St Socrates

Come down with me from the beautiful heights of the Acropolis, and walk with me in the dust and the bustle of the agora. It is in the late years of the fourth century BC, and the temple of Hephaistos dominates the scene, just as it will do for over two thousand years. There is the stoa of Zeus with its fine columns and comforting shade. The mint, the Fountain House and the law courts, backed by the prison, are on the south side. And in the south stoa there is a little group of people just discussing.

The whole agora is busy; it is the public centre of Athens. People walk to and fro on their way to their business. Produce is sold. A juggler entertains a few bystanders. Under the porticos other groups are standing, some of them arguing energetically.

But we turn back to the south stoa because we recognise one of the men in the group. He is about 40, pudgy – nothing to look at. We know about him because he is mocked as a character in that splendid comedy by Aristophanes we went to see last week. What a card! He is one of those airy philosophers who’ll leave you knowing less than you did when you started.

And we don’t realise that this is history in the making: that pudgy man will change the thinking of the world, and he will die for it – convicted in the court a few yards from him as he speaks.

What was so dramatically new about this man? His method of teaching was radical because he did not claim to know the answers. All he could do was to ask the questions and then show the inadequacy of the answers. So his disputants got closer to the truth even if they did not quite reach it.

But his approach to philosophy was dramatically different from the academic philosophy of the time. His predecessors were concerned with lofty and academic questions like the nature of the common substance of the world or the configuration of the heavens. The pudgy man kept his eyes lower. The only philosophic question which mattered was: how should I live my life?

For Socrates, the body, and all material things, were secondary. What mattered was the condition of the soul. Our task was to “flourish”. The Greek word is eudaimonia, the good daemon which enables us to be fulfilled and content as human beings.

The route to flourishing was, quite simply, the development of virtue. Not that discussing a virtue with Socrates was always an enlightening experience. One was less likely to get from him a clear definition than to be left sitting in the wreck of one’s misconceptions, and having to start again. We may have to wait for rescue by his pupil Aristotle who will spell out the cardinal virtues in his Nicomachean Ethics.

Virtue was not to be sought, at least primarily, for the benefit of others but for the benefit of the soul. For example, to eschew the Greek tradition of revenge on one’s enemies, was not so much to benefit those enemies as to avoid damaging the one thing which mattered – our own souls.

At this point we may think that Socrates loses himself for he claims that the only reason why we do wrong is because of ignorance. With full knowledge we would never sin. But this goes against all our experience, there are all too many occasions when we know what we should do but fail to do it.

But there is a way of understanding Socrates here. It is suggested by the word for sin in both the Greek and the Hebrew scriptures: it means ‘to miss the mark’. And that suggests a mistake, albeit often a wilful one. We simply got it wrong.

We must remember that we arrive at this knowledge through the development of virtue. Those who champion virtue ethics argue that the higher our degree of virtue the more clearly we see what love demands, and so are drawn to embrace it. Knowledge is not merely intellectual, it is something which we grasp with our whole being, and on which we put the right emphasis. It follows that, when we know moral good and understand its importance, it becomes the good we must follow just as we are obliged to worship the goodness of God when we see it in the light of glory.

Few of us reach this depth of knowledge but it seems that Socrates may have done. His contemporaries recognised that he lived his life according to his principles, and with a remarkable strength of will. And so he died, unjustly accused, but determined to uphold the rule of Athenian law.

From time to time we hear of those who refer to Christ and Socrates as though they were on the same plane. And this is understandable although those who hold this opinion often appear to know little about either. But I bear in mind that the Pope at Regensburg spoke warmly of Socrates’ determination to ask the fundamental questions. And I recall his remark in 1991, that “Socrates, the pagan, could become in a certain respect the prophet of Jesus Christ”.

Such a view gives Socrates a place in the history of salvation, not as a perfect human being – for he was not that, but as an early forerunner who prepared the world for a message yet to come.

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Catholic Herald columns, Moral judgment, Philosophy and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

121 Responses to St Socrates

  1. John Nolan says:

    Strange that so little is known about Socrates apart from through his pupils (although this says a lot for him as a teacher). I have always interpreted ‘extra ecclesiam nulla salus’ as ‘without the church there is no salvation’. If Moses and the OT prophets are regarded as saints by the Catholic Church I see no reason why Socrates should be denied a measure of sanctity. I hope this doesn’t make me a heretic.

    • tim says:

      “Remota potentia” (as to your last sentence only…).

    • momangelica says:

      John N.
      To hope that someone is possibly elevated to sanctity in surely never heresy, it is a loving, kind, hope and Jesus is more loving and kind than we could ever possibly be.
      I think it may be easy to lose heaven otherwise Our Lord would not have had to endure His dreadful torments. The mystery of who merits and who does not cannot be unraveled by us I think unless one takes the Saints words and some tell us that souls go to Hell like snowflakes in a storm. Eeeek!

      The vision St John Bosco is a sobering one.

  2. tim says:

    “Extra ecclesiam nulla salus” (apologies to those whose hackles are raised by Latin phrases, but Quentin started it) is normally translated as ‘No salvation outside the Church”. I would prefer (if permitted) to translate it “No safety outside the Church”. I was going to enlarge on this, but made the mistake of seeking to check my Latin on Wikipedia: the article there set out pretty much what I was going to say (only much more authoritatively, with profuse and interesting references – Calvin!). I commend it to the reader – and look forward to being set right.

  3. momangelica says:

    I believe Buddha was another pagan with a heightened sense of the soul and how we are to treat it on the journey through life.

  4. momangelica says:

    My understanding of the statement ” outside the Church there is no salvation”.
    The Mass of Ages; Inside and outside of time; Has the Sacraments which saves us through the Bloody death of Our Lord. This saving act transcends all time and places.
    I believe that at death,Jesus will reveal Himself to all of His creations and they will give an account according to what they had been given. To little that have been given little is asked of……………..
    A mystery and yet – not.

    • st.joseph says:

      I have often thought of it as,when we die and see the Beatific Vision ,and God being all Goodness and Love, and not to know any of this Love and Goodness on earth,would be too much for us to go straight into His Presence!A bit like looking at the Sun.
      Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is Perfect.
      Any imperfections have to be cleansed on our journey to Heaven.Hence Purgtatory, or maybe Extreme Unction and full repentence for our sins at death, serve that purpose. I think that all salvation is in the Church, but it is distributed all over the world,and in other religions-so it must be in the hearts of man. The Church could not have existed for 2000 or so years without leaving its Mark on souls outside the Church.
      Maybe a bit like the parable of new wine in old caskets, theres another parable about old garments, cant remember at the moment-just thoughts. Time for bed!

  5. Nektarios says:

    Fellow bloggers,

    As I have never read much of Socrates apart from the odd question or phrase, his thinking is all too familiar. The process is more or less the same today and equally futile especially when it comes to Virtues.
    The idea is one can educate ourselves mentally and becoming religious conforming to certain ideas and patterns one can become virtuous.
    Virtue is not of the mind, but of the heart.
    The mind is Self, so the mind plays with ideas, thinks, projects, imagines certain types of behaviour is virtuous. And because he thinks these thoughts, thinks he is virtuous.
    But Virtue is not of the mind but of the heart as I have said,
    So what is virtue and how are we to be virtuous?

  6. mike Horsnall says:

    John Nolan…Stop teasing the children!

    Nektariius is right. Socrates was a great chap but not a saint. His teaching method is brilliant though-I use it with all my students and they hate it!

  7. Nektarios says:

    John Nolan, mike hornsnall and John Candido,

    Dear brothers – Quentin fired a warning shot over your fueding bows. so, please, please, please
    be reconcilled. If you are in Christ, the slings and arrows of the world we take in our stride, for in Christ, we overcome the world.
    But when we feel insulted, humilated, put down by our fellow brothers or sisters, it is hard to bear and can almost drive one mad with rage and we write, say or do things that are completely out of our Christian character. How is one to deal with such on-slaughts on ones dignity?
    Self-renunciation! That is the answer.
    What is that? It is when we see our own spiritual poverty, our pettiness, sinfulness and conclude
    that we are the chief of sinners, no ifs or buts about it, everyone is better than I.
    Begin to think and see and act accordingly and the grace of God will fill us with forgiving words, actions and brotherly love….. and we might even get understanding into the present discussion as all this is VIRTUE.

  8. mike Horsnall says:

    Nektarios:

    Thanks for your plea to be reconciled Nektarios-as far as I’m aware I am pretty much so-the occasional gentle chide doesnt amount to much I don’t think-in fact you have just done a bit of it yourself. The question about virtue is interesting. We cannot climb the ladder to heaven and so we cannot make ourselves virtuous-I guess that is the default point of the Christian. Neither -for that matter can we renew our own hearts-there is no doctrinal pill available.

    However Virtue is of the whole person. We are not only heart and -as you know from scripture our hearts are capable of decieving us just as much as our minds. As far as I am aware the practice of concern for the other is the fundamental good-the Good samaritan being the model. To an extent this concern can be cultivated by simple process of doing even when one doesnt want to, yet the desire itself cannot be fabricated but must be supplied. We can certainly practise the scales of virtue so to speak but the true harmony belongs to God alone.

    • Nektarios says:

      mike Horsnall,

      It is saddening a little, that my gentle chide as you put it, doesn’t amount to much to you.

      And please, Mike, it is not wise or advisable to make assertions about things, or myself, or others, that you do not know as yet.

      In the West in particular, the concept of self renunciation is little known or understood.
      One has been conditioned to be independent, competitive and highly assertive – you demonstrate your conditioning Mike, and such conditioning is a recipe for war, both within your ones members and without.
      Is Virtue a ladder to scale? If you think that, Mike, you are only in the realm of thought and ideas what Virtue might be, but Virtue, any of them, is not of thought, not of ideas.

      Living such disordered lives, with all its cunning and cleverness, all its pettiness and self- interest, self justification, will never bring Virtue forth in one.
      Virtue – any or all of them, is a state of being, not of thought or ideas or a matter of progression.

      • Mike Horsnall says:

        Nektarios:
        “..It is saddening a little, that my gentle chide as you put it, doesn’t amount to much to you.
        And please, Mike, it is not wise or advisable to make assertions about things, or myself, or others, that you do not know as yet..”

        Sorry, hall of mirrors again, the gentle chide I mentioned was not yours but mine earlier-I’m tired of cross talk like this Nektarios so we’ll call it a day I think.

  9. Vincent says:

    I sometimes think that Quentin’s questions have a question behind them. In this case it might be they way in which Extra Ecclesiam has changed over the centuries. There was a time when we were required to accept that unbaptised infants were inevitably destined for Hell – and that we should rejoice in that. And it was emphasised again and again that membership of the Church through baptism, or at least baptism by desire, was absolutely necessary.

    Nowadays it seems that anyone of good will has a ticket through the pearly gates. And we may well expect to meet Bertrand Russell and Richard Dawkins in the foyer – after all no one can doubt their search for the truth.

    I am quite happy about all of this. What I am less happy about is that the Church’s apparently solemn doctrine has changed dramatically. Look at this passage from Vatican II as an example:“It follows that the separated Churches and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.”

    • st.joseph says:

      Were un baptised babies destined to hell? I think maybe Limbo!
      We must not confuse that with the hell prepared for the devil and his angels.
      No one knew, but Limbo was a place that the Church used for the un baptised.
      One has to be baptised by water to be called a christian or to receive the Sacraments in the Christian Churches.!But necessity to be baptised by the Spirit to reach Heaven.
      I think that outside the church there is no salvation was considered as a heresy by a Pope, which one I don’t remember.
      I made my comment on salvation outside the Church, 11.56 -8th, I would like to hear some thoughts from others on that-if someone would like to do so.
      Non catholics often show their grace by their faith and good works, and virtues, even if they dont have the fullness of Truth in their religion ,maybe more than some catholics.
      But the Catholic Church has the fullness of Grace and Truth -even if it is contradicted.
      It is those who contradict it that have lost it, if they ever had it in the first place.

    • momangelica says:

      Vincent,
      I’m not sure you are correct with the statement that the Church taught that unbaptized babies go to Hell.
      The teaching was/is that they do not see God in the same way that baptized souls do and that place is referred to as Limbo. Again it is a word that cannot be unpacked fully but is a squint your eyes a bit kind of word that alludes to something impossible to fully understand as it is in the next world.
      There has to be a huge importance in the difference between unbaptized and baptized or else Our blessed Lord would not have given such precedence to it in His own life

      • Quentin says:

        The penny Catechism used to refer to “that part of Hell called Limbo.” The Catholic Encyclopaedia tells us that “St. Augustine and the African Fathers believed that unbaptized infants share in the common positive misery of the damned, and the very most that St. Augustine concedes is that their punishment is the mildest of all, so mild indeed that one may not say that for them non-existence would be preferable to existence in such a state.” Council of Carthage — believed at that time to be infallible.
        In more recent centuries this has been expressed as the the greatest degree of natural happiness they are capable of enjoying. Currently we are allowed to hope that they are saved — presumably through their innocence — although this does not fit the teaching that we are all born separated from God.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      Vincent
      Yes, people at church are always telling me that ‘things have changed since Vatican 2″
      As I read your quote it says to me that the seperated churches and communities though deficient can still be used by God because they contain an echo of the truth the fullness of which is to be found in the Catholic church…is that your take on it or did you read it otherwise?

      • Quentin says:

        Mike, I am not sure that “echo” is the correct metaphor. For instance, baptism is always the same sacrament. Belief that we are only saved through Christ is a shared belief, as is loving one’s neighbour. No word is exact but I think that we are speaking of the elements of the true Church to be found in Protestantism.
        Another stage of difficulty arises with the “good pagan”, who surrounds us, and includes Socrates. Does the orientation to love of neighbour come under the phrase: “When did we see you,Lord.” “Inasmuch as you did this to my little ones…”
        We can hope so. I believe so.

      • Vincent says:

        Yes, Quentin has interpreted me correctly.

  10. momangelica says:

    John C.
    You did use the word Fetish earlier to describe something that is in use by a type of educated person. My dad and his friends used to use Latin because they were taught by Christian Brothers; but it is a rich language and satisfying to speak and to hear (if you like that sort of thing).
    Fetish is not a compliment so you did bring the reaction upon yourself.

    I have been trying to write everything with the ” eyes and heart of Mary”, as promised in a previous post. We could all do with adopting a particular Saint to walk alongside us as we communicate to each other and bring brotherly love into our dialogues.
    I do like St Gertrude and my all time favourite is St Joan but I won’t ask her in this situation as you know what she can be like with a sword.
    Lack of Peace can be tangible.

    • John Nolan says:

      Momangelica

      St Gertrude is referred to by GM Hopkins in ‘The Wreck of the Deutschland’:

      But Gertrude, lily, and Luther, are two of a town, Christ’s lily and beast of the waste wood:

      How the Church is blessed by her female saints and martyrs, many of them mentioned in the Canon of the Mass – and St Margaret Clitherow, a young wife and mother pressed to death in York for being a Catholic.

    • John Candido says:

      There is nothing wrong in using the word fetish. Some people with an exaggerated sense of sexual probity or a very conservative view of sexuality object to its use because it conjures images of ‘sexual licence’ or ‘aberration’. However, there are quite ordinary and mundane meanings or senses of the word. For example, in the online dictionary called ‘Wordnik’, we have ‘an object of unreasonably excessive attention or reverence: made a fetish of punctuality.’ And ‘An abnormally obsessive preoccupation or attachment; a fixation.’ You can read it for yourself at, http://www.wordnik.com/words/fetish. The very same ordinary meanings of the fetish can be found in most versions of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).

      • John Nolan says:

        Vide supra (3:59)

      • mike Horsnall says:

        est ad mortem?

      • John Nolan says:

        Usque ad mortem bibendum! Sadly what passes for beer in Australia is fizzy coloured water served in minuscule glasses.

      • John Candido says:

        Oh gosh! Are you having a go at me John Nolan?

      • John Candido says:

        Oh look! I do have a smattering of Italian, which of course, like English, is partly based on Latin. ‘Vide supra’ means ‘look above’. Unfortunately this will not cut it, as I have no interest in Latin.

      • John Candido says:

        By the way John Nolan, is ‘vide sutta’ latin for ‘see below’?

      • John Nolan says:

        Vide infra.

      • John Nolan says:

        And vide supra! Everything is going out of sequence again!

      • Nektarios says:

        John Candido & Some fellow bloggers,

        Careful, John, don’t you know one could die and have died because of a typing error?

        Can we get on with the subject in hand on Socrates; Is there Salvation outside the Church, and Virtue?
        I would like to add another aspect, though interlinked, which pre-occuped Socrates, that of, ` Sacred.
        It is a loosely banded about word these days, like so many other words, like `icon’ for example, that we may have lost or become confused what is the actually meaning of Sacred?
        What has Sacred if anything got to do with the Institutional aspects of the Church?
        What has that which is Sacred got to go with Virtue?
        And last but not least, what has that which is Sacred got to do with us if anything?

        These are questions born out of simplicity, but as you all know simplicity is not easily got at nor understood, so we all care to post something on this, be slightly more enquiring, questioning, like Socrates, instead of the usual constant assertions – Please!

      • mike Horsnall says:

        Verba cadens in aures?

      • st.joseph says:

        John Candido.

        I would very much like to know what your thoughts are on Sacredness , for instance what would be most Sacred to you.
        I am asking you,as you are always the most outspoken with your comments.,
        Thats a compliment to you,in case you think otherwise.

      • John Candido says:

        Sacredness is synonymous with holiness, God, or goodness. Holiness or goodness can have a multiplicity of meanings. I suppose a brief answer to this question is whatever are the most altruistic values known to people, are synonymous with holiness, goodness, and God.

        Love, integrity, fairness, justice, understanding, empathy, personal freedom, responsibility, human progress, equality, truth, balance, the free and independent use of one’s own mind, humility, friendship, family, experience, learning, wisdom, transparency and accountability, consultation and collegiality with the bishops and the laity, the acceptance of an imperfect world and our imperfect human nature, etc. etc.

        What can be added to this list is impartiality, objectivity, logic, knowledge, rationality, science, the humanities, contemporary research, investigative journalism of the highest standard, etc. etc. All thinking conservatives (and everybody else for that matter) should adjust their views in the light of replicable, contemporary research. It is where a quality, secular newspaper, that contains an updated, balanced, and accurate account of the news, is closely read daily. This is of vital importance to everyone including me, regardless of any person’s religious views.

        The humility required to recognise when you have reached the limits of your knowledge. To bow with respect to others who know more than you do in any area of knowledge. And in balance to the previous sentence, to understand and appreciate that ‘the experts’, have disagreements amongst themselves, within any of their specialised spheres of competency.

        For example, the church contains theologians and non-theologians (the laity) that are made up of conservatives, moderates, and liberals. Each position is paradoxically of equal validity and importance, partly because each of us is of infinite importance to God. That is a good description of our Catholic Church; we are a paradoxical family of different persuasions or opinions.

        God is not only a paradoxical description of a trinity of three persons and a single person in perfect harmony and simultaneity, God is also a paradoxical description of a trinity of three broad viewpoints in the one mind. That is God is severally conservative, moderate, and liberal, in perfect simultaneity, and which does not in any way, compromise God’s innate integrity and harmony.

        Authority in the church is not concentrated in one single sphere but three. The ordinary magisterium, the input of the academics of the church, which are our doctors (non-medical), and the laity, which comprises our scientists, and other academics from the universities of the world.

        Reform must never be ‘at any cost’. This is very important, and equally, a matter of personal judgement. We must acknowledge each other with mutual respect, partly as a sign of our basic Christianity, and partly as a sign of our maturity as people, both intellectually and emotionally. We are all radically equal through our baptism. Change and reform should never be contemplated, if it can be ascertained beforehand, that it will clearly lead to schism. We may well deduce that reform is synonymous with frustration.

        We must all recognise the difference between big letter ‘T’ Tradition (our doctrine), and small letter ‘t’ tradition (our customs). Together with this, is an acknowledgement that the Roman Catholic Church’s orthodoxy, has never been a static affair. Over the previous two thousand years, the ‘Tradition’ of the church, and the ‘tradition’ of the church has changed. This is beyond dispute. To say that it hasn’t, is not in accord with history and the evolution of Catholic doctrine.

        The evolution of the teaching on limbo, in the Vatican document called, ‘The Hope of Salvation for Infants who die without being Baptised’, at http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html, highlights our changing orthodoxy.

        The compassion of God, is radically apparent in our understanding of objective teaching and subjective circumstances, in moral theology. The boundaries of what is moral in the human condition, will change in the light of knowledge garnered through replicable research. This is a legitimate avenue of doctrinal reform.

        Power within the church needs to be critically examined in the light of the gospel. How power is gained and employed is of vital importance for the church. Values of accountability and transparency are as apposite for the church as for any modern democracy. The practices of any modern, democratic nation-state, can teach the church many useful lessons, on legitimate means of obtaining and using power.

        Fair elections, the rule of law, due process, an independent police force, the monarchy, accountability and transparency, the use of parliamentary committees that have authority in their own right (look at the Leveson enquiry in Britain concerning bribery allegations in the media and police, http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/), the balance and separation of powers (the monarchy, the Prime Minister and cabinet, the parliament, the judiciary), a free press, and all other human rights. All of these things are sacred to me.

      • Nektarios says:

        John Candido

        That which is Sacred precedes all that you have said, John.
        Is my or our thoughts about that which is Sacred, sacred? Surely not? There is nothing sacred about thought and what thought has put together.

      • John Candido says:

        Thought is what makes humans different to the animal world, even if modern discoveries have uncovered primates and other species with the undoubted capacity for some level of language and thought. New ideas, creativity, logic, rationality, objectivity, experimental science, mathematics, language, etc. etc. are at the basis of human progress and what have made our modern world today. It is the free and independent use of our minds, through thinking, reading, discussing, and writing, which makes us fully human and fully alive. It is what we are essentially doing on Secondsight!

        According to the gospels, thinking and speaking was very important to Jesus. His teachings and his Sermon on the Mount are conveyed by speaking and thinking. The gospels are a product of human thought because they are a written record of very important sacred events, which have an oral tradition behind them. The scriptures as writing are a product of thinking, culture, memory, and an oral history or tradition. In other words they are as much a product of human thinking as well as spiritual inspiration. Of course some passages are not in accord with scientific facts, such as Genesis chapter one and the two creation accounts, as science has offered us a more accurate version of our physical origins via Darwin and a host of other scientists. It clearly has to be admitted that the scriptures are saturated with human and depending on one’s beliefs, the inspirational thought of God.

        Have you ever thought that as human beings are made in the image of God, and what makes humans uniquely different to other forms of life on earth is our intelligence, language, capacity for abstract thought, and writing, that God may be similar to us in some ways? Have you ever thought that God may think thoughts? As we understand the majestic power of God, we must surmise that God must be an extraordinarily powerful thinker. And if God thinks thoughts, and I certainly believe that God thinks thoughts, do you think that thinking or writing or discussing, or reading, are sacred activities? Provided that they are directed to good and peaceful ends, I certainly think so.

      • Nektarios says:

        John Candido

        Picking up on the points you make, let me start with your last comment first.

        `….do you think that thinking or writing or discussing, or reading are sacred activities?’

        My answer is , no, such activities lending themselves to good or bad ends are not sacred in themselves. They are necessary for us as human beings and tools we use and disciplies we learn to earn a living and make sense of the world in which we live.
        Now, has all that given us by that which is Sacred.

        Can thought and the process of thinking help us come upon that which is Sacred?

        Second point: Made in the image of God – which means what, actually?
        Is spiritual inspiration a matter of thinking? One many write something down or converse accurately with another what one has spiritually received. Is that Sacred? It is not Sacred in our thoughts, that’s for sure, for there is nothing Sacred about our thoughts or indeed applications of our thoughts in writing &c.

        Third point: God does not have inspirational thoughts? He is the Alpha and Omega. To him the Beginning is known and the End is known. He has no need of inspiration. It is us that have need of inspiration,( another much misused word) .

        Jesus our Lord was totally human as well as being totally God. In the Sermon on the Mount, He is communicating as Truth, our great Teacher, Jesus. Is that Sacred? Only in as much it is God, in the person of His Son that is communicating with we human beings.
        However, and I will emphasize this, what we make of the Sermon on the Mount, what we write, preach, think about it, is not inspired or Sacred.

        The Gospels are a recalling of events in the life of Jesus our Lord, as the Holy Spirit
        directed the Apostles. They were not written down, being simply matter of mere thought and memory.
        Lastly, your first paragraph: Yes, we are strange and wonderfully made by God.
        But the Psalmist was not looking at his greatness, his human powers of mind of thought and so on, but his spiritual poverty, his sinfulness,
        his uselessness to God. Perhaps he was looking at all his trials and difficulties; his sins and sorrows, fears and death, but if he was doing that, under the inspiration and influence of the Holy Spirit, it brought forth a prophetic statement:
        `What is man that you are mindful of him and should visit him?’

        I conclusion for now: In our discussion,so far, we have not truly hit upon that which is Sacred at all yet, but we will come to that I am sure.
        I would like all our fellow bloggers to join in on this as it is that which is Sacred with whom we all have to do. Right?

      • st.joseph says:

        I am just sitting here in the warm reading a St Joseph,s Church Christmas Parish Magazine, my daughter gave me from her parish,and in it is a little article called ‘Pause for Thought by A.P. Castle. Author in known. I thought it so lovely-I would share it with you.

        Some years ago a great actor was asked in a drawing -room function to recite for the pleasure of his fellow guests. He consented and asked if there was anything they specially wanted to hear. After a minutes pause, an old minister asked for Psalm 23. A strange look came over the actor’s face. He paused for a moment,then said ,’I will on one condition-that after I have recited it, you my friend will do the same’ ‘I’ said the minister in surprise, I am not an elecutionist , but, if you wish it, I shall do so’.
        Impressively, the actor began the Psalm. His voice and intonation were perfect . He held his audience spellbound, and as he finished, a great burst of applause broke from his guests.
        As it died away, the old man rose and began to declaim the same Psalm. His voice was not remarkable, his tone was not faultless, but, when he finished there was not a dry eye in the room.
        The actor rose and his voice quivered as he said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, I reached your eyes and your ears. The difference is just this: I know the Psalm but he nows the shepherd’.
        Anon.

      • st.joseph says:

        P.S.
        Meant to be Author unknown Found in ‘Quotes in Anecdotes a very old book by A P Castle.

      • st.joseph says:

        John Candido.
        You maybe not have grasped the understanding of the Church’s teachings and Law quite yet!
        You persist in bringing up the unbaptised babies again in your doubts regarding the
        orthodoxy of Her teachings.
        I listened to a homily the other day,and hopefully I won’t take it out of context.
        I will tell you something which it said that may give you a better insight to the way you are trying to understand Holy Mother Church and the saving power of Grace that flows from Her to mercy on the souls of babies either born or unborn.

        When is a law perfectly fulfilled? Is it when it is perfectly fulfilled? Is it when it is observed to the letter? Or is it rather when the purpose for which it was is being fulfilled?
        It is the latter. A law is a means to an end-but if the end is being subverted by the law, then it is no longer a valid law.
        This is what Thomas Aquinas taught.
        A law in itself is dead, just a word. It finds its meaning when it is lived. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law, the way He lives and dies (and rises to new life) is the perfect expression of the Law.

        Truly many people wonder at the manifestations of Jesus’ life death an resurrection.
        To live as Jesus lived is not to throw aside the Law given to the Jewish people as something outdated and redundant, it is to show for wisdom ,the true meaning and purpose of that Law in our lives.
        That is the challenge put before us today.

        John if you understand why Jesus left His authority in the Catholic Church with its powers of teaching, and remembering in the link that you posted above on unbaptised babies, you will note that Holy Mother Church is on our side ,in Her Divine teachings with the mercy of God for our Salvation and hope that we will all have that grace that flows from Her
        And the Church knows more about the souls of the babies in the womb now that ever before.
        But as I always say it is always in the hands of God.What Holy Mother Church understands now or in the future.
        But one thing She is aware of and that is Her guidance on sin and the moral way we live our lives in Christ.

      • John Candido says:

        Of course there is salavation outside of the Roman Catholic Church, or any other Christian denomination. If there were other claims of exclusivist salvation from any other religion, you can be saved by not bothering with them as well. God is bigger than membership pettiness. There are plenty of excellent people who are agnostics or atheists as well, and they will be going to Heaven as well.

      • John Candido says:

        I have answered your question, it is just that as I have more than one internet link in my post, it will be delayed until Quentin approves it.

      • st.joseph says:

        John Candido.
        Very Impressive.
        Although I would prefer to teach my children the simple definition of the Word Sacred.
        It is is not something that can be found an a computer, but only found in ones heart.
        The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and The Heart of His Mother.
        And live by their Holy example!

      • st.joseph says:

        Quentin.
        I sent a long post on Sacred. here at 9.30am..
        It was posted. And I read it.
        That is why John Candido answered my question below at 10.24.
        Where has it gone?
        I have looked up and down, but no trace.
        Its a mystery, did you wipe it off?

      • st.joseph says:

        Nektarios.
        When Quentin comes back to me and not able to find whtt I posted on what of that which is Sacred, I will do so again, if I can remember it all.

      • Quentin says:

        Sorry st.joseph — it may have been me. I had to delete some duplicate posts from a contributor, and I suspect that your post may have gone with them. The blog program can be a swine when you ask it to do something unusual – particularly when you’re trying to beat the clock!This is what you said at 10:10

        “Nektarios.

        As John Candido was not able to answer my question I will have give some of my thoughts to what you ask.
        First though I will say that this is only a shot at it as is Sacred is something that can not be defined clearly with our human senses, but never mind I will try and no doubt pay it an injustice.

        I would say first of all that Sacred is who God is- and things made by Him (being everything I suppose) is Sacred.
        One may not be able to touch it.
        Everything made by God is Sacred, when it is not defiled and tainted by humans,either by thoughts words or deeds .
        Even money can be sacred , when used for good -just a small example

        The Holy Temple was Sacred in Jesus’s day, hence He took a whip at those who abused it.
        The Holy Priesthood is Sacred, instituted by Jesus at the Last Supper .
        The Priest hands are Sacred, they have to be to Consecrate the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ , at the Sacrifece of the Holy Mass, although a unbloody Sacrifice .
        The Image of Jesus crucified on the Cross is Sacred. The Sacrifice on Calvary, for our Salvation.
        We are made in the image of God so in a sense we too are Sacred by the Grace that comes down from Heaven via the Sacraments.
        , I am not sure if we are sacred before then, I dont know.
        I will stop here or else I will go on and on and on.
        I expect I am completely off the mark -but my best shot at it.

        Two thoughts come to mind, that is, I wonder if it may have been easier to have been saved before the Birth of Jesus as we really didn’t have a pure example of His Life, so we would have sinned less, than after His Coming, as now He made it easy for us to live His Life His Way. Maybe the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead ‘was’ His second Coming. !!! Socrates would no doubt have a different meaning.”

      • st.joseph says:

        Thank you ,Quentin,I am having a lot of problems with my computer jumping all over the place,and just wondered if it was going a little mad, (like me sometimes)!
        Probably both it, and my age!

      • mike Horsnall says:

        Hi St Joseph,
        “First though I will say that this is only a shot at it as is Sacred is something that can not be defined clearly with our human senses, but never mind I will try and no doubt pay it an injustice”

        I liked this. its a tricky subject. It seems to me that there is a holiness of which we cannot partake-we cannot look on Gods face and live. Yet, like Moses’ face there is a glory in us which can be fanned into flame.

  11. John Nolan says:

    St joseph

    You come across as a woman who not only has great faith (I cannot hold a candle to you in this regard) but someone who also understands the world in which we live – hac lacrimarum valle). I find the gratuitous attacks on you completely offensive (for my part I don’t bother with them) but please be assured that there are Catholcs on this blog who will defend you to the hilt.

    • st.joseph says:

      John Nolan.
      Thank you.
      Your candle shines very brightly,and is a light in the darkness.
      May it ,with the light of all good catholics ,never be extinguished by the power of darkness.
      As I said before ‘When God is with us who can be against us.

  12. mike Horsnall says:

    Thinking about it the description of Socrates given in the topic-as prophet that is- would seem quite appropriate since he was so strongly commited to right attitude and right thinking. As far as I remember he wasn’t perticularly religious-but its a long time since I studied him.He was quite keen on renunciation too-particularly of the trappings of fame.

  13. Iona says:

    Mike –
    I think (Quentin will probably be able to correct me if I am wrong) that Socrates was obliged to commit suicide as a punishment for teaching atheism to the young. By “atheism” was meant denial of the Greek pantheon.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      Oh really! I knew they made him kill himself but had thought it was one of those political things based in jealousy and perception of threat-I will read him up a bit-studied him at University but its 30 years ago now; thanks Iona.

    • Quentin says:

      There were actually a bundle of reasons alleged (if Plato’s account is correct — and he was there). Some scholars hold that there was also a directly political element. Socrates was firmly against democracy but the Athenians had only recently recovered from an oligarchy, so he was seriously politically incorrect. I understand that a number of other political executions took place during that period (often more cruelly administered than his.)
      He would have seen his death not as suicide, but as carrying out his own execution in the manner required by Athenian law.

  14. John Nolan says:

    Lumen Gentium, while stating that truth ‘subsists in’ the Catholic Church goes on to say “although many elements of sanctificaion and of truth are found outside of its visible structure”. Like the rest of the Council documents, it needs to be read in the original Latin, but mention of the Church’s sacred language seems to raise the hackles of too many people, which is why I am quoting it in English.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      John Nolan,

      I see this rather as a light that must be housed as in a lantern but which shines beyond that housing illumining other things. The point would be whether those other things have their own sanctity and truth which is simply illumined or these qualities are conferred by the light shining on or through them……not a precise analogy I know but it tries its best.

  15. Nektarios says:

    Fellow bloggers,
    Socrates asked the question, `What does it mean to know yourself?’ This has been a question
    that has been going on for thousands of years before Socrates and after till the present day.
    Because poor old Socrates could not provide the answer that the Athenian politicians and priests
    demanded, so he was killed.
    How little has changed down through the centuries. In a sense the answer lies in the question,
    but one cannot explore that question for oneself, if one is bound by political and religious ideology and belief.
    I can just hear the shock waves as you read that!
    In Russia during the Communist Revolution, if you were asking such a question as Socrates did, one would have been locked up in a mental insititution as if one was mad. If they determined you were not mad, they would have killed you as some political subversive.The Communists regime killed over 20 million of there own nation for an ideology.

    What has happened over the centuries, religiously, when people ask, ` What does it mean to know myself?’ There has been murders, torture, cruelty, wars, divisions, because those in religious power were and are also those with the money and money was power.
    Religion is like that, as politics are too., They have the power and the money and create dependency and fear and that means one conforms and in that conformity one is lost. One is like poor old Socrates, doomed!

    To ask the question as Socrates did, one has to be totally free to enquire, not bogged down with our conditioning, our belief systems. Are we free to ask such a question of ourselves and go on to discover for ourselves the answer?
    Will the political and religious not make it as uncomfortable as possible? Will they not impose their so-called authority, so one has to think the way they want one to think and believe? If one will not conform 101%, will one not be excomunicated, lose all ones friends, even ones job? All this has been done to people right up to the present day, and right here in Britain too.
    So, what does it men to know myself?

  16. Geordie says:

    The angels exclaimed “Peace on earth to men of good will” at the birth of our Saviour. This is the key – “men of good will”. The translation – “those who are God’s friends” – could miss out Socrates; so the old translation is more comprehensive and much more appealing.

    I should also like to point out that the Church celebrates a feast day dedicated to a group of unbaptised children; “The Holy Innocents”.

  17. John Candido says:

    My apologies. The last sentence is missing ‘word ‘, as in ‘the very same ordinary meanings of the word fetish can be found in most versions of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).

  18. John Nolan says:

    Unfortunately, to use it as a pejorative term for those who understand languages other than English is simply to parade your ignorance. Sorry.

    • John Candido says:

      I am not using it in any pejorative sense at all. Are the British particularly prudish about the word ‘fetish’? It has ordinary, mundane, and common meanings, which have nothing to do with any sexual practice at all. Kindly look it up in most versions of the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) British or foreign, and you will immediately see that I am correct.

  19. Nektarios says:

    Fellow bloggers,
    Has anyone noticed any difference in the blog?
    My screeen shows Quentin’s forward on St Socrates normal as usual but when it comes to postings they have all gone into a much smaller font and paler.
    Anyone else getting this or is it just my computer?

    • Nektarios says:

      Fellow bloggers

      In sending the above problem I was having with my computer the matter seems to have corrected itself and is now the usual format. No need therefore to respond to March 11 1:28.

  20. John Candido says:

    Here are some of Socrates sayings which anybody can easily access via Google. This list of quotations was accessed via Brainy Quote at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/s/socrates.html

    ‘An honest man is always a child.’

    ‘As for me, all I know is that I know nothing.’

    ‘As to marriage or celibacy, let a man take which course he will, he will be sure to repent.’

    ‘Beauty is a short-lived tyranny.’

    ‘Beware the barrenness of a busy life.’

    ‘By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.’

    ‘Death may be the greatest of all human blessings.’

    ‘Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have laboured hard for.’

    ‘He is a man of courage who does not run away, but remains at his post and fights against the enemy.’

    ‘He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.’

    ‘If a man is proud of his wealth, he should not be praised until it is known how he employs it.’

    ‘It is not living that matters, but living rightly.’

    ‘Let him that would move the world first move himself.’

    ‘Once made equal to man, woman becomes his superior.’

    ‘Ordinary people seem not to realize that those who really apply themselves in the right way to philosophy are directly and of their own accord preparing themselves for dying and death.’

    ‘Our prayers should be for blessings in general, for God knows best what is good for us.’

    ‘The end of life is to be like God, and the soul following God will be like Him.’

    ‘The greatest way to live with honour in this world is to be what we pretend to be.’

    ‘The unexamined life is not worth living.’

    ‘True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.’

    ‘Worthless people live only to eat and drink; people of worth eat and drink only to live.’

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socrates
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/socrates/
    http://www.philosophypages.com/ph/socr.htm

    • Nektarios says:

      John Candido

      Many thanks for putting quotes by Socrates on the blog, perhaps we can discuss on the blog some of them?

      • John Candido says:

        I would discuss them with you but they are rather self-explanatory, or very easy to understand. Thank you for the invitation anyway!

  21. John Candido says:

    The above link to the Vatican document called ‘The Hope of Salvation for Infants who die without being Baptised’, at http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html, is a perfect example of the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching that has evolved over time.

    • John Candido says:

      So much for a rock solid Roman Catholic Church that has an unchanging orthodoxy!

      • st.joseph says:

        Big T little t!

      • John Candido says:

        It’s Tradition (big T) to reformed Tradition (big T) actually.

      • st.joseph says:

        JC.
        Have you no understanding at all, of the Grace that flows through the Church, most of all the Lords Mercy.
        We will all be judged by God, and not by human understandings, thank the Lord.
        The Power of the Keys!!!!!!!!!!
        Open and Close. In the hands of authority.
        Where were you when the Popes were chosen? It could be a lot sight worse!!!!!
        The Rule of Binding and Loosing.

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      John Candido – Many thanks for this reference – extremely valuable.

  22. John Nolan says:

    JC, of course I’m not having a go at you! I just like the cut and thrust of debate. I remember someone at the Durham Union rounding on a persistent female heckler with the remark: “We should go into pantomime, dear. I’ll play the front half of the horse and you can play yourself”. He was a Catholic too. I have a quotation from Montaigne on my desk. “No-one is exempt from talking nonsense. The only misfortune is to do it solemnly”.

    • John Candido says:

      I love the quote from Montaigne. The Durham Union exchange is hilarious! I take it that the exchange put the heckler in her place? As for claiming that you are not having a go at me, you must be saying this with your tongue firmly placed in your cheek!

      • John Nolan says:

        JC. Come over to the land of UK And I shall explain over a pint of real ale that I harbour no rancour whatsoever!

      • John Candido says:

        Very nice of you to offer your hospitality, but I will have to decline it for practical reasons. Maybe one day! It would be lovely to take in London, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, and even the countryside, etc., etc. Finances are not exactly conducive to such a trip, but thank you anyway.

  23. Nektarios says:

    Fellow bloggers,

    To Address first points Quentin made in his forward concerning the word `daimon’.
    The word ` daimon’ has nothing to do with demons at all. The word `daimon’ conveys the meaning of, energy that operates in wholeness. That is Virtue.

    The question Can salvation be found outside the Church? That of course depends what you mean by Church – when the kingdom of God is within you, hmm?

    Again; Can salvation be found outside the Church, depends what one means by salvation? Does the Church actually give salvation, or is it God alone? Salvation is of God alone, and as Our Lord explained to Nicodemus, “One must be born again”, but with man, ” it impossible”. So much for the Institutions set up by man, thought out by man, enforced by man, they are they with the power and the money, as it was way back in the time of Socrates and or thousands of years before him.

    But with Socrates, we are asking the question, how do we know ourselves;, what is it to know ourselves; is knowing ourselves dependent on someone else telling us, i.e.. the institutional organization called Church? Do they who would tell us, the experts, the specialists, the priests, really know themselves, considering they have separated themselves from us?

    Does the Magisterium really know themselves in actuality? If not, the outward and often divisive forms of religion really does not tell us much about salvation, about Virtue, about ` what it is to know oneself?
    If we are at all serious how are we going to go about finding answers to these questions?

  24. st.joseph says:

    St Socrates.

    I have never heard of him until now.
    So I cannot comment much on him. Just only as Quentin says,’he asked a lot of questions.’
    We all can ask a lot of questions for instance ‘What makes a TV work? Someone will answer ‘We switch it on’.
    Reason enough, but not the full truth!We seek more information than that. Some may be quite content with that.That all we need to know if we just look at it!.

    Now Virtues.
    Virtue are called natural or supernatural.Those virtues are called supernatural which are exercised wit the help of Grace and from motives of faith, they merit an eternal reward.

    Those are natural or human virtues which are practised by man simply by the light of reason and which have reason only as their foundation.Their end being purely natural and earthly, they can never merit a supernatural reward in the life of the world to come. A heathen may possess natural virtue, and the fact of his living up to the light of reason may serve to draw down upon him the mercy of God, and the light to rise to higher things.
    Virtues may be divided according to their origin into Infused Virtues and Acquired Virtues.
    When God bestows upon man the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit, He at the same time infuses into the soul certain supernatural habits or virtues- principally the Theological and the Cardinal Virtues, such virtues are spoken of as Infused Virtues, because they are as they were,poured into the soul of man directly by Almighty God Himself; and such are all supernatural virtyes.

    Whereas Acquired Virtues are those vitues which a man gains by his own efforts, and by the frequent repitition of suitable acts when he follows the right of reason only.

    Jesus Christ asked the question to His deciples ‘Who do ‘you’ say that I AM.?
    Does He ask us all that same question.?

    As I don’t know anything about St Socrates , was he a forerunner to Jesus? Can anyone answer that
    please?

    • Nektarios says:

      st joseph

      To answer your last sentence first: st Socrates, was he the forerunner to Jesus Christ?
      In a word, No, he was not.

      Before we come to Virtue; does Christ ask us all the same question, ‘Who do you say that I AM?’ Not necessarily in that way, but one who is coming to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, like Peter, one has to come to the question and to the answer given by
      Peter. But please note what Our Lord’s reply to Peter was.

      So it is with all who are true believers, God has revealed to individuals, through the gospel being preached and mixed with the gift of God – Faith, they ome to a knowledge of
      Him as their Lord and Saviour and follow Him.

      Now let us talk bit about Virtue. I would like you to notice how your own wheels of thought as got working on, what is Virtue or Virtues. Please notice -, how thought divides.
      You have divided Virtue in to `natural and supernatural’. Then you further divide Virtue
      into `Infused and acquired Virtues’. And lastly you further divide it again into `Theological
      and Cardinal Virtues and seek to explain it away.

      You see how thought works, it takes something it does not know what it is, and says, it is this or that or, it is like this or that? In fact, thought knows nothing of Virtue, for Virtue is not a process of the nous, the intellect, or of our thought processes.

      Virtue is of the heart. It is divine energy operating in wholeness, in otherwords, it is a state of being , full of energy, divine intelligence and spiritual power. It is totally whole, therefore totally undivided. Is all this making sense to you?

      By our thoughts we can extrapolate what Virtue is

      • Nektarios says:

        st joseph

        delete that last line: By our thought we can extrapolate what Virtue is…

      • st.joseph says:

        Nektari0s.

        Thank you.
        Yes I am following you all the way.
        However, before I make a comment I would like to hear some more thoughts from other bloggers.
        Some may not feel this is important on this post, but I think it is very important, and pleased you mentioned it
        Thank you..
        Has any one else any further thoughts on Virtue.?

      • Vincent says:

        st.joseph, a couple of things.

        The Pope did see Socrates as a kind of forerunner – though perhaps this is only a manner of speaking. He was the first to teach that the important thing is not science or art but discovering and following virtue. He famously said that the unexamined life was not worth living.

        Socrates used questioning as an approach to truth because he believed that the important answers were to be found inside us. To find them you needed the right questions. Or perhaps to get closer to the true answers. I say that because Socrates said that the only way he could claim to be wise was that he knew that he was ignorant – while other people – who were ignorant – thought they were knowledgeable.

        You distinguish between different kind of virtue but, as I think Nektarios is suggesting, these are only human labels. Take as an example charity. We know externally what it means, but its reality is only to be found at the heart of God’s nature. That means of course that, though we can explore it, we can never remotely grasp it. Or, to go to the opposite end of the scale, take punctuality. To the Christian, punctuality is not just a matter of convenience it is showing respect for the time of another person. In the Christian hand it is a way of expressing love of neighbour. (I don’t mean that you have to be a Christian to love your neighbour because, if you love your neighbour, you are already a Christian though you may not know it.) Let me give you an example that may surprise you. I had reason to get in touch with Professor Dawkins. He doesn’t know me, and he could have ignored me. But he took the trouble to write back and give me the information I needed. I am prepared to accept that he was loving his neighbour.

      • John Candido says:

        That was a wonderful story about Professor Richard Dawkins Vincent. It is an excellent example of the fact that even our opponents, nominal or actual, have unacknowledged virtues.

      • Vincent says:

        I wonder if I made my point clear st.joseph. Courtesy motivated by charity is an expression of supernatural grace. Once we are “enchristed” all our loving is elevated.

    • JohnBunting says:

      st.joseph,
      It seems to me almost impossible, and probably not advisable, to examine one’s motives for doing what appears to be virtuous. You start by following rules, or someone else’s example, or even because it makes you feel good about yourself – the worst possible motive, I suppose.
      We all know our Lord’s words: “Love God, and your neighbour as yourself”; “…..and the greatest of these is charity”, etc., and we feel impelled to act on them, either directly with other people, or indirectly by donations etc., even if we can’t or don’t do so in every case.
      If such action, and trying, however imperfectly, to follow the other cardinal and theological virtues, becomes more habitual with the passage of time, does that mean we are coming closer to the ‘infused’ or ‘supernatural’ virtues? I don’t know, but William Blake said something about it: “Jesus was all virtue, and acted from impulse, not from rules”.

      • John Candido says:

        Here here!

      • st.joseph says:

        JC.
        We must not confuse ‘courtesy ‘with Supernatural Grace!.

      • Nektarios says:

        John Bunting & st. joseph,

        To first answer the question you pose: “If such action, and trying, however imperfectly, to follow the other cardinal and theological virtues, becomes more habitual with the passage of time, does that mean we are coming closer to the infused or supernatural virtues?

        Only in the sense, attending the means of Grace, being attentive, prayer and so on, one is putting oneself more in the in the way of receiving Virtue or Virtues but not on account of that does one receive Virtue.

        Virtue is not a matter of theological definition, which is a matter of thought and adherence to, and repeating of, in word or action, is not, and |I repeat, not Virtue as such.
        But like st joseph, thought when it come to Virtue is trying to lay hold of something it really does not know and in doing so actually is moving away from Virtue.

        Let me try to give you an example. Take humility, we know we should as Christians all possess and exercise humility, but thinking about it, writing about it, one actually moves away from what the Virtue of humilty actually is. We become satisfied with the definition, but the definition can never be the actual, can it?
        The idea of consciously practising humility is in fact a subtle form of pride.

        As a Virtue, humility is the greatest, you might disagree and think another Virtue is greater, but realise, one is not going anywhere in ones spiritual life without it.
        Humilty is sister to all the other Virtues, where other Virtues are, there is Humility also.

        I rather like the way one of your own Roman Catholic bishop’s put it, though I can’t remember whom: “Humilty is a bit like underwear; everyone should have it on, but never on show.”

    • mike Horsnall says:

      Well St Joseph I must admit that this post is pretty darned impressive!

      • st.joseph says:

        Thanks to those who replied to my comment.

        To Mike, don’t thank me ,all though it was kind of you, but they were not my words but the Catechism’s only I arranged them. If I had put all that the Church teaches on Virtues, it would have been pages and pages. By the way it was taken from the Students of Catholic Doctrine.It is not what is written, but what is lived.
        To John Bunting,you are right,it is almost impossible to examine ones motives.
        I see the ‘virtue ‘of virtue in others. I believe it is wiser to ‘know ones self’ by recognising the good in others!That way one can learn.

        Nektarios. Thank you again, you answered the questions I asked, that is all I ‘asked’ for.!!
        Interesting that no one else did-perhaps they didn’t see the questions!!!
        Just my little ‘experiment’!

        Just a passing thought which has come to my mind.
        A man said to me one time many years ago that ‘He believed in God but did not believe in anything else.
        Maybe because he did not ask the questions.I am sure there is question there somewhere !

  25. st.joseph says:

    Vincent.
    Thank you.
    But our comments passed Thank you all the same..

    • st.joseph says:

      Nektarios.
      Thank you .
      I think you missed my point.

      • st.joseph says:

        Vincent
        Thank you.
        I was pointing out to JC, that when a young lady goes into an abortion Clincic, they are very courteous
        This must not be confused with Gods Will.
        I am sure Satan in very courtious to those he wants to call his own!.
        I am sure Professor Dawkins is very courteous , which I have found when he speaks.
        I understood exactly what you mean. But did JC?

      • Nektarios says:

        st. joseph

        I am so sorry I missed your point, which was exactly?
        It is difficult to track particular points by one person on the blog, others may have anwered it?
        Sticking to the topic in hand,
        Virtue is part of the topic in hand, i.e., Socrates asking the question, “How is a man to know himself?”
        The natural man/person cannot comprehend the things of the Spirit for they are foolisheness to him. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned.

        Socrates had the right idea in a sense, where he questioned everything. It was this questioning that got him killed.
        Similarly, as I have sought to show in a previous post, the effects of not questioning.
        for poor old Socrates, the Russian people, The Chinese people, yes, even the British people.

        What virtue is about is order, but one cannot get to order directly without seeing what disorder actually is in us, in the world, in the comos, in the spiritual realm.
        Is imposed order really order or just another form of disorder? I will stop here and apologies for missing our point, which I hope you will spell out for this simpleton?

    • mike Horsnall says:

      ST Joseph re catechism and virtue…

      Yes I know your post was taken from the catechism but I liked the way you arranged it. I did see your question about virtue but just didnt want to carry on that particular discussion in the way you were having it..

  26. st.joseph says:

    Nektarios.
    Thank you.
    I definetely dont think you are a simpleton.
    I appreciate your comments.
    Sometimes I dont explain things too well.
    I am pleased when people ask what I mean.
    I have always asked a lot of questions, all my life-got me into trouble many a time.
    Not quite dead yet.But wished for by many ‘catholics’

    • Nektarios says:

      st.joseph,

      Igot thrown out of Sunday School ages 12 I think for interrupting and asking too many questions.
      I won’t forget it, on the way home – a 21/2 mile walk, the heavens opened and a was soaked through to the skin.
      However some 16 years later I was holding a evangelistic outreach in the town. On the Sunday I was to preach in the church there. I entered, and could not believe my eyes,
      the whole church was packed top and bottom and they were standing in the isles – amazing! God be praised!

      • st.joseph says:

        Nektarios.
        That must have been an upsetting experience when you were 12,I am pleased it did not put you off.
        God is Good!
        He will always win in the end, and needs our perseverance

  27. Iona says:

    John Candido – I am not at all sure about “God thinking thoughts”. At least some of our thoughts go from one point to another, e.g. they examine ideas or information, link them with other ideas or information, and reach a conclusion. They occur in time, and lead from one state of mind to a different state of mind. That can’t be so with God; He exists outside time, He is omniscient, He doesn’t need to examine ideas or acquire information, He has it all.

    (I think this is what Nektarios was saying. Or, one of the things Nektarios was saying)

  28. Iona says:

    John Candido – I am not at all sure about “God thinking thoughts”. At least some of our thoughts go from one point to another, e.g. they examine ideas or information, link them with other ideas or information, and reach a conclusion. They occur in time, and lead from one state of mind to a different state of mind. That can’t be so with God; He exists outside time, He is omniscient, He doesn’t need to examine ideas or acquire information, He has it all.

    (I think this is what Nektarios was saying. Or, one of the things Nektarios was saying)

  29. Iona says:

    St. Joseph, I think the blog may have gremlins. I have just tried to post a reply to John Candido, and it appeared not at the bottom of the list of comments but way higher up.

    So then I tried copying and pasting it at the bottom of the list of comments, but all that happened is that it appeared a second time in the same wrong place.

    Now where will this one appear, I wonder?

    • Quentin says:

      Iona, there is some rhyme and reason to the blog although it’s not always easy – even for me – to see it. Generally it tries to link a reply to the comment which occasioned it. And thus may well appear higher up.

    • st.joseph says:

      Thank you Iona, I was getting worried it was me , this ought to answer under yours.
      The problem I find is missing some , I missed yours until now,

      • Peter D. Wilson says:

        st.joseph – re problem of missing entries – have you tried ticking the box marked “Notify me of follow-up comments …”? That way you should be informed by e-mail whenever a new comment is added to the particular thread and you can go straight to it.

  30. mike Horsnall says:

    John Candido 15.3.12 2.16pm

    ‘Thought is what makes humans different to the animal world, even if modern discoveries have uncovered primates and other species with the undoubted capacity for some level of language and thought.’

    This is a good point John. When Moses tipped up at the burning bush he didnt recognise he was in the presence of holiness-God had to speak to him and explain. Gods explaination was part of his presence not a subcategory of his being. The difference being that God is undifferentiated in holiness whearas we humans can, and universally are, splintered in ours. But you have made a good point.

  31. st.joseph says:

    Peter Wilson.
    Thank you for that info; I have just seen your comment from last night.
    I have just done it hope it works for me.

  32. st.joseph says:

    Peter Wilson.
    It didnt work for me, tried four times and activated it, did you mean the black box on the bottom.
    Maybe it has something to do with Word Press. I entered my e.mail address,and they asked me to activate it ,but nothing, But thank you anyway

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      st.joseph – I didn’t actually mean the black “Follow” button, but if you click on that it should take you to a screen where you can elect to follow any of the extant threads. However, it may be that there’s some gremlin interfering with the process.

  33. st.joseph says:

    Peter Wilson.
    At last one has just been e.mailed to me, after all this time Thank you.!

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      st.joseph – Your having received only one e-mail notification suggests that you’ve requested it only for the “St. Socrates” thread; you have to do the same for every thread that interests you, either when making a comment of your own (once is enough) or by way of the general “Follow” procedure.

      Good luck! Computers can be the very devil, can’t they?

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