The Bishop, the Priest, and the Laymen in the Church TODAY.
1. The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, would want to know how a Pope, a bishop, a priest and a layman should function within the Church TODAY. So his former thesis, the 'Theology of History according to St. Bonaventure" is suddenly of great interest to him. There he described how the Church would look like now, that he is Head of the Church. All priests, too, must know how they must function within the Church today and not the Church 100 years ago.
2. The Church is a living being. She grows everyday. Though she looks essentially the same (one, holy, Catholic and apostolic) , there is a slight difference in her spiritual image as she grows into maturity. And depending on whether she is an adolescence or a young adult, the function of the Pope and priest would slightly differ within her. There is a slight difference in piloting a teenage from a young adult church to her eternal goal.
3. This difference in the image of the Church is clearly portrayed in the two fishing incidents in the lives of the apostles. The first fishing trip was during the public life of Christ before Easter where they caught both good and bad fishes. This image of the Church is repeated in the parable of the wheat and the cockle where both good and bad were together in the Church. Then there is the fishing trip after the resurrection of Christ where they caught only good fishes.
4. The two images of the Church are: when she was a teenager, with bad blood, therefore, filled with pimples. And when she is a lovely young adult ready to be wedded to the bridegroom Jesus Christ.
5. These two images of the Church were further described in the Apocalypse; where we see the woman clothed with the sun "in the world." Then, after a while she was given two wings by which she flew to the desert to a place specially prepared by God for her protection. And the devil who is in the world vomits water to drown her in the desert. There is a church in the world and a church that has flown to the desert. There is a difference in which the Pope and the priests minister to the Church in the world and how they would minister to the Church in the desert.
6. The implication here is that when the Church, personified by the Woman clothed with the Sun, flies to the desert the world will not find the Church in the world. They have to go to the desert to find and be able to enter the Church. Of course, this is an allegorical description and its meaning must be figured out from the writings of the Fathers specially St. John Chrysostom.
7. The season of Advent is no longer a preparation for the first coming of Christ, Christmas, because that is over. Instead it is a preparation for the second coming of Christ, at the end times. The preparation is a life of repentance, which is Old Testament spirituality. But note that the 4 Sunday Gospels of Advent, the Mass for Vigil of Christmas and Christmas Mass do not deal with Christmas but with the parousia, the end of the world. And from the feast of Mary and the Holy Family preparation for the second coming continues ending with Christ the King and resuming with Advent.
8. It is for this reason that the Immaculate Conception is within Advent and only approved as a dogma recently. Because it will only make sense today. Mary, the Immaculate Conception is the symbol of the Church that contains only good fishes, all wheat without the cockle, the Woman in the desert - Immaculate, without sin. Didn't Christ say that during these days, the angels will remove all the cockles thus leaving only the sinless within the Church? That was the Church St. Grignion de Montfort was trying to work on... a Church that was Immaculate like Mary, and which St. Bonaventure foresaw at the end times...and which Joseph Ratzinger took as topic for his thesis as a young priest.
9. Where is the Church now? How does she look like now? Is the Church today pre-Easter or post- Easter? In his thesis, Pope Benedict is hinting that we are in the post -Easter era. If so, are we inside the fish net that is made up of only good fishes....the symbol of the Immaculate Conception?
Saturday, December 19, 2009
THE ACT OF FAITH
1. The act of faith is an act of the natural intellect set free by grace to roam the realm of the supernatural. Pope Benedict describes faith as a working reason elevated by grace to be free from its imprisonment by creatures.
2. Man has a body and a soul each one in constant attempt to control the mind and the free will. The body wants the mind to set itself on its desire (its concupiscence) while the soul wants the mind to focus itself on its natural desires (spiritual things). This is an interminable contest. Man, by nature, ought to have his superior nature, his soul, controlling his lower nature, the body. This is possible without grace but often very difficult without grace.
3. The intellect must be focused on its goal...that is the reason why God created us... to be united to Him by subjecting our spiritual faculties, the intellect and free will, to God.
4. The intellect must also be focused on the means to that end. The means had been laid down by God. And the means are laid down in the so-called commandments of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. The problem is that the free will is constantly confronted with choices of means that do not lead to the goal. These are the whole created universe.
5. The act of the intellect focused on its final end as commanded by God and focusing itself on the means proper to that end as commanded by God is called the act of Faith.
6. This can easily be done by two people. A child who has not lost his initial innocence and an adult who has lost his innocence but have repented. Innocence in a child and repentance in an adult dispose them to receive the grace that will enable them to focus their intellects both to the God- given final goal and to the God- dictated commands that are the means to that final goal.
7. With this act of faith a soul is now in the first Beatitude and can already experience some degree of true happiness. Now it is a matter of going up to the higher Beatitudes to attain greater virtues and greater happiness.
8. The sign that one has reached Faith is Knowledge of all the teachings of the Catholic Church. And added to this is the first fruit of the Holy Spirit, the fear of God, consisting in great fear to do, say and think of things contrary to the will of God.
9. The goal of the Year of St. Paul is to show lay people the direction that leads to Faith. The goal of the Year of the Priest is to direct the priest towards the goal of Faith.