Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The true nature of our conflict

I would encourage anyone who wants to better understand the true nature of our conflict to read this lecture by Fr. Thomas Crean O.P. It discusses the meaning behind the idea of the two cities, the City of God and the city of man, using the thought of St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and the Popes.


ari said...

"What people long for, however, is a sense of direction, a path that individuals, the Church, and the country might take out of this dark valley. In a sense Joseph Ratzinger has been describing such a path all his life -- the way individuals and societies could move from the City of Man to the City of God. Central to his thinking is for individuals to turn to Jesus. As Pope he has repeatedly urged audiences to pray, meditate, study and lead lives of charity and selflessness -- always in personal conversation with Jesus. He describes this as the greatest adventure, the most joyous and meaningful life that can be lived."

SOURCE: http://www.insidethevatican.com/newsflash/2008/newsflash-apr5-08.htm

In After God:

"A lifelong student of Augustine's City of God, Ratzinger increasingly viewed history in op- positional terms: City of God/City of Man..."

In a Time article, it was said:

"As the brilliant young man with the photographic memory completed seminary and then university, his intuition found its theological grounding in some of St. Augustine's thought. A key concept in Augustine's great The City of God is that the Christian church is superior and essentially alien to its earthly surroundings. Later medieval church theologians like Thomas Aquinas introduced an alternative hypothesis, counseling that God's natural law enabled Christians to enjoy a sensible engagement with the world, a theology that gives hope to Catholic social activists and ecumenists. But Ratzinger, once asked to name two desert-island books, picked the Bible and Augustine's Confessions. Avery Dulles, a Cardinal and a well-known American theologian, said about the new Pope last week, 'It's the two cities: city of God and city of man. He sees a world very much in conflict.'"

brendon said...

The part of the Time article you quote shows an incredibly superficial understanding of the thought of both St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. Which isn't really surprising, but does demonstrate the kind of general arrogance and ignorance found among journalists.

Nothing about the natural law is contrary to idea of the two cities. The natural law is not foreign to St. Augustine. The conflict between the Church and the world, the flesh and the devil, i.e. the city of man, is not foreign to St. Thomas (nor to the Gospels).

The most important thing to remember about the two cities is that non-believers and sinners are not the enemy. "For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places" (Ephesians 6:12). Non-believers and sinners are captives of the enemy whose lives must be ransomed by the blood of Christ.

A true view of history is necessarily a spiritual one. And a spiritual view of history tells us that it essentially the story of the spiritual warfare between God and the devil. This will continue until the Second Coming. This "conflict," this "opposition," is necessarily part of a true Christian understanding of the world and its history.

ari said...


Exceptionally well put!

I'm rather pleased you've continued posting!

By the way, what happened to your Potpourri?

Also, any word on your discernment?