MacIntyre on Ends and Endings

macintyre

Alisdair MacIntyre recently presented a lecture at the Catholic University of America’s School of Philosophy entitled “Ends and Endings.”

We have lost a sense of purpose in our society. Much of what we do is meant to further many different, subordinate ends without giving much thought to our true end. MacIntyre presents in a refreshingly Aristotelian way, a blueprint for understanding ends and endings, earthly and heavenly.

The approach is not unlike the aim of this blog–to see all things in light of our final end. A similar sentiment is well said by St. Augustine in today’s Office of Readings from Book X, Chapter 6 of the City of God:

A true sacrifice is anything that we do with the aim of being united to God in holy fellowship – anything that is that is directed towards that supreme good and end in which alone we can be truly blessed. It follows that even an act of compassion towards men is not a sacrifice, if it is not done for the sake of God. Although it is performed by man, sacrifice is still a divine thing, as the Latin word indicates: “sacri-ficium,” “holy-doing” or “holy-making.” Man himself can be a sacrifice, if he is consecrated in the name of God, and vowed to God – a sacrifice in so far as he dies to the world in order to live to God. This is also an act of compassion: compassion of a man for himself. Thus it is written: take pity on your own soul by doing what is pleasing to God.

True sacrifices are acts of compassion to ourselves or others, done with God in mind. Such acts have no other object than the relief of distress or the giving of happiness. Finally, the only true happiness is the one the psalmist speaks of: but for myself, I take joy in clinging to God. From all this it follows that the whole redeemed city (that is to say, the congregation or community of the saints) is offered to God as our sacrifice through the great High Priest who offered himself to God for us so that we might be the body belonging to so great a head. He took on the form of a servant and suffered for us. It was under this form that he both offered and was offered: at the same time mediator, and priest, and sacrifice.

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