“[E]xplain which of the proofs [of God proposed by those who came before St. Thomas] … you found most interesting and why”—discussion prompt answered by Cameron Daly

Last night, I posted what follows to the above discussion prompt in the truly epic Philosophy of God class I’m taking at Holy Apostles this semester (taught by Prof. Christopher Apodaca). As another point of interest, yesterday was the fourth anniversary of Roman Catholic Reflections’s existence!

 

I think the proof that jumped out at me the most was Plato’s.

Plato’s argument was the first of its kind; that is, it was the first attempt at proving the divine via the physical. Unlike the traditionally-understood (to modern Catholic philosopher ears) unmoved divine first mover, however, Plato suggested something somewhat different: a self-moved divine first mover. 1(Both of which are reasons I find the argument interesting.)

His argument for this ran that there had to be a point of initiation for all of the change we observe in the world around us. In his view, change itself comes about by things either moving themselves (which spiritual things are capable of) or moving other things (which material things are capable of). Therefore, the initiation obviously has to be in self-propagated motion—which indicates a spiritual source, something Plato identifies as God. 2

McInerny notes that there is a “serious metaphysical problem with the idea of a self-moving mover”; 3for anything that moves, even a spiritual will, must be moved at least in part by another (even if, as far as a spiritual will is concerned, that other is some external perceived good/desire). This is one reason for Aristotle’s theorizing an unmoved mover. 4

For Catholics, this may present a point of confusion: for if a human will must be moved to some degree by other things, why not the divine will? How can God will to create, and yet remain unmoved, if even a spiritual will must be moved to action?

God can do this, and yet be unmoved, because He is eternal—and therefore all of Him, including His will to create, 5 is eternal and unchanging. As McInerny notes, to move is understood to mean to change in any way6 This applies to a temporal, changing human will, but not to the eternal, changeless divine will. This is why God can will something, and yet remain unmoved in doing so; for what He wills, He wills throughout all eternity, even if His eternal will reflects differently through changing creation at different points throughout time.

1 D. Q. McInerny, Natural Theology (Elmhurst, Pennsylvania: The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, 2005), 51-52.
2 McInerny, Natural Theology, 51.
3 McInerny, Natural Theology, 52.
4 McInerny, Natural Theology, 53-55.
5 concerning God’s will being God Himself, see Frank Sheed, Theology and Sanity (Illustrated) (New York, US: Aeterna Press, 2015), chapter 4, The Mind Works on Infinity, Kindle edition.
6 McInerny, Natural Theology, 53.

 

A classmate had noted a bit of confusion of his, concerning why our own “eternal” spiritual wills could change, while God’s could not. The meat of my reply to his confusion runs as follows:

 

St. Augustine held that only God is eternal in the sense that God is eternal. Maybe you could think of his “eternity” and the “eternity” of our souls as being the difference between true eternity (always in existence) and immorality (in existence with a beginning but without end). We can change because we are not eternal–only immortal. You might find this post I once wrote interesting and hopefully helpful: https://camerondaly.wordpress.com/2017/04/13/the-unchangeable-god-and-his-changeable-creation/

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Revised Fátima Trivia—by Cameron Daly

Wishing you a blessed 100th Anniversary of Our Lady of Fátima’s September apparition!

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“Say the Rosary every day to obtain peace for the world”—Our Lady of Fátima (quoted from https://www.ewtn.com/Devotionals/prayers/rosary/).

So I realized that I was mistaken the last time I tried to post a trivia question concerning Our Lady of Fátima…. I had asked why she appeared on the fifteenth of August rather than on the thirteenth (since she appeared on the thirteenth of every other month she appeared to the three shepherd children). Small wonder nobody answered, since it was actually the nineteenth that she appeared…. #besttoadmittobeingwrong

Therefore, about a month later, I’ll try again: why did Our Lady appear on the nineteenth of August rather than on the thirteenth? See if you can guess or remember without looking it up!

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Please be sure to Like our Facebook page!—by Cameron Daly

Not everything we post is here on the blog … please make sure you Like our Facebook page as well, for some of our pictures (like the great one in the post below, put together by Grace Marie) and shorter posts!

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Prayer to St. Dymphna–posted here by Cameron Daly

I don’t know if I had ever heard of St. Dymphna before this past Sunday; but, considering that she’s the patron saint of mental disorders and illnesses, a prayer to her seems like a relevant one to upload.

Many people today suffer from various mental disorders. Some of these disorders are acknowledged as being disorders, some are defended as being perfectly rational. In any case, such disorders and illnesses can be a serious cause of pain and suffering. We should regularly ask the intercession of St. Dymphna for all those who are the victims of such things.

Copied from http://www.ourcatholicprayers.com/prayer-to-st-dymphna.html (at which you can also find a biography of this saint) is the following prayer to St. Dymphna:

Good Saint Dymphna, great wonder-worker in every affliction of mind and body, I humbly implore your powerful intercession with Jesus through Mary, the Health of the Sick, in my present need. (Mention it.) Saint Dymphna, martyr of purity, patroness of those who suffer with nervous and mental afflictions, beloved child of Jesus and Mary, pray to [t]hem for me and obtain my request.

(Pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Glory Be.)

Saint Dymphna, Virgin and Martyr, pray for us.

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“Litany of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows,” posted by Cameron Daly

Wishing you all a blessed month of September! The Catholic Church recognizes September as the month of Our Lady of Sorrows; to honor that, here’s the Litany of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows, “composed by Pope Pius VII while held in captivity by Napoleon” according to EWTN. In times of sorrow, turn to Our Lady, who is herself so familiar with sorrow, and ask for her comfort. (Author information, the following litany, and the list of Mary’s Seven Sorrows all quoted from EWTN at the following link: https://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/maryd6g.htm.)

Litany of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows

by Pope Pius VII

V. Lord, have mercy on us.
R. Christ, have mercy on us.
V. Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
R. Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us.
Mother of the Crucified, [etc.]
Sorrowful Mother
Mournful Mother
Sighing Mother
Afflicted Mother
Foresaken Mother
Desolate Mother
Mother most sad
Mother set around with anguish
Mother overwhelmed by grief
Mother transfixed by a sword
Mother crucified in thy heart
Mother bereaved of thy Son
Sighing Dove
Mother of Dolors
Fount of tears
Sea of bitterness
Field of tribulation
Mass of suffering
Mirror of patience
Rock of constancy
Remedy in perplexity
Joy of the afflicted
Ark of the desolate
Refuge of the abandoned
Shiled of the oppressed
Conqueror of the incredulous
Solace of the wretched
Medicine of the sick
Help of the faint
Strength of the weak
Protectress of those who fight
Haven of the shipwrecked
Calmer of tempests
Companion of the sorrowful
Retreat of those who groan
Terror of the treacherous
Standard-bearer of the Martyrs
Treasure of the Faithful
Light of Confessors
Pearl of Virgins
Comfort of Widows
Joy of all Saints
Queen of thy Servants
Holy Mary, who alone art unexampled

V. Pray for us, most Sorrowful Virgin,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

O God, in whose Passion, according to the prophecy of Simeon, a sword of grief pierced through the most sweet soul of Thy glorious Blessed Virgin Mother Mary: grant that we, who celebrate the memory of her Seven Sorrows, may obtain the happy effect of Thy Passion, Who lives and reigns world without end. Amen.

The Seven Sorrows of Our Lady

1. The Prophecy of Simeon
2. The Flight into Egypt
3. The Loss of Jesus in the Temple
4. Mary meets Jesus Carrying the Cross
5. The Crucifixion
6. Mary Receives the Dead Body of Her Son
7. The Burial of Her Son and Closing of the Tomb.

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“What is the knowledge value of common sense and can it be used to assess the correctness of scientific theory?”—discussion prompt answered by Cameron Daly

Here’s my first post for the Epistemology class (taught by Dr. Philippe Yates) I’m taking this semester at Holy Apostles College & Seminary (hopefully I wrote it sensibly!):

Common sense helps us to get through life practically, without having to take the time and effort to arduously reason out everything we do; it helps us to see something and know what it is, rather than having to pull out a lab testing kit and dissect it; it helps us to have a decent grasp of what is or isn’t possible in most cases. 1 As was basically pointed out in the debate, it’s useful in respect to the aspects of the world human beings generally deal with—for instance, things traveling at less than a hundred miles an hour, or Earth-level gravity (just to use examples from the debate—I’m sure common sense regarding things within these limitations could apply well enough to things outside them to some degree). 2

As for whether common sense can assess the correctness of science, I would say that it depends on one’s definition of “common sense.” If it’s common sense based on physical observation, then while it may be useful for many practical purposes, I wouldn’t say it should hold too much sway in assessing scientific discoveries. For instance, it’s common sense that the moon is the same size as the sun—and while this is wrong, it’s actually acceptable for most practical purposes (though probably one of the only practical purposes based on effects here on Earth are solar eclipses). For those who lived before the two were discovered to be of different sizes, there would be good reason to believe a theory saying so was ridiculous; but, since there’s no intrinsic impossibility in such a theory, it shouldn’t necessarily be counted out. 3

However, if “common sense” is based on opposition to things that do contain intrinsic impossibilities, then it should definitely hold sway over scientific theories—for an impossibility is an impossibility, for science as much as anything else. As McInerny says of natural theology,

“The general first principles of natural theology are those it shares with every other human science, the principles that govern human reasoning just as such. They are: the principle of identity; the principle of contradiction; the principle of excluded middle; the principle of sufficient reason.” 4

A scientist’s saying that something can come from absolutely nothing, then, is an example of something so ridiculous that it can be nullified by a legitimate appeal to common sense in order to make note of a genuine impossibility.

1 see Philippe Yates, lecture on Epistemology – The Philosophy of Knowledge: 1A (Cromwell, CT: Holy Apostles College & Seminary, distributed 28 August 2017); cf. Ryan N. S. Topping, Rebuilding Catholic Culture: How the Catechism can Shape our Common Life (Manchester, New Hampshire: Sophia Institute Press, 2012), chapter 1, On Faith: How Catholics Believe, Kindle edition.
2 see Leonard Susskind, 14 August 2005, comment on Robert Horgan, “In Defense of Common Sense,” Edge (conversation), 14 August 2005, at www.edge.org.
3 cf. the examples of common sense given by Susskind, comment on Horgan, “Common Sense.”
4 D. Q. McInerny, Natural Theology (Elmhurst, Pennsylvania: The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, 2005), 4.

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“The One Thing Guaranteed to End All Marriages”—shared here by Cameron Daly

This is a good post Matt Walsh shared recently…. As he said, it could apply to anyone, though obviously for married people in particular. And to add to what’s said in the post … my own suggestion would be to make a real, ACTUAL EFFORT to be lovable/loving or respectable/respectful in a marriage or any other kind of relationship. Don’t let yourself be walked all over, but EXPECT out of yourself what you would like to receive from others.

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