Social and Personal Progress

St Raymund of Pennafort

Archbishop Ullathorne in his book Endowments of Man reflects on human progress in its social and personal aspects:

“The men of this world, who are truly so-called when they rarely look beyond it, never tire to speak of human progress. Yet, strange to say, they invariably omit the object, aim, or end of that progress. Progress with them is the accumulation of natural knowledge, human inventions, the fruits of industry, and the resources of earthly pleasure all that, in a word, which the man leaves when he quits the body. Even the pagan philosophers were wiser in principle when, conscious of their immortality, they taught the supreme good of the soul.”

“The path marked out by God for man’s advancement is from his first rudimental and natural existence to the final filling up and perfecting of his nature in the highest life and divinest good. This is not merely a personal, but a social advancement, begun in the great society of God’s Church here below, where the Son of God reigns and the Holy Spirit operates, and the whole society mutually help each other onwards; and, from the Church on earth, the advancement is to the society of God in heaven, and the company of the angels and of the spirits of the just made perfect.”

St Paul Writing by Valentin de Boulogne

“Progress in any other direction than the way of the just, whatever shows it may give to the imagination, with whatever flatteries it may soothe the pride of life, whatever concupiscences it may excite in the inferior man, with whatever diversions it may amuse his vanity, is progress downwards. It is a descent, and a shameful descent, from the appointed order of human progress, and a failure from the divine standard of manhood. This divine philosophy pervades the Scriptures, and finds its confirmation in the constitution of the soul, in the light of the mind, and in the deepest aspirations of our inward nature. But nowhere has this divine philosophy of human progress been more strongly inculcated than by St. Paul, who exhorts us to advance from image to image, and from likeness to likeness, as from the spirit of the Lord, that we may reach to the stature of a perfect man.”

Quotations from Michael F. Glancey, Characteristics From the Writings of Archbishop Ullathorne (London: Burns & Oates, 1889).

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