St. Thomas Aquinas wrote: “It is clear that he does not pray, who, far from uplifting himself to God, requires that God shall lower Himself to him, and who resorts to prayer not to stir the man in us to will what God wills, but only to persuade God to will what the man in us wills.”

This quote describes what I call the theology of descent by which we form God according to our own likeness and thus force his holy ways to accomodate to our sinful ones. This is not worship. St. Thomas observes that it's also not prayer. And for good reason. This kind of "prayer" would give rise to statements like “my kingdom come, my will be done.” Similar ideas seem to undergird the related and decidedly de-Catholoicized "theology of dissent."


2 Responses so far.

  1. Hmm. I wonder why you chose the term you chose.
    Is there a particular group of people you mean to include here?

    The notion of God ascending and descending is several times in scripture: The holy spirit descending like a dove, and the return of Christ "in like manner as he went".

    My favourite Catholic hymn is the Italian one "Tu scende dalle stelle":

    Tu scendi dalle stelle,
    O Re del Cielo,
    e vieni in una grotta,
    al freddo al gelo.

    O Bambino mio Divino
    Io ti vedo qui a tremar,
    O Dio Beato
    Ahi, quanto ti costò
    l'averci amato!

    A te, che sei del mondo
    il Creatore,
    mancano panni e fuoco;
    O mio Signore!

    Caro eletto Pargoletto,
    Quanto questa povertà
    più mi innamora!
    Giacché ti fece amor
    povero ancora!

    -- Saint Alfonso Maria de' Liguori

    (From starry skies descending,
    Thou comest, glorious King,
    A manger low Thy bed,
    In winter's icy sting;

    O my dearest Child most holy,
    Shudd'ring, trembling in the cold!
    Great God, Thou lovest me!
    What suff'ring Thou didst bear,
    That I near Thee might be!

    Thou art the world's Creator,
    God's own and true Word,
    Yet here no robe, no fire
    For Thee, Divine Lord.

    Dearest, fairest, sweetest Infant,
    Dire this state of poverty.
    The more I care for Thee,
    Since Thou, o Love Divine,
    Will'st now so poor to be.)


  2. Son says:

    Thanks Warren for the comment and the beautiful hymn. God most certainly ascends and descends (e.g. the incarnation, the Holy Spirit, the gift of grace...)I agree completely.

    The way I use the term "descent" should be understood with reference to what St. Thomas said...that is, in terms of God compromising his principles, or lowering himself, or if you will, being pulled down and being remade and redefined.

    Again, thanks for your thoughts.

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