Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Contemplare and contemplata allis tradere

Keeping in mind the Dominican motto Contemplare and contemplata allis tradere – (contemplate and pass on the fruits of contemplation), here is a portion of today’s Divine Intimacy by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen O.C.D., followed by some quotes which are from the previous few days of readings.


When we speak of the apostolate, we think almost exclusively of external activity; this is certainly necessary, but it is not the only kind of apostolate. We must always bear in mind that Jesus saved us not only by the activity of the last three years of His life, which were dedicated to the evangelization of the multitudes and the formation of the first nucleus of the Church, but also by prayer, suffering, vigils – by his whole life. Jesus was always an apostle, the one sent by the Father for our salvation. His apostolate began at Bethlehem in the dreariness of a cave; as a tiny Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, He was already suffering for us; it continued during the thirty years spent at Nazareth in prayer, in retirement, in the hidden life; it took an external form in His direct contact with souls during His public life, and reached its culmination in His agony in the Garden of Olives and His death on the Cross. Jesus was an apostle in the stable of Bethlehem, in the shop of St. Joseph, in His anguish in Gethsemane and on Calvary no less than when He was going thru Palestine, teaching the multitudes or disputing with the doctors of the law.

Our apostolate consists in associating ourselves with what Jesus has done for the redemption of mankind; therefore, it is not limited to external activity, but it also consists, and essentially so, in prayer and sacrifice. Thus one clearly sees that there are two fundamental forms of apostolate: the interior apostolate of prayer and immolation, which is a prolongation of the hidden life and of the Passion of Jesus; and the exterior apostolate of word and of work, which is a prolongation of His public life. Both are a participation in the redemptive work of Jesus, but there is a great difference between them. The interior apostolate is the indispensable foundation of the exterior apostolate; no one, in fact, can hope to save souls by exterior works which are not sustained by prayer and sacrifice. On the other hand, there are cases where external works can be dispensed with, without, on that account, lessening the interior apostolate of prayer and sacrifice, which can still be very intense and fruitful. Every Christian is an apostle, not only in virtue of the activity in which he engages, but principally because of his participation in the prayer and sacrifice by which Jesus has redeemed the world.

The interior apostolate can subsist by itself; in fact, there are states of life that justify the absence of an exterior apostolate. One of these is the purely contemplative life, which has always flourished in the Church. Like a mother, she jealously defends it against the attacks of the attacks of those who condemn it as an escape from the field of action. Those who follow God’s call and retire from active works to give themselves to this kind of life are not deserters; if they leave the ranks of the external apostolate, they do this only in order to give themselves to a more intensive apostolate, that of prayer and continual immolation.

“Those in the Church who perform the function of prayer and continual penance, contribute to the growth of the Church and the salvation of the human race to a greater degree than those who cultivate the Lord’s field by their activity; for, if they did not draw down from heaven an abundance of divine grace to irrigate the field, the evangelical workers would certainly receive less fruit from their labors” (Pius XI, Umbratilem). This authorized statement of a great Pope can leave no doubt as to the immense apostolic value of the contemplative life; but, on the other hand, it is but just to remark that such value is realized only when contemplatives engage themselves with all their strength in prayer and continual immolation. In other words, it is not any kind of prayer or sacrifice that will result in such great fruitfulness, but only the prayer and sacrifice that come from an extremely pure and generous heart, a heart wholly given to God and which, day by day, renews and lives its immolation with ever greater freshness and intensity. When the contemplative life is lived with such intensity it is, in an eminent way, an apostolic life.

It is in this sense that Pope Pius XII has defined the vocation to a cloistered life as “a universal, apostolic vocation…a fully and totally apostolic vocation, not limited by boundaries of place, time, and circumstances, but always and everywhere, zealous for everything that in any way relates to the honor of the heavenly Spouse or the salvation of souls” (Apostolic Constitution: Sponsa Christi). Furthermore, contemplative monasteries, by the simple example of their hidden life, their prayer and penance, are a continual reminder for all to be detached from earthly things and to seek those that are heavenly: union with God and sanctity.

“O Jesus, Son of God, if I think how You died to save souls, how can I fail to want to die for them also? And if I think of men trampling upon Your Blood, who can I tolerate such an insult to You, my Lord? How can I say I love You and long for Your love, if when I see Your picture thrown in the mud, I do not try and pick it up? Why then, do I not devote myself entirely to prayer, and wear myself out trying to make Your Name known and honored, so that by converting souls, I may gather the fruits of Your Blood?

“My God, even if I knew I would never enjoy your presence, I would, nevertheless, be willing to die for each sinful soul, in order to honor You; in this way, I would undergo as many deaths as there are sinners in the world, so that they might obtain grace now and glory hereafter. (St. Bonaventure).

“O my God, I experience very deep distress because of the great number of souls who are bringing damnation upon themselves, especially of those who were members of the Church through Baptism, and I greatly desire to labor for their salvation, so much so that I really believe that, to deliver a single one of them from such dreadful torments, I would willingly die many deaths…. Who could bear to look upon souls condemned for eternity to endless suffering? Even earthly suffering which, after all, has a limit and will end with death, moves us to deep compassion. And that other suffering has no limit: I do not know how we can look on so calmly and see the devil carrying off as many souls as he does daily.

“Thou knowest, my God, who grieved I am to see how very many are lost. Save at least one, Lord, at least one who can give light to many others, and this not for my sake, Lord, for I do not merit it, but for the merits of Thy Son. Look upon His wounds, Lord, and as He forgave them who inflicted them upon Him, so do Thou pardon us. (Theresa of Jesus, Life, 32)

“O Lord, this is what You say to my soul: ‘Why are you so far away from Me, detained by useless pursuits? Why do you not hasten to prepare a beautiful wedding garment? I suffered death to take you for My spouse. I became man for you, to preserve your life from corruption, I preferred your salvation before all My works. I prepared a nuptial couch for you in heaven, and I commanded the angels to serve you. Would you despise Me, your heavenly Spouse? And whom would you prefer to Me, who in My mercy have saved the whole human race? What father could give you life as I have? What father or what spouse can love you as much as I?

“O my God, what shall I answer You?” (St. Ephrem).

I have posted this material, because I believe that the author understands the apostolate, and the saints quoted understood it to a profound degree, and their understanding is in complete harmony with St. Dominic's understanding. I also would have to say that (the excommunicated) Mathew Fox OP, Edward Schillenbeeckx OP did not understand or have a vision in harmony with Dominic and the saints quoted above; and the fruit of their efforts is best summarized in the recent pamphlet issued by the Dutch Dominicans; a vision that leads not to the salvation of souls, and that this vision and understanding is at the root of most of the so-called "catholic social justice" movement, which is why it is a failure and, in the eternal scheme of things, irrelevent. As this is my opinion, and not shared by a significant number, it is why I ask that we observe and follow the motto:

Contemplare and contemplata allis tradere

interestingly, here is a list from Matthew Fox of the "hero's who have fallen to Ratzinger's inquisistion" (no kidding!).

Fr. Bernhard Haering, a German Redemptorist and moral theologian
Oscar Romero of El Salvador, called in three times to the Vatican to explain his stand against the military. The Vatican sent three visitors to coerce him to be silent.
Jacques Pohier, French Dominican
Edward Schillebeecks, Dutch Dominican
Professor Hans Kung
Father Ernesto Cardenal of Nicaragua
Sister Agnes Mary Mansour of the Sisters of Mercy in Michigan
Bishop Raymond Hunthausen of Seattle
Gustavo Gutierrez, Peruvian liberation theologian
Leonardo Boff, Brazilian liberation theologian
All the bishops of Peru summoned to Rome to repudiate liberation theology
Fr. Gyorgy Bulanyi, a Hungarian priest
Fr. Charles Curran of Catholic University of America
Bishop Mathew Clark of Rochester, New York
Fr. Alex Zanotelli of Columbia who published an article showing the relationship of arms sales and Italian relief agencies
Bishop Pedor Casaldaliga, defender of the Indians and the rain forest in Brazil
Bishop Helder Camara’s Institute in Recife, Brazil, was shut down
Fr. Eugen Drewermann of Germany, a psychoanalyst and priest author
Fr. Philipe Denis, Dominican of France, for criticizing the Opus Dei
Brazilian sister Ivone Gebara
Fr. Paul Collins of Australia
Indian Jesuit Anthony de Mello (who had already been dead eleven years when they condemned his work)
Sister Jeannine Gramick and Fr. Robert Nugent of the United States for ministering with gay and lesbian Catholics because they had not “condemned the intrinsic evil of homosexual acts.”


  1. Say what you like about Fr. Schillebeeckx, he has a very sharp intellect; say what you like about Matthew Fox, he doesn't.

    But what do you see in Fr. Schillebeeckx's vision and understanding that lies at the root of the Catholic social justice movement?

  2. The common element is to see a contradiction between tradition as received and Christanity as meant to be practiced, or what the holy father calls the hermeneutic of rupture and discontinuity. Perceived bad/inadequate praxis is no reason to toss the baby with the bathwater.

  3. Understand that when I respond to your question regarding "Catholic social justice movement" I am rather refering to what I'd call the "faux-Catholic social justice movement." I have no complaint with the real article (I've subscribed to for years). My complaint is with the movement driven by warmed over liberation theology served up again as "social justice".

  4. Such "Faux-social justice" actions are discernable, I believe, because they usually place a lesser good above a greater good, in imitation to the source from which they spring, which is Marxism.

    An example of such is the so called Earth Charter of the UN, which (supported by the Dominican mission at the UN) effectively demands abortion and contraception as human rights