... each gratification points to the ultimate one, and that all happiness has some connection with eternal beatitude. Some connection, if only this: that every fulfillment this side of Heaven instantly reveals its inadequacy. It is immediately evident that such satisfactions are not enough; they are not what we have really sought; they cannot really satisfy us at all.
Material things have closed boundaries; they are not accessible, cannot be penetrated, by things outside themselves. But one's existence as a spiritual being involves being and remaining oneself and at the same time admitting and transforming into oneself the reality of the world. No other material thing can be present in the space occupied by a house, a tree, or a fountain pen. But where there is mind, the totality of things has room; it is "possible that in a single being the comprehensiveness of the whole universe may dwell.
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The delight we take in our senses is an implicit desire to know the ultimate reason for things, the highest cause. The desire for wisdom that philosophy etymologically is is a desire for the highest or divine causes. Philosophy culminates in theology. All other knowledge contains the seeds of contemplation of the divine.
Since we nowadays think that all a man needs for acquisition of truth is to exert his brain more or less vigorously, and since we consider an ascetic approach to knowledge hardly sensible, we have lost the awareness of the close bond that links the knowing of truth to the condition of purity. Thomas says that unchastity's first-born daughter is blindness of the spirit. Only he who wants nothing for himself, who not subjectively 'interested, ' can know the truth. On the other hand, an impure, selfishly corrupted will-to-pleasure destroys both resoluteness of spirit and the ability of the psyche to listen in silent attention to the language of reality.
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Earthly contemplation means to the Christian, we have said, this above all: that behind all that we directly encounter the Face of the incarnate Logos becomes visible... Contemplation does not ignore the "historical Gethsemane, " does not ignore the mystery of evil, guilt and its bloody atonement. The happiness of contemplation is a true happiness, indeed the supreme happiness; but it is founded upon sorrow.
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The vacancy left by absence of worship is filled by mere killing of time and by boredom, which is directly related to inability to enjoy leisure; for one can only be bored if the spiritual power to be leisurely has been lost. There is an entry in Baudelaire... "One must work, if not from taste then at least from despair. For, to reduce everything to a single truth: work is less boring than pleasure.
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Only those are called liberal or free which are concerned with knowledge; those which are concerned with utilitarian ends... are called servile... The question is... can man develop to the full as a functionary and a "worker" and nothing else; can a full human existence be contained within an exclusively workaday existence? Stated differently and translated back into our terms: is there such a thing as a liberal art?
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Divine worship means the same thing where time is concerned, as the temple where space is concerned. "Temple" means... that a particular piece of ground is specially reserved, and marked off from the remainder of the land which is used either for agriculture or habitation... Similarly in divine worship a certain definite space of time is set aside from working hours and days... and like the space allotted to the temple, is not used, is withdrawn from all merely utilitarian ends.
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Who among us has not suddenly looked into his child's face, in the midst of the toils and troubles of everyday life, and at that moment "seen" that everything which is good, is loved and lovable, loved by God! Such certainties all mean, at bottom, one and the same thing: that the world is plumb and sound; that everything comes to its appointed goal; that in spite of all appearances, underlying all things is - peace, salvation, gloria; that nothing and no one is lost; that "God holds in his hand the beginning, middle, and end of all that is." Such nonrational, intuitive certainties of the divine base of all that is can be vouchsafed to our gaze even when it is turned toward the most insignificant-looking things, if only it is a gaze inspired by love. That, in the precise sense, is contemplation... Out of this kind of contemplation of the created world arise in never-ending wealth all true poetry and all real art, for it is the nature of poetry and art to be paean and praise heard above all the wails of lamentation. No one who is not capable of such contemplation can grasp poetry in a poetic fashion, that is to say, in the only meaningful fashion. The indispensability, the vital function of the arts in man's life, consists above all in this: that through them contemplation of the created world is kept alive and active.
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The "whole good" cannot be had, it would seem, without mustering all the strength of our inner life. Even in the sphere of external possessions there are goods which inherently demand, if they are to be truly ours, far more of us than mere acquisition. "'My garden, ' the rich man said; his gardener smiled.
Repose, leisure, peace, belong among the elements of happiness. If we have not escaped from harried rush, from mad pursuit, from unrest, from the necessity of care, we are not happy. And what of contemplation? Its very premise is freedom from the fetters of workaday busyness. Moreover, it itself actualizes this freedom by virtue of being intuition.
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Happiness and joy are not the same. For what does the fervent craving for joy mean? It does not mean that we wish at any cost to experience the psychic state of being joyful. We want to have reason for joy, for an unceasing joy that fills us utterly, sweeps all before it, exceeds all measure.
Here we must take account of one of St. Thomas's conceptual distinctions, which at first seems like unnecessary caviling. It is the distinction between "uncreated" and "created" happiness. We have here something which, while not at all obvious, is nevertheless fraught with consequences for our whole feeling about life. Namely, this: what does indeed make us happy is the infinite and uncreated richness of God; but participation in this, happiness itself, is entirely a "creatural" reality governed from within by our humanity; it is not something that descends overwhelmingly upon us from outside. That is, it is not only something that happens to us; we ourselves are intensely active participants in our own happiness. Beatitude - Thomas is saying - cannot possibly be conceived as a merely objective condition of sheer existence. It is not a mere quality, not pure passivity, not simply a feeling. It is something that takes place in the alert core of the mind... Happiness is an act and an activity of the soul.
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each gratification points to the ultimate one, and that all happiness has some connection with eternal beatitude. Some connection, if only this: that every fulfillment this side of Heaven instantly reveals its inadequacy. It is immediately evident that such satisfactions are not enough; they are not what we have really sought; they cannot really satisfy us at all.
Now the code of life of the High Middle Ages said something entirely opposite to this: that it was precisely lack of leisure, an inability to be at leisure, that went together with idleness; that the restlessness of work-for-work's sake arose from nothing other than idleness. There is a curious connection in the fact that the restlessness of a self-destructive work-fanatacism should take its rise from the absence of a will to accomplish something.
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If in this supreme test, in face of which the braggart falls silent and every heroic gesture is paralyzed, a man walks straight up to the cause of his fear and is not deterred from doing that which is good -- which ultimately means for the sake of God, and therefore not from ambition or from fear of being taken for a coward -- this man, and he alone, is truly brave.
Only those are called liberal or free which are concerned with knowledge; those which are concerned with utilitarian ends... are called servile...The question is... can man develop to the full as a functionary and a worker and nothing else; can a full human existence be contained within an exclusively workaday existence? Stated differently and translated back into our terms: is there such a thing as a liberal art?
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If God really became incarnate, and if His Incarnation can with justice compel man to change his life,then we have no alternative but to conceive of this Incarnation as something which is still present and which will remain present for all future time. ... What happens in the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist is something for which all religions of mankind have exressed longing, dimly sensed was coming, and as a rule even prefigured- the physical presence of the divine Logos made man, and the presence of his sacrificial death, in the midst of the congregation celebrating the mysteries.
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