Monday Miscellany: Death, animal and human + SCG I’s Words

Heard on the radio today that the dear, little baby panda “passed away.”

Very sad. But, forgive me: The panda cub did not pass away. The panda cub died. Like horses die, and dogs. Sad indeed.

But not like Padre Pio passed away, on the same day in 1968. Or the great lady of Martinsville, Va., or the lovely prayer-warrior who lived on the bank of Smith Mountain Lake. Both these ladies breathed their last yesterday.

People pass away. Which reminds me of the decisive paragraph of Blessed Pope John XXIII’s opening address at Vatican II:

The greatest concern of the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine should be guarded and taught more efficaciously. That doctine embraces the whole of man, composed as he is of body and soul. And, since he is a pilgrim on earth, it commands him to tend always toward heaven.

…It pays to take Book One of St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Countra Gentiles down off the e-shelf every once in a while and read it.

Words can appear in a meaningless jumble, like the noise of t.v. burbling in the background. Words can be arrayed like jewels on a necklace, i.e. poetry. And words can be set down with such bedrock-penetrating precision that entire bridges of culture can be built atop their foundations.

Here follows my humble one sentence summary of SCG I. The point of the book is that, if any of the following words mean anything at all, then they mean this:

God is, eternally, not made up of parts, acting in no way violent or unnatural; complete, utterly unique, universally perfect, transcending everything we know, yet name-able, because we can call Him good, the good that all things seek; alone infinitely intelligent, He knows Himself, understands Himself perfectly, and in this He knows all and wills all that is good; He loves and rejoices in His true, just, liberal, magnificent, prudent, artful, wise Self, eternally blessed.