Monday, July 31, 2006

Q32 A4: Whether it is lawful to have various contrary opinions of notions?

Yes. Different opinions of the notions are permissible because the notions are not articles of faith.

Anyone may entertain contrary opinions about the notions, if he does not mean to uphold anything at variance with faith.

If, however, anyone should entertain a false opinion of the notions, knowing or thinking that consequences against the faith would follow, he would lapse into heresy.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Q32 A3: Whether there are five notions?

Yes. There are five notions in God ("innascibility," "paternity," "filiation," "common spiration" and "procession") because a notion is the proper idea whereby we know a divine Person.

The divine persons are multiplied by reason of their origin: and origin includes the idea of someone from whom another comes, and of someone that comes from another, and by these two modes a person can be known.

Therefore the Person of the Father cannot be known by the fact that He is from another; but by the fact that He is from no one; and thus the notion that belongs to Him is called "innascibility" (innascibilitas).

As the source of another, He can be known in two ways, because as the Son is from Him, the Father is known by the notion of "paternity" (paternitas); and as the Holy Ghost is from Him, He is known by the notion of "common spiration" (communis spiratio).

The Son can be known as begotten by another, and thus He is known by "filiation" (filiatio); and also by another person proceeding from Him, the Holy Ghost, and thus He is known in the same way as the Father is known, by "common spiration."

The Holy Ghost can be known by the fact that He is from another, or from others; thus He is known by "procession" (processio); but not by the fact that another is from Him, as no divine person proceeds from Him.

Therefore, there are Five notions in God: "innascibility," "paternity," "filiation," "common spiration" and "procession." Of these only four are relations (Q28 A4), for "innascibility" is not a relation, except by reduction, as will appear later (Q33, A4, ad 3).

Four only are properties. For "common spiration" is not a property; because it belongs to two persons.

Three are personal notions--i.e. constituting persons, "paternity," "filiation," and "procession."

"Common spiration" and "innascibility" are called notions of Persons, but not personal notions (dicuntur notiones personarum non autem personales), as we shall explain further on (Q40, A1, ad 1).

The divine essence is signified as a reality; and likewise the persons are signified as realities; whereas the notions are signified as ideas notifying the persons. Therefore, although God is one by unity of essence, and trine by trinity of persons, nevertheless He is not quinary by the five notions.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Q32 A2: Whether there are notions in God?

Yes. We must admit properties and notions in God because we recognize difference of hypostases [i.e. of persons] in the three properties (i.e. in the paternal, the filial, and the processional).

In the Father there must be a real relation to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. Hence, corresponding to the two relations of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, whereby they are related to the Father, we must understand two relations in the Father, whereby He is related to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. Hence, since there is only one Person of the Father, it is necessary that the relations should be separately signified in the abstract; and these are what we mean by properties and notions.

The use of concrete and abstract names in God is not in any way repugnant to the divine simplicity; forasmuch as we always name a thing as we understand it. Now, our intellect cannot attain to the absolute simplicity of the divine essence, considered in itself, and therefore, our human intellect apprehends and names divine things, according to its own mode, that is in so far as they are found in sensible objects, whence its knowledge is derived. In these things we use abstract terms to signify simple forms; and to signify subsistent things we use concrete terms. Hence also we signify divine things, as above stated, by abstract names, to express their simplicity; whereas, to express their subsistence and completeness, we use concrete names.

But not only must essential names be signified in the abstract and in the concrete, as when we say Deity and God; or wisdom and wise; but the same applies to the personal names, so that we may say paternity and Father.

RO2: In God the notions have their significance not after the manner of realities, but by way of certain ideas whereby the persons are known; although in God these notions or relations are real (Q28, A1). Therefore whatever has order to any essential or personal act, cannot be applied to the notions; forasmuch as this is against their mode of signification. Hence we cannot say that paternity begets, or creates, or is wise, or is intelligent. The essentials, however, which are not ordered to any act, but simply remove created conditions from God, can be predicated of the notions; for we can say that paternity is eternal, or immense, or such like. So also on account of the real identity, substantive terms, whether personal or essential, can be predicated of the notions; for we can say that paternity is God, and that paternity is the Father.

Q32 A1: Whether the trinity of the divine persons can be known by natural reason?

No. The trinity of persons cannot be known by natural reason because man cannot know and with his understanding grasp that for which no necessary reason can be given.

Man cannot obtain the knowledge of God by natural reason except from creatures. Now creatures lead us to the knowledge of God, as effects do to their cause. Accordingly, by natural reason we can know of God that only which of necessity belongs to Him as the principle of things.

The creative power of God is common to the whole Trinity; and hence it belongs to the unity of the essence, and not to the distinction of the persons. Therefore, by natural reason we can know what belongs to the unity of the essence, but not what belongs to the distinction of the persons.

We must not attempt to prove what is of faith, except by authority alone, to those who receive the authority; while as regards others it suffices to prove that what faith teaches is not impossible.

RO2: Reason may be employed in two ways to establish a point: firstly, for the purpose of furnishing sufficient proof of some principle, as in natural science, where sufficient proof can be brought to show that the movement of the heavens is always of uniform velocity. Reason is employed in another way, not as furnishing a sufficient proof of a principle, but as confirming an already established principle, by showing the congruity of its results, as in astrology the theory of eccentrics and epicycles is considered as established, because thereby the sensible appearances of the heavenly movements can be explained; not, however, as if this proof were sufficient, forasmuch as some other theory might explain them. In the first way, we can prove that God is one; and the like. In the second way, reasons avail to prove the Trinity; as, when assumed to be true, such reasons confirm it. We must not, however, think that the trinity of persons is adequately proved by such reasons. This becomes evident when we consider each point; for the infinite goodness of God is manifested also in creation, because to produce from nothing is an act of infinite power. For if God communicates Himself by His infinite goodness, it is not necessary that an infinite effect should proceed from God: but that according to its own mode and capacity it should receive the divine goodness. Likewise, when it is said that joyous possession of good requires partnership, this holds in the case of one not having perfect goodness: hence it needs to share some other's good, in order to have the goodness of complete happiness. Nor is the image in our mind an adequate proof in the case of God, forasmuch as the intellect is not in God and ourselves univocally. Hence, Augustine says (Tract. xxvii. in Joan.) that by faith we arrive at knowledge, and not conversely.

Q32: The knowledge of the divine persons

  1. Can the divine persons be known by natural reason?
  2. Are notions to be attributed to the divine persons?
  3. The number of the notions
  4. May we lawfully have various contrary opinions of these notions?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Q31 A4: Whether an exclusive diction can be joined to the personal term?

No. Such a way of speaking is not to be taken too literally, but it should be piously expounded, whenever we find it in an authentic work because this diction "alone," properly speaking, refers to the subject, and thus it tends to exclude another Person rather than other things.

This proposition "The Father alone is God" includes two assertions--namely, that the Father is God, and that no other besides the Father is God. But this second proposition is false, for the Son is another from the Father, and He is God. Therefore this is false, The Father alone is God; and the same of the like sayings.

Q31 A3: Whether the exclusive word "alone" should be added to the essential term in God?

Yes. Nothing prevents the term "alone" being joined to any essential term in God, as excluding the predicate from all things but God because this expression "alone," properly speaking, does not affect the predicate, which is taken formally, for it refers to the "suppositum," as excluding any other suppositum from the one which it qualifies.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Q31 A2: Whether the Son is other than the Father?

Yes. The Son is other than the Father because this word "other" [alius], in the masculine sense, means only a distinction of "suppositum"; and hence we can properly say that "the Son is other than the Father," because He is another "suppositum" of the divine nature, as He is another person and another hypostasis.

There is one essence of the Father and Son and Holy Ghost, in which the Father is not one thing, the Son another, and the Holy Ghost another; although the Father is one person, the Son another, and the Holy Ghost another.

In treating of the Trinity, we must beware of two opposite errors, and proceed cautiously between them--namely, the error of Arius, who placed a Trinity of substance with the Trinity of persons; and the error of Sabellius, who placed unity of person with the unity of essence.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Q31 A1: Whether there is trinity in God?

Yes. The name "Trinity" in God signifies the determinate number of persons because the plurality of persons in God requires that we should use the word trinity: i.e., what is indeterminately signified by plurality, is signified by trinity in a determinate manner.

In its etymological sense, this word "Trinity" seems to signify the one essence of the three persons, according as trinity may mean trine-unity. But in the strict meaning of the term it rather signifies the number of persons of one essence; and on this account we cannot say that the Father is the Trinity, as He is not three persons. Yet it does not mean the relations themselves of the Persons, but rather the number of persons related to each other.

In the divine Trinity not only is there unity of order, but also with this there is unity of essence.

Q31: The unity or plurality in God

  1. The word "Trinity"
  2. Can we say that the Son is other than the Father?
  3. Can an exclusive term, which seems to exclude otherness, be joined to an essential name in God?
  4. Can it be joined to a personal term?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Q30 A4: Whether this term "person" can be common to the three persons?

Yes. This name "person" is common in idea to the three divine persons because this name "person" is not given to signify the individual on the part of the nature, but the subsistent reality in that nature.

The subsistent reality in that nature is common in idea to the divine persons: that each of them subsists distinctly from the others in the divine nature.

Although this community is logical and not real, yet it does not follow that in God there is universal or particular, or genus, or species: both because neither in human affairs is the community of person the same as community of genus or species, and because the divine persons have one being (whereas genus and species and every other universal are predicated of many which differ in being).

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Q30 A3: Whether the numeral terms denote anything real in God?

No. The numeral terms in God signify the things of which they are said, and beyond this they add negation only, because numeral terms predicated of God are not derived from number, a species of quantity, for in that sense they could bear only a metaphorical sense in God, like other corporeal properties, such as length, breadth, and the like; but that they are taken from multitude in a transcendent sense.

We may observe that all plurality is a consequence of division. Now division is twofold; one is material, and is division of the continuous; from this results number, which is a species of quantity. Number in this sense is found only in material things which have quantity. The other kind of division is called formal, and is effected by opposite or diverse forms; and this kind of division results in a multitude, which does not belong to a genus, but is transcendental in the sense in which being is divided by one and by many. This kind of multitude is found only in immaterial things.

Multitude, which denotes something real in creatures, is a species of quantity, and cannot be used when speaking of God: unlike transcendental multitude, which adds only indivision to those of which it is predicated. Such a kind of multitude is applicable to God.

So when we say, the essence is one, the term "one" signifies the essence undivided; and when we say the person is one, it signifies the person undivided; and when we say the persons are many, we signify those persons, and their individual undividedness; for it is of the very nature of multitude that it should be composed of units.

One, as it is a transcendental, is wider and more general than substance and relation. And so likewise is multitude; hence in God it may mean both substance and relation, according to the context. Still, the very signification of such names adds a negation of division, beyond substance and relation.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Q30 A2: Whether there are more than three persons in God?

No. Only three persons exist in God (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost) because the several persons are the several subsisting relations really distinct from each other.

But a real distinction between the divine relations can come only from relative opposition. Therefore two opposite relations must needs refer to two persons: and if any relations are not opposite they must needs belong to the same person.

Since then paternity and filiation are opposite relations, they belong necessarily to two persons. Therefore the subsisting paternity is the person of the Father; and the subsisting filiation is the person of the Son.

The other two relations are not opposed to each other; therefore these two cannot belong to one person: hence either one of them must belong to both of the aforesaid persons; or one must belong to one person, and the other to the other. Now, procession cannot belong to the Father and the Son, or to either of them; for thus it would follow that the procession of the intellect, which in God is generation, wherefrom paternity and filiation are derived, would issue from the procession of love, whence spiration and procession are derived, if the person generating and the person generated proceeded from the person spirating.

We must frequently admit that spiration belongs to the person of the Father, and to the person of the Son, inasmuch as it has no relative opposition either to paternity or to filiation; and consequently that procession belongs to the other person who is called the person of the Holy Ghost, who proceeds by way of love.

Although there are four relations in God, one of them, spiration, is not separated from the person of the Father and of the Son, but belongs to both; thus, although it is a relation, it is not called a property, because it does not belong to only one person; nor is it a personal relation--i.e. constituting a person.

The three relations--paternity, filiation, and procession--are called personal properties, constituting as it were the persons; for paternity is the person of the Father, filiation is the person of the Son, procession is the person of the Holy Ghost proceeding.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Q30 A1: Whether there are several persons in God?

Yes. There are several persons in God because this word "person" signifies in God a relation as subsisting in the divine nature.

There are several real relations in God; and hence it follows that there are also several realities subsistent in the divine nature: which means that there are several persons in God.

The supreme unity and simplicity of God exclude every kind of plurality of absolute things, but not plurality of relations. Because relations are predicated relatively, and thus the relations do not import composition in that of which they are predicated.

Q30: The plurality of persons in God

  1. Are there several persons in God?
  2. How many are they?
  3. What do the numeral terms signify in God?
  4. The community of the term "person"

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Q29 A4: Whether this word "person" signifies relation?

Yes. A divine person signifies a relation as subsisting because this is to signify relation by way of substance, and such a relation is a hypostasis subsisting in the divine nature, although in truth that which subsists in the divine nature is the divine nature itself.

Thus it is true to say that the name "person" signifies relation directly, and the essence indirectly; not, however, the relation as such, but as expressed by way of a hypostasis.

So likewise it signifies directly the essence, and indirectly the relation, inasmuch as the essence is the same as the hypostasis: while in God the hypostasis is expressed as distinct by the relation: and thus relation, as such, enters into the notion of the person indirectly.

Relation in God is not as an accident in a subject, but is the divine essence itself; and so it is subsistent, for the divine essence subsists.

Q29 A3: Whether the word "person" should be said of God?

Yes. This name "person" is fittingly applied to God because "person" signifies what is most perfect in all nature (that is, a subsistent individual of a rational nature) and everything that is perfect must be attributed to God (inasmuch as His essence contains every perfection): not, however, as it is applied to creatures, but in a more excellent way (as other names also, which, while giving them to creatures, we attribute to God).

Although the word "person" is not found applied to God in Scripture, either in the Old or New Testament, nevertheless what the word signifies is found to be affirmed of God in many places of Scripture: that He is the supreme self-subsisting being, and the most perfectly intelligent being.

The word "hypostasis" does not apply to God as regards its source of origin, since He does not underlie accidents; but it applies to Him in its objective sense, for it is imposed to signify the subsistence.

It may be said that God has a rational "nature," if reason be taken to mean, not discursive thought, but in a general sense, an intelligent nature. But God cannot be called an "individual" in the sense that His individuality comes from matter; but only in the sense which implies incommunicability. "Substance" can be applied to God in the sense of signifying self-subsistence.

There are some, however, who say that the definition of Boethius (Q29 A1) is not a definition of person in the sense we use when speaking of persons in God. Therefore Richard of St. Victor amends this definition by adding that "Person" in God is "the incommunicable existence of the divine nature."

Q29 A2: Whether "person" is the same as hypostasis, subsistence, and essence?

No. Hypostasis and person add the individual principles to the idea of essence because strictly speaking, the essence is what is expressed by the definition: the definition comprises the principles of the species, but not the individual principles (hence in things composed of matter and form, the essence signifies not only the form, nor only the matter, but what is composed of matter and the common form, as the principles of the species; but what is composed of this matter and this form has the nature of hypostasis and person).

According to the Philosopher (Metaph. v), substance is twofold. In one sense it means the quiddity of a thing, signified by its definition, and thus we say that the definition means the substance of a thing; in which sense substance is called by the Greeks ousia, what we may call "essence."

In another sense substance means a subject or "suppositum," which subsists in the genus of substance. To this, taken in a general sense, can be applied a name expressive of an intention; and thus it is called "suppositum."

It is also called by three names signifying a reality--that is, "a thing of nature," "subsistence," and "hypostasis," according to a threefold consideration of the substance thus named. For, as it exists in itself and not in another, it is called "subsistence"; as we say that those things subsist which exist in themselves, and not in another.

As it underlies some common nature, it is called "a thing of nature"; as, for instance, this particular man is a human natural thing.

As it underlies the accidents, it is called "hypostasis," or "substance." What these three names signify in common to the whole genus of substances, this name "person" signifies in the genus of rational substances.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Q29 A1: The definition of "person"

Yes, the definition of person given by Boethius (De Duab. Nat.) is sufficient (that is, "a person is an individual substance of a rational nature") because substance is individualized by itself (whereas the accidents are individualized by the subject, which is the substance) and so it is reasonable that the individuals of the genus substance should have a special name of their own (for they are called "hypostases," or first substances); and, in a more special and perfect way, the particular and the individual are found in the rational substances which have dominion over their own actions (and hence the individuals of the rational nature have a special name even among other substances: "person").

Thus the term "individual substance" is placed in the definition of person, as signifying the singular in the genus of substance; and the term "rational nature" is added, as signifying the singular in rational substances.

According to the Philosopher (Metaph. v, 5), the word "nature" was first used to signify the generation of living things, which is called nativity. And because this kind of generation comes from an intrinsic principle, this term is extended to signify the intrinsic principle of any kind of movement. In this sense he defines "nature" (Phys. ii, 3). And since this kind of principle is either formal or material, both matter and form are commonly called nature. And as the essence of anything is completed by the form; so the essence of anything, signified by the definition, is commonly called nature. And here nature is taken in that sense.

Hence Boethius says (De Duab. Nat.) that, "nature is the specific difference giving its form to each thing," for the specific difference completes the definition, and is derived from the special form of a thing. So in the definition of "person," which means the singular in a determined "genus," it is more correct to use the term "nature" than "essence," because the latter is taken from being, which is most common.

QQ29-32: The persons in general


The signification (Q29) of the word "person".

The number (Q30) of the persons, and what is involved in the number of persons, or is opposed thereto; as diversity, and similitude, and the like (Q31).

Our knowledge (Q32) of the persons.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Q28 A4: Whether in God there are only four real relations--paternity, filiation, spiration, and procession?

Yes. In God there are only four real relations (paternity, filiation, spiration, and procession) because real relations in God can be understood only in regard to those actions according to which there are internal, and not external, processions in God.

These processions are two only, as above explained (Q27, A5), one derived from the action of the intellect (the procession of the Word) and the other from the action of the will (the procession of love).

In respect of each of these processions two opposite relations arise, one of which is the relation of the person proceeding from the principle; the other is the relation of the principle Himself.

The procession of the Word is called generation in the proper sense of the term, whereby it is applied to living things. Now the relation of the principle of generation in perfect living beings is called paternity; and the relation of the one proceeding from the principle is called filiation.

But the procession of Love has no proper name of its own (Q27, A4); and so neither have the ensuing relations a proper name of their own. The relation of the principle of this procession is called spiration; and the relation of the person proceeding is called procession: although these two names belong to the processions or origins themselves, and not to the relations.

Q28 A3: Whether the relations in God are really distinguished from each other?

Yes. There must be real distinction in God, not, indeed, according to that which is absolute (namely, essence, wherein there is supreme unity and simplicity) but according to that which is relative because if the relations were not really distinguished from each other, there would be no real trinity in God, but only an ideal trinity (which is the error of Sabellius).

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Q28 A2: Whether relation in God is the same as His essence?

Yes. Relation really existing in God is really the same as His essence and only differs in its mode of intelligibility because everything which is not the divine essence is a creature.

In God relation and essence do not differ from each other, but are one and the same.

Whatever has an accidental existence in creatures, when considered as transferred to God, has a substantial existence (for there is no accident in God, since all in Him is His essence).

So, insofar as relation has an accidental existence in creatures, relation really existing in God has the existence of the divine essence in no way distinct therefrom.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Q28 A1: Whether there are real relations in God?

Yes. Relations exist in God really because the divine processions are in the identity of the same nature.

Boethius likens the divine relations to a relation of identity, not in every respect, but only as regards the fact that the substance is not diversified by these relations, as neither is it by relation of identity.

As the creature proceeds from God in diversity of nature, God is outside the order of the whole creation, nor does any relation to the creature arise from His nature (for He does not produce the creature by necessity of His nature, but by His intellect and will).

Therefore there is no real relation in God to the creature, whereas in creatures there is a real relation to God (because creatures are contained under the divine order, and their very nature entails dependence on God).

On the other hand, the divine processions are in one and the same nature.

Relations which result from the mental operation alone in the objects understood are logical relations only (inasmuch as reason observes them as existing between two objects perceived by the mind).

Those relations, however, which follow the operation of the intellect, and which exist between the word intellectually proceeding and the source whence it proceeds, are not logical relations only, but are real relations (inasmuch as the intellect and the reason are real things, and are really related to that which proceeds from them intelligibly: as a corporeal thing is related to that which proceeds from it corporeally). Thus paternity and filiation are real relations in God.

Q28: The divine relations

  1. Are there real relations in God?
  2. Are those relations the divine essence itself, or extrinsic to it?
  3. Can there be several relations distinct from each other in God?
  4. The number of these relations

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Q27 A5: Whether there are more than two processions in God?

No. No other procession is possible in God but the procession of the Word (the Son) and of Love (the Holy Ghost) because the divine processions can be derived only from the actions which remain within the agent, i.e., in a nature which is intellectual: and in the divine nature these actions are two (the acts of intelligence and of will).

God understands and loves His own essence, truth and goodness.

God understands all things by one simple act; and by one act also He wills all things.

Hence there cannot exist in Him a procession of Word from Word, nor of Love from Love: for there is in Him only one perfect Word, and one perfect Love (thereby being manifested His perfect fecundity).

Monday, July 10, 2006

Q27 A4: Whether the procession of love in God is generation?

No. The procession of love in God ought not to be called generation because the procession of the intellect is by way of similitude (and is called generation, because every generator begets its own like); whereas the procession of the will is not by way of similitude, but rather by way of impulse and movement towards an object.

We can name God only from creatures (Q13, A1). As in creatures generation is the only principle of communication of nature, procession in God has no proper or special name, except that of generation. Hence the procession which is not generation has remained without a special name; but it can be called spiration, as it is the procession of the Spirit.

What proceeds in God by way of love, does not proceed as begotten, or as son, but proceeds rather as spirit; which name expresses a certain vital movement and impulse, accordingly as anyone is described as moved or impelled by love to perform an action.

Each procession in God takes its name from the proper notion of will and intellect; the name being imposed to signify what its nature really is.

All that exists in God is one with the divine nature. Hence the proper notion of this or that procession, by which one procession is distinguished from another, cannot be on the part of this unity: but the proper notion of this or that procession must be taken from the order of one procession to another; which order is derived from the nature of the will and intellect.

The intellect and the will differ in this respect:

that the intellect is made actual by the object understood residing according to its own likeness in the intellect;

whereas the will is made actual, not by any similitude of the object willed within it, but by its having a certain inclination to the thing willed.

Likeness belongs in a different way to the word and to love. It belongs to the word as being the likeness of the object understood, as the thing generated is the likeness of the generator.

But it belongs to love, not as though love itself were a likeness, but because likeness is the principle of loving. Thus it does not follow that love is begotten, but that the one begotten is the principle of love.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Q27 A3: Whether any other procession exists in God besides that of the Word?

Yes. Besides the procession of the Word in God, there exists in Him another procession called the procession of love (The Holy Ghost) because procession exists in God only according to an action which does not tend to anything external but remains in the agent itself: such an action in an intellectual nature is that of the intellect (whereby the object spoken of or understood is in the intelligent agent) and that of the will (whereby the object loved is in the lover).

Though will and intellect are not diverse in God, nevertheless the nature of will and intellect requires the processions belonging to each of them to exist in a certain order. For the procession of love occurs in due order as regards the procession of the Word; since nothing can be loved by the will unless it is conceived in the intellect. So as there exists a certain order of the Word to the principle whence He proceeds, although in God the substance of the intellect and its concept are the same; so, although in God the will and the intellect are the same, still, inasmuch as love requires by its very nature that it proceed only from the concept of the intellect, there is a distinction of order between the procession of love and the procession of the Word in God.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Q27 A2: Whether any procession in God can be called generation?

Yes. The procession of the Word in God is called generation and the Word Himself proceeding is called the Son because the Word proceeds by way of intelligible action, which is a vital operation.

He proceeds from a conjoined principle (i.e., He is begotten), by way of similitude (inasmuch as the concept of the intellect is a likeness of the object conceived) and exists in the same nature (because in God the act of understanding and His existence are the same).

The act of human understanding in ourselves is not the substance itself of the intellect; hence the word which proceeds within us by intelligible operation is not of the same nature as the source whence it proceeds; so the idea of generation cannot be properly and fully applied to it.

In our way of understanding we use the word "conception" in order to signify that in the word of our intellect is found the likeness of the thing understood, although there be no identity of nature.

But the divine act of intelligence is the very substance itself of the one who understands (Q14, A4). The Word proceeding therefore proceeds as subsisting in the same nature; and so is properly called begotten, and Son.

Scripture employs terms which denote generation of living things in order to signify the procession of the divine Wisdom, namely, conception and birth.

In the perfection itself of the divine existence are contained both the Word intelligibly proceeding and the principle of the Word, with whatever belongs to His perfection.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Q27 A1: Whether there is procession in God?

Yes. The Catholic Faith understands procession as existing in God because Divine Scripture uses, in relation to God, names which signify procession.

Procession is not to be understood from what it is in bodies, either according to local movement or by way of a cause proceeding forth to its exterior effect.

Some have understood it in the sense of an effect, proceeding from its cause; so Arius took it, saying that the Son proceeds from the Father as His primary creature, and that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son as the creature of both.

Others take this procession to mean the cause proceeding to the effect, as moving it, or impressing its own likeness on it; in which sense it was understood by Sabellius, who said that God the Father is called Son in assuming flesh from the Virgin, and that the Father also is called Holy Ghost in sanctifying the rational creature, and moving it to life.

Careful examination shows that both of these opinions take procession as meaning an outward act; hence neither of them affirms procession as existing in God Himself.

Whenever we understand, by the very fact of understanding there proceeds something within us, which is a conception of the object understood, a conception issuing from our intellectual power and proceeding from our knowledge of that object. This conception is signified by the spoken word (vox); and it is called the word of the heart (verbum cordis) signified by the word of the voice (verbo vocis).

Therefore procession is to be understood by way of an intelligible emanation (emanationem intelligibilem); for example, of the intelligible word which proceeds from the speaker, yet remains in him.

Q27: The procession of the divine persons

  1. Is there procession in God?
  2. Can any procession in God be called generation?
  3. Can there be any other procession in God besides generation?
  4. Can that other procession be called generation?
  5. Are there more than two processions in God?

QQ27-43: The Trinity

We have now spoken enough concerning what pertains to the unity of the divine essence.

Next we consider the Trinity:

ORIGIN: The question of origin or procession (Q27). The relations of origin (Q28).

The signification (Q29) of the word "person". The number (Q30) of the persons, and what is involved in the number of persons, or is opposed thereto; as diversity, and similitude, and the like (Q31). Our knowledge (Q32) of the persons.

The person of the Father (Q33).

The person of the Son, to whom three names are attributed: Son (see Q33), the idea of which is gathered from the idea of Father; Word (Q34) and Image (Q35).

The person of the Holy Ghost, Who is called three things: Holy Ghost (Q36), Love (Q37) and Gift (Q38).

The person in reference to the essence (Q39), with the relations or properties (Q40), or to the notional acts (Q41). The equality and likeness (Q42) of the persons. Their mission (Q43).

Q26 A4: Whether all other beatitude is included in the beatitude of God?

Yes. Whatever is desirable in whatsoever beatitude, whether true or false, pre-exists wholly and in a more eminent degree in the divine beatitude.

As to contemplative happiness, God possesses a continual and most certain contemplation of Himself and of all things else; and as to that which is active, He has the governance of the whole universe.

As to earthly happiness, which consists in delight, riches, power, dignity, and fame, according to Boethius (De Consol. iii, 10), He possesses joy in Himself and all things else for His delight; instead of riches He has that complete self-sufficiency, which is promised by riches; in place of power, He has omnipotence; for dignities, the government of all things; and in place of fame, He possesses the admiration of all creatures.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Q26 A2: Whether God is called blessed in respect of His intellect?

Yes. Beatitude must be assigned to God in respect of His intellect because the beatitude of every intellectual nature consists in understanding; and, in God, to be and to understand are one and the same thing.

This argument proves that beatitude belongs to God: not that beatitude pertains essentially to Him under the aspect of His essence, but rather under the aspect of His intellect.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Q25 A6: Whether God can do better than what He does?

Yes. God can make something else better than each thing made by Him but God cannot make a thing better than it is itself because the addition of a substantial difference in definitions is after the manner of the addition of unity of numbers.

For example, He cannot make the number four greater than it is; because if it were greater it would no longer be four, but another number.

When it is said that God can make a thing better than He makes it, if "better" is taken substantively, this proposition is true. For He can always make something else better than each individual thing.

And He can make the same thing in one way (i.e., over and above the essence) better than it is, and in another way (i.e., of the essence) not.

If, however, "better" is taken as an adverb, implying the manner of the making, then God cannot make anything better than He makes it, because He cannot make it from greater wisdom and goodness.

But if it implies the manner of the thing done, He can make something better; because He can give to things made by Him a better manner of existence as regards the accidents, although not as regards the substance.

The universe, the present creation being supposed, cannot be better, on account of the most beautiful order given to things by God; in which the good of the universe consists. For if any one thing were bettered, the proportion of order would be destroyed; as if one string were stretched more than it ought to be, the melody of the harp would be destroyed. Yet God could make other things, or add something to the present creation; and then there would be another and a better universe.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Q25 A5: Whether God can do what He does not?

Yes. God can do other things than those He has done because the divine goodness is an end exceeding beyond all proportion things created and thus the divine wisdom is not so restricted to any particular order that no other course of events could happen.

God can do other things by His absolute power than those He has foreknown and pre-ordained He would do. But it could not happen that He should do anything which He had not foreknown, and had not pre-ordained that He would do, because His actual doing is subject to His foreknowledge and pre-ordination, though His power, which is His nature, is not so. For God does things because He wills so to do; yet the power to do them does not come from His will, but from His nature.