Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Be A Light To The World

"Nothing is more derisory than a Christian, who does not care for the salvation of others. You cannot here plead poverty: for the poor widow that put in two small coins, shall be your accuser (Mk 12:42). And Peter said to the crippled man: "I have neither silver nor gold." (Acts 3:6) And Paul was so poor, that he was often hungry. You cannot plead lowness of birth: for the apostles too were simple men, and of simple parentage. You cannot allege want of education, for they too were unlearned. Even if you were a slave and a runaway, you could perform your part; for such was Onesimus, yet how much Paul honors him (Phl). You cannot plead infirmity, for such was Timothy. No matter who we are, everyone can profit his neighbor, if he will fulfil his part.

Consider the trees in the forest, how strong they are, how fair and of great height. But if we had a garden we would much rather have pomegranates, or fruitful olive trees. Fair trees but unfruitful…, such are people who only consider their own interest…

If the leaven mixed up with the flour did not change the whole into its own nature, would such a thing be leaven? If a perfume shed no sweet odor on those who approach it, could we call it a perfume? Therefore, don't say, "It is impossible for me to be a good influence on others". For if you are a Christian, it is impossible not to: it is the very nature of Christians… For it is easier for the sun not to give heat, nor to shine, than for the Christian not to send forth light."

-St. John Chrysostom

Monday, October 30, 2006

Two Kingdoms

"The northern kingdom, with its non-Davidic dynasties, provides a foil for the southern kingdom. There are twenty northern kings in about 200 years, and twenty-one kings in the south in a period almost twice as long. More importantly, there are ten dynastic changes in the north and none in the south. It is not just that geographical and political factors account for the northern lack of stability, or that there is a different understanding of kingship; for instance, charismatic instead of dynastic. Although these factors probably exerted some influence, the decisive cause lies elsewhere. By contrasting the south with the north and highlighting the name of ‘David’ in the south, the instability of the northern dynasties accentuates the Davidic dynasty and its foundational promise. The name ‘David’ shines in the text as a lamp in the darkness. For example, despite Abjiah’s sins, ‘because of David Yahweh his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, setting up his son after him, and establishing Jerusalem; because David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.’ Notwithstanding Jehoram’s idolatry, ‘Yahweh would not destroy Judah for David his servant’s sake, as he had promised him to give him always a lamp for his sons’."

-Stephen G. Dempster, from his book Dominion and Dynasty: A Theology of the Hebrew Bible.

I just read this paragraph and I couldn’t help thinking of the parallels to the Catholic Church and Protestants.

The Catholic Church is the southern kingdom. The Protestants are the northern kingdom.
The Protestants, like the northern kingdom, go through many splits and changes in their short history. Yet like the southern kingdom, the Catholic Church possesses no dynastic changes. The popes go all the way back in an unbroken succession to the first pope, Peter, who is appointed by Christ. The See of Peter is unshakeable just like the line of David which was established by God. In a sense one could say that the See of Peter is a continuation of the line of David by virtue of Christ granting his reign of the Church to Peter and his successors. We as the Church are grafted into the Davidic kingdom/family covenant.

By contrasting the Catholic Church with Protestants and highlighting the name of ‘Peter’ in the Catholic Church, the instability of Protestantism accentuates the Catholic Church and its foundational promise: "You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it."

The name of ‘Peter’ shines in history as a lamp in the darkness. Despite some bad popes in the Church’s history just as there were some bad kings in the line of David, God has promised that the Catholic Church shall not be overcome just as He has promised that the line of David would not be overcome! God holds fast to His promise with both David and Peter.

Yet the northern kingdom did not have that same promise and neither do Protestants.

(The irony is that Dempster is a Protestant.)

The Source And Summit

"The Eucharist is 'the source and summit of the Christian life.' 'The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, Our Pasch.'"

-CCC 1324

"[In the Eucharist] Christ associates his Church and all her members with his sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving offered once for all on the cross to his Father; by this sacrifice he pours out the graces of salvation on his Body which is the Church."

-CCC 1407

Christ Our Paschal Lamb

When Christ says "This is my body," "This is my blood," we have no other choice but to take Christ at his word...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

To Understand The New, We Must First Understand The Old

Today in Biblical Foundations we were discussing Leviticus and the holiness code. Dr. Hahn pointed out that the restrictions on unclean things was a type of divine pedagogy that God established for Israel.

For example, leprosy, the menstrual period, and a corpse were unclean things that the rabbis saw as theological symbolisms for sin.

Leprosy shows us how contagious sin is. St. Thomas Aquinas took it further and compared leprosy to venial sins which spread fast leaving you like a leper covered white as wool with mortal sin.

The rabbis saw the menstrual period as a sign of how sin leads to infertility. Sin cuts off life.

A corpse (the ultimate unclean thing) shows the effects that sin has on a person- death!

Now with all this in mind, we can take a look at the Book of Matthew (a book written to a Jewish audience) and begin to understand some of the miracles that Jesus does.

Starting in Matthew 8, a leper approaches Jesus and says, "Lord, if you will, you can make me clean." Jesus replies, "I will; be clean" and touches him. Yet Jesus doesn’t become defiled. Rather the leper is no longer unclean and his leprosy is gone.

Then, in chapter 9, a woman approaches Jesus who has been "hemorrhaging for twelve years." In other words, she was on a twelve year menstrual period and thus unable to worship God in the Temple for that time due to her uncleanness. This woman approaches Christ and touches just the fringe of His garment. According to Leviticus’ holiness code Christ would now be unclean as the woman was. Yet even touching the fringe of the garment of Our Savior is enough to impart Christ’s grace and make the woman clean.

Right after this in chapter 9, Christ goes to the little girl who has died. Now keep in mind that just going near a corpse was enough to defile someone. And what does Jesus do? "He took her by the hand" and she was brought back to life!

Notice each time Christ comes in contact with the three most defiling things of the holiness code. Yet Christ is not defiled, but rather makes the person clean. Matthew puts these three events in his Gospel in this exact order to show the Jews that Christ has power over sin and death. Christ destroys death and makes the unclean clean! The New Covenant of Christ is much more powerful than the Old Covenant and the Levitical laws.

Of course, right after Dr. Hahn finished telling us this he notices that time is up and class is over, thus leaving our hearts burning within us and wanting more. I’m sure everyone in class would have stayed longer if Dr. Hahn would have kept talking and opening up the Scripture to us! I would have at least.

Quotes Of The Day

"She the lady above heaven and earth must have a heart so humble that she might have no shame in washing the swaddling clothes or preparing a bath for St. John the Baptist like a servant girl. What humility! It would surely have been more just to have arranged for her a golden coach pulled by four thousand horses and to cry and proclaim as the carriage proceeded, "Here passes the woman who is raised above the whole human race!" She was not filled with pride by this praise, this immense praise. No woman is like unto thee. Thou art more than an empress or a queen blessed above all nobility, wisdom or saintliness."

"May she enlighten our intelligences, inflame our hearts, and inspire our whole life. May Christ grant us this grace through the intercession of His holy mother."

-Martin Luther, a couple of years before he died (well after he had left the Catholic Church).

Luther not only honored Mary as the greatest of all of God’s creatures, but he also prayed through her intercession. Luther got some things right.

It’s too bad that the Protestant leaders of today won’t tell their fellow Protestants about these kind of things that the founders of the Reformation said. They might be encouraged to go back to the Catholic Church. And after all, they wouldn’t want that!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Little Greek Goes A Long Way

1 Tim 2:5 is a verse that many Protestants will use to try to discredit the Catholic Church's practice of praying to Mary and the saints for intercession. However, if one looks at the Greek that Paul used their argument is dispelled immediately.

For example, for the word "One," Paul uses the greek word heis which means "one", "first", or "primary."
Paul could have used the greek word monos meaning "sole", "only", or exclusive one" if he wanted to refer to the mediation of Christ as completely exclusive.

But he didn't.

Christ is the Perfect mediator from whom all secondary mediation is made possible.

As Lumen Gentium 62 teaches:
"No creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer; but just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by his ministers and the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is radiated in different ways among his creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source."

Monday, October 23, 2006

Bereans And Sola Scriptura

Turns out that Catholics are more like the Bereans than the anti-Catholic Protestants who go by the name of "Berean."

Immaculate And Incorruptible Mary

"And who, I ask, could believe that the ark of holiness, the dwelling place of the Word of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit, could be reduced to ruin? My soul is filled with horror at the thought that this virginal flesh which had begotten God, had brought him into the world, had nourished and carried him, could have been turned into ashes or given over to be food for worms."

-St. Robert Bellarmine

The Christian Life

The Christian life is seen as a priestly self-sacrificial offering, a worship in the Spirit in which each believer, beginning in baptism, participates personally in Christ’s paschal sacrifice (Rom. 6:3, Gal. 3:27). As envisioned in the New Testament, the service to be rendered by the "holy priesthood" of all the faithful is one of offering "spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 2:5). Believers are to "present [their] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God" (Rom. 12:1). In other words, they are to dedicate their whole selves to God, to surrender their wills totally to the will of God. Speaking in the sacrificial vocabulary of the Temple, Paul urges the Philippians to live as "children of God without blemish" (Phil. 2:15) and exhorts them in the "sacrifice and liturgy of [their] faith" (Phil. 2:17). Life itself is here seen as liturgy (leitourgia), with Paul adopting the Septuagint word for the ritual worship of God– latreuein– to define the Christian way of life.

The highest expression of this liturgy of life is seen in believers’ participation in the cosmic liturgy, the worship in heaven mediated by the high priest Christ. The Eucharist was the "heavenly gift" tasted by those who have "once been enlightened" in baptism (Heb. 6:4). Hebrews describes the Eucharist as a "festal gathering" celebrated by the "church of the firstborn" with the angels on "Mount Zion... the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem." In this liturgy in the heavenly sanctuary, the true celebrant is "Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant" made in his "sprinkled blood" on the cross (Heb. 12:18-24). The language here again is thick with references to the Old Testament, most pointedly to the covenant theophanies of God at Sinai.

The liturgy of the new covenant, the Eucharist, forms the pattern of life for the firstborn of the new family of God. Like the liberated Israelites, they no longer serve as slaves but as sons. By joining themselves sacramentally to the sacrifice of Christ, the sons and daughters were to offer themselves "through him" as a continual "sacrifice of praise" (Heb. 13:15). The offering of spiritual sacrifices is not only something that Christians do– it is of the very substance of their being; it is who they are. Nowhere is this more evident than in the frequent descriptions of the Church as a spiritual house or temple and of believers as living temples (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19-20; Eph. 2:21-22; 1 Pet. 2:4-6). The symbolism expressed here marks an unexpected fulfillment of the old covenant’s liturgical anthropology– where once God dwelt in a tent, an ark, and a temple, now he has made his dwelling place in the hearts of all who serve him in the liturgy of their lives.

-Scott Hahn, from his essay, Worship in the Word: Toward a Liturgical Hermeneutic.

The Mass Is Not A Dance Party

Sunday, October 22, 2006

If Only...

"It was night indeed in a great part of Christendom. Such is the conclusion of our survey of the end of the fifteenth century: amongst the common people, a fearful decline of true piety into religious materialism and morbid hysteria; amongst the clergy, both lower and higher, widespread worldliness and neglect of duty; and amonst the very Shepherds of the Church, demonic ambition and sacrilegious perversion of holy things. Both clergy and people must cry mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! [I am culpable, I am most culpable.]

Yes, it was night. Had Martin Luther then arisen with his marvelous gifts of mind and heart, his warm penetration of the essence of Christianity, his passionate defiance of all unholiness and ungodliness, the elemental fury of his religious experience, his surging, soul-shattering power of speech, and not least that heroism in the face of death with which he defied the powers of this world -had he brought all these magnificent qualities to the removal of the abuses of the time and the cleansing of God's garden from weeds, had he remained a faithful member of his Church, humble and simple, sincere and pure, then indeed we should today be his grateful debtors. He would be forever our great Reformer, our true man of God, our teacher and leader, comparable to Thomas Aquinas and Francis of Assisi. He would have been the greatest saint of the German people, the refounder of the Church in Germany, a second Boniface...

But -and here lies the tragedy of the Reformation and of German Christianity- he let the warring spirits drive him to overthrow not merely the abuses of the Church, but the Church Herself, founded upon Peter, bearing through the centuries the succesio apostolica; he let them drive him to commit what St. Augustine called the greatest sin with which a Christian can burden himself*; he set up altar against altar and tore in pieces the one Body of Christ."

-Karl Adam, from his book Roots of the Reformation.

*"There is nothing more serious than the sacrilege of schism because there is no just cause for severing [the] unity [of the Church]" -St. Augustine

Happy Birthday

Today is Tom Reagan's birthday. Everyone should go over to his blog and wish him a very happy one!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Six Reasons For Not Forgetting Mary

From the book The Ratzinger Report by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger with Vittorio Messori.

1) When one recognizes the place assigned to Mary by dogma and tradition, one is solidly rooted in authentic christology. (According to Vatican II: ‘Devoutly meditating on her and contemplating her in light of the Word made man, the Church reverently penetrates more deeply into the great mystery of the Incarnation and becomes more and more like her spouse’ [Lumen Gentium, no. 65].) It is, moreover in direct service to faith in Christ– not, therefore, primarily out of devotion to the Mother– that the Church has proclaimed her Marian dogmas: first that of her perpetual virginity and divine motherhood and then, after a long period of maturation and reflection, those of her Immaculate Conception and bodily Assumption into heavenly glory. These dogmas protect the original faith in Christ as true God and true man: two natures in a single Person. They also secure the indispensable eschatological tension by pointing to Mary’s Assumption as the immortal destiny that awaits us all. And they also protect the faith– threatened today– in God the Creator, who (and this, among other things, is the meaning of the truth of the perpetual virginity of Mary, more than ever not understood today) can freely intervene also in matter. Finally, Mary, as the Council recalls: ‘having entered deeply into the history of salvation,...in a way unites in her person and reechoes the most important mysteries of the Faith’ (Lumen Gentium, no. 65)."

2) The mariology of the Church comprises the right relationship, the necessary integration between Scripture and tradition. The four Marian dogmas have their clear foundation in sacred Scripture. But it is there like a seed that grows and bears fruit in the life of tradition just as it finds expression in the liturgy, in the perception of the believing people and in the reflection of theology guided by the Magisterium.

3) In her very person as a Jewish girl become the mother of the Messiah, Mary binds together, in a living and indissoluble way, the old and the new People of God, Israel and Christianity, synagogue and church. She is, as it were, the connecting link without which the Faith (as is happening today) runs the risk of losing its balance by either forsaking the New Testament for the Old or dispensing with the Old. In her, instead, we can live the unity of sacred Scripture in its entirety.

4) The correct Marian devotion guarantees to faith the coexistence of indispensable ‘reason’ with the equally indispensable ‘reasons of the heart,’ as Pascal would say. For the Church, man is neither mere reason nor mere feeling, he is the unity of these two dimensions. The head must reflect with lucidity, but the heart must be able to feel warmth: devotion to Mary (which ‘avoids every false exaggeration on the one hand, and excessive narrow-mindedness in the contemplation of the surpassing dignity of the Mother of God on the other’, as the Council urges) thus assures the faith its full human dimension.

5) To use the very formulations of Vatican II, Mary is ‘figure’, ‘image’ and ‘model’ of the Church. Beholding her the Church is shielded against the aforementioned masculinized model that views her as an instrument for a program of social-political action. In Mary, as figure and archetype, the Church again finds her own visage as Mother and cannot degenerate into the complexity of a party, an organization or a pressure group in the service of human interests, even the noblest. If Mary no longer finds a place in many theologies and ecclesiologies, the reason is obvious: they have reduced faith to an abstraction. And an abstraction does not need a Mother.

6) With her destiny, which is at one and the same time that of Virgin and Mother, Mary continues to project a light upon that which the Creator intended for women in every age, ours included, or, better said, perhaps precisely in our time, in which– as we know– the very essence of femininity is threatened. Through her virginity and her motherhood, the mystery of woman receives a very lofty destiny from which she cannot be torn away. Mary undauntedly proclaims the Magnificat, but she is also the one who renders silence and seclusion fruitful. She is the one who does not fear to stand under the Cross, who is present at the birth of the Church. But she is also the one who, as the evangelist emphasizes more than once, ‘keeps and ponders in her heart’ that which transpires around her. As a creature of courage and of obedience she was and is till an example to which every Christina– man and woman– can and should look.


On the advice of patristiblogger Mike Aquilina, I have just read R.R. Reno's article The Return of the Fathers from this month's issue of First Things. It is a great exposition on the biblical theology of the Church Fathers that must be read by all! If you don't have a subscription to First Things I would highly recommend it. But in the meanwhile, go out and buy this months issue, or at least borrow it from a friend (that's why they're your friend after all. Who else would let you mooch off of their issue of First Things?).

Here are two of my favorite quotes from the article:

"One can no more invent Christianity from inductive Bible study than read modern physics off the movements of the stars, and a contemporary Christian who wishes to engage the Scriptures in their "purity" is as foolish as an undergraduate who refuses to take a class in physics because it will corrupt his ability to interpret nature."

"Men and women saturated by Scripture are as explosive as rags soaked in gasoline, but, unlike Molotov cocktails, the fire of divine love transforms and perfects rather than destroys and consumes. This the Fathers knew, and this they teach us as they return."

The Fathers And Mary Immaculate

"Accordingly, the Fathers have never ceased to call the Mother of God the lily among thorns, the land entirely intact, the Virgin undefiled, immaculate, ever blessed, and free from all contagion of sin, she from whom was formed the new Adam, the flawless, brightest, and most beautiful paradise of innocence, immortality and delights planted by God himself and protected against all the snares of the poisonous serpent, the incorruptible wood that the worm of sin had never corrupted, the fountain ever clear and sealed with the power of the Holy Spirit, the most holy temple, the treasure of immortality, the one and only daughter of life—not of death—the plant not of anger but of grace, through the singular providence of God growing ever green contrary to the common law, coming as it does from a corrupted and tainted root.

As if these splendid eulogies and tributes were not sufficient, the Fathers proclaimed with particular and definite statements that when one treats of sin, the holy Virgin Mary is not even to be mentioned; for to her more grace was given than was necessary to conquer sin completely. They also declared that the most glorious Virgin was Reparatrix of the first parents, the giver of life to posterity; that she was chosen before the ages, prepared for himself by the Most High, foretold by God when he said to the serpent, "I will put enmities between you and the woman." —unmistakable evidence that she crushed the poisonous head of the serpent. And hence they affirmed that the Blessed Virgin was, through grace, entirely free from every stain of sin, and from all corruption of body, soul and mind; that she was always united with God and joined to him by an eternal covenant; that she was never in darkness but always in light; and that, therefore, she was entirely a fit habitation for Christ, not because of the state of her body, but because of her original grace. "

-From the encyclical Ineffabilis Deus, by Bl. Pope Pius IX.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Because You Can Never Get Enough Motivation

Quote Of The Day

"Surely then, if the revelations and lessons in Scripture are addressed to us personally and practically, the presence among us of a formal judge and standing expositor of its words is imperative. It is antecedently unreasonable to suppose that a book so complex, so unsystematic, in parts so obscure, the outcome of so many minds, times, and places, should be given us from above without the safeguard of some authority; as if it could possibly from the nature of the case, interpret itself. Its inspiration does but guarantee its truth, not its interpretation. How are private readers satisfactorily to distinguish what is didactic and what is historical, what is fact and what is vision, what is allegorical and what is literal, what is [idiomatic] and what is grammatical, what is enunciated formally and what occurs, what is only of temporary and what is of lasting obligations. Such is our natural anticipation, and it is only too exactly justified in the events of the last three centuries, in the many countries where private judgment on the text of Scripture has prevailed. The gift of inspiration requires as its complement the gift of infallibility."

-John Henry Cardinal Newman

I Couldn't Resist...

My Entry In the Motivational Poster Contest

Need Some Motivation

Over at The Lapped Catholic there is a whole list of entries for a motivational poster contest.
Here are some of my favorites:

Hermeneutic Of Continuity

The Waffling Anglican

Anathema Sit (the one about Ecumenism)

In Hoc Signo Vinces

Could It Be True?

Lefebvrists ready to seek reconciliation?

If this happens it will be a great thing! It's always a wonderful thing when schismatic groups reconcile with Rome. I'm no prophet, but I have a feeling that the upcoming motu proprio will be very fruitful for ecumenical talks with the Orthodox as well.

Ave Maria

Even though there is nothing so great as the majesty of God and nothing so low as man insofar as he is a sinner, Almighty God does not despise our poor prayers. On the contrary, He is pleased when we sing His praises.

Saint Gabriel's greeting to Our Lady is one of the most beautiful hymns which we can possibly sing to the glory of the Most High. "I will sing a new song to you" (Ps. 143:9).

This new hymn which David foretold was to be sung at the coming of the Messiah is none other than the Angelic Salutation.

There is an old hymn and a new hymn: the first is that which the Jews sang out of gratitude to God for creating them and maintaining them in existence—for delivering them from captivity and leading them safely through the Red Sea—for giving them manna to eat and for all His other blessings.

The new hymn is that which Christians sing in thanksgiving for the graces of the Incarnation and the Redemption. As these marvels were brought about by the Angelic Salutation, so also do we repeat the same salutation to thank the Most Blessed Trinity for His immeasurable goodness to us.

We praise God the Father because He so loved the world that He gave us His only Son as our Savior. We bless the Son because He deigned to leave heaven and come down upon earth—because he was made man and redeemed us. We glorify the Holy Spirit because He formed Our Lord's pure Body in Our Lady's Womb—this Body which was the Victim of our sins. In this spirit of deep thankfulness should we, then, always say the Hail Mary, making acts of faith, hope, love and thanksgiving for the priceless gift of salvation.

Although this new hymn is in praise of the Mother of God and is sung directly to her, nevertheless it greatly glorifies the Most Blessed Trinity because any homage that we pay Our Lady returns inevitably to God Who is the cause of all her virtues and perfections. When we honor Our Lady: God the Father is glorified because we are honoring the most perfect of His creatures; God the Son is glorified because we are praising His most pure Mother, and God the Holy Spirit is glorified because we are lost in admiration at the graces with which He has filled His Spouse.

When we praise and bless Our Lady by saying the Angelic Salutation she always passes on these praises to Almighty God in the same way as she did when she was praised by Saint Elizabeth. The latter blessed her in her most elevated dignity as Mother of God and Our Lady immediately returned these praises to God by her beautiful Magnificat.

Just as the Angelic Salutation gives glory to the Blessed Trinity, it is also the very highest praise that we can give Our Lady.

One day when Saint Mechtilde was praying and was trying to think of some way in which she could express her love of the Blessed Mother better than she had done before, she fell into ecstasy. Our Lady appeared to her with the Angelic Salutation in flaming letters of gold upon her bosom and said to her:

My daughter, I want you to know that no one can please me more than by saying the salutation which the Most Adorable Trinity sent to me and by which He raised me to the dignity of Mother of God.

By the word Ave (which is the name Eve, Eva), I learned that in His infinite power God had preserved me from all sin and its attendant misery which the first woman had been subject to.

The name Mary which means "lady of light" shows that God has filled me with wisdom and light, like a shining star, to light up heaven and earth.

The words full of grace remind me that the Holy Spirit has showered so many graces upon me that I am able to give these graces in abundance to those who ask for them through me as Mediatrix.

When people say The Lord is with thee they renew the indescribable joy that was mine when the Eternal Word became incarnate in my womb.

When you say to me blessed art thou among women I praise Almighty God's divine mercy which lifted me to this exalted plane of happiness.

And at the words blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, the whole of heaven rejoices with me to see my Son Jesus Christ adored and glorified for having saved mankind.

-This article was excerpted from St. Louis Marie de Montfort’s Secret of the Rosary, Montfort Publications, 1991, Part I. [source]

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Church

"The One True Church is a group of men bound together by the profession of the same Christian Faith and by communion of the same sacraments under the rule of legitimate pastors, especially the vicar of Christ on Earth; the Roman Pontiff."

-St. Robert Bellarmine, S.J.

The Feast Of Saint Teresa of Avila

"He who truly loves Thee, my God, travels by a broad and a royal road and travels securely. It is far away from any precipice, and hardly has such a man stumbled in the slightest degree when Thou, Lord, givest him Thy hand. One fall- and even many falls, if he loves Thee and not the things of the world- will not be enough to lead him to perdition: he will be traveling along the valley of humility. I cannot understand why it is that people are afraid to set out upon the way of perfection. May the Lord, for His name's sake, make us realize how unsafe we are amid manifest perils as beset us when we follow the crowd, and how our true safety lies in striving to press ever forward on the way of God. Our eyes must be fixed upon Him and we must not be afraid that this Sun of Justice will set, or that He will allow us to travel by night, and so be lost, unless we first forsake Him.

People are not afraid to walk among lions, each of which seems to be trying to tear them to pieces- I mean among honors, delights and pleasures (as the world calls them) of that kind. The devil seems to be frightening us with scarecrows here. A thousand times have I been amazed by this; fain would I weep ten thousand times, till I could weep no more, and fain would I cry aloud to tell everyone of my great blindness and wickedness, in the hope that this might be of some avail to open their eyes. May He open them Who alone of His goodness can do so, and may He never allow mine to become blind again. Amen."

-from the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila.

Friday, October 13, 2006

I know Someone Related To A Saint

There is a girl in one of my classes who is the great (there might be another great in there?) grand-niece of Rafael Guizar Valencia who will be canonized on Sunday by Pope Benedict. Ask for his intercession. Tell him I sent you. (as if I had any sway just because I am in the same class as his great grand-niece!)

Newman: The Great Orator

I am currently doing research for a paper about John Henry Newman and the teachings found in his sermons and I came across Newman's 7 rules for writing a sermon. Newman was a great orator (and Oratorian)who, through his writings and sermons, converted thousands of people.
All you priests out there pay attention!

1) A man should be earnest, by which I mean he should write not for the sake of writing, but to bring out his thoughts.

2) He should never aim at being eloquent.

3) He should keep his idea in view, and should write sentences over and over again until he has expressed his meaning accurately, forcibly, and in a few words.

4) He should aim at being understood by his hearers or readers.

5) He should use words which are likely to be understood. Ornament and amplification will come spontaneously in due time, but he should never seek them.

6) He must creep before he can fly, by which I mean that humility which is a great Christian virtue has a place in literary composition.

7) He who is ambitious will never write well, but he who tries to say simply what he feels, what religion demands, what faith teaches, what the Gospel promises, will be eloquent without intending it, and will write better English than if he made a study of English Literature.

Okay, now get to writing those marvelous sermons and start converting souls! And remember, of all forms of Christian instruction, the liturgical homily is to hold pride of place (Dei Verbum 24).

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Latin Mass Enthusiasts Can Now Rejoice

"Pope Benedict XVI is preparing to release a motu proprio extending permission for priests to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass, Vatican sources have confirmed.

The new papal document-- for which a publication date has not yet been set-- would give all priests permission to celebrate the Mass of St. Pius V. This permission, a "universal indult," would replace the existing indult that dates back to 1988, when Ecclesia Dei authorized use of the Tridentine rite until more restricted conditions, requiring the permission of the local bishop." [source]

The Lord's Prayer

“We need to use words so that we may remind ourselves to consider carefully what we are asking, not so that we may think we can instruct the Lord or prevail on him.

Thus when we say: Hallowed be your name, we are reminding ourselves to desire that his name, which in fact is always holy, should also be considered holy among men. I mean that it should not be held in contempt. But this is a help for men, not for God.

And as for our saying: Your kingdom come, it will surely come whether we will it or not. But we are stirring up our desires for the kingdom so that it can come to us and we can deserve to reign there.

When we say: Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, we are asking him to make us obedient so that his will may be done in us as it is done in heaven by his angels.

When we say: Give us this day our daily bread: in saying this day we mean “in this world.” Here we ask for a sufficiency by specifying the most important part of it; that is, we use the word “bread” to stand for everything. Or else we are asking for the sacrament of the faithful, which is necessary in this world, not to gain temporal happiness but to gain the happiness that is everlasting.

When we say: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, we are reminding ourselves of what we myst ask and what we must do in order to be worthy in turn to receive.

When we say: Lead us not into temptation, we are reminding ourselves to ask that his help may not depart from us; otherwise we could be seduced and consent to some temptation, or despair and yield to it.

When we say: Deliver us from evil, we are reminding ourselves to reflect on the fact that we do not yet enjoy the state of blessedness in which we shall suffer no evil. This is the final petition contained in the Lord’s Prayer, and it has a wide application. In this petition the Christian can utter his cries of sorrow, in it he can shed his tears, and through it he can begin, continue and conclude his prayer, whatever the distress in which he finds himself. Yes, it was very appropriate that all these truths should be entrusted to us to remember in these very words.

Whatever be the other words we may prefer to say (words which the one praying chooses so that his disposition may become clearer to himself or which he simply adopts so that his disposition may be intensified), we say nothing that is not contained in the Lord’s Prayer, provided of course we are praying in a correct and proper way. But if anyone says something which is incompatible with this prayer of the Gospel, he is praying in the flesh, even if he is not praying sinfully. And yet I do not know how this could be termed anything but sinful, since those who are born again through the Spirit ought to pray only in the Spirit."

-St. Augustine

Monday, October 09, 2006

The New Adam And The New Eve

"Even in Heaven Mary exercises the office of being our Advocate, that office which Jesus entrusted to her on Calvary; this is so that the Redemption might completely repair the fall, even in superabundance. To Adam and Eve, sinners and the source of original sin in this world, God has countered with Christ and Mary, the Redeemer and Co-redemptrix of the human race."

-Blessed Ildephonse Cardinal Schuster


“If we accept that the human being has been created by God, endowed with freedom, and made responsible for his or her own life, and even if we accept in addition that there are limits to freedom and responsibility, and especially that through the weakness of sin no human being can attain wholeness of life through effort that is unaided by divine grace-- even Kant in spite of his insistence on autonomy conceded as much-- yet we are still bound to say that there must be some human contribution to the work of redemption, even if it is no more than responsive and never of equal weight with the grace of God.

While the champions of sola gratia have concentrated their attention on some passages of scripture and have probably interpreted even these in a one-sided way, there are other passages, even in the writings of Paul, where the element of cooperation in the work of salvation seems to be clearly recognized. It is Paul who, after the magnificent hymn in praise of Christ’s redeeming work, in his letter to the Philippians, goes on immediately to say to the Christian believers: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you” (Phil. 2:12). The thought here seems clearly to be that God’s work and man’s work go on side by side in the realization of salvation. In another epistle, he writes: “Working together with him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain” (2 Cor. 6:1). A straightforward interpretation of these words seem quite incompatible with any rigorous doctrine of sola gratia. For what does it mean “to accept the grace of God in vain” but to fail to make any response to this grace, to refrain from any answering work? The expression “working together with him,” which has also been translated “as co-workers with him,” is in Greek synergountes, from which we derive the English word “synergism,” cited at an earlier stage in the discussion. This word “synergism” is the usual theological term for the point of view I have been commending, namely, that human salvation is accomplished neither by man’s own unaided efforts nor by an act of God entirely outside of man, but by a synergism or co-working, in which, of course, the initiative and weight lie on the side of God, but the human contribution is also necessary and cannot be left out of the account.

Before we leave the New Testament on these questions, let us call to mind in addition to the Pauline material the letter of James. Luther was so unhappy with this letter that he questioned whether it should ever have been included in the canon of the New Testament. It seem inconsistent with Paul’s insistence that we are justified by faith, not by works, or perhaps we should say, with Paul’s view of these matters as interpreted by Luther. But one could say that the apparent tension between James and Paul should not be taken to mean that James should have been excluded from the canon, but rather that the inclusion of his letter is a much needed corrective to some of the more one-sided Pauline pronouncements as they have been commonly understood. “What does it profit, my brethren,” asks James, “if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you say to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith, by itself, if it has no works, is dead” (Jas. 2:14-17). Or perhaps one should say that faith, as decision, is itself the beginning of the work.

Luther’s friend and associate, Philip Melanchthon, was the principal theologian of the Lutheran Reformation. It is often claimed that he taught a doctrine of synergism, though some Lutherans have tried to play down this side of his teaching. But others have accused him of betraying the Lutheran cause and of subverting even the key doctrine of justification by grace alone. The truth is that Melanchthon retained a strong humanistic bias through the passionate controversial years following the Reformation, and therefore he could never feel at ease with doctrines which seemed to him to threaten such essential human characteristics as rationality, freedom, and responsibility. So he was obviously unhappy with such notions as predestination and irresistible grace. He could not accpet that, as he put it, “God snatches you by some violent rapture, so that you must believe, whether you will or not.” Again, he protested that the Holy Spirit does not work on a human being as on a statue, a piece of wood or a stone. The human will has its part to play in redemption, as well as the Word of God and the Spirit of God. Such teaching might seem to us to be common sense, but in the highly charged atmosphere of Melanchthon’s time, it needed courage to say such things, and it brought angry rejoinders from other Lutherans. But Melanchthon shows that even at the heart of Lutheran theology an effort was being made to find an acceptable place for synergism or co-working between God and man in the work of salvation.”

-Dr. John Macquarrie, Anglican Philosopher and Theologian.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

O Sweet Sacrament

"Since it was the will of God’s only-begotten Son that men should share in his divinity, he assumed our nature in order that by becoming man he might make men gods. Moreover, when he took our flesh he dedicated the whole of its substance to our salvation. He offered his body to God the Father on the altar of the cross as a sacrifice for our reconciliation. He shed his blood for our ransom and purification, so that we might be redeemed from our wretched state of bondage and cleansed from all sin. But to ensure that the memory of so great a gift would abide with us for ever, he left his body as food and his blood as drink for the faithful to consume in the form of bread and wine.

O precious and wonderful banquet, that brings us salvation and contains all sweetness! Could anything be of more intrinsic value? Under the old law it was the flesh of calves and goats that was offered, but here Christ himself, the true God, is set before us as our food. What could be more wonderful than this? No other sacrament has greater healing power; through it sins are purged away, virtues are increased, and the soul is enriched with an abundance of every spiritual gift. It is offered in the Church for the living and the dead, so that what was instituted for the salvation of all may be for the benefit of all. Yet, in the end, no one can fully express the sweetness of this sacrament, in which spiritual delight is tasted at its very source, and in which we renew the memory of that surpassing love for us which Christ revealed in his passion.

It was to impress the vastness of this love more firmly upon the hearts of the faithful that our Lord instituted this sacrament at the Last Supper. As he was on the point of leaving the world to go to the Father, after celebrating the Passover with his disciples, he left it as a perpetual memorial of his passion. It was the fulfillment of ancient figures and the greatest of his miracles, while for those who were to experience the sorrow of his departure, it was destined to be a unique and abiding consolation."

-St. Thomas Aquinas

Friday, October 06, 2006

Dr. Miravalle's Response To 7 Common Objections To Mary As Co-Redemptrix: Objection 7

Objection 7: While granting the legitimacy of Mary Co-redemptrix and its corresponding doctrine of co-redemption, there are no substantial reasons or fruits for its papal definition at this time, and in fact such a definition would cause serious division within the Church.

It must be stated from the outset that such a position regarding a potential papal definition of Mary Co-redemptrix is certainly an acceptable position by a faithful member of the Catholic Church. Notwithstanding, let us explore, in a brief summary format, some of the numerous contemporary reasons presently being offered in support of the appropriateness and consequent positive fruits of a formal papal definition of Mary Co-redemptrix.

1. Greater theological clarity to an area of present misunderstanding

When Bl. Pius IX raised the Church doctrine of the Immaculate Conception to the level of dogma in 1854, he stated that the fruits of such definition would be to "bring to perfection" the doctrine, adding greater clarity and light for the benefit of all:

The Church labors hard to polish the previous teachings, to bring to perfection their formulation in such a way that these older dogmas of the heavenly doctrine receive proof, light, distinction, while keeping their fullness, their integrity, their own character...

In light of the substantial contemporary confusion concerning precisely what the Catholic Church means to convey in the doctrine of Marian co-redemption (as evidenced by the recent The New York Times piece and its reaction), it would seem most beneficial to have a precise statement, scripturally formulated in light of Christian Tradition, from the highest authority of the Catholic Church, ensuring its doctrinal precision and authenticity.

2. Ecumenical benefits in an authentic Catholic expression of doctrinal dialogue

Rather than its perception as being against the imperative of working for Christian unity, a precise formulation of what Catholics believe regarding Mary Co-redemptrix, and at the same time what they do not believe (i.e., equality with Jesus Christ, divinity of Mary, etc.) will only serve authentic ecumenical dialogue based on integrity and truth as to what is already a Catholic doctrinal teaching.

The late Cardinal John O'Connor of New York referred to this potential ecumenical fruit in his letter of endorsement for the papal definition of Mary Co-redemptrix:

Clearly, a formal papal definition would be articulated in such precise terminology that other Christians would lose their anxiety that we do not distinguish adequately between Mary's unique association with Christ and the redemptive power exercised by Christ alone.

Such a definition would help avoid the dangerous tendency to present in ecumenical dialogue only those doctrinal elements Christians share together, rather than the difficult but necessary aspect of sharing those doctrinal elements Christians do not hold in common. Such integrity in ecumenical doctrinal exchange is critically necessary in eventually arriving at any true Christian unity.

3. Proper development of Marian doctrine

The existing four Marian Dogmas, the Motherhood of God (431), the Perpetual Virginity (649), the Immaculate Conception (1854), and the Assumption (1950), all deal with the attributes or qualities of Mary's earthly life, but none directly refer to the Mother of Jesus in relation to the human family.

It is interesting to note historically that only one month following the papal definition of Mary's Assumption in November 1950, the International Mariological Congress formally petitioned Pope Pius XII for the papal definition of Mary's universal mediation as a logical progression following the definition of the Assumption.

After the early life and attributes of Mary have received their respective "perfections of doctrine" in solemn dogmatic definitions, so too it would seem appropriate that Mary's heavenly prerogative as spiritual mother of all peoples in the order of grace, inclusive of and founded upon her unique co-redemption, would also receive its doctrinal perfecting in the form of a dogmatic definition.

4. Affirmation of the dignity of the human person and human freedom

One of the world's leading contemporary personalist philosophers (from the philosophical school focusing upon the dignity of the human person), Professor Dr. Josef Seifert, argues that a dogma of Mary Co-redemptrix would constitute a supreme confirmation of the dignity and freedom the human person:

A dogma that declares Mary Co-redemptrix would give unique witness to the full freedom of the human person and to God's respect for human freedom. This dogma would recognize in an ultimate way that a free decision of the human person of Mary, who was not even to become the Mother of God without her free fiat—a decision which was not exclusively caused by divine grace but was also the fruit of her own personal choice—was necessary for our salvation, or played an indispensable part in the concrete way of our redemption chosen by God.

In our age, in which a personalist philosophy was developed more deeply than ever before in the history of mankind, and in which at the same time terrible anti-personalist ideologies reign, such a dogma would rightfully be perceived as a supreme confirmation of the dignity of the human person.

In all of this I would see a crucial value and significance of this dogma being proclaimed in our time in which both a new awareness of personal dignity arose and in which the person has been more humiliated in action and denied in theory than ever before.

5. Re-affirmation of the dignity of woman

In the contemporary discussion of feminism and the nature of woman, the papal proclamation of Mary Co-redemptrix would underscore what could properly identified as God's radical love and respect for woman. According to Christian Scripture, the entire providential plan of God the Father to send his Son for the redemption of the world was contingent upon the free fiat of a woman (Cf. Lk 1:38; Gal 4:4). What "trust' God the Father has in woman in the person of Mary that He would make the coming of the Redeemer of the entire human family conditional upon this woman's free consent.

As Dr. Seifert again points out:

This new declaration of the Traditional doctrine would therefore show anew a perpetual truth about Mary and about woman, a truth which was always held by the Church but never clearly and indubitably stated: the greatest deed of God's gracious love—the Redemption of mankind and our salvation—is in some real sense also the consequence of a free act of a woman and thus also the gift of a woman to humanity.

And further:

This dogma would express the dignity of a woman's action which exceeds in activeness, sublimity and effectiveness the deeds of all pure creatures and men: of all kings and politicians, thinkers, scientists, philosophers, artists and craftsmen from the beginning of the world to the end....

The fully defined revelation and role of Mary Co-redemptrix could thereby be offered as an exemplary foundation for better understanding the unique contribution of feminism to humanity and, as such, constitute a foundational anthropological basis for authentic Christian feminism.

6. Re-emphasis of the Christian need to cooperate with God's grace for salvation

Anglican Oxford scholar, Dr. John Macquarrie, states that the role of Mary Co-redemptrix provides a concrete expression of the human necessity to freely and actively cooperate with God's grace for salvation. He moreover sees the Christian truth of Mary Co-redemptrix as a corrective for theologies that remove such dignity to the person, and in consequence, put forth an undesirable image of Christianity itself. As synthesized by Dr. Macquarrie in this extended citation:

In some forms of teaching, it is even believed that human beings can be saved without even knowing that salvation is taking place. It has all taken place already through the once-for-all redeeming work of Christ. It is a fact, whether anyone recognizes it or not...For Barth, the (subjective) Redemption is a purely objective act, already finished 'outside of us, without us, even against us...Redemption is not, in his view, to be considered as an ongoing process in which we have some part, but as the once-for-all act of God long before we were born...

Now if one conceded Barth's point, then I think one would have to say that he is indeed treating human beings like sheep or cattle or even marionettes, not as unique beings that they are, spiritual beings made in the image of God and entrusted with a measure of freedom and responsibility...It is understandable that that Feuerbach, Marx, Nietzsche and a whole galaxy of modern thinkers came to believe that Christianity alienates them from a genuine humanity...

Let us now come back to the consideration of Mary as Co-redemptrix. Perhaps we do have to acknowledge that Barth and others have been correct in believing that the place given to Mary in catholic theology is a threat to the doctrine of sola gratia (grace alone), but I think this is the case only when the doctrine of sola gratia is interpreted in its extreme form, when this doctrine itself becomes a threat to a genuinely personal and biblical view of the human being...a being still capable of responding to God in the work of building up creation. This hopeful view of the human race is personified and enshrined in Mary.

In the glimpses of Mary that we have in the gospels, her standing at the cross beside her Son, and her prayers and intercessions with the apostles, are particularly striking ways in which Mary shared and supported the work of Christ...it is Mary who has come to symbolize the perfect harmony between the divine will and the human response, so that it is she who gives meaning to the expression Co-redemptrix.

Mary Co-redemptrix and its new proclamation would serve to protect human freedom, dignity, and the human imperative to freely cooperate with grace for salvation.

7. "Suffering is Redemptive" and the "Culture of Death"

A solemn definition of Mary Co-redemptrix would be a Christian proclamation to the world that "suffering is redemptive." The Christian example of the Co-redemptrix manifests to the world that to accept the providentially permitted crosses of our human existence is not a valueless waste to be avoided at all costs, including intrinsic evils such as euthanasia and abortion. But rather that the patient endurance of all human hardships are of supernatural value when united with the sufferings of Jesus Christ, a participation in the distribution of the redemptive graces of Calvary, both for ourselves and for others (Cf. Col. 1:24).

Even the example of Mary's "yes" to unborn life, in circumstances which could foster undue judgment and ridicule from people surrounding her, is an example of a co-redemptive "yes" that all people should say in response to the event of unborn life, regardless the circumstance.

John Paul II describes the present "Culture of Death" as a "cultural climate which fails to perceive any meaning or value in suffering, but rather considers suffering to be the epitome of evil, to be eliminated at all cost. This is especially the case in the absence of a religious outlook which could help provide a positive understanding of the mystery of suffering."

The concrete example of Mary Co-redemptrix offers to the Church and the world the positive Christian message that "suffering is redemptive" in all possible circumstances, from Christian persecution, to terminal cancer, to "unwanted" pregnancy, to the ordinary crosses of daily life.

8. Unity through papal charism within the Catholic Church

From a Catholic perspective, the charism (or gift of the Holy Spirit) that is given to St. Peter and his successors, the subsequent popes (cf. Mt: 16:15-20), is a source of unity in doctrine and in life for the members of the Church. When the specific papal charism of infallibility is used in a preservation from error by the Holy Spirit on matters of faith and morals, such exercise of this papal charism safeguards and properly reinforces a Catholic unity in life based on a unity in faith, truth and doctrine. The same benefit of unity which comes with the exercise of the papal charism would also be given in the case of a solemn papal definition of Mary Co-redemptrix.

It is sometimes objected that such a definition on Marian co-redemption would "cause division" within the Church. It is imperative to be clear on this point: Christian truth by its nature unites; it is only the rejection of Christian truth that divides. The same would hold true for a potential definition of Mary Co-redemptrix.

In the first case, it is already a doctrinal teaching of the Church and thereby should already be accepted by the Catholic faithful with a religious assent of mind and will. (80) Secondly as was just stated, an exercise of the papal charism of infallibility in the service of Christian truth and as guided by the Holy Spirit in itself brings with it the grace of unity of hearts based on unity of truth and faith. But as was true for Jesus Christ, the "sign of contradiction" (cf. Lk 2:35), so would be true of the rejection of the truth concerning the Mother of the "Sign of Contradiction."

Therefore any division within the Church in response to a papal infallible definition of the Co-redemptrix doctrine would not constitute, nor accurately be perceived as, a true and valid component of the papal definition itself, but only its unfortunate rejection.

9. Modern saints and Co-redemptrix

One possible indication of the maturity of the Co-redemptrix doctrine and its potential definability is the modern testimony and teaching of this Marian truth by a great number of contemporary canonized saints and blesseds. The generous appreciation by recent saints and blesseds of Marian co-redemption indicates its spiritual ripeness in the hearts of heroic sanctity within the Body of Christ today.

Those particularly vocal in their appreciation of Marian co-redemption, both as a Marian doctrine and as a model of Christian spiritual life, include St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Pope Pius X, St. Francis Xavier Cabrini, St. Gemma Galgani, St. Leopold Mandic, St. Edith Stein, St. Jose Maria Escriva, St. Padre Pio, Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity, and numerous others.

It also seems appropriate to quote Bl. Mother Teresa's endorsement for the papal definition of Mary Co-redemptrix: "The papal definition of Mary Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces, and Advocate will bring great graces to the Church. All for Jesus through Mary."

10. Initiation of the Fatima prophesied Triumph of the Immaculate Heart

A significant number of contemporary Marian authors and thinkers worldwide also see in the papal proclamation of Mary Co-redemptrix, along with her subsequent spiritual roles as Mediatrix of all graces, and Advocate, what has been referred to as the definitive "initiation" or beginning of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as prophesied in the 1917 Apparition of Mary at Fatima, Portugal.

The particular notion of the "Triumph of the Immaculate Heart" comes from the words of the Church approved apparitions of Mary at Fatima to the young Portuguese children seers, who after prophesying such upcoming events such as the rise of atheistic communism, persecutions for the Church and the Holy Father, a potential second world war, and the annihilation of various nations, then stated, "In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph...."

The Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is hence foreseen as a dramatic influx of supernatural grace upon the world, mediated to the world by the Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate, and leading to a period of spiritual peace for humanity.

The role of the papal proclamation of Mary Co-redemptrix in the prophesied Triumph of the Immaculate Heart would be seen by some Marian contemporaries as the official recognition by the pope, as the highest Church authority, exercising the required freedom on the part of humanity to allow the full mediational and intercessory power of Mary Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate to be released in the distribution of the redemptive graces of Calvary to the contemporary world.

God does not force his grace upon us, but awaits the free consent of humanity. With the official papal definition of Mary Co-redemptrix by the highest human authority's exercise of free will on behalf of humanity, this free act would "release" the Co-redemptrix to most fully distribute the graces of Calvary in a new outpouring of graces of the Holy Spirit for the world. As explained by former Vatican Ambassador Howard Dee of the Philippines:

Two thousand years ago, during the First Advent, the Holy Spirit came upon Mary, and when the power of the Most High overshadowed her, she conceived Jesus, Son of God. Now, during this New Advent, it is the Mother of All Peoples, Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces, and Advocate, who will accompany her Spouse to descend into our hearts and our souls and recreate in each of us—if we give our fiat—into the likeness of Jesus...The proclamation of the Fifth Dogma is no longer our prerogative; it is our duty.

As such, the papal proclamation of Mary Co-redemptrix would effect a historic release of spiritual grace upon the world by the full exercise of the spiritual mother of all peoples in her most generous exercise of her roles as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all grace and Advocate.


It is to be hoped that some light has been shed upon the principal questions concerning the present discussion of the issue of Mary Co-redemptrix in itself and, at least by way of introduction, in discussing the specific aspect of a potential papal definition of the Co-redemptrix doctrine.

In regards to any future potential definition of Co-redemptrix from a Catholic perspective, peace and trust in the guidance of the Church by the pontiff in matters of faith and morals should ultimately reign supreme in the Catholic faithful's mind and heart, regardless of present legitimate personal opinions of diversity on the issue.

From the general Christian perspective regarding the doctrine of Mary Co-redemptrix and other doctrines which presently divide us, let us keep faith in the eventual fulfillment of the prayer of Jesus Christ for Christian unity at the Last Supper that, "... they may all be one, even as thou, Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou has sent me" (Jn. 17:21). Apart from temporary historical advances or setbacks, Christians must have faith in an ultimate Christian unity of heart, which will blossom into a unity of mind, truth, and faith based on the one Jesus Christ, who is "the Way, the Truth, the Life" (Jn. 14:6).

The Only "Choice" Christians Have Is To Be Pro-Life

“If humans are made in God’s image, then the repercussions are serious indeed. In the ancient world, to deface the image of the king or deity was tantamount to high treason. If one did not want to live in his realm or under his kingship, that could be arranged, either by exile or death. If we take the Genesis 1 account seriously, namely, that every human being is made in God’s image, then we need to know that any act of abuse against another human being is an act of high treason against God whose image we bear witness. With this in mind, it is not hard to comprehend why Jews and Christians have historically put such a high value on human life, whether women, slaves, gladiators, newly born, or even unborn children.”

-Rikki E. Watts, in his essay On the Edge of the Millenium: Making Sense of Genesis 1.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Dr. Miravalle's Response To 7 Common Objections To Mary As Co-Redemptrix: Objection 6

Objection 6: On a more speculative theological level, it appears that Mary cannot participate in the acquisition of the graces of redemption—or "objective redemption"—as the Co-redemptrix when she herself needed to be redeemed. If she did cooperate in objective redemption, it is because without her, objective redemption has not been accomplished. But if objective redemption has indeed not been accomplished, then she herself cannot benefit from it personally. This would be to accept that at the same time objective redemption is in the act of being accomplished and has already been accomplished, which would be a contradiction.

This apparent contradiction is removed with the proper understanding of how Mary received what is called "preservative redemption" in light of the foreseen merits of Jesus Christ on the cross.

It is true that Mary needed to be "redeemed" in order to actively participate in the process of Redemption as the sinless partner, the New Eve, with and under Jesus Christ, the New Adam. To have original sin or its effects would not allow Mary to be completely united with the Redeemer and in "enmity" or complete opposition from Satan and his seed of sin and its effects (cf. Gen. 3:15) in the redeeming process of "buying back" the human family from Satan and restoring grace to humanity. Any sin on Mary's part would attribute to her a "double-agency," in being in some part united both to the Redeemer and to Satan. Therefore Mary, as a daughter of Adam and Eve by virtue of her humanity, needed to be redeemed in the form of being preserved from sin and its effects in order to rightly perform the task of Co-redemptrix with the Redeemer in the process of universal objective redemption.

In the papal definition of Mary's Immaculate Conception by Bl. Pope Pius IX in 1854, it states that Mary, from the first instant of her conception was freed from original sin and all its effects "in view of the merits of Jesus Christ." (65) This refers to the higher or "more sublime manner" in which Mary was redeemed, beyond all other children of Adam and Eve. In Mary's redemption, she did not have to suffer the experience of original sin and its effects, but rather through the foreseen merits of Jesus Christ at Calvary, was preserved from any experience or effect of original sin, and is thereby redeemed in a more sublime manner (and consequently, for this reason, owes more to her saving Son's redemption than any other redeemed creature).

How then specifically is Mary's redemption in the higher form of preservation from sin enacted so as to allow her to historically participate in objective redemption? This more sublime manner of redemption takes place at Calvary in the fact that the first intention of the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ, (66) according to the providential plan of the Father, was to redeem his own mother, (accomplished in view of the redemption and co-redemption which would then ransom from Satan and sin the rest of the human family).

This first intention of the Redeemer to redeem Mary is in itself another manifestation of the higher and more sublime manner of Mary's redemption. The graces of this first intention of the Redeemer are then applied to Mary at the moment of her Immaculate Conception, allowing her then to become the sinless Co-redemptrix, the historical New Eve, in the objective historic redemption of Jesus Christ at Calvary. Jesus Christ first redeemed his own mother (applied to her at the moment of her conception, preserving her from sin) and then with her active co-redemption the rest of humanity at Calvary.

Therefore there is no contradiction in the historic role of the Co-redemptrix in the objective redemption at Calvary and Mary's own personal need and receipt of the graces of redemption. In virtue of her Immaculate Conception, (redemptive graces applied to her at conception in view of the future merits of Jesus Christ at Calvary), and as the first intention of Jesus Christ's redemptive sacrifice, Mary was then able to uniquely participate in the historic redemption of the rest of humanity with her Redeemer Son. As Fr. Galot well summarizes:

The first intention of the redemptive sacrifice was concerned, according to the divine plan, with the ransom of Mary, accomplished in view of our ransom...Thus, while she was associated in the sacrifice of Calvary, Mary already benefited, in advance, from the fruits of the sacrifice and acted in the capacity of a ransomed creature. But she truly cooperated in the objective redemption, in the acquisition of the graces of salvation for all of mankind. Her redemption was purchased before that of other human beings. Mary was ransomed only by Christ, so that mankind could be ransomed with the collaboration of his mother...

Hence there is no contradiction: Marian co-redemption implies the foreseen redemption of Mary, but not the foreseen fulfillment of the redemption of mankind; it expresses the unique situation of the mother who, while having received a singular grace from her own Son, cooperates with Him in the attainment of salvation for all.

Still other theological schools prefer to distinguish the general notion of redemption into the two categories of "preservation" and "ransoming." Since Mary was never technically under the slavery of Satan's bondage since she never experienced sin, then the term "ransom" is less accurate for her, as it infers returning someone from a previous slavery. Hence the term, "preservation" or preservative redemption may more accurately distinguish the uniqueness of Mary's need to be redeemed by Christ first and as a daughter of Adam and Eve, but does not infer that she was ever under Satan's slavery of sin, illustrative of her higher form of preservative redemption and her subsequent participation in the true "ransoming" of the rest of humanity.

Does this primordial intention of Jesus Christ to redeem his mother and then, as subsequent intention, the rest of humanity violate the "one sacrifice" of Jesus Christ offered for all as discussed in Hebrews (cf. Heb. 10:10)? It does not, as the redemption remains one, although its intentions and efficacious applications are twofold. The one redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ at Calvary does not constitute "two redemptions," but one sublime redemption with two saving applications: the first application effecting the Immaculate Conception of Mary and thus preparing her to be the Co-redemptrix in her cooperation in objective redemption; the second application effecting the redemption of the human family accomplished with the Co-redemptrix.

In his homily on the Feast of Immaculate Conception in the cathedral in Krakow, Karol Cardinal Wojtyla (the present pontiff) well summarized this Marian truth: "In order to be the Co-redemptrix, she was first the Immaculate Conception."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

When Salt Loses Its Savor

Like a house that has vanished, so is wisdom to a fool;
and the knowledge of the ignorant is unexamined talk.
-Sirach 21:18

The well-disposed commissar: Comrade Christian, can you tell me frankly what you Christians are up to? What are you still doing in our world? What do you see as the justification for your existence? What's your job?

The Christian: First of all, we are men like any other men who are helping to build up the future.

The Commissar: I accept your first statement, and I hope that the second is true.

The Christian: We have recently become "open to the world", and some of us even have become seriously converted to the world.

The Commissar: That sounds like crafty priests' talk. It would be even better if, as "men like any other men", you had first become converted to an existence that is worthy of man. But to the point. Why are you still Christians?

The Christian: Today we are Christians come of age. We think and act on our own moral responsibility.

The Commissar: I hope so, if you say you are men. But don't you have some special belief?

The Christian: That's not so important. The main thing is the morality appropriate to the age. Today's emphasis is on brotherly love. He who loves his neighbor loves God.

The Commissar: If he existed. But since he does not exist, you do not love him.

The Christian: We love him inclusively, unobjectively.

The Commissar: Ah, so your belief is without an object. We're making progress. Things are getting clearer.

The Christian: It's not quite so simple as that. We believe in Christ.

The Commissar: I've heard of him. But it seems we know little about him historically.

The Christian: Granted. Virtually nothing. That is why we believe less in the historical Jesus than in the Christ of the kerygma.

The Commissar: What's that word? Chinese?

The Christian: Greek. It means the proclamation of the Gospel. We feel that the linguistic event of the Gospel of faith concerns us.

The Commissar: And what does this Gospel state?

The Christian: It depends on the effect it has on you. It can promise you the forgiveness of sins. This, at any rate, was the experience of the original Christian community. It must have been led to this conclusion through the events surrounding the historical Jesus, of whom we do not actually know enough to be certain that he...

The Commissar: And you call this "conversion to the world?" You Christians are still just as obscurantist as you always were. And you want to help build up the world with that kind of wishy-washy talk!

The Christian (playing his last trump): We have Teilhard de Chardin. He has a great influence in Poland!

The Commissar: We have him ourselves already. We did not need to get him from you first. But it's a good thing that you've finally got that far. Just throw out all that mystical hocus-pocus, which had nothing to do with science, and then we can start talking about evolution together. We'll forget about the other stories. If you yourselves know so little about them, you are no danger to us. You'll save us a bullet or two. In Siberia we have some very useful camps. There you can prove your love of humanity and work away at evolution. You'll achieve more than you do here in your university chairs.

The Christian (somewhat disappointed): You're underestimating the eschatological dynamism of Christianity. We are preparing the way for the coming of the Kingdom of God. We are the true world revolution. Equality, Liberty, Fraternity: that is our real concern.

The Commissar: A pity that others had to fight the battle for you. It's easy to associate yourself with something after the event. Your Christianity is not worth its salt.

The Christian: You are associated with us! I know who you are. You are a decent fellow. You are an anonymous Christian.

The Commissar: Don't be stupid, my friend. Now I've understood enough. You've liquidated yourselves and spared us the trouble of persecuting you. Dismissed!

-Hans Urs von Balthasar, satirizing Karl Rahner's "Anonymous Christianity" theology and liberal Christianity in general in his book The Moment of Christian Witness.

The Feast Of Saint Francis Assisi

"It was through his archangel, Saint Gabriel, that the Father above made known to the holy and glorious Virgin Mary that the worthy, holy and glorious Word of the Father would come from heaven and take from her womb the real flesh of our human frailty. Though he was wealthy beyond reckoning, he still willingly chose to be poor with his blessed mother. And shortly before his passion he celebrated the Passover with his disciples. Then he prayed to his Father saying: "Father, if it be possible, let this cup be taken from me."

Nevertheless, he reposed his will in the will of his Father. The Father willed that his blessed and glorious Son, whom he gave to us and who was born for us, should through his own blood offer himself as a sacrificial victim on the altar of the cross. This was to be done not for himself through whom all things were made, but for our sins. It was intended to leave us an example of how to follow in his footsteps. And he desires all of us to be saved through him, and to receive him with pure heart and chaste body.

Let us also love our neighbors as ourselves. Let us have charity and humility. Let us give alms because these cleanse our souls from the stains of sin. Men lose all the material things they leave behind them in this world, but they carry with them the reward of their charity and the alms they give. For these they will receive from the Lord the reward and recompense they deserve. We must not be wise according to the flesh. Rather we must be simple, humble and pure. We should never desire to be over others. Instead, we ought to be servants who are submissive to every human being for God's sake. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on all who live in this way and persevere in it to the end. He will permanently dwell in them. They will be the Father's children who do his work."

-St. Francis of Assisi

And a very happy Feast Day to Frank!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Dr. Miravalle's Response To 7 Common Objections To Mary As Co-Redemptrix: Objection 5

Objection 5: The idea of Mary as Co-redemptrix and the teaching of Marian co-redemption is a pious belief held by some devotional Catholics, but is not a doctrinal teaching of the Catholic Church. It is found only in minor papal texts and is neither officially taught by the Magisterium, nor is doctrinally present in the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

For a member of the Catholic faith, the question of whether a given theological position constitutes an authentic doctrinal teaching of the Church or not is essentially manifested by its presence (or lack thereof) in the teachings from recognized Church authority. The official teaching authority of the Catholic Church, or "Magisterium," consists of the official teaching of the pope and bishops in union with the pope under the general guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Although there exists a certain hierarchy amidst the expressions of official Catholic teaching authority, from the defined dogma of an ecumenical council or papal ex cathedra infallible statement, to general ecumenical council doctrinal teaching, to encyclical letters, to more general papal teachings contained in papal addresses, there at the same time remains the general directive for the Catholic faithful that is stated by the Second Vatican Council of the need for a religious assent of mind and heart to the manifest mind of the pope, even when he is not speaking infallibly. And certainly all doctrinal teachings from ecumenical councils, papal encyclicals, or consistently repeated papal teachings would constitute authentic doctrinal teachings of the Catholic Church.

Let us now apply this criteria for official Catholic doctrine to the question of the doctrinal status of Marian co-redemption.

From the basis of the doctrinal teachings of the Second Vatican Council alone, the certainty of the doctrinal status of Marian co-redemption is unquestionable. Vatican II repeatedly teaches Mary's unique participation in the redemption of Jesus Christ:

...She devoted herself totally, as handmaid of the Lord, to the person and work of her Son, under and with him, serving the mystery of redemption, by the grace of Almighty God. Rightly, therefore, the Fathers see Mary not merely as passively engaged by God, but as freely cooperating in the work of man's salvation through faith and obedience.

And further:

Thus the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, associated herself with his sacrifice in her mother's heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim which was born of her.

And further by the Council:

She conceived, brought forth, and nourished Christ, she presented Him to the Father in the temple, shared her Son's suffering as He died on the cross. Thus, in a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the work of the Savior in restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace.

Vatican theologian, Fr. Jean Galot, S.J., confirms the official doctrinal status of Marian co-redemption in light of Vatican II teaching:

Without using the term "co-redemptrix," the Council clearly enunciated the doctrine: a cooperation of a unique kind, a maternal cooperation in the life and work of the Savior, which reaches its apex in the participation in the sacrifice of Calvary, and which is oriented towards the supernatural life of souls...

And as articulated by Galot in the official Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano: "The Second Vatican Council, which avoided employing this debated title (Co-redemptrix), nevertheless affirmed with vigor the doctrine it implies..."

Beyond its certain doctrinal presence in Vatican II, Marian co-redemption, along with the explicit use of the title co-redemptrix, is a repeated papal teaching spanning the 19th to the 21st century, which again assures its authentic doctrinal status within the Church. Marian co-redemption is repeatedly taught in numerous papal encyclicals and general teachings, as reflected in the following representative citations of official papal teachings:

Leo XIII: ""When Mary offered herself completely to God together with her Son in the temple, she was already sharing with Him the painful atonement on behalf of the human race. It is certain, therefore, that she suffered in the very depths of her soul with His most bitter sufferings and with His torments. Finally, it was before the eyes of Mary that the Divine sacrifice for which she had born and nurtured the victim, was to be finished...we see that there stood by the Cross of Jesus His Mother, who in a miracle of charity, so that we might receive us as her sons, willingly offered Him up to divine justice, dying with Him in her heart, pierced with the sword of sorrow."

St. Pius X: "Owing to the union of suffering and purpose existing between Christ and Mary, she merited to become most worthily the Reparatrix of the lost world, and for this reason, the dispenser of all the favors which Jesus acquired for us by His death and His blood... and because she was chosen by Christ to be His partner in the work of salvation, she merits for us de congruo as they say, that which Christ merits for us de condigno..."

Benedict XV: "The fact that she was with her Son, crucified and dying, was in accord with the divine plan. To such extent did she surrender her maternal rights over her Son for man's salvation, and immolated Him—in so far as she could—in order to appease the justice of God, that we may rightly say she redeemed the human race together with Christ."

Pius XI: "O Mother of love and mercy who, when thy sweetest Son was consummating the Redemption of the human race on the altar of the cross, did stand next to Him, suffering with Him as a Co-redemptrix...preserve in us, we beseech thee, and increase day by day the precious fruit of His Redemption and the compassion of His Mother."

Pius XII: "It was she who, always most intimately united with her Son, like a New Eve, offered Him on Golgotha to the Eternal Father, together with the sacrifice of her maternal rights and love, on behalf of all the children of Adam, shamed by the latter's shameful fall."

John Paul II: "In her, the many and intense sufferings were amassed in such an interconnected way that they were not only a proof of her unshakable faith, but also a contribution to the redemption of all....It was on Calvary that Mary's suffering, beside the suffering of Jesus, reached an intensity which can hardly be imagined from a human point of view, but which were mysteriously and supernaturally fruitful for the Redemption of the world. Her ascent of Calvary and her standing at the foot of the cross together with the beloved disciple were a special sort of sharing in the redeeming death of her Son."

John Paul II: "Crucified spiritually with her crucified son (cf. Gal. 2:20), she contemplated with heroic love the death of her God, she "lovingly consented to the immolation of this victim which she herself had brought forth"(Lumen Gentium, 58)"...In fact at Calvary she united herself with the sacrifice of her Son which led to the foundation of the Church....In fact, Mary's role as Co-redemptrix did not cease with the glorification of her Son."

We see then both from the criteria of ecumenical council teaching and from repeated papal teaching through encyclical and general instruction, the teaching of Marian co-redemption without question constitutes an authentic doctrine within the authoritative teachings of the Magisterium.

It is sometimes objected that the specific title, Co-redemptrix only appears in papal teachings of lesser importance, and therefore does not represent Catholic doctrinal teachings. This would be to artificially separate the title, Co-redemptrix from the theological doctrine of co-redemption, with which the title is essentially linked and derived from. The title refers to the spiritual function which Mary performs in her unique cooperation in Redemption, and therefore to separate the title from the doctrine is to inappropriately and dangerously disconnect the title from its revealed and authoritatively taught doctrinal foundation. In sum, the doctrinal certainty of Marian co-redemption guarantees the doctrinal certainty of Mary Co-redemptrix.

Moreover, the repeated papal use of the Co-redemptrix title by the present pope on at least six separate occasions should in itself, for the faithful Catholic, immediately remove any question of the doctrinal legitimacy of the title Co-redemptrix (whether personally or prudentially preferable to the individual Catholic or not). Lest, on the other hand, the Catholic is to conclude contrarily that Pope John Paul II has repeatedly used a Marian title which is in itself doctrinally erroneous, theologically unsound, or intrinsically without Christian doctrinal foundation. This appears foreign to the fullest sense of the religious assent of mind and will to be given the manifest mind of the pope to non- infallible papal teachings.

In sum, in light of both conciliar and repeated papal teachings, Marian Co-redemption and it corresponding title, Mary Co-redemptrix, constitutes an official doctrinal teaching of the Church.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Peter And Succession

Here is an excerpt from Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger's book Called To Communion:

The principle of succession in general

That the primacy of Peter is recognizable in all the major strands of the New Testament is incontestable.

The real difficulty arises when we come to the second question: Can the idea of a Petrine succession be justified? Even more difficult is the third question that is bound up with it: Can the Petrine succession of Rome be credibly substantiated?

Concerning the first question, we must first of all note that there is no explicit statement regarding the Petrine succession in the New Testament. This is not surprising, since neither the Gospels nor the chief Pauline epistles address the problem of a postapostolic Church—which, by the way, must be mentioned as a sign of the Gospels' fidelity to tradition. Indirectly, however, this problem can be detected in the Gospels once we admit the principle of form critical method according to which only what was considered in the respective spheres of tradition as somehow meaningful for the present was preserved in writing as such. This would mean, for example, that toward the end of the first century, when Peter was long dead, John regarded the former's primacy, not as a thing of the past, but as a present reality for the Church.

For many even believe—though perhaps with a little too much imagination—that they have good grounds for interpreting the "competition" between Peter and the beloved disciple as an echo of the tensions between Rome's claim to primacy and the sense of dignity possessed by the Churches of Asia Minor. This would certainly be a very early and, in addition, inner-biblical proof that Rome was seen as continuing the Petrine line; but we should in no case rely on such uncertain hypotheses. The fundamental idea, however, does seem to me correct, namely, that the traditions of the New Testament never reflect an interest of purely historical curiosity but are bearers of present reality and in that sense constantly rescue things from the mere past, without blurring the special status of the origin.

Moreover, even scholars who deny the principle itself have propounded hypotheses of succession. 0. Cullmann, for example, objects in a very clear-cut fashion to the idea of succession, yet he believes that he can Show that Peter was replaced by James and that this latter assumed the primacy of the erstwhile first apostle. Bultmann believes that he is correct in concluding from the mention of the three pillars in Galatians 2:9 that the course of development led away from a personal to a collegial leadership and that a college entered upon the succession of Peter. [1]

We have no need to discuss these hypotheses and others like them; their foundation is weak enough. Nevertheless, they do show that it is impossible to avoid the idea of succession once the word transmitted in Scripture is considered to be a sphere open to the future. In those writings of the New Testament that stand on the cusp of the second generation or else already belong to it-especially in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Pastoral Letters—the principle of succession does in fact take on concrete shape.

The Protestant notion that the "succession" consists solely in the word as such, but not in any "structures", is proved to be anachronistic in light of what in actual fact is the form of tradition in the New Testament. The word is tied to the witness, who guarantees it an unambiguous sense, which it does not possess as a mere word floating in isolation. But the witness is not an individual who stands independently on his own. He is no more a wit ness by virtue of himself and of his own powers of memory than Peter can be the rock by his own strength. He is not a witness as "flesh and blood" but as one who is linked to the Pneuma, the Paraclete who authenticates the truth and opens up the memory and, in his turn, binds the witness to Christ. For the Paraclete does not speak of himself, but he takes from "what is his" (that is, from what is Christ's: Jn 16: 13).

This binding of the witness to the Pneuma and to his mode of being-"not of himself, but what he hears" -is called "sacrament" in the language of the Church. Sacrament designates a threefold knot-word, witness, Holy Spirit and Christ-which describes the essential structure of succession in the New Testament. We can infer with certainty from the testimony of the Pastoral Letters and of the Acts of the Apostles that the apostolic generation already gave to this interconnection of person and word in the believed presence of the Spirit and of Christ the form of the laying on of hands.

The Petrine succession in Rome

In opposition to the New Testament pattern of succession described above, which withdraws the word from human manipulation precisely by binding witnesses into its service, there arose very early on an intellectual and anti-institutional model known historically by the name of Gnosis, which made the free interpretation and speculative development of the word its principle. Before long the appeal to individual witnesses no longer sufficed to counter the intellectual claim advanced by this tendency. It became necessary to have fixed points by which to orient the testimony itself, and these were found in the so-called apostolic sees, that is, in those where the apostles had been active. The apostolic sees became the reference point of true communio. But among these sees there was in turn–quite clearly in Irenaeus of Lyons–a decisive criterion that recapitulated all others: the Church of Rome, where Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom. It was with this Church that every community had to agree; Rome was the standard of the authentic apostolic tradition as a whole.

Moreover, Eusebius of Caesarea organized the first version of his ecclesiastical history in accord with the same principle. It was to be a written record of the continuity of apostolic succession, which was concentrated in the three Petrine sees Rome, Antioch and Alexandria-among which Rome, as the site of Peter's martyrdom, was in turn preeminent and truly normative. [2]

This leads us to a very fundamental observation. [3] The Roman primacy, or, rather, the acknowledgement of Rome as the criterion of the right apostolic faith, is older than the canon of the New Testament, than "Scripture".

We must be on our guard here against an almost inevitable illusion. "Scripture" is more recent than "the scriptures" of which it is composed. It was still a long time before the existence of the individual writings resulted in the "New Testament" as Scripture, as the Bible. The assembling of the writings into a single Scripture is more properly speaking the work of tradition, a work that began in the second century but came to a kind of conclusion only in the fourth or fifth century. Harnack, a witness who cannot be suspected of pro-Roman bias, has remarked in this regard that it was only at the end of the second century, in Rome, that a canon of the "books of the New Testament" won recognition by the criterion of apostolicity-catholicity, a criterion to which the other Churches also gradually subscribed "for the sake of its intrinsic value and on the strength of the authority of the Roman Church".

We can therefore say that Scripture became Scripture through the tradition, which precisely in this process included the potentior principalitas–the preeminent original authority–of the Roman see as a constitutive element.

Two points emerge clearly from what has just been First, the principle of tradition in its sacramental form-apostolic succession—played a constitutive role in the existence and continuance of the Church. Without this principle, it is impossible to conceive of a New Testament at all, so that we are caught in a contradiction when we affirm the one while wanting to deny the other. Furthermore, we have seen that in Rome the traditional series of bishops was from the very beginning recorded as a line of successors.

We can add that Rome and Antioch were conscious of succeeding to the mission of Peter and that early on Alexandria was admitted into the circle of Petrine sees as the city where Peter's disciple Mark had been active. Having said all that, the site of Peter's martyrdom nonetheless appears clearly as the chief bearer of his supreme authority and plays a preeminent role in the formation of tradition which is constitutive of the Church-and thus in the genesis of the New Testament as Bible; Rome is one of the indispensable internal and external- conditions of its possibility. It would be exciting to trace the influence on this process of the idea that the mission of Jerusalem had passed over to Rome, which explains why at first Jerusalem was not only not a "patriarchal see" but not even a metropolis: Jerusalem was now located in Rome, and since Peter's departure from that city, its primacy had been transferred to the capital of the pagan world. [4]

But to consider this in detail would lead us too far afield for the moment. The essential point, in my opinion, has already become plain: the martyrdom of Peter in Rome fixes the place where his function continues. The awareness of this fact can be detected as early as the first century in the Letter of Clement, even though it developed but slowly in all its particulars.

Concluding reflections

We shall break off at this point, for the chief goal of our considerations has been attained. We have seen that the New Testament as a whole strikingly demonstrates the primacy of Peter; we have seen that the formative development of tradition and of the Church supposed the continuation of Peter's authority in Rome as an intrinsic condition. The Roman primacy is not an invention of the popes, but an essential element of ecclesial unity that goes back to the Lord and was developed faithfully in the nascent Church.

But the New Testament shows us more than the formal aspect of a structure; it also reveals to us the inward nature of this structure. It does not merely furnish proof texts, it is a permanent criterion and task. It depicts the tension between skandalon and rock; in the very disproportion between man's capacity and God's sovereign disposition, it reveals God to be the one who truly acts and is present.

If in the course of history the attribution of such authority to men could repeatedly engender the not entirely unfounded suspicion of human arrogation of power, not only the promise of the New Testament but also the trajectory of that history itself prove the opposite. The men in question are so glaringly, so blatantly unequal to this function that the very empowerment of man to be the rock makes evident how little it is they who sustain the Church but God alone who does so, who does so more in spite of men than through them.

The mystery of the Cross is perhaps nowhere so palpably present as in the primacy as a reality of Church history. That its center is forgiveness is both its intrinsic condition and the sign of the distinctive character of God's power. Every single biblical logion about the primacy thus remains from generation to generation a signpost and a norm, to which we must ceaselessly resubmit ourselves. When the Church adheres to these words in faith, she is not being triumphalistic but humbly recognizing in wonder and thanksgiving the victory of God over and through human weakness. Whoever deprives these words of their force for fear of triumphalism or of human usurpation of authority does not proclaim that God is greater but diminishes him, since God demonstrates the power of his love, and thus remains faithful to the law of the history of salvation, precisely in the paradox of human impotence.

For with the same realism with which we declare today the sins of the popes and their disproportion to the magnitude of their commission, we must also acknowledge that Peter has repeatedly stood as the rock against ideologies, against the dissolution of the word into the plausibilities of a given time, against subjection to the powers of this world.

When we see this in the facts of history, we are not celebrating men but praising the Lord, who does not abandon the Church and who desired to manifest that he is the rock through Peter, the little stumbling stone: "flesh and blood" do not save, but the Lord saves through those who are of flesh and blood. To deny this truth is not a plus of faith, not a plus of humility, but is to shrink from the humility that recognizes God as he is. Therefore the Petrine promise and its historical embodiment in Rome remain at the deepest level an ever-renewed motive for joy: the powers of hell will not prevail against it . . .

[1] Die Geschichte der synoptischen Tradition, 2d ed. (198 1), 147- 51; cf. Gnilka, 56.
[2] For an exhaustive account of this point, see V. Twomey, Apostolikos Thronos (Münster, 1982).
[3] It is my hope that in the not-too-distant future I will have the opportunity to develop and substantiate in greater detail the view of the succession that I attempt to indicate in an extremely condensed form in what follows. I owe important suggestions to several works by 0. Karrer, especially: Um die Einheit der Christen. Die Petrusfrage (Frankfurt am Mainz, 1953); "Apostolische Nachfolge und Primat", in: Feiner, Trütsch and Böckle, Fragen in der Theologie heute (Freiburg im.Breisgau, 1957), 175-206; "Das Petrusamt in der Frühkirche", in Festgabe J. Lortz (Baden-Baden, 1958), 507-25; "Die biblische und altkirchliche Grundlage des Papsttums", in: Lebendiges Zeugnis (1958), 3-24. Also of importance are some of the papers in the festschrift for 0. Karrer: Begegnung der Christen, ed. by Roesle-Cullmann (Frankfurt am Mainz, 1959); in particular, K. Hofstetter, "Das Petrusamt in der Kirche des I. und 2. Jahrhunderts", 361-72.
[4] Cf. Hofstetter.

Hat tip to Ignatius Insight.