the Incarnation and the consecration of the ordinary…

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….

the-angelus-1859And 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, theeucharist 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 166teaches, 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 3986_PNG_Widest (1)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)

Advertisements

the impossibility of Universal salvation

“I had the greatest sorrow for the many souls that condemned themselves to Hell…I saw souls falling into hell like snowflakes.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                     -St. Teresa of Avila

After careful examination of the continuous teaching of the Church across the centuries and the Constitution of the Church, Lumen Gentium,  it is impossible to have a ‘reasonable hope’ that all will be saved.

The argument espoused by Balthasar and many of his contemporary followers is that Christs work on the Cross was so great, that Christ in hi6506502553_006c1eb79b_bs death goes so far into the depth of sin that Christ shall find and redeem even the greatest of sinners. That because of Christ’s human condition man can  no longer run from divinity because Christ came fully into than humanity with his divinity intact.

This argument sounds very aesthetically pleasing and, it is claimed, has strong support among the fathers.

1.

My first point is to examine doctrine first by the nexus mysteriorum fidei, how doctrines relate to one another. Let us start with what is certain in the faith; The Particular judgement. It is a de fide doctrine of the Church that when an individual dies he or she will immediately be present before God and will make an account for what they have done, if they possess sanctifying grace they shall immediately enter heaven or more likely pass through the pains of purgatory but if they lack sanctifying grace (i.e in a state of mortal sin) they will immediately descend to eternal damnation(CCC 1023-1035). I think it is truly dishonest to say that we can reasonably hope that not a single person in history has ever  died unrepentant of a mortal sin. It seems untenable to believe that out of the 106 billion people who have ever lived all have died or will die in a state of grace.

2.

My second point is that this doctrine does not hold up with scripture. The teachings of Christ in the four gospels clearly and solemnly puts to rest Balthasar’s doctrine, if i might point out out just a few passages (its worth quoting at length):

-Mt 13: 40-41 (DR 1899)41 The Son of man shall send his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all scandals, and them that work iniquity.42 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

-Mk 9 42-4342 And if thy hand scandalize thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life, maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into unquenchable fire:43 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished.

-Mt 8: 12 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

-Mt 24:46 46 And these(sinners) shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.

-Rev 20:14-15 14 And hell and death were cast into the pool of fire. This is the second death.15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life, was cast into the pool of fire.

And of course most explicitly:

Mt 7: 13-14 13 Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat.14 How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!

I could quote many more. Many answer this by saying that the NT also contains many passages about Chris raising all people and al creation up in him, for example               “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself.” (Jn 12:32) and “ That he might make known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in him, In the dispensation of the fullness of times, to re-establish all things in Christ, that are in heaven and on earth, in him.”(Eph. 1:9-10) . My first point tCoppo-Di-Marcovaldo-XX-The-Hell-XX-Baptistry-Florenceo make about the above passages is, in the ones given, the first speaks of Christ, by his resurrection and accession, bringing all things to him, the way would interpret this verse is by appealing to the doctrine common in eastern Christianity, the patristics, and totally compatible with orthodoxy, namely that the damned do experience Christ in one sense, in that they are raised up into the divine light and love,  but hate it, and thereby it is not the beatific (blissful) vision proper, and can be properly said to be an exclusion  from the internal immediate and blissful vision of the Holy trinity. As an Orthodox blogger put it (sorry, i do not have the source) they have the theoria, but hate it and eternally drive it further from them, and also lack theosis, the  indwelling of the most Holy Trinity. The second passage merely demonstrates the universal salvific will of Christ, which is of course undeniable, “make known unto us the mystery of his will…to re-establish all things in Christ”, not the fact of universal salvation.

3.

The third point is, i think, most controversial and important. I believe, given the binding nature of the theological points of the Second Vatican Council, that Vatican II authoritatively  (if implicitly) condemned  Balthasar’s position. Where did i get this, from  the last passage of Lumen Gentium 16 of all places, the passage reads as follows as translated from the Vatican website:

At saepius homines, a Maligno decepti, evanuerunt in cogitationibus suis, et commutaverunt veritatem Dei in mendacium, servientes creaturae magis quam Creatori vel sine Deo viventes ac morientes in hoc mundo, extremae desperationi exponuntur.

English:

“But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasoning’s and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator.(129) Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair.” (my annotation)

This passage comes directly after the councils famous statement that non-Christians can be saved (under narrow circumstances) and looks very much like a cautionary note about it. Also note that Lumen Gentium 15 and 16, which make clear the possibility of salvation for schismatics, material heretics and non-Christians in some situations, must be taken in the context of the above quoted text and of LG 14 which makes clear the necessity of baptism, Faith and the Church and that “Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.

Final thoughts

My last thoughts on Balthasar’s doctrine are thus; that it is not only contrary to tradition and scripture but also fatal to the life of the Church and its fraangelico_triptychthelastjudgmentcall to evangelize. How so? well you see it all the time in the modern Church, let me ask, in the context of evangelization, how often do you hear people talk about ‘saving souls’, the danger of hell, the necessity of Christ and his Church for salvation or the salvific nature of Conversion to the faith? which was ardently proclaimed by Vatican II? No, now you hear only platitudes on dialogue, ecumenism, discussion, solidarity, “meeting people where they’re at” and “accompanying people on there journey”, and if your lucky about “bringing people to the fullness of the truth” or “giving people the joy of the sacraments”. More evidence of this phenomena is that one of the secondary causes of the Church, namely supporting peoples temporal needs and the call to social justice, has been placed on a pedestal far above the primary final cause of the Church, namely the salvation of souls. We need to cleanse the temple of such errors and re-invigorate the Church with a new craving for the salvation of souls and rescuing the world from the spiritual deluge. remember always that this age and the current order of the world ruled by Satan and it will pass away, There is only one way that outlasts and destroys it, that is the way, the truth and the life, Jesus Christ.

Stay salty (but not lot’s wife salty)

In ICXC

Hugh