"It is vanity to be concerned with the present only and not to make provision for things to come."

Thomas á Kempis

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"The more you know and the better you understand, the more severely will you be judged, unless your life is also the more holy. Do not be proud, therefore, because of your learning or skill. Rather, fear because of the talent given you."

Thomas á Kempis

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"Let no one wear a mask, otherwise he will do ill; and if he has one, let him burn it."

St Philip Neri

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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





If, as St. Thomas [4] says, the miser has the desire of riches in an infinite degree, what must we then say of the spiritual desire of the will? The higher knowledge rises, the higher also, the deeper also, is our spiritual desire. And Christian faith tells us that God alone, seen face to face, can satisfy this immeasurable desire. Hence we may say, in a true sense, that our will has a depth without measure.

Hence beatitude, that true happiness which man desires naturally and inevitably, cannot be found in any limited good, but only in God, seen at least in natural fashion and loved efficaciously above all things. St.
Thomas [5] demonstrates the beatitude of man from the fact that he conceives that universal good cannot be found either in riches or in honor or in glory or in power or in any material, corporeal good, not even in any finite subjective good of the soul, like virtue, lastly in no limited good whatever. The saint's [6] thesis rests on the very nature of our intelligence and our will. When we try to find happiness in the
knowledge of a science or in a friendship however noble, we are not slow in recognizing that we are dealing with a limited good, such as made St. Catherine of Siena express herself as follows: "If you wish any friendship to endure, if you wish to quench your thirst for a long time, you must always refill your cup at the source of living water, otherwise it cannot continue to reply to your thirst."

It is impossible, in fact, for man to find true happiness which he desires naturally in any limited good, because his intelligence at once seizes on this limit, and thus conceives a higher good, and thus his
will naturally desires that higher good.

Even if it were to be granted to us to see an angel, to behold without medium his suprasensible and purely spiritual beauty, we would indeed at first be amazed. But our intelligence, knowing universal good, would not be slow in telling us that even this great good is a
finite good, and would find this finite good very poor in comparison with good itself, without limits and without any imperfection.

Even the simultaneous collection of all finite good would not constitute goodness itself, no more than an innumerable multitude of idiots can equal a man of genius.

Following St. Gregory the Great, St. Thomas writes: Temporal goods appear desirable when we do not have them; but when we do have them, we see their poverty, which cannot meet our desire and which therefore produces disillusion, lassitude, and often repugnance. In spiritual goods the inverse is true. They do not seem desirable to those who do not have them and who desire especially sensible good. But the more we possess them the more we know their value and the more we love them. [7] For the same reason, material goods,
the same house, the same field, cannot belong simultaneously and integrally to many persons. Spiritual goods, on the contrary, one and the same truth, one and the same virtue, can belong simultaneously and completely to all. And the more perfectly we possess these goods, the better we can communicate them to others. [8] This is especially true of the sovereign good.

Of necessity, then, there exists an infinite good which alone is capable of answering our aspirations. Otherwise the universal amplitude of our will would be a psychological absurdity, a thing radically unintelligible, without raison d'etre.

Had God created us in a state purely natural without grace, our last end would have been to know Him naturally, by the reflection of His perfection in creatures, and to love Him efficaciously above all

But gratuitously God has called us to know Him in supernatural fashion by the immediate vision of His divine essence, to know Him as He knows himself, to love Him as He loves Himself and this for all eternity. There, above all, we will understand that God, seen face to face, can fill the immense void of our heart, that He alone is able to fill the depth of our will.

In what sense, then, is this depth of soul without measure? One may object: Our soul like every creature is finite and limited. Hence the soul-faculties are also limited. Without doubt, the creature, even the
most elevated, is finite. Not only is our body limited, but our soul also. Consequently the faculties of our soul, as being characteristics of the soul, are finite. Nevertheless our intelligence, however finite, is created to know the universal truth, even the infinite truth, which is God. Similarly our will, although finite, is made to love a good that has no limits. Without doubt, even in heaven, our act of the beatific
vision, considered from the side of the subject which knows, will be finite, but it is addressed to an infinite object. It attains that object, though it attains that object in a finite manner. It does not comprehend God, but it understands Him, it sees Him without medium, sees His infinite essence, His infinite perfection. Thus, to illustrate, the open eye, however small it may be, sees the immensity of the ocean, sees into the night, even as far as the stars, though they are millions of leagues away. Thus, in heaven also, our act of seeing the divine essence, though it has not the penetration of the uncreated vision, attains immediately the divine essence. Our love of God, though it remains finite subjectively considered, rests immediately on the infinite good, which we love indeed in our own finite manner, but which makes it impossible for us to rest except in Him. No other object can satisfy all our aspirations. Then alone, says the Psalmist, [9] I shall be satisfied when Thy glory shall appear. Our heart can never find a durable rest except in the love of God.

In this sense, seen from the objective side, our will has an infinite depth. Our will is indeed finite as being, just as our intelligence, but it opens upon the infinite. As the Thomists express themselves: Our faculties are infinite intentionally, from the side of the object, i.e., our superior faculties are finite in their entity, as characteristics of the soul, but they have an object which is without limit. Thus even in the sensible order our eye, however small, reaches out to grasp the nebulae in the immensity of the firmament.

4. Ia IIae, q 30, a. 4.
5. 2 Ibid., q. 2, a. 8.
6. The beatitude of man cannot be found in any created good, for beatitude is a perfect good, something that totally satisfies the appetite. Otherwise it would not be the last end and there would still be something to desire. Now the object of the will, which is the human appetite, is universal good, just as the object of the intellect is universal truth. Hence it is clear that nothing can satisfy the will of man except universal good. Now this universal good cannot be found in anything created, but only in God, because creatures have nothing but a share in goodness. Therefore God alone can fill the will of man. Ia IIae, q.2, a. 8.
7. 7 Ia IIae, q.31, a.5; q.32, a.2; q.33, a.2.
8. 8 Ia IIae, q. 28, a.4 ad 2; IIIa, q. 23, a. I ad 3.
9. 9 Ps. 16:15