WHO DO PEOPLE SAY THAT THE SON OF MAN IS?
1. Visible signs of Faith in the Gospel; by the words out of the mouth.
St. Paul writes that whatever comes out of the mouth comes from the mind and the heart; no matter how the person tries to disguise them . Liars are easily exposed. Psychology depends so much on this fact; that what is in the mind appears in what one says.
Faith is an act of the mind. It visibly appears in the words and actions of the faithful. It cannot be hidden. Though only a man of Faith can discern a man of Faith, all good men can sense that the man of Faith is a good man. Evil men can neither perceive Faith nor a good man. Without Faith the theological virtue cannot be discerned.
The 21th Sunday in Ordinary Time continues to give us the visible signs of those without Faith and those with Faith......by the words out of their mouths. There are 33 Sundays teaching us the visible signs by which we should judge if we, our neighbors, our parish priest, our bishop and even our Pope have Faith, mindful of what Christ said; 'to test if they are of God.' To make such a judgment is demanded by the very Act of Faith.
From the words uttered by men we can analyze two levels of intellectual functioning. The first is natural; the second is spiritual or supernatural . The natural level cannot make an act of Faith. The spiritual level because it has the help of grace, can make an act of Faith. The Gospel illustrates an example of both.
2. Two sets of words out of the mouth; one showing no Faith; the other showing strong Faith.
The TWO LEVELS
The natural level is when man, endowed with body and intellect, acts using both in his every day worldly affairs, like what to eat and wear; how to work and build a house. The spiritual level is when he acts using his body; and with his intellect enlightened by grace, thinks on how to go to heaven or what is right or wrong.
Let us see these two levels illustrated in the Gospel of the 21th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Christ asked his disciples 'Who do people say that the son of man is?' Notice that two answers were given. One answer was pure human, natural knowledge; the other answer was enlightened by Faith.. This is similar to asking 'What is Faith' or 'who is Jesus,' and getting two answers; one from a protestant, a second from a true Catholic. The answers could be identical in wordings but from totally two different instructors; one a man , the other a God.
Because of original sin these acts are way below the nature of man that can perform superior activities. This defect makes these acts sinful; basing it on the definition of St.Thomas who wrote that sin is the deprivation or absence of good, or a defective good, thereby a defect in the act of human nature is morally evil. And this defect is projected in the words 'out of the mouth' like a projection screen that shows the presence of vices and the absence of virtues.
To Christ's question; 'Who do you say I am?' The Apostles gave the answer given by ordinary human beings born with original sin, probably with vices and without virtues.. 'He is the son of Joseph and Mary, a good man, probably a prophet and even possibly Elijah. Or he could be a total fraud. ' Well, that will be the usual answer coming from men who is incapable of making an act of Faith and thus needs redemption.
Included in this first level are intellectual knowledge on the level of philosophy. Here they reason better according to their human nature; but do not cross into the spiritual level. In this level the mind discerns in some certain degree what is right from wrong, what is good from bad. This level exhibits knowledge of the different branches of philosophy.
In answer to Jesus' question the disciples answered quoting this superior intellectual minds but still in the natural level; 'he is one of the prophets.' Prophets are known for showing what is right from wrong and good from bad.
This slightly higher level of intellectual functioning is ordinarily shown by the simple, ordinary people whom Christ considered closer to the truth than the Pharisees. It shows their natural discernment that Christ possessed the knowledge of good from evil and right from wrong. That is a higher degree of truth about Christ but not yet completely right; because Christ was not only a brilliant philosopher nor a mere prophet. So, in effect, it is still a defective answer. And as such a defective Act of Faith; and being defective it is still sinful. That answer is not so bad but not good enough for salvation. It is not yet an Act of Faith.
The knowledge of those in the first level can be taught by any men and can be learned by any man. Later on Christ would say that His teachings and that of the Catholic Church does not fall under this category thus cannot be learned if one remains in the natural level. Cardinal Ratzinger would note this and quote it in his 'Ratzinger Report' why seminarians don't believe in God.
4. The words from the mouth of one with Faith.
The SECOND LEVEL is the supernatural level. All Catholic Truths, like how to go to heaven, are in the supernatural level. Here man acts using his body and his soul enlightened by grace. Knowledge in this level cannot be taught by books nor men; it is taught through Divine Revelations by God.
We can see this in Christ's comment to St. Peter who answered; 'You are the Son of the Living God.' It needs Faith to believe there is a God; and Faith to believe in His Son. Only those raised to the level of the theological virtues can think of this and consequently give such an answer.
Christ noted two things; first, that such knowledge cannot be taught by mere man and secondly, that such spiritual knowledge can only be taught by 'My Heavenly Father,' to souls while in the state of contemplation.
St. Peter's answer can only come from the Father in Heaven. By this Christ showed that Peter.s words were a visible sign of his Faith.... still imperfect as the next Sunday Gospel will show...but good enough for him to receive the power to forgive sins.
5. INEVITABLE CONCLUSIONS.
We have just seen that the knowledge of man in the natural state expressed by word of mouth is a visible sign of the absence of Faith; while the enlightened knowledge of a man in the supernatural state expressed by word of mouth is a visible sign of the presence of Faith. The former is personified by the Pharisees who obtained their knowledge from men; and the latter is personified by St. Peter who obtained his knowledge from the Father in Heaven.
Since the sign of no Faith is labeled on those who are taught by men; and the sign of Faith is labeled on those who are taught by the Father in Heaven.....we have concrete criteria by which to judge everyone if they are from God or not, as Christ, Himself, wants us to find out. Though someone would object; 'who are we to judge.' Well sorry. Christ, Himself, told us to do so.
a.) Let's return to the first response to Christ's question given by those that are taught by men.....thus showing the absence of Faith and, therefore, ignorance of Catholic Doctrines.
Isn't this the situation in all seminaries, in all theological schools, in all Catholic schools, in all religious institutions and in all evangelization efforts in the Catholic world? That all had been taught by men and women thus had remained in the natural level totally incapable of learning Catholic Truths. Since the teachings of Christ are in the supernatural level their inability to rise from the natural level makes them fulfill the worse fears of Christ....they never even reached Faith nor Charity.
The syllogism is clear. Those who learn from men are in the natural level. Those in the natural level cannot learn supernatural truths like the teachings of the Catholic Church. Therefore, all priest, bishops, cardinals and even the Pope who have learned from men do not know the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Since men had been teaching men through the centuries, they would have remained natural-men up to now. And if they elect a pope they would certainly elect a man similar to themselves. And because he has remained in the natural level, without Faith and Charity, then he can only be an anti-pope. I repeat what St. Robert Bellarmine S.J., Doctor of the Church wrote; without Faith one would not be a pope, he is not even a bishop or priest because he is not even a Catholic.
If mere men taught men-seminarians in seminaries; and if all graduates in seminaries had remained in the natural level, does it mean that all seminarians who would subsequently become priests, bishops and cardinals and possibly a pope be in the natural level? And not having risen to the supernatural level are without Faith and Charity. St. Bellarmine stated, they are not priests at all because they are not even Catholics. If they are not priests at all what about their absolutions during confession and what about their consecrations during Mass?
God would not allow the gates of hell prevail against the Church. His Divine Providence would certainly intervene.
Let us give an actual intervention. Joseph Ratzinger, like all candidates to the priesthood, studied in a seminary and learned his theology from men the wrong way. He should have become like any priest today, with decayed Faith and cold Charity. But he loved the truth and studied and prayed on his own. He opened himself to God's grace and God intervenes; upon receiving grace he begun to see the serious defect in his seminary training. In fact, he saw it from the lecture of one of his own seminary professor who introduced him to the writings of John Cardinal Newman who precisely wrote on this future state of the Church engulfed in sin entitled 'The Infidelity of the future.' He tried to get out of that situation by further self-study. It was from St. Augustine's 'City of man' that he realized he had remained faithless in the natural level. And it was in St. Augustine's the 'City of God' that he learned how to get out of it and rise to the supernatural level. His Augustinian journey to the supernatural level was further strengthened by his thesis on the 'Theology of History according to St. Bonaventure' where he learned that the journey to the supernatural level consists in the 'journey of the mind to God,' the title of Bonaventures mystical theology.
By the time he was head of CDF he had a clear picture of where he stood in the eschatology of the Catholic Church. He knew he could not teach Catholics the truths of the Church. Only God the Father can do that. But he knew evangelization is the process by which he can teach Catholics, not the truths, but how to rise up the supernatural level from where souls can learn the truths from God the Father.
That is the 'new evangelization' of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. It is a perfect description on how he learned he was in the natural level leading to hell. How he was able to abandon that level. How he learned how to rise to the supernatural level. And how to remain in that level while occasionally coming down to aid others to rise up. All of these are written down in his works and summarized in his 'Year of the Priests' and 'Year of Faith.' And this is what we are explaining for the imitation of all and described as the 'new evangelization.'
b. We have just finished describing the state of those in the natural level; in brief, they are in the state where they have no Faith. Let us now go to the second response given by Peter to Christ's question. Christ praised Peter's response as a revelation directly from the Father in Heaven. A revelation from the Father can only happen to a contemplative, i.e. a soul who has the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity. This is the level in the spiritual life described as the 'illuminative way.' It is the highest degree in the spiritual life. Now, note what Christ does after declaring that His apostles have, indeed, reach that highest degree. He gives them the power of the Keys, the power to absolve sins.
Let us return to our syllogism. If most of our priest, bishops and cardinals had been bogged down in the natural level because they had been, simply, learning from men and not from God.....this means that they have not reached this high degree in the spiritual life. Therefore, God would not give them the power of the Keys because they do not have the proper disposition to receive it. Most of our priest cannot absolve. So what do we do to the poor penitents who believed wrongly that they have been absolved? Pope Benedict's 'new evangelization' solved both the problem of the priest and of the penitent as we shall see when we explain the 'new evangelization.'
We can see now, why we must first lay down the dogmatic truths pertaining to the eschatological image of the Church, like the 'decay of Faith.' So we can show what problems the 'new evengelization' is trying to solve. We cannot be like doctors who prescribes to everybody 'take an aspirin and see me tomorrow.' We must go slowly and in detail in everything.
6. We can see the state of the Church just by listening to the words coming out of the mouth of the entire Church bureacracy. The words from their mouth are no different from what we hear from daily newspapers, rock star magazines or Vogue magazines. Nothing supernatural; everything is down to earth and natural....from Pope Francis, down to the Bishop's, down to the parish priest and seminarian....and down among the laymen.
The highest and most difficult act of Charity is demanded of us; this is fraternal correction. We cannot save anybody. But we can evangelize by making all, priest first, realize the state of their souls as prophesied by Christ, Himself, 'decayed Faith and cold Charity.' And make everyone worried that the power to absolve sin and consecrate the Bread and Wine had been withdrawn by God in this our age as He had threatened through the prophets. But worse we should fear that together with these already occurring chastisements He had, also, allowed the greatest chastisement...the rise of an anti-pope as prophesied by St. Hildegard of Bingen.