Wednesday, October 16, 2013

St. Ignatius of Antioch, the child who is greater in the kingdom of heaven

October 17th, Feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch
At that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying: Who thinkest thou is the greater in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus calling unto him a little child, set him in the midst of them, And said: Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:1-4)
According to an ancient tradition, St. Ignatius of Antioch was the child whom Christ took and presented to the apostles as the example of the one who is greater in the kingdom of heaven. From that day the child, who was most beloved by the Savior and favored with the divine embrace, was also marked as the one upon whom lions would feast in the Roman Colosseum.
Turning to a sermon of the gentle Doctor, St. Francis de Sales, we will consider the example of this great bishop and martyr.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Away for two weeks

As I will be traveling to Rome for the next two weeks, there will be no updates to the New Theological Movement blog until sometime after October 5.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Married priests, ritual purity, and priestly celibacy

While there is a good deal of reflection (some good, most bad) in the secular media, as well as in Catholic media, on the value and role of priestly celibacy in the Church, there is yet very little theological consideration of the topic.
Nearly every argument for or against priestly celibacy is related either to practical concerns (i.e. “we will get more priests,” or “they will not have time to care for family and parish”) or to devotional thoughts (i.e. “marriage is given by God to all,” or “an undivided heart”). Now, there is certainly something to be said for both practical and devotional points, but we must first consider something of the theology behind celibacy if we are to have any hope of discussing the topic intelligently.
Interestingly, the question of clerical continence for married priests and deacons may be of great aid in helping us to consider the doctrine behind the discipline of priestly celibacy.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

MYTH: A ship could be build from the "relics" of the True Cross

What may be the largest relic of the True Cross
Santo Toribio de Liébana in Spain
September 14th, Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross
“There is no abbey so poor as not to have a specimen. In some places there are large fragments, as at the Holy Chapel in Paris, at Poitiers, and at Rome, where a good-sized crucifix is said to have been made of it. In brief, if all the pieces that could be found were collected together, they would make a big ship-load. Yet the Gospel testifies that a single man was able to carry it.” John Calvin, Traité Des Reliques
Protestants, rationalists, modernists, and other enemies of Christ and his Church attack the veneration of the True Cross (a practice as ancient as Christianity itself) with the mockery: “If all the supposed splinters of the True Cross were collected, there would be enough wood to build a boat!” Those who are not quite so pompous will add, “Or at least three crosses.”
But is it true? Just how much Sacred Wood is venerated in the Church of Christ?

Monday, September 9, 2013

In response to Father Brian Mullady - "Contraceptive intention" and NFP

Over at Human Life International’s “Truth and Charity Forum” [here], Father Brian Mullady O.P. has an interesting little article on “Fundamental Differences: NFP vs. Contraception”.
While the majority of the article is quite insightful, Fr. Mullady falls into the same error which has plagued many scholars and lay-folk alike who enter this discussion: He fails to realize that a sinful use of Natural Family Planning is still not “an act of contraception.”

Friday, September 6, 2013

Must a man "renounce all his possessions" to be a Christian? On counsels and precepts

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Luke 14:25-33
Anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.
After telling the crowds that a man must hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, in order to be his disciple, the good Savior then seems to enjoin radical poverty upon all Christians.
To understand properly this passage, which is closely related to the tenth chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew, we must keep in mind the difference between a counsel and a precept. Likewise, it will be well to consider certain styles of Hebrew speech which are not easily translated into modern western languages.
Only in this way will we succeed in giving the proper interpretation of our Lord’s words.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Pope St. Gregory the Great on the human knowledge of Jesus Chrsit

September 3rd, Feast of Pope St. Gregory the Great
But of that day or hour no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father. (Mark 13:32)
Many will be shocked to discover that Pope St. Gregory the Great, together with all the doctors of the Church after him, expressly condemns the opinion that Our Savior, in his humanity, did not know all created truths including the day and the hour of the final judgment.
This opinion, considered a heresy by the holy Pontiff (and by all the great theologians since him), is called Agnoeticism, meaning “not knowing”. Fr. Hardon summarizes the Agnoetes as follows, “A sect of Monophysites who held that Christ was subject to positive ignorance. The leading exponent of its error was Deacon Themistios of Alexandria. He was condemned by the Church, which declared that Christ’s humanity cannot be ignorant of anything of the past or of the future. To attribute ignorance to Christ’s human nature is to profess Nestorianism (Denzinger 474-76).” (Modern Catholic Dictionary, “Agnoetes”)
In other articles [here] and [here], we have discussed many particulars of this debate – at present, we intend only to explain something of why it will be important to adopt St. Gregory’s teaching.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The beatitude of poverty, the gift of fear, the virtue of hope

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Luke 14:1,7-14
Every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.
The Savior speaks to those who were dinning at the house of a Pharisee, exhorting them to the practiced of true poverty of spirit. Not only humility, but also a certain poverty is praised – to take the lower place at table, and to invite the poor rather than the rich when holding a banquet.
What then is “poverty in spirit”? How does this relate to the gift of fear of the Lord and the virtue of hope? This question will also clarify the relation of the virtues, the gifts, and the beatitudes.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

St. Augustine's mistress and son, and a lesson from his conversion

The conversion of St. Augustine, by Fra Angelico
August 28th, Feast of St. Augustine
The greatest of the Fathers of the Church, the Doctor of Grace, St. Augustine was not always so saintly. This is well known. Until his thirty-second year, the future Bishop of Hippo was not baptized nor did he live a life worthy of the true Faith.
St. Augustine, in the time before his conversion, had contracted an illicit relationship with an unnamed woman and, from this union, came a son. What became of these two – this mother and son – after St. Augustine’s conversion?
What brought about this great conversion in Augustine?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The sufferings of the damned compared to the suffering of St. Bartholomew

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Luke 13:22-30
“I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!” And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
Saturday, August 24th, the Church celebrated the feast of St. Bartholomew, the apostle who gave his life in service of the Gospel through the most gruesome torment of being flayed alive. In this Sunday’s Gospel, our Savior tells us that many will strive to attain salvation but will fall short and, not taking the narrow road which only a few find, will instead take the broad road to eternal damnation.
As we consider the horrible pains which St. Bartholomew endured, we recognize that these sufferings are nothing as compared to the torments which the damned will suffer in hell. The reason is threefold.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

There were more than twelve apostles? What does it take to be an apostle?

June 11, Feast of St. Barnabas
St. Barnabas is honored in the Church and in the Scriptures as an apostle. While not one of the twelve, he is given this title (together with St. Paul) in Acts 14:13 – The apostles Barnabas and Paul.
In her liturgy, the Church commemorates St. Barnabas as an apostle, though not with the same solemnity with which she honors St. Paul and St. Matthias or any of the Twelve.
Can we say that St. Barnabas is truly an apostle? If so, how many apostles are there? And, is St. Barnabas an apostle like St. Peter? Is he an apostle like St. Paul?

Friday, June 7, 2013

When did the Sacred Heart begin to exist?

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father. Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, formed in the womb of the Virgin Mother by the Holy Ghost. Have mercy on us.
While there can be no doubt that the person of Jesus, who is none other than the Son of the Eternal Father, the very Word of God who was in the beginning with God, did not begin to exist but rather has always been; nevertheless, we may well question whether the Sacred Heart of Jesus came into being at any time.
Even though the Eternal Word has been from before everlasting ages, can we say that the Sacred Heart has always been? Or, rather, shall we hold that the Heart of our Savior only came into existence at the moment of the Incarnation? Or, even further, ought we to think that the Sacred Heart only began to exist sometime after the conception of our Lord, but before his birth, at the time that the human heart organ was formed in the womb of Mary?
This question will allow us to enter into a rather speculative point of theological inquiry: Is devotion to the Sacred Heart a devotion to the humanity of Jesus only, or also to his divinity?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

If Jesus doesn't die, how is the Mass a sacrifice?

Solemnity of Corpus Christi
In the sacramental theology of the Church, we must recognize a threefold distinction. In Latin: Res, Sacramentum, Res et Sacramentum. In English: Reality, Sacrament, Reality and Sacrament. The reality is that invisible grace given by the sacrament. The sacrament is that visible sign which is used in the rite. And the reality and sacrament is an invisible reality which is yet a sign of something further (like, for example, the way the sacred character of baptism is a reality in the soul of the baptized but is also a sacrament of the individual’s participation in Christ).
To properly understand the manner in which the Mass is a sacrifice, we must understand how each of these elements relates to the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. This will make clear how it is that, even though Jesus does not die upon the altar but remains living and glorified in the Holy Eucharist, the Mass is yet the very self-same sacrifice of the Cross.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Transubstantiation: Model for family life

Solemnity of Corpus Christi
“Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and the wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.”
These words of the Council of Trent (DS 1642), which are taken up again in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1376), make clear the dogma of transubstantiation.
By this mystery, the substance of bread is converted into the substance of Christ’s Body. Further, the substance of wine is converted to the substance of Christ’s Blood. And, because (now, in heaven) Christ’s body and blood are united one with the other and both are further united to his soul and his divinity, the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ are present in each Eucharistic species and in all of their parts.
The dogma of transubstantiation rules out two other theories: Annihilation and consubstantiation. From this teaching, we may draw a helpful analogy for family life.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Why it is significant that the Eucharist could not have been given before the Incarnation

Solemnity of Corpus Christi
As we prepare to celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, we do well to consider (in a number of shorter posts, and perhaps one longer) various points relative to the Blessed Sacrament.
We direct our reader to a number of previous posts on the Most Holy Eucharist and the Mass:
Why the bread of life discourse cannot be a metaphor [here]
Christ’s body in heaven and in the Eucharist [here]
The whole Christ is present under both species, but one is called the Body and the other the Blood [here]
Is the Host the flesh of the Sacred Heart? [here]
Does the real presence remain after a Eucharistic miracle? [here]
What makes the Mass to be a sacrifice? [here]
And now we turn to our current question – Could the Eucharist have been given before the Incarnation? And why is this question significant?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Were the Apostles confirmed at Pentecost?

Solemnity of Pentecost
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming: and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues, as it were of fire: and it sat upon every one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost. (Acts of the Apostles 2:2-4)
On the fiftieth day, the feast of Pentecost, which was a Sunday that year, the Holy Spirit came down in visible form upon the Apostles confirming them in the truth of the Gospel. Until this time, the Apostles were rather timid and fearful. They were not yet perfect, but were still growing in the faith.
While they themselves certainly believed in the truth of the Resurrection, the Apostles lacked the requisite strength to preach this truth openly and to defend the Gospel against every assault of the world and the devil.
In a word, we may say that the Apostles were not yet confirmed. Through the divine power and the external sign of tongues of fire, our Savior conferred upon the Twelve the reality of the sacrament of Confirmation.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Why was Matthias chosen by lots?

May 14th, Feast of St. Matthias
And they gave them lots, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:26)
After the fall of Judas from the apostolic college, it was necessary for a successor to be elected. However, it is most striking to note that the choice between either Joseph called Barsabas (surnamed Justus) and Matthias was not made by the people, nor by the eleven, nor even by Peter himself; rather, Matthias was chosen by lots.
If Matthias was selected in this manner, the critic might ask, “Why does the Church not employ this means in our own day for the selection of bishops?” The answer to this question reveals just how necessary Pentecost was.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

"Ascension Sunday" - The banal fabrication we call the New Mass

“One of the weaknesses of the postconciliar liturgical reform can doubtless be traced to the armchair strategy of academics, drawing up things on paper which, in fact, would presuppose years of organic growth. The most blatant example of this is the reform of the Calendar: those responsible simply did not realize how much the various annual feasts had influenced Christian people's relation to time […] they ignored a fundamental law of religious life.” Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, The Feast of Faith, 81-82 (published by Ignatius Press).
7th Sunday of Easter, or “Ascension Sunday”
In the years since the Second Vatican Council, in an effort to make the liturgy more readily acceptable and agreeable to the people (with the obvious hope that they would grow in devotion and love for God), there have been a number of changes to the liturgical calendar. Furthermore, it has also happened that certain adaptations may be employed either by the local bishops’ conference or by a local bishop himself.
Most of these changes and possible adaptations have done little to encourage the devotion of the faithful, but have served only to destroy the little reverence and solemnity left to the Novus Ordo.
Happily, whatever the bishops may do to the public prayer of the Church, parents remain the primary leaders of the domestic church – the family. In this little article, we will discuss a few of the banalities present in the calendar of the New Mass (there are far too many to point out in a blog post, but we will mention those most obvious and egregious).
However, lest this seem a rant (something which is unbecoming of a member of the clergy and about which no worthy priest would ever boast), we will conclude with a few thoughts on how to preserve the life of faith in the home.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Does Christ "look down" upon us from heaven?

Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord
It is an historical fact that our Savior, after remaining with his Apostles and disciples for precisely forty days after his Resurrection, in their sight ascended into heaven. Christ is no longer physically present among the faithful on earth, but his body has been taken up into heaven.
Now, our Lord did not abandon us, for he is present in the Church not only according to his divine nature (by which he is present everywhere and especially in the soul by grace), but even according to his human nature in his sacramental species in the Holy Eucharist. Still, Christ has ascended to heaven and thus we must assert that he is no longer present on earth as he had been before the ascension. While he did not abandon us, we must assert that his humanity is no longer present in his proper or natural species on earth.
Let us consider his glorified body, present in heaven. Does our Savior “look” upon us from heaven? How are we connected to this physical body which now receives all worship in heaven?

Monday, April 8, 2013

What troubled the Virgin at the Annunciation, and what we learn

April 8th, Feast of the Annunciation
On account of March 25th falling during Holy Week this year, the Church celebrates the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the Monday after Easter Week, which is today. The Solemnity of the Annunciation commemorates the moment in which our Savior became man – and in this sense it is the feast of the Incarnation.
It was a the Annunciation that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. It was in this moment that God became man so that men might share in the life of God.
And yet, though this occasion is most joyous, that Blessed Virgin was at first troubled by the Angelic Salutation. Why was she troubled? What did she fear?
Further, we ask, What are we to learn from her fear?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

He that came by water and blood - The miraculous deluge

Sunday of Divine Mercy
But after they were come to Jesus, when they saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers with a spear opened his side: and immediately there came out blood and water. (John 19:33-34)
This is he that came by water and blood, Jesus Christ: not by water only but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit which testifieth that Christ is the truth. (1 John 5:6)
The image of the Divine Mercy recalls the blood and water which gushed forth from the heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us. It was after his death, as his lifeless and inanimate body hung upon the Cross, that his holy side and Sacred Heart were opened by a lance, which released upon the earth the flood of God’s mercy.
We may ask: What really happened when the blood and water flowed? Was it natural or miraculous? Just how much blood and how much water came forth? Finally, we do well to consider what was the significance of this blood and water?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

St. Thomas' roadmap to the New Testament

March 7th, Traditional Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas
At Fossa Nuova in the year 1274, having received Holy Viaticum and hearing read the Song of Solomon while commenting on the same sacred text which speaks of the love of Christ and the soul, passed into eternal life the Angelic Thomas, Common Doctor of the Universal Church.
St. Thomas Aquinas, known primarily for his systematic and dogmatic theology and, especially, for his supreme and most enlightened work the Summa Theologica, was in his own life recognized as a Master of Sacred Scripture. The primary work in which he was employed was not composition of dogmatic treatises like the Summa Contra Gentiles and the Summa Theologica, but rather lecturing to university students on the Bible.
The Angelic Doctor was a Scripture commentator and, if we admit (as do the Popes and saints) that the Doctor of the Angels is the greatest theologian in the history of the Church, we must likewise assert that he is the supreme biblical scholar of our tradition – for Scripture is the soul of all theology.
We do well then, on this day in which we remember our Saint, to consider how he read the New Testament. Perhaps his little outline will serve as a roadmap for our own study and prayer.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Balaam's ass and bodily mortification, according to St. Francis de Sales

Ash Wednesday
Bodily or exterior mortification is the theme of the twenty-third chapter of the third part of the spiritual classic Introduction to the Devout Life by the Doctor of the Charity, St. Francis de Sales [here]. A book worth reading some two hundred or more times before death, the Introduction is particularly notable for its proper balance in all things while stirring the soul with a true zeal to serve God with the whole heart, mind, and strength.
As we enter the season of Lent – a time particularly dedicated to bodily mortification and fasting – we do well to consider the wisdom and advice of the saintly Bishop of Geneva who will show the true way of devotion for those of us living in the world (rather than in the cloister of a monastery or convent).
St. Francis de Sales gives an important indication regarding the intention of exterior mortification by means of a spiritual commentary on the history of Balaam’s ass, given in Number 22:21-35 [here].

Sunday, February 10, 2013

St. Scholastica: The little sister who wanted to stay up all night, talking with her big brother

February 10th, Feast of St. Scholastica
Whether St. Scholastica was older or younger than her twin St. Benedict, she seems to embody the personality of a darling little sister.
Hardly anything is known of her life, but the story of her final visit with the brother whom she loved offers us a marvelous example of both prayer and fraternal charity in these final days before the season of Lent.

Friday, February 8, 2013

What St. Paul saw on the road to Damascus, and what mystics see

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
[Christ] appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. After that, Christ appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once […] After that he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me.
As St. Paul was traveling to Damascus in order to persecute the Church of Christ there, he experienced a most unique encounter with the Risen Jesus. As this event changed his own life, so too did it change both the Church and the world forever – since it was through St. Paul that God brought the Gospel to the nations.
However, what exactly was this encounter on the way to Damascus? Is St. Paul’s experience comparable to a vision? Did Jesus appear to St. Paul in the same way that he appeared to St.Faustina, for example? Or in the same way that he has appeared to many of the saints throughout history?
Upon consideration, we will see that St. Paul’s experience was most unique – something which will not be repeated until the end of time. And this is why the Apostle says that he was as one born abnormally, because an event like this apparition will never happen again.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Four Illustrious Virgins: St. Agatha, et aliae

February 5th, Feast of St. Agatha
In the Roman Canon, the Church commemorates four of the most noble and pure virgins of the early Church – Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, and Cecilia. The latter two were the first inserted in the Eucharistic Prayer as they are two of the great virgin martyrs of Rome, while the former were inserted under Pope St. Gregory the Great who promoted the cult of these virgin martyrs of Sicily.
From among the seven women mentioned in the Roman Canon, these four stand out as the illustrious virgins of the early Church. We mention the other three: Felicity was a Roman mother martyred together with her seven children, Perpetua the noble married martyr of Carthage, while Anastasia was the Roman widow and martyr whose memory is especially recalled on Christmas morning.
Focusing on Agatha, we do well briefly to consider the history and cult of these four virgin martyrs.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Is every act in mortal sin another sin? Or, Why I hate Les Miserables

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 1 Corinthians 12:31 – 13:13
If I do not have love, I am nothing.
The thirteenth chapter of the First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians contains the often praised “hymn to charity”, in which the Apostle sets forth the supremacy and necessity of theological love.
Charity, which comes to perfection only in heaven, is the greatest of the virtues. Without this theological virtue, a man has no other true virtue. Without love of God (and of neighbor), no man can be saved.
Without charity, man can do nothing good – at least, he can do nothing meritorious unto eternal life. But, we ask, is every act of a man in mortal sin (i.e. a man lacking charity) itself a sin? Without charity, does every act of man become sinful?
Is it a sin for a non-believer to pray? To fast? To make a vow of virginity? Further, is it a sin for a man in mortal sin to plant a vineyard?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Why we call him "The Angelic Doctor"

January 28th, Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas
The Common Doctor, St. Thomas is often referred to as “Aquinas” after his hometown of Aquino. His most beloved title, however, is the “Angelic Doctor” – and it is this designation which inspires the greatest devotion to the saintly Dominican theologian.
Why is St. Thomas Aquinas properly called the “Angelic Doctor”, the “Angelic Thomas”, and the “Angel of the Schools”?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Man's role in writing Sacred Scripture

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21
Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us, I too have decided, after investigating everything anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus.
In the opening lines of his Gospel, St. Luke gives us a clear indication of the active human role in the writing of Sacred Scripture. Though the Bible is truly the word of God and not merely the words of men, yet it is also correct to say that it is really and truly the words of men and not solely the word of God.
The books of Scripture are occasional writings – i.e. they were written at the will of the human author who desired to address a particular situation in a particular moment of time and place. St. Luke states very clearly that he has decided to write account of the Gospel, and he does not fail to mention his own labors in compiling an orderly narrative by means of carefully investigating everything anew.
This book is most certainly the work of St. Luke, and yet St. Peter teaches us that Prophecy [of Scripture] came not by the will of man at any time: but the holy men of God spoke, inspired by the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:21). How can the Bible be both the word and works of men, and also truly and indeed the very word of God?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

How reading St. Francis de Sales has made me a better priest

January 24th, Feast of St. Francis de Sales
“Introduction to the Devout Life”, the spiritual classic in which St. Francis de Sales sets forth the life of devotion not so much for the consecrated religious or cleric but for the laity, is surely the most popular work of the Doctor of the Catholic Press. This is one of those very few books worth reading two hundred times and more. It serves as a trustworthy guide to sanctity.
Since my ordination to the priesthood (three and a half years ago), this little “Introduction” for lay people has had an immeasurable impact on my own approach to moral and spiritual theology – reading St. Francis de Sales has made me a better priest.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Christ did not grow in grace or in holiness

And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and grace with God and men. (Luke 2:52, Douay-Rheims)
This passage from the Gospel according to St. Luke is often interpreted (in a manner smacking of heresy) to indicate that there was a substantial growth of holiness and grace in our Savior. However, upon reflection, it will become abundantly clear that such could not have been the case. Jesus could not and did not grow in holiness, but was from the first moment of his conception perfectly and totally holy.
This is especially relevant as we celebrated the feast of the Baptism of the Lord last Sunday not as a moment of increase in grace in our Lord, but as an Epiphany or Manifestation of the fundamental fullness of grace and holiness which he had enjoyed from the moment of his conception.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Why were the heavens opened to Jesus at his baptism?

Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord, Luke 3:15-16,21-22
After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove.
By baptism, men are made to be true sons of God, washed from original (and any actual) sin, infused with the virtues and gifts, built into a true temple of the Holy Trinity, and joined to the mystical Body of Christ which is the Church.
Through baptism, heaven is opened to us. However, heaven was ever open to Christ. Even from the moment of his conception he was the Son of God (by nature), he had no sin, he was filled with the perfection of all the gifts and virtues (as well as of all knowledge), his human soul was indeed that place where the fullness of Godhead deigned to dwell.
Jesus obviously could not increase in grace, being perfect from the moment of his conception – what then is the meaning of the opening of the heavens?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What we say about Jesus, when we call Mary the "Mother of God"

January 1st, Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God
The doctrines of Mary which the Church believes, teaches, and professes are, in truth, doctrines about Christ. When the Church says “Mary” she is directing us always to Jesus.
Nowhere is this clearer than in the central teaching about our Lady – that she is truly the Mother of God. By insisting that our Lady is not merely the Mother of the Christ, but truly the Mother of God, the Church condemns two heresies concerning the Savior.
The Angelic Thomas speaks
“The Blessed Virgin is truly called the Mother of God. For the only way in which it could be denied that the Blessed Virgin is the Mother of God would be either if the humanity were first subject to conception and birth, before this man were the Son of God, as Photinus said; or if the humanity were not assumed unto unity of the Person or hypostasis of the Word of God, as Nestorius maintained. But both of these are erroneous. Therefore it is heretical to deny that the Blessed Virgin is the Mother of God.”
 - Summa Theologica III, q.35, a.4