Respondeo dicendum quod, sicut iam dictum est, ad vitam contemplativam pertinet aliquid dupliciter, uno modo, principaliter; alio modo, secundario vel dispositive. Principaliter quidem ad vitam contemplativam pertinet contemplatio divinae veritatis, quia huiusmodi contemplatio est finis totius humanae vitae. Unde Augustinus dicit, in I de Trin., quod contemplatio Dei promittitur nobis actionum omnium finis, atque aeterna perfectio gaudiorum. Quae quidem in futura vita erit perfecta, quando videbimus eum facie ad faciem, unde et perfecte beatos faciet. Nunc autem contemplatio divinae veritatis competit nobis imperfecte, videlicet per speculum et in aenigmate, unde per eam fit nobis quaedam inchoatio beatitudinis, quae hic incipit ut in futuro terminetur. Unde et philosophus, in X Ethic., in contemplatione optimi intelligibilis ponit ultimam felicitatem hominis.
I answer that, As stated above (A. 2), a thing may belong to the contemplative life in two ways: principally, and secondarily, or dispositively. That which belongs principally to the contemplative life is the contemplation of the divine truth, because this contemplation is the end of the whole human life. Hence Augustine says (De Trin. i, 8) that the contemplation of God is promised us as being the goal of all our actions and the everlasting perfection of our joys. This contemplation will be perfect in the life to come, when we shall see God face to face, wherefore it will make us perfectly happy: whereas now the contemplation of the divine truth is competent to us imperfectly, namely through a glass and in a dark manner (1 Cor 13:12). Hence it bestows on us a certain inchoate beatitude, which begins now and will be continued in the life to come; wherefore the Philosopher (Ethic. x, 7) places man’s ultimate happiness in the contemplation of the supreme intelligible good.
Sed quia per divinos effectus in Dei contemplationem manuducimur, secundum illud Rom. I, invisibilia Dei per ea quae facta sunt, intellecta, conspiciuntur, inde est quod etiam contemplatio divinorum effectuum secundario ad vitam contemplativam pertinet, prout scilicet ex hoc manuducitur homo in Dei cognitionem. Unde Augustinus dicit, in libro de vera Relig., quod in creaturarum consideratione non vana et peritura curiositas est exercenda, sed gradus ad immortalia et semper manentia faciendus.
Since, however, God’s effects show us the way to the contemplation of God Himself, according to Rom. 1:20, The invisible things of God . . . are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, it follows that the contemplation of the divine effects also belongs to the contemplative life, inasmuch as man is guided thereby to the knowledge of God. Hence Augustine says (De Vera Relig. xxix) that in the study of creatures we must not exercise an empty and futile curiosity, but should make them the stepping-stone to things unperishable and everlasting.
Sic igitur ex praemissis patet quod ordine quodam quatuor ad vitam contemplativam pertinent, primo quidem, virtutes morales; secundo autem, alii actus praeter contemplationem; tertio vero, contemplatio divinorum effectuum; quarto vero completivum est ipsa contemplatio divinae veritatis.
Accordingly it is clear from what has been said (AA. 1, 2, 3) that four things pertain, in a certain order, to the contemplative life; first, the moral virtues; second, other acts besides contemplation; third, contemplation of the divine effects; fourth, the complement of all which is the contemplation of the divine truth itself.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod David cognitionem operum Dei quaerebat ut ex hoc manuduceretur in Deum. Unde alibi dicit, meditabor in omnibus operibus tuis, et in factis manuum tuarum meditabor, expandi manus meas ad te.
Reply Obj. 1: David sought the knowledge of God’s works, so that he might be led by them to God; wherefore he says elsewhere (Ps 142:5, 6): I meditated on all Thy works: I meditated upon the works of Thy hands: I stretched forth my hands to Thee.
Ad secundum dicendum quod ex consideratione divinorum iudiciorum manuducitur homo in contemplationem divinae iustitiae, ex consideratione autem divinorum beneficiorum et promissorum, manuducitur homo in cognitionem divinae misericordiae seu bonitatis, quasi per effectus exhibitos vel exhibendos.
Reply Obj. 2: By considering the divine judgments man is guided to the consideration of the divine justice; and by considering the divine benefits and promises, man is led to the knowledge of God’s mercy or goodness, as by effects already manifested or yet to be vouchsafed.
Ad tertium dicendum quod per illa sex designantur gradus quibus per creaturas in Dei contemplationem ascenditur. Nam in primo gradu ponitur perceptio ipsorum sensibilium; in secundo vero gradu ponitur progressus a sensibilibus ad intelligibilia; in tertio vero gradu ponitur diiudicatio sensibilium secundum intelligibilia; in quarto vero gradu ponitur absoluta consideratio intelligibilium in quae per sensibilia pervenitur; in quinto vero gradu ponitur contemplatio intelligibilium quae per sensibilia inveniri non possunt, sed per rationem capi possunt; in sexto gradu ponitur consideratio intelligibilium quae ratio nec invenire nec capere potest, quae scilicet pertinent ad sublimem contemplationem divinae veritatis, in qua finaliter contemplatio perficitur.
Reply Obj. 3: These six denote the steps whereby we ascend by means of creatures to the contemplation of God. For the first step consists in the mere consideration of sensible objects; the second step consists in going forward from sensible to intelligible objects; the third step is to judge of sensible objects according to intelligible things; the fourth is the absolute consideration of the intelligible objects to which one has attained by means of sensibles; the fifth is the contemplation of those intelligible objects that are unattainable by means of sensibles, but which the reason is able to grasp; the sixth step is the consideration of such intelligible things as the reason can neither discover nor grasp, which pertain to the sublime contemplation of divine truth, wherein contemplation is ultimately perfected.
Ad quartum dicendum quod ultima perfectio humani intellectus est veritas divina, aliae autem veritates perficiunt intellectum in ordine ad veritatem divinam.
Reply Obj. 4: The ultimate perfection of the human intellect is the divine truth: and other truths perfect the intellect in relation to the divine truth.
Utrum vita contemplativa, secundum statum huius vitae, possit pertingere ad visionem divinae essentiae
Whether in the present state of life the contemplative life can reach to the vision of the divine essence?
Ad quintum sic proceditur. Videtur quod vita contemplativa, secundum statum huius vitae, possit pertingere ad visionem divinae essentiae. Quia, ut habetur Gen. XXXII, Iacob dixit, vidi Deum facie ad faciem, et salva facta est anima mea. Sed visio faciei est visio divinae essentiae. Ergo videtur quod aliquis per contemplationem in praesenti vita possit se extendere ad videndum Deum per essentiam.
Objection 1: It would seem that in the present state of life the contemplative life can reach to the vision of the Divine essence. For, as stated in Gen. 32:30, Jacob said: I have seen God face to face, and my soul has been saved. Now the vision of God’s face is the vision of the Divine essence. Therefore it would seem that in the present life one may come, by means of contemplation, to see God in His essence.
Praeterea, Gregorius dicit, in VI Moral., quod viri contemplativi ad semetipsos introrsus redeunt, in eo quod spiritualia rimantur, et nequaquam secum rerum corporalium umbras trahunt, vel fortasse tractas manu discretionis abigunt, sed incircumscriptum lumen videre cupientes, cunctas circumscriptionis suae imagines deprimunt, et in eo quod super se contingere appetunt, vincunt quod sunt. Sed homo non impeditur a visione divinae essentiae, quae est lumen incircumscriptum, nisi per hoc quod necesse habet intendere corporalibus phantasmatibus. Ergo videtur quod contemplatio praesentis vitae potest se extendere ad videndum incircumscriptum lumen per essentiam.
Obj. 2: Further, Gregory says (Moral. vi, 37) that contemplative men withdraw within themselves in order to explore spiritual things, nor do they ever carry with them the shadows of things corporeal, or if these follow them they prudently drive them away: but being desirous of seeing the incomprehensible light, they suppress all the images of their limited comprehension, and through longing to reach what is above them, they overcome that which they are. Now man is not hindered from seeing the Divine essence, which is the incomprehensible light, save by the necessity of turning to corporeal phantasms. Therefore it would seem that the contemplation of the present life can extend to the vision of the incomprehensible light in its essence.
Praeterea, Gregorius, in II Dialog., dicit, animae videnti creatorem angusta est omnis creatura. Vir ergo Dei, scilicet beatus Benedictus, qui in turri globum igneum, Angelos quoque ad caelos redeuntes videbat, haec procul dubio cernere non nisi in Dei lumine poterat. Sed beatus Benedictus adhuc praesenti vita vivebat. Ergo contemplatio praesentis vitae potest se extendere ad videndam Dei essentiam.
Obj. 3: Further, Gregory says (Dial. ii, 35): All creatures are small to the soul that sees its Creator: wherefore when the man of God, the blessed Benedict, to wit, saw a fiery globe in the tower and angels returning to heaven, without doubt he could only see such things by the light of God. Now the blessed Benedict was still in this life. Therefore the contemplation of the present life can extend to the vision of the essence of God.
Sed contra est quod Gregorius dicit, super Ezech., quandiu in hac mortali carne vivitur, nullus ita in contemplationis virtute proficit ut in ipso incircumscripti luminis radio mentis oculos infigat.
On the contrary, Gregory says (Hom. xiv in Ezech.): As long as we live in this mortal flesh, no one reaches such a height of contemplation as to fix the eyes of his mind on the ray itself of incomprehensible light.
Respondeo dicendum quod, sicut Augustinus dicit, XII super Gen. ad Litt., nemo videns Deum vivit ista vita qua mortaliter vivitur in istis sensibus corporis, sed nisi ab hac vita quisque quodammodo moriatur, sive omnino exiens de corpore sive alienatus a carnalibus sensibus, in illam non subvehitur visionem. Quae supra diligentius pertractata sunt, ubi dictum est de raptu; et in primo, ubi actum est de Dei visione.
I answer that, As Augustine says (Gen ad lit. xii, 27), No one seeing God lives this mortal life wherein the bodily senses have their play: and unless in some way he depart this life, whether by going altogether out of his body, or by withdrawing from his carnal senses, he is not caught up into that vision. This has been carefully discussed above (Q. 175, AA. 4, 5), where we spoke of rapture, and in the First Part (Q. 12, A. 2), where we treated of the vision of God.
Sic igitur dicendum est quod in hac vita potest esse aliquis dupliciter. Uno modo, secundum actum, inquantum scilicet actualiter utitur sensibus corporis. Et sic nullo modo contemplatio praesentis vitae potest pertingere ad videndum Dei essentiam. Alio modo potest esse aliquis in hac vita potentialiter, et non secundum actum, inquantum scilicet anima eius est corpori mortali coniuncta ut forma, ita tamen quod non utatur corporis sensibus, aut etiam imaginatione, sicut accidit in raptu. Et sic potest contemplatio huius vitae pertingere ad visionem divinae essentiae. Unde supremus gradus contemplationis praesentis vitae est qualem habuit Paulus in raptu, secundum quem fuit medio modo se habens inter statum praesentis vitae et futurae.
Accordingly we must state that one may be in this life in two ways. First, with regard to act, that is to say by actually making use of the bodily senses, and thus contemplation in the present life can nowise attain to the vision of God’s essence. Second, one may be in this life potentially and not with regard to act, that is to say, when the soul is united to the mortal body as its form, yet so as to make use neither of the bodily senses, nor even of the imagination, as happens in rapture; and in this way the contemplation of the present life can attain to the vision of the Divine essence. Consequently the highest degree of contemplation in the present life is that which Paul had in rapture, whereby he was in a middle state between the present life and the life to come.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod, sicut Dionysius, in epistola ad Caium monachum, dicit, si aliquis videns Deum intellexit quod vidit, non ipsum vidit, sed aliquid eorum quae sunt eius. Et Gregorius dicit, super Ezech., quod nequaquam omnipotens Deus iam in sua claritate conspicitur, sed quiddam sub illa speculatur anima, unde recta proficiat, et post ad visionis eius gloriam pertingat. Per hoc ergo quod Iacob dixit, vidi Deum facie ad faciem, non est intelligendum quod Dei essentiam viderit, sed quod formam, scilicet imaginariam, vidit in qua Deus locutus est ei. Vel, quia per faciem quemlibet agnoscimus, cognitionem Dei faciem eius vocavit, sicut Glossa Gregorii ibidem dicit.
Reply Obj. 1: As Dionysius says (Ep. i ad Caium. Monach.), If anyone seeing God, understood what he saw, he saw not God Himself, but something belonging to God. And Gregory says (Hom. xiv in Ezech.): By no means is God seen now in His glory; but the soul sees something of lower degree, and is thereby refreshed so that afterwards it may attain to the glory of vision. Accordingly the words of Jacob, I saw God face to face do not imply that he saw God’s essence, but that he saw some shape, imaginary of course, wherein God spoke to him. Or, since we know a man by his face, by the face of God he signified his knowledge of Him, according to a gloss of Gregory on the same passage.
Ad secundum dicendum quod contemplatio humana, secundum statum praesentis vitae, non potest esse absque phantasmatibus, quia connaturale est homini ut species intelligibiles in phantasmatibus videat, sicut philosophus dicit, in III de anima. Sed tamen intellectualis cognitio non sistit in ipsis phantasmatibus, sed in eis contemplatur puritatem intelligibilis veritatis. Et hoc non solum in cognitione naturali, sed etiam in eis quae per revelationem cognoscimus, dicit enim Dionysius, I cap. Cael. Hier., quod Angelorum hierarchias manifestat nobis divina claritas in quibusdam symbolis figuratis; ex cuius virtute restituimur in simplum radium, idest in simplicem cognitionem intelligibilis veritatis. Et sic intelligendum est quod Gregorius dicit, quod contemplantes corporalium rerum umbras non secum trahunt, quia videlicet in eis non sistit eorum contemplatio, sed potius in consideratione intelligibilis veritatis.
Reply Obj. 2: In the present state of life human contemplation is impossible without phantasms, because it is connatural to man to see the intelligible species in the phantasms, as the Philosopher states (De Anima iii, 7). Yet intellectual knowledge does not consist in the phantasms themselves, but in our contemplating in them the purity of the intelligible truth: and this not only in natural knowledge, but also in that which we obtain by revelation. For Dionysius says (Coel. Hier. i) that the Divine glory shows us the angelic hierarchies under certain symbolic figures, and by its power we are brought back to the single ray of light, i.e., to the simple knowledge of the intelligible truth. It is in this sense that we must understand the statement of Gregory that contemplatives do not carry along with them the shadows of things corporeal, since their contemplation is not fixed on them, but on the consideration of the intelligible truth.
Ad tertium dicendum quod ex verbis illis Gregorii non datur intelligi quod beatus Benedictus Deum in illa visione per essentiam viderit, sed vult ostendere quod, quia videnti creatorem angusta est omnis creatura, consequens est quod per illustrationem divini luminis de facili possint quaecumque videri. Unde subdit, quamlibet enim parum de luce creatoris aspexerit, breve ei fit omne quod creatum est.
Reply Obj. 3: By these words Gregory does not imply that the blessed Benedict, in that vision, saw God in His essence, but he wishes to show that because all creatures are small to him that sees God, it follows that all things can easily be seen through the enlightenment of the Divine light. Wherefore he adds: For however little he may see of the Creator’s light, all created things become petty to him.
Utrum convenienter operatio contemplationis distinguatur per tres motus, circularem rectum et obliquum
Whether the operation of contemplation is fittingly divided into a threefold movement: circular, straight and oblique?
Ad sextum sic proceditur. Videtur quod inconvenienter operatio contemplationis distinguatur per tres motus, circularem rectum et obliquum, IV cap. de Div. Nom. Contemplatio enim ad quietem pertinet, secundum illud Sap. VIII, intrans in domum meam, conquiescam cum illa. Sed motus quieti opponitur. Non ergo operationes contemplativae vitae per motus designari debent.
Objection 1: It would seem that the operation of contemplation is unfittingly divided into a threefold movement, circular, straight, and oblique (Div. Nom. iv). For contemplation pertains exclusively to rest, according to Wis. 8:16, When I go into my house, I shall repose myself with her. Now movement is opposed to rest. Therefore the operations of the contemplative life should not be described as movements.
Praeterea, actio contemplativae vitae ad intellectum pertinet, secundum quem homo cum Angelis convenit. Sed in Angelis aliter assignat Dionysius hos motus quam in anima. Dicit enim motum circularem Angeli esse secundum illuminationes pulchri et boni. Motum autem circularem animae secundum plura determinat. Quorum primum est introitus animae ab exterioribus ad seipsam; secundum est quaedam convolutio virtutum ipsius, per quam anima liberatur ab errore et ab exteriori occupatione; tertium autem est unio ad ea quae supra se sunt. Similiter etiam differenter describit motum rectum utriusque. Nam rectum motum Angeli dicit esse secundum quod procedit ad subiectorum providentiam. Motum autem rectum animae ponit in duobus, primo quidem, in hoc quod progreditur ad ea quae sunt circa ipsam; secundo autem, in hoc quod ab exterioribus ad simplices contemplationes elevatur. Sed et motum obliquum diversimode in utrisque determinat. Nam obliquum motum in Angelis assignat ex hoc quod, providendo minus habentibus, manent in identitate circa Deum. Obliquum autem motum animae assignat ex eo quod anima illuminatur divinis cognitionibus rationabiliter et diffuse. Non ergo videntur convenienter assignari operationes contemplationis per modos praedictos.
Obj. 2: Further, the action of the contemplative life pertains to the intellect, whereby man is like the angels. Now Dionysius describes these movements as being different in the angels from what they are in the soul. For he says (Div. Nom. iv) that the circular movement in the angel is according to his enlightenment by the beautiful and the good. On the other hand, he assigns the circular movement of the soul to several things: the first of which is the withdrawal of the soul into itself from externals; the second is a certain concentration of its powers, whereby it is rendered free of error and of outward occupation; and the third is union with those things that are above it. Again, he describes differently their respective straight movements. For he says that the straight movement of the angel is that by which he proceeds to the care of those things that are beneath him. On the other hand, he describes the straight movement of the soul as being twofold: first, its progress towards things that are near it; second, its uplifting from external things to simple contemplation. Further, he assigns a different oblique movement to each. For he assigns the oblique movement of the angels to the fact that while providing for those who have less they remain unchanged in relation to God: whereas he assigns the oblique movement of the soul to the fact that the soul is enlightened in Divine knowledge by reasoning and discoursing. Therefore it would seem that the operations of contemplation are unfittingly assigned according to the ways mentioned above.
Praeterea, Richardus de sancto Victore, in libro de Contempl., ponit multas alias differentias motuum, ad similitudinem volatilium caeli. Quarum quaedam nunc ad altiora se attollunt, nunc autem in inferiora demerguntur, et hoc saepius repetere videntur; aliae vero dextrorsum vel sinistrorsum divertunt multoties; quaedam vero moventur in anteriora vel posteriora frequenter; aliae vero quasi in gyrum vertuntur, secundum latiores vel contractiores circuitus; quaedam vero quasi immobiliter suspensae in uno loco manent. Ergo videtur quod non sint solum tres motus contemplationis.
Obj. 3: Further, Richard of St. Victor (De Contempl. i, 5) mentions many other different movements in likeness to the birds of the air. For some of these rise at one time to a great height, at another swoop down to earth, and they do so repeatedly; others fly now to the right, now to the left again and again; others go forwards or lag behind many times; others fly in a circle now more now less extended; and others remain suspended almost immovably in one place. Therefore it would seem that there are not only three movements of contemplation.
In contrarium est auctoritas Dionysii.
On the contrary, stands the authority of Dionysius (Div. Nom. iv).
Respondeo dicendum quod, sicut supra dictum est, operatio intellectus, in qua contemplatio essentialiter consistit, motus dicitur secundum quod motus est actus perfecti, ut philosophus dicit, in III de anima. Quia enim per sensibilia in cognitionem intelligibilium devenimus, operationes autem sensibiles sine motu non fiunt, inde est quod etiam operationes intelligibiles quasi motus quidam describuntur, et secundum similitudinem diversorum motuum earum differentia assignatur. In motibus autem corporalibus perfectiores et primi sunt locales, ut probatur in VIII Physic. Et ideo sub eorum similitudine potissime operationes intelligibiles describuntur. Quorum quidem sunt tres differentiae, nam quidam est circularis, secundum quem aliquid movetur uniformiter circa idem centrum; alius autem est rectus, secundum quem aliquid procedit ab uno in aliud, tertius autem est obliquus, quasi compositus ex utroque. Et ideo in operationibus intelligibilibus id quod simpliciter habet uniformitatem, attribuitur motui circulari; operatio autem intelligibilis secundum quam proceditur de uno in aliud, attribuitur motui recto; operatio autem intelligibilis habens aliquid uniformitatis simul cum processu ad diversa, attribuitur motui obliquo.
I answer that, As stated above (Q. 119, A. 1, ad 3), the operation of the intellect, wherein contemplation essentially consists, is called a movement, insofar as movement is the act of a perfect thing, according to the Philosopher (De Anima iii, 1). Since, however, it is through sensible objects that we come to the knowledge of intelligible things, and since sensible operations do not take place without movement, the result is that even intelligible operations are described as movements, and are differentiated in likeness to various movements. Now of bodily movements, local movements are the most perfect and come first, as proved in Phys. viii, 7; wherefore the foremost among intelligible operations are described by being likened to them. These movements are of three kinds; for there is the circular movement, by which a thing moves uniformly round one point as center; another is the straight movement, by which a thing goes from one point to another; the third is oblique, being composed as it were of both the others. Consequently, in intelligible operations, that which is simply uniform is compared to circular movement; the intelligible operation by which one proceeds from one point to another is compared to the straight movement; while the intelligible operation which unites something of uniformity with progress to various points is compared to the oblique movement.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod motus corporales exteriores opponuntur quieti contemplationis, quae intelligitur esse ab exterioribus occupationibus. Sed motus intelligibilium operationum ad ipsam quietem contemplationis pertinent.
Reply Obj. 1: External bodily movements are opposed to the quiet of contemplation, which consists in rest from outward occupations: but the movements of intellectual operations belong to the quiet of contemplation.
Ad secundum dicendum quod homo convenit in intellectu cum Angelis in genere, sed vis intellectiva est multo altior in Angelo quam in homine. Et ideo alio modo oportet hos motus in animabus et in Angelis assignare, secundum quod diversimode se habent ad uniformitatem. Intellectus enim Angeli habet cognitionem uniformem secundum duo, primo quidem, quia non acquirit intelligibilem veritatem ex varietate rerum compositarum; secundo, quia non intelligit veritatem intelligibilem discursive, sed simplici intuitu. Intellectus vero animae a sensibilibus rebus accipit intelligibilem veritatem; et cum quodam discursu rationis eam intelligit.
Reply Obj. 2: Man is like the angels in intellect generically, but the intellective power is much higher in the angel than in man. Consequently these movements must be ascribed to souls and angels in different ways, according as they are differently related to uniformity. For the angelic intellect has uniform knowledge in two respects. First, because it does not acquire intelligible truth from the variety of composite objects; second, because it understands the truth of intelligible objects not discursively, but by simple intuition. On the other hand, the intellect of the soul acquires intelligible truth from sensible objects, and understands it by a certain discoursing of the reason.
Et ideo Dionysius motum circularem in Angelis assignat inquantum uniformiter et indesinenter, absque principio et fine, intuentur Deum, sicut motus circularis, carens principio et fine, uniformiter est circa idem centrum. In anima vero, antequam ad istam uniformitatem perveniatur, exigitur quod duplex eius difformitas amoveatur. Primo quidem, illa quae est ex diversitate exteriorum rerum, prout scilicet relinquit exteriora. Et hoc est quod primo ponit in motu circulari animae introitum ipsius ab exterioribus ad seipsam. Secundo autem oportet quod removeatur secunda difformitas, quae est per discursum rationis. Et hoc idem contingit secundum quod omnes operationes animae reducuntur ad simplicem contemplationem intelligibilis veritatis. Et hoc est quod secundo dicit, quod necessaria est uniformis convolutio intellectualium virtutum ipsius, ut scilicet, cessante discursu, figatur eius intuitus in contemplatione unius simplicis veritatis. Et in hac operatione animae non est error, sicut patet quod circa intellectum primorum principiorum non erratur, quae simplici intuitu cognoscimus. Et tunc, istis duobus praemissis, tertio ponitur uniformitas conformis Angelis, secundum quod, praetermissis omnibus in sola Dei contemplatione persistit. Et hoc est quod dicit, deinde, sicut uniformis facta, unite, idest conformiter, unitis virtutibus, ad pulchrum et bonum manuducitur.
Wherefore Dionysius assigns the circular movement of the angels to the fact that their intuition of God is uniform and unceasing, having neither beginning nor end: even as a circular movement having neither beginning nor end is uniformly around the one same center. But on the part of the soul, ere it arrive at this uniformity, its twofold lack of uniformity needs to be removed. First, that which arises from the variety of external things: this is removed by the soul withdrawing from externals, and so the first thing he mentions regarding the circular movement of the soul is the soul’s withdrawal into itself from external objects. Second, another lack of uniformity requires to be removed from the soul, and this is owing to the discoursing of reason. This is done by directing all the soul’s operations to the simple contemplation of the intelligible truth, and this is indicated by his saying in the second place that the soul’s intellectual powers must be uniformly concentrated, in other words that discoursing must be laid aside and the soul’s gaze fixed on the contemplation of the one simple truth. In this operation of the soul there is no error, even as there is clearly no error in the understanding of first principles which we know by simple intuition. Afterwards these two things being done, he mentions third the uniformity which is like that of the angels, for then all things being laid aside, the soul continues in the contemplation of God alone. This he expresses by saying: Then being thus made uniform unitedly, i.e., conformably, by the union of its powers, it is conducted to the good and the beautiful.
Motus autem rectus in Angelis accipi non potest secundum hoc quod in considerando procedat ab uno in aliud, sed solum secundum ordinem suae providentiae, secundum scilicet quod Angelus superior inferiores illuminat per medios. Et hoc est quod dicit, quod in directum moventur Angeli quando procedunt ad subiectorum providentiam, recta omnia transeuntes, idest, secundum ea quae secundum rectum ordinem disponuntur. Sed rectum motum ponit in anima secundum hoc quod ab exterioribus sensibilibus procedit ad intelligibilium cognitionem. Obliquum autem motum ponit in Angelo, compositum ex recto et circulari, inquantum secundum contemplationem Dei inferioribus provident. In anima autem ponit motum obliquum, similiter ex recto et circulari compositum, prout illuminationibus divinis ratiocinando utitur.
The straight movement of the angel cannot apply to his proceeding from one thing to another by considering them, but only to the order of his providence, namely to the fact that the higher angel enlightens the lower angels through the angels that are intermediate. He indicates this when he says: The angel’s movement takes a straight line when he proceeds to the care of things subject to him, taking in his course whatever things are direct, i.e., in keeping with the dispositions of the direct order. Whereas he ascribes the straight movement in the soul to the soul’s proceeding from exterior sensibles to the knowledge of intelligible objects. The oblique movement in the angels he describes as being composed of the straight and circular movements, inasmuch as their care for those beneath them is in accordance with their contemplation of God: while the oblique movement in the soul he also declares to be partly straight and partly circular, insofar as in reasoning it makes use of the light received from God.
Ad tertium dicendum quod illae diversitates motuum quae accipiuntur secundum differentiam eius quod est sursum et deorsum, dextrorsum et sinistrorsum, ante et retro, et secundum diversos circuitus, omnes continentur sub motu recto vel obliquo. Nam per omnes designatur discursus rationis. Qui quidem si sit a genere ad speciem, vel a toto ad partem, erit, ut ipse exponit, secundum sursum et deorsum. Si vero sit ab uno oppositorum in aliud, erit secundum dextrorsum et sinistrorsum. Si vero sit a causis in effectus, erit ante et retro. Si vero sit secundum accidentia quae circumstant rem, propinqua vel remota, erit circuitus. Discursus autem rationis, quando est a sensibilibus ad intelligibilia secundum ordinem naturalis rationis, pertinet ad motum rectum; quando autem est secundum illuminationes divinas, pertinet ad motum obliquum; ut ex dictis patet. Sola autem immobilitas quam ponit, pertinet ad motum circularem.
Reply Obj. 3: These varieties of movement that are taken from the distinction between above and below, right and left, forwards and backwards, and from varying circles, are all comprised under either straight oblique movement, because they all denote discursions of reason. For if the reason pass from the genus to the species, or from the whole to the part, it will be, as he explains, from above to below: if from one opposite to another, it will be from right to left; if from the cause to the effect, it will be backwards and forwards; if it be about accidents that surround a thing near at hand or far remote, the movement will be circular. The discoursing of reason from sensible to intelligible objects, if it be according to the order of natural reason, belongs to the straight movement; but if it be according to the Divine enlightenment, it will belong to the oblique movement as explained above (ad 2). That alone which he describes as immobility belongs to the circular movement.
Unde patet quod Dionysius multo sufficientius et subtilius motus contemplationis describit.
Wherefore it is evident that Dionysius describes the movement of contemplation with much greater fullness and depth.
Utrum contemplatio delectationem habeat
Whether there is delight in contemplation?
Ad septimum sic proceditur. Videtur quod contemplatio delectationem non habeat. Delectatio enim ad vim appetitivam pertinet. Sed contemplatio principaliter consistit in intellectu. Ergo videtur quod delectatio non pertineat ad contemplationem.
Objection 1: It would seem that there is no delight in contemplation. For delight belongs to the appetitive power; whereas contemplation resides chiefly in the intellect. Therefore it would seem that there is no delight in contemplation.
Praeterea, omnis contentio et omne certamen impedit delectationem. Sed in contemplatione est contentio et certamen, dicit enim Gregorius, super Ezech., quod anima, cum contemplari Deum nititur, velut in quodam certamine posita, modo quasi exsuperat, quia intelligendo et sentiendo, de incircumscripto lumine aliquid degustat, modo succumbit, quia degustando iterum deficit. Ergo vita contemplativa non habet delectationem.
Obj. 2: Further, all strife and struggle is a hindrance to delight. Now there is strife and struggle in contemplation. For Gregory says (Hom. xiv in Ezech.) that when the soul strives to contemplate God, it is in a state of struggle; at one time it almost overcomes, because by understanding and feeling it tastes something of the incomprehensible light, and at another time it almost succumbs, because even while tasting, it fails. Therefore there is no delight in contemplation.
Praeterea, delectatio sequitur operationem perfectam, ut dicitur in X Ethic. Sed contemplatio viae est imperfecta, secundum illud I ad Cor. XIII, videmus nunc per speculum in aenigmate. Ergo videtur quod vita contemplativa delectationem non habeat.
Obj. 3: Further, delight is the result of a perfect operation, as stated in Ethic. x, 4. Now the contemplation of wayfarers is imperfect, according to 1 Cor. 13:12, We see now through a glass in a dark manner. Therefore seemingly there is no delight in the contemplative life.