The Roof of the Abbey Church in Heiligenkreuz

The burning of the roof of the cathedral in Paris made me want to go up and explore the inside of the roof of my abbey Church again. I hadn’t been up there in years. Like Notre Dame, our Abbey too has the original medieval wooden roof construction intact. It also has a small spire over the sanctuary, and a large tower next to the church. I went into both of them today.

Here is a video of today’s trip:

And here is a tour that I gave a guest some years ago:


Ordinations in Heiligenkreuz

The Prefect of the Papal Household, His Excellency Archbishop Georg Gänswein, was here in Heiligenkreuz today. He ordained three of my confrères and one Augustinian Canon Regular. Archbishop Gänswein brought us greetings from Pope Francis. He said that when he told Pope Francis where he was going, the Holy Father remarked “Ah, Heiligenkreuz. I have heard of it.”

His Excellency Hugh Gilbert, O.S.B., Bishop of Aberdeen, was here as well. He used to be the Abbot of Pluscarden Abbey, where my confrère Pater Ælred, ordained today, was one of his novices many years ago.

Easter Monday

In Germany and Austria Easter Monday is a holiday, and the Emmaus Gospel is still read, even in the ordinary form. (The German versions of the Missal and Lectionary of Paul VI preserve a number of features of the older form that were abandoned in the typical editions— including dates of popular feasts, ember days, and, as in this case, the Gospels for some particular days). It is therefore customary to take a walk on Easter Monday. I took one with some of my confrères and some guests.

The Benevolence of Friends

But when two men discover that they share the same vision; the same deepest insights and loves… [t]hey begin to spend more and more time together and to love each other more and more. When their love has ripened so that they always delight in each other’s company, and desire and do the best things for each other, and rejoice and sorrow with each other, and think about and love and do the same things together— then they are called friends. Such time friends are so closely united that they almost have only one life between them. For they are of one mind and one heart since they always think about and love and do the same things together whenever possible. Hence they identify each other’s happiness with their own, since happiness for each of them consists in their shared life together. This is as far as possible from ordering the other’s happiness to their own, for this would mean distinguishing it from theirs as a part or means to it. But on the contrary they identify each other’s happiness with their own as a common good to strive for together. So, for example, when someone wishes to drink tea and listen to music with his friend he does not wish his company for himself as a private good, but rather wishes their being together and enjoying the tea and music together as a common good for both of them together. [Susan Burnham [Waldstein], “Whether Happiness is the Ultimate End of Every Human Action” (BA Thesis, Thomas Aquinas College, 1978), pp. 34-35].

Integralism and the Lamb that was Slain

Over at Church Life Journal I have an article up responding to a critique of integralism by Timothy Troutner. I give an exposition of the goods of hierarchy and obedience, and how true freedom and equality depend on them. I argue that the exercise of temporal power for spiritual ends can be a good, albeit secondary, instrument in aiding persons toward their final end. The article was rather long as it was, so I didn’t have time to go into the specific instances of the use of such power that Troutner mentions, and distinguish the good ones from the bad ones. So, as a sort of addendum to my article, I will briefly consider four of them here: 1) the possession of slaves, 2) the burning of heretics, 3) the persecution of Jews, and 4) the “Mortara Case.”

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Finis cuius and finis quo

St. Thomas distinguishes between two senses of the end: finis cuius (the end of which or for which), and finis quo (the end by which). The finis quo is the activity by which I attain to an end. For example, eating by which I attain to the end of ice-cream, or knowing by which I attain to the end of knowledge. The finis cuius usually means the end itself that I attain by my activity, for example ice cream, or knowledge. Thus St. Thomas writes:

As the Philosopher says (Phys. ii, 2), the end is twofold—the end for which (cuius) and the end by which (quo); viz., the thing itself in which is found the aspect (ratio) of good, and the use or acquisition of that thing. Thus we say that the end of the movement of a weighty body is either a lower place as thing, or to be in a lower place, as use; and the end of the miser is money as thing, or possession of money as use.

The grammar here might seem a little puzzling. Why is ‘the thing itself’ in which the ratio of good is found indicated by the genitive pronoun, cuius? Why is it not indicated by the accusative, as being the direct object of the activity that attains to it? Why do we not say finis quem, the end which, rather than the end of which? Wouldn’t the finis cuius be more appropriately applied to the one for whom the end is a good? Say I have a person who wants ice-cream. Wouldn’t the most logical way of dividing the end be to say that we have an end by which (eating), an end which (ice-cream), and an end for which (the person)?

In fact, if we look at St. Thomas’s commentary on the passage of Aristotle’s Physics referred to in the quote above we see that there he does use finis cuius to mean the beneficiary of the good:

It must further be noted that we use all things which are made by art as though they exist for us. For we are in a sense the end of all artificial things. And he says ‘in a sense’ because, as is said in first philosophy [Metaph. XII:7], that for the sake of which something comes to be is used in two ways, i.e., ‘of which’ (cuius) and ‘by which’ (quo). Thus the end of a house as ‘of which’ (cuius) is the dweller, as ‘by which’ (quo) it is a dwelling.

What is going on here? I think the key is the remark that he makes at the beginning about art. ‘For we are in a sense the end of all artificial things.’ Here he is considering the products of art as useful or pleasant goods. And useful and pleasant goods are ordered to those who use or enjoy them. That is, the one using or enjoying such a good is really better than the good attained. But when we are talking about the primary case of the good: the honorable good (bonum honestum) we are talking about something that is really loved for its own sake. In loving an honorable good we are not directing it to ourselves—even though we are certainly the beneficiary of it, and we delight in it—but rather we are directing ourselves to it. Thus, a person loves the honorable good of truth not only more than his own knowledge of the truth, but in a sense, more than his very self. He is willing to give his life for the truth. Hence it is fitting to use the genitive finis cuius primarily to refer to the the thing pursued as an end itself. Because it is that which is primarily for the sake of which (cuius causa, or cuius gratia) an action is done. In the case of useful or pleasant goods, the person is himself the primary end, and can be called finis cuius, but in the primary instance of good, it is the good thing pursued that is the true finis cuius for the sake of which all is done.

Neither do they light a lamp and set it under a bushel

Q: The Lord said, But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that your fasting does not appear to men (Matt. 6: 17). Now what shall one do who wishes to fast for some cause pleasing to God, as the saints are often found to have done, when, against his will, it is apparent that he is doing so?

R: This precept refers to those who are engaged in performing the commandment of God in order to be seen by human beings, that they may cure this passion of courting human favour. But when the commandment of the Lord is done for God’s glory, it is naturally unfitting that it be hidden from the lovers of God. The Lord showed this when he said: A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Neither do they light a lamp and set it under a bushel and so on (Matt. 5: 14-15).

From the Asketikon of St. Basil the Great

Sancrucensis in the U.S.

I will be traveling to the U.S. soon to give three lectures. I cordially invite any American Sancrucensis readers to attend.

Bona Matrimonii: A Moral Theologian’s Valentine

Red is the rose, green is the tree.
The married state of goods has three.

Roses are red, violets are blue.
Of goods the first is to be true.
The man who dares betray his wife,
Will have no share of Heaven’s life.

Roses are good, so are children,
Twelve, fourteen, or: a million.
Contraceptors this good deny,
In hellish flame those sinners fry.

Roses are red (it’s by design),
Of goods the third: a sacred sign.
A sacrament of Christ’s good love
Like the dewfall from … above.

Roses are red, I won’t conceal
The religious life is more real.
But better now (that’s the concern)
To get married than hot to burn.