Introduction to Theology, Serial No. 01110

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"Fate, Providence and Religion". Talks at New Clairvaux Abbey, Vina, CA.

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#item-set-209. Tape says Aelred Squire, OSB. Was this before he became Camaldolese? 


Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of those who believe in you, and kindle within them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. Let us pray. May the outpouring of your Holy Spirit, O Lord, cleanse our hearts and make them fruitful by the inward sprinkling of his dew, through Christ our Lord. Well, I think on the whole, by the time we've finished on Monday, which has not got too bad a shape to all this, you may need to bash me about a bit to get the last bits out, but it's somehow fallen together better than I could have foreseen, I think. I'm going to call this one, Fate, Providence and Religion. Well, it is an interrelated subject. Since the object of this group of lectures and discussion was to introduce you to some


groundwork notions for the study of theology, we found ourselves having to look at what Revelation has to say about God and man, and some of the consequences for our life and thought of the relationship between these two, which the very notion of Revelation implies, and the entire work of Redemption makes clear, it seemed good to use our last two lectures for clarifying some of the larger perspectives within which we have returned to the source of life in God. It is particularly, I suppose, some of the consequences of the doctrine of Original Sin that it also brought to the surface a preoccupation with the subject of fate and necessity not unlike that to which the early Fathers had to preach and teach their doctrine of divine liberation through the philanthropy of God. An atmosphere greatly strengthened in our own day by technological advances which seem to delimit man externally and often to underline the ways in which he is delimited internally.


I think before we consider the problem of these questions we should perhaps restate the basic Christian conviction, perhaps with the help of something like the following passages from A Christmas Sermon of St. Leo the Great. In the course of Sermon 7, for this Feast of Christmas, St. Leo says in paragraph 2, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in being born true man and never ceasing to be true God, has established in his person the beginning of a new creature, and in the manner of his birth has given the human race a spiritual starting point, so that to blot out the contamination connected with fleshly birth might be the source of a rebirth without the seed connected with sin, of which it is said, in the Prologue of John, of course, who were born not of blood,


nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. What mind can grasp this mystery? What tongue rightly tell of this grace? Evil returns to innocence, the old to what is new, outsiders come to adoption. There's a footnote in the Zoskration edition which says that Leo doesn't mean what he says, in a sort of way, but I don't think we have to take that seriously, I think he does mean what he says. And in paragraph 6, Wake up, human soul, and recognise the dignity of your nature. Remember that you were made to the image of God, which, although corrupted in Adam, is nevertheless remade in Christ. Use the visible creatures they should be used, as you used the earth, the sea, the heavens, the air, the springs and rivers. This is, of course, the kind of conviction and concern which inspires the pastoral constitution


on the church in the modern world. In paragraph 14, and here I'm quoting, Man, though made up of body and soul, is a unity. Through his very bodily condition he sums up in himself, we shall be referring to this again tomorrow, the elements of the material world. Through him they were thus brought to their highest perfection, and can raise their voice in praise freely to the Creator. For this reason, man may not despise his bodily life, and this is the paragraph that goes on to say, in spite of the fact that we are wounded by the effects of original sin, as we saw a couple of days ago. Here again we have an example of a theological conclusion drawn from a dogmatic principle.


And before we go on to consider the fate aspect of our situation, we must first lay to heart something which has not changed with the fall, namely the fact that the world is still ruled by divine providence. Here I think it would be simplest to look at some aspects of the articles of question 22 of the premium pause, which deal with this subject. The first article asks whether it is suitable to attribute providence to God. The swathe in favour of the answer, we more or less expect, is taken from chapter 15 of the book of wisdom, which begins with the words, For thou, O God, art kind and true, patient, and ruling all things in mercy. And Thomas says that we have to say that there is providence in God, because all good things


come from him. And this includes not only the goodness of their being, but the goodness of their disposition to fulfil the divine purposes, especially those creatures who are made with God himself as their final purpose of existence, that is to say ourselves, of course, and the angels. And so all this pattern pre-exists in the mind of God. But the notion of arranging things with a view to an end, is what is properly called providence, seeing in advance, of course, providere. It is in article 2 that we come to the question which is more vital still for us, namely whether all things are subject to divine providence. Here St. Thomas uses another swazio from wisdom, chapter 8, verse 1.


She reaches mightily from one end of the earth to the other, and she orders all things well. And St. Thomas goes on to maintain that not only everything in general lies under the governance of divine providence, but also everything in particular. It is in answer to the fourth difficulty which will occur to all of us that St. Thomas deals with the special case of man. Here he says that when Ecclesiastes or Sirach says that God left man in the power of his own inclination, you'll remember this is how we describe the will, the volundarium. This does not mean that man is excluded from divine providence, but rather that he is not limited to the choice of one object as other natural things are. For all these things move


as though they were moved by another. In other words, like your haiku on the stand, even the squirrels will go out and chase you up the tree the other day, are moving as though moved by another, because this is the way their instincts work. We actually, not all the time of course, but we actually can and should under certain circumstances really choose what we are going to do. And St. Thomas is saying that this capacity is of course included within divine providence itself. We have ourselves moved by free will, by taking counsel and choosing, and this is why it is so significantly said that we are left to our own inclination. So, if you like, our providence, our foreseeing, is always ultimately contained within divine providence.


In so far as the upright choose what guides them to their ultimate end, God's will is God looks after them in a special way, as St. Paul says of course in Romans 8, 28, which St. Thomas quotes, all things work together for good for those who love him. But this does not mean that he will stop us from choosing to do otherwise, and have to bear the consequences of our choice, though this does not put what such people do outside his providence. I don't think I can sufficiently emphasize how much if you really take the risk of living by this doctrine, you will be more and more convinced of its truth. You will be surprised how if you follow wish, counsel, if necessary, but if you follow the


help of either your own counsel or someone else's, and the dictates of your own conscience, even in difficult matters, you will find yourself leaping over walls, while in the long run you will often see machinations of others which follow a different course brought to nothing. It's very extraordinary I would say how much energy we waste on trying to stop things happening, which we don't have to stop, because they come to nothing of themselves. Sometimes I have to wait rather a long time to see this, but it always happens. Whenever there's a kind of real malice or instinct in what people do, it always comes to nothing. But in this connection I must not fail to bring to your notice this very important theological principle which applies to both angels and devils. And you should already have the principles for understanding it in your own minds.


Here I move quickly to question 111, where St. Thomas is dealing with the question of the action of angels upon men. And in Article 2 of this question he asks whether the angels can change the will of men, and he gives the following very clear answer. This is really why I'm doing this, because I think it's important to understand the sort of thing he's saying in relation to all kinds of persuasion of the will. He says the will can be changed in two ways. In the first way, from within, and since this is the kind of movement of the will, which is none other than the inclination of the will, in the direction of the thing willed, only God can give the rational nature, the power this kind of inclination has to be changed.


This is of course what grace sometimes does, especially as a result of prayer. I hope you see that point. To see what St. Thomas is doing is very, very vital, and it comes in, as you can see clearly, both in connection with conscience and with faith. We saw that the will, and the idea of, perhaps I should have said exterior necessity, just for the sake of clarity, I think both John Bedford and Ken got perhaps slightly indifferently about this yesterday, because they weren't seeing, I was meaning compulsion on the will. You see, of course, if you're in a situation in which you've decided it's necessary to do so and so, then of course it is a free action, because then the inclination moves from within itself.


But exterior necessity is always included in the voluntary creature, and only God has direct access to the will in this way. In the second way, the will can move by something coming from outside, because this is sometimes where we may reach a decision of conscience quite quickly, that we have to do something or other. This is not necessity which is internal to the will, we make it internal by deciding that it is so, you see what I mean. In this way too, God alone can efficiently, efficaciously move the will in this way. Everything else has to do it by way of suggestion, even the angels. And as we should see, if we examine question 114, the same applies to the devils. It's a very, very important principle of Gnom's, I think, this, theologically speaking,


that only God has direct access to the soul. That all other things have to work through, in other words, through the imagination. I don't quite understand what it means to have direct access. It doesn't mean that he forces the will. No, it doesn't mean that he forces the will. It means that he gives the will, in certain cases, the kind of inclination which perhaps he couldn't, supposing this is an action, supposing you're about to do something which is, if you like, a grace action, like believing, then God won't have to give his grace to the will. You see? In other words, because I haven't, of my own nature, the grace to believe, in order to believe in God in the way that he's saving, I need grace. So this is an inclination which affects the will in its interiority. Of course, because of the natural inclination of the will, I can, I suppose we can envision


a theoretical situation in which we say no to grace. In fact, there's a famous thing that Augustine says in, you remember in the Confessions, Lord make me say this but not today. You say God gives grace to the will to believe. Does he also give grace to the intellect to see? Yes, obviously. At the same time it is... Obviously, God can give grace in very many different sorts of ways, because he has access to all the creatures in all their forms. And so, of course, I have no doubt that in a great number of grace situations we receive grace not only in the mind and in the will, but also through various external means, through other people's graces even, of course. But I think, as I say, it's very important just to remember this is why the teaching


of the Desert Fathers and of the Fathers of the Church in general, of the extreme importance of being delivered from illusions and of praying about this, and of course also working about this, is so very encouraging, so very strengthening to know that in fact, if something is an illusion of the imagination, we can be sure it really will just appear. We might want to discuss this a little time a bit more later, but I hope you can see that... Can you see the difference between those two things, Ken? You see the difference, don't you? That in fact, St. Thomas is saying the will can be moved in two ways, either from something which comes internal, which is normally itself, and God can work also upon that by giving us grace, or it comes from outside. Yes?


Talking about illusions of the imagination. Yes. Now can't God also work through your imagination? Obviously he could, yes. So then you have to discern what is coming from God and what isn't. Yes. Yes, you do. But that's the only way that angels can deal with it. Well, you see, I think on the whole, let's say that for the sake of safety, what the Doctrine of Illusions is about, is about deception, the mind has an appetite for the truth, and if you are looking for the truth, you may assume that it is in accordance with the will of God. So we don't always have to think, if you like, that we're making all kinds of infallible decisions about things. It's enough to have done what we can to exclude the possibility of being deluded. Sometimes we may have to do this by straightforward guesswork, we may know what other people have done under simple circumstances, we may also know by our own experience what's likely to


happen if we take this or that thing seriously, and so on. All those things come into the picture cumulatively, but it is the imagination. You'll remember this bit of it, of course, is by no means dogmatic, the bottom bit I'm just about to add, that the convictions Thomas has, which I think most of us would, by internal inspection, agree with in some form, there is no such thing as a thought which is not accompanied by any kind of fantasy. And so it's by the capacity, the capacity both of human beings, and of angels and devils who are of course spiritual in the way that we are, all of us are, to act upon our imagination. I don't think we need to go into the complexities of making a pact with the devil, do we?


I've read a rather terrifying book of, in the last couple of years, about a situation which is still going on, I think, which a very small child became involved with a group of devil worshippers in Canada, and did go through some very terrifying experiences, which, if the account is true, do seem very much to show that the child really remained bewildered, but quite innocent in the midst of what were really sinister kinds of goings on outside, even those affecting her imagination. We should never forget that God alone has direct contact with the soul anyway. If you really understand this, it will keep you not only from sorcery and witchcraft, but also from all kinds of unnecessary worries.


And need I add, the less you understand it, and live in the light of that knowledge, the more likely you are to feel really faithful to it. And that's a great bond. Let's say, if you like, you can be faced with various sorts of dilemmas. It's like, for instance, the working out of the story which I mentioned to you the other day as an illustration. I forget what we were actually talking about, but I mentioned the case of somebody who can't let night in with a rather difficult thing, in the first one, when I said, let's talk about it. This was especially difficult, the kind of situation, because there was a practical dilemma connected with it, which was very difficult to see how she would get through, but somehow or other she did. By putting the situation in the hands of God, her own interiority was sufficiently sparse


to be able to. And of course one doesn't know also whether it wasn't affected in other ways by external things being changed. So the situation could be coped with, because she wished it. There's no doubt about it that we are enormously helped. I constantly say this when I'm preaching, and I don't think I can say it too often, really. Nobody is good or evil to themselves alone. We do affect each other in various mysterious ways by our attitude towards these kind of very fundamental things. Yes? You said that only God has direct access and direct contact with the soul, while the angels can only suggest the imagination? Yes. So that's not in the soul's imagination? Well, it obviously isn't in the soul, yes. The imagination is everything, everything that's in you, including the digestion of


your lunch at the moment, is within the soul. That's what you're a soul for. It deals with lunch as well as these thoughts. But if only God has direct contact with the soul, direct... With the will. Oh, with the will. Yes, with the will. Oh, with the will. Okay, I was wondering. I put soul. It's the will. Well, I mean, obviously God has direct contact with the whole of us, doesn't he, actually? But the demons can't do anything without will, is what you said. No, directly they can't, no. Yeah, okay. Because that's what we mean by the voluntary. Can a person be possessed involuntarily? Would he have to, like this child of which you were speaking? Well, as I say, what is so interesting is that although the mother desires the child should be possessed, it doesn't look as though it was. Which seems to confirm this doctrine, but I think one should always be a bit cautious


of all examples. Anyway, I think the principle is clearly sound enough. Could you just mention one or two other kinds of indirect accesses? Oh, well, yes, one or two of those which Thomas mentions during the course of this, and every day I'm trying to make this as clear and simple as I can, one of the obvious ways in which we are accessible to other kinds of spiritual influences is by certain bodily transformations. We're all aware of this, even in relation to the weather, for instance, to some extent. Now, the devils, of course, are not, as far as we know, much mixed up with the weather, but there are a lot of secondary causes which are involved in the weather, of course, and


some things that men do, as you know, apparently have changed the weather in certain areas of the world, and as you know, there's even some danger that if we do the kind of things that cause the ice on the two ends of the world to melt, everything would change very radically indeed, as the Lord stops it. Although there may be some cause we haven't seen. Yes, Mark? This whole topic we're talking about, I'm really not sure what it is, what we're talking about, what you're presenting, and I think I kind of lost... You lost the thread somewhere. The thread somewhere around the question 22 of the first part of this. And that sounded very important. Yes. Yes, exactly. You didn't quite know that it was going to be as important as you now see it is. Very good. All right. Well, I did this in Thomas's order, and of course this is really why it is important to


know what it says. And what it was saying was that, first of all, should we attribute providence to God at all? Should we say that God foresees? And as Thomas quoted in the Book of Wisdom as a kind of swazi before he comes to Darwin, chapter 15, with the idea that God does rule everything. And we say that there is providence in God because all good things come from him. That is to say, he is the cause... What St. Thomas is saying is that God is causing... This is, remember, I've mentioned this in connection with the devil of an early point, and obviously some people have gotten this. Whatever is caused in the world is caused by God. Let's say even the being of somebody who is behaving in an evil way, even my capacity to cut your head off is from God if I use it.


Doesn't mean to say he approves, but he won't stop it. You may, and other things may, but he won't stop this. Where does the difficulty come in? Does it come a bit later than that then, Mark? And so, if you like, this pattern pre-exists in the mind of God, insofar as one can make that a thought, a sensible one. Obviously, it's always very difficult when we're trying to talk about something which doesn't involve a time consideration. It only unfolds itself in time. So, in other words, I suppose we can say it's meaningful to say that it has some kind of existence already in God. As everything does, all his conceptions which are coming to be, are coming to be for us in time, but they're not in time in their causes, if you like. And the very notion of arranging, if you like,


I suppose what St Thomas is saying, perhaps this is the difficulty, is it? The very notion of providence is that if you like, the sequel of these things lead to a long-term result. I don't think Ben is specified in this particular case, but he probably is.


I once had a very, very neat hand, I must say. It's because I've had to take seven notes, and also because I had this breakdown over my left side of my body. Those two things combined, I absolutely can't break it down. I can't really read my own notes now, as I type them, once I've forgotten what they're about. All right, Mark, have we cleared that up almost? And let's say, if you like, the making of this kind of person is what providence does. Well, I missed the point of that little Zen koan there. You missed the point? Yes. Well, the thing is that all these things, tea, and supper, and bed, and you,


and what may result upon you, all these things don't just require one little block cause, but a series of causes. A series of causes. So, all right. All we're saying is that, if you like, it makes sense to say that this whole process can be described


as something we foresee, and in fact, it was exactly what we each of us do when we do something like making our beds, that we foresee we're going to have a lie. So we must have advice from one of my more eccentric and very charming teachers, who I once visited when he had pneumonia, and he said how cold he was feeling. I've hardly got 16 blankets on the floor. So, and also the sheets were all in a kind of ball at the end of the bed. So I said, wouldn't it have been a very good idea if we had one sheet underneath you and one on top, and then we'd make bed properly. Very good idea. That's providence in the ordinary human sense of the word. I mean, that's to say, it's making sure we've got enough in the house to get over the weekend, because we may not be able to go out and shop. All those things. That's the human version of it. It's what all of us have to do about certain things in life to foresee what we're going to need.


And all that we may have a given result. So it is foreseeing as it is in God that we're talking about here. And of course, I suppose we can say that inevitably, I suppose, look at the extraordinary fact that we should be talking, we particular people should be talking to each other in this room now. I mean, the amount of foreseeing there is, I think we can't even conceive of. But obviously, really none of us have arranged it with much forethought, have we? I mean, we obviously have all made various choices at some point. Some of the results which are that we're sitting here. But there are none of them which we ourselves could have foreseen. I think. Isn't that right? But you can see that they do involve a complex of foreseeing. At the human level.


They also involve a certain amount of the second kind of foreseeing. Which is the second kind of influence upon what happens. Which we've just been talking about. Namely, this is imagination. Are we getting anywhere, Mark? Or are we getting more and deeper into the difficulty? Were you exposed to a little bit of a provenance? Yes. Yes. And then this, you're describing it in the human, on the human level, how the provenance works. And it's a foreseeing and a providing for. Yes. But of course, yes, within the limits of certain fallibility. And then when we got to the human situation in respect of God,


we noticed that St Thomas introduced two very important distinctions, didn't he? Was that the will? Exactly. That's to say, in other words, there are two aspects of it to consider. Because in fact, God has made each of us in such a way that we can choose to do something. Or not to do it, as the case may be. So ours is a quite different kind of case from the squirrels on the tree. You see? Mom can choose not to marry Dad. Not to have anything to do with him. Well, that's what I'm saying. Anyway. Well, yes. Yes. And no. Yes and no. No. Well... Because will, I don't think, is just an automatic thing. We probably all have something that has to be tuned up and developed.


Oh, indeed. Some of us at times could be very much like the squirrels on the tree. Oh, absolutely. Oh, yes, of course. In fact, we can be entirely like the squirrels on the tree. That's part of our trouble. Well, we can be entirely like the squirrels on the tree. Let's go straight away to the extreme, shall we? That's all right. All we need is two bottles of vodka. Or something like that. And off we go. Isn't that what you're saying? Well, yes. Yes. Yes. But you see, this doesn't mean to say... This is really why when we come to evaluate what happens when we've drunk two bottles, is that it does ultimately come back to the voluntary, doesn't it? Some choice has been made. You see, this is really an expansion of the... expansion John Beps has asked me to make.


Is that if we actually create, and some people do, and that's after all why we have cocktails before a party, isn't it? It's part playing. It's to make the whole thing go better. Easier. I mean, the fantasy works more. People who can tell funny stories make them funnier. And even gloomy people get more cheerful. Unless drinks depress them, as there are some cases where it happens. Is it still not fully analyzed now? Well, let's... That's true. I just was thinking that we'll miss because we are human and have the faculty. This is why... Will doesn't mean that we automatically exercise it. Exactly. That's exactly why I finished where I... Some people may be very limited in their ability to... Yes, exactly. In fact, I think we can say we all are until we have experience, don't we?


One of the things I've constantly had to say to students I've found, teaching almost anything, is please do remember, you know, that if this is what's happening to me now, it doesn't really become experience until I can at least relate it to... Well, something like that. You see, it doesn't... Until I can relate it to something, it doesn't really become experience. It may be a happening, but it isn't experience. Because you've got to be able to weigh up what happens in these and those circumstances, and the whole thing makes experience. On Tuesdays, I'm always depressed. So I always have to be very careful on Tuesdays. It's not true, actually. It's my favorite day. You see what I mean? But you have to have at least two or three Tuesdays before you know that.


It's curious how people forget that experience is a cumulative thing. And of course, the less you're learning by experience, the more you're going to be exposed to the surprises that things happen as they do. Then don't you have to also look at what goes... the choices that you've made into making your Tuesday as it is? Oh, it is. Exactly that. That's exactly it. That's why, with the point at which Mark interrupted me, I was talking about illusions. Because, of course, this is where... this is why I had to lead into faith in this way. That's exactly how we get involved in faith situation. Is that the more we are involved in illusions, the less we're going to act in a way which is voluntary. And so the more we're going to be like the squirrels on the tree, as Mark so rightly says. In fact, most of us, at least some of the day, are going to act like this. And it'll be reasonable. I mean, when we walk into the kitchen, we decide we're not going to have breakfast. We're largely led by ordinary kind of animal appetites.


Unless we know, we simply can't stand grapefruit or whatever it is. And it always gives a pain in the tummy before lunch. I mean, it's that again. Again, we may not have the sense to stop. I mean, is that nearly good enough, Mark? Nothing's ever quite good enough, I know. But is it nearly enough? And is that what thus far you have been... That's what thus far we've been... Yes, in other words, it started to... There's trouble about what is too spiritual, isn't it? It's awfully important to bring it right around to the concrete before one sees certain things. It does sound a rather dull kind of thing to talk about. Until you get down to the nitty gritty. And it's there that it becomes important. So as I say, it is very important to remember that it's not enough for you to say to yourself, I'm free. Because lots of people who say it loudest are very unfree.


They don't really exercise choice very much indeed. It requires considerable spiritual and personal maturity to act really from choice. And to make the choices one should, sufficiently frequently. Is that near enough to meeting you now? Thank you. But I mean, John Baptist I was really looking at too, right? I think you feel all right now about that. And you see why it's important. And I'm saying that it'll help you to feel less fatepalmed. And actually, of course, also to be less fatepalmed. If you remember this process that provided you look at what your, let's say, of course, especially about things like one's moods. And one jollible note under certain circumstances,


I started, I first observed this when I was 12, I think, probably. At school, I noticed on certain days when the weather was, or the wind was blowing, or whatever it was, more boys were punished. Both because more boys played up, and also because the staff got more bad tempered under these circumstances. It was absolutely a chain reaction that was more or less predictable. Because, of course, very few people are big enough. They say to themselves, look, I've seen this before. And I know exactly what's going to happen. I'm going to lose my temper with Mark and throw him out of the door. You see what I mean? So, if you like, the more one understands these processes, the more one is aware of them, Ken, using your word, the more aware one is, one mustn't get tied up, of course. Not everything is very, very vital.


It doesn't much matter whether I have tomato juice or grapefruit most of the time. But there can arise circumstances when it does matter. Now, here, in admitting that there is such a thing as fate, which is really what the sort of thing you're really, actually pointing to one of the aspects of fate, which most people wouldn't even think of dignifying by such a name. But they don't see how they throw themselves into it headlong, almost, by just not, you haven't decided, madam, at all. I've sold you the suite of furniture, and you didn't even ask yourself whether you like that colour. Now you've got it home, you're sassy, you can't, that dream won't go, won't go with the wallpaper. That wasn't my fault, after all, was it, madam? All right.


Now, in admitting that there is such a thing as fate, actually, of course, who was I with in Santa Fe one day? Well, of course, it was somebody who's now gone. From this area. And we had a few amusing moments, watching a lady trying to buy something to say. It was very, very funny indeed. Turning over everything, putting it all upside down, putting it all together, and so on. And in the end, she went away and bought nothing, which perhaps shows that she was really rather well up in this kind of doctrine, although she wouldn't have explained it. She knew that it wouldn't do. Well, she went. Perhaps she hadn't meant to do anything else except play about. That's quite virtuous, of course. There's a virtue of play, don't we? One hasn't forget that in Jesus' life, but there's a virtue of play. Sometimes very virtuous play games. In fact, you can see how joking a bit about this does help to make it clearer, doesn't it, actually? It's easier than if I tell you in abstract terms. If I say it in a rather silly way, then you'll remember it better. So, in admitting that there is such a thing as fate at all,


St. Thomas really is involved in one of his smaller bits of bravery. For he explicitly says that he's very much aware that there's a great deal of protestant repudiation of any such notion at all. Now, it's precisely because of his conviction of the subordination of everything created to causes of some kind, and the subordination of all those causes to God, the uncaused cause of everything, he feels he can and must legitimately speak of fate in an overall view of theology. For, as he says in his first article on this subject, whether fate exists... I got the wrong part of this one, haven't I? I don't want to get it in here. Yes, it's question number 16.


When his first article on this subject, he's asking whether fate has any meaning at all. And it's necessary to appreciate that although lots of things appear to us to happen by accident, none of them can in fact be so. And that's to say, whatever happens now is caused by something, even if we don't know what the cause is. It's funny, there are all things that go on in the bathroom, I always find, especially in the early mornings. I was not usually aware of the causes, but things leap about and so on, things get broken, and one doesn't quite know why. No, well... Pardon? Well, no, when he's talking about cause, Yes, yes. From a cause, yes.


Oh no, no, no, it might be chemistry. It might be chemistry. That's exactly why we have to consider this subject, isn't it? Because you see, just as we have, after all the examples I've been giving up to this point, have been about our own chemistry, like the chemistry of your growth and so on, your chemistry of life and birth, and the chemistry by which we're all now digesting our food and so on. And so we're able to carry on, which is the way we're made. Now, all those things, some of them we don't have to think about at all, and some of them we don't even know. And obviously there are lots of mysteries, aren't there? For instance, as you know, the doctors still don't really know what sleep is. It's one of the mysterious things.


Nobody quite knows what it is. They know various things about how it can be manipulated and so on, what the terrible results are of not having these uncertain conditions and so on, but nobody quite can define what sleep is. Sorry, but this just strikes me as that there's something to do with what we're up to, that is to say, our understanding, our awareness. Yes. And then this thing called fate. In other words, if you don't know the chemistry of why the glass slid onto the floor, or why the water coming out of the tap is scalding you, that's a different thing, or is it? Then fate made it so. I think it is rather a different thing, yes. Because if you like, first of all, it is stating very firmly that there is a rational explanation of it,


even if I don't know it. Yeah. You see? Yeah. They must all have some cause, whatever the cause be, whether we know it or not. And therefore, it can't fall outside divine providence. It doesn't cause God any worry, the hot water out of the tap. It's rather an easy one, then. Even we can do it. And so he says in conclusion to this rather lengthy argument, it's actually a rather long article, the first one. Even so far as everything that happens is subordinate to divine providence, as though preordained and foretold by it, we must, we may posit the existence of fate, even though the holodoxers refuse to use this word for it. On account of those, he says they refuse to do it,


on account of those who by its use are turned towards the power of the position of the stars. Now, I suppose it seems to me, if you like, in our own time we can move this in a different direction, can't we? I mean, there are really literally some people who think that, you know, if only we could know enough about all the kind of chemical and other kinds of things, the physical things of our nature, we could have a complete mastery of every situation. But as you know, even the most complicated computer isn't capable of reactions as complex as those that are going on in our minds while we're thinking this subject out. Our mind, our brain happens to be one of the infinitely more complicated computer than any other being constructed. And this has always been there, long before anybody could make a computer at all. So, St Thomas is saying it's necessary to talk about this


because the danger is you'll suddenly become aware of this, which of course many people in the modern world have, of the enormous number of things that are determined by other things, so that they feel their lives more and more determined. Because if old Dr. So-and-so has said, my dear, I can see it was all your parents and your grandparents and your diet and you're living in that terrible climate down there and you're liking for your martini with what's happening. And the more and more things, those kinds of things you pile up, the more and more you make people think, well, this is a double bind situation, there's no way out of it, I mean. Whereas in fact, of course,


it's simply the recognition that God has arranged things to produce specific effects. If you put your hand on the red hot stove, it'll burn you. It's not, if you like, it's not fate in a sinister sense. It's not because God has made it hot specially on that occasion. If it is hot, it's hot and it'll produce its effect. You're thinking of something to object to. Good, that's all right, that's all right. That's my fate. That's my fate. And I'm free so far. Because we haven't yet got me involved in your fantasies, have you? But you can try. Come on.


You're preparing a terrible one. So then we've got, we simply said that lots of the area covers the fact that God is as the cause of things that are made and also the cause of the possibilities of things that are made because after all, a synthetically produced thing has been in principle something that could have been made a thousand years ago, but people didn't know how to make it. It's using the potentialities of nature in some kind of way. So all these things have inbuilt effects and they simply work themselves. Of course, that's why I start with the assumption when approaching every piece of machining that it'll either blow up or break down because I shan't understand it if I press the wrong button. Finally, and perhaps most interestingly of all,


he asks, are all things subject to fate? He answers that, as we've already said, fate is the ordering of secondary causes to produce effects foreseen by God. And that's, say, lots and lots of grandfathers back in the children being born. We're going to lead to this one here. And so, whatever is subject to secondary causes is subject to fate. And this is the thing that I didn't say to you the other day, which I ought to have said. But if there are things which are directly done by God,


then these are not subject to fate. As, for instance, there are things such as the creation of things, glorification of spiritual substances, and so on. So do remember this, you see, that although Mark is now being very, very ingenious indeed, working absolute devil economy now, that if I pray to God, the chances are that I shall see through what he's saying. It's not certain. God may decide it's better for me not to say it this time, better for my immunity. It's always a portion of it. Actually, that's what the Lord does to me. There's always something built in, which eventually makes me humble. All right? I don't understand why I think subject to secondary causes is subject to fate. Is that because he has no control over it then? No, it's not. It's simply because, it simply is because, this is what, we haven't made the last thing.


We can have two sorts of way out of this situation. There's two, if you like, faith is here being used as an overall word for this projection of things to cause. It's not, it's a neutral word. It's not sinister, if you like. It becomes sinister when, in fact, I'm submitted to it, doesn't it? When you're, when you're submitted to it, when you're compelled by it, you mean? Yes. And so, he closes with a quotation from Boethius, actually. The further anything goes away from the divine mind, the more it is implicated in the bonds of fate. You see? In other words, if you like, let's say this, if we put God here, all things are going on everywhere, and there are a whole series of them, and


all these things are subordinated patterns with more or less, insofar as some, some of the things that are causing other things are human causes. Let's say this is, this is just plain chemistry. There are some people who are ... all sorts of things, like all sorts of areas you can isolate. And all these, including the human ones, are going to be subjected to other causes. Now, of all the things in this particular row, it's only things which have a, a best choose who can put themselves in a different kind of relationship.


Sometimes, they may have to do it directly, first course, which is what we do when we go to Vespers, if we're attending. Now, that's, I don't think this is positing some kind of miracle. I say, I'm not saying that. What I'm really saying is that by wishing to enter into, into my human situation, this is, this is a normal human situation. It's not a normal situation. It reminds me of seeing the chair in front of me which I could sit on. An Episcopal ceremony once in which I got a bishop down as far as this and there should have been a chair and he thought there wasn't. I can take the risk, if you like, of assuming that they won't do this, it'll hold me up


and so on. All those... It's not really so very very complex in fact. And if I have decided I'm going to submit to the ordinary human situation and take my responsibility over those things about which I could and should make choices, and these are going to be in the long run referred to love, to God in the life of love, faith, hope and charity, then I should be more free. Although, I have the same chemistry as you have and all the other courses we're working on in the same way. We're all going through the same weather and so on. Yeah I think one difficulty I had was understanding what a secondary cause was. I thought, for example, the secondary cause of me might be my grandfather. Well he is of course, that is the secondary cause. I mean, because all subordinate causes are secondary, this is the first cause, God is the first cause.


And every other cause is a... You remember when we were saying things we didn't go through about the proofs from causes. The first cause is outside the series. God is that kind of a cause. That's another reason why he oversees the causes. Yes Peter? But then why are those things called fate instead of providence? Well don't you see that we are really showing the two sides of the thing. What could be fate if I cut that one off? What is providence if I have it like that? Becomes fate if I do that? Same thing. So if you are going to Vespers mindlessly, not really knowing what's there or why, it's your fate to go to Vespers. Yeah. That's it, the more often you do it like that, the less it will be what it should be as a


human thing. You see, in one way, what we are looking at is the extreme importance of what's being human about what we do. Yes? Well now this is the second time that Brother John Baptist brought in this notion of consciousness or awareness on the part of the person and you erasing that line there and I think that's an important aspect of fate. It is, it is. I mean it might be the same thing, but from our point of view, it's fate in a sinister way or in an automaton way, or it's providence and it's some meaningful action that we can participate in. And that has to do with, I mean our consciousness has a lot to do with that, whether it's near a meaningless routine or fate or a meaningful act, right?


Oh yes, of course it does, yes, every time, yes. So maybe that was just something that I... Yes, obviously this is why St Thomas realised he was going to face a problem in saying you could admit a use of this, admit a use of this word, because he doesn't in fact ever say that this has a favourable sense about some things, because it does. I mean, there's nothing harmful about the fact that we have to eat some lunch some day if we don't eat it today, we are made like that. And it's not, there's nothing sinister about it at all, it's not unpleasant, as we know. If it is, it's our own fault, I mean, we ought to learn how to cook and things of that kind. And that's the way in which we can in fact control the secondary causes. And of course, if you're digesting this better, so will your temper be, won't it? Probably. Yes, and what I was thinking too of that whole diagram and the point you were making about


an experience, is an event or a happening that you can relate to a series of. Yes. And that's, I think that's all part of this. I entirely agree with you, I'm very grateful you are drawing this up, because I think it does need drawing up, because most people have so fixed, and I want to use the word fate, most people have got so fixed an idea that it must be sinister, and they don't see that really, in fact, sometimes you don't even need to invoke anything supernatural in order to get out of it, you simply need to know what's happening and to be aware of it. And also that's what we go to the doctor for very often, why on earth is it that I can't digest seltzer? Yes Ken, have you got something? Do come in if you want to. I said transcendental precepts. What are those? Now you can teach me.


Be attentive, be reasonable, be responsible. Yes. Be intelligent, be loving. Yes, well I think I might manage one or two of those, I'm not sure I can do this, be intelligent. Exactly yes, obviously one of the reasons why life in 1984 has become a good deal more complicated, even for quite complicated people, is that there are so very many things to be known about on them and I just have to admit that I just don't know how a computer works and I can't use a calculator. I have to count on my fingers, I can't get beyond ten at a time. Simply because I have to choose, there are only 24 hours in a day and this is again one of the limitations of life which you can either be angry about, which is perfectly


ridiculous, or accepting about, isn't it? I mean you simply do say, look that's all I can do now. It's part of the humility of life to get quite used to that aspect of it and it may even be part of the morals of it of course, because of course if you wear yourself to death doing something ridiculous, there have to be very good reasons for your deciding that you have to go on once you see that this is absurd. In fact usually of course you only have to do this. I mean on the whole we seem to be rather awake and we can take a pause in the middle


of this if you like and before I get on to religion, but I knew we were going to have a discussion about this and it did seem valuable to clear it up, because I think it has an enormous importance for the spiritual life to see this, I mean just to see that it really does matter what you choose to do. Of course it shouldn't make you jumpy, yes? So mentioning that case of the woman who went to the doctor and instead of being depressed about her situation and just giving up, which is kind of a fateful attitude. Of course it is, exactly. If she had just taken another attitude then that would have changed her whole... Well of course it does, I mean that's really all most kinds of things you depend on don't they? They start sometimes, first of all by discovering whether Jones has a stomach ache because of something which is wrong with his diet or some other thing which has got a physical cause and then we discover he's got an absolute monster of a wife that he has to go home to


every week and that's why he's getting stomach ulcers. Can he do anything about his wife or can he do anything about his attitude towards his wife? All those things come into the thing and of course if he's not prepared to do something about that then you can't help him, it's no good giving him spiritual counsel if all he needs is a new recipe for his own life, is it? You see you can't really pray to God to stop things going on which are inevitably going to go on unless you look at them. Yes Peter? Well in that example with his faith, supposing he couldn't do anything about it, he realizes that he has to change his attitude and he finds he can't for some reason, would you say that's his faith? I think you can't really think of a convincing example where it is not possible to turn to attitude. I think you can realize something but you don't know if you can actualize it, you can


see the process. It may take you a very long time but I think if it's an ordinary human task, I mean I suppose it applies even to dying, as you know from the researches of Dr. Kubler-Reich, every dying person goes through a phase of actual resistance to death because that's part of what's inbuilt in the human being. And then generally, especially if they're helped by this, they reach a point when they can actually allow themselves to die. So I mean I think you see that this is what a good therapist does, like you gave me the symbol book yesterday, I presume this is the sort of therapist who when she has got all the terrible, terrible complexities of the case out before her, doesn't get depressed but says, look in principle there's an answer to this. And she gradually helps the patient see that there is a way out of this. It may take me five years, I mean I can think of somebody who I started, look she looked


60 and she finished after five years at 40, which is what she actually was. But it wasn't impossible. But if at any point, because I moved very well after the first year once she passed me on the street and didn't say good morning to me. So I said next time, why didn't you say good morning? She said, I was pretty sure you wouldn't say good morning to me. So I said, well try again next time and I go back, see what happens. Gradually we worked, I mean it took me five years to get through this. But it could be done. You see, after all Peter, I think this is really why the fate thing, we're not examined. That's why it's worth examining, especially for us. Of course we may need it for our own lives, we may need it to help other people too. Most people, much too readily, suppose they cannot do this or that, the other thing. Why is that?


I mean why is that such a huge job? I think it's partly because, as I say, in many people in a society like this, I mean look at the enormous number of people who go in America, who have had to go to about five psychiatrists. The more money you've got, the more you take on. It seems to be true, doesn't it? I mean I'm constantly confronted with examples of this. And actually what happens is that the psychiatrists buy their strawberries on it. I mean they play their tennis on it and all that kind of thing. So it's very easy to feel you are in a double-bind situation where you could see your way out. I'm not of course at all laughing at people going to psychiatrists as such. But if you like, I suppose what does need examining is what kinds of things you can do for yourself. After all, a good therapist is actually going to get you back at this point, isn't he or she?


They may have to help you. You may need some sedatives because you may have got so agitated. You can't even think about the thing steadily. You may need some sedatives. You may need some special help before you get down to the human thing. But when you get to the human thing, then it's really simply behaving more humanly about it. And of course sometimes it's a question of accepting the limitations of what it is to be human. Because you can't know every aspect of the situation you're going to confront in the next 10 minutes. Well, you've improvised before, why not improvise again? Is that going well enough for the moment? Oh, for myself, yes. I guess partly the problem is the term faith. Well, let me tell you an interesting example that I learned from an American doctor on a plane.


The laws are very good about things like this. Well, I was practically alone on a plane with a man who was sitting not very far away. And I discovered he was a doctor from Oklahoma. I think I may have told you that. I think I may have told the two Humanities brothers about this on the way up. So they must forgive me for repeating it. But it was a very, very interesting and unlikely kind of thing. This just shows you how somebody who takes responsibility for seeing into the causes can often get a long way. And he was involved in the team with people with young youthful adolescents who were delinquents. They had 20 cases or something like that as a sample. And they put to themselves this fairly sensible question, is there anything we can discover in common between all these 20 people? And they went through an absolute list of things. And then they discovered, to their astonishment, that the one thing that was constant in all cases was that these people drank much more milk than anybody else. You'd never think it would if it was milk. And they found that provided they gave them smaller quantities of milk each day in their diets,


they became less and less violent and in the end they became really pure. And it was simply a dietary imbalance caused by drinking milk. Not vodka, but milk. It was astonishing. It was very astonishing. Very fascinating case. But you see, not at all unlikely. This is how Carl Jung began his work as a psychiatrist. When he was a young medical student, he was shown around hospital and told by a consultant, of course, people in that world, there's nothing we can do about them. And Jung said to him, is it true? It's the capacity to say to yourself, is this really the case? Do I just have to sit down with this? And of course, somebody or other, it's just like Dr. Kubrosch's work with the time. I mean, is there anything we can do for them? And of course, the doctors wouldn't cooperate. You see, it's so fascinating, even the doctors, when she was officially appointed to the hospital,


who remember the first thing then, all the doctors said, nobody ever dies on my ward. They wouldn't admit that anybody died on their wards. That would be a failure, wouldn't it? But they didn't see there was another kind of success, that they could also be involved in, namely helping these people die when they had to. And that's what she eventually got to do. She got it by what appeared to be an accident, to remember. That's how she got the work going, because she was playing over a tape one day with a doctor from a particular ward, went and stopped by and was so fascinated by it, that he let her come in and deal with such people. And so that's how her work began. So I mean, I think this may not seem like theology. You can see it in the long run. It has a very great deal to do with our spiritual life, the real belief that we shouldn't just too easily give up. And that's what God gave us understanding for. And obviously, we now use it to do a lot of very,


very sinister and complicated things. Why shouldn't we also do human things that can be complicated, which need a great deal of patience? And so, of course, we thoroughly enjoyed the journey with the doctor, and I had a very great time meeting him. I think I wrote a card somewhere, but I can't remember whether I have or not. Of course, one can't. Usually, of course, people who are in jobs like that have got no time to correspond with one another. One can't do it oneself, and they can't do it either. But it's so good when you meet somebody like that, who's been confronted with that sort of problem, and said, you know, I'm probably just not going to resign myself. There must be some reason why this happens. And just like the very thing you started with, Mark, as you see, it was involuntary. The chaps didn't know that their appetite for two quarts of milk a day, whatever it was they drank, was an unusual thing, and in fact had any connection with the way they behaved. And it was actually proved.


Because it all got better when you cut it down. Shall we take a pause? We've got a lot more to do this afternoon. It's quite fascinating, suddenly. Nessie, would you like to take a pause? We don't have to go outside. Well, seven up, yes? So none of these things can be explained to Alice. But if you like, it seems to me that the human situation in relation to God can be analysed much more simplistically in this sort of way. You see, you could use your human capacity, you use your mind and your will to change what you can change and what you should change. And you can accept what you cannot change. And then you put yourself into the condition of being under the influence of divine providence. Because in order to do this, you'll have to transform your anger


into patience and perseverance. Now, the same person who keeps on doing the same old thing, never uses their mind or will about it, rebels against what they can't change, is full of un-transformed anger. They're determined to die of cancer. If they don't die of something else. And they're in a situation of pure fate. And of course, the more completely they submit to all these secondary causes, because they never use their mind and will, the more fate-bound they are. I didn't mean to go into it so thoroughly, but it is such an important subject. I mean, this is very, very elementary, but it's infinitely more complex. I mean, do remember, I'm not saying that any of this is easy. Because, as in the case of the boys with milk and so on, sometimes you may need somebody around


who can actually help you to see what you need to see. Somebody who's studied the question, or somebody who can look at it slightly more objectively than you can yourself, because you may be under emotional influences of some sort. There may be lots of reasons why you keep on doing the same thing, which are not just a failure to use your mind and will. Sometimes you may be using it too much. You may be looking the wrong way. You're on direction for what the causes are. So you might need some help. But at any rate, it's trying to be human about what you can be human about, what you can change. And accepting to what you can't is one of the iconic anonymous things, you know. And I think this is... So it does mean that even if you die of it,


you'll die in peace, and you'll die happy. Whereas if you're always rebelling against it and not doing anything for yourself, then you're going to be destroyed by it in some form or another. I was comparing it to the Greek idea of fate. I was thinking of someone like Oedipus, who will kill your father and marry your mother. To them, it seems like fate meant something you couldn't get around, or no matter what you did, this would happen to you. It does. And of course, this is really what the fathers were opposed to. And they wanted to say this was nothing. They were saying that wasn't really quite true. It was something. Because all these things are causes. And although, of course, the Oedipus story comes out because the other chain of causes actually works out, as often as it does in some cases, be it mentioned examples, be it at least one case of somebody


who does appear to have tracked down my fate. But I think the interiority of experience is so extremely important to take into account here. You see, some people lose every opinion and remain on the surface. They float all the same. Some people have everything in the world and it's miserable sin. Does there come a point where, in a sense, you have to drop all of this and just let the situation happen to you? Of course. Fortunately, most of the time, we don't have to look at anything like this, like anything so complicated to do. I think we only have to look at it very close. If we're forced to, I mean, say, if, for instance, we see there's something that looks as though it could and should be changed, but we don't know how to do it,


we might need to ask somebody else to help us to find out. I was thinking in terms of, like, obedience. You know, like, you do it. And my experience has been, like, in those situations, when I ask for it, I think I've experienced something that I could say I have a sense of what I've read. And I'd say, yeah, this is probably what it means, that I have to let go of what I think is right. Yes, you're going to be asked for it, of course. And after all, you see, in some cases, within the context of obedience, obviously, as you know, it can be worked out in a very sinister way. But supposing that the subject is making an act of conscience when they ask for something, and the superior is exercising conscience when he says yes or no, then, of course, this will be very positively in the stream of divine providence. And if at least one of them is doing that, it will certainly be for somebody. You see what I mean?


Is that good enough? I'd like to go on a bit further, if we could. I'm not on this, I mean. I'd like to go on a bit further than that. I think we've done enough, haven't we? Just to show what's at issue. As I say, this is not to say that it's all just deadpan easy, because in some cases, we may have to do quite a lot of hard work to get out of it. But at any rate, what I finish this by saying is, it's true and reasonable that like our Lord in his humility, we may need someone to help us to carry our cross some other way, or even find out what it is. Just as in the fairy story of Rumpelstiltskin, you'll remember that to know the name of the wizard of the taunts, this is one of the most important ways of overcoming his influence. It doesn't cure his schizophrenia, of course.


So naturally, when we've done all the thinking we can and should, and Lord, we've done all the thinking we can and should about that today, then the real refute is prayer. Let's say that which puts us in direct contact with God. Now, this is obviously not the point to begin a treatise on prayer. But I do think this was the right way to fit our thoughts on providence and faith into their right context. And prayer in St. Thomas's analysis of the virtues comes in the second part. Of the second part of the psalm, which is why I've got that big fan prop here. It's an enormous sign. And it's placed among the interior acts of religion. And religion, in its turn, is placed among the virtues annexed to justice. This will be another chapter. I don't want to finish with this one. Good enough? Not being God, I can't tell you everything.


So, St. Thomas, it may seem a very curious thing. Justice is concerned with giving what is owed. And he annexes religion to justice. Not because, of course, we can give God what we owe him. But, say it's a kind of justice. It's the nearest we can get to other sorts of things. You can see this. I'm giving this part because it's not heard as satisfactory. But it's rather useful to see why it is. I think in the course of this, he says several very clarifying things. One of the, on the religion, we're going to have prayer. Which, of course, is one of the things that puts us


also into contact with God in the way that we owe him. As... I think we may say, this is rather useful to remember, I think. I think we may say that religion is concerned precisely with our separation from God. Which is why things like problems, faith and prayer even, are in some way something of problem, or can become so. In heaven, there'll be no problem about any of these things. Religion is in fact, as we may correctly say, the virtue appropriate to and indicative of our separation from God in this world. I think this is implicit in the two definitions of religion, which St. Thomas inherits from his predecessors. And we find it in the second part of the second part. The normal way to write that is secondary. Secondary to, to question 81.


We're talking about religion. In Article 1, he mentions two definitions he's inherited. St. Isidore of Seville, saying in his huge book, Vetemologies, what words mean, the religion is concerned with the business of choosing again the things which pertain to divine cult. Augustine, on the other hand, connects the word with a verb which means to bind. So we see they're rather similar sorts of things. And Thomas sees justice in either view. Since religion is concerned with our ordering of ourselves in relation to God, as to an unfailing source and final goal. I suppose we can say, if you like, just as we had sports and courses. I have before me a number of things to do. But the goal, this is God. And so, acts of religion are going to put me,


this is really where I'm actually at work on my faith situation, to become a providential, are going to put me into choosing again what God is willing about the situation. Now, never forget, of course, I don't want to come back to this too often, I promise not to do it very often, but do remember that what God wills, amongst other things, is as I should think, when it's appropriate to do so. So you don't say your prayers for things you ought to decide about yourself. At least you don't only say them about them. Now it's in Article 5, I think, of that particular question, which says something that may surprise some people, but draws a distinction of a kind which all of us certainly find we have to draw at some point. And thereby, incidentally, allows room


for all kinds of aspects of religion which we, especially nowadays, see must be made. St. Thomas asked the question, is religion a theological virtue? And this forces him to take a close look at religion. Now, in order to understand, of course, this is something we'll have to have if we meet again at some point, I'm not quite sure what point, because I don't quite know how we all plan out, but the theological virtue is... Let's take those things which affect my mind and will in respect of faith, hope, and love. That's God's will.


So... And so... It's not just that we believe what God says, but we believe in God. And it's much clearer in the case of the virtue of hope, because, in fact, when we hope in God, we hope for the strength to be able to do something which, humanly speaking, we cannot do. In other words, the source of our hope is not something we can count on in ourselves, but something we can't count on in God. And love, of course, changes the special kind of love that unites us to God, in our neighbour, in a Christian way. Now, in religion,


it's precisely this element of directness which is lacking. For although God is the object of religious cult, God as such cannot be attained by cult. For religion is concerned with matters of the heart, matters of cult, which are, in fact, not the end, but the means, the contact with God. God cannot be obtained by cult.