Author Topic: The Study of Sacred Doctrine  (Read 1090 times)

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Offline Hobbledehoy

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The Study of Sacred Doctrine
« on: May 09, 2012, 12:06:13 AM »
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  • As the testimony of past ages and that of the present day demonstrate, numerous are the persons who give themselves over to the study and disputation of lofty questions regarding sacred doctrine, whilst neglecting to cultivate their own interior life. It often happens that certain souls neglect prayer for the sake of study, and this is often a dangerous delusion which can ultimately imperil the salvation of the individual. So many have been the heresies, errors and dissensions that have had their ultimate origin in such a diabolical disorientation.

    It particularly behooves a Catholic student to be temperate in intellectual endeavors, for the Angelic Doctor expounds upon studiousness as the moral virtue which has knowledge as its proper matter (Summa IIa IIæ, q. clxvi., art. 1), and “is a potential part of temperance, as a subordinate virtue annexed to a principle virtue” (“studiositas sit pars potentialis temperantiae, sicut virtus secundaria ei adiuncta ut principali virtuti”), for the moderation of the natural desire that all men have for knowledge pertains to the virtue of studiousness (“moderatio autem hujus appetitus pertinet ad virtutem studiositatis;” ibid., art. 2). St. Thomas goes on to teach that “on the part of the soul, [man] is inclined to desire knowledge of things; and so it behooves him to exercise a praiseworthy restraint of this desire, lest he seek knowledge immoderately” (“ex parte animae, inclinatur homo ad hoc quod cognitionem rerum desideret: et sic oportet ut homo laudabiliter huiusmodi appetitum refrenet, ne immoderate rerum cognitionem intendat;” ibid. ad iii. dub.).

    However, what is temperance without humility? An illustrious example is to be found in how St. Joseph comported himself amidst the anxieties and vexations of mind at the sight of his virginal Spouse prodigiously carrying the Divine Infant in her chaste womb, as recorded in the Holy Gospel (S. Matt. cap. i., 18-21). It was not that he doubted or thought ill of the Blessed Mother, for, having himself vowed perpetual virginity, he could not have thought such things, as St. Paul would later write to Titus, "All things are clean to the clean: but to them that are defiled, and to unbelievers, nothing is clean: but both their mind and their conscience are defiled" (cap. i., 15). Rather, he beheld the Mystery of the Incarnate Word and the virginal and divine Maternity of the Mary Most Holy, and was overwhelmed with sacred dread at the contemplation thereof, with a similar pious terror and wonder that seized the Prophets of old when they foresaw the glories of the Incarnate Word: "O Lord, I have heard the report of Thee, and was afraid; I heard, and mine inmost parts shuddered, my lips quivered at the report" (Hab. cap. iii. 2, 16).

    Because St. Joseph was much purer and holier than the Prophets, he knew the grandeur of these Mysteries much more clearly and had a more profound and abiding humility and self-knowledge whereby he understood how unworthy he was of such Mysteries, being a finite creature who is as nothing before the eternal and infinite Deity, his sanctity notwithstanding. It was a similar movement of grace that made St. Elizabeth exclaim at the Visitation of Our Lady, "And whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? (S. Luc. cap. i., 48); a confession that echoed the ancient aspirations of King David when he sang, "What is man that Thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that Thou visitest him? O Lord, what is man, that Thou art made known to him? or the son of man, that Thou makest account of him?" (Pss. viii. 5; cxlviii. 3).

    St. Joseph's own fiat to the Angel's command gave testimony to his utter self-detachment and filial abandonment to the designs of Divine Providence, and the greatness of his humility and magnanimity, contraries which coalesced into a generous act of praise and self-abasement in his great zeal and love for Jesus and Mary. He truly was made worthy for the great offices of Spouse and Guardian of the Virgin Mother of God and of legal Father and Guardian of the Word Incarnate, to which he had been predestined from all eternity; for his fiat was a worthy parallel to the greater Fiat whereby Our Lady became the Mother of God yet ever remaining a Virgin inviolate (S. Luc. cap. i., 38).

    Taking St. Joseph for his exemplar, the Catholic student ought to be mindful that it is never expedient to search into things that are above us if we fail to cultivate a humble, pure and earnest heart wherewith to search into such sacred things, after the example of King David who prayed unto the Lord, singing, "Lord, my heart is not exalted: neither are mine eyes lofty. Neither have I walked in great matters, nor in marvelous things above me," (Ps. cxxx. 1).

    The Catholic student ought to lend ear to the admonitions placed upon the lips of our dear Lord and found in the great treatise De Imitatione Christi: "Son, be not curious, and give not way to useless cares. What is  this or that to thee? Follow thou Me," ( Lib. III., cap. xxiv. n. 1), for, "I would gladly speak My word to thee, and reveal My secrets, if thou wouldst diligently observe My coming, and open to Me the door of thy heart. Be circumspect, and watch in prayers, and humble thyself in all things," (ibid., n. 2). For, "I am He that in an instant elevateth the humble mind to comprehend more reasons of the eternal truth than if any one had studied ten years in the schools. I teach without noise of words, without confusion of opinions, without ambition of honor, without strife of arguments," (Lib. III., cap. xliii., n. 3) --- "For a certain person, by loving Me intimately, learned things divine and spoke wonders. He profiteth more by foresaking all things than by studying subtleties," (ibid., n. 4). "Study the mortification of thy vices; for this will more avail thee than the knowledge of many difficult questions," (ibid., n. 1) --- "In everything attend to thyself, what thou art doing, and what thou art saying: and direct thy whole attention to this, that thou mayest please Me alone, and neither desire nor seek anything out of me," (Lib. III., cap. xxv., n. 3).

    Those who are industrious and diligent to study upon lofty matters and yet neglect their interior lives are in exceeding great peril: "Woe to them that inquire after many curious things of men, and are little curious of the way to serve Me," (Lib. III., cap. xliii., n. 2). "For he that would fully and with relish understand the words of Christ, must study to conform his whole life to Him," (Lib. I., cap. i., n. 2). "What doth it profit thee to dispute deeply about the Trinity, if thou be wanting in humility, and so be displeasing to the Trinity?" (ibid., n. 3). "Oftentimes call to mind the proverb: The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear filled with hearing. Study, therefore, to wean thy heart from love of visible things, and to betake thee to the things unseen," (ibid., n. 5). "Truly, a lowly rustic that serveth God is better than a proud philosopher who pondereth the courses of the stars, and neglecteth himself," (Lib. I., cap ii., n. 1). The humble of heart have not this admonition to fear: "The more thou knowest, and the better, so much the heavier will thy judgment therefore be, unless thy life be also more holy," (ibid., n. 3).

    From the above-cited admonitions of this celebrated treatise upon the Christian life, it is clear that prayer should be the primal concern of the student of sacred doctrine.






    The Holy Rosary is the most apt prayer for students of sacred doctrine, as this most wondrous Psalterium Jesu et Mariæ is above all the school of contemplation and a mirror of virtues to be imitated in the divine lives of Jesus and Mary. The Holy Rosary is in truth a school wherein the Mysteries of the Faith shine forth before the eyes of the soul with a supernal effulgence that dispels the darkness of sin and ignorance, and illumines the soul with a vivifying light that harmonizes prayer with study, and makes the interior and exterior life of the student correspond with these elements that enlighten and strengthen one another.

    According to experience of certain interior souls, it has come to pass that a well-meditated and well-prayed Rosary has illustrated the intellect with the refulgent knowledge of the sacred Mysteries of the holy Faith in a manner more wondrous and efficient than the industrious study of the manuals and treatises of sacred theology. Whilst meditating upon the Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary certain theological principles taken on a profundity and immensity that overwhelm and thrill the amplitude of the soul, so that in due time discursive reasoning at times gives way to the simple and prolonged gaze of the soul rapt in mute veneration and devout dread before the inexhaustible riches of the wisdom and goodness of God. If this continues, and the soul begins to be purified passively (having already been purged actively by the penance and self-abnegation characteristic of the purgative way) and becomes more detached from self and more docile to the Holy Ghost. As the soul enters the ethereal, transluminous realm of the mystical ways of prayer, it relies less and less upon its own intellection and more and more upon the operations of the gifts of the Holy Ghost.

    Such is the power of the Holy Rosary, and why it was so recommended by Our Lady at Fatima and elsewhere, and so richly indulged and promoted by the Supreme Pontiffs and lauded by Saints and spiritual authors. For the student of sacred doctrine the Holy Rosary is truly the path not only to sacred knowledge, but to holy contemplation, the plenitude of that divinely revealed faith which is the object of sacred theology.

    To conclude: a student of sacred doctrine must be given over to prayer first and foremost, and must frequent the holy Sacraments and avail himself of the spiritual direction of a devout and learned Priest (either personally or by correspondence if a Priest is not accessible because of the times). Availing oneself of the divinely-ordained patronage and tutelage of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Sedes sapientiæ (Litaniæ Lauretanæ Beatæ Mariæ Virginis, Rituale Romanum, Tit. XI, cap. iii.), particularly by means of the devout recitation of the Holy Rosary, is morally indispensable for the fruitful study of sacred doctrine, for the greater glory of Our Lord and for the salvation and edification of souls.

    Please ignore all that I have written regarding sedevacantism.

    Offline Hobbledehoy

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    The Study of Sacred Doctrine
    « Reply #1 on: May 09, 2012, 12:19:01 AM »
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  • The interior life of the student of sacred doctrine, cultivated particularly in the devout recitation of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, ineluctably compels the soul to meet his Divine Master in Holy Communion, that he may all the more sweetly and efficiently learn the sacred Mysteries of holy Faith from the Author of grace Himself.

    From the writings of St. Peter Julian Eymard, compiled in a tome entitled Holy Communion (trans. Clara Morris Rumball; New York City: Eymard League, 1940), here is the wise counsel that the great Apostle of Our Eucharistic Lord has to offer to the student of sacred doctrine:














    Please ignore all that I have written regarding sedevacantism.


    Offline Hobbledehoy

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    The Study of Sacred Doctrine
    « Reply #2 on: May 20, 2012, 11:12:14 PM »
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  • As the hallowed solemnities of Pentecost draw nigh, it behooves the student of sacred doctrine to cultivate a more fervent devotion and zeal for the Lord Holy Ghost, seeking of Him the graces necessary for the decorous and competent fulfillment of the duties of state and the helps necessary for a tempered industry in sacred learning. The great power and sweet efficacy of the Lord Holy Ghost can be seen in a particularly wondrous way in the manner wherewith He prepares the devout soul in order to worthily encounter the Eternal Wisdom, Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

    From the writings of St. Peter Julian Eymard, compiled in a tome entitled Holy Communion (trans. Clara Morris Rumball; New York City: Eymard League, 1940), here is the wise counsel that the great Apostle of Our Eucharistic Lord has to offer to the student of sacred doctrine, and to all the faithful in general:













    Please ignore all that I have written regarding sedevacantism.

    Offline Hobbledehoy

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    The Study of Sacred Doctrine
    « Reply #3 on: June 01, 2012, 09:24:06 PM »
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  • From the pamphlet Take My Advice! Our Mother of Good Counsel: The Devotion, the Pious Union, the Scapular and a Novena to Our Mother of Good Counsel by Rev. Fr. Thomas F. Gilligan (Washington D.C.: Augustinian Press, 1944).



    Please ignore all that I have written regarding sedevacantism.

     

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