Thomas Aquinas Was Wrong

Thomas was out for a ride with his vehicle when suddenly a man on a flying pig whizzes by.  He races towards the stream whereat the airborne sus scrofa domesticus had performed a flawless vertical landing.  Dismounting, he became even more amazed to encounter Saint Augustine, who was ladling water from the stream into a container.  Thomas inquires: “What are you doing?”  Augustine replies, “I am transferring the stream into this canteen.”  Thomas exclaims: “That’s impossible: it won’t fit!”  Augustine looks at Thomas for a long moment, then answers:“Exactly,” upon which he disappeared.  Therefore, Aquinas was wrong.

 

 

This essay deals particularly with questions 9 through 12 of the Summa Theologica IIIa, which involve the knowledge of Christ in His human nature.  But before examining Aquinas, some basic ideas must be put on the table.

The intellect resides in the soul.  However, the soul is joined to the body.  The intellect thus “resides” in the brain.  More accurately, parallel operations exist between the soul and brain.  Neuroscientists, virtually all, will say that brain activity is the basis of human thinking and thus consciousness.  While many are material atheists, they are nevertheless right on this point, albeit only half right.

The mind, the intellect, pick your term, is a property of the soul but as said above, is “mirrored” by the brain.  Indeed, it is fair to conjecture this is a one-to-one relationship for certain operations, and indeed potentially all.  Excluding mystical experiences, a person cannot think anything without tandem activity in both the soul and brain.  This is the simple consequence of human nature: a soul and body composite.

The soul is vast, even infinite in the sense of containing an infinity because the soul is immortal.  Here, the sense of infinity is from mathematics, which understands a hierarchy of infinities; not the theological sense from antiquity that only distinguishes between finite and infinite.

The brain is, of course, finite.  The implication is obvious.  The intellect is constrained by the brain.  In this world, human intellect is by necessity finite.  By now, the reader should understand where this is going.  If not, please turn on your brain…

 

The Knowledge of Christ Incarnate

Aquinas stated in Question 10 Article 2 that Christ’s human mind knew what everyone would ever say or think (and hence see) from Adam down to the end of the world.  The human brain is an amazing thing.  When storing information at the molecular level, this might actually fit (in reasonable detail) within the given volume.  But considering how the chemistry actually works, and counting brain cells, this is quite preposterous.

But Questions 9 Article 3 quickly puts an end to this matter: all possible creatural knowledge is said to be held by His human mind.  This knowledge would include all possible mathematical proofs, which is infinite.  Obviously, this cannot fit.

Further, Questions 11 deals specifically with infused knowledge with Article 1 stating Christ as man knows all that any human mind could learn by reason. This includes all human sciences, such as math.  Article 5 declares this is habitual knowledge, to be used as pleased.  Article 6 states this knowledge is orderly: decomposed into distinct classes.  Thomas doesn’t indicate how long it would take for Christ to remember something, but presumably he would say instantly, for undoubtedly it would be an imperfection if not.

Okay.  So Christ has a mind the size of a planet (or an expanding universe), all packed into about 100 billion brain cells.  This for Aquinas was not a problem as his container was a human soul, which could readily hold that.  But what Thomas didn’t consider was the relationship of the intellect to the brain, a peril of living in the 13th century.  For if Christ has a true human nature, which indeed He does, then Aquinas’ analysis falls apart: the described intellect could not exist in a human brain in the present world.

 

One Person, Two Natures, Three Minds

To some extent, how the mind operates with respect to soul and body (brain) is unknown and unknowable.  Yet, science continues to pierce brain chemistry and neural functionality.  This, coupled with the soul being united to the body, does actually reveal much.  For it is unreasonable to believe, generally, the soul “has a mind of its own” that differs radically in capacity and operation from the brain, as that would contradict what united means.

This brings up the philosophical dilemma, commonly stated as the mind/body problem.  Briefly, the body is subject to the laws of physics.  But the mind does have “a mind of its own.”  There are thus two sets of laws in play.  How can the mind effect the body without violating its law, and vis-a-versa?  And to keeps things interesting, grace also needs to be accounted for.

The theories that attempt to resolve that problem are beyond the scope of this article, but it suffices to say the question goes to the heart of the created order.  One final point before examining the implications.  Consciousness and brain activity are not synonymous: biological cells are no more sentient than tinker-toys.  Also, much of the thought process occurs in the subconscious.  One can sometimes get a peek into this, but the memory and pattern-recognition generally operates in a subconscious manner.

So how many minds did Jesus have in His earthly life?  The Church says two: one human and one Divine – stemming from One Person with two natures.  However, the implication of Aquinas’ theology is that Christ had three minds, His Divine mind plus two human minds.

Granted, Thomas presumably would have rejected that.  But a mind seems necessary for the infinite knowledge, and yet the brain’s limited thinking apparently entails another mind.  Specifically, there would be dual consciousness with the greater by necessity not united to the body; though these would have to operate in tandem, in harmony. 

It could be hypothesized only one consciousness exists associated with the soul, but a mindless brain impervious to a frontal lobotomy has the ring of a brain dead proposition.  There are other possibilities, such as the immediate transfer of knowledge to the brain as needed.  But ultimately, this entails intellectual activity not united with the body, outside of a super-conscious acting upon the conscious, which would make the super-mind/mind/body problem a missing entry in the world of philosophy.

Finally, the Church doesn’t explicitly teach that Christ has two minds.  Rather, the (infallible) doctrine is that Christ has two wills: one per nature.  Thus, the two human minds would have to share the same human will.  While this might be possible, what it doesn’t resemble is human nature.

Who would have thought that an Christological heresy still remained?  Though it is reminiscent of the Nestorian heresy: which mind died on the cross?  However, the problem is worse.  Aquinas said this knowledge existed at the moment when the Son of God assumed a human nature.  In terms of the body, this can be taken as a single cell, which is effectively brainless.

Rather humorously, Doctor Frankenstein’s creature had a brain/mind without a soul.  The Angelic Doctor’s “creature” had a soul/mind without a brain!  But not so fast.  There is another dimension that demands attention.

 

Scientia Beata

Aquinas’ starting point for Christ’s knowledge is the beatific vision. (Questions 9 Article 3).  Jesus as man possessed the beatific vision.  Thomas’ reasoning is Christ’s beatific knowledge included all possible creatural knowledge.  Namely, His human nature was hypostatically joined to the Divine Nature and must be perfect in all respects.  But for it to be a perfect human nature, it actually must be a human nature…

The beatific vision is immediate: it is God directly revealing Himself.  This cannot be expressed in language because God is ineffable.  The beatific vision is given to the soul, the body plays no part.  Any brain activity would be purely accidental and not the beatific vision per se.  Thus, so far, the “three minds” problem hasn’t reared its head.

The beatific knowledge (scientia beata) has two objects.  The primary is the Divine Essence as described above.  The secondary is things external to the Creator.  Thomas said this secondary knowledge included everything that pertained to the blessed.  Thus for Christ’s humanity, according to Dr. Ludwig Ott, it included all “such knowledge [that] was necessary or useful for His vocation as Redeemer.”1

This could be construed as not overflowing the brain because what Jesus taught during His short public ministry was relatively small, quantitatively.  However, because Christ is the Head of Creation and the Judge of all mankind, St. Thomas concluded this included all real things, namely, the entire created order.

One quick point on the distinction between scientia beata and scientia infusa (infused knowledge).  The manner of transmission is not problematic.  It is the quantity, which was actually the same measure for Aquinas as both are infinite sets.  Thus, the distinctions made in Questions 9 through 11 are independent of the underlying issue.

So can it be said that Christ’s knowledge was limited, or did His soul know all things, past present and future?  Answering an inquiry in 1918, the Holy Office decreed it cannot be safely taught that Christ didn’t know all things (D 2183 – D 2185).  Similarly, Pope Pius XII declared Christ “He has the members of His mystical body always and constantly present to Him, and He embraces all with His redeeming love.”2

The Schoolmen are thus upheld.  However, the question and resolution predates Aquinas.  An early heresy declared “neither the Son, nor the angels know the day and the hour” regarding the end of the world (citing Scripture is never safe).  Saint Gregory the Great answered this in the 6th century by pointing out this is only a manner of speech: the Son in His Divinity obviously knows all things, and in the absolute sense.  (D 248)

The backdrop is the Arian heresy that denied the Divinity of Christ, followed by the Nestorian heresy that maintained the Son was two separate Persons.  Saint Gregory was now fighting the Agnoctae, with all three heresies relying upon the above verse, Mark 13:32.  But Pope Gregory went on to ascribe this knowledge to Christ’s humanity via He “did not know this from His human nature” but rather “through the power of His Godhead.”

In particular, Gregory was approving the teaching of the Patriarch Euologius of Alexandria: “Christ’s humanity which was taken up in the hypostasis of the inaccessible and substantial wisdom of Christ cannot be ignorant of anything of the past or the future.”3  Indeed, Gregory based his argument on the Hypostatic Union.  In fine, Jesus knew "all things" even in His humanity.

To put this in context, the Monothelite controversy was boiling at the time and was soon to boil over.  Pope Gregory’s declaration was from August of 600.  The doctrine of “one energy” was posited in 622 only to be abandoned and reformulated as “one will” in 638.  This was finally settled at Third Council of Constantinople (680-681).  Namely, the Person of Christ has two wills, not one.

At the Incarnation, the two natures “undergo no confusion, no change, no separation, no division; at no point was the difference between the natures taken away through the union.”  Moreover, the Council decreed: “And we proclaim equally two natural volitions or wills in him and two natural principles of action which undergo no division, no change, no partition, no confusion…”

The verbage from Euologius (per transalation) was “taken up.”  The evident sense is absorbed/consumed.  This obviously contradicts the two natures undergo “no change.”  Monothelitism originated and was cultivated in the Eastern Church.  Gregory based his decision on beliefs from an Eastern Church Patriarch that, apparently as interpreted, would be condemned as heretical 80 years later.  This doesn’t invalidate the decision, but it does undermine its basis.

Returning to the 13th century, Aquinas did place this limit: Christ’s knowledge did not extend to all possible things because that would render His human nature as Divine.  But if there is a continuum, a universe with even two particles in motion is infinite in that infinite precision is required to specify this relationship (Newtonian or Quantum).  Multiply that by the number of created particles yields a rather large number of things to know, that is, unless “all things” is from a macro viewpoint.

 

Cardinals and Cardinality

Now consider, more deeply, the Holy Office decree of 1918: it cannot be safely taught Christ didn’t know all things.  And in particular, within the context of Questions 9 Article 3.  The actual language from the Summa includes “infused knowledge… [of] intelligible species of all things to which the possible intellect is in potentiality.”  Thus, the paraphrase “all possible creatural knowledge”4 is accurate, though Aquinas qualified as “proportioned to the human mind,” which really has no limit in terms of what is possible.  Note, however, this conclusion is metaphysical.  The inclusion of “possible” knowledge verses what will actually be known within history is important because it potentially explodes roughly into all possible things.  Now, let’s do some math.

The hierarchy of infinities is 0 1 2 3 4… where 0 denotes the cardinality of the countable infinity of the integers; 1 is the uncountable infinity of the real numbers; 2 is the set of all subset of 1 – a set so large that few do much with it nor anything beyond…

At the material level, the universe is of the order 1, presuming the time/space continuum is an actual continuum and not quantized (all quanta values would make it finite).  So the problem from antiquity of knowing all possibilities of this universe is 2.  Now, God could create a creature with an intelligence operating at 2.  In comparison to Himself, it would still be nothing.  Furthermore, creatures of 3, 4 and so on could be created by God.  After all, the Almighty Lord is infinite in the truly limitless sense.

Thus, creatural knowledge (even restricted to our notion of logical systems) has no limit.  Mathematics has an infinitely expanding set of theorems with no limit in their cardinality.  This renders Aquinas saying Christ knew what everyone ever thought quite modest.  So what is the intelligence carnality of the Angels?  It could be finite, but why not 0 or beyond?

While there is no way of knowing, say it was 2.  Then the created universe is of order 2 with all possibilities now at 3.  In fine, a finite creature cannot know all its “permutations.”  This exposes a dilemma for pantheists (e.g. Modernists).  For if the universe is god itself, then god couldn’t fully know itself.

But the pertinent question here is: what’s the “cardinality” of the greatest creature?  The beatific vision must have a transcendental dimension, but does it also have an 0 (or greater) component, at least for some?  In this context, let’s examine the , restricted to D 2183:

Can it “be safely taught” that “It is not established that there was in the soul of Christ while living among men the knowledge which the blessed and the comprehensors have.”  The Sacred Congregation on Seminary and University Studies said “the answer must be: In the negative.”

Dropping the too many negatives and rephrasing with respects to the cardinality question, D 2183 safely becomes:

It must be taught that n >= m where n is the intelligence cardinality ordinal (ICO) of Christ while living among men and m is the greatest ICO of all creatures who will have the beatific vision.

This is reasonable since the number of created creatures will be finite.  But it becomes problematic if Aquinas’ notion of all possible creatural knowledge includes all possible creatures.  For then, both m and n are unbounded.  Or does the beatific vision itself throw in a monkey wrench?

God is eternal; whereas man lives on earth in time.  Upon death, man enters eternalness.  Eternalness has no end but includes change – at least with Purgatory and the resurrection of the body.  The usual definition of eternity (Boetius) has four parts: a life, without beginning or end, without succession, and of the most perfect kind – where perfect implies no change.

Only God is eternal, but after the Final Judgement, does eternalness take a step towards eternity by jettisoning change?  Some speculate the change aspect is of accidental nature.  On the other hand, changelessness seems to encroach upon the Godhead.  One thing is certain: the degree of blessedness cannot change.  But how blessedness is experienced is unknowable.

Within eternalness, infinite ages could unfold, not in our sense of time, but in some progression that involves change.  This form of eternalness doesn’t require augmentation in cardinality: 0 is sufficiently large.  But maybe the cardinality ordinal is exactly what constitutes an “age.”  God could reveal Himself more deeply in this manner forever.  Though always, when compared to Himself, the glory of Heaven would be vanishingly small.  Hence, in terms of Magisterial teaching, does D 2183 safely become:

It must be taught that n(t) >= m(t) where n(t) is Christ’s ICO at Eternalness Age t with m(t) the greatest ICO of all the blessed at t, with initial condition n(0) denoting Christ’s ICO while living among men and m(0) the maximum immediately following the General Judgement.

Cardinality increase does seem far-fetched.  Yet, it cannot be ruled out.  The nature of Heaven is incomprehensible, which doubtless has a metaphysics beyond the categories that we can presently understand.  Eye has not seen, ear has not heard…

It doesn’t seem safe to deny eternalness with progressive cardinalities because of 1 Corinthians 2:9.  But it also isn’t safe to teach such eternalness does exist.  This yields the sure conclusion: it isn’t safe to be a Cardinal.

 

Two Forms, One Matter

The Magisterium has made several non-definitive statements regarding Christ’s human soul.  These were based on the belief that the soul is the sole seat of understanding, which goes back at least to Aristotle, which was Aquinas’ primary starting point.

Aquinas concluded: “Therefore it is impossible for the intellectual principle to be a body.”  (1a Question 75 Article 2)  This is the position taken by this essay with respects to a sentient being.  Namely, any material thing, whether biological, microelectronics or tinker-toys, does not possess consciousness.

However, Aquinas further states: “Therefore the intellectual principle which we call the mind or the intellect has an operation per se apart from the body.”  In other words, the mind intrinsically operates separately from the brain.  Of course, today, science states the brain plays a massive role in human intelligence.

For example, consider the case of a healthy pre-born baby with an equally sound intellectual capacity in its soul.  But due to complications during birth, the infant is born brain damaged.  The soul, obviously, is not damaged by that physical event.  Yet, the intellect is left retarded.  Or more simply, consider the common effects of old age on the mind.  Again, the soul itself is not impacted (presumably).  Finally, consider when the brain disconnects from its senses and goes dormant: the soul too is inactive during sleep excepting the short burst of dreams.

So if the mind operates separately from the brain, why does the brain dominate?  The brain does contain the intellectual concepts and operates on them.  And nothing suggests this is not full containment: i.e. the mind and the brain fully coincide.  The point of the syllogism is the mind does not operate separately from the brain: the brain is the container the soul must work within.  In this respect, Aquinas was wrong.

At the great risk of mangling metaphysics, the following correction will be suggested.  Man is a body and soul composite.  According to Aquinas, the soul is pure form, which provides the form of this composite with the body providing the matter.  Namely, the soul provides the substantial form for man as a substance.

The naïve solution is: the form of composite is the composite of the forms.  Specifically, the body’s form and the soul’s form (i.e. the soul itself) combine to provide the substantial form of man.  Now, a good Thomist would point out that “it is impossible for another substantial form besides the intellectual soul to found in man.”  (Q75, A4).  End of discussion, right?

But similarly, Aquinas asserted: “it is quite impossible for several essentially different souls to be in one body.”  (Q75, A3)  This is patently false.  Nature provides counterexamples with polycephaly in the form of conjoined twins, who can even share a single torso and organs, including the heart.  Two souls, one body, so much for scholastic metaphysics?

The substantial form is what provides identity for a substance.  The brain provides the structure (form) for intellectual activity to which the soul conforms when united.  This form is quite “substantial.”  But in terms of strict identity, the soul is the sole provider of the substantial form.

But for conjoined twins, this is restricted to the basis organ (brain) for each hypostasis (person).  Each soul is the substantial form for each brain, with the substantial form of the shared body being a composite of the two souls.  Granted, conjoined twins are closer to a superposition of two bodies verses a single innate body.    But two headed creatures per genetics are clearly possible.  God didn’t create such beings, for obvious reasons, but He could have and made it work.

Furthermore, God could have created a single brain that operates simultaneously with two independent flows of thought, thus supporting two persons.  Logically, this is separable but not physically.  Metaphysically, this is two substantial forms (souls) for one matter (brain).  This provides another form of a two headed creatures (brain location not necessarily the head…).  The Tocci brothers would presumably have agreed.  Albeit possibly only one, and thus potentially triggering a fistfight (each controlled one arm…).

Shelving the disconcerting/confusing/perplexing/confounding/impenetrable mind/super_mind/body/substance/eternity/cardnality/editorial_space problem for the moment, Aquinas was clearly wrong on the point regarding the body and intelligence.  The upshot is the prior Church teachings rendered the brain/soul union superficially.

The issue becomes defining the requirements of the body/soul union as to constitute a true human nature.  Fallen nature isn’t pertinent here: there is no reason to believe Adam and Eve were not brain bound in their original innocence.  But what happens when the body/soul union is severed at death and then reestablished at the resurrection?  What does the soul remember and how does it think after death?  Is it temporarily left with the fundamental structure of its former brain as residue?

Moreover, this question does not hinge upon the cardinality considerations presented.  The ascribed finite knowledge is not human brain containable.  In her last years, Saint Teresa of Avila was in continuous communion with the Blessed Trinity – perpetual ecstasy to some degree.  So ascribing perpetual ecstasy to Christ is not without post-precedence, just the form (beatific vision) is unique.  But ecstasy itself does not require separation of mind and body.

Yet, cardinality cannot be disregarded.  To be fastidious, the cardinality of real numbers being 1 is Cantor’s continuum hypnosis.  After this was proven to be independent of number theory, the search for a new axiom to settle the question began.  Recently, the two competing axioms were shown to be functionally identical.  This indicates the continuum is actually 2, not 1.  But to keep things interesting, another set theorist has a new axiom that puts the continuum back at 1.

Leaving the mathematical suspense if his four hundred page proof will pan out, God already knows if a new axiom will be accepted, which would raise the number to eleven (a toe is needed to count these axioms).  God, of course, fully understands all possible axiomatic systems.  And not just finite ones.  The Almighty’s idea of math incorporates infinite systems plus theorems of infinite length, and proofs of infinite length, for every cardinality (presuming meaningfulness).  Infinity theory depends on set theory.  An infinite number of grouping of set theory axioms will thus yield an infinity of theories of infinity.  God’s “theory” of cardinality, no doubt, makes Cantor’s system of a set of all subsets seem quaint.  Infinity, at the end of the day, is for the Infinite.

 

The Twelfth Pius

The doctrine of interest from the encyclical Mystici Corporis (1943) is largely a repeat of Pope Gregory.  But Pope Pius XII is easier to parse: the knowledge’s source is “through that beatific vision” and states that this knowledge “surpasses any zealous power of the human mind.”  Thus, having “the members of His mystical body always and constantly present to Him” is placed outside of normal human knowledge, as obviously it must be.

Except not.  The common opinion is everyone will know everything that anyone had ever did or ever thought at General Judgment, and its corresponding judgement.  A staggering amount of information, though this will generally no longer come to mind in the Kingdom of God.  But it serves the purpose of knowing everyone’s place, in Heaven or Hell, in terms of their deeds.

In fine, the encyclical’s particular knowledge of Christ will become cMagisteriumommon knowledge when time ends.  Thus, it “surpasses any zealous power” only in the sense of occurring while time still exists, which is the point of contention.  To reiterate, capacity is not the issue: the soul can hold whatever God deigns to place there, and whenever.  The question is of the timing.

While three minds would resolve the difficulty, it was only injected as a joke.  What the Magisterium is implicitly teaching is that Christ’s mind, His consciousness, was outside of time when living on earth.  Man can contemplate about seven things at once.  Pope Pius XII raised that to seven times seventy billion.  And the language does indicate simultaneously, not in rapid succession (see Appendix A).

To state yet again, the difficulty is with the soul and body union, particularly with the brain.  The Magisterium has not grappled with this question.  Apparently, prior decisions were based on the belief the body has no role in intelligence, as Aquinas taught.  The question is: does a perpetually non-brain bound mind constitute a real human nature?  Namely, exactly what does it mean that Christ became man?  This is critical – Jesus must have been alive to have died in order to gain our Redemption.

Aquinas said Jesus did acquire knowledge, but He didn’t need to.  This places His “natural” intelligence within a timeless mind.  But there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that a human soul can operate like that: consciousness is either brain bound or elevated in a mystical state.  Accessing what the soul most probably knows additionally is apparently impossible for the brain bound case.  That does seems to define human nature.  Though, of course, Christ could be declared the exception.  As such, at present, Eucharistic Prayer 4 (and the 3rd Council of Constantinople) should read: “a man like us in all things except He didn’t live in time.”  And didn’t really sleep, etc…

How the Son of God became man is the greatest mystery of our faith, outside of the Trinity.  Since Christ’s soul is united to His Divinity, this union is substantial, which brings in the beatific vision, and the theological challenges.  For example, since Jesus knew everyone’s lives, He would know His own.  But if He saw everything He was going to do, doesn’t that imply His free will was outside of time as well?  These are deep questions that would best be answered by an Ecumenical Council.  In any case, they won’t be settled here.

 

Two Maries, Two Spellings

There are two mystical events associated with Medjugorje that help illustrate the questions being asked.  The first deals with infused knowledge, which will be considered in general before examining the particular case.  Knowledge can be directly infused into the soul.  But that’s only the half of it: the brain must also be rewired to correspond to the infused knowledge.

Consider the complexity of an infused language.  Rewiring begins with the senses of hearing and sight.  The auditory and optic nerves somewhat pre-interpret the raw sense data en route to the temporal and occipital lobes before flowing through the labyrinth of neural networks within the cerebral cortex, which results in a representation of cognition.

The brain has some 86 billion neurons, 200 billion axons with 100 trillion synapses.  An infused language would require a substantial number of new and modified connections via the axons/synapses.  Thus, an infused language is a miracle in the physical order as well, and a rather large one.  But only God can perform a miracle.  Closer examination indicates, nearly definitely, that this phenomenon does requires a miracle (see Appendix B).

Now, consider this in the concrete with Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti, one of six visionaries from Medjugorje.  This case wasn’t a full infused language; rather, it was an infused fluency.  Marija had a fledgling understanding of Italian, but during an apparition around 1988, in an instant, she became fluent: being able to read, write (type?) and speak on par with native Italians.

While not as dramatic as a new language, the knowledge was quite extensive and thus gives witness to Medjugorje’s supernatural origin.  This was actually a gift from the Blessed Virgin to Marija on her birthday.  Shortly after, she met Paolo Lunetti and became good friends.  They married about five years later.

Aquinas was unaware of the rewiring aspect and the language ability limits imposed by the brain.  It was impossible for Jesus Christ to naturally know all human languages per infused knowledge.  Thus, He could not have the ability but only the power to speak them.  Namely, as the knowledge could only fit in His soul, any exercise of that power would require a concurrent change in the body.

The second mystical event illustrates the soul’s capacity when not brain bound.  The Mary here is María Vallejo-Nágera, a Spanish writer known at the time for her children books.  In 2000, María went to Medjugorje, and in flash was shown her entire life.

While her soul/body were evidently still united, the brain union was effectively suspended since neurons could not fire at the rate for what transpired.  María described the amount shown as being “two encyclopedias” worth, but had the impression that 10 minutes had elapsed.  However, this happened essentially instantaneously.  María looked at her watch afterwards as everything around her had strangely frozen as it begun.  3 seconds had ticked by, which includes entering and leaving the ecstasy.  The actual encounter with Jesus showing her life was likely outside of time.

A pertinent question is whose memory was the basis of the event?  Human (brain) memories are generally associative: either semantically, emotionally, etc. – so go the current theories.  Furthermore, these memories are constructions, an interpretation of the event, not a raw recording of the senses.  While the brain doesn’t store everything, hyperthymesia demonstrates it is capable of storing massive amounts of sequentially stored accessible memory.

The assertion here is: memory is brain bound with the soul honoring it.  But that doesn’t imply the soul has the same structure; only that it can operate with this data as organized by the brain.  The brain is capable of storing essentially one’s entire life within certain limits.  Conjecturing the soul actually does so with greater precision is hardly fanciful.

People who experience this type of miniature judgement are always amazed at the level of detail.  María said she had forgotten most, but God doesn’t forget.  That is a good answer.  It certainly was from His perspective.  But did Jesus shine a divine spotlight on her soul’s memory or was her life shown from without?  However Christ also either shined the spotlight on her brain or infused knowledge therein because she was able to remember presumably more than what 3 seconds could naturally form.

While thought provoking in terms of the underlying mechanics, this experience more importantly changed her life profoundly.  Significantly, the ecstasy began by being enveloped with an intense love beyond description with Jesus saying He loved her that much.  It ended with María begging for forgiveness and wanting to love Him.  Still enveloped in His love, Jesus answered: “This is how much I love you…  But nobody responds to it.”  And “clack” the ecstasy was over…

 

Three Private Opinions

God, of course, knows number theory inside and out, but this would never be gleaned from private revelation.  Indeed, such revelations are generally agnostic with respects to science.  Private revelation virtually always is couched in the understanding of the time.  After all, it is a prophetic teaching, a pertinent reminder of what is already known, not an exposition slated for a technical journal.

Case in point is Mary of Agreda, who even while bilocating to North America, lived in Spain in a city named, well, Agreda.  This nun was graced with visions of the Blessed Mother who showed Her life story.  This was written down in a book called The Mystical City of God.

While Mary of Agreda lived in the 17th century, the book’s theology could well have been taken straight out of the Summa Theologica, replete with the Christ Child born with the ability to speak, etc.  This is a marvelous work, but it is saturated with language such as Joseph and his thousand Angels but Mary with Her tens of thousands.  It often, expresses grander and glory in images fit for the silver screen.  But sanctity primarily exists in the interior – something not readily projectable, which gives rise for the need of such literary devices.

While related, the private revelation of interest here is Medjugorje.  In particular, “Life” the title of the Mary’s autobiography regarding Her earthly life.  This will depict a picture quite different from Aquinas, presumably.  It is yet to be released, though as world events dizzily unfold, it’s time for publication speedily approaches.

In the meantime, Argentina’s “Medjugorje” provides a sneak preview.  The apparitions of San Nicolás was approved by the local Ordinary in 2016.  The first relevant message is #1480, from August 5th, 1988.

 

“The more time passes, the more my presence is necessary for mankind.  This mother worries very much for her children, just as I worried very much for Jesus when He was little.

I had an extreme care for Him.  I did not leave Him; He did not leave me.  Joseph and I loved Him with a very tender love…”

 

Every mother knows you don’t leave a small child alone, for obvious reasons.  But shouldn’t Mary have added: “Extreme care – what a waste: Jesus already possessed all possible knowledge at Day 0.”  The next noteworthy message is #546 from May 2nd, 1985.  This provides a glimpse into Christ’s intelligence.

 

“At three years of age He was endowed with a great intelligence: He had the understanding which God the Father gave Him.  He grew up knowing that He was the Son of God.  He was always very quiet, always meditating, but when He spoke He did it with humility and a great wisdom, the great Wisdom of God.  My daughter, that is the way that my beloved Son was on Earth.”

 

This, also, doesn’t explicitly contradict Aquinas as acquired knowledge was ascribed in Questions 12.  However, there is a problem.  For if He was “endowed” with a great intelligence, prior to “three years of age” He lacked it (see Appendix C for a translation note).  This appears to be a contradiction – unless Christ had three minds.

Also note, this message is silent on whether Mary taught Jesus, whereas Thomas stated in Article 3 that Christ was not a pupil.  It will be interesting to see what Medjugorje says.  But it is only natural, and hence appropriate, that Mary taught certain things to Jesus, such as how to talk and the letters of the alphabet.  Though with “a great intelligence,” being self-taught would itself be natural.

Further, to a limited degree, Mary could even have taught doctrine by reading Him Scripture.  But soon, Christ’s knowledge, and particularly His wisdom, would be beyond Mary’s as “the understanding [from] God the Father” would predominate, and indeed, was the foundation of anything Mary could have taught.  This is echoed in message #1342 regarding the finding in the Temple:

 

“We found Him again, preaching the Word of His Father among the Doctors of the Law.  At the age of 12 He was already the best and the most faithful of the preachers.”

 

In part, Aquinas indicated Jesus followed the normal path of intellectual development, following usual brain development (unknown to Aquinas), albeit in an extraordinary manner and undoubtedly accelerated pace per His “great intelligence” and in accordance with His Person.

Perfection is the matching of need to goal with nothing lacking.  Christ’s mission required an understanding of many things.  Infused knowledge was quite probably necessary.  And for Jesus as God to act accordingly in every situation, revelations such as people’s thoughts were sometimes necessary, as evidenced by Holy Writ.

This topic, though, quickly becomes speculative.  Christ’s teachings are profound.  Nevertheless, that wisdom is generally independent of mundane things.  That Christ had a clear vision of the ages to come, along with the associated challenges, is a rational conclusion.  But these particular considerations do not necessitate super-human intelligence.  The great Wisdom of God that Jesus possessed was not necessarily large, though what He taught was necessarily small quantitatively.

Regarding the Incarnation, a major facet of the glory of God is the unfathomable humility of assuming such a nature: a mode of existence so limited by this world in comparison to the Divine.  A superhuman intelligence doesn’t give the appearance of augmenting that act of humility.  It certainly “contradicts” the pedestrian viewpoint: a view that is uninformed of the implications of the beatific vision.

Finally, it should be stressed that the language of private revelation is just that.  Speaking from a simple human point of view doesn’t imply or deny that a deeper reality doesn’t exist.  It is just a mode of expression.  Yet, one can glean the perspective of San Nicolás (and expectedly Medjugorje) is more aligned with “science” than Aquinas.  That observation is a no-brainer.  Err, let’s just say it is clear.

 

Appendixes
Footnotes
Links referenced in this essay

 

Revision history

 

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