Quotes

Modernity sees humanity as having ascended from what is inferior to it – life begins in slime and ends in intelligence – whereas traditional cultures see it as descended from its superiors. As the anthropologist Marshall Sahlins puts the matter: ‘We are the only people who assume that we have ascended from apes. Everybody else takes it for granted that they are descended from gods’.

-Huston Smith, scholar of religious studies

We no longer dare to believe in beauty and we make of it a mere appearance in order the more easily to dispose of it. Our situation today shows that beauty demands for itself at least as much courage and decision as do truth and goodness, and she will not allow herself to be separated and banned from her two sisters without taking them along with herself in an act of mysterious vengeance. We can be sure that whoever sneers at her name as if she were the ornament of a bourgeois past — whether he admits it or not — can no longer pray and soon will no longer be able to love.

Hans Urs von Balthasar, Swiss Theologian

To say that a stone falls because it is obeying a law makes it a man and even a citizen.

-C.S. Lewis

Motus in fine velocior (Things accelerate toward their end)

-Latin phrase

We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man. There is nothing progressive about being pig-headed and refusing to admit a mistake. And I think if you look at the present state of the world it’s pretty plain that humanity has been making some big mistake. We’re on the wrong road. And if that is so we must go back. Going back is the quickest way on.

-C.S. Lewis

Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason. Poets do not go mad; but chess players do… Perhaps the strongest case of all is this: that only one great English poet went mad, Cowper. And he was definitely driven mad by logic, by the ugly and alien logic of predestination. Poetry was not the disease, but the medicine… He was damned by John Calvin… Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion… The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits… The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason… Materialists and madmen never have doubts… Mysticism keeps men sane. As long as you have the mystery you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity.

-G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

The only critique of philosophy that is possible and that proves anything, namely trying to see whether one can live in accordance with it, has never been taught at universities; all that has ever been taught is a critique of words by means of other words.

– Nietzsche, Untimely Meditations, “Schopenhauer as Educator,” #8

The ideal church should be the noblest ornament of a city and its beauty should surpass imagination. It is this staggering beauty which awakens sublime sensations and arouses piety in the people. It has a purifying effect and produces the state of innocence which is pleasing to God.

-Leon Battista Alberti, Renaissance Architect, 1450

There are earthly composers and then there are angelic choirs of angels in heaven. Johann Sebastian Bach is the nexus between the two.

-Ron Gaudio

The camp is the space that is opened when the state of exception begins to become the rule.

-Giorgio Agamben, “The Omnibus Homo Sacer”, p.139, Stanford University Press

In Post 75, I talked about the fact that the Greek philosophers often put more emphasis on asking questions rather than answering them, which is a shortcoming of our modern age. Recently, I came across an interview where Al Pacino was talking about his friend and fellow actor, now deceased, John Cazale, and how Cazale often asked questions to which there were no answers, which is one of the reasons that he became such a great actor. Sometimes it is the artist who can teach us more than the academic.

John loved to ask questions because he taught me about asking questions and not having to answer them, that’s the beauty, you ask a question about something, but you don’t have to have an answer. What’s wonderful about it is that you open the door to things. You have the variables now, now that you’ve asked the question.

-Al Pacino on John Cazale

All our knowlege brings us near to our ignorance, All our ignorance brings us nearer to death, But nearness to death, no nearer to God. Where the the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

-T.S. Eliot

And here, dear friends, allow me to speak as a bishop…I know that two centuries of enlightenment thought, revolutions, atheistic materialism and anticlerical liberalism have accustomed us to thinking of Faith as a personal matter, or that there is not an objective Truth to which we all must conform. But this is the fruit of propaedeutic indoctrination, one that happened long before what is happening today…The driving principles are the same: rebellion against God, hatred for the Church and humanity, the destructive fury aimed against Creation, and especially against man because he is created in the image and likeness of God.

-Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò,
Medical Doctors for Covid Ethics International
November 20, 2022

The Church’s own history of commitment to caring for the sick, especially the poor and the emarginated, is rooted in the conviction that the human person is a unity of body and spirit, possessing an inviolable dignity as one made in the image of God and called to a transcendent destiny. For this reason, the Church is convinced that no adequate assessment of the nature of the human person or the requirements for human fulfillment and pyscho–social well–being can be made without respect for man’s spiritual dimension and capacity for self–transcendence. Only by transcending themselves and living a life of self–giving and openness to truth and love can individuals reach fulfillment and contribute to building an authentic human community.

-Pope John Paul II in his address to the members of the American Psychiatric Association and the World Psychiatric Association, January 4, 1993

…not all men are in the same condition, and all are not led or disposed to a knowledge of the truth in the same way. For some are brought to a knowledge of the truth by signs and miracles; others, are brought more by wisdom. ‘The Jews require signs, and the Greeks seek wisdom’ (1 Cor. 1:22). And so the Lord, in order to show the path of salvation to all, willed both ways to be open, i.e., the way of signs and the way of wisdom, so that those who would not be brought to the path of salvation by the miracles of the Old and New Testaments, might be brought to a knowledge of the truth by the path of wisdom, as in the prophets and other books of Sacred Scripture.1

-Thomas Aquinas

The fate of our times is characterized by rationalization and intellectualization and, above all, by the disenchantment of the world.

-Max Weber

Perchance, too, philosophy was given to the Greeks directly and primarily, till the Lord should call the Greeks. For this was a schoolmaster to bring ‘the Hellenic mind,’ as the law was to the Hebrews, to Christ. Philosophy, therefore, was a preparation, paving the way for him who is perfected in Christ.2

-Clement of Alexandria

At this point, as far as the understanding of God and thus the concrete practice of religion is concerned, we are faced with an unavoidable dilemma. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God’s nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true? I believe that here we can see the profound harmony between what is Greek in the best sense of the word and the biblical understanding of faith in God. Modifying the first verse of the Book of Genesis, the first verse of the whole Bible, John began the prologue of his Gospel with the words: “In the beginning was the λόγος”. This is the very word used by the emperor: God acts, σὺν λόγω, with logosLogos means both reason and word – a reason which is creative and capable of self-communication, precisely as reason. John thus spoke the final word on the biblical concept of God, and in this word all the often toilsome and tortuous threads of biblical faith find their culmination and synthesis. In the beginning was the logos, and the logos is God, says the Evangelist. The encounter between the Biblical message and Greek thought did not happen by chance. The vision of Saint Paul, who saw the roads to Asia barred and in a dream saw a Macedonian man plead with him: “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” (cf. Acts 16:6-10) – this vision can be interpreted as a “distillation” of the intrinsic necessity of a rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek inquiry.3

Pope Benedict XVI

Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.4

-Pope John Paul II,

Kant claims that he “found it necessary to deny knowledge of God, freedom and immortality, in order to find a place for faith.” But it is only a narrow, localized Lutheran culture which would use the word “faith” in the sense and set it up in opposition to reason. Faith is, in truth, rather a God-given gift, which enables us to accept the conclusions to which reason leads us, but before which we should otherwise have failed through failure in the imagination.5

-Christopher Hollis

The great Greeks did rightly use their reason to purify themselves of their superstitions, but reason did not lead them to the conclusion that rationalism was the explanation of all. It led rather to the conclusion that rationalism was insufficient.6

-Christopher Hollis

If we accept the truth of the Incarnation, it follows inevitably in logic that all other events in history derive ultimately their importance only from their relation to that supreme event. We accept this on faith.7

-Christopher Hollis

This book has most purposely avoided the discussion of modern politicians…Yet there is no remedy in the removal merely of this or that hated tyrant. These men are only able to exist because a secularized society, starved of its proper object of worship, has given itself in despair to the worship of folly. There is no remedy save in the abandonment of secularism, save in the re-emergence of the old religious man to take the place of the new secularist man. The ruin of the attempt to build human society apart from God lies now patent around us, and we have no alternative but to go back and ask again the questions which Aeschylus and Virgil asked, and learn again the answers which St. Augustine and Dante gave.8

-Christopher Hollis

The following quote is from Dante’s Divine Comedy. Virgil, Dante’s pagan guide, just finished giving his lecture on love. He goes as far as reason allows, but then defers to Beatrice who represents God’s illuminating revelation. This little verse portrays Dante’s understanding of the relationship between Faith and Reason.

And he (Virgil) to me “I can explain to you as much as Reason sees; for the rest, wait for Beatrice – it is the work of Faith.

-Purgatorio Canto XVIII, 46-48

For the medieval philosopher, the material universe with the earth at its centre was not reality itself, rather it was an imperfect reflection of an absolute divine reality which was beyond human experience.9

-Richard Foster

  1. Aquinas, Thomas, from his commentary on the Gospel of John as cited in Jones, E. Michael, Logos Rising, A History of Ultimate Reality, p. 189, Fidelity Press, South Bend, Indiana, 2020
  2. Translated by William Wilson. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0210.htm.
  3. Regensburg Address, Lecture of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, Aula Magna of the University of Regensburg, 12 September, 2006
  4. Encyclical Letter, “Fides et Ratio,” of the Supreme Pontiff, John Paul II to the bishops of the Catholic Church on the relationship between faith and reason, https://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_14091998_fides-et-ratio.html
  5. Hollis, Christopher, Noble Castle, p. 8, Longmans, Green and Co., London, New York, Toronto, 1941
  6. Hollis, Christopher, Noble Castle, p. 81
  7. Hollis, Christopher, Noble Castle, p. 110
  8. Hollis, Christopher, Noble Castle, p. 216
  9. Foster, Richard, Patterns of Thought The Hidden Meaning of the Great Pavement at Westminster Abbey, p.3, Jonathan Cape London, 1991

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