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Monday, June 27, 2011

0179: The Self-Evident Connotation of the Actus Essendi (VIII)

Entry 0179: The Self-Evident Connotation of the Actus Essendi (VIII)

In the history of thought, the discovery of a new concept often represents a major step for the advancement of knowledge.

Blessed Duns Scotus (1266-1308,) for example, introduced into theology the concept of “redemption by preservation,” according to which the Blessed Virgin Mary was redeemed in an even more wonderful way: not by being freed from sin, but by being preserved from sin. [1]

Similarly, Saint Thomas Aquinas discovered the notion of actus essendi in his Christianizing of Aristotle. In the Wikipedia article Actus Essendi, one reads that “In fact, the contribution of Aquinas to the philosophy of being is precisely this, that he discovered that all Aristotelian acts were in reality ‘potency’ with respect to the actus essendi.”

The discovery of the notion of actus essendi equipped Aquinas with the metaphysical principle he needed to formulate an original and incisive argument for the existence of God. The Actus Essendi Way developed by Aquinas sets him apart from all other philosophers, including Aristotle. [2]


[1] John Paul II, General Audience, 5 June 1996.

[2] See my article Does God Exist?

Monday, June 20, 2011

0178: Pope Benedict XVI on Aquinas (XVIII)

Entry 0178: In his reflections on prayer in the General Audience of 11 May 2011, Pope Benedict XVI refers to Saint Thomas Aquinas as follows:

Man bears within him a thirst for the infinite, a longing for eternity, a quest for beauty, a desire for love, a need for light and for truth which impel him towards the Absolute; man bears within him the desire for God. And man knows, in a certain way, that he can turn to God, he knows he can pray to him.

St Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest theologians of history, defines prayer as “an expression of man’s desire for God”. This attraction to God, which God himself has placed in man, is the soul of prayer, that then takes on a great many forms, in accordance with the history, the time, the moment, the grace and even the sin of every person praying.

Indeed in the Summa Theologiae (part II-II, question 83, article 9, corpus) Aquinas writes: "For since prayer interprets our desires, as it were, before God, then alone is it right to ask for something in our prayers when it is right that we should desire it." (Oratio est quodammodo desiderii nostri interpres apud Deum, illa solum recte orando petimus quae recte desiderare valemus.)

Monday, June 13, 2011

0177: The Saint of Ordinary Life

Entry 0177: The Saint of Ordinary Life

Address of John Paul II
in Praise of Saint Josemaria Escriva
Founder of Opus Dei

Monday, 7 October 2002

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. I am happy to greet you cordially, the day after the canonization of the Bl. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer. I thank Archbishop Javier Echevarría, Prelate of Opus Dei, for his expression of gratitude on your behalf. With affection I greet the many Cardinals, Bishops and priests who have wanted to take part in this celebration.

This festive gathering brings together a great variety of faithful from many countries who belong to very different social and cultural backgrounds: priests and lay people, men and women, young and old, intellectuals and blue collar workers. This is a sign of the apostolic zeal that burned in the soul of St Josemaría.

2. In the Founder of Opus Dei, there is an extraordinary love for the will of God. There exists a sure criterion of holiness: fidelity in accomplishing the divine will down to the last consequences. For each one of us the Lord has a plan, to each he entrusts a mission on earth. The saint could not even conceive of himself outside of God's plan. He lived only to achieve it.

St Josemaría was chosen by the Lord to announce the universal call to holiness and to point out that daily life and ordinary activities are a path to holiness. One could say that he was the saint of ordinary life. In fact, he was convinced that for those who live with a perspective of faith, everything is an opportunity to meet God, everything can be an incentive for prayer. Seen in this light, daily life reveals an unexpected greatness. Holiness is truly within everyone's reach.

3. Escrivá de Balaguer was a very human saint. All those who met him, whatever their culture or social status, felt he was a father, totally devoted to serving others, for he was convinced that every soul is a marvellous treasure; indeed, every person is worth all of Christ's Blood. This attitude of service is obvious in his dedication to his priestly ministry and in the magnanimity with which he launched so many works of evangelization and human advancement for the poorest persons.

The Lord gave him a profound understanding of the gift of our divine sonship. He taught him to contemplate the tender face of a Father in the God who speaks to us through the most varied events of life. A Father who loves us, who follows us step by step, who protects us, understands us and awaits from each of us a response of love. The consideration of this fatherly presence which accompanies the Christian everywhere gives him steadfast confidence; he must trust in the heavenly Father at every moment. He should never feel lonely or frightened. When the Cross is present, he should not see it as a punishment, but a mission entrusted by the Lord himself. The Christian is necessarily optimistic, because he knows he is a son of God in Christ.

4. St Josemaría was profoundly convinced that the Christian life entails a mission and an apostolate: we are in the world to save it with Christ. He loved the world passionately, with a "redemptive love" (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 604). Precisely for this reason his teachings have helped so many ordinary members of the faithful to discover the redemptive power of faith, its capacity to transform the earth.

This is a message that has abundant and fruitful implications for the evangelizing mission of the Church. It fosters the Christianization of the world "from within", showing that there can be no conflict between divine law and the demands of genuine human progress. This saintly priest taught that Christ must be the apex of all human activity (cf. Jn 12,32).

His message impels the Christian to act in places where the future of society is being shaped. From the laity's active presence in all the professions and at the most advanced frontiers of development, there can only come a positive contribution to the strengthening of that harmony between faith and culture which is one of the greatest needs of our time.

5. St Josemaría Escrivá spent his life for the service of the Church. In his writings, priests and lay people, men and women religious who follow the most varied paths, find a stimulating source of inspiration. Dear brothers and sisters, in imitating him with openness of spirit and heart, with a readiness to serve the local Churches, you contribute to strengthening the "spirituality of communion" which my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte points out as one of the most important goals of our time (cf. nos. 42-45).

I welcome the chance to mention today's liturgical feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. St Josemaría wrote a beautiful small book called The Holy Rosary, which presents spiritual childhood, a real disposition of spirit of those who wish to attain total abandonment to the divine will. I heartily entrust all of you, with your families and your apostolate, to the motherly protection of Mary and I thank you for your presence.

6. I once again thank everyone present, especially those who have come from afar. Dear brothers and sisters, I invite you to take a visible witness of faith everywhere, in accord with the example and teaching of your holy Founder. I accompany you with my prayer and I warmly bless you, your families and your activities.

© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Monday, June 6, 2011

0176: The Self-Evident Connotation of the Actus Essendi (VII)

Entry 0176: The Self-Evident Connotation of the Actus Essendi (VII)

Remarks by Douglas B. Rasmussen

"We do not ever really have to wonder whether we are in cognitive contact with reality—that is a given. It should be noted that the Aristotelian approach to this issue does not confine knowledge to strictly that of knowing propositions. I have used the term ‘cognition’ here to indicate an intentional union or contact with reality. This certainly includes but is not confined to the propositional." [1]


[1] Douglas B. Rasmussen, “The Aristotelian Significance of the Section Titles of Atlas Shrugged,” in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged: A Philosophical and Literary Companion, Edward W. Younkins, ed., (Burlington, Vermont: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2007), p. 36.