Wednesday, May 12, 2010


"He made us to believe in Christ, who made for us a Christ on whom we believe. He makes in men the beginning and the completion of the faith in Jesus who made the man Jesus the beginner and finisher of faith" - St. Augustine of Hippo (The Predestination of the Saints 31).

When I read that quote, I almost thought it was Calvin. Catholics generally abhor the doctrine of predestination, and ever since Augusti--err Jansenism was condemned, it's been almost impossible for Catholics to even mention predestination without getting knocked out and mysteriously waking up in a locked cell next to a pile of Molina's works. That might be a little exaggerated... As a one-time Calvinist (this blog testifies to that), I personally/existentially find predestination to be perhaps the most comforting doctrine ever proclaimed.

As one commenter noted, Catholics traditionally have found comfort in the notion of the gift of perseverance (as have Calvinists), except that after Trent, it has been heretical to claim you know with any certainty that you are elected (which now makes it fun to exegete St. Paul's "For I am Certain"). Anyway, perhaps we'll rehearse this debate over again and I'll read some more Augustine (which is never a bad thing).

My theology reminds me of Nietzsche's cosmology, a continual meaningless repetition of the same thing over and over for a presumed infinite time, but only consisting of finite materials, or like Camus' take on the Myth of Sisyphus, rolling the ball up the hill for eternity, only to have it roll back down and start over again.

lord have mercy.


  1. yes, predestination can be both increasingly and decreasingly comforting. I appreciated reading Adrienne von Speyr's treatment of it in The Victory of Love (on Romans 8). What's even more comforting to me is Fr. Giussani's insistence that the needs of the heart are irresistible.

  2. Comfort is the first word that comes to mind when I think of the pastoral implications of the doctrine of election.

    If it's up to me to contribute something to my salvation, I have no reason to hope.