A reader has pointed out that what I call the ‘disastrous conclusion’ that Garrigou-Lagrange draws in the final passage quoted in my last post is drawn almost entirely from quotations from St. Thomas. Including this one: Debet autem homo semper magis sibi providere in spiritualibus bonis, in quibus unusquisque sibi praecipue subvenire potest. (IIa IIae, Q 117, A 1, ad 1). In context there is nothing wrong with such quotations. The problem is the use to which Fr. Garrigou puts them. Compare the Garrigou quote in the last post with St. Gregory Nazianzen agonizing over whether to return from retirement (Oration 12):
So, help me, each of you who can, and stretch out a hand to me who am pressed down and torn asunder by regret and enthusiasm. The one suggests flights, mountains and deserts, and calm of soul and body, and that the mind should retire into itself, and recall its powers from sensible things, in order to hold pure communion with God, and be clearly illumined by the flashing rays of the Spirit, with no admixture or disturbance of the divine light by anything earthly or clouded, until we come to the source of the effulgence which we enjoy here, and regret and desire are alike stayed, when our mirrors 1 Corinthians 13:12 pass away in the light of truth. The other wills that I should come forward, and bear fruit for the common good, and be helped by helping others; and publish the Divine light, and bring to God a people for His own possession, a holy nation, a royal priesthood, 1 Peter 2:9 and His image cleansed in many souls. And this, because, as a park is better than and preferable to a tree, the whole heaven with its ornaments to a single star, and the body to a limb, so also, in the sight of God, is the reformation of a whole church preferable to the progress of a single soul: and therefore, I ought not to look only on my own interest, but also on that of others. Philippians 2:4 For Christ also likewise, when it was possible for him to abide in His own honour and deity, not only so far emptied Himself as to take the form of a slave, but also endured the cross, despising the shame, Hebrews 12:2 that he might by His own sufferings destroy sin, and by death slay death. The former are the imaginings of desire, the latter the teachings of the Spirit. And I, standing midway between the desire and the Spirit, and not knowing to which of the two I should rather yield, will impart to you what seems to me the best and safest course, that you may test it with me and take part in my design.
St Gregory is clearly stating that in the spiritual order the common good is greater than the private good.