Sunday, October 18, 2009

Why Contemplata Aliis Tradere?

It is well known - or ought be - that the Dominicans have three mottoes, of which one is contemplata aliis tradere (quoting Aquinas). I have appropriated this as a worthy intention for this blog: to hand over to others what I've contemplated. Now, this ought be explored - for a start, of course, what is thought upon ought be true, and no delusion: that is why the shortest, and arguably the core motto of those Preaching Friars is Veritas, "truth" - which I would render in Aussie slang as Strewth, an abbreviated form of "God's Truth"!

As the Scriptures tell us, we ought contemplate the things above – Suspice cælum, et intuere: et contemplare æthera quod altior te sit (Job xxxv, 5) – which are invisible and eternal, not those all too visible, being terrene and transient – non contemplantibus nobis quæ videntur, sed quæ non videntur. Quæ enim videntur, temporalia sunt: quæ autem non videntur, æterna sunt (II Cor. iv, 18) – as the Apostle says. Again, as is said, we ought at least have the right eye upon things eternal, if we must needs suffer the left eye to look at what is passing.

Just as Moses was directed by the Lord to contemplate the Promised Land, a foreshadowing of heaven, from the mountain (a symbol of Christ) – Dixit quoque Dominus ad Moysen: Ascende in montem istum Abarim, et contemplare inde terram, quam daturus sum filiis Israël (Num. xxvii, 12) – and as Elijah directed his servant to contemplate the Sea, and sent him back seven times till he should see the cloud heralding the breaking of the drought (which is a type of the coming of Holy Mary, Stella Maris, from whom came Christ, bringing grace to men) – et [Elias] dixit ad puerum suum: Ascende, et prospice contra mare. Qui cum ascendisset, et contemplatus esset, ait: Non est quidquam. Et rursum ait illi: Revertere septem vicibus (III Reg. xviii, 43) – so ought we contemplate, and think on these great truths of the Incarnation and the promise of salvation in our Lord.

From contemplating the vanity and needless cares of all earthly works as did the Ecclesiast – Rursum contemplatus sum omnes labores hominum, et industrias animadverti patere invidiæ proximi; et in hoc ergo vanitas et cura superflua est (Eccles iv, 4) – and from contemplation of foolishness, we ought turn to wisdom, as did Solomon – Transivi ad contemplandam sapientiam, erroresque, et stultitiam (Eccles ii, 12).

Finally, from an abundance of contemplation, we should turn and pass on the fruits thereof to others, as did the Preacher – mens mea contemplata est multa sapienter, et didici (Eccles i, 16b); Cumque esset sapientissimus Ecclesiastes, docuit populum, et enarravit quæ fecerat; et investigans composuit parabolas multas (Eccles xii, 9) – he, being most wise, taught and spoke of what he had accomplished, and made many similitudes. For in considering and imparting such to others, they are aided, lest any be wanting in God's grace – contemplantes nequis desit gratiæ Dei (Heb 12:15a).

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