"To think of oneself as nothing, and always to think well and highly of others is the best and most perfect wisdom. Wherefore, if you see another sin openly or commit a serious crime, do not consider yourself better, for you do not know how long you can remain in good estate. All men are frail, but you must admit that none is more frail than yourself. "

Thomas á Kempis

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"A person who rails at God in adversity, suffers without merit; moreover by his lack of resignation he adds to his punishment in the next life and experiences greater disquietude of mind in this life."

St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"Every man naturally desires knowledge; but what good is knowledge without fear of God? Indeed a humble rustic who serves God is better than a proud intellectual who neglects his soul to study the course of the stars."

Thomas á Kempis

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Fr Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.  (1877 - 1964)  taught at the Angelicum in Rome from 1909 to 1960, and served for many years as a consulter to the Holy Office and other Roman Congregations.


By Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange,OP





Few people reflect deeply on the superiority of the intellect over the imagination, of the concept over the accompanying sense image.

The mind, intellect, differs from all sense powers, external and internal, because it has as primary object not mere accidental facts, external or internal, color, for example, or sound, or tactile resistance, but rather intelligible and universal reality. By reason of this object the mind knows the raison d'etre of things, the causes of events, and their purpose or goal.

The concept of being, of reality, underlies all other concepts. The verb "to be" underlies every sentence. "Peter runs" means "Peter is running." In a priori judgments this "is" expresses essence. In a posteriori judgments the "is" expresses existence. Thus the infant's mind grows on a series of whys: Why does the bird fly? Because it is looking for food (its goal and purpose). To fly it needs wings (instrumental cause). Its nature requires wings (formal cause). It dies
because it is composed of matter and hence is corruptible.

NOW these raisons d'etre, these sources and causes (final, efficient, formal, material) are accessible to reason only, not to sense and imagination. Reason alone knows purpose as purpose. Imagination grasps the thing which is purpose, but it does not grasp the principle
of finality.

Here we see the immeasurable distance between image and concept. The image, say, of a clock is a composite of sense qualities, color, sound, and so forth. A concept of the clock makes this sense-composite intelligible: a clock is a machine which by maintaining uniform movements indicates solar time. This concept, this
raison d'etre, inaccessible to the animal, is easily grasped by the child.

Whereas sense and imagination are restricted to sense objects as individual, as limited in space and time, the intellect grasps these same objects as universal, as realizable in whatever part of space and time. Thus it grasps what the clock must necessarily be, everywhere and always, in order to indicate solar time. In like fashion the intellect rises from the limited and particular sense good to the good that is universal and unlimited.

Thus we conceive also what we need in order to become what we should be. We need an object that is always and everywhere good. Further we see that this object must be unlimited reality, a supreme being wherein unlimited good is completely realized.

The intellect conceiving supreme being, unlimited good, sees likewise, at least confusedly, that this being must exist. The mind sees things which begin and end, corruptible things. Hence they must derive existence from something that is self-existent and able to give existence to other things. Otherwise the more would arise from the less: effect without cause. Similarly this truth holds universally: no motion without a first mover, no living thing without a first life, no mundane order without a supreme ruler, no intelligent being
without a first mind. Shall we trace St. Augustine's genius back to a blind, material fatality?

Now in the world of the will, in the moral world, we meet this same truth: no morality, no law, without a supreme legislator, no holiness without a supreme holiness. Reason more or less confusedly grasps these necessary truths.

How unmeasured, then, must be the immensity of man's will, which is illumined, not by sense and imagination, but by reason and intelligence! Imagination, sense perception, leads animals, herbivorous or carnivorous, each to the food it needs. Intelligence leads man to an unlimited good, a good which is to be found only in
that unlimited reality which is God, because He alone is unlimited and essential good. Hence if sense has such an inexhaustible reach in the daily life of the animal world, how boundless must be the reach of man's will in the pursuit of an unmeasured world of good!