Category Archives: Christ

Did Jesus as Man Know Each of Us?

Lesson from Pius XII: Answer is “yes”.  As man, with a human mind, Jesus knew each of us, and very intimately. As he hung on the Cross, he had us in mind. Hence, truly, he gave himself ‘for me’ as Paul proclaims. Let us honor the King of Kings.

For, as the Spaniards say, “He is fully man, yes, but no vulgar man.” Let us not measure his humanity against the narrow confines of our imagination.

From his marvelous encyclical Mystici corporis, art. 75:

75. Now the only-begotten Son of God embraced us in His infinite knowledge and undying love even before the world began. And that He might give a visible and exceedingly beautiful expression to this love, He assumed our nature in hypostatic union: hence – as Maximus of Turin with a certain unaffected simplicity remarks – “in Christ our own flesh loves us.”[156] But the knowledge and love of our Divine Redeemer, of which we were the object from the first moment of His Incarnation, exceed all that the human intellect can hope to grasp. For hardly was He conceived in the womb of the Mother of God, when He began to enjoy the Beatific Vision, and in that vision all the members of His Mystical Body were continually and unceasingly present to Him, and He embraced them with His redeeming love. O marvelous condescension of divine love for us! O inestimable dispensation of boundless charity! In the crib, on the Cross, in the unending glory of the Father, Christ has all the members of the Church present before Him and united to Him in a much clearer and more loving manner than that of a mother who clasps her child to her breast, or than that with which a man knows and loves himself.

Pius is in fact simply reiterating, though authoritatively, the Tradition.

Should Catholics Labor and Pray, in Charity, So that Jews Convert to Catholicism?

Without any question whatsoever, the answer is an absolute yes. But there are those who refrain from this evangelization. They shrink from evangelization by calling anything that involves proclamation of the one true faith and way to salvation as “proselytism.” A word study on the history of that word needs to be undertaken.

But suffice it to say that the firm teaching of the Second Vatican Council gives us an absolute “yes” to this question. Moreover, those who say that because of the the Council they hold a “no” or a “not necessarily” to this question put themselves (and the Council-as-they-read-it) diametrically in opposition to the Sacred Tradition.

“Everyone, therefore, ought to be converted to Christ” (Ad Gentes, 7).

That is every last person. No one is excepted. What then impels Catholics to engage in missionary activity?

“The charity with which they love God and by which they desire to share with all men in the spiritual goods of this life and the life to come” (ibid).

The goal of the Catholic Church is that

“the whole human race might become one people of God, … one body of Christ” (ibid.)

And the People of God is simply the Catholic Church. The Body of Christ is simply the Catholic Church.

Again, “Thus the Church prays and likewise labors so that into the People of God, the Body of the Lord and the Temple of the Holy Spirit, may pass the fullness of the whole world, and that in Christ, the head of all things, all honor and glory may be rendered to the Creator, the Father of the universe” (Lumen gentium, 17).

Someone will bring in a nifty objection: But Vatican II does not identify the Catholic Church with the People of God!

False. First, Vatican II does identify the Catholic Church with the Church of Christ. I have demonstrated this beyond all reasonable doubt in my “Subsistit in: Nonexclusive Identity or Full Identity?” The Thomist, vol. 72 (2008):1–44. Furthermore, the Church’s constant and universal magisterium before the Council taught definitively that the Catholic Church is the one and only Church that Christ founded. Therefore, it is an infallible teaching that can be challenged only at the cost of divine heresy. End of story.

Now, then, Vatican II further identifies the Church with the People of God: “The Church or People of God” (Lumen gentium, art. 13). As Ratzinger stated, astutely, about this Second Chapter of Lumen gentium: It concerns the whole Church, not just the laity. In fact, this term “people” is as it were the biblical original of the later, quite precise sociologically, ecclesial term “Society”, also a term used in the Council.

Further, it is clearly stated:

“All men are called to belong to the new People of God” (LG, art. 13).

And then various ways of belonging or relation to the Church are spelled out. First, there are those who are “incorporated” (art. 14). These are simply and only Catholics: Baptized persons who accept the hierarchy, all the sacramental actions of the Church, and the full confession of the faith. Then, there are those who are joined in various ways to the Church. Some by an explicit desire (catechumens, art. 14). Some by baptism (art. 15). Lastly, all the rest are “related to the People of God” (LG, art. 16, emphasis mine). Note that these are relations precisely to the Catholic Roman Apostolic Church. They are not vague relations but precise relations, not to a vague church but to a precise Church, that of Rome. Therefore, note too, that in this art. 16 the council simply uses “People of God” here as synonym for the Catholic Church.

I was edified to see the interview of Dr. Alice von Hildebrand concerning the intelligent grief of her husband about the enemies of the Church. They have penetrated her borders, swamped her offices, convoluted her message, etc. The enemies are no longer merely outside. They are within, as Pius X lamented. And how have they multiplied since his holy reign!

Back to the topic. Dr. Alice von Hildebrand relates this marvelous story about her husband, whose love for the Jews led him precisely to will, to pray for, and to labor for their conversion to Jesus Christ in his One and Only Catholic Church.

And such is only reasonable for a true Catholic. Why? To love is to will the good. But the only good is God. And the Catholic confesses with the mouth because he believes with the heart (UNLESS his faith is weakened by his love of human praise, more than the praise of God! See Jn 12:41ff) that God’s new and definitive covenant, outside of which no one can be saved (dogma), is in Jesus Christ, in his blood. The old covenant continues precisely in this new covenant. Otherwise and outside, it is abolished. Hence, to love the Jewish brother is to will, to labor, and to pray that he convert. This is charity. This is brotherly love coming down from heaven, like oil upon the head, falling down upon the beard, so that all may be one and brothers.

She states:

AVH:: Let me relate an incident that caused my husband grief. It was 1946, just after the war. My husband was teaching at Fordham, and there appeared in one of his classes a Jewish student who had been a naval officer during the war. He would eventually tell my husband about a particularly stunning sunset in the Pacific and how it had led him to the quest for the truth about God. He first went to Columbia to study philosophy, and he knew that this was not what he was looking for. A friend suggested he try philosophy at Fordham and mentioned the name Dietrich von Hildebrand. After just one class with my husband, he knew he had found what he was looking for. One day after class my husband and this student went for a walk. He told my husband during this time that he was surprised at the fact that several professors, after discovering he was Jewish, assured him that they would not try to convert him to Catholicism. My husband, stunned, stopped, turned to him and said, “They said what?!” He repeated the story and my husband told him, “I would walk to the ends of the earth to make you a Catholic.” To make a long story short, the young man became a Catholic, was ordained a Carthusian priest, and went on to enter the only Charter House in the United States (in Vermont)!

You can read the full text here. The Rorate piece is here.

Rahner on Christ’s Work

A 40 min. podcast on Rahner on the work of Christ. Examines his erroneous notion that Christ’s Cross was not a cause of the offer of grace.

Also treats Rahner’s erroneous teaching that the sacraments do not cause grace.

As always, Rahner is subtle and tries to evade obvious contradiction of dogma. Careful consideration exposes the errors.

 

Christ Became Sin: Say Wha?

St. Paul writes, “God made him [Christ] who knew no sin, to be sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Sadly, Luther took this passage as though it employed no literary device, as though it were in the “proper literal sense”.

A passage is  in the “proper literal sense” only when there is no “noteworthy” literary device. If there is a “noteworthy” literary device, it is in the “IM-proper literal sense”.

Why all these technicalities? Theology is no easy science! It is very demanding. And this is the lucid distinction carved out by the Tradition. The reason is this: Every last text in Scripture is literally true. So, those who say that it is wrong to take everything “literally” are in error. The Church teaches that the literal sense is always true. See Leo XIII in his magisterial Providentissimus Deus. There is no  such thing as a false passage of Scripture. What these people mean to say is that we should not take every passage as though it were in the proper literal sense. For many passages are in the improper literal sense.

Witness Jesus’ command: “If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off….” Sadly, the master of allegory, Origen, took this one in the proper literal sense. He drew the conclusion and castrated himself. Ouch.

The lesson is clear: Some texts employ literary devices that are “noteworthy”. For example, “God was walking in the garden”. What, did he have legs? No. So he couldn’t walk. Then, the text means, as one who is intimate with another walks where he walks, and searches him out, so the Lord who generously invited Adam and Eve into fellowship with him and marital bliss with one another, so this our Lord sought to ask them, “Where are you?”

Back to our text. Luther took “Made him to be sin” in the proper literal sense. But this is blasphemy and heresy. We cannot say that our sins are in Jesus’ soul and body. This is to blaspheme God. What, can a sin jump from me to you like a flea jumps from one body to another? Nonsense.

The Muslims, and probably many Jewish thinkers, find those (heretical) Christian theses that suggest that guilt can “jump around” like a flea to be abhorrent. Good for them: They are abhorrent. We must reject the idea that Jesus “Became sin” in the proper literal sense.

Rather, Paul meant this: That just as the sacrifice for sin is called “sin” in the Old Testament, so Jesus became a sacrifice for our sins. In fact, the statement of Paul also contains another obvious literary device. For we do not become the very righteousness of God. God’s righteousness is God himself. We do not become God himself. We would explode. That would not be an act of union between persons but of domination: God crushing us with his infinity. Instead, we are made to participate in God. So too, Jesus was made to participate in the likeness of sinful flesh: Taking on real human flesh, except without sin.