What if you have it all – And you are still unhappy?

We have so much and yet we say we are unhaaaaapy.

We live in a time with:

  • automated dish washing
  • clothes washing
  • air conditioning
  • refrigeration
  • central heat
  • mini-computers, TVs, and libraries in our pockets
  • automobiles
  • intercontinental travel
  • cheap clothing and shoes
  • cosmetics
  • fresh food and cuisine variety
  • health care
  • endless entertainment options

Most of us are very wealthy. A person making $30,000 in the United States has a higher quality of living than a European monarch in the 1800s. And King Nebuchanezer would have sold half of his Babylonian kingdom just to purchase your magical iPhone 5 with a cracked screen.

And yet we are often so unhaaaapy. Why?

I’ve been re-reading the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes (attributed to King Solomon as a testimony of his repentance), and I was struck with one of the most powerful passages in the entire Bible. It’s the last three verses of Ecclesiastes chapter 5.

Behold, what I have seen to be good and to be fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life which God has given him, for this is his lot. 19 Every man also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and find enjoyment in his toil—this is the gift of God. 20 For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.

He grants in verse 19 that God has given some people wealth and possessions. But that’s not enough. He adds “and the power to enjoy them and accept his lot.”

That’s it folks. Getting the best or next [iPhone, spouse, house, retirement account, car, jet, diamond, child, etc.] is never enough. It takes a supernatural superadded gift of being able to enjoy it. Solomon says, “this is the gift of God.”

Ultimately salvation and access to the Beatific Vision of the Holy Trinity (that is, Heaven) is our final goal and purpose for this life. But along the way in this life, we should also pray for the “the gift of God” which is the “power to enjoy them and to accept [your] lot and find enjoyment in this life.”

So add this to you prayers daily: “God give me the Ecclesiastes gift to enjoy whatever you have given and me and whatever you will give me.”

Godspeed,
Dr. Taylor Marshall

Will you know everything in Heaven? Thomas Aquinas answers

Will you know everything in Heaven? This question is best answered by exploring the spiritual gift of “counsel.”

One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is “counsel.”

What is counsel? Thomas Aquinas defines counsel in this way:

Again, it is proper to the rational creature to be moved through the research of reason to perform any particular action, and this research is called counsel. (STh II-II, q. 52, a. 1).

So counsel is research led by the influence of the Holy Spirit. Thomas also explains how it relates to the virtue of prudence – making right decisions.

It might be asked whether this gift of counsel remains in Heaven. Do the saints in Heaven need counsel? Do the angels need counsel?

Thomas says that counsel remains in the blessed and in the angels. Why?

Because the human saints and the angels in Heaven do not know everything. Contrary to what you may have learned in Sunday school, God doesn’t reveal everything to us in Heaven. There will remain mysteries.

The Blessed Virgin Mary knows more than the angels and saints, but she is still limited in our celestial knowledge. Only the Persons of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) know all things. Only the three person of the Holy Trinity are omniscient.

Because humans and angels in Heaven are not omniscient, we will continue to seek spiritual counsel. Angels are guided into helping those on earth. Even humans are guided by counsel from the Holy Spirit in aiding those on earth. Yes, Holy Mary, Saint Joseph, Saint Peter, Saint Therese of Lisieux, and your guardian angel continue to exercise that spiritual gift of “counsel.”

And we on earth especially need spiritual counsel. How do we gain it:

  1. by not clouding our minds with venial or mortal sin.
  2. by checking in with the Holy Spirit frequently throughout the day “Am I living your will for my life?”
  3. by reading the documents written by the Holy Spirit – Sacred Scripture. Here we find explicit teaching and advice for our lives.
  4. by explicitly asking the Holy Spirit to give us counsel on difficult problems in our lives.

Godspeed,
Dr Taylor Marshall

PS: You might also enjoy my Podcast: Did the Holy Spirit really appear as a Real Dove?

Is Our Salvation Based on the Concepts of Debt and Law?

I just happened upon your blog so I admit that I have not read your books or very much of your blog. However, it concerned me that in this article, you suggest that our salvation was accomplished by payment of a debt.

I am a Catholic and that is not what I believe. The concept of “debt” implies that sin is a sort of legal problem rather than an ontological one. However, I will hold off (for now!) on sharing any further thoughts because quite possibly I have misunderstood you.

Thank you Mary. I love how you hold off on judgment and ask for clarity. So often in the Catholic theological community, people start casting stones. I appreciate your moderation, prudence, and charity. Let’s look more deeply on this topic of debt and law.

“Ontological” = referring to being:

For new readers, by “ontological,” Mary means “having to do with our being or nature” (from Greek ὄν (gen. ὄντος) meaning being. Ontology is the study of being.

If you’d like to get a dictionary or lexicon of all these philosophical words used in Catholic theology, please download my book (for free), Thomas Aquinas in 50 Pages (top right corner of taylormarshall.com).

Ontological or Debt/Law?

Salvation is ontological (the elevation of our human nature) and entails Christ transforming us “in Him” into “new creations.” We partake of the divine nature of Christ through His humanity. The hypostatic union becomes the bridge by which we partake of the divine nature. We are deified and in the Beatific Vision, Thomas Aquinas teaches that we will become “deiform” while remaining human and creatures.

So yes, ontological all the way. Catholics (like the Eastern Orthodox) teach that salvation is chiefly a transformation and elevation of human nature.

However, Scripture is replete of examples also discussing salvation in terms of both law and debt/remission.

It’s true Protestants focus almost solely on legal/forensic categories and hence Catholics tend to move away from them. This is a mistake on the Catholic’s part.

We are “freed from the law”. We are “justified” (legal term). Our debts are paid. The jubilee remission of debts is inaugurated by Christ.

Our terms “remission” and “redemption” (to buy back) are financial terms.

The Greek word for “redemption” is strongly legal and financial: ἀπολύτρωσις. It literally means “buying back from, re-purchasing, winning back what was previously forfeited.”

Saint Paul repeatedly refers to how the baptized have been “purchased” by the blood of Christ: “you were bought with a price” (1 Cor 6:20).

Christ Himself uses money examples as an analogy of sin remission: “And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt” (Matthew 18:27). “So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’” (Luke 16:5). “And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).

It’s not either ontological or legal/debt. It’s all. It’s both/and.

Thomism on Nature and Law

As a Thomist, I would go on to say that all true law (lex) must necessarily based on being (esse). In fact, if a law does not conform to being (natural law), according to Thomas it is not a law at all.

This is why Thomas divides history and covenants into three epochs: Natural Law (Adam to Moses), Old Law (Moses to Christ), and New Law (Christ till Parousia).

For him “New Law” is just another way of saying “New Creation.” Law and ontology are parallel.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Godspeed,
Dr Taylor Marshall

Mental Experiment: How Would Demons Lead You to Hell?

Your Personal Screwtape Letter

C.S. Lewis wrote a popular book titled Screwtape Letters in which a senior demon writes to an apprentice demon on how to sinfully deceive humans into Hell.

st antony of egypt

During Lent, it may be helpful to imagine a draft “Screwtape letter” written by demon precisely about you.

Here’s a mental experiment for Lent discernment:

Knowing what I know about myself, my spiritual strengths and weaknesses, how would a demon go about deceiving me and bring me into Hell?

Which lies, insecurities, and ingrained vices would the demon use to deceive you into betraying Christ by apostasy or mortal sin. Think about that for a moment.

For review, here are the 7 deadly sins explained in this video on “How to Make a Catholic Confession.”

Every military general contemplates the weak areas of his armies and his strategy. That is where he places the most effort into improvement.

Pray to the Holy Spirit for wisdom. Use that wisdom during Lent to build up your spiritual defenses where you are weak.

And remember, “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4). Stay near to Jesus and the evil ones will never triumph!

Have a Joyful Lent,
Taylor

Reviews of the New Saint Thomas Institute from Members

Looking for real reviews of actual members and students of the New Saint Thomas Institute? Please browse through the comments made by our happy students:

  • “I am totally enjoying being a member of the New Saint Thomas Institute! I am like a sponge soaking up all the goodness and richness of it all. So grateful for it!” – Jacqueline S
  • “You have selected a great apostolate with NSTI. Dr Taylor Marshall has a unique way of presenting material that is informative and on target. There are many resources available to aid you in your learning and further self-study on subject matter. There are groups, forums and Certificate courses to provide many hours of information to grow more in our Catholic faith. God Bless.” – Daniel D
  • “I can’t recommend NSTI’s postings more highly! I’m a 76 year old widow of a Permanent Deacon in our Catholic church, with great appreciation for always learning more about the foundation of Christianity! Dr. Marshall’s presentations expand my appreciation for how every little thing, if there IS any LITTLE thing, reveals the glory of GOD!!!” – Mary Goettsche
  • “I’m regretful that I did not join [New Saint Thomas] Institute earlier – when my children were still at home….. I feel like I missed an opportunity.” – Pamela B
  • “These resources are awesome! I can learn so much, and I don’t even have to take out a student loan!” Betsy L
  • “I am so happy with this Institute! It is amazingly simple to read and listen to. Once I get started for the day, I find it difficult to stop learning!” – Shirley Russell
  • “I am taking your Catholic Theology course and I thank you for the opportunity to have a deeper understanding of my faith. There is no much that I do not know and I hunger for more. The mass becomes more alive to me because of your teachings on St. Thomas’ Summa. Again, thank you and may God continue to bless you and the New St. Thomas Institute. Regards, Marissa”
  • “Thank you. Every module aids me in remembering my teachings & studies at the University of Saint Thomas (Houston, TX). This Institute is absolutely wonderful and is such a blessing. NSTI came into my life at the perfect time. I will forever be a student (&/or Teacher) of Theology, Philosophy, & History. St. Thomas Aquinas has proven to be whom God wants me to learn & relearn my Catholic Faith…and thank goodness too! God Bless!” – Michael M
  • “Thank you so much for this amazing institute and how it offers so much so willingly to women like me. I live in Dubai, UAE and am married to George and we have three children Pio, Vincent and Claire and i have a feeling we might be having our fourth. Please do keep us in prayer.” – Carolyn Riccio Thanel Absolutely love being a member of NSTI!
  • “The New Saint Thomas Institute has been absolutely wonderful. I have been a member for 18 months and completed all three courses. I met my goal. I have achieved what I set out to do when I joined. I have a pretty good understanding of who St. Thomas was and will continue to study him. I guess I feel like I graduated. I plan to take the monthly tuition and add it to my children’s college fund each month. We are hoping to give them the opportunity to go to a Catholic Institution (one that is true to the Church – not a Catholic in name only school). You guys have been wonderful. I plan to continue to listen to Dr. Marshall’s podcast, especially on Revelation. Peace.” – Joe Scaffidi
  • “I am so glad I stumbled across the NSTI, I tell everyone about it.” – John Germaine
  • “Thanks Dr Marshall for this opportunity to learn. I really liked the video and am excited to continue.” – Patricia A
  • “I thank God to give me this opportunity to be part of NSTI. God bless.
    I will pray for you. Your teaching is so simple and clear, thanks.” – Christiane N
  • “I am really enjoying the current certificates and learning a lot (which was my original purpose in joining NSTI.)” – Frank M
  • “I am new to the class and love it. Thank you for making this resource available to us.
    These videos are exactly what I have been looking for! I love the clarity with which the materials are presented! Thank you!” – Janet V
  • “I went to 12 years of Catholic school and 2 years of Catholic College, I used to wonder why I didn’t know more about my faith with all this schooling. It seems the more I study and learn the more I realize how much I didn’t know, NSTI is a big help. It’s one of my many resources. St. Augustine says true happiness comes from knowledge of God. Joy and surprise!! The closer I get to God the more I want to share the gospel. I want to go heaven. Praise God, I want everyone to go to heaven.” – Katherine L
  • “This is such an AWESOME resource for me to know my faith, defend my faith, and bring others back to my Catholic faith, that I can’t wait to get started! We can’t really financially afford it with a one person income and 5 children, but it is so worth the sacrifice. We won’t go out to eat much but instead feed our souls with the fullness of the truth. Thanks be to God for the NSTI and what you are doing for the Kingdom of God!” – Sandra
  • “This is my first Certification course with NSTI! This lesson, like the others, has a ton of amazing additional resources, namely all of the Summa references. I treated myself to the beautiful blue hard copy version that Taylor recommends of the Summa. Even though it’s the same words, there’s something about holding the hard copy in my hands and reading Aquinas’ words that makes this study that much more enjoyable!” – Ann F
  • “I am so glad I found this Institute on my Facebook page. I have not been a member well on the 1 dollar trial that is but I have learned so much from the short time I have signed up and I will be upgrading to premium because, this Institute is just what I needed for my journey. Thank you and God bless.” – Joey N
  • “Thanks to your explanations, Dr. Marshall, I can engage my wife, a lapsed (very lapsed) Episcopalian in conversations about God, Catholicism and even her own faith. Like most Episcopalians I know talk of such things seems inappropriate outside of the appropriate setting, i.e. church service. Your gentle and clear explanations help me engage her now on such things outside the “appropriate” setting. Thank you.” – Stephen V
  • “I am really happy that I joined. I learn a lot about my religion. I don’t need a certificate.i only need to feed my knowledge about my religion so that I can pass it onto friends, relatives and neighbors.” Julie T
  • “I have teenage daughters and I have prayed about how – as a mom – I could speak to them to let them know how special and divinely created they are. This [program] is so helpful. I am also a new student at our local university again! I’m 49 and I’m very proud that I have taken the leap to get back to school and get a degree in Early Childhood Education. Anyway, you totally rock and I am LOVING New Saint Thomas [Institute]!” – Mary B
  • If you would like to join the New Saint Thomas Institute or read more reviews by customers and students, please visit our home page for more information: newsaintthomas.com.

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