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St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica

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  • SECOND PART
    • Aquin.: SMT SS Q[1] Out. Para. 1/4 - SECOND PART OF THE SECOND PART (SS) (QQ[1]-189)
      • Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF THE CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE (EIGHT ARTICLES)
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Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF THE CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE (EIGHT ARTICLES)

We must now consider the contemplative life, under which head there are
eight points of inquiry:

(1) Whether the contemplative life pertains to the intellect only, or
also to the affections?

(2) Whether the moral virtues pertain to the contemplative life?

(3) Whether the contemplative life consists in one action or in several?

(4) Whether the consideration of any truth whatever pertains to the
contemplative life?

(5) Whether the contemplative life of man in this state can arise to the
vision of God?

(6) Of the movements of contemplation assigned by Dionysius (Div. Nom.
iv);

(7) Of the pleasure of contemplation;

(8) Of the duration of contemplation.



Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the contemplative life has nothing to do with the affections, and
pertains wholly to the intellect?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the contemplative life has nothing to do with
the affections and pertains wholly to the intellect. For the Philosopher
says (Metaph. ii, text. 3 [*Ed Did. ia, 1]) that "the end of
contemplation is truth." Now truth pertains wholly to the intellect.
Therefore it would seem that the contemplative life wholly regards the
intellect.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, Gregory says (Moral. vi, 37; Hom. xix in Ezech.) that
"Rachel, which is interpreted 'vision of the principle' [*Or rather, 'One
seeing the principle,' if derived from {rah} and {irzn}; Cf. Jerome, De
Nom. Hebr.], signifies the contemplative life." Now the vision of a
principle belongs properly to the intellect. Therefore the contemplative
life belongs properly to the intellect.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, Gregory says (Hom. xiv in Ezech.) that it belongs to the
contemplative life, "to rest from external action." Now the affective or
appetitive power inclines to external actions. Therefore it would seem
that the contemplative life has nothing to do with the appetitive power.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Gregory says (Hom. xiv in Ezech.) that "the
contemplative life is to cling with our whole mind to the love of God and
our neighbor, and to desire nothing beside our Creator." Now desire and
love pertain to the affective or appetitive power, as stated above (FS,
Q[25], A[2]; FS, Q[26], A[2]). Therefore the contemplative life has also
something to do with the affective or appetitive power.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[1] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, As stated above (Q[179], A[1]) theirs is said to be the
contemplative who are chiefly intent on the contemplation of truth. Now
intention is an act of the will, as stated above (FS, Q[12], A[1]),
because intention is of the end which is the object of the will.
Consequently the contemplative life, as regards the essence of the
action, pertains to the intellect, but as regards the motive cause of the
exercise of that action it belongs to the will, which moves all the other
powers, even the intellect, to their actions, as stated above (FP, Q[82],
A[4]; FS, Q[9], A[1]).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[1] Body Para. 2/2

Now the appetitive power moves one to observe things either with the
senses or with the intellect, sometimes for love of the thing seen
because, as it is written (Mt. 6:21), "where thy treasure is, there is
thy heart also," sometimes for love of the very knowledge that one
acquires by observation. Wherefore Gregory makes the contemplative life
to consist in the "love of God," inasmuch as through loving God we are
aflame to gaze on His beauty. And since everyone delights when he obtains
what he loves, it follows that the contemplative life terminates in
delight, which is seated in the affective power, the result being that
love also becomes more intense.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: From the very fact that truth is the end of contemplation,
it has the aspect of an appetible good, both lovable and delightful, and
in this respect it pertains to the appetitive power.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: We are urged to the vision of the first principle, namely
God, by the love thereof; wherefore Gregory says (Hom. xiv in Ezech.)
that "the contemplative life tramples on all cares and longs to see the
face of its Creator."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The appetitive power moves not only the bodily members to
perform external actions, but also the intellect to practice the act of
contemplation, as stated above.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the moral virtues pertain to the contemplative life?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the moral virtues pertain to the contemplative
life. For Gregory says (Hom. xiv in Ezech.) that "the contemplative life
is to cling to the love of God and our neighbor with the whole mind." Now
all the moral virtues, since their acts are prescribed by the precepts of
the Law, are reducible to the love of God and of our neighbor, for "love
. . . is the fulfilling of the Law" (Rm. 13:10). Therefore it would seem
that the moral virtues belong to the contemplative life.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, the contemplative life is chiefly directed to the
contemplation of God; for Gregory says (Hom. xiv in Ezech.) that "the
mind tramples on all cares and longs to gaze on the face of its Creator."
Now no one can accomplish this without cleanness of heart, which is a
result of moral virtue [*Cf. Q[8], A[7]]. For it is written (Mt. 5:8):
"Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God": and (Heb.
12:14): "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man
shall see God." Therefore it would seem that the moral virtues pertain to
the contemplative life.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, Gregory says (Hom. xiv in Ezech.) that "the
contemplative life gives beauty to the soul," wherefore it is signified
by Rachel, of whom it is said (Gn. 29:17) that she was "of a beautiful
countenance." Now the beauty of the soul consists in the moral virtues,
especially temperance, as Ambrose says (De Offic. i, 43,45,46). Therefore
it seems that the moral virtues pertain to the contemplative life.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, The moral virtues are directed to external actions. Now
Gregory says (Moral. vi [*Hom. xiv in Ezech.; Cf. A[1], OBJ[3]]) that it
belongs to the contemplative life "to rest from external action."
Therefore the moral virtues do not pertain to the contemplative life.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[2] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, A thing may belong to the contemplative life in two ways,
essentially or dispositively. The moral virtues do not belong to the
contemplative life essentially, because the end of the contemplative
life is the consideration of truth: and as the Philosopher states (Ethic.
ii, 4), "knowledge," which pertains to the consideration of truth, "has
little influence on the moral virtues": wherefore he declares (Ethic. x,
8) that the moral virtues pertain to active but not to contemplative
happiness.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[2] Body Para. 2/2

On the other hand, the moral virtues belong to the contemplative life
dispositively. For the act of contemplation, wherein the contemplative
life essentially consists, is hindered both by the impetuosity of the
passions which withdraw the soul's intention from intelligible to
sensible things, and by outward disturbances. Now the moral virtues curb
the impetuosity of the passions, and quell the disturbance of outward
occupations. Hence moral virtues belong dispositively to the
contemplative life.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: As stated above (A[1]), the contemplative life has its
motive cause on the part of the affections, and in this respect the love
of God and our neighbor is requisite to the contemplative life. Now
motive causes do not enter into the essence of a thing, but dispose and
perfect it. Wherefore it does not follow that the moral virtues belong
essentially to the contemplative life.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Holiness or cleanness of heart is caused by the virtues
that are concerned with the passions which hinder the purity of the
reason; and peace is caused by justice which is about operations,
according to Is. 32:17, "The work of justice shall be peace": since he
who refrains from wronging others lessens the occasions of quarrels and
disturbances. Hence the moral virtues dispose one to the contemplative
life by causing peace and cleanness of heart.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 1/2

Reply OBJ 3: Beauty, as stated above (Q[145], A[2]), consists in a
certain clarity and due proportion. Now each of these is found radically
in the reason; because both the light that makes beauty seen, and the
establishing of due proportion among things belong to reason. Hence since
the contemplative life consists in an act of the reason, there is beauty
in it by its very nature and essence; wherefore it is written (Wis. 8:2)
of the contemplation of wisdom: "I became a lover of her beauty."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 2/2

On the other hand, beauty is in the moral virtues by participation, in
so far as they participate in the order of reason; and especially is it
in temperance, which restrains the concupiscences which especially darken
the light of reason. Hence it is that the virtue of chastity most of all
makes man apt for contemplation, since venereal pleasures most of all
weigh the mind down to sensible objects, as Augustine says (Soliloq. i,
10).


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[3] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether there are various actions pertaining to the contemplative life?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[3] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that there are various actions pertaining to the
contemplative life. For Richard of St. Victor [*De Grat. Contempl. i,
3,4] distinguishes between "contemplation," "meditation," and
"cogitation." Yet all these apparently pertain to contemplation.
Therefore it would seem that there are various actions pertaining to the
contemplative life.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[3] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, the Apostle says (2 Cor. 3:18): "But we . . . beholding
[speculantes] the glory of the Lord with open face, are transformed into
the same clarity [*Vulg.: 'into the same image from glory to glory.']."
Now this belongs to the contemplative life. Therefore in addition to the
three aforesaid, vision [speculatio] belongs to the contemplative life.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[3] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, Bernard says (De Consid. v, 14) that "the first and
greatest contemplation is admiration of the Majesty." Now according to
Damascene (De Fide Orth. ii, 15) admiration is a kind of fear. Therefore
it would seem that several acts are requisite for the contemplative life.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[3] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, "Prayer," "reading," and "meditation" [*Hugh of St.
Victor, Alleg. in N.T. iii, 4] are said to belong to the contemplative
life. Again, "hearing" belongs to the contemplative life: since it is
stated that Mary (by whom the contemplative life is signified) "sitting .
. . at the Lord's feet, heard His word" (Lk. 10:39). Therefore it would
seem that several acts are requisite for the contemplative life.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[3] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Life signifies here the operation on which a man is
chiefly intent. Wherefore if there are several operations of the
contemplative life, there will be, not one, but several contemplative
lives.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[3] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, We are now speaking of the contemplative life as
applicable to man. Now according to Dionysius (Div. Nom. vii) between man
and angel there is this difference, that an angel perceives the truth by
simple apprehension, whereas man arrives at the perception of a simple
truth by a process from several premises. Accordingly, then, the
contemplative life has one act wherein it is finally completed, namely
the contemplation of truth, and from this act it derives its unity. Yet
it has many acts whereby it arrives at this final act. Some of these
pertain to the reception of principles, from which it proceeds to the
contemplation of truth; others are concerned with deducing from the
principles, the truth, the knowledge of which is sought; and the last and
crowning act is the contemplation itself of the truth.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[3] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: According to Richard of St. Victor "cogitation" would seem
to regard the consideration of the many things from which a person
intends to gather one simple truth. Hence cogitation may comprise not
only the perceptions of the senses in taking cognizance of certain
effects, but also the imaginations. and again the reason's discussion of
the various signs or of anything that conduces to the truth in view:
although, according to Augustine (De Trin. xiv, 7), cogitation may
signify any actual operation of the intellect. "Meditation" would seem to
be the process of reason from certain principles that lead to the
contemplation of some truth: and "consideration" has the same meaning,
according to Bernard (De Consid. ii, 2), although, according to the
Philosopher (De Anima ii, 1), every operation of the intellect may be
called "consideration." But "contemplation" regards the simple act of
gazing on the truth; wherefore Richard says again (De Grat. Contempl. i,
4) that "contemplation is the soul's clear and free dwelling upon the
object of its gaze; meditation is the survey of the mind while occupied
in searching for the truth: and cogitation is the mind's glance which is
prone to wander."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: According to a gloss [*Cf. De Trin. xv, 8] of Augustine on
this passage, "beholding" [speculatio] denotes "seeing in a mirror
[speculo], not from a watch-tower [specula]." Now to see a thing in a
mirror is to see a cause in its effect wherein its likeness is reflected.
Hence "beholding" would seem to be reducible to meditation.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[3] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Admiration is a kind of fear resulting from the
apprehension of a thing that surpasses our faculties: hence it results
from the contemplation of the sublime truth. For it was stated above
(A[1]) that contemplation terminates in the affections.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[3] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: Man reaches the knowledge of truth in two ways. First, by
means of things received from another. In this way, as regards the things
he receives from God, he needs "prayer," according to Wis. 7:7, "I called
upon" God, "and the spirit of wisdom came upon me": while as regards the
things he receives from man, he needs "hearing," in so far as he receives
from the spoken word, and "reading," in so far as he receives from the
tradition of Holy Writ. Secondly, he needs to apply himself by his
personal study, and thus he requires "meditation."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[4] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the contemplative life consists in the mere contemplation of God,
or also in the consideration of any truth whatever?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[4] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the contemplative life consists not only in
the contemplation of God, but also in the consideration of any truth. For
it is written (Ps. 138:14): "Wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knoweth
right well." Now the knowledge of God's works is effected by any
contemplation of the truth. Therefore it would seem that it pertains to
the contemplative life to contemplate not only the divine truth, but also
any other.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[4] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, Bernard says (De Consid. v, 14) that "contemplation
consists in admiration first of God's majesty, secondly of His judgments,
thirdly of His benefits, fourthly of His promises." Now of these four the
first alone regards the divine truth, and the other three pertain to His
effects. Therefore the contemplative life consists not only in the
contemplation of the divine truth, but also in the consideration of truth
regarding the divine effects.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[4] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, Richard of St. Victor [*De Grat. Contempl. i, 6]
distinguishes six species of contemplation. The first belongs to "the
imagination alone," and consists in thinking of corporeal things. The
second is in "the imagination guided by reason," and consists in
considering the order and disposition of sensible objects. The third is
in "the reason based on the imagination"; when, to wit, from the
consideration of the visible we rise to the invisible. The fourth is in
"the reason and conducted by the reason," when the mind is intent on
things invisible of which the imagination has no cognizance. The fifth is
"above the reason," but not contrary to reason, when by divine revelation
we become cognizant of things that cannot be comprehended by the human
reason. The sixth is "above reason and contrary to reason"; when, to wit,
by the divine enlightening we know things that seem contrary to human
reason, such as the doctrine of the mystery of the Trinity. Now only the
last of these would seem to pertain to the divine truth. Therefore the
contemplation of truth regards not only the divine truth, but also that
which is considered in creatures.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[4] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, in the contemplative life the contemplation of truth is
sought as being the perfection of man. Now any truth is a perfection of
the human intellect. Therefore the contemplative life consists in the
contemplation of any truth.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[4] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Gregory says (Moral. vi, 37) that "in contemplation we
seek the principle which is God."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[4] Body Para. 1/3

I answer that, As stated above (A[2]), a thing may belong to the
contemplative life in two ways: principally, and secondarily, or
dispositively. That which belongs principally to the contemplative life
is the contemplation of the divine truth, because this contemplation is
the end of the whole human life. Hence Augustine says (De Trin. i, 8)
that "the contemplation of God is promised us as being the goal of all
our actions and the everlasting perfection of our joys." This
contemplation will be perfect in the life to come, when we shall see God
face to face, wherefore it will make us perfectly happy: whereas now the
contemplation of the divine truth is competent to us imperfectly, namely
"through a glass" and "in a dark manner" (1 Cor. 13:12). Hence it bestows
on us a certain inchoate beatitude, which begins now and will be
continued in the life to come; wherefore the Philosopher (Ethic. x, 7)
places man's ultimate happiness in the contemplation of the supreme
intelligible good.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[4] Body Para. 2/3

Since, however, God's effects show us the way to the contemplation of
God Himself, according to Rm. 1:20, "The invisible things of God . . .
are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made," it
follows that the contemplation of the divine effects also belongs to the
contemplative life, inasmuch as man is guided thereby to the knowledge of
God. Hence Augustine says (De Vera Relig. xxix) that "in the study of
creatures we must not exercise an empty and futile curiosity, but should
make them the stepping-stone to things unperishable and everlasting."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[4] Body Para. 3/3

Accordingly it is clear from what has been said (AA[1],2,3) that four
things pertain, in a certain order, to the contemplative life; first, the
moral virtues; secondly, other acts exclusive of contemplation; thirdly,
contemplation of the divine effects; fourthly, the complement of all
which is the contemplation of the divine truth itself.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[4] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: David sought the knowledge of God's works, so that he might
be led by them to God; wherefore he says elsewhere (Ps. 142:5,6): "I
meditated on all Thy works: I meditated upon the works of Thy hands: I
stretched forth my hands to Thee."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[4] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: By considering the divine judgments man is guided to the
consideration of the divine justice; and by considering the divine
benefits and promises, man is led to the knowledge of God's mercy or
goodness, as by effects already manifested or yet to be vouchsafed.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[4] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: These six denote the steps whereby we ascend by means of
creatures to the contemplation of God. For the first step consists in the
mere consideration of sensible objects; the second step consists in going
forward from sensible to intelligible objects; the third step is to judge
of sensible objects according to intelligible things; the fourth is the
absolute consideration of the intelligible objects to which one has
attained by means of sensibles; the fifth is the contemplation of those
intelligible objects that are unattainable by means of sensibles, but
which the reason is able to grasp; the sixth step is the consideration of
such intelligible things as the reason can neither discover nor grasp,
which pertain to the sublime contemplation of divine truth, wherein
contemplation is ultimately perfected.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[4] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: The ultimate perfection of the human intellect is the
divine truth: and other truths perfect the intellect in relation to the
divine truth.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[5] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether in the present state of life the contemplative life can reach to
the vision of the Divine essence?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[5] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that in the present state of life the contemplative
life can reach to the vision of the Divine essence. For, as stated in Gn.
32:30, Jacob said: "I have seen God face to face, and my soul has been
saved." Now the vision of God's face is the vision of the Divine essence.
Therefore it would seem that in the present life one may come, by means
of contemplation, to see God in His essence.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[5] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, Gregory says (Moral. vi, 37) that "contemplative men
withdraw within themselves in order to explore spiritual things, nor do
they ever carry with them the shadows of things corporeal, or if these
follow them they prudently drive them away: but being desirous of seeing
the incomprehensible light, they suppress all the images of their limited
comprehension, and through longing to reach what is above them, they
overcome that which they are." Now man is not hindered from seeing the
Divine essence, which is the incomprehensible light, save by the
necessity of turning to corporeal phantasms. Therefore it would seem that
the contemplation of the present life can extend to the vision of the
incomprehensible light in its essence.
Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[5] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, Gregory says (Dial. ii, 35): "All creatures are small to
the soul that sees its Creator: wherefore when the man of God," the
blessed Benedict, to wit, "saw a fiery globe in the tower and angels
returning to heaven, without doubt he could only see such things by the
light of God." Now the blessed Benedict was still in this life. Therefore
the contemplation of the present life can extend to the vision of the
essence of God.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[5] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Gregory says (Hom. xiv in Ezech.): "As long as we live
in this mortal flesh, no one reaches such a height of contemplation as to
fix the eyes of his mind on the ray itself of incomprehensible light."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[5] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, As Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. xii, 27), "no one seeing
God lives this mortal life wherein the bodily senses have their play: and
unless in some way he depart this life, whether by going altogether out
of his body, or by withdrawing from his carnal senses, he is not caught
up into that vision." This has been carefully discussed above (Q[175],
AA[4],5), where we spoke of rapture, and in the FP, Q[12], A[2], where we
treated of the vision of God.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[5] Body Para. 2/2

Accordingly we must state that one may be in this life in two ways.
First, with regard to act, that is to say by actually making use of the
bodily senses, and thus contemplation in the present life can nowise
attain to the vision of God's essence. Secondly, one may be in this life
potentially and not with regard to act, that is to say, when the soul is
united to the mortal body as its form, yet so as to make use neither of
the bodily senses, nor even of the imagination, as happens in rapture;
and in this way the contemplation of the present life can attain to the
vision of the Divine essence. Consequently the highest degree of
contemplation in the present life is that which Paul had in rapture,
whereby he was in a middle state between the present life and the life to
come.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[5] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: As Dionysius says (Ep. i ad Caium. Monach.), "if anyone
seeing God, understood what he saw, he saw not God Himself, but something
belonging to God." And Gregory says (Hom. xiv in Ezech.): "By no means is
God seen now in His glory; but the soul sees something of lower degree,
and is thereby refreshed so that afterwards it may attain to the glory of
vision." Accordingly the words of Jacob, "I saw God face to face" do not
imply that he saw God's essence, but that he saw some shape [*Cf. FP,
Q[12], A[11], ad 1], imaginary of course, wherein God spoke to him. Or,
"since we know a man by his face, by the face of God he signified his
knowledge of Him," according to a gloss of Gregory on the same passage.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[5] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: In the present state of life human contemplation is
impossible without phantasms, because it is connatural to man to see the
intelligible species in the phantasms, as the Philosopher states (De
Anima iii, 7). Yet intellectual knowledge does not consist in the
phantasms themselves, but in our contemplating in them the purity of the
intelligible truth: and this not only in natural knowledge, but also in
that which we obtain by revelation. For Dionysius says (Coel. Hier. i)
that "the Divine glory shows us the angelic hierarchies under certain
symbolic figures, and by its power we are brought back to the single ray
of light," i.e. to the simple knowledge of the intelligible truth. It is
in this sense that we must understand the statement of Gregory that
"contemplatives do not carry along with them the shadows of things
corporeal," since their contemplation is not fixed on them, but on the
consideration of the intelligible truth.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[5] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: By these words Gregory does not imply that the blessed
Benedict, in that vision, saw God in His essence, but he wishes to show
that because "all creatures are small to him that sees God," it follows
that all things can easily be seen through the enlightenment of the
Divine light. Wherefore he adds: "For however little he may see of the
Creator's light, all created things become petty to him."


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[6] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the operation of contemplation is fittingly divided into a
threefold movement, circular, straight and oblique?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[6] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the operation of contemplation is unfittingly
divided into a threefold movement, "circular," "straight," and "oblique"
(Div. Nom. iv). For contemplation pertains exclusively to rest, according
to Wis. 8:16, "When I go into my house, I shall repose myself with her."
Now movement is opposed to rest. Therefore the operations of the
contemplative life should not be described as movements.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[6] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, the action of the contemplative life pertains to the
intellect, whereby man is like the angels. Now Dionysius describes these
movements as being different in the angels from what they are in the
soul. For he says (Div. Nom. iv) that the "circular" movement in the
angel is "according to his enlightenment by the beautiful and the good."
On the other hand, he assigns the circular movement of the soul to
several things: the first of which is the "withdrawal of the soul into
itself from externals"; the second is "a certain concentration of its
powers, whereby it is rendered free of error and of outward occupation";
and the third is "union with those things that are above it." Again, he
describes differently their respective straight movements. For he says
that the straight movement of the angel is that by which he proceeds to
the care of those things that are beneath him. On the other hand, he
describes the straight movement of the soul as being twofold: first, "its
progress towards things that are near it"; secondly, "its uplifting from
external things to simple contemplation." Further, he assigns a
different oblique movement to each. For he assigns the oblique movement
of the angels to the fact that "while providing for those who have less
they remain unchanged in relation to God": whereas he assigns the oblique
movement of the soul to the fact that "the soul is enlightened in Divine
knowledge by reasoning and discoursing." Therefore it would seem that the
operations of contemplation are unfittingly assigned according to the
ways mentioned above.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[6] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, Richard of St. Victor (De Contempl. i, 5) mentions many
other different movements in likeness to the birds of the air. "For some
of these rise at one time to a great height, at another swoop down to
earth, and they do so repeatedly; others fly now to the right, now to the
left again and again; others go forwards or lag behind many times; others
fly in a circle now more now less extended; and others remain suspended
almost immovably in one place." Therefore it would seem that there are
only three movements of contemplation.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[6] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, stands the authority of Dionysius (Div. Nom. iv).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[6] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, As stated above (Q[119], A[1], ad 3), the operation of
the intellect, wherein contemplation essentially consists, is called a
movement, in so far as movement is the act of a perfect thing, according
to the Philosopher (De Anima iii, 1). Since, however, it is through
sensible objects that we come to the knowledge of intelligible things,
and since sensible operations do not take place without movement, the
result is that even intelligible operations are described as movements,
and are differentiated in likeness to various movements. Now of bodily
movements, local movements are the most perfect and come first, as proved
in Phys. viii, 7; wherefore the foremost among intelligible operations
are described by being likened to them. These movements are of three
kinds; for there is the "circular" movement, by which a thing moves
uniformly round one point as center, another is the "straight" movement,
by which a thing goes from one point to another; the third is "oblique,"
being composed as it were of both the others. Consequently, in
intelligible operations, that which is simply uniform is compared to circular movement; the intelligible operation by which one proceeds from
one point to another is compared to the straight movement; while the
intelligible operation which unites something of uniformity with progress
to various points is compared to the oblique movement.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[6] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: External bodily movements are opposed to the quiet of
contemplation, which consists in rest from outward occupations: but the
movements of intellectual operations belong to the quiet of contemplation.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[6] R.O. 2 Para. 1/2

Reply OBJ 2: Man is like the angels in intellect generically, but the
intellective power is much higher in the angel than in man. Consequently
these movements must be ascribed to souls and angels in different ways,
according as they are differently related to uniformity. For the angelic
intellect has uniform knowledge in two respects. First, because it does
not acquire intelligible truth from the variety of composite objects;
secondly, because it understands the truth of intelligible objects not
discursively, but by simple intuition. On the other hand, the intellect
of the soul acquires intelligible truth from sensible objects, and
understands it by a certain discoursing of the reason.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[6] R.O. 2 Para. 2/2

Wherefore Dionysius assigns the "circular" movement of the angels to the
fact that their intuition of God is uniform and unceasing, having neither
beginning nor end: even as a circular movement having neither beginning
nor end is uniformly around the one same center. But on the part of the
soul, ere it arrive at this uniformity, its twofold lack of uniformity
needs to be removed. First, that which arises from the variety of
external things: this is removed by the soul withdrawing from externals,
and so the first thing he mentions regarding the circular movement of the
soul is "the soul's withdrawal into itself from external objects."
Secondly, another lack of uniformity requires to be removed from the
soul, and this is owing to the discoursing of reason. This is done by
directing all the soul's operations to the simple contemplation of the
intelligible truth, and this is indicated by his saying in the second
place that "the soul's intellectual powers must be uniformly
concentrated," in other words that discoursing must be laid aside and the
soul's gaze fixed on the contemplation of the one simple truth. In this
operation of the soul there is no error, even as there is clearly no
error in the understanding of first principles which we know by simple
intuition. Afterwards these two things being done, he mentions thirdly
the uniformity which is like that of the angels, for then all things
being laid aside, the soul continues in the contemplation of God alone.
This he expresses by saying: "Then being thus made uniform unitedly,"
i.e. conformably, "by the union of its powers, it is conducted to the
good and the beautiful." The "straight" movement of the angel cannot
apply to his proceeding from one thing to another by considering them,
but only to the order of his providence, namely to the fact that the
higher angel enlightens the lower angels through the angels that are
intermediate. He indicates this when he says: "The angel's movement takes
a straight line when he proceeds to the care of things subject to him,
taking in his course whatever things are direct," i.e. in keeping with
the dispositions of the direct order. Whereas he ascribes the "straight"
movement in the soul to the soul's proceeding from exterior sensibles to
the knowledge of intelligible objects. The "oblique" movement in the
angels he describes as being composed of the straight and circular
movements, inasmuch as their care for those beneath them is in accordance
with their contemplation of God: while the "oblique" movement in the soul
he also declares to be partly straight and partly circular, in so far as
in reasoning it makes use of the light received from God.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[6] R.O. 3 Para. 1/2

Reply OBJ 3: These varieties of movement that are taken from the
distinction between above and below, right and left, forwards and
backwards, and from varying circles, are all comprised under either
straight and oblique movement, because they all denote discursions of
reason. For if the reason pass from the genus to the species, or from the
part to the whole, it will be, as he explains, from above to below: if
from one opposite to another, it will be from right to left; if from the
cause to the effect, it will be backwards and forwards; if it be about
accidents that surround a thing near at hand or far remote, the movement
will be circular. The discoursing of reason from sensible to intelligible
objects, if it be according to the order of natural reason, belongs to
the straight movement; but if it be according to the Divine
enlightenment, it will belong to the oblique movement as explained above
(ad 2). That alone which he describes as immobility belongs to the
circular movement.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[6] R.O. 3 Para. 2/2

Wherefore it is evident that Dionysius describes the movement of
contemplation with much greater fulness and depth.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[7] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether there is delight in contemplation?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[7] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that there is no delight in contemplation. For
delight belongs to the appetitive power; whereas contemplation resides
chiefly in the intellect. Therefore it would seem that there is no
delight in contemplation.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[7] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, all strife and struggle is a hindrance to delight. Now
there is strife and struggle in contemplation. For Gregory says (Hom. xiv
in Ezech.) that "when the soul strives to contemplate God, it is in a
state of struggle; at one time it almost overcomes, because by
understanding and feeling it tastes something of the incomprehensible
light, and at another time it almost succumbs, because even while
tasting, it fails." Therefore there is no delight in contemplation.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[7] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, delight is the result of a perfect operation, as stated
in Ethic. x, 4. Now the contemplation of wayfarers is imperfect,
according to 1 Cor. 13:12, "We see now through a glass in a dark manner."
Therefore seemingly there is no delight in the contemplative life.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[7] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, a lesion of the body is an obstacle to delight. Now
contemplation causes a lesion of the body; wherefore it is stated (Gn.
32) that after Jacob had said (Gn. 32:30), "'I have seen God face to
face' . . . he halted on his foot (Gn. 32:31) . . . because he touched
the sinew of his thigh and it shrank" (Gn. 32:32). Therefore seemingly
there is no delight in contemplation.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[7] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written of the contemplation of wisdom (Wis.
8:16): "Her conversation hath no bitterness, nor her company any
tediousness, but joy and gladness": and Gregory says (Hom. xiv in Ezech.)
that "the contemplative life is sweetness exceedingly lovable."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[7] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, There may be delight in any particular contemplation in
two ways. First by reason of the operation itself [*Cf. FS, Q[3], A[5]],
because each individual delights in the operation which befits him
according to his own nature or habit. Now contemplation of the truth
befits a man according to his nature as a rational animal: the result
being that "all men naturally desire to know," so that consequently they
delight in the knowledge of truth. And more delightful still does this
become to one who has the habit of wisdom and knowledge, the result of
which is that he contemplates without difficulty. Secondly, contemplation
may be delightful on the part of its object, in so far as one
contemplates that which one loves; even as bodily vision gives pleasure,
not only because to see is pleasurable in itself, but because one sees a
person whom one loves. Since, then, the contemplative life consists
chiefly in the contemplation of God, of which charity is the motive, as
stated above (AA[1],2, ad 1), it follows that there is delight in the
contemplative life, not only by reason of the contemplation itself, but
also by reason of the Divine love.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[7] Body Para. 2/2

In both respects the delight thereof surpasses all human delight, both
because spiritual delight is greater than carnal pleasure, as stated
above (FS, Q[31], A[5]), when we were treating of the passions, and
because the love whereby God is loved out of charity surpasses all love.
Hence it is written (Ps. 33:9): "O taste and see that the Lord is sweet."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[7] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Although the contemplative life consists chiefly in an act
of the intellect, it has its beginning in the appetite, since it is
through charity that one is urged to the contemplation of God. And since
the end corresponds to the beginning, it follows that the term also and
the end of the contemplative life has its being in the appetite, since
one delights in seeing the object loved, and the very delight in the
object seen arouses a yet greater love. Wherefore Gregory says (Hom. xiv
in Ezech.) that "when we see one whom we love, we are so aflame as to
love him more." And this is the ultimate perfection of the contemplative
life, namely that the Divine truth be not only seen but also loved.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[7] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Strife or struggle arising from the opposition of an
external thing, hinders delight in that thing. For a man delights not in
a thing against which he strives: but in that for which he strives; when
he has obtained it, other things being equal, he delights yet more:
wherefore Augustine says (Confess. viii, 3) that "the more peril there
was in the battle, the greater the joy in the triumph." But there is no
strife or struggle in contemplation on the part of the truth which we
contemplate, though there is on the part of our defective understanding
and our corruptible body which drags us down to lower things, according
to Wis. 9:15, "The corruptible body ss a load upon the soul, and the
earthly habitation presseth down the mind that museth upon many things."
Hence it is that when man attains to the contemplation of truth, he loves
it yet more, while he hates the more his own deficiency and the weight of
his corruptible body, so as to say with the Apostle (Rm. 7:24): "Unhappy
man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"
Wherefore Gregory say (Hom. xiv in Ezech.): "When God is once known by
desire and understanding, He withers all carnal pleasure in us."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[7] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The contemplation of God in this life is imperfect in
comparison with the contemplation in heaven; and in like manner the
delight of the wayfarer's contemplation is imperfect as compared with the
delight of contemplation in heaven, of which it is written (Ps. 35:9):
"Thou shalt make them drink of the torrent of Thy pleasure." Yet, though
the contemplation of Divine things which is to be had by wayfarers is
imperfect, it is more delightful than all other contemplation however
perfect, on account of the excellence of that which is contemplated.
Hence the Philosopher says (De Part. Animal. i, 5): "We may happen to
have our own little theories about those sublime beings and godlike
substances, and though we grasp them but feebly, nevertheless so
elevating is the knowledge that they give us more delight than any of
those things that are round about us": and Gregory says in the same sense
(Hom. xiv in Ezech.): "The contemplative life is sweetness exceedingly
lovable; for it carries the soul away above itself, it opens heaven and
discovers the spiritual world to the eyes of the mind."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[7] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: After contemplation Jacob halted with one foot, "because we
need to grow weak in the love of the world ere we wax strong in the love
of God," as Gregory says (Hom. xiv in Ezech.). "Thus when we have known
the sweetness of God, we have one foot sound while the other halts; since
every one who halts on one foot leans only on that foot which is sound."


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[8] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the contemplative life is continuous?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[8] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the contemplative life is not continuous. For
the contemplative life consists essentially in things pertaining to the
intellect. Now all the intellectual perfections of this life will be made
void, according to 1 Cor. 13:8, "Whether prophecies shall be made void,
or tongues shall cease, or knowledge shall be destroyed." Therefore the
contemplative life is made void.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[8] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, a man tastes the sweetness of contemplation by snatches
and for a short time only: wherefore Augustine says (Confess. x, 40),
"Thou admittest me to a most unwonted affection in my inmost soul, to a
strange sweetness . . . yet through my grievous weight I sink down
again." Again, Gregory commenting on the words of Job 4:15, "When a
spirit passed before me," says (Moral. v, 33): "The mind does not remain
long at rest in the sweetness of inward contemplation, for it is recalled
to itself and beaten back by the very immensity of the light." Therefore
the contemplative life is not continuous.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[8] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, that which is not connatural to man cannot be
continuous. Now the contemplative life, according to the Philosopher
(Ethic. x, 7), "is better than the life which is according to man."
Therefore seemingly the contemplative life is not continuous.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[8] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, our Lord said (Lk. 10:42): "Mary hath chosen the best
part, which shall not be taken away from her," since as Gregory says
(Hom. xiv in Ezech.), "the contemplative life begins here so that it may
be perfected in our heavenly home."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[8] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, A thing may be described as continuous in two ways:
first, in regard to its nature; secondly, in regard to us. It is evident
that in regard to itself contemplative life is continuous for two
reasons: first, because it is about incorruptible and unchangeable
things; secondly, because it has no contrary, for there is nothing
contrary to the pleasure of contemplation, as stated in Topic. i, 13. But
even in our regard contemplative life is continuous - both because it is
competent to us in respect of the incorruptible part of the soul, namely
the intellect, wherefore it can endure after this life - and because in
the works of the contemplative life we work not with our bodies, so that
we are the more able to persevere in the works thereof, as the
Philosopher observes (Ethic. x, 7).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[8] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: The manner of contemplation is not the same here as in
heaven: yet the contemplative life is said to remain by reason of
charity, wherein it has both its beginning and its end. Gregory speaks in
this sense (Hom. xiv in Ezech.): "The contemplative life begins here, so
as to be perfected in our heavenly home, because the fire of love which
begins to burn here is aflame with a yet greater love when we see Him
Whom we love."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[8] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: No action can last long at its highest pitch. Now the
highest point of contemplation is to reach the uniformity of Divine
contemplation, according to Dionysius [*Cf. Coel. Hier. iii], and as we
have stated above (A[6], ad 2). Hence although contemplation cannot last
long in this respect, it can be of long duration as regards the other
contemplative acts.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[180] A[8] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The Philosopher declares the contemplative life to be above
man, because it befits us "so far as there is in us something divine"
(Ethic. x, 7), namely the intellect, which is incorruptible and
impassible in itself, wherefore its act can endure longer.





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