Knowing and Loving I said


Knowing and Loving

I said in John da Fiesole's comment box that would attempt to spell out my disagreement with him, and perhaps with St. Thomas Aquinas, though I suspect not, in some detail this evening. The crux of our essential disagreement occurs in this passage:

Unfortunately, I don't think I do agree. I think the point of knowing about God is to know God, and following the trusty old Baltimore Catechism I think knowing God is distinct from loving God. Knowing God is a means of loving God, but it is also an end in itself. In fact, according to St. Thomas, knowing God -- the union of the human intellect with God's very Essence -- is the end, the way we will be happy with God for ever in heaven.

My disagreement in the statement above is the "vision" of happiness in heaven. I could be wrong, but the vision of St. Thomas as indicated seems somewhat sterile and incomplete. However, looking at the passage from St. Thomas cited, I see that it may be that the summary of it that may be at fault. St. Thomas says, "I answer that, Final and perfect happiness can consist in nothing else than the vision of the Divine Essence. " With this it would not seem possible to disagree. Where there may be some difference is that I would posit that it must be more than the intellect that participates in this "vision." Love is an act of will and it seems to me that Love of that essence, immolation of our Will in the great will, or at least the utter union of both wills must, in some wise be included in the ultimate end. If not, than any pursuit of that Union here on Earth would be largely a futile endeavor. What indeed one should spend all of one's time doing is thinking about God, pursuing the knowledge of God. But we know that Jesus said, "If you love me you will heed my commandments." These commandments enjoin us to defend and provide for our brothers and sisters, to pray for all and to exercise charity toward all. The Shema Y'Israel seems to include what is required from us and what will ultimately be our joy:

"Hear O Israel,
The Lord Your God
The Lord is One.

Love Him with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind
And love your neighbor as yourself."

So, as I stated, my disagreement is not in kind, but in degree. It would seem that heaven must consist of more than a participation of intellects--there must be participation of the whole person in the resurrected body. We sha'n't be disembodied intellects floating around a vast energy center--or at least so I think the Church teaches. We shall have glorified bodies--"real" things--though real in ways that we probably cannot perceive and understand in our places here on earth. These real bodies must have some participation in the beatific vision, just as must the other faculties of the full person.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on April 24, 2003 5:49 PM.

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