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    NATURE

    AND

    THESUPERNATURAL

    A reply to a Critic

    by Father John J. Hugo

    [1945]

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    Contents

    Nature & Supernatural

    I. A Private Inquisition....................... .............................. ............................. ........

    p. 4

    II. Nature and the Supernatural...................... .............................. .......................

    p. 15

    III. Odds and Ends .............................. ............................... .............................. .....

    p. 65

    IV. Folly of the Cross......................... ............................. ............................. ...........

    p. 99

    V. An Exaggerated Supernaturalism................. ............................ ....................

    p. 112

    Nature & Supernatural (continued)

    I Introductory:

    The Battle of the Cardboard Soldiers ............................ .......................

    p.126

    II The Criticisms ..............................................................................................

    p. 129

    1. A Lesson in Logic ................................................................

    p. 129

    2. The Theology of Pious Naturalism.....................................

    p. 137

    3. Food for the Dogs................................................................

    p. 156

    4. Eat, Drink, and Carry your Cross ........................................

    p. 161

    5. Confusion Continued ..........................................................

    p. 169

    6. Zealous for the Lesser Things .............................................

    p. 175

    7. Heresy Hunt.........................................................................

    p. 182

    III The Spirit and Method of the Attack....................... ................................ ......

    p. 190

    1. The Spirit of the Attack........................................................

    p. 190

    2. The Second Lesson in Logic................................................

    p. 192

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    IV The Misconcept of Sacred Theology,.................................................. ...........

    p. 196

    1. Ever Learning, Never Attaining to the Knowledge of the Truth ..

    p. 196

    2. The Impoverishment of Moral Theology

    p. 206

    Reply to a Criticism

    IN REPLY TO ORATE FRATRES.............. ............. .............. .............. ............. ............

    p. 219

    [The image of Our Lady of Good Counsel wasdrawn by Father Hugo and appeared in Nature andthe Supernatural: Continued

    ]

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    4 4

    Chapter I

    A Private Inquisition

    The Occasion for This Reply

    There has come into my possession recently a set of mimeographedsheets containing detailed criticisms of my book Applied Christianity

    .The criticisms appear above the name of the Reverend Francis J. Connell,

    C

    . SS

    . R

    ., S

    .

    T

    .

    D

    .

    , Catholic University of America.

    That some should not like this book, I am of course quite prepared toexpect. Each one has his preferences, in spiritual matters as in others, andit is up to the individual to choose such spiritual means, including books,

    as he finds helpful in his own case. These criticisms however, are morethan an expression of preference or dislike. They are in fact of such acharacter that I cannot allow them to go without an answer.

    They are divided into two groups. In the first group there are fiveGeneral Comments; in the second there are one hundred and twenty-eight Particular Comments.

    1

    Such a long series of objections has theeffect, regardless of its intrinsic worth, of throwing suspicion and doubton the competence or integrity of a writer. Superficial readers, notlooking very carefully into the meaning of these criticisms, and nottaking the trouble to study them in relation to the books will beimpressed, even convinced, by the sheer accumulation of evidence.

    As a matter of fact, in spite of this seemingly formidable array, thereemerges from my critics remarks only one serious charge and it israther insinuation than a clear and definite charge , which recurs overand over as the theme of the larger number of the Particular Comments.The remainder of the criticisms are miscellaneous, without any consis-tency or discernible drift running through them. Some, we shall notice,

    are contradictory and cancel one another. A terrifying appearance isachieved by the seemingly endless enumeration.

    1. Only a selection of these has been mimeographed. The rest I have in atyped copy. Many of these objections have been incorporated into a bookreview published in the July, 1945, issue of The Ecclesiastical Review. Inanswering the objections given on the mimeographed sheets, I will at the same

    time be answering the statements of the review; and it seems more useful totake the criticisms as stated in the sheets, as there are more of them and theyare given more fully.

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    7 7

    The Fundamental Error of Jansenism

    Now the fundamental error of Jansenism, as the Catholic Encyclo-pedia observes (article, Jansenius) consists in disregarding the super-

    natural order; and its other errors, notes Msgr. Pohle (

    Grace, Actual andHabitual,

    page 74), may all be traced to this denial.

    Moreover, the false principle underlying all the condemnedJansenistic errors concerning nature and grace a principle which issuesimmediately from their disbelief in the supernatural order is theirdenial of a plane of good natural activity standing midway between sin(dominant cupidity) and the order of grace (dominant charity). I canexplain this doctrine better, and my own relation to it, by referring thereader to a diagram on page 14 ofApplied Christianity

    [

    p. 16

    our edition].There he will see the various planes of possible human activity one abovethe other. At the top is the order of grace issuing in charity and super-natural activity, leading to supernatural happiness. The lowest plane issin, or evil, and it leads the soul to hell. Between these is nature, createdby God, ruled by reason, and bearing fruit in a merely natural happiness such happiness, namely, as was sought after by the great pagan sages,but was in fact, as a final end, removed from men by God when Heelevated us to the supernatural.

    Thus:

    Now what the Jansenists do is to deny the middle plane of activity; orrather, they merge it with sin and evil; and, in doing this, they also drop

    grace from the supernatural order. To understand this, however, it will benecessary to consider more fully the whole scheme of salvation according

    The SupernaturalOrder:

    Grace

    Supernatural Activity

    Heaven

    The Orderof Nature

    Reason and

    a

    a.Natural Happiness is placed in parentheses to indicate its merely

    hypothetical character as a final end. See Note a on p. 16

    , our edition

    .

    Sin Hell

    Natural

    happiness

    )(

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    heaven. (Ibid.

    , Article, Baius.) But this does not involve a supernaturalstate or an infusion of sanctifying grace. Such is not necessary; so thataided by grace, a catechumen before baptism, or a penitent beforeabsolution [i.e., without any elevation to the supernatural plane] may, bysimply keeping the precepts, have more charity than certain so-called

    just men. (

    loc. cit.

    )

    Two things have happened in the Jansenistic scheme of salvation:nature has become depraved, and therefore the possibility of naturally

    virtuous actions has disappeared; grace has lost its supernatural entity.And thus there are but two levels of activity:

    It is in this way that Jansenism gets rid of the supernatural order: notby denying the existence or efficacy of grace, but by refusing to accept theCatholic doctrine that grace raises men high above a nature which is

    good in its own order to a plane of life and activity which is truly a partic-ipation in the divine life.

    The Criterion of Orthodoxy

    The essence and hallmark of Jansenism, therefore, is its denial of amiddle plane of activity that of nature between dominant cupidity(sin) and dominant charity (actions impelled by grace). Accordingly,Pope Pius VI, in condemning the Jansenistic pseudo-Council of Pistoia,put his finger on the heart of evil when he proscribed the teaching whichdenies that,

    (Nature

    a

    )

    a. The word Nature is placed in parenthesis to indicate that, according tothe Jansenists, nature existed in goodness and integrity only before the Fall.After the Fall it is radically corrupted by concupiscence; and grace does but

    place it back without any inward renewal to where it was at first.Incidentally, this scheme also explains the falsity of Jansenistic austerity.

    This austerity was wholly without supernatural motivation, was based on anexaggerated and prideful conception of human powers, and took as its ideal ofconduct the hard rigidity of Stoic Ethics.

    GraceHeaven

    Concupiscence

    Sin

    Hell

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