The Virtue of Aseity: Continued

December 1, 2022


This is what brought about the prodigious originality of Medieval Europe. It was and is exactly this great good that we should cultivate as being the very foundation of human society.

What name should we give to this great good, this great virtue? I pondered this question for a long time. I think the only adequate word to express this is aseity, as long as it is understood in a relative sense. Aseity is a word to be found in ecclesiastical terminology, particularly in the Franciscan moral and theological schools of the Middle Ages, and especially in St. Bonaventure.

In order to understand the importance of aseity in relation to our study on the family, we will need to go into this subject more deeply.

Aseity (Latin: a, from; se, itself) is a property by which a being exists of and from itself. One can easily see that this can only belong to God, Who does not depend for His existence, realisation, or end on anything other than Himself.

However, we could consider that alongside this infinite and absolute aseity, there is a miniscule aseity—one that is relative, contingent, diminutive—which is the aseity of the human being who has received everything from God. This human being has an internal zone of his soul or being that has the characteristic mark of his individuality. This is received from God alone and not from any other creature. It is something that the person has and makes manifest and that he affirms and does not receive from anyone. The person himself is the initial mover of something born from within and not from without.

Thus, to develop one’s God-given spiritual and intellectual potential, like the seed that becomes the blossom, aseity also develops and bears fruit. Each one reaches into himself and fully develops his talents.

Aseity is, then, the virtue by which a person develops his own originality—in the good sense of the word. In doing so, he develops qualities that make him unique and unmistakable in the work of Creation.

If we imagine a whole world of aseities, of personalities, of individualities that in an upright manner express and manifest themselves, we will have individuals bubbling with life. These individual lives will be a very fertile spray that will pervade every part of society, all the dominions of public and private life. They will constitute a truly lively people—not like today, when people are an inert and lifeless mass, as in the words of Pope Pius XII seen earlier.

The Christian Institution of the Family: A Dynamic Force to Regenerate Society, by Tradition, Family, Property Association. Pgs. 41-42.



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