Sunday, 30 November 2014

On Christ Our Saviour

''The only begotten Son of God...''whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption (1 Cor 1:30), ''entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption'' (Heb 9:12). For ''you were ransomed...,, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot'' (1 Pet 1:18f). Immolated on the altar of the Cross though He was innocent, He shed not merely a drop of His blood - although this would have sufficed for the redemption of the whole human race because of the union of the Word - but a copious flood, like a stream, so that ''from the sole of the foot even to the head, there was no soundness in Him'' (Is 1:6).
What a great treasure, then, has the good Father acquired for the Church Militant, if the merciful shedding of blood is not to be empty, meaningless, and superfluous. He wanted to lay it up for His children, so that there might be ''an unfailing treasure for men; those who get it obtain friendship with God'' (Wis 7:14) - Pope Clement VI, Unigenitus Dei Filius.

Here follows Scholasticism without the expected systematisation.

It is from this bull of 1343 that I proceed on a short theological treatise consistent with the mind of the Angelic Doctor on De Christo Salvatore. The bull itself is a justification of the legitimacy of the offering of indulgences, but let it not be thought that this point of departure is a an opportune twisting of the sense of the document. The treasury of merits belongs to the Body of Christ due to the abundant satisfaction of Christ the Head and only from that. Incidentally I have elected to comment upon this text due to my recent study of the popes residing in Avignon. Clement VI was probably the most interesting of the seven, vivacious, pleasure loving, a connoisseur of fine wine, admirer of sublime architecture and the man who bought Avignon for 80,000 gold florins from Queen Joanna of Naples.

 The suppositum is the ultimate subject of attribution. The person, the hypostasis, is the foundation of all activities which proceed from it as from an agent. It is from this principle that we can appreciate the sufficiency and superabundance of Christ's atonement for man's sins. The importance of the Chalcedonian definition manifests itself clearly in the necessity for a ''hypostatic union'', that is, an union in the Person.As regards a moral union as posited by such as Nestorius, there would be no true unified act whereby the divine would supply the defect and the human would contribute to its own restoration. The intrinsic efficacy and validity of the sacrificial act of Christ depends essentially on the hypostatic union, whereby the divine Word assumed to Himself, a particular human nature to terminate it and grant it existence. There was never a time when this human nature possessed a personality of its own, even though with a fully formed soul and physical body nothing was lacking for it. Rather in this singular case, this human nature found its highest perfection in being taking up into the divine personality. It is good to exist according to one's own nature; it is more excellent to be elevated to what is superior. As per Cajetan, personality is a substantial mode which terminates a singular nature so that it may become the immediately capable of existence.

 The human nature of Christ is not to be overlooked as though He only took on the semblance of humanity or rather that the created nature was swallowed up in the divinity. Such would be contrary to the decree of Chalcedon and the tome of Leo. The human nature truly belongs to Chirst (and remains so at the right hand of the Father) and is the highest degree of predestination that God has decreed by His ordinary power. If it were not for the assumed nature, man would not be redeemed. As St. Athanasius never tired of proclaimed, what is not assumed is not healed. The Divine Person certainly is the agent of all acts, yet He performs vitally human acts in virtue of His humanity. Man is saved due to being consubstantial with the Word who offers Himself as a ransom for the debt incurred by His brothers.

 Let us now more explicitly consider why this act of sacrifice was more than sufficient for our salvation. The Father's love for His only begotten Son is exceedingly spontaneous and loves Him who proceeded from Him with an ineffable love. The Son is the perfect image and likeness of the Father and is begotten by means of intellectual generation. Since it was through the Word that the world was brought into being, so it is eminently fitting that it should be through the Word that the world be restored to God. The offering of Christ, which is ultimately the sacrifice of the Divine Son who subsists in this assumed human nature is abundantly pleasing to the Father who possesses the numerically identical divine nature. Merit proceeds from charity, and there is no greater charity than that which proceeds from the divine Person. Christ's human will in intimate subjection to the divine will, never wavered in its assent to the mission of redemption. The dignity of the one making reparation is essential to its acceptance by the one offender. In this case, our High Priest offers His charity for the Father and for mankind to that same Father who is pleased to accept it as sufficient (and more than sufficient on our behalf). The merit of Christ is condign which is a strict equivalence between the act and the reward to be bestowed. The merits of any creature, even of the Blessed Virgin, are to be no more than congruous which is consequence upon (at least the foreseeing) of the satisfaction of Christ, proceeding from the friendship or liberality of God.

 It is to be stated that mortal sin is an infinite offence against God. Some may consider this troublesome as surely a created act can in no way be viewed as infinite. On the part of the act itself subjectively, I concede, on the part of the offended, I deny. An absolute negation is a greater offence than a truth stated inadequately. A genuflection to the emperor is his due and is of slight note compared to his dignity, a boxing of his ears is an outrage. To deny God His due majesty is a most grave sin and is infinitely greater than a thousand praises when many more are demanded because of His glory.

 In man, an intellectual conception of himself is always accidental, insufficient and usually provisional. In God, the divine word is the adequate and substantial conception of the godhead. The divine nature is fully generated without diminution or numeral division. From this eternal begetting of the Son proceeds the future merits of the Incarnate Christ. Due to this, no creature, however elevated (outwith the hypostatic union) could possibly perform an act which is proportionate to the offence to be atoned for.

 The merest suffering of Christ would be sufficient for our redemption as it is a true theandric act, that is, an offering made by the divine Word. It was not absolutely necessary for Christ to undergo death but such was His great love for us that He did not shun the ignominy of the Cross. Christ could not increase in virtue, merit or perfection as though His final act were intrinsically of greater sufficiency than the first moment of His conception. Merit proceeding from charity, becomes satisfaction when combined with suffering. Infinite charity in suffering satisfies infinitely. 

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