The blog of the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars, Oxford.

Built on the four pillars of our Dominican life – preaching, prayer, study, and community – Godzdogz offers many resources for exploring the Catholic Faith today.
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The Life of Virtue - Obedience

Friday, July 24, 2009

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The Life of Virtue - Dulia

Thursday, July 23, 2009
The virtue of dulia, or honour, is concerned with recognising excellence. For Aristotle, it was only right that people who lived lives of great virtue should be shown respect and honoured, especially after they had died and their whole lives could be seen as an example of excellence. Indeed, such a practice is often seen in many part of the world, where great figures in political, military or public life are commemorated by memorials such as statues.
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The Life of Virtue - Observance

Monday, July 20, 2009

Piety is prior to observance, he thinks, because it is concerned with people who are bound more closely to us, our parents who have given us birth and have overseen our education. It can be extended to include the gratitude and respect who show to our patria, 'the land of our birth'. (Think of how often people refer to the 'fatherland' or 'motherland'.) The virtue of observance is concerned with others whose involvement in our lives is important but less so than that of our parents or kin. 'Blood is thicker than water' seems to be what Aquinas is getting at here.

His account of this virtue is one of the places where we can detect a strongly medieval flavour in his thought and it gives us a glimpse of medieval social mores. But it remains relevant. A moment's reflection on the cult of celebrity shows us 'observance gone mad'. People give honour and show reverence to 'screen goddesses' and others who have achieved 'iconic' or 'cult' status. (Note the religious language we use.) Aquinas's concern is that such honour and reverence be observed only where someone has great and genuine personal value for the way they serve a community or otherwise live a life worthy of dignity.

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The Life of Virtue - Piety

Saturday, July 18, 2009

If religion is the virtue of giving God his due then what, we might ask, is piety? This is a bit of a trick question, because when St Thomas talks about piety, he is not thinking principally of our relationship with God, but of that with our parents and our country. For him, it is filial piety and patriotism that are the fundamental forms of this virtue, which is associated with giving what is due (hence its association with justice) to those from whom we derive our existence. Read more

The Life of Virtue - Vows and Oaths

Friday, July 17, 2009

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The Life of Virtue - Sacrifice

Wednesday, July 15, 2009
In almost all religions the offering of sacrifice plays a prominent if not central role. We naturally and correctly perceive God, the source of all things, to be superior to us and as such it follows that we express our subjugation to Him by the offering of what Aquinas calls ‘sensible signs’. This offering of ‘sensible things’ as a recognition of God’s authority and the honour and praise which is rightly due to Him is therefore an act of natural justice. Sacrifice may be viewed broadly as being either interior or exterior; however, all exterior sacrifices really symbolize an interior sacrifice in which souls offer themselves to God as the source of all creation and as the end in whom they find their happiness. This is why all sacrifice should be, properly speaking, offered to God alone out of reverence. Aquinas, in speaking of virtue, states that “the act of any virtue takes on the character of sacrifice inasmuch as it aims at participating in this holy society with God.” Read more

The Life of Virtue - Adoration

Tuesday, July 14, 2009
For St. Thomas, adoration is primarily an interior act whereby the human being recognises his nothingness before God, comes to appreciate something of God’s greatness and is thus moved to worship him. As it requires the human being to recognise the awesome stature of God before he can adore Him, adoration first requires a certain amount of humility and right knowledge so that our natural righteous inclination to worship does not lead us to bow down to false gods and commit idolatry. Read more

The Life of Virtue - Prayer

Monday, July 13, 2009

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The Life of Virtue - Devotion

Saturday, July 11, 2009

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The Life of Virtue - Religion

Thursday, July 09, 2009
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