12. Feb, 2018

The family becomes a sign of opposition

"The final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan will be for marriage and family"


February 2 is a holiday in folk tradition known as the Feast of Our Lady of Candlemas. It commemorates the visit of Mary and Joseph with the Infant Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem, whose purpose was to fulfill the law contained in the Book of Leviticus. It ordered 40 days after the boy's birth to make a victim of purification.

In the official liturgical calendar before the reform it was called the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and in the liturgy of the Reformed the accent was moved from the Mother of God to the Lord Jesus Himself. In this way, the feast, referring to the same event, received the name of the Lord's Presentation. 

The description, which we find the Gospel according to Saint Luke, also contains a prophetic scene. This prophecy is voiced by the aged Simeon, announcing the sacrifice of the cross and mentioning that the Child brought to the temple by the Mother is destined for "the fall and rise of many, and as a sign they will be opposed".

I think that this juxtaposition of the family scene in which we see the whole Holy Family: Jesus, Mary and Joseph, with the prophecy of the Savior, which will be a sign of opposition, is something particularly valid in our times when the family becomes a surprising sign of opposition.

The key battle

And speaking of prophecies, the Fatima prophecy was somehow complemented by the last of the "visionaries" - Lucia. In 2008, Cardinal Carlo Caffara revealed that he received a letter from Sister Lucia in which the following words were found: "The final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan will be for marriage and family. Do not be afraid, because everyone who works for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be fought and will always face many adversities, as this is a key issue. (...) Nevertheless, Our Lady will crush his head. "

In this context, I would like to return to the reflections of Saint. Thomas Aquinas, who was our guide in considering the mystery of the Incarnation. References to this saint appeared also in the exhortation of Pope Francis dedicated to family life - Amoris Laetitia . As I have already written on the weekly portal, gossip Piotr Kaznowski wrote a very interesting essay on this topic. This text, which will appear in the nearest, 70th issue of the quarterly "Christianitas", and is currently available on the portal of this journal, undertakes a systematic analysis of the texts of Saint Thomas, to which the adhortation refers. 

Emphasis on insight

First, let us remind you that the exhortation of Pope Francis about love in the family of Amoris Laetitia  was created as a kind of summary of two synods of bishops on the subject of marriage and family, which took place in Rome in 2014 and 2015. It contains 18 direct links to the works of Saint. Thomas Aquinas. Piotr Kaznowski undertook the analysis of the references listed in chapter eight, regarding discernment (the word is very much emphasized by the Pope, it originates from the Jesuit tradition) in family situations that deviate from moral norms. The importance of discernment in reference to norms and mitigating circumstances was emphasized in the exhortation, but what aroused the greatest controversy, and is also found in the eighth chapter, is the statement that in some cases, divorced, living in re-unions, may not be fully subjectively guilty. It can happen - explains Francis - that such a person lives "in the grace of God, he can love, 

Controversy and dubia

However, these "certain cases" have not been determined. Up to now in the Church it has been consistently accepted that divorced persons who have entered into another non-sacramental relationship can obtain absolution and Holy communion only in grave danger and death (Code of Canon Law, canon 976) or under conditions formulated by John Paul II in "Familiaris Consortio" ". These conditions are the cessation of intercourse and the lack of scandal, but also the existence of a serious reason to continue to live together - the reason is to raise common children. The controversy over the interpretation of the aforementioned note to Amoris Laetitia continues (four cardinals reported to him the famous dubia, or doubts), but Piotr Kaznowski is primarily concerned with examining the teachings of Saint. Tomasz, which emerges from the referrals mentioned in the exhortation.  

Kaznowski first resembles the statement of Franciszek himself "In order to calm you down, I must say that everything that has been written in the exhortation [...] is from the beginning to the end of the Thomistic. It is a safe and secure science ", and then it mentions in detail in which places and in what contexts of the eighth chapter there is a reference to Saint. Thomas.

He discusses in great detail the fact that "St. Thomas Aquinas considered that someone may have grace and mercy, but he may not fulfill any of his virtues "(301. point of the exhortation). Kazunski's analysis shows that Saint. Tomasz writes about something else. That is, someone can have grace and experience difficulties in performing acts of virtue. These difficulties result from habits remaining after sinful life before conversion. But it does not follow that he still has grace when he acts contrary to this virtue. On the contrary, it is all the more he has to fight the difficulties.

Circumstances and the norm

Piotr Kaznowski further analyzes whether one can separate a deed from intention and base an evaluation of an act on intention, and not on what has been done externally. He shows that Saint. Thomas strongly rejects this view, reminding us that the commandments of God in a separate part forbid the intentions of bad (lust), and in a separate - act. It follows that both bad intentions and bad deeds are subject to negative evaluation.  

Another thing that adhortation refers to, quoting Saint. Tomasz, and who was examined by Piotr Kaznowski in the above-mentioned article, is the matter of the relationship between the general norm and specific cases. Contrary to what the text of the exhortation seems to suggest, Kaznowski shows that in the meaning of Saint. Thomas Aquinas, there is never a contradiction between the general norm and the specific circumstances. Contrary. "First of all, in the Thomistic perspective, there is no conflict between what is general and what is specific. Moral action is a rational process, which means that it always involves interpreting the reality given by the senses by "categorizing" the facts. If this process is done according to the measure of reason, the operation is correct; but if something prevents the proper formulation of the court,

Conflict, however, does not appear between the norm and the circumstance, but between one general sentence and another. Aristotle goes even further to notice that it is precisely because animals that use only memory and imaginations can not be moderate or immoderate - that is, simply, they can not be subjects of moral virtues and vices - because there is no general cognition, so there is also no place for temptation and deviation from the rule of reason "- puts Kaznowski's thesis.

Really Thomistic?

Let me finish by quoting Piotr Kaznowski's last, concluding paragraph paragraph text. "Is it possible to say that the exhortation is a" Thomistic document "? Well, only if you take into account the quantitative accumulation of references to Saint. Tomasz and the doctrine that emerges from them. However, this is not the same doctrine that adhortation seems to preach. (...) The perception of this incoherence does not in itself determine the orthodoxy of science contained in the AL. However, it is a serious accusation against the papal lecture, which - as it turns out - is devoid of theological reasons in those places where the role of justification was to be played by quotes from Saint. Tomasz Akwin. " 

Maksymilian Powęski