Sunday, April 29, 2007

By Love You Will Come To Know The Lord

"'I am the good shepherd. I know my own – by which I mean, I love them – and my own know me.' In plain words: those who love me are willing to follow me, for anyone who does not love the truth has not yet come to know it. My dear brethren, you have heard the test we pastors have to undergo. Turn now to consider how these words of our Lord imply a test for yourselves also. Ask yourselves whether you belong to his flock, whether you know him, whether the light of his truth shines in your minds. I assure you that it is not by faith that you will come to know him, but by love; not by mere conviction, but by action. John the evangelist is my authority for this statement. He tells us that 'anyone who claims to know God without keeping his commandments is a liar.' Consequently, the Lord immediately adds: As the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep. Clearly he means that laying down his life for his sheep gives evidence of his knowledge of the Father and the Father’s knowledge of him. In other words, by the love with which he dies for his sheep he shows how greatly he loves his Father."

-St. Gregory the Great

Friday, April 27, 2007

"Be Fruitful And Multiply, And Fill The Earth And Subdue It" (Gen 1:28): Man's Responsibility For Life

42. To defend and promote life, to show reverence and love for it, is a task which God entrusts to every man, calling him as his living image to share in his own lordship over the world: "God blessed them, and God said to them, ?Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth' " (Gen 1:28).

The biblical text clearly shows the breadth and depth of the lordship which God bestows on man. It is a matter first of all of dominion over the earth and over every living creature, as the Book of Wisdom makes clear: "O God of my fathers and Lord of mercy ... by your wisdom you have formed man, to have dominion over the creatures you have made, and rule the world in holiness and righteousness" (Wis 9:1, 2-3). The Psalmist too extols the dominion given to man as a sign of glory and honour from his Creator: "You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the sea" (Ps 8:6-8).

As one called to till and look after the garden of the world (cf. Gen 2:15), man has a specific responsibility towards the environment in which he lives, towards the creation which God has put at the service of his personal dignity, of his life, not only for the present but also for future generations. It is the ecological question-ranging from the preservation of the natural habitats of the different species of animals and of other forms of life to "human ecology" properly speaking - which finds in the Bible clear and strong ethical direction, leading to a solution which respects the great good of life, of every life. In fact, "the do- minion granted to man by the Creator is not an absolute power, nor can one speak of a freedom to ?use and misuse', or to dispose of things as one pleases. The limitation imposed from the beginning by the Creator himself and expressed symbolically by the prohibition not to ?eat of the fruit of the tree' (cf. Gen 2:16-17) shows clearly enough that, when it comes to the natural world, we are subject not only to biological laws but also to moral ones, which cannot be violated with impunity".

43. A certain sharing by man in God's lordship is also evident in the specific responsibility which he is given for human life as such. It is a responsibility which reaches its highest point in the giving of life through procreation by man and woman in marriage. As the Second Vatican Council teaches: "God himself who said, ?It is not good for man to be alone' (Gen 2:18) and ?who made man from the beginning male and female' (Mt 19:4), wished to share with man a certain special participation in his own creative work. Thus he blessed male and female saying: ?Increase and multiply' (Gen 1:28).

By speaking of "a certain special participation" of man and woman in the "creative work" of God, the Council wishes to point out that having a child is an event which is deeply human and full of religious meaning, insofar as it involves both the spouses, who form "one flesh" (Gen 2:24), and God who makes himself present. As I wrote in my Letter to Families: "When a new person is born of the conjugal union of the two, he brings with him into the world a particular image and likeness of God himself: the genealogy of the person is inscribed in the very biology of generation. In affirming that the spouses, as parents, cooperate with God the Creator in conceiving and giving birth to a new human being, we are not speaking merely with reference to the laws of biology. Instead, we wish to emphasize that God himself is present in human fatherhood and motherhood quite differently than he is present in all other instances of begetting ?on earth'. Indeed, God alone is the source of that ?image and likeness' which is proper to the human being, as it was received at Creation. Begetting is the continuation of Creation".

This is what the Bible teaches in direct and eloquent language when it reports the joyful cry of the first woman, "the mother of all the living" (Gen 3:20). Aware that God has intervened, Eve exclaims: "I have begotten a man with the help of the Lord" (Gen 4:1). In procreation therefore, through the communication of life from parents to child, God's own image and likeness is transmitted, thanks to the creation of the immortal soul. The beginning of the "book of the genealogy of Adam" expresses it in this way: "When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and called them man when they were created. When Adam had lived a hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth" (Gen 5:1-3). It is precisely in their role as co-workers with God who transmits his image to the new creature that we see the greatness of couples who are ready "to cooperate with the love of the Creator and the Saviour, who through them will enlarge and enrich his own family day by day". This is why the Bishop Amphilochius extolled "holy matrimony, chosen and elevated above all other earthly gifts" as "the begetter of humanity, the creator of images of God".

Thus, a man and woman joined in matrimony become partners in a divine undertaking: through the act of procreation, God's gift is accepted and a new life opens to the future.

But over and above the specific mission of parents, the task of accepting and serving life involves everyone; and this task must be fulfilled above all towards life when it is at its weakest. It is Christ himself who reminds us of this when he asks to be loved and served in his brothers and sisters who are suffering in any way: the hungry, the thirsty, the foreigner, the naked, the sick, the impris- oned ... Whatever is done to each of them is done to Christ himself (cf. Mt 25:31-46).

-From John Paul II's Encyclical Letter, Evangelium Vitae.

A Real Bishop

In the book Salt of the Earth, Peter Seewald mentions to the then Cardinal Ratzinger that St. Augustine defines his office as one who "Reprimand[s] troublemakers, comfort[s] the fainthearted, refute[s] opponents."

Ratzinger responds: "He was a real bishop."

Let us pray for our bishops that they be real bishops and stand up for the faith and morals of the Church. One such bishop is Archbishop Burke of St. Louis.

Those Who In Principle Reject The Icon, Ultimately Also Reject The Mystery Of The Incarnation

"Should somebody say, 'Since I ought to venerate [Christ] in spirit, it is pointless to venerate him in his icon', he should know that with this he also abandons the spiritual veneration of Christ. You see, if he, in his spiritual contemplation, does not behold Christ in human form at the right hand of the Father, then he does not venerate him at all. On the contrary, he denies that the Word has become flesh. But Christ's icon is a reliable testimony to the fact that the Eternal Word has become one like us."

"The painted image is for us a sacred light, a salvific monument, as it holds up before us Christ in his birth, his baptism, his miracles, on the cross, in the tomb, in his Resurrection and Ascension. In all this we are not being deceived as though these events would not have happened. For what our eyes see supports our spiritual contemplation, so that through both experiences our faith in the mystery of salvation is strengthened."

"Imprint Christ....onto your heart, where he [already] dwells; whether you read a book about him, or behold him in an image, may he inspire your thoughts, as you come to know him twofold through the twofold experience of your senses. Thus you will see with your eyes what you have learned through the words you have heard. He who in this way hears and sees will full his entire being with the praise of God."

"No matter how perfect he may be, no matter that he is clothed with a bishop's dignity, he nevertheless still needs the book of the gospels as well as its visual presentations. For both are equally venerable."

"What you think to be improper and coarse is on the contrary godly and sublime, if you keep in mind the immensity of the mystery. For is it not an honor for the Almighty to humble himself, in the same way as the humble would be ashamed to be exulted? Thus it is with Christ: he does not abandon the exalted reality of his divinity, which is immaterial and cannot be circumscribed; and yet it is his glory to abase himself in such a noble manner down to our level that now in his body he can be circumscribed. He has become matter, that is: flesh, he who sustains everything that exists; and he is not ashamed to have become what he has taken on (namely, flesh), and to be called such."

-St. Theodore the Studite

For more info on the Icon controversy and a great book on the early Christological controversies as well, see Christoph Cardinal Schonborn's book God's Human Face: The Christ-Icon.

Athanasius And The Theotokos

"I was completely amazed that certain people should be in any doubt as to whether the holy virgin ought to be called the Mother of God or not. For if our Lord Jesus Christ is God, then how is the holy virgin who bore him not the Mother of God? The divine disciples handed on this faith to us even if they did not make mention of the term. We have been taught to think this way by the holy Fathers. Our Father Athanasius, of illustrious memory, was an ornament to the throne of the church of Alexandria throughout forty six years in all. He opposed an unconquered and apostolic wisdom to the sophistries of the evil heretics, and refreshed the whole world with his own writings as if they were some most fragrant balsam. His orthodoxy and godliness in teaching are confessed by all, and he composed a book for us concerning the holy and consubstantial trinity where, throughout the third discourse, he calls the holy virgin the Mother of God. I will make use of his own sayings and the exact words are these: 'This, then, is the purpose and essential meaning of the divine scripture, as we have said many times, that it contains a two-fold statement about the Savior; firstly that he is eternally God, and that he is the Son being the Word, the Radiance, and the Wisdom of the Father, and secondly that later for our sake he took flesh from the virgin Mary the Mother of God and so became man.' And again, further on, he says: 'But there have been many holy men who were even pure of all sin. Jeremiah was sanctified even from the womb, and John still inside his mother leaped for joy at the sound of the voice of Mary the Mother of God.' This man is trustworthy and we ought to rely upon him as someone who would never say anything that was not in accordance with the sacred text. For how could such a brilliant and famous man, held in such reverence by everybody at the holy and great Synod itself (I mean that which formerly gathered together in Nicaea) be mistaken as to the truth? At the time he did not occupy the episcopal throne, but was still only a cleric. Nonetheless because of his shrewdness, his purity of life, and his sharp and incomparably penetrating mind, he was taken along on that occasion by bishop Alexander of blessed memory, and he was to the old man like a son to a father, guiding him in everything useful and admirably showing him the way in all he did."

-Cyril of Alexandria

Eucharist: The Lifegiving Flesh Of Jesus Christ

"We proclaim the death according to the flesh of the Only begotten Son of God, and confess the return to life from the dead of Jesus Christ, and his ascension into heaven, and thus we perform in the churches an unbloody worship, and in this way approach mystical blessing and are sanctified, becoming participents in the holy flesh and the precious blood of Christ the Savior of us all. We do not receive this as ordinary flesh, God forbid, or as the flesh of a man sanctified and conjoined to the Word in a unity of dignity, or as the flesh of someone who enjoys a divine indwelling. No, we receive it as truly the lifegiving and very-flesh of the Word himself. As God he is by nature life and since he became one with his own flesh he revealed it as life-giving. So even if he should say to us: 'Amen, Amen, I say to you, If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood', we must not consider this as if it were the flesh of any man like us (for how could the flesh of a man be life-giving from its own nature?) but rather that it has truly become the personal flesh of him who for our sakes became, and was called, the Son of Man."

-Cyril of Alexandria

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Big Surprise!

Study: Religion is Good for Kids

"The kids whose parents regularly attended religious services—especially when both parents did so frequently—and talked with their kids about religion were rated by both parents and teachers as having better self-control, social skills and approaches to learning than kids with non-religious parents."

Psalm 128

Blessed is every one who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways!
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.
Lo, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD.
The LORD bless you from Zion! May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life!
May you see your children's children! Peace be upon Israel!

God Does Not Merely Declare Us Just, Rather He MAKES Us Just

"God's word, I say, effects what it announces. This is its characteristic all throug Scripture....Thus in the beginning He said, 'Let there be light, and there was light.'....So again in His miracles, He called Lazarus from the grave and the dead arose; He said, 'Be thou cleansed,' and the leprosy departed; He rebuked the wind and the waves, and they were still; He commanded the evil spirits, and they fled away.....It would seem, then, in all cases that God's word is the instrument of His deed. When, then, He solemnly utters the command, 'Let the soul be just,' it becomes inwardly just."

-John Henry Newman

The Domestic Church

"Christ chose to be born and grow up in the bosom of the holy family of Joseph and Mary. the Church is nothing other than "the family of God." From the beginning, the core of the Church was often constituted by those who had become believers "together with all [their] household." When they were converted, they desired that "their whole household" should also be saved. These families who became believers were islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world.

In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith. For this reason the Second Vatican Council, using an ancient expression, calls the family the Ecclesia domestica. It is in the bosom of the family that parents are "by word and example . . . the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. They should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each child, fostering with special care any religious vocation."

It is here that the father of the family, the mother, children, and all members of the family exercise the priesthood of the baptized in a privileged way "by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, and self-denial and active charity." Thus the home is the first school of Christian life and "a school for human enrichment." Here one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous - even repeated - forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one's life."

-From the Catechism of the Catholic Church #1655-1657

Monday, April 23, 2007

Ratzinger On Bonaventure And Revelation

"I had ascertained that in Bonaventure (as well as in theologians of the thirteenth century) there was nothing corresponding to our conception of 'revelation', by which we are normally in the habit of referring to all the revealed contents of the faith: it has even become a part of linguistic usage to refer to Sacred Scripture simply as 'revelation.' Such an identification would have been unthinkable in the language of the High Middle Ages. Here, 'revelation' is always a concept denoting an act. The word refers to the act in which God shows himself, not to the objectified result of this act. And because this is so, the receiving subject is always also a part of the concept of 'revelation.' Where there is no one to perceive 'revelation', no re-vel-ation has occurred, because no veil has been removed. By definition, revelation requires a someone who apprehends it. These insights, gained through my reading of Bonaventure, were later on very important for me at the time of the conciliar discussion on revelation, Scripture, and tradition. Because, if Bonaventure is right, then revelation precedes Scripture and becomes deposited in Scripture but is not simply identical with it. This in turn means that revelation is always something greater than what is merely written down. And this again means that there can be no such thing as pure sola scriptura ('by Scripture alone'), because an essential element of Scripture is the Church as understanding subject, and with this the fundamental sense of tradition already given."

-From his book Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977.

Well, That's Nice!

I was looking at the sitemeter for this blog and noticed that someone found my blog by doing a search for "how to share jesus christ to a catholic."

I assume that the person who did the search was a Protestant. My response would be to attend a Mass and the Catholic Church will share Jesus Christ with you in the Most Blessed Sacrament!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Quote Of The Day

"John Paul II took up the saying 'Do not be afraid, have no fear of Christ' in one of his first addresses as Pope. I would say that this is a thread that ought to run throughout Christianity. We do not need to be afraid of this God, as if he were going to take something away from us or to threaten us, for it is from him that we have the security that overcomes even death."

-Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in God and the World.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Need A Reason?

I just finished reading Scott Hahn’s new book Reasons To Believe: How to understand, explain, and defend the Catholic Faith. This book should be read by everyone who is serious about their faith and also takes seriously the call of Christ to spread the Gospel to "Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth." In order to do anything properly, you must first have a firm foundation. This foundation is exactly what Scott Hahn provides in his book. It will teach you how to defend the faith, not just by quoting proof texts, but by fully understanding the faith you intend to defend! Whether it is against atheists, agnostics, Jews, rationalists, fideists, or Protestants, Reasons To Believe will prepare you to "always....make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you."
Order yours now!

The First Extra-Biblical Account Of Baptism

I will also relate the manner in which we dedicate ourselves to God when we have been made new through Christ… Those who believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we praying and fasting with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. In the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they are then washed with water.

For Christ said, "Unless you be born again, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." Now, it is manifest to all that is impossible for those who have once been born to enter into their mothers' wombs. And how those who have sinned and repent shall escape their sins, is declared by Isaiah the prophet: "Wash yourselves clean; put away your misdeeds from your souls; learn to do good… Come now, let us set things right, says the Lord. And though your sins be like scarlet, I will make them white like wool." (Is 1:16 f)… This is what we have learned from the apostles. At our birth we were born without our own knowledge or choice, by our parents coming together… In order that we may not remain the children of necessity and of ignorance, but may become the children of choice and knowledge, and may obtain in water the remission of sins formerly committed, we pronounce over those who choose to be born again, and have repented of their sins, the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe; he who leads to baptism the person that is to be washed calls God by this name alone. For no one can utter the name of the ineffable God...

And this washing is called illumination, because they who learn these things are illuminated in their understanding. And he who is illuminated is washed in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and in the name of the Holy Spirit, who through the prophets foretold all things about Jesus.

-St. Justin Martyr (d. 160 AD)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Baptismal Apologetics

"If a Bible Christian knocks on your door and asks, 'Have you been born again?' perhaps the best answer would be, 'Yes, I've been baptized.' (Caution: Your answer may surprise your questioner.) Here's a strategy that may help you share about Baptism when someone's question has opened the door for discussion.

Open your Bible to Jn. 3:5-8 and share Jesus' challenge to Nicodemus: 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God' (Jn. 3:5). Highlight the context of this passage: In a previous chapter, Jesus' Baptism is recorded, which brings together the images of water and the Spirit (in the form of a dove) along with God the Father's recognition of His Son (Jn. 1:32-33; cf. Mt. 3:16-17). The passage immediately following Jesus' conversion with Nicodemus is the only place in the New Testament that records Jesus' baptizing others (Jn. 3:22). The overall context of the passage where Jesus speaks of the necessity of being 'born of water and the spirit' is Baptism.

Without downplaying our need for ongoing conversion, emphasize that this passage in Jn. 3 addresses the objective act of Baptism, rather than a subjective conversion experience. Then ask in all sincerity, 'When were you born of water and the Spirit? When were you baptized?'"

-Kimberly Hahn in the chapter "Born Again: What the Bible Teaches About Baptism" from the book Catholic For A Reason: Scripture and the Mystery of the Family of God.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Friday, April 13, 2007

Our Lady In Scotus’ Theory

The Immaculata was predestined par excellence. In fact, she was chosen "in Him, before the foundation of the world" (Ephesians 1:4) to be holy without blemish in His sight and love.

How united is Mary to this predestination?

In the definition of the Immaculate Conception, Ineffabilis Deus (1854), Pius IX states that the Incarnation and Mary were eternally willed in one and the same eternal decree.
This means that like Jesus, Mary is also eternally willed and in that sense, has always been part of the eternal plan, even before her conception. This is important because the Mother gives birth to the Son.

According to the Franciscan thesis: The Virgin was predestined eternally to be the beloved Daughter of the Father, the Mother of the Son, and the Spouse of the Holy Spirit.

The Franciscan thesis thus teaches that God preordained the Immaculata before any consideration of sin, otherwise one must maintain that the Immaculate one is only the result of human sin and its remedy.

To go a step further:
What does Absolute primacy have to do with Marian mediation?
-God placed the mediation of Jesus Christ at the center of creation.
-Because God wills in a most orderly fashion, it follows that immediately under Christ the Head, God places the Immaculate one. Mary is therefore the most perfect creature (after Christ of course) because of her Immaculate Conception
-Mary shares in the role of the One mediator in subordination, but as the fountain and channel of all graces.

St. Bernard said:
Mary is called the neck of the Mystical Body through which flows all the graces of Christ, therefore God willed that grace and glory would flow through Jesus the mediator and through Mary the Mediatrix. And this was part of God’s perfect predestination.

In other words, regardless of sin, God always intended grace to flow to humanity from Jesus and Mary. After the Fall, this grace becomes redemptive and therefore the Incarnation becomes redemptive. And this only adds to the Glory. But it is not the foundation.
Bonaventure says:
"Our Lady is the Mediatrix between us and Christ, as Christ is the Mediator between us and God."

In terms of Redemption:
Sin leads to a new dimension of the Incarnation. God’s plan from the beginning is immutable. His eternal plan did not change with the advent of sin. Rather it took on a new dimension, allowing for nature to be graced all the more! God extends his mercy and wills that the Mediator and Mediatrix remove the barrier of sin. Jesus and Mary then also became the Redeemer and subordinately, the Coredemptrix of Grace.

Originally, the Incarnation would not be redemptive, but it becomes redemptive after the Fall (after there is a need for redemption).

The Mediator and Mediatrix ( who were always destined to be so) also become the Redeemer and Coredemptrix because of sin. Therefore the plan of God in its essence is not altered. Jesus and Mary are predestined to maximum grace and glory. Now in case one may suggest that the Incarnation is higher than Calvary, it is vital to point out that any authentic Scotist on this point says that after the Fall, all graces of the sacrifice come from Jesus and Mary on Calvary. The Passion of Christ and com-passion of Mary becomes the center of authentic Christian spirituality. As Dr. Miravalle says, "In the Divine Mercy chaplet, we say ‘for the sake of thy sorrowful Passion’ not ‘for the sake of thy joyous Incarnation.’" Scotus says that God sees the Fall from all eternity, thus the greater glory of Christ becoming Redeemer and Mary as subordinate Coredemptrix, after they initially were predestined from all eternity as Mediator and Mediatrix. This is the meaning of "O felix culpa!"

To say that the greatest good is contingent on the fall of a lesser creature is to say that because the Blessed Mother is so connected to the Incarnation, we wouldn’t have her if man didn’t sin.

This isn’t the way God orders his plan of creation.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Franciscan (Scotistic) Thesis: Absolute Primacy Of Christ

Theory of Incarnation:
-Jesus Christ was absolutely predestined for grace and glory in His Incarnation quite apart from any question of sin. The elect (men and angels) were chosen and predestined in Him by an eternal decree. And this before the universe had been created.

Supporters of this:
-St. Maximus the Confessor: Christ was always destined to come
-St. Francis De Sales: The primary reason for the Incarnation is that God might communicate Himself outside Himself. Communication of God ad extra. From all eternity, God saw that the most excellent way to do this was to unite Himself to some created nature. The Incarnation is the ultimate self-communication of God to man. Therefore God willed it for His sake, to pour Himself out into creation.
-St. Albert the Great: In his Sentences, he says that Christ would have come, despite sin.

The absolute primacy of Christ begins with God’s plan. So we can say that it begins from above, and not from below (from man). It begins with God.

-He seeks to see the created world form God’s point of view. And God, he would hold, does not subordinate His eternal decrees to man’s temporal situation. God rather in His goodness, freely wills to create the universe according to a fixed plan.

The key note to Soctus’ system is the word "predestination"
Note the distinction again from a Calvinist predestination:
God has a fixed plan for creation, but man is still free.
For Scotus, the origin of all creation rests on predestination.
Scotus defines Predestination as "An act of divine will which destines (chooses or elects) an intellectual creature to grace and glory."

Predestination is characterized by 2 activities:
1) eternal: the eternal act outside of time. This refers to the intention of God for all eternity.
This specifically refers to the activity of "determining the end." Meaning determining the goal or purpose or final cause of all of God’s activity outside of Himself.
2) Temporal: " The Execution of His foreseen plan in time."
This means the gradual realization of His eternal plan in time.

-Therefore, we have a single plan of predestination with 2 activities that bring it about.
Intention and execution.
The intention which God freely chooses from eternity always precedes the execution of His intention in time.

The example used by Scotists is that of a sculptor:
First the artist sees in his mind a life-size wooden statue (say, of Sacred Heart of Jesus) and he wants to carve this wooden statue.
-The first thing he does is have an intention to carve the statue.
-Now to execute that intention, he obtains a large chunk of wood.
-He brings it to a studio and begins to carve.

-What we can see in this process is that the intention is first and the execution is second, and in a certain sense we can say that the execution (the chunk of wood) is less perfect compared to what the final statue would be (the more perfect). But the sculptor throughout the process sees the Sacred Heart of Jesus in that wood. That intention is what moves the execution of the plan along. So in the sculptors activity of intention, the perfect is willed and is seen first. Whereas, in the activity of execution, he begins with the less perfect and gradually moves to the perfect.

Applying this to subject of primacy of Christ:
-God is the divine artist. The first thing he does is wills and predestines the Most sacred Heart of Jesus to the maximum grace and glory as possible. This maximum grace in glory is by virtue of the personal union that the human heart of Jesus will have with the eternal Word in the Incarnation. This happens through the hypostatic union. Now through the activity of the intention God wills the end of all creation; The goal and height of all creation: Jesus Christ.
To get to this goal of all creation, God sets his plan in motion (the execution), with the creation of the universe. God moves from the lesser perfect to the most perfect realization of his eternal decree. (Chunk of wood to the actual statue). That’s why he starts with creation. The most perfect of his eternal decree is the grace and glory of Jesus Christ. (Scotus says that Scripture supports this. Jesus is the high point of creation.) Thus the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the first created being willed by God and was done so for all eternity and the Sacred Heart is predestined to the height of Glory. The Sacred Heart is the goal of all creation. What God seeks to realize in the fullness of time (Gal 4:4). So this eternal intention of God and the temporal execution towards this end, is what is fixed by predestination.
Secondly, all other rational creatures are predestined in, thru, and for Jesus Christ.

The predestination is the positive act of the divine will which destines a rational creature to grace and glory. This refers first to Jesus Christ in his humanity, and also to all the saints and angels.

Scotus will say therefore, it follows that there is a primacy of the will, that is, a primacy of charity in God. (Keynote of Franciscan thesis, from Bonaventure: Love is primary to God). Scotus doesn’t downplay the importance of the intellect, but does highlight the importance of love.

For Scotus predestination is absolute, not relative, meaning that it is not relative to any created need or circumstance. Rather it is based on God’s own intrinsic goodness and moving creatures to himself for the optimum grace and glory.

Christ was willed (Incarnation) before the foundation of the world. Jesus is first of all willed for His own sake and not first for man’s sake. In fact, men and angels are created for Him and He for God. Jesus could not be predestined to grace and glory on account of sin....even though he will conquer sin in his mercy. Thus the Incarnation is the supreme work of God ad extra (outside of Himself) and it is not occasioned by sin. This predestination of Christ, of men, and of angels is one simultaneous act. So God destines all of the elect to grace and glory in Jesus Christ.

To Sum up:
In Scotus’s Ordinatio he says:
1) God predestines Christ (in His humanity), saints and angels to glory before any foreseen sin.
2) Predestination is absolute in the intention of God and not based on future needs or sins of creatures.
3) Thirdly that Christ’s absolute predestination could not be "occasioned by sin" or even for the sake of men and angels.
a) After willing the Trinity, the first thing that God wills is the humanity of Jesus.
b) You don’t predestine the height of created glory based on the fall of an inferior creature.

Consequently, this is the view I hold. It also has implications for the Blessed Virgin as well, which I will post on at a later time.

In the meantime,
Tom over at Disputations presents St. Thomas' view on the subject. As you can see, Thomas didn't hold his position to be a matter of life and death. Make sure you check out the discussion in the combox. You will find that Fr. Maximilian Mary Dean, F.I. has joined the discussion. Note what he says, for he wrote the book on this subject......literally! It's called A Primer On the Absolute Primacy Of Christ.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Primacy Of Christ?

Historically there have been 2 fundamental theories regarding the Incarnation of Christ:

1) Thomistic Thesis: Christ became incarnate as an act dependant on Original Sin. As Original sin took place, the word became flesh (Although Thomas wasn’t as rigid as later Neo-Thomists are on this subject. This thesis also didn’t begin with Thomas.)

2) Franciscan (Scotistic) Thesis: Absolute Primacy of Christ. Incarnation was not dependant on Original Sin.

Each theory has significant implications for:

1) did he will creation and salvation history in an intelligent ordered way with Christ as the chief cornerstone.
2) Did he will one economy of grace for the angels and our first parents, and then a second economy of grace for man as a remedy for sin?

Jesus and Mary:
1) Are God’s two greatest created works willed first before anything else is considered and are they willed for their own sake? Can we say they have a priority in the divine scheme of things? or:
2) Does the humanity of Jesus and His mother owe their existence to Adam’s Fall?

Angels and Demons:
1) Did God from all eternity, predestine the good angels in and for the Incarnate Word, Jesus, as their mediator? And did God condemn the demons because they refused to serve this mystery? or:
2) Are the angels created apart from the mystery of the Incarnation and therefore are they not technically under Jesus Christ’s headship?

1) Is the original dignity of man that of being elevated in Christ Jesus (including Adam and Eve)? By that we mean, did God predestine the elect to be his adopted children, before any consideration of sin?
2) Is the predestination of the elect in Jesus Christ only a consequence of Original Sin?

(Note: By Predestination, we do not mean a Calvinistic view in any way. Man still has free will! For more on the correct view of Predestination see CCC 600, 1007, 2012, 2782, 2823)

Spiritual life:
1) Did God will from all eternity that man’s spiritual journey be centered in the hearts of Jesus and Mary, whether sin happened or whether sin did not happen?
2) Is the spiritual journey to God through Jesus and Mary the result of man’s need for redemption?

I’m curious as to what position everyone else prefers and why. I won’t say which side I lean towards at the moment, but will leave that for a later post.

Let The Speculation Begin!

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Eucharist Is Necessary For Salvation

"The Eucharist is our participation in the Easter mystery, and hence it is constitutive of the Church, the Body of Christ. This is why the Eucharist is necessary for salvation. The necessity of the Eucharist is identical with the necessity of the Church and vice versa. This is how we should understand the Lord's saying: 'Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you' (Jn 6:53). Hence we see the necessity, too, of a visible Church and a visible, concrete (and one might say 'institutional') unity. The most intimate mystery of communion between God and man is accessible in the sacrament of the Body of the Risen Lord; conversely, then, the mystery lays claim to our bodies and is realized in a Body. The Church, which is built upon the sacrament of the Body of Christ, must herself be a body. And she must be a single body, corresponding to Jesus Christ's uniqueness, a uniqueness which is reflected in unity and in the 'continuing in' the one, apostolic teaching."

-Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in Behold the Pierced One.

Heaven Is Other People

"In his play No Exit Jean Paul Sartre portrays man as a being who is hopelessly trapped. He sums up his gloomy picture of man in the words, 'Hell is other people.' This being so, hell is everywhere, and there is no exit, the doors are everywhere closed.

Christ, however, says to us, 'I, your God, have become your Son. Come out!' Now the exact opposite is true: heaven is other people. Christ summons us to find heaven in him, to discover him in others and thus to be heaven to each other. He calls us to let heaven shine into this world, to build heaven here. Jesus stretches out his hand to us in his Easter message, in the mystery of the sacraments, so that Easter may be now, so that the light of heaven may shine forth in this world and the doors may be opened. Let us take his hand! Amen."

-Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in Behold the Pierced One.

The New Testament Is Born From The Life Of The Church

"[F]ellowship with Jesus and the resultant knowledge of Jesus presupposes that we are in communication with the living subject of tradition to which all this is linked -in communication with the Church. The message of Jesus has never been able to live and mediate life except in this communion. Even the New Testament, as a book, presupposes the Church as its subject. It grew in and from the Church; its unity comes solely from the Church's faith, which brings together diverse elements into a unity. We can see this mutual involvement of tradition, knowledge and community life in all the writings of the New Testament. In order to express it, the Gospel of John and the Johannine letters coined the 'ecclesial we'. Thus, for example, in the concluding verses of the first Letter of John, we come across the formula, 'we know' three times (5:1-20). It is also to be found in Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus (Jn 3:11); in each case it points to the Church as the subject of knowledge in faith."

-Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in Behold the Pierced One.

The Church

"The Catholic Church was not only preached after the coming of Our Lord and Savior, beloved brethren, but from the beginning of the world, it was designated by many figures and rather hidden mysteries. Indeed, in holy Abel the Catholic Church existed, in Noah, in Abraham, in Isaac, in Jacob, and in the other saintly people before the advent of Our Lord and Savior. Truly, Solomon says of her, 'Who shall find a worthy wife?' What does he mean: 'Who shall find'? Here, we should understand the difficulty, not impossibility, of finding her. That valiant woman is the Church."

-Caesarius of Arles

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter! The Lord Is Risen!

The Sun of Justice that had disappeared for three days, today rises and shines on the whole creation. Christ in the tomb for three days and in existence before the centuries! He comes up like a vine and fills the earth with joy. Let us look at the rising sun that will never set; let us anticipate the day and may we be filled with the joy of this light!

The gates of Hell have been broken by Christ, the dead wake up from sleep. Christ rises, he, the resurrection of the dead, and comes to wake Adam up. Christ, resurrection of all the dead, rises and comes to free Eve from malediction. Christ rises, he who is the resurrection, and he transfigures in all its beauty what had “no stately bearing to make us look at him." As a sleeper the Lord woke up and confounded all the trickeries of the enemy. He was raised and gave joy to the whole creation; he was raised and the prison of Hell was emptied; he was raised and transformed what is corruptible into incorruptible. The risen Christ clothed Adam with incorruptibility, his first dignity.

Through Christ the Church today becomes a new heaven, a more beautiful sky to contemplate than the visible sun. The sun that we see every day cannot compare with this Sun: as a servant filled with respect, he eclipsed in front of him, when he saw him hanging on the cross. It is of this Sun that the prophet said: “For you who fear my name, there will arise the Sun of Justice with its healing rays”...Through him, the Christ, Sun of Justice, the Church becomes a beautiful sky filled with plenty of stars, that come out from the baptismal waters in their new light. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice in it and be glad," filled with the joy that comes from God.

-Saint Epiphanius of Salamis

Saturday, April 07, 2007

One Full Year!

Today my wife and I have been Catholic for a complete year! It truly is a blessing. There is nothing greater than to be in the Church that Christ established and to be surrounded by the fullness of the Faith and by so great a cloud of witnesses!

If you are on the edge of joining, don't wait any longer. Christ wants all to be Catholic. Why wouldn't He? After all this is the Church that He founded on Peter and the Apostles, and which continues in an unbroken line all the way to Pope Benedict XVI and all the bishops in union with him. Before you reject the One True Church, make absolutely sure you know what you are rejecting! Read the Church Fathers and you will see that the Catholic Church today is amazingly similar to the early Church. There's good reason for that, too. It's because they ARE the same Church!

Since becoming Catholic, I have grown so much closer to God. There are so many wonderful devotions that point you straight to the Glory of Jesus Christ, Our Savior. The Kingdom of God, which is the Catholic Church, is a beautiful treasure chest of Grace.

Would that all would experience and embrace Christ's gift to His disciples, Holy Mother Church!