For, indeed, everything about is marvellous, and wherever a man turns his gaze he sees the Godhead of the Word and is smitten with awe. -St. Athanasius
Some thoughts on the ‘consecration of the ordinary’, the place of Christ’s Humanity in our redemption and the remaking of the world, its relation to orthodox catholic theology, and the protestant undoing thereof….
‘And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us’ declares St. John in his first chapter, thus was read at the end of every Holy Mass for centuries. When mentioned in the creed ‘He became incarnate from the Virgin Mary’ all men bow in holy reverence. The Incarnation of our Lord is the centre and core of the Christian faith.
God become man, among us.
It is also the height of strangeness; it looks to the modern man as most repelling to his philosophy. For it is now impossible to speak of man as simply ape, no longer does reality allow him to describe his brethren in as chemical sacks with little meaning, no, the child in the manger demands Human dignity, and gives it Divinity. The Almighty looked upon us not as ape but as a child who has just been found after being lost in darkness.
In this, not only are humans elevated, but all human thinks, all good that it is and that it does. Every unborn baby is worthy of the utmost respect for God was an unborn baby, motherhood has been set aside, for God had a mother, when you go to work remember that it is worthy of Divinity for God laboured unnoticed by the world in the hills of Galilee for 30 years, when you sleep it is a holy act for God thought it great enough to slumber every night for 33 years. cooking, cleaning, drinking, eating, partying, reading, relaxing, talking, breathing, aging and dying are all sacred in Christ for He thought these things worthy of himself. Human acts, Through Jesus Christ, become divine acts and divine acts become human acts…
And what was the greatest work of Christ; our redemption, by his suffering, death and Resurrection, and so also, the Paschal lamb, shares the highest and most solemn act, salvation, with humans and with the things of the earth. Although it is only through Him that salvation comes, he is always the sole saviour, he lets us partake in that holy action. In this new creation all things are made new, the world of everyday life become divine instruments. Water, oil, words, bread, wine, sex and hands placed upon a man’s head become the tangible fonts by which his grace flow. This is the essence of the sacraments.
This describes the very heart of the life of the Church; its prayers, it’s Faith, its Ritual, its Theology and its Doctrine; they are all sacramental. The Life of a Christian, the life of Christianity as a whole is a visible participation in Christ’s saving action. His Power radiates through the Church like rays from the sun. This is what grace means in the New Testament, Gods life in us; ‘participation in the divine nature’, as St. Peter puts it. Grace is God’s working in us, moulding us to the image of his only Son, not simply the declaration of innocence by Christ, as the reformers would have us believe. It is God, by no merit of our own, bringing us to faith and making us a dwelling place of his spirit and through that faith, bringing us to perfect love and hope, i.e. sanctity. This is the key to understanding the New Testament Pauline writings and Catholic theology as a whole; participation in Christ.
This concept is key to explaining orthodox faith in Christ to those in the protestant heresy or misinformed Catholics. For to a protestant mind this concept is almost completely forgotten. Metaphysical concepts such as participation (which is crucial to understanding St. Paul) where rejected as pagan. So, for the faith of many a protestants, we do not live in Christ we live like him, his grace is only his loving declaration of innocence. He does not share his Glory or his task of salvation with humanity. In this view, Reverence to the saints, our lady, the liturgy, holy objects, the priesthood, etc. are simply idolatry; they give salvific power to people and things other than Christ.
this why we must teach the notion that I have spoken off above, namely the Incarnational elevation of created things and people in Christ Jesus, before we explain the particulars of Catholic Doctrine. So how does all this relate to Mary, the Saints, holy images, the seven sacraments act. Well we have to understand these doctrines as the logical consequence of ‘participation in Christ'(PC).
Let us first look the Catholic Doctrine of Mary and the Saints and their part in salvationin light of PC. St. Mary, so the Church teaches, is the greatest of all God’s creation, greater than all the angels, coredemtrix and comedeatrix. How can the Church justify its self as not violating the first commandment with these claims? Well it is through an understanding of grace and PC. In what way does Mary have glory and honour? Only by her participation in Christs glory and honour. How does she act as co-redeemer and co-mediator? Only by her participation in Christ’s mediation and redemption. Mary is totally dependent upon Christ’s merit and mercy. Mary saves us in the sense that Christ works his redemption through the virgin from Nazareth and her Fiat! This is the same for all the saints in heaven; Christs grace works through them so that they can make petition to God for our salvation and benefit. This same reality is present on earth as it is in heaven; whenever we that another might be saved or whenever someone comes to the faith by our ministry we are participating in the redemptive work of Christ, we are co-redeemers! And whenever a priest gives the grace of Christ through the sacraments he is participating in Christ’s role as the one mediator between God and man.
This leads me to examine the Church’s understanding of the priesthood of the new covenant. Why does the Church say that there are men who can mediate the grace of God to us when there is only one mediator between God and Man the man Jesus Christ? Well the Church affirms the sole mediator ship of Christ between God and the Human race; it is with Him and in Him and through Him alone that we are saved. But the Church also affirms that we participate and especially in a special way the ministerial priesthood participate in the one true priesthood of Christ. This is how we can say that all around the world every day the true and worthy sacrifice made once and for all on the cross of Christ is made present and renewed on the altar of a Catholic Church. The priest participates in Christ’s role as mediator; so that Christ can, through the hands of the priest, offer himself in the Eucharist, to God the father for the redemption of the world.
These doctrines must be understood and lived if we are going to bear true witness to the world, firstly, that through the incarnation the ordinary was made worthy of the divine and that human life if not meaningless for God, the source of meaning, thought it meaningful enough to do, secondly, that all holiness is dependent upon and participates in the holiness of Christ and all the Church is, is men and women spiritually in Christ, i.e. the body of Christ.
God Bless and stay salty (but not Lot’s wife salty)