that there is a philosophy of the supernatural as well as of the natural; and that we live in times when for the vindication of the faith against the various classes of its enemies it is necessary to recognize and study it to a far greater extent than it is ordinarily studied in our seminaries. The age has no respect for authority, and though we prove conclusively that the church is divinely commissioned and assisted to teach the faith, and is therefore infallible, we do not meet the real difficulties of the more cultivated classes of unbelievers or prepare them to accept any article, dogma, or proposition of faith for the reason that she teaches it. The world outside of the church may be credulous and superstitious, able, as Clemens of Alexandria said to the Greeks, “to believe anything and everything except the truth,” but have undeniably lost all faith in the supernatural order, and really believe only in the natural, if indeed even so much as that. Our spiritists, who profess to have communication with the spirits of the departed, do not really admit a supernatural order. The real cause of this unbelief, so far as it is intellectual, not moral, is in the assumption that the natural and the supernatural are held by the church as by the sects to be two separate, independent, and unrelated orders, indeed as two antagonistic orders. They take their views of Christian theology not from the teaching of the church, but from such errorists as Calvinists and Jansenists, who in their theories demolish nature to make way for grace. The supernatural appears to them an anomaly in the Creator’s works; something arbitrary, illogical, without any reason in the nature of things or the principles of the universe. No amount of evidence, they contend, can suffice to prove the reality of any order that is above nature or the reach of natural reason. Hence they attempt to reduce miracles and all marvelous events, too well authenticated to be denied as facts, to the natural order, explicable by natural laws, though we may as yet be ignorant of these laws. (Vol. 2, p. 274.)


Relation of the Natural and the Supernatural


 The natural and the supernatural are two parts of one original plan of creation, and are distinguished only as the initial is distinguished from the teleological or completion. The natural is initial, the supernatural is teleological, or the perfection or fulfillment of the natural. It was in the beginning, in arche, in principio, the design of the Creator that the natural should be perfected, completed, or fulfilled in the supernatural. Indeed, we do not understand how that natural could possibly be perfected in the natural, the creature, which is necessarily imperfect, in the creation. To assume that man can be perfected in the natural order is to assume that he has no destiny, his existence no purpose, and therefore no meaning, which would be tantamount to assuming that he is a mere nullity, nothing at all. Man, nature, the universe, all creation, originates in and proceeds by the creative act of God from the supernatural, for God the Creator is necessarily supernatural, that is, above and over nature. Nature originates in the supernatural, and since we know from revelation, and might infer from reason itself, that God creates all things for himself, it has and can have its destiny or end only in the supernatural. The good of every creature is in attaining its end, the fulfillment or perfection of its nature, and hence the notion broached and defended by some theologians – not, indeed, of the first order- of a natural beatitude is inadmissible and originates in a superficial and incomplete view of the Creator’s design in creation, and, we may add, of the nature of things, in the very assumption on which is founded the objection of the unbeliever. They consider nature as a whole, and once created with its laws that it suffices or might have sufficed for itself – a purely deistical conception, and not changed in its nature by what these same theologians add, that God by his superabounding goodness has provided for those that love him something better, even supernatural beatitude. There is and can be no natural beatitude; because whatever is natural is finite, and the soul hungers and thirsts for an unbounded good and can be satisfied with nothing short of the Infinite; that is to say, God himself, who is the Supreme Good in itself. “I shall be satisfied,” says holy Job, “when I awake in thy likeness.” There is rest for the soul only in God. Prophets, poets, and sages of all nations and ages, as well as Christian preachers, have borne witness to the insufficiency of every created or finite good to satisfy the soul and give it real beatitude. All this proves that man was created for a supernatural, not a natural, beatitude or end, and therefore that the supernatural entered into the divine plan of creation. Whence it follows that the alleged status naturae purae “status of pure nature” is a pure abstraction and has never existed in actual state, as the theologians who insist on it, for the most part, concede and hold, as we do. We are laboring to prove that man, in point of fact, is and always has been under a gracious or supernatural providence, and, therefore, from the first destined to a supernatural end, attainable only through a supernatural medium. The original justice in which Adam was constituted and which placed him on the plane of his destiny was supernatural, not produced by his nature; and when by his prevarication he lost it he fell below his nature, became darkened in his understanding, weakened in his will, and captive to Satan, from whose power he is delivered only by the Incarnate Word.

 That man is created for a good that transcends nature is indicated not only by his inability to satisfy himself with any natural, that is, created good, but also by his consciousness of his own imperfection or incompleteness, that his reason is limited, and that he is capable of being more than he is or can be by his unassisted natural powers. There is something mysterious and inexplicable to us in this fact – a fact which seems to us to imply that we have an obscure sense of the supernatural, which the vast majority of mankind in all ages and nations in one form or another recognize. (Vol. 2, pp. 275, 276.)


Principles of the Supernatural


 The principium, or principle, as we have seen, of philosophy, or rational science, of the science of reason, is Ens creat existentias. …Being creates or is creating existences, corresponding to the first verse of Genesis. In principio, Deus creavit caelum et terram, or to the first article in the creed, “I believe in one God, maker of heaven and earth, and all things visible and invisible.” …

 The principle of theology, or what we here call supernatural philosophy, and known to us only by revelation, is, “The Father through Christ deifies or is deifying existences or creatures,” that is, supernaturally elevating them to union or oneness with God, the creature to oneness with the Creator. The medium of this deification is the Incarnation, or the Word made flesh. The fact affirmed in the ideal or rational formula that existences proceed from God by way of creation, or that God creates the world and is its first cause, proves that he creates it for some end, that it has a final cause, and a final cause and end, like its first cause, above and beyond itself. We know from rational philosophy that our final cause or the end for which we are created is supernatural, but we know only in a general way that it is supernatural, not specifically or in particular in what it consists. This we know only by revelation. We can know from reason that God creates us for himself, because besides him there is nothing for which he can create us. But we cannot know from reason that he creates us to deify us, to make us one with himself, “partakers,” as St. Peter says, “of his divine nature,” naturae consortes divinae. Nor can we know by natural reason that this deification of the creature is to be effected through the Incarnation or the Word made flesh. The whole principle and scope of the teleological order, the second cycle or the return of existences to God without absorption in him as their final cause or last end, transcends the reach of our natural faculties or the light of nature, and is known only by supernatural revelation.

 As the philosophy of the natural order consists in the reduction of the facts of that order to their principles and their integration in the ideal or rational formula, Ens creat existentias, so supernatural philosophy, or theology, consists in the reduction of all the facts, mysteries, articles, and dogmas of the supernatural order and their integration in the revelaed formula, The Father through Christ deifies or is deifying existentias, or the creature, that is, elevating the creature to oneness with the Creator. The medium of the revealed formula is the Word made flesh or the Incarnation, that is, the Hypostatic Union, by which the created nature becomes the nature of God, or the creature is made one with the Creator, as the medium of the rational or ideal formula is the creative act of Being, Ens, or God. It is in this medium or creative act that the natural and supernatural coalesce and become one, for the Hypostatic Union, or the Incarnation of the Word, is effected by the creative act, and is that act raised to its highest power, is its supreme effort; for it is impossible for the creative act to rise higher or to go further than to make the creature one with its Creator. The two orders, the natural and the supernatural, are dialectically united by one and the same medium and- inasmuch as both proceed from the same principle – by one and the same creative act. (Vol. 2, pp. 278-281.)


The Incarnation


 The point we make here is that the act which creates the natural is the identical act which creates the Hypostatic Union and founds the supernatural. The Hypostatic Union or Incarnation is itself in the initial order, in the first cycle, or the order of the procession of existences by the act of creation from God as first cause. It completes that order by carrying the creative act to its highest pitch, and initiates or founds the teleological order, or the order of the return of existences without absorption in him to God, as final cause, or their last end. This order, called by St. Paul the new creation and usually termed the supernatural order, is therefore founded on the Incarnation. In it we enter by regeneration, and the race are propagated by the election of grace from Christ by the Holy Ghost, as in the first cycle, or the initial order, they are propagated from Adam by natural generation. Hence Christ is called the second Adam, the Lord from Heaven. He is the Father of regenerated humanity, as Adam is of generated of natural humanity. Hence we see the reason why without the new birth it is impossible to enter the kingdom of heaven or to see God.

 If the natural and the supernatural universe are homogenous parts of one and the same system, the point on which we here specially insist, the whole of both parts have their unity in the principle from which they proceed, and as the natural is created and exists for the supernatural, it is integrated in the principle of the supernatural, Verbum caro factum est, or the Incarnation. Hence it follows that the entire creation, whether in the natural or supernatural, the initial or the teleological order, exists for the Incarnation, and finds in its relation to the Word made flesh its significance, its purpose, its unity, and its integrity. This granted, it follows again that the denial of the Incarnation would be the denial not only of the entire supernatural order or the whole Christian system, but of all existences, whether natural or supernatural, by denying this final cause as essential to any created existence as the first cause. It would deny the very end for which all things exist, and deny the universe itself by denying it any purpose or meaning. What means nothing is nothing. The Incarnation is the key to all the Creator’s works, and we have not mastered theology or the philosophy of the supernatural till we are able to say that the denial of any one item in those works involves the denial of the Incarnation, or the Word made flesh. It is the highest and supreme principle of all science, and without it nothing in the universe is scientifically explicable. (Vol. 2, pp. 281, 282.)


Unity of the Faith


 It follows from the unity of the principle of both the natural and the supernatural that the creation in both its parts is one system, and also that the faith is one, and the several articles and dogmas recognized and treated by theologians form not simply a union, but are strictly one, flowing from one and the same principle, through one and the same medium, to one and the same end. Hence the destructive nature of heresy, which accepts some articles of the faith and rejects others. As all depend alike on the Incarnation, the principle of the teleological order, the denial of any one item of the faith is the denial of the Incarnation. All heresy impugns the Incarnation and is of the nature of infidelity, or the absolute rejection of Christ, the Word made flesh. This theology or the philosophy of the supernatural must establish…by descending to particulars and showing it in detail. (Vol. 2, p. 283.)

No New Theology


 Theology, as we have said, is not a new or a progressive science. As there can be no new faith, so can there be no new theology or science of faith, though theologians may differ among themselves by a more or less perfect knowledge of it. Theologians hold their principles from faith and reason, both of which are invariable, universal, and the same in all ages and nations. Reason was all in the first man that it is in us or can be in his latest posterity, and there has never been but one revelation, according to St. Thomas, which was made in substance to our first parents in the garden, and hence, says St. Augustine, faith does not vary; as believed the fathers, so we believe, only they believed in Christ who was to come and we believe in Christ who has come. Hence whatever is permanent, invariable, and universal in the various religions, superstitions, and mythologies of the heathen, is either the dictate of reason or derived by tradition from the primitive revelation made to Adam and Eve before their expulsion from the garden. Our Lord did not come to make a new revelation or to introduce a new faith, but to do and suffer those things which were promised and which were necessary to perfect the faith of the fathers; for if he had not come and done and suffered what he did, their faith would have been vain, as also would be ours. Theology is the science of faith, or the revealed order, of its several parts with one another and of all its parts with the whole, in which they are integrated and, so to speak, consummated, or of which, in the divine plan of creation, they are constituent parts. (Vol. 3, pp. 547, 548.)


Analytic and Synthetic Theology


 Now, in constructing theology or reproducing in our theological science the divine plan of creation as made known to us by reason and revelation, we may adopt, with one class of theologians, the analytical method, and treat the subject-matter in its parts in distinct questions and articles, without special attention to the relations of the parts to the whole or to one another; or we may adopt the synthetic method of the early fathers and treat the parts in their dialectic relations with one another and with the whole which integrates them. But whichever method we adopt, it must be one and the same theological science we draw out and present. We must also bear in mind that neither of the two methods ever is or ever can be pursued by itself alone. Analysis presupposes synthesis, for we cannot analyze what is not presented in globo or as a whole; and synthesis presupposes analysis, for we cannot treat parts in relation to one another, or in relation to the whole which integrates them, unless we have analyzed them, so far at least as to know that they are parts. The difference of the two methods is that in the one synthesis predominates, in the other analysis; or that in the one we seek to draw out and present the truth, or the real, in its dialectic relations, and in the other we seek to study and present it in its analytic relations. The analytic theologian will, in treating of grace, treat it in its several divisions, as gratia praeveniens, gratia adiuvans, gratia sufficiens, gratia efficax, gratia habitualis, gratia actualis, etc.; the synthetic theologian, without denying these distinctions, will consider these several graces in their unity and in their relation to the church, their medium; also the church in relation to the Incarnation, the source and fountain of all grace; and, still further, the Incarnation in relation, on the one hand, to the ineffable mystery of the Trinity, and, on the other, in relation to the eternal decree of creation and the teleological order. …

 St. Thomas and all theologians of the first order in reality do the same. The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas, if eminently analytic, is, to all who diligently study and understand it, also eminently synthetic, both in its philosophy and its theology. It is the very essence of theological science, as we have said above, to present the several mysteries, articles, dogmas, and propositions of faith in their synthetic or organic relations with one another, with the natural or rational order, and with the order of glory as far as revealed. The orders are not all known in the same way. We know the natural or initial order by the light of reason; in the supernatural and revealed order we know analogically by the light of faith; in the final order, glorification or heaven, we know by the light of glory, or what the theologians call the ens supernaturale; but these several orders are one created reality in its relations through the creative act of God as first cause and as final cause; and these several lights are only different degrees of one and the same divine light consummated in glory, in which the glorified are made partakers of the divine nature, divinae consortes naturae (2 Pet. 1, 4). The design of all theology is to show this. …

 There is no doubt that some meticulous theologians, while composing their theology from definitions of the church, which are necessarily analytic because made only on occasion of insurgent errors, and consequently propose the faith only so far as necessary to condemn them and to put the faithful on their guard against them, have failed to grasp the grand synthesis revealed by faith and taught in the catechism. Some have maintained that nothing is de fide till defined by the church, and hence have concocted a theory of development and maintained that the volume of faith is increased with each new definition, forgetting that the church, since she is infallible, can define nothing to be de fide which has not been of faith from the beginning, always and everywhere. (Vol. 3, p. 549.)


Creation a Dialectic Whole


 The real or created order is in the plan of the creator or the divine decree a dialectic whole, not as Pope sings,


“All are but parts of one stupendous whole

whose body nature is, and God the soul.”


 Which is pure pantheism; but parts of one created whole united to God, not as the body to the soul, but as the creature to the creator, by the creative act of God, distinguishable from God, as the act is from the actor.

 God is infinite in his freedom, because infinite in his power, and is free to create or not to create as he wills; and if he wills to create he is free to create what and as he wills. To the question, “Why has he created the universe as he has or as it is?” the only answer is, and it is sufficient, “Because he has so willed.” The vessel has no right to say to the potter, “Why hast thou made me thus?” The creator is not responsible to his creatures nor bound to give them a reason for creating them. But God, though he can do whatever he wills, cannot annihilate his own being or contradict his own nature or essence, as the blessed apostle evidently implies when he says, “It is impossible for God to lie.” In creating or willing, God must create or will according to his own intrinsic nature or essence. Since, then, God is, in his very essence, supremely logical and creates all things by the Logos- logic in itself- who is God, all his works, his entire creation, are necessarily supremely logical; logical in all their parts and as a whole. Consequently there must be always a reason in the created order for whatever exists in it. Every part must have its place and its raison d’etre, and there can be in the universe no sophisms, no anomalies, no irregularities, no inconsistencies, no contradictions or irreconcilable dualisms or opposites. So much follows necessarily from the revealed mystery of the Holy Trinity, and so much follows, also, from the character of God the creator, as congnizable by the light of nature. (Vol. 3, p. 551.)


Heterodoxy Unsystematic


 The principal objections to Christianity, in our day at least, grow out of ignorance of this fact, and arise from the three orders being regarded as three distinct and mutually independent orders, and the mysteries, articles, and dogmas of faith being apprehended as isolated and unrelated facts or statements, independent one of another, without any logical connection between them, as heterodoxy necessarily presents them, since heterodoxy is necessarily incomplete, illogical, or sophistical; heresy never hangs together; its several parts never cohere and never constitute a complete or organic whole. Take any form of Protestantism you please, and you will find that the articles and dogmas it retains from orthodoxy are for it anomalies and have no systematic place or significance. It asserts the supernatural, but it has no place, no necessity for it in its conception of creation or of the divine decree to create; and three is in its system no reason why the natural order alone should not suffice for itself and be at once initial and teleological, and the more logical among Protestants are constantly struggling against tradition and formal creeds, to eliminate the supernatural and to assert the sufficiency of the natural. In no Protestant system has the assertion of the mystery of the Trinity or the mystery of the Incarnation any necessity or serves any purpose recognized by the system itself. There is nothing in the divine order as conceived and presented by Protestant theologians that cannot be explained without as well as with the assertion of either mystery. The church, with Protestants, performs no office, has no function, no significance, and is either a self-constituted society, a voluntary association, or a state establishment. Even in the belief of Protestants themselves it is no essential medium of salvation or of the Christian life, and the most straight-laced among them hold practically that all men can be saved without the church as well as with it- if only distinguished for intellect or wealth; for we find them every day canonizing such, even before the last obsequies have been paid to their bodies.  What better, according to the Protestant presentment of it, is Christianity than Greek or Roman philosophy? Or why should sensible men trouble their heads about it, except to get rid of it? (Vol. 3, pp. 551, 552.)


The Church


 Protestants also object to the church, her constitution, doctrines, and worship, for the same reason. Having and seeking no logic in their own system, and knowing that Christianity, as they hold it, is made up of disconnected particulars and isolated doctrines, they fail to perceive that Catholicity is an organic whole, in which all the parts cohere and have their reason. They reject the authority and office of the church, but only because they isolate her from the Incarnation and the mediatorial kingdom of Christ. If they held, with St. Paul, that she is the body of Christ, in which he carries on his work of mediation, and understood that the Holy Ghost dwells in her, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, who leads her into all truth, they would see that they could object neither to her office nor her authority without objecting to the Incarnation and to the “man Christ Jesus, the mediator of God and men.” Christianity is, as we have said more than once, concreted in the church, and without her would be to us only a naked and powerless idea, with which we could have no communion or relation. So as to the papal constitution, the church could have no unity or catholicity, no individuality, no visible personality, and therefore no visible existence without the pope. The pope, in the visible order, is the person of the church. To deny the visibility of the church is to deny the church herself; for the invisible church, or the soul of the church, as some say, is simply Christ the Word incarnated by the Holy Ghost in the womb of the immaculate Virgin without any representation. They themselves have no church, for what they call their churches are not a living organism, but either state establishments or voluntary associations living no life but what is brought to the establishment or association by its members, or what it derives from the secular order. They are not joined to Christ by a living union and living his life. They have nothing of Christ but the name. if we, like them, held the church disunited with Christ and composed of frail and erring mortals, we could attach no more importance to her than they do to their purely human associations; but taken, as Catholicity teaches, as growing out of the Incarnation, her constitution and office are integral in the Catholic faith and theology, strictly dialectic, and the denial of any part of her teaching, from the supremacy and infallibility of the pope down to the virtue of holy water or the blessing of ashes, would logically involve the denial of the whole, not only because the denial of any proposition carries with it the denial of the authority on which the whole rests, but also because it would break the internal chain which binds all the parts into one organic whole, as we have already shown. The denial of the papacy denies the church; the denial of the church denies the Incarnation; the denial of the Incarnation denies the teleological order; the denial of the teleological order denies finality, that is, God as final cause; and the denial of God as final cause denies him as first cause and effaces alike nature and grace, the natural and the supernatural, all being and existences. (Vol. 3, pp. 552, 553.)



The Worship of Saints


 Protestants object to the cultus sanctorum as authorized by the church and practiced by Catholics; but for a similar reason, because they do not see its dialectical relation to the Incarnation, to the mediatorial principle, and to the communion of saints, and therefore do not see that to deny it would be to deny the whole Christian order, nay, creation itself. The mediatorial principle is universal and enters into the very being and essence of God himself, in whom is the prototype of all created things. The three Persons of the ever-blessed Trinity, indistinguishable from the divine being, are distinguished inter se as principle, medium, and end. The Father is principle, the Son, or Word, is medium, and Holy Ghost the end or consummator. In all acts, ad extra, of creation or of providence the three Persons equally concur, but in diverse relations, the Father as principle, the Son or Word as medium, and the Holy Ghost as end or consummator. The Logos, or Word, is the medium of creation. Hence St. John 1:3 tells us, “All things were made by him, and without him was made nothing which was made.” So again in the palingenesia, or “new creation,” founded by the Incarnation, or Word made flesh, the three Persons also concur, but in the same diverse respects; the Father as principle, the Son as medium, and the Holy Ghost as consummator or sanctifier. Hence the Son was incarnated, Verbum caro factum est (ibid. 14), as “the one mediator of God and men” (1 Tim. 2:5), not the Father nor the Holy Ghost. The Word, in the creation of the natural order, the cosmos, is the medium or mediator; and the Word incarnate, “the man Christ Jesus,” in the palingenesia, or the new creation, redemption, and glorification, is the medium, the mediator of God and men. The principle of mediation is therefore universal and at the foundation of all orders, natural and supernatural.

 In the incarnation God assumes human nature to be his own nature, without departing with his divine nature. So that the two natures, remaining forever distinct, without confusion or intermixture, are forever hypostatically united in the one divine Person of the Word. This one Person, the Word, who was in the beginning with God, and who is God, in whom are the two natures, is the one Christ, the mediator of God and men, the MAN Christ Jesus. But the saints are his brethren, and partake of his divine nature as well as of his human nature, and hence are said to be deified. …Human nature, by the hypostatic union, is deified, as says Pope St. Leo Magnus, but in the divine personality of the Word, not in a human personality; and the blessed in heaven, however closely united to God, retain forever their human personality, which never becomes absorbed in the divine personality, as in the case of the human nature assumed by the Word.

 Yet the saints are like unto Christ, as says the beloved apostle, “Dearly beloved, we are now the sons of God: and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. We know that when we shall appear, we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). That is, the blessed bear a higher likeness to God than that image and likeness to which Adam was created or than that which is given us in the new birth even. They partake of the divine nature as well as of the human nature of their Lord, as St. Peter says, “He has given us very great and precious promises, that you may be partakers of the divine nature- divinae consortes naturae” (2 Pet. 1;4). If we are led by the spirit of God we are the sons and heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ even before we are glorified with him (Rom. 8, 14-17): but the saints are glorified and partake of the divine nature, which is only promised in this life and held by faith; they have become like him in that higher likeness of which Saint John speaks. They have entered into the glory of their Lord, are sharers with him in the glory of his mediatorial kingdom. They have entered into their joint-inheritance and must be regarded as co-workers with him. They are, in some sense, Christs, therefore mediators by participation of both his human and divine natures, though, of course, not of his divine personality.

 Being thus exalted, deified in their nature through its assumption by the Word, and participating of the divine nature, the cultus sanctorum is strictly dialectic and is only their due, and, in fact, is below their real worth. It detracts nothing from the worship due to God or to the man Christ Jesus, because it is through the mediation of the Word made flesh that the saint acquires his worth and becomes a co-worker with him in his mediatorial kingdom, or a mediator in a participated sense; and worth acquired by grace or the gift of God is as much the saint’s own as if inherited from nature or obtained by the sole exercise of his natural powers, and is equally entitled to be recognized and honored or worshipped. We did not understand this when in a former article we treated the question, and represented the cultus sanctorum as the worship of God in his works and in his noblest works, the beatified saints. Such worship is proper, but it is the worship of God and honors God, but honors not the saint any more than it does any other creature of God. But as here presented we not only honor God in his saints, but we honor the saints themselves for what they are, for the virtues they possess through the gift of grace. God in rewarding the saints rewards his own gifts; and so he would were he to reward us for our natural virtues, since we are by nature his creatures and have only what he gives us. (Vol. 3, pp. 553-556.)


The Worship of the Blessed Virgin


 The worship of the Blessed Virgin as St. Mary rests on the same principle; and the higher worship we render her as Mother of God, called hyperdulia, rests on her relation to the Incarnation, her share therein and the rank or position she necessarily holds in consequence. As St. Mary she is surpassed or equaled by no saint in the calendar. Through the merits of Jesus Christ she was preserved in the first instant of her conception from all taint of original sin, and was never for one moment under the power of Satan; she was conceived and born without sin; she was full of grace, never in her whole life committed the slightest venial fault; she was all-holy as all-beautiful and the model of every Christian grace and virtue. As mother of Christ, and therefore mother of God, she is blessed among women, above all women, and holds a rank which no other woman, nay, no other creature does or can hold. As Mother of God she necessarily holds the highest rank that any creature not hypostatically united to the Divine Word can hold, next below the eternal God himself, above all angels, archangels, cherubim, seraphim, thrones, and dominations, principalities, and powers, all created orders, and is rightly crowned Queen of heaven. The error of Nestorius in refusing to recognize her as Theotokos, Dei genetrix, or mother of God, was in denying the hypostatic union, or dissolving Jesus, which made him Antichrist (1 John 4, 2-3); and in maintaining, as do most Protestants, that only the humanity was born of Mary, not the humanity hypostatically, indissolubly, and forever united to the Divine person or Word, who is God. The human nature of Christ has no human personality; its personality is the Word, or Son of God; and as the human nature taken from the Virgin must have been conceived and born a person, Mary is as truly the mother of the Person born of her as any mother is of her son, and therefore strictly and truly the mother of God. 

 Now, as Mary’s relation to the Incarnate Word is indissoluble and must ever remain, and as that relation places her in a position above all created orders next to the uncreated Trinity, simple logic suffices to show that the highest worship below the supreme worship, called the worship of latria, due to God alone, is her due and cannot be withheld without injustice. The worship is strictly logical and cannot be denied, unless we deny the Incarnation and the Catholic principle of mediation, the whole Christian order, indeed, the whole divine plan of creation as made known to us by reason and revelation. The charge of superstition against the cultus sanctorum, if we accept the apostolic doctrine of the communion of saints, the relation we have shown the saints bear to the Incarnate Word, and the position they hold as joint-heirs and cooperators with Christ in his mediatorial kingdom, is simply absurd. Spiritism, which evokes or consults the spirits supposed to hover over or around the graves of the dead, is superstition in the original sense and application of the term; but our invocation of saints has no affinity whatever with Spiritism, for we do not evoke them, do not call upon them to appear or to communicate to us the secrets of the past, the present, or the future. We give the saints no honor not their due, and ask of them only to aid and enlighten us by their prayers to God and intercession with him for us, and, therefore, nothing injurious to the sovereign majesty of God or beyond their power.

 The pretence that the worship we render to the Mother of God is idolatry and the grave nonsense babbled about Mariolatry must be ascribed to the lamentable fact that Protestants have no distinctively divine worship and are able to offer no worship due to God alone; and therefore, because they see us offering to Mary as high a worship as they are able to offer to God himself, they conclude that we offer her supreme worship and, of course, are idolaters. The distinctive act of supreme worship to God is sacrifice, and Protestants have no sacrifice, no altar, no priest, no victim. They hold, indeed, that Christ once in the end of the world offered himself as a sacrifice for all; but they deny that he fives himself to men to be offered by them as an acceptable and all-sufficient sacrifice to God and adequate to the debt we owe him. Christ not only offered himself once to God for the whole world, but he gives himself to us in the church to be offered up by us upon our altars in the sacrifice of the Mass, a clean and acceptable offering, as our offering through the priest, as our act of supreme worship to the ever-blessed Trinity. No creature, not all we have that is most precious or that we hold most dear, not even our life, can be a real sacrifice or an adequate worship of God; for all creatures, the earth and the fullness thereof are his already. Only God is an adequate offering to God; and this offering we can make because God gives himself to us, and him we offer by the hands of the priest in the Eucharistic sacrifice as our act of supreme worship. This worship we offer to God alone, never to a creature, not even to his ever-blessed and holy Mother. (Vol. 3, pp. 556-558.)


The Sacrifice of the Mass


 Protestants, rejecting the Eucharistic sacrifice offered daily on our altars, have no distinctive religious worship, nothing to offer to God which they may not and do not offer to creatures. Their worship consists simply of prayer and praise; but they pray to the king, the magistrate, the court, or the legislature, and they sing the praises of a distinguished beauty, an effective orator, an eminent statesman, a great poet, or the conquering hero. They may not say with the Psalmist, “A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit; a contrite and humble heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Ps. 1, 18); but the psalmist does not mean to assert that no other sacrifice is required; he would simply teach us that no sacrifice, without an afflicted spirit and a contrite and humble heart, can be acceptable from the worshipper, and he concludes by saying: “Then shall thou accept the sacrifice of justice [the sacrifices prescribed by the law], oblations and whole burnt offerings; then shall they lay calves upon thy altar” (ibid. 21). Now, having themselves no real objective worship or sacrifices to offer to God, expiatory, propitiatory, imprecatory, or Eucharistic, and having nothing more in their external service than they see us offering to the Blessed Virgin, they very illogically and falsely conclude that we offer her the supreme worship due to God alone, and cry out most lustily “Mariolatry!” and hold it the duty of the magistrate to extirpate us as idolaters. But they forget that, as St. Paul says (Heb. 13, 10), “we have an altar whereof they who serve the tabernacle have no power to eat.” We have in the sacrifice of the Mass a true and adequate worship of God which they reject, and which we offer to God alone, never to a saint, not even to the Blessed Mary nor to any other creature. It is not that we offer undue honor to God; for the highest honor short of the unbloody sacrifice in our power to pay them is far, far below their exalted worth, and below that which the eternal God himself bestows on them, which is greater than the human heart can conceive. (Vol. 3, pp. 558, 559).


Invocation of Saints


 The invocation of saints, the frequent prayers we address to them, especially to Mary, holy Mother of God, are authorized by the mediatorial principle and by the relation of Mary and the saints to the Incarnation. They are co-workers with Christ, and being joined by a vital, we might say an organic, union with him, participate in his mediatorial work. We ask of them neither grace nor pardon; we ask only the help of their prayers to their God and ours; therefore, as we have said, nothing beyond their power. They and we form one communion; only we are on the way, while they have already arrived at home, are in patria and no longer pilgrims and sojourners in a foreign land. They are living, more living than we are, for they have entered into the fullness of life, life eternal. They can hear our prayers; and being filled with love and in living communion with us in this land of sorrows and vale of tears, they cannot be indisposed to listen to our prayers and to join their own to ours. The objections of Protestants betray their ignorance of the principle on which the Christian order is founded, and betray a doubt of the efficacy of prayer and also a doubt that the saints in glory retain their personality and are really living men, with all their human individuality and human faculties. In fact, to our non-Catholic world there is a dark cloud hanging over the life beyond the grave, and even the blest seem to them pale and shadowy, unsubstantial, like shades of Hades in the beliefs of the gentiles; and like the gentiles they sit in the region and shadow of death, filled with doubt and uncertainty, anxiety and despair. Death is to them the gate that opens not to life and immortality, but to the dread unknown, perhaps to the inane; and they banish from their minds, as far as possible, the thought, by engrossing themselves in the pursuit of gain or dissipation. (Vol. 3, pp. 559, 560).


Value of the Synthetic Method


 The examples we have adduced show, especially in these times of the dislocation of men’s minds, the value of the synthetic method of setting forth Catholic faith, and presenting the several mysteries, articles, and dogmas in their intrinsic relation to one another, and fixing the attention on the great principles on which rest all the orders or moments of creation, generation, regeneration, and glorification. The heterodoxy and infidelity of the age, aside from their moral causes, seem to us to grow out of the fact that people are taught the mysteries, articles, and dogmas without being duly shown the principles which underlie them, which are really catholic and are the principles alike of the three stages of creation, or the entire created order. Not seeing this, or that there is in Catholicity a reason for everything in it, the heterodox do not see why they may not choose among the doctrines the church teaches; why they may not choose this doctrine and reject that; why they may not hold the unity of God and reject the Trinity, the Humanity of our Lord without accepting his Divinity; why they may not accept the moral precepts of the Gospel without the mysteries and dogmas, between which they see no logical or necessary relation. The present tendency of most Protestants is to separate the rational order from the revealed and to fall back on the natural without the supernatural. The common answer in regard to the supernatural order, that all the mysteries, articles, and dogmas rest on the same authority, and that authority, if sufficient for one, is sufficient for all, is a just and logically conclusive answer; but it seems to us desirable that people, as far as practicable, should be enabled to see that not only that all are taught by the same divine authority, but that all are virtually connected one with another and with the whole; that no one or a part can be detached and denied without logically denying all: as we see exemplified in the more advanced Protestants.  The moral precepts of the Gospel, and what is called the Christian life detached from faith, or the doctrines and mysteries of revelation, lose their Christian character, are reduced to the natural order, stand on the level of heathen morality, and are meritorious for this life only, not for the world to come. (Vol. 3, pp. 561, 562.)