A Manual of Catholic Theology, Based on Scheeben's Dogmatik
Joseph Wilhelm, D.D., PHD. And Thomas B. Scannell, D.D.
With a Preface By Cardinal Manning
Volume II --Book V -- Redemption
The Constitution of Christ ; or, the Hypostatic
Union in the Light of Theological Science.
Sect. --176. The Hypostatic Union: its Essence; its formal foundation, or the "Gratia unionis" its first formal
effect, or the community of being; its properties.
I. The Hypostatic Union, considered in its essence, is the substantial union of the human nature with the Divine Hypostasis or Person: through this union the human nature is made to form One Whole with, or to receive its hypostatic complement from, the Divine Hypostasis; and this latter, by appropriating the human nature, takes the place of a human hypostasis or person.
It is a principle of sound philosophy that when two different elements are combined into one substantial whole, the more perfect intrinsically perfects the other: the lower element bears to the higher the relation of substantial potentiality to substantial actuation; in other words, is able to be made into what the other will make it. This principle applies to the Hypostatic Union as well as to all the other substantial unions, and so we may consider the Hypostatic Union as similar or analogical to the union of matter and form in created substances. There is, however, a difference: the result of the various compositions of matter and form is always one substance and one nature, whereas in Christ the composition results in two natures. For this reason the Schoolmen avoided applying the analogy of matter and form to the union of the human nature with the Logos. More recent theologians substituted for the terms "substantial form and information," the expressions "substantial termination (= completion) of the humanity by the Hypostasis of the Logos as completing terminus." Thus the danger of implying a change in the Logos on account of the union was avoided, and the characteristic element which turns a nature into an hypostasis was brought into prominence. However appropriate this description of the Hypostatic Union may be, it can nevertheless be replaced to advantage by the theory of matter and form, provided that this is understood in a wide sense. The only reason for not applying it to the composition of Christ, is that in Christ the two natures remain distinct, whereas in all other compositions the substances mingle into one. But this difference arises from the singular perfection of the informing nature; it is by no means due to a deficiency in informing or forming power. Hence, if from the Aristotelian theory we eliminate the unessential notion of "one nature resulting from the substantial union of matter and form, "we obtain a more general theory, applicable not only to natural compositions, but also to the peculiar composition of Christ. Thus we find that the following general and essential principles apply to the union of the Logos with the flesh: (1) The form is infused into a substratum, and intrinsically united with it so as to complete its being. (2) The form gives to the informed substratum its determined, complete, substantial being. (3) The form is the principle by which the informed being is intrinsically distinguished from all other beings, and holds its proper place among or above them. (4) The form, being the highest and innermost constituent principle, is also the foundation of all specific perfections, properties, and forces of the compound being, and the principle of all its activity. Every one of these points is realized in the information of human nature by the Logos, and the dogmatic name Christ implies them all (§ 175). The illustrative analogies used by the Fathers, especially the anointment of humanity with Divinity, are based upon the same idea.
II. The formal foundation, or the bond of the Hypostatic Union, which theologians call "the Grace of Union," in the strictest sense of the word, is neither a third substance nor an accident, and much less an abstract relation. According to St. Thomas it lies in the Logos Himself, Who founds the union on this that He directly communicates His personal being to the human nature, in the same way as, in natural compositions, the form immediately raises the matter to its new state of perfection. The fundamental form, then, of the union is the completion or termination of the humanity through the Logos: the two elements are made One in One and through One (in Greek: St. Gregory of Nazianzum). Hence, the first formal effect of the union is that the Logos forms, with His humanity, a substantial being, or rather an hypostatic and personal being, the man Christ. Christ being One, has one existence; and as in compounds the formal principle determines the existence of the component elements in a way that these, as parts of the whole, participate in the existence of the form, in like manner the Logos determines the existence of the man Christ by making His humanity participate in His own Divine existence. In other words, the human nature of Christ has neither existence nor subsistence of its own: it obtains and possesses both in the Logos.
III. Among all the works of God the Hypostatic Union is the most supernatural, because it confers upon a created nature the highest conceivable perfection above and beyond its natural requirements and capabilities. Yet, in contradistinction to other supernatural unions, the Hypostatic Union is "natural" to Christ as man, inasmuch as from its origin, and by virtue of its origin through the Holy Ghost, the human nature was intended for, and actually assumed into, the Hypostatic Union. Besides, the principle which effects the union is not external to Christ, but is His own. If, however, the human nature of Christ be considered in its essence, it possesses no claims whatsoever to the union, and from this point of view the union is again supernatural.
IV. The Hypostatic Union may be compared with natural substantial unions in which a higher element informs a lower; and also with the supernatural unions of God with creatures through grace. The perfection of the former is measured by the perfection, independence, and power of the higher elements. Among them the union of soul and body ranks highest. But the Hypostatic Union stands infinitely above the union of body and soul, on account of the absolute excellence of its higher principle and of the relative excellence of the lower element: this latter comprising the spiritual form of the human compound. The supernatural unions by grace and glory have in common with the Hypostatic Union that they unite two spiritual substances, though not into one nature, and that the created spirit is in a sense deified by the Uncreated. Their perfection, however, is again infinitely below that of the Hypostatic Union, in which the human spirit is made not only morally, but physically, one with a Divine Person. In the union by grace God unites Himself to an independent personal being for its beatification and glory; in the Hypostatic Union He makes a spiritual living nature His own for the same purpose: hence that union is, to the humanity of Christ, the absolutely highest measure of grace and glory, and, besides, constitutes it the source of grace and glory for all other creatures. The Hypostatic Union, then, is the most perfect of all natural and super natural unions, because it results in the most perfect Being which can result from a union, and it bestows upon the lower nature the highest possible benefaction: in technical language, it is the highest ratione entis et ratione beneficii.
V. The Hypostatic Union is the most intimate and solid of all unions. It is the most intimate, because it alone consists in a real union of the Divine Being to a creature, all other supernatural unions being merely external as compared with it. Again, it surpasses in innerness all natural unions by reason of the penetrating or pervading power of the higher principle, and of the penetrability and adaptability of the lower. It is the most solid, for the Logos has in Himself the power to maintain it for ever, and the human soul is indissoluble. A sign of this solidity is that, after the separation of the soul from the body of Christ, the union of the Logos with both remained intact, and it was by His own power that the Logos reunited the separated parts.
VI. Being supernatural, the Hypostatic Union is necessarily incomprehensible and ineffable. In the sphere of natural thought there is no perfect analogy for it, and the nearest, viz. the union of body and soul, is itself very difficult to comprehend. Yet a judicious use of analogies leads to a sufficient understanding of the possibility of the mystery, and offers the means of dispelling the objections against it. These arise from the infinite distance between the two elements, and from the completeness of each of them. We answer the first here, reserving the others for the next section.
VII. The infinite distance between the two members of the Hypostatic Union only proves the impossibility of uniting them naturally into one nature: it is an essential condition for the union into one person. Such personal union involves the perfect appropriation of a created spiritual nature by a higher spirit; but this can only be accomplished by a spirit whose power surpasses that of the soul at least as much as the soul surpasses its body. In like manner the perfecting of a created spirit by a higher being, supposes a principle absolutely simple and perfect. In fact, it seems easier, from the point of view under consideration, to comprehend the Hypostatic Union than to conceive the union of spirit and matter in man. The Hypostatic Union does not become unnatural or monstrous on account of the distance between its members: their union is indeed a miracle of Divine Power, but they are bound together in such harmony that their union is also a miracle of Divine Wisdom and Goodness. For the Hypostatic Union unites the uncreated with the created image of God in such a manner that the first is externally manifested by the second, and the second is filled and perfected by the first, so that the most perfect revelation and communication of God ad extra is brought about. See St. Thomas, 3 q. 2, a. 6, sqq.; the commentaries of Suarez and the Salmanticenses; St. Bonaventure in 3, dist. 6.
Sect.Sect. 177. --The Hypostatic Union, from the point of view of the Assuming Principle.
I. The notion of a union purely hypostatic implies that a Divine Person, as distinct from the Divine Nature, is the subject and the terminus of the assumption of humanity. It is wrong to say that "the Divine Nature" was made man, except the term "nature" be taken for self-subsisting nature or person, as is often done by the Fathers. The possibility of the Person --with exclusion of His nature --being the formal terminus of the hypostatic union, is founded upon the virtual distinction between the Divine Nature and the Divine Persons: we can conceive that a Person took flesh, or that flesh was assumed by the Person and not by the nature, if we bear in mind that "to be" a Person really identical with the Divine Nature and "to act" as a Person are not formally the same thing. The real identity of Person and Nature entails, however, as a consequence, that the human and Divine Natures become intimately united in the Hypostatic Union.
II. It is an express article of faith that only one Person was made man, viz. the Second. The possibility of such a separate union rests upon the distinction between the Divine Persons. As the Divine substance is possessed in three distinct ways by the distinct Holders, we can understand that One of them may possess the human nature exclusively to Himself by giving it the benefit of His own subsistence. However, the unity of Nature in the three Divine Persons causes "the plenitude of Divinity to dwell corporeally" in the Incarnate Person. Thus, especially, the Holy Ghost is present in Christ as His Spirit; and Christ is in the Holy Ghost as His temple in a manner essentially superior to the indwelling by created grace in the just. Likewise the humanity of Christ is in the bosom of the Father, and the Father in Him as in His image, in a manner infinitely superior to what grace effects in the sanctified. The special indwelling of the Father and the Holy Ghost in Christ is technically called "presence by concomitancy."
The fact that the Second Person, rather than any other, was incarnate, is to be accounted for by reasons of congruency connected with the hypostatic character of God the Son, and with the object of Incarnation. Cf. St. Thomas, 3 q. 3, a. 8; and St. Bonaventure, Breviloq. 1. iv. c. 2.
III. The assumption of a second nature supposes in the assuming person a special perfection. The person, as principle or efficient cause of the Hypostatic Union, requires a special power over the lower nature; as terminus of the union, He requires a special exaltedness in His mode of existence, sufficient to intrinsically perfect, pervade, and rule the assumed nature. It is certain that a Divine Person, by reason of His nature, possesses such power and exaltedness: according to St. Thomas, a Divine person alone can possess them. All theologians agree in requiring "Divine" power to effect a Hypostatic Union; an angel can no more unite to himself another spiritual nature than he can unite soul and body into one human person and nature. The assuming principle must necessarily be of a higher order than the assumed, and, if the lower be a spirit, according to the common teaching of the Church, God alone can penetrate, pervade, control, and govern it in the way supposed in Hypostatic Union: the searching of hearts is the exclusive privilege of God. In the same way, the power of existing in two spiritual natures is the exclusive prerogative of the Divine Persons, just as it is the exclusive prerogative of the Divine Nature to subsist in several distinct Persons. The first prerogative is founded upon the absolute Highness, the second upon the absolute Riches, and both upon the infinite Perfection of the Divine Substance in general, and especially on its self-sufficiency and power.
IV. Considered in relation to the Divine Persons, the Hypostatic Union is made possible by, and is a manifestation of, God's infinite perfection. Hence it involves no contradiction to any of the Divine perfections. It is not incompatible with the Divine simplicity, because it implies neither an intrinsic composition of the Divine substance, nor does it reduce it to be part of a whole of higher value. It is not against God's infinity, because it involves no increase of His perfection, but merely an external manifestation of the riches of that perfection. It is not opposed to the Divine immutability, because it is not a new mode of existence affecting the Divine substance intrinsically. In short, these three Divine perfections could only be affected by entering into a relation of dependency or passivity towards the assumed nature; but the fact is exactly the reverse: the relation of God to the assumed nature is one of active completion, possession, and dominion, and in all points analogous to the relation of God to His creatures. See St. Thomas, 3, q. 3; Franzelin, theses xxxii. and xxxiii.
Sect.Sect. 178. --The Hypostatic Union considered on the Part of the Assumed Nature.
I. Whereas the Divine Element in the Hypostatic Union is the Person, the human element is the nature, exclusive of the human person: Christ is one Person with two natures. The possibility of assuming human nature without assuming a human person, supposes in man a real separability of nature and person which does not exist in God. The difference arises from the different perfection of the natures upon which the personalities are founded. In fact, personality connotes the existence as an independent whole of an intellectual being. The Divine Nature is essentially complete and independent, and cannot therefore be conceived without personality-- on the contrary, its infinite communicability enables it to exist in three Persons. The human substance, being finite, is not absolutely complete and independent it is possible for it to be appropriated by a higher substance. Such is the easy and simple explanation given by the Fathers and the early Schoolmen, e.g. St. Thomas and St. Bonaventure, and generally accepted by modern theologians in preference to the subtle but confusing theories of later Schoolmen. Franzelin, thesis xxx.
II. The above theory supposes that human nature is susceptible of being assumed by a higher person. Against this supposition it may be urged (1) that a substance complete in its kind, and especially a spiritual substance, cannot become part or quasi-part of another substance; (2) that such assumption would be unnatural and degrading to the assumed substance. As regards the first difficulty, it may be granted that the receptivity of human nature for a higher hypostasis is on a par with the receptivity of spiritual beings in general for supernatural Divine influences; it belongs to the "obediential power," and is not knowable without the aid of revelation (§148). Yet it is natural in another sense. Just as every material substance may be assumed into a living organism, and become dependent on a spiritual soul or other substantial form; so also the created spirit may be assumed by the higher substance of God, and lose its independent existence. Nor does this loss imply a degradation; for although the human nature in Christ is not independent, still its dependency on the Logos is in every sense a greater perfection than the lost human personality. Again, everything increases in perfection by being raised to a higher order of being, and especially all spiritual beings seek their ultimate perfection in their union with God; hence the Hypostatic Union is but the coronation of a tendency universal in nature. Lastly, spiritual substances are particularly well adapted to enter the Divine Personality, because they, and they alone, are able to retain and to increase their spiritual and moral life in the Hypostatic Union, and render possible a twofold consciousness and a twofold free will in one person. It cannot, however, be maintained that the union of a Divine Person with a material substance is impossible; it is even easier of comprehension than the other, and, as a matter of fact, it took place in the union of the Logos with His dead body in the sepulchre.
III. It is of faith that the Hypostatic Union embraces directly and immediately soul and body, or "flesh" (Greek) because this is expressly laid down in the definitions of the Church. The term flesh or body applies directly to the solid parts, and as the Councils describe the assumed flesh as "animated," it follows that at least all the parts of the body animated by the soul are taken up into the union. To what extent, if at all, certain solids or fluids present in the bodily organism, but not directly animated by the soul, are comprised in the union, is a question of little interest to the theologian. With regard to the immediate union of the blood, doubts have been raised on the ground that it is not expressly mentioned in the definitions, and that according to ideas once prevalent the blood is not an integral part of the body, and is not animated by the soul. The teaching of Scripture on this point, however, is decidedly in favour of the union. Christ places His blood on a line with His flesh as having Life-giving power, which supposes the blood as well as the flesh to be in Hypostatic Union with the Logos (John vi. 56). In the Blessed Sacrament, the Church gives Divine honour to the Blood separately from the Body. Clement VI., in his Bull Unigenitus, declares that one drop of Christ's Blood would have been sufficient to redeem the world "because of its union with the Word." See also Heb. ii. 14; Apoc. xx. 28.
IV. The Hypostatic Union took place at the very moment the human nature entered into existence. If it had taken place later, Christ, previously to it, would have been purely man, and Mary would not be the Mother of God (Greek). If it had taken place sooner --say with a pre-existing soul, or before the animation of the body --the constant teaching of the Church, that the union was contracted through assuming "human nature," would lose its signification.
V. The dissolution of the human nature of Christ by death did not entail the cessation of the Hypostatic Union with either body or soul. This is contained in the Apostles' Creed: "The Son of God, Who was buried (as to the body), and descended into hell (as to the soul). "It also stands to reason, for if body and soul were conjointly taken into the union, and intended to remain united to the Logos for ever, their temporary separation from one another could not involve their separation from the Divine Hypostasis. The incorruptibility of the body, and the power of the soul to rejoin the body, are both derived from their continued union with the Divinity. It is not, however, of faith that the blood shed by our Lord during the Passion remained in the union. Pope Pius II forbade any censure upon those who held the negative opinion. Yet, considering the great probability of the Hypostatic Union extending to the blood before the death and after the Resurrection of Christ, the opinion that it was not united during the time of death loses all probability. The blood, however, which was not taken up again at the Resurrection, the blood of the Circumcision, and likewise the tears and sweat of the Saviour, once they were separated from the body, were dismissed from the Hypostatic Union for ever. Although hypostatically united to both body and soul during the time of death, Christ during that time was not man, strictly speaking, because His human nature was temporarily destroyed. St. Thomas, 3, q. 50, a. 4.
Sect. 179. --Origin of the Hypostatic Union through the Supernatural Action of God.
I. The Apostles' Creed and that of Constantinople ascribe the birth of the Logos as man and His incarnation to the Holy Ghost as principle, and thus set down God, acting in a supernatural manner, as the author of the Hypostatic Union. If the infusion of the soul into the body and the infusion of grace into the soul require Divine Power, much more does the infusion of the Logos into a human nature require such power, and, as it is an external action of God, it is necessarily common to the three Divine Persons. The "unitive action" considered as a sending of the Son by the Father is but an expansion, ad extra, of the "productive action" of God the Father, and, from this point of view, is rather proper, than appropriated, to the first Person. Likewise, if we consider the terminus of the same action, the Second Person alone can claim it. The "unitive action," as it is technically called, is appropriated to the Holy Ghost, and the participation in it of the other Persons is expressed by saying that the Holy Ghost is the Mediator of the assumption on the part of the Son, or the Executor of the decree of Incarnation appropriated to the Father. The reasons for appropriating the Incarnation to the Holy Ghost may be seen in St. Thomas, Contra Gentes, 1. iv. c. 46; or Alexander of Hales, p. iii. q. xi.
II. The Hypostatic Union is a unique work of grace. The Grace of Union is the most precious that can be bestowed upon a creature, and it is less a possible object of merit than any other grace. It communicates the Divine Substance itself; it anticipates all possible merit on the part of the human nature, because human nature derives its subsistence --the first and most essential condition of meritorious acts --from the Logos. Besides, the Grace of Union is superior to all others in this, that it constitutes the personality of Christ, and thus makes all the privileges which it contains Christ's own personal and natural property. The "unitive action" is also a peculiar work of Divine predestination. Predestination in general is a Divine decree calling and promoting a creature to a state of supernatural perfection; in the case of Christ, however, the decree refers to a created nature, not to a created person. If we apply the general notion of predestination to the Person of Christ, it must be conceived as analogous to the predestination of natural man to his natural perfection as image of God and lord of the visible world: that is, as a Divine decree which establishes Christ, at the moment of His origin and by virtue of His constitution, in His supernatural perfection.
III. The unitive action in Christ is distinguished by its "generative character" from the unitive actions by which God infuses the soul into a body or grace into intellectual creatures. Generation is production by communication of substance, resulting in a similarity of nature in progenitor and progeny. The infusion of the soul is not a generation, because the substance of the soul is not taken from God, but created out of nothing; the communication of grace is but distantly similar to real generation, because it does not result in a strict similarity of nature. But in Christ, the very substance of God is united with a created substratum; it becomes the personal principle of the being thus constituted, and makes Divine nature the nature of Christ. Hence the Divine action which results in the Hypostatic Union has the character of a true generation, and is closely akin to the eternal generation of the Logos. The difference lies in this, that in His eternal generation the Logos, as to His whole substance, is produced from God and in God --as the fruit is produced by and on the tree; Christ, on the other hand, is constituted by the infusion of the Divine Substance into an extraneous substratum, --as the seed combined with the soil produces a plant
The unitive action stands in organic connection with the eternal generation in more than one way. Considered as assumption of a second, external, and temporal existence on the part of the Son of God, the unitive action is an external manifestation of the eternal generation; a going-out from God as on a mission; the visible birth (partus) of the Son begotten in the bosom of the Father, or the outward continuation and expansion of the eternal generation. In the production of Christ the two actions --unitive and generative --concur into one total or common generative action. St. Thomas, 3, q. 24.
Sect. 180. --Supernatural Origin of the Humanity of Christ through the Holy Ghost from the Virgin Mary.
I. The Creeds attribute the origin of Christ's humanity to the combined Divine action of the Holy Ghost and the maternal action of Mary: "The Son of God, conceived of or by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; or born of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary." Mary, then, is, in subordination to and in co-operation with the Holy Ghost, the principle of Christ as man.
II. The Nicene (Constantinople) formula, Incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine (and here in Greek), implies first of all that the body of Christ was not sent down from heaven, or taken from the earth like that of Adam, but that its matter was supplied by Mary. This alone, however, does not constitute Mary the mother of Christ --otherwise Adam, for the same reason, would be the mother of Eve. It is further required that the Virgin did co-operate, like every other mother, in the formation of the body. That co-operation consists in the preparation of a germ, which being fecundated from without, will develop into a human body. After the fecundation, the work of the mother is to minister of her own substance to the growth of the germ until it is able to live a separate life. Hence, in contradistinction to the paternal generation, the maternal is essentially only a co-operation with another principle, on which latter the existence of the progeny is in the first instance dependent. The mother bears the same relation to the person of her progeny as she does to the fecundating principle, viz. a relation of subserviency, consisting in preparing and forming the progeny's body: she has no direct influence on her child's existence as a person, but merely contributes to its material or substantial part. For these reasons the Divine generation is paternal, not maternal. The same reasons make it clear that maternal generation may, without difficulty, concur in giving a second bodily existence to a person already subsisting in Himself. If the specific notion of "maternal" generation be well kept in mind, all the difficulties besetting the maternity of Mary find an easy solution.
III. The dogma that Christ "was conceived by the Holy Ghost," excludes the natural fecundating principle and replaces it by a spiritual principle and a purely spiritual power. From this cause the generation of Christ enjoys the same advantages which the prologue of St. John's Gospel attributes to the generation of the Children of God: it is not of the will of man, but directly of the will of God; it is not of the will of the flesh not even on the part of the mother, because the concupiscence of the flesh is only excited by the intervention of man but of the will of God; it is not of blood, that is, of the commingling of blood as in natural generation, but of a germ animated by Divine influence. On this account the origin of Christ bears a resemblance to the origin "directly from God" of the first Adam, the difference, however, remaining that Christ is also by generation the Son of man.
The fact that the generation of Christ was supernatural in the manner described, also proves that this manner was congruous to such a degree as to render natural generation entirely incongruous. The reasons for this incongruity are many: the honour of the Mother of God is incompatible with the loss of her virginal purity in the very act which raised her to the highest dignity; the Mother of God cannot be made subject to the will of man, and the temple of the Holy Ghost must not be violated. Deeper reasons are found in the sublimity of the product of this generation, and of the generation itself. The product is God, and the generation is an expansion of the eternal generation by the Father; but the existence in time of a Divine Person cannot be made dependent on the will of man; the temporal generation must be the exact image of the eternal, and therefore proceed from a purely spiritual principle, etc. Cf. St. Thomas, 3, q. 28, a. I; Thomassin, 1. ii. c. 3, 4.
IV. The fecundating influence of the Holy Ghost is described as a descent on the Virgin, and as an overshadowing the father with the power of the Most High: (in Greek scripture) (Luke i. 35). These images establish a parallel between this supernatural generation and natural generation in general, on the strength of which the Fathers sometimes call the Holy Ghost semen divinum. As the semen materiale points to a human father, so the semen divimum points to the Divine Father. Yet the Holy Ghost Himself is not that Divine Father. For He does not through His substance constitute the flesh of Christ; He does not form in Christ a nature consubstantial to His own; and lastly, as Divine Person distinct from Father and Son, He has no, peculiar relation of principle to the flesh of Christ, but acts in union with the other Persons, and especially in the power of the Father.
V. The older form of the Apostles' Creed says that Christ "was born of the Holy Ghost and of the Virgin Mary." These words directly apply to the first conception, but, according to universal tradition, they also imply a supernatural influence of the Holy Ghost on the actual birth of the Saviour. The object of this influence was not merely to preserve the integrity of Mary's virginity in the birth, as it had been preserved in the conception of the Saviour. In the sense of the Creed, it is, moreover, a singular privilege of the origin of Christ, the complement of His supernatural conception: the Eternal Father, having formed and generated Christ in the womb of the Virgin, completed His work by introducing His Son into the world in a manner becoming His Son's dignity and eternal origin. Thus the birth or external generation of Christ reflected His eternal birth from the Father in this, that "the Light from Light" proceeded from His mother' s womb as a Light shed on the world; that "the Power of the Most High" passed through the barriers of nature unhindered and without injuring them, and that "the body of the Logos" formed by the Holy Ghost passed through another body after the manner of spirits. These privileges constitute what the Fathers call the supernatural, celestial, divine, and spiritual birth of the Redeemer.
The most essential feature in the supernatural birth is that Christ was brought forth utero clauso vel obsignato, the womb remaining closed or sealed, like the sepulchre from which He rose after His death. This privilege naturally includes, on the part of the Mother, exemption from all pain; and on the part of both Mother and Child the absence of all impurities connected with natural birth (Sordes nativitatis naturalis). For these two latter immunities special reasons are to be found in the dignity of Mother and Child. The supernatural character of the birth of Christ does not exclude the natural co-operation of the Mother in the actual parturition (nisus edendi prolem), nor does it require that the child should issue from the mother by any other than the natural way.
The birth of Christ from a womb closed or sealed is an article of faith. It was always considered as such, and based upon the Apostles' Creed and Isa. vii. 14 ("Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bring forth a son"). When Jovinian denied it, he was strenuously opposed, and it is noteworthy that the reason for the denial was not the want of traditional evidence for the miraculous birth, but its miraculous character itself; in other words, Jovinian founded his objections on rationalism (see St. Ambrose, Ep. xlii., n. 4, 5, addressed to Pope Siricius in the name of the Council of Milan; St. Aug., Enchiridion, c. xxxiv.; Ep. Dogm. Leonis I. ad Flavianum; defined under anathema in the third canon of the Lateran Council under Pope Martin I.). The presentation in the Temple (Luke ii. 23), in compliance with the laws of Moses (Exod. xiii. I, and Levit. xii. 2), is no proof that Mary either conceived or gave birth in the same way as the women for whom these laws were made.
The miraculous conception and birth of Christ compel us to admit that during the time of gestation, Mary was likewise under the special influence of the Holy Ghost, although particulars are nowhere exactly defined.
We shall further deal with the Divine Maternity of the Blessed Virgin in Part IV.
CHAPTER III. The Attributes of Christ.
a. attributes of christ in general; substantial attributes of his person.
Sect. 181. --Perichoresis of the Divine and the Human" in Christ; or, the Communion of Natures, and the
Communication of Idioms.
I. The term "perichoresis, "so familiar to the Fathers, was almost entirely lost sight of by the Schoolmen: Petavius and Thomassin reintroduced it into theology. As a technical term, its Latin equivalent is communio naturarum; etymologically it expresses the "firm grip (Greek) which each of the united substances holds on the other." The term was suggested to the Fathers by the name Christ, the Anointed; and illustrated by the analogies of the immersion of a solid body in a liquid or ethereal substance, and of the infusion of the spiritual soul into the flesh. Both analogies represent unions of substances by mutual penetration or permeation (see § 106).
II. The Divine and the Human in Christ may be considered in the abstract or in the concrete, and may accordingly be combined in four different ways, each of which is the foundation of a distinct form of perichoresis. These four combinations are: --
1. Between the abstract human nature or essence and the concrete Divine Nature, that is, the Person of the Logos. In this combination the perichoresis is but another way of viewing the Hypostatic Union; the Divine Person taking hold of and immersing Himself into the human nature, so as to become (in Greek) the God-Word incarnate. Human nature is not immersed in the same way in the Logos, but assumed into His personality, so as to become man subsisting in the God-Word, or receiving personality from Him: (Greek text).
2. Next there is a perichoresis between the Divine and the human natures considered concretely, that is, between man and God. This perichoresis is the first consequence of the Hypostatic Union, and consists in this, that the two concrete natures are made one personal being, Who is at the same time God and man, or in Whom God is man and man is God; the two natures being intimately united and interwoven, each retaining its own peculiarities, and yet communicating them in a sense to one another through the medium of one Person.
3. The third form of perichoresis is between the concrete human nature and the abstract Divine, or between man and Divinity. It is a second consequence of the Hypostatic Union, distinct from the former in this, that here the Divinity is not merely considered as a nature existing side by side with the human, but as the essence of the Principle which gives to the man Christ His Divine Personality. Hence this form of perichoresis causes the man Christ to participate in the Divine rank and dignity which are essential to the Word: it is properly the "anointment of human nature with Divinity."
4. The fourth and last form of perichoresis exists between the two abstract natures, i.e. between humanity and Divinity. It is the third and last consequence of the Hypostatic Union, and is only a closer definition of the second consequence. It consists in this, that the Divine nature, being substantially united with humanity, becomes the inmost property of the hypostasis of the Man Christ --dwells "corporeally" in Him like the soul of man in his body, and thus "deifies" Him. More will be said of this further on.
III. Christ, the Word Incarnate, on account of His peculiar constitution, is the subject of three kinds of predicates; some being proper to the Word, some to the flesh, and some to both taken together. The first kind, or simple predicates, the Word has in common with the other Divine Persons; the second kind, also simple, He has in common with persons purely human; the third or mixed kind, belong to the Person of Christ alone. Like the composition of Christ, so also the multiplicity and diversity of His attributes have an analogy in the human compound, yet with a twofold difference: Christ subsists in the two component parts of His being as in two complete natures, and has, therefore, two essential names (God and Man), each of which can designate Him as the bearer of both kinds of attributes; besides, the mixed predicates are attributable to Christ by reason of His being one Person, whereas to man such mixed predicates are attributed by reason of His one nature.
IV. 1. In the Hypostatic Union the Word remains unaltered; hence He retains all the attributes proper to the Divine Persons: Christ is God, Creator, eternal, the source of life, the absolute truth and sanctity, etc. Certain Divine predicates, however, can only be attributed to Christ with a qualification, viz. such as are in opposition with His compound being, or which express the position of the Logos in the compound. Thus we cannot say, without restricting the meaning to the Logos, that Christ is simple and immutable, or that Christ inhabits in the flesh, is united to the flesh, etc.
2. The flesh in the Word Incarnate being a complete human nature and His own, we must, speaking generally, give to Christ all the predicates expressing human origin, essence, and activity, not excluding those which are opposed to the Divine predicates. Christ is true man, formed by God, born in time, passible, mortal, etc. But here, as with the Divine predicates, an exception must be made as to predicates denying, directly or indirectly, the composition of Christ's humanity with a Divine Person, or directly expressing the position of His humanity in the compound; these can only be used with a restrictive qualification, e.g. Christ is not eternal, viz. according to His human nature.
3. The third class of predicates, specifically proper to Christ, comprises those based upon the composition of the Word Incarnate. Thus the name Christ itself denotes His origin and essence; the name God-Man or Man-God, His essence or being; the names Envoy of God, Head of creatures, Mediator between God and creatures, Saviour, etc., understood in their eminent and absolute sense, denote His properties.
V. The Divine and human predicates properly belong to the Subject connoted by the terms "Christ" and "Word Incarnate" yet, according to a general rule of logic, they may be connected with any other term demonstrating or supposing the same subject, though this other term does not "formally" represent the subject as bearer of the predicate used; e.g. of the Man Christ we predicate Divine attributes, although " formally as man " He is not entitled to them. Vice versa, of the God Christ we predicate passibility, etc., though as God He is impassible. We have thus a transfer of predicates or attributes from one nature to the other, and an exchange of properties, technically known as "Communication of Idioms." The Greek Fathers use (the Greek) (= exchange), and connect it with the second form of Perichoresis (Newman, Athanasius, ii. p. 367). The rules laid down above for the predication of the several kinds of attributes (iv.) apply likewise to the interchange of idioms. In propositions whose predicate is an adjective, special attention is required not to take the subject of the proposition as being also formally the subject of the attribute.
The exchange of idioms in Holy Scripture is the strongest proof for the unity of Person in Christ, and the most prominent manifestation of its wonderful character. The law, however, by which in our speech we interchange the predicates, is not peculiar to Christ; it is a general law of logic, which finds its application in the human compound and in many others, but nowhere so perfectly as in Christ.
VI. From the nature and laws of the communication of idioms, it is manifest that, in general, the term which stands as subject in the proposition does not suggest the reason why the predicate is contained in it; this reason lies in some property which the subject possesses concomitantly with the property actually expressed. For instance, in the proposition, "the Son of Mary is the Word, "the reason why He is the Word is not pointed out by the term "Son of Mary;" it is contained in the Divine nature which the Son of Mary possesses concomitantly with the human. Hence the technical term "predication by concomitancy " is applied to phrases expressing the exchange of idioms. Another technical term, but not so appropriate, is "material and indirect predication." Predication by concomitancy is based upon the Perichoresis or communion of natures, and is therefore not merely rhetorical or verbal, as it was styled by many Protestant theologians. St. Thomas, 3, qq. 9, 16; Franzelin, thes. xxxvii.
Sect. 182. --Christ as a Person relatively and virtually distinct from God.
I. Notwithstanding that Christ is God, that He subsists and acts in the Divine Nature, and further, that the same, by reason of the exchange of idioms, must be said materially of the "Man" Christ; the language of Scripture and Church represents Him over and over again as a subject of attributions distinct and separate from God. He is the Mediator between God and man; He is "of God," as "we are of Christ " (shown in Greek in I Cor. iii. 23), and even where His intimate union with God is set forth, it is spoken of in terms analogous to those expressing the union of creatures with God through grace. In the Old Testament He is "the chosen Servant of God" (Isaias), "the man that cleaveth "to the Lord (Zach. xiii. 7); in the New Testament He is begotten, sanctified, glorified, protected, and guided by God; He prays to God, and reconciles the world with Him, etc.
II. To account for these apparent anomalies, it is not sufficient to say that in such texts "God" means God the Father exclusively. This is only true where Christ is represented as the Son of God; in all other cases Christ is set forth as a subject distinct from God purely and simply, from the Word as well as from the other Divine Persons. We have to explain how this can be done without destroying the unity of Person in Christ.
The unity of person in man is not injured by speaking of man's lower nature as distinct and opposed to his higher nature. But our lower nature is deprived of reason, and, therefore, is never spoken of as a person. In Christ, on the contrary, the lower nature is a complete, rational and animal, human nature, receiving its personal complement through the Logos or Word. Hence we may speak of Him as a human person, existing side by side with God or inferior to Him, provided we conceive Him formally as a human personal being, viz. as the Logos "subsisting" not only dwelling in "the flesh," not in the Godhead. This way of conceiving the Word Incarnate is evidently implied in the names "Christ" and "Emmanuel" (God with us). It affords sufficient foundation for mentally distinguishing in Christ two personal beings, and consequently for speaking of the Man-God as relatively independent and virtually distinct from the God-Man. This distinction is not tantamount to abstracting from Christ's Divinity: He is considered as God, but the mental stress is laid on His subsistence in a human nature. The analogical designations for Christ, taken from all orders of created things the Anointed or Branch, the limb or member, the image of God might indeed express no more than a union with God through grace. Yet they likewise may be used as descriptive of the Hypostatic Union, for they all represent a most real and intimate union between some being and a higher principle differing from it in essence. We have dealt with them in former chapters. It is to be remarked that Holy Scripture, and the Church after its example, are most careful to avoid phrases which, by representing Christ as a subject distinct from God, might imply a real distinction of persons or a multiplication of the Divine Nature.
III. The notion of Christ as a subject of attributions distinct from God, has been entirely perverted by Berruyer, and only imperfectly proposed by theologians even of high note. Berruyer, in order to avoid Nestorianism, calls the Man Christ a quasi-suppositum (or quasi-person), but then describes Him as a Person perfect in every respect. St. Alphonsus opposed the new form of the old heresy with holy zeal, and it was condemned by Benedict XIV and Clement XIII. Yet traces of it are still found in many modern Nestorianizing theologies. Berruyer's heresy and cognate Catholic opinions fail to understand, or at least to work out, the consequences of the principle that "the Man Christ, however He be considered, is and always remains the personal human compound constituted through the anointment of humanity with the Logos; that in this compound the human essence is the material part, and the Divine Logos the formal principle, of its substantial --subsistential or personal --existence." In the same way, in whatever manner we consider natural man, he is and remains a body informed by a soul. Christ cannot be considered independently of the personality of the Logos by which He subsists, though, as the Fathers express it, He can take the part of a servant (gerere personam servi), and also can act in the Person of God (esse et agere in persona Dei). In the stage of His life which the Apostle calls "the days of the flesh," He acted the part of a servant, and "in the day of His power," He acts as Divine Person. See Franzelin, De Verbo Incarn., p. 366, sqq.
Sect. 183. --Redundancy (overflow} of the Divine Idioms on Christ as Man: His Divine Glory and Power.
I. Having obtained a clear notion of Christ as distinct subject of attributions, we are enabled likewise to gain a deeper insight into the communication of idioms between the Man Christ and the God Christ. Although, in general, the communication is mutual, yet it is not the same on both sides: "the human" is appropriated by God, but has no influence on His Divine Existence, whereas "the Divine" is infused into man and gives him a more perfect existence. Besides, the Divine privileges (axiomata) are more communicable than the human properties, and some of them must be attributed to Christ as man directly and formally, by reason of His formal fellowship or participation in them. From this point of view, the communication of idioms appears as an outpouring of the Divine privileges on Christ as man, and may fitly be termed "communication by redundancy." This term, then, implies that the Word Incarnate not only retains His Divine privileges in His Divinity, but also transfuses and enforces them in the Man constituted by the Hypostatic Union, and that, consequently, this man, even as man completed in his personality by the Word, has co-possession and co-fruition of these privileges.
II. The Redundancy of privileges is founded upon the general principle that in every substantial compound, the whole, even considered in its material elements, participates in the privileges or excellences of the formal principle, whether this be an inherent form as in natural compounds, or an insubsisting form as in the Incarnate Word. The term "redundancy" itself describes the manner or form in which it takes place --transfusion of Divine privileges into God's consubsistential image, or into the Anointed and the Bud of God. The subject-matter of this communication is summed up by Scripture and the Fathers as a participation in the Divine Glory and Power (in Greek; Gloria et virtus, cf. 2 Peter i. 3, etc.).
III. Holy Scripture describes the essential glory of Christ as of the highest dignity and power, and worthy of the highest honour and worship: He is the God of gods, the Lord of lords, and the Holy of Holies (§ 93). The names "God," "Lord," and "Holy" connote here a glory communicable to creatures; but the first, "God," must be taken in contradistinction to Jehovah, as conveying the idea of the godlike highness and power of some person. Now the fact that Christ is placed above all other gods, lords, and saints, in a manner proper to the true God alone, shows that His participation in the Divine glory is not merely extrinsical and accidental as in other creatures, but intrinsical and substantial: He is not a simple image, but the perfect likeness of God; He is the Lord, sitting at the right hand of the Father, on the same throne, and exercising the same power. Just as in the constitution of Adam --created to the image and likeness of God --the foundation was laid for his natural glory and dominion over the world, so in the constitution of Christ --the consubsistential image of God (that is, who subsists in a Divine Person) --the foundation is laid for His Divine Glory and Power.
1. The Man Christ is God, and shares with God the title of Lord pure and simple, or Lord of glory (2 Cor. ii. 8), by reason of His Divine Personality. He is independent of any superior being, and really Sovereign, equal in rank and dignity with God. Again, for the same reason, He has an essential and absolute right to all internal and external goods of the uncreated and self-subsisting God; in the first place, to the Divine Essence and Nature. He has especially the right to enjoy and use these goods in and through His humanity, in as far, of course, as this can be done by a created nature. Lastly, this co-possession of Divine properties entitles the Man Christ to all the honour and worship due to God by virtue of His infinite excellence.
2. The supreme glory of God shines forth most in His Holiness, which is the splendour of His infinite perfection considered as the supreme and absolute God (§ 89). In this absolute Sanctity the Man Christ participates through the fact that His personal Principle is Himself Holy God, and that the Holy Ghost substantially dwells in Him as His own Spirit, and excludes even from His human nature all kind of unholiness. The holiness of Christ differs from that of other creatures, as the substance differs from the accident; it is part of His essence, and can neither be lost nor impaired.
3. Not only the Divinity and "Holiness of the Lord are poured out on the Man Christ --the Divine Power is also communicated to Him, inasmuch as Christ, "has life in Himself" like God (John v. 26), and is "the prince or author of life" (Acts iii. 15), and "vivifier," that is, giver of eternal life (Heb. v. 9; cf. i Cor. xv. 45; Heb. ix. 14, and vii. 16). This third feature of the glory of the Man Christ is, like the two preceding, founded on His being constituted a Person by a Divine Principle, the substance and source of life. Observe, however, that this power is always in Holy Scripture attributed to Christ as a saving, sanctifying, beatifying, but never as a creating or conserving power; thereby indicating that creative power must not be attibuted to the Man Christ formally as man, since creative power admits of no created co-operation.
IV. The participation of the Man Christ in the glory and power of God is specially a participation in the glory and power of the Word: the Divine prerogatives of the Internal and Eternal Image of God flow on to His perfect external Image and Likeness. An intimate analogy exists between the communication of the Father's Divinity to the Son, and the communication of the privileges of the Logos to His humanity. As the Logos is the "Wisdom and Power of the Father" in this sense, that He is not only the same in essence with the Father, but also the seat, the bearer, and the administrator of the Father's Wisdom and Power; so likewise the Man Christ is the seat, the bearer, and the administrator of the prerogatives of the Logos. This Christ expressed in the words, "I am the way, the truth, and the life" that is, I am the perfect Mediator of truth and life. St. Paul teaches the same: "Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and justice, and sanctification, and redemption" (i Cor. i. 30).
V. The whole theory of the redundancy of Divine glory and power may be thus summed up: All the glory and the power which by virtue of the eternal generation flow from the Father to the Son, flow over from the Son to the Man Christ, and replenish Him to the utmost of His capacity; Christ, as Son of God, is the born heir of Divine Power; as co-owner of the Holy Ghost, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, He is the Giver of supernatural life.
Sect. 184. --The Man Christ as Object of Divine Worship.
I. The redundancy of Divine glory on Christ appears most strikingly in His adorability, or right to the worship due to God alone. It being admitted that the humanity of Christ forms with the Logos one personal Being --Christ, the Incarnate Word --it follows that this one Being, in His entirety, is entitled to the same Divine worship as the Logos Himself. Hence the Logos is adorable not only as Logos, but also as Logos Incarnate, or in and with His humanity; and His humanity is likewise adorable in as far as it is the humanity of Christ and the flesh of the Logos, that is, physical part of a Being adorable on account of its formal Principle.
II. The adorability of the Man Christ was so firmly held in the early Church, that even Nestorius could not deny it; and the Eutychians and Apollinarists even argued from it in support of their heresies. Against Nestorius, the Council of Ephesus defined that the Man Christ (assumptus homo) is adored with the Logos (una adoratione); that is, not as a distinct term and object of adoration, but as one with the Word made flesh (Anath. viii.). The ninth canon of the Fifth General Council is worded against the Apollinarists and Eutychians. The flesh or humanity of the Word Incarnate must be included in one adoration with the Word Incarnate, not as being of Divine essence or nature, or (changed into the Divine Nature, but as belonging to the adorable Person of the Logos. Holy Scripture frequently relates acts of adoration addressed to Christ, all more or less explicitly bound up with a profession of faith that the Adored was the Son of God and absolute Lord. The right to adoration is formally declared (John v. 23), "that all might honour the Son as they honour the Father," and (Phil. ii. 9) "God . . . hath given Him a name which is above all names: that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow . . . and that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father." (For the Fathers, see Petavius, lib. xv. cc. 1-4; Thomassin, lib. xi. cc. 1-3.)
III. The adorability of Christ, including His humanity may be conceived in a twofold manner, and the adoration itself may be carried out in two corresponding ways. First, we can conceive the Incarnate Word as subsisting in the Divine Nature conjointly with the other Divine Persons, and so accepting adoration by His Divine Will. Thus His humanity is included in the adoration merely as something substantially connected with Him. From this point of view the adoration of Christ's humanity is analogous to that relative adoration or worship which is exhibited to an object by reason of its close connection with a Person worthy of adoration or worship. Yet there is an essential difference, because in Christ the connection is personal, that is to say, His humanity is embodied in His Divine Personality. Secondly, in the adoration of Christ, we can consider the Word Incarnate as specifically subsisting in the human nature, or as the Man who receives his personal complement through the Person of the Logos, and who in a certain manner is adored side by side with God, and accepts the adoration by His human will. From this pojnt of view Christ appears especially as participator in the Divine glory, as Lord, as Holy, and as the Prince of life; and this redundancy of Divine greatness on Him is here the reason or motive of His adorability. The adoration of Christ in this form is as much an act of Divine Adoration (latria) as in the other form, because here also the ultimate motive of adorability is the Divine excellence of His personal Principle, and because this Principle is actually included in the object of adoration. The first of these two forms is principally useful to explain and defend the inclusion of Christ's humanity in the adoration of the Logos; the second is more commonly supposed in the practical adoration of Christ.
IV. Christ's humanity is adorable in itself, though not for its own sake; in other words, it is the material, not the formal, object and terminus of adoration. It is adorable in itself, inasmuch as the action by which the Logos confers upon it His own personality is, like the action of a substantial form on its substratum, eminently intrinsic: the Logos subsists in the human nature, and communicates to it His adorability in the same degree and manner as His Divinity. Hence it is inexact to say that the reason of the adorability of Christ's humanity is extrinsic or outside the human nature; or that it is only mediately intrinsic as, e.g., the wisdom of the soul is mediately intrinsic to the body. Yet, notwithstanding this, Christ's humanity is but a "partial" object of adoration, inasmuch as it cannot be adored except as part of the theandric compound. To adore it apart from this connection would be adoring a creature. As defined by the Church, only one adoration of the flesh of Christ is admissible, and that is the "adoration of the Word Incarnate with His flesh."
V. Although the humanity of Christ (the Man Christ) is entitled to Divine honour by reason of its personal Principle, it is not therefore without a title to such worship as is exhibited to the Saints on the ground of their sanctity: the perfection which grace confers upon Saints is possessed in a much higher degree and much more intimately by that nature to which the Logos gives Divine Personality. Even considered apart from the Logos, or deprived of its personality, the human nature of Christ, though no longer adorable as a person, would still be' an object worthy of veneration because of its inherent perfection. Such veneration, however, ought to be limited to acts of admiration and praise: acts of adoration, including subjection of the worshipper to the Worshipped, can only be addressed to a personal being.
Again, the worship termed dulia, or rather hyperdulia, when offered to Christ, is necessarily connected with the worship of adoration. For whatever form the worship takes, it is addressed to the Divine Person, in whom the created excellences appear as merely subordinate and secondary reasons for worship, and cannot be isolated from the Divine root from which they grow.
VI. Christ cannot adore Himself as man any more than God can adore Himself; because submissive adoration supposes at least a relative substantial distinction between the worshipper and the worshipped. As man, Christ can adore Himself as God in union with the Father, because He possesses a nature different from and subordinate to His Divine Nature. His personal dignity, which puts Christ on a level with God, enables Him to offer to God an adoration of infinite value. Furthermore, His adoration of God is itself adorable in as far as an action can be the object of adoration, for it is an act of infinite value. The "Lamb that was slain," and Christ crucified, are proposed for our adoration because of the infinite value of Christ's sacrificial act.
VII. The sacred humanity of Christ is an object of adoration in its parts as well as in its totality, because each part is anointed with Divinity. If, therefore, special motives suggest the selection of one part as object of a special devotion, such devotion ought to take the form of adoration (cultus latriae). Such motives exist as regards the organs which were prominently instrumental in Christ's great sacrifice of Himself for our redemption. These organs are associated in our minds with the sublime Holiness of the Victim in the redeeming sacrifice, and with the immense charity that prompted Him to sacrifice Himself; their contemplation is most apt to excite our admiration, gratitude, contrition and love. For these reasons the Church proposes for our adoration the wounded Hands, Feet, and Side of our Lord, which bear the external signs of His sacrificial sufferings; and His Sacred Heart, which is the organ, of His inner and greater sufferings. Special motives invite to the worship of Christ's Heart; it is the source of the blood shed through the external wounds, and it was pierced in order to yield the last drop. Thus the heart is the kernel, the most intrinsic and noble part of the victim in Christ's sacrifice, and, at the same time, the altar on which the sacrifice was performed. Again, the heart is the material seat of inward sufferings and of the love from which these proceed, and it takes over all external sufferings; it is not indeed the principle of love and suffering, but the substratum in which love directly and sensibly manifests itself in the bodily organism. Hence the heart is also the altar on which the sacrifice is burnt, and the living organ of the loving dispositions which prompt the sacrificer to accomplish the sacrifice. In short, the Sacred Heart is the most perfect symbol of Christ's sacrificial Love, and it is an object of adoration because the Love which it symbolizes dwells in it substantially. See St. Thomas, 3, q. 25; Franzelin, thes. xlv.
Sect. 185. --The Human Sonship of Christ as assumed Sons/tip of the God Logos; and the corresponding Maternity as Divine Maternity.
I. Christ, and more particularly the Man Christ, is the Son of the Virgin Mary, so that, notwithstanding His Divine Origin, a human sonship must be attributed to Him. And inasmuch as on the part of Mary everything was done that nature requires of a human mother, the human sonship of Christ is natural. But it is supernatural also, inasmuch as it refers to no human father. If Christ is called the "Son of David," or of any other ancestor of the Virgin, the paternity of these patriarchs implies only that of their race came the matter of Christ's body; or, in a higher sense, that the Son of God was sent in answer to their desires, and in recompense of their faith in the promised Messias. Human sonship must be predicated of the Divine Person of the Logos as well as of the Man Christ: the Word Incarnate is the Son of Mary by maternal generation as truly and properly as any human person is son of his mother. This truth is evidently contained in the other, viz. that "Christ" is the Son of Mary. For Christ is the Incarnate Word, the Word made flesh, or the Man whose personality is that of the Logos; hence the Mother of Christ is the Mother of the Logos, and reciprocally the Logos is Son of Mary. That Mary is Mother of God (Greek; Deipara) has been dogmatically defined in the Council of Ephesus (can. ii.); in the sixth canon of the Fifth Council, and again in the third canon of the Lateran Council, A.D. 649. Holy Scripture nowhere uses the expression "Mother of God;" but its equivalent is found in the prophecy of Isaias, and in the words of the Annunciation, "that the Virgin should conceive and give birth to the Emmanuel (= God with us)" and to "the Son of God." Again, in Rom. i. 2, and Gal. iv. 4, and in the salutation of Elizabeth, "Whence is this that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Luke i. 43.)
The title "Mother of God," given to Mary long before the Council of Ephesus, sufficiently shows the tradition of the early Church.1 (1. See Newman, Difficulties of Anglicans, ii. p. 63). It is worthy of remark that those who have dropped this title from their Liturgy, or only used it with a kind of reserve, have by degrees lost the idea of the Divinity of Christ Himself. The Fathers often observe that the term Theotokos is dogmatically as important in the doctrine of the constitution of Christ, as the term Homoousios in the doctrine of the Trinity.
II. The terminus, or result of this maternal activity, may be considered as a child, or specially as a son. Considered as Child of Mary, Christ appears as the (Greek), the Man deified, of the Greek Fathers, or as "the Holy that shall be born of thee" in the message of the angel. Viewed as Son, that is, strictly as a Person, Christ appears as the (Greek), the God made Man, the Emmanuel of the prophecy.
I. As Child of Mary, Christ appears first and directly as man. But this Man is the fruit of generation, and is truly a child only inasmuch as He is a being independent of the mother, i.e. subsisting separately. Now the principle of His subsistence is Divine; therefore He is Child of Mary only because He subsists in a Divine person. Mary, then, is the Mother of a Divine Child, --of a Child personified by the Logos, --as really and truly as ordinary mothers are mothers of children informed by spiritual souls. Again, the maternal generation of Mary directly and formally went to produce a "Holy Child," in the same degree as ordinary maternal generation tends to produce an ordinary child. For, in the production of the child, the mother acts only in co-operation with the father, who, being the principal agent, determines and directs her activity. But the supernatural influence of God directed the maternal activity of Mary towards the union of the Logos with the flesh ministered by her; the direct and formal terminus of the Divine action being the personal (hypostatic) completion of the flesh, in the same way as the action of the natural father terminates in the union of a spiritual soul with the maternal flesh. Nay, in the Incarnation the Paternal influence excels the natural action of the father in this, that it is the efficient cause of the union of the flesh with its hypostatic Principle; and again in this, that here the union of the Logos with the flesh is logically prior to the infusion of the soul. In other words, in natural generation God creates the soul in order to complete the action of the father; in the Incarnation the Paternal action itself comprises the in- fusion of the personal Principle, and the flesh (or human nature) is formed in order to accomplish the previously intended Hypostatic Union.1 (1 The Scotists and Vasquez are quite wrong when they assign as terminus of the maternal activity of Mary the mere production of the human nature of Christ; that is, a mere man, who consequently becomes God-Man. Mary conceived a Divine Seed, whose direct and natural terminus was a Divine Child, so much so, that but for this object she would not have conceived at all.)
2. If we consider Christ as a Son given to His Mother by God, this Son is indeed first of all Eternal God and Eternal Son of God, but precisely as such He becomes directly and formally the terminus of Mary's maternal activity, even more so than a natural son. For here the God Logos Himself is the subject-matter of the maternal conception, inasmuch as He assumes flesh in and of His Mother, and inasmuch as the procreative action of the Mother is from the beginning, and uniquely intended to clothe the Logos with flesh. From this point of view Mary is directly and formally the Mother of the Divine Person of the Logos, because the Logos is the Holder of the flesh taken of her; and even in holding or assuming this flesh He asserts the full extent of His Personality or independence in existing. Whence the title "Mary Mother of the Word" (Mater Verbi] is fully justified: it points out the proper terminus of Mary's maternity, and correctly characterizes this maternity as "spiritual relation to a Person spiritual by essence."
The relation between Mary and Christ, viz. the maternity of Mary and the filiation of Christ, receives new light from the above explanations concerning the terminus of the Divine Maternity.
III. In what respect is Christ the Son of Mary? Some theologians reply: Inasmuch as He is man and born of Mary. This answer is at least incomplete, and certainly too shallow, for it considers Christ only as the fruit or the child of a human mother. The complete and only correct answer is, that Christ is the Son of Mary as Divine Person, or as Logos; He is the subject of filiation just as He is the subject assuming and possessing human nature. From this point of view, the human sonship of the Logos no longer implies a dependence on His Mother; it is a relation of reason, the foundation of which lies in the real possession of humanity by the Logos, and in its origin from Mary. Like other relations of God to creatures, it implies a real dependence of the creature on God: Mary is made Mother by the Logos, but the Logos is not made Son by Mary.
The relation between the two filiations or sonships of Christ clearly and fully appears in the above manner of considering His human filiation; by attributing both filiations to the same Divine Person as their immediate subject, they are at the same time sharply distinguished and harmoniously joined. They are sharply distinguished, inasmuch as the Divine Sonship alone is set forth as real relation (i.e. intrinsic and founded on His origin), whereas the human is only a relation of reason; they are harmoniously united, inasmuch as through this very distinction it is impossible to consider the human sonship as attribute of a second person or as complement of the Divine Sonship. For these and other reasons the princes of scholastic theology (St. Thomas, 3, q. 35, a. 4, 5; and St. Bonaventure, In. III., Dist. 8) have most strenuously upheld this doctrine, and the other great Schoolmen of the thirteenth century also seem to have adopted it.
IV. The fact that the Logos is really and truly the Son of Mary, confers upon the Mother the highest dignity to which a created person can attain, viz. a participation in the dignity of her Son. Fully to appreciate this feature of the Divine maternity, it is necessary to consider it from a twofold point of view: as founded upon the natural operations of the Mother, and as the work of the spiritual and free operation of the Son.
I. The natural operation of the Mother results in the production of the absolutely most perfect fruit that can be produced; it reaches the confines of the Godhead" by furnishing God with a new nature, whereas all other created activity reaches God only by knowledge and love; it is a co-operation with God's own internal activity, whereas the co-operation of other mothers in the production of the human soul by God, is only a co-operation with God's external creative activity. Hence the maternity of Mary is the highest ministry to which a creature can be elevated by God.
2. Again, the Mother of Christ is a relation by blood to Christ as man, and a "relation by affinity" to God Himself as pure Spirit. Man is related by affinity to persons who marry his blood relations, because such persons become morally or juridically one with the blood relations. Now, the humanity of Christ, related by blood to Mary, is united to the Logos more intimately than wife to husband; hence the affinity to God, contracted by Mary, is more intimate and perfect than any affinity among men.
The connection with God, based upon Mary's maternity, may also be conceived as an eminent and unique Divine filiation. Her title to a share in the good things of God, in His Life and Beatitude, is not merely owing to grace, as in the case of God's adopted sons: it arises from her substantial relations with the Divine Family. The "Seed of the Word of Truth," out of which the sons of adoption are born, is itself infused into Mary. The Fathers, from this point of view, speak of Mary as if (Greek) (the child of God), (Greek) and agna Dei (the little ewe-lamb of God), and as the only-beloved and only-begotten daughter of God. See Passaglia, De Immac. Conc. sect. vi. cap. iii. a. 5; and on the whole of this section, Franzelin, thes. xxxix.
Sect. 186. --The Divine Sonship of the Logos as the only true Sons hip of Christ, excluding Adoption and Human Sonship.
I. If the Divine Sonship of the Logos be considered not as a relation to God the Father, but as the constituent character of His personality, we must evidently attribute this Divine Sonship to Christ as man or to the Man Christ, because the personality of Christ is identical with the personality of the Logos: Christ is the Word Incarnate; the Word Incarnate is the true and only-begotten Son of God, hence Christ is the true Son of God. Christ considered as this particular man (ut hic homo) is the natural Son of God, and has the personal rank and character of Son of God, in the same way as natural man is the image of God, not only in as far as he has a spiritual soul, but also as this particular corporeal and animal being, whose personality is completed by a soul made to the image of God.
II. Sonship may also be considered as relation from person to person, viz. from son to father. From this point of view arises the question: Is Christ as man, or the Man Christ, Son of God? In other words, is the term Sonship applicable to that relation between Christ and God which is distinct from the eternal Sonship of the Logos, and from the sonship by grace of the just? It cannot be denied that Holy Scripture represents this relation as a sonship. Yet, on the other hand, it differs in four respects from the Eternal Sonship of the Logos: (1) It is not based upon the internal and eternal generations in the bosom of the Father, but on a temporal communication, ad extra, and on a gracious assumption into Divine union. (2) Christ as man is, by nature, inferior to the Father. (3) The principle and terminus of the relation of Christ as man to God, is not the Father as Father, but the whole Trinity, including the Logos. (4) The relation in question would remain unaltered if the incarnate Person were the Father or the Holy Ghost.
These considerations have led the Adoptionists to assert that Christ as man is not truly Son of God, but only an adopted Son; and many theologians build upon the same foundation a second Divine Sonship, analogous to the Sonship by grace.
III. The Adoptionists of the eighth century attributed natural Sonship to the Logos alone, the Man Christ being only son by adoption (filius adoptivus sive nuncupativus). Their doctrine, a badly disguised form of Nestorianism, was at once condemned by Pope Hadrian and the Council of Franfort (A.D. 792), defining that Christ as man (secundum humanitateni) is, by reason of His personality, which is the personality of the Word Incarnate, the true and natural, not the adopted, Son of God (Denzinger, Enchiridion, xxxii.). Adoption presupposes that the person to be adopted is not a son but a stranger to the adopting father; and, besides, adoption merely constitutes a moral, external union, entirely different from natural sonship: it rests entirely on an act of the will, whereby the adoptive father admits the adopted son to the rights and privileges of a natural son. Wherefore, Christ cannot be called the adopted Son of God, except it be supposed that He is not one Person with the Logos, or that the Logos, by assuming human nature, lost His natural Sonship and became something foreign to God. The first hypothesis is the Nestorian heresy of two persons in Christ. The second is evidently absurd. The fact that the Man Christ has no other personality but the personality of the Logos, prevents Him from having any sonship but that of the Logos: adoption is rendered impossible by His very essence of Word Incarnate. Holy Scripture attributes to the Man Christ all the predicates which belong to the Eternal Son, so much so that most of the proofs in favour of the eternal sonship of the Logos are deduced from these utterances (see Book II. Part II., especially § 93). Again, Christ is adorable, and He is the principle of the adoption of man, because He is the natural Son of God: an adopted son could neither claim Divine Worship nor confer Divine Sonship upon others.
IV. The Fathers often describe the Sonship of Christ as a work of grace and predestination, and some, even St. Cyril of Alexandria (Dial. III., De Trin.), apply to them the Greek equivalent for adopted son (Greek). Such expressions, however, present no difficulty if it be borne in mind that the grace by which Christ is made the Son of God, makes Him the natural Son of God, and excludes the very possibility of adoption. The Greek term for adoption, (shown) does not, like the Latin adoptare, imply the negation of natural sonship; it directly conveys the notion of "being constituted or installed as son," and, therefore, it may rightly be applied to the act of grace by which human nature was united to the Logos, and Christ made the Son of God. The frequent expressions to the effect that Christ was "assumed or admitted into Sonship," are but another way of presenting the same idea.
V. The Schoolmen of the Middle Ages constructed several systems of adoptionism free from heresy, yet incorrect as theological speculations. No "second Sonship" of Christ is admissible, according to the principle laid down by St. Thomas: "Terms used of a person in their proper and fullest sense (secundum perfectam rationem), cannot be applied to the same person in a figurative or imperfect sense (secundum rationem imperfectam). Thus Socrates, being termed 'man' in the full and proper sense of the word, cannot be called man in the improper sense in which a portrait is called man, though Socrates may bear in him the likeness of some other man. But Christ is the Son of God in the full and proper meaning of the term sonship or filiation; where- fore, although created and sanctified as man, He ought not to be called Son of God either by creation or by justification, but only by eternal generation, according to which He is Son of the Father alone" (3, q. 24, a. 3; see also Franzelin, thes. xxxviii.).
VI. The attempts to establish a second filiation in Christ, existing side by side with His eternal Sonship, are either heretical or confusing; they also fail to exhibit in its real light the organic connection between the Man Christ and God. Theologians have been so much bent upon finding analogies for this connection in the relation of natural filiation and of filiation by grace, that none of them has thought of another and far better analogy suggested by St. Paul (i Cor. vi. 17; cf. Gen. ii. 24). Christ as man stands to God in a relation similar to that of son-in-law, although the term son-in-law, because implying independent personality, cannot be applied to the Man Christ, Who is constituted a person by the personality of the Logos. The Greek Fathers also use this analogy--kinship by marriage --to illustrate the relations of sonship by grace, and the same is in their mind when they speak of Christ as the assumed or adopted Son of God. They represent the Hypostatic Union as a matrimonial union, accomplished in the original thalamus of Mary, between the Logos and the flesh, whereby the flesh is made * one spirit "with the Logos far more really than the soul sanctified by grace is made one Spirit with God (i Cor. vi. 1 6). From this point of view they see the human nature as a Bride, without, however, treating it as a hypostasis or quasi-hypostasis, for the notion of bride carries with it an idea of inferiority and dependency similar to the relation of a part to the whole. The function of the bride is passive: she is made a member of a whole whose head is the bridegroom; in the mystical marriage of the Logos with the flesh, this function is carried out with the highest perfection; for the union of the flesh with the Logos results in one physical Person, whereas bride and bride- groom remain physically distinct persons. If, then, we consider the human nature as virtually distinct from the Logos, and united to Him in bridal or matrimonial union, that relation of kinship arises which exists between a father and his daughter-in-law. Yet we cannot designate this affinity by terms denoting personality, e.g. bride, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, but must confine ourselves to impersonal expressions, e.g. Christ as man is the Lamb of God, the Flesh of God (caro Dei), and more strictly, a member under God as Head.
VII. From the above we infer that the relation of the Man Christ to God, if conceived as affinity by espousals --rather than as a second sonship different from the eternal Sonship of the Logos --does not endanger the Hypostatic Union, but formally presupposes it. Further, that this affinity, being real kinship, expresses the relation of Christ as man to God better than sonship by adoption or by grace alone. Again, this mode of considering it does away with the four difficulties mentioned above (n. II.). And lastly, it has the advantage of uniting in one beautiful organism the Eternal Sonship of the Logos and the kinship of Christ as man.
VIII. To sum up this exposition of the Sonship of Christ as man: there is but one Sonship in Christ, and that is the Eternal Sonship. This belongs to the Man Christ by redundancy, so that He participates in it, and so that through it and from it His own specific relation to God receives the form and character of a Sonship. Hence the two different relations of Christ to God as Logos and as Man --do not merely coexist side by side, but organically work together and into one another, so as to constitute the peculiar Sonship proper to Christ as man. The constitution of Christ being unique, His Sonship must be unique, and no perfect analogy for it can be sought for in heaven or on earth. It is neither the human sonship of a man, nor the Divine Sonship of God as God, but it is the Divine Sonship of a man. Hence the notion of generation, on which Divine and human sonship is founded, must be modified before it can be applied to the present case; the perfect similarity of nature which results from ordinary generation, becomes here an imperfect similarity of nature, but a perfect similarity of person.
IX. The peculiar character of the Divine Sonship in the Man Christ, as distinct from both the Eternal Sonship of the Logos and the adoptive Sonship of the just, is aptly expressed by the Scriptural name, (in Greek; Puer Dei, = the Boy or Childe of God, applied to Christ. So Matt. xii. 1 8, quoting Isa. xlii. I, after the Septuagint; Acts iii. 13, 26, and iv. 27, 30. The boy bears to his father the double relation of son and child. He is son because in him the person of the father is represented and reproduced; he is child because he is the yet immature product of both father and mother, and is, by reason of his incomplete development, like the mother, a member of the family subordinate to the father. These notions find an easy application in the "Childe" of God. The Man Christ is Son of the Eternal Father in as far as His Personal principle is a Person like unto the Father; He is Child of the Father by reason of the inferiority and impersonality of His human nature: He is a subordinate member of the Divine Family (filius familias). Instead, then, of two sonships in Christ, we have the double relation of Son and Child commingled in the "Boy" of the Father, arid both resulting from the same Divine act to which the Man Christ owes His origin. The New Testament but seldom uses the appellation (Greek); yet whenever the "Son" speaks of Himself as inferior to the Father, or as the object of the Father's loving care, as also in many texts relating to His origin and final glory, the "Son" is considered as "Child." At any rate these passages, thus understood, give an easy, harmonious, and beautiful sense, which is not brought out by the common interpretation, "that the Son of God is there considered as man or in the form of servant." The Childe of God" is "the Firstborn amongst many brethren" (Rom. viii. 29), viz. God's children by grace, of whom He is the Exemplar and the Head.
X. There is good reason to think that the meaning of the name "Lamb of God" is 'identical with that of (Greek) (Boy) of God. St. John uses this appellation much in the same way as the Prophets use the term "Bud of God." Its masculine form, (Greek), corresponds with (Greek), the boy; its neuter form, (Greek) with (Greek), the child. In sacred and even in profane language, the relations between shepherd and flock afford the standard illustrations of the filial or paternal relations between superiors and inferiors; kings and priests are "pastors" of flocks; the newly baptized infants are styled agni or agnelli (the little lambs) of God; God and Christ express their loving care and kindness to man by assuming the title of Shepherd, and mankind is then always represented as a flock of sheep and lambs. There is, then, the possibility that "Lamb of God" may be synonymous with Boy or Childe of God. That it really is so, is made probable by the following considerations. When the Baptist addressed Christ as Lamb of God, he used the Aramaic word Thaljoh ("young one"), which is applied to both lamb and child, and has been retained in the Syriac version of the Gospel. Now the words of the Baptist sound like an echo of the words of God the Father: "This is my beloved Son;" at all events, they have the same signification. Even granting that, in the words of John, Christ is pointed out as the perfect victim of the great redeeming sacrifice, it must still be conceded that the speaker bore in mind the intimate connection of Christ with God which made His sacrifice acceptable. Again, Christ is the Lamb of the Father, as we, the children by grace, are the lambs of Christ (John x. 14, 15). Isaias (xvi. l) calls the Lamb the Ruler of the earth; and in the Angelic Hymn (Gloria in excelsis) we read: "Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, who takest away the sins of the world," etc., whence it appears that the notion of victim is not the only one conveyed by the term "Lamb," but that it has also the sense of Lord and God.
Among the Fathers, Clement of Alexandria is the only one who draws attention to the connection between (Greek) and (Greek) as names of Christ (Paedagog., 1. I. c. 5) Toletus (in Joan i.) first made use of the exposition of Clement, and after Toletus only a few others. See Cornelius & Lapide, in Apoc. v. 7.
Sect. 187. --Christ as Creature; His Subordination to God.
I. The words of Christ, "I ascend to My Father and to your Father, to My God and to your God" (John xx. 17), imply a relation between Him and God analogous to the subordination of creatures to their Creator. The Man Christ is an external work of God, Who "created Him" (Is. xlv. 8), and "made Him (in Greek)" (Heb. iii. 2). He is, however, a creature only as to His human nature. And even in this respect He stands out above all other created beings: in His created nature subsists a Person increated, eternally begotten from and like to the Father.
II. The human nature of Christ being created, Christ as man is inferior and subject to God like other creatures. St. Thomas (3, q. 20, a. i) distinguishes in His human nature a threefold inferiority to God, forming the counterpart to the threefold equality which belongs to His Divine nature: (1) Christ as man is inferior to God in substantial and accidental perfection; (2) He is subject to the ruling power of God; and (3) bound to adore and serve God as His principle and final Object. Even when co-operating with the Divine Power, the human nature acts but as an instrument. Yet this threefold inferiority differs from the inferiority of mere creatures. The infinity of perfection, which is denied to Christ's humanity, is possessed by His Divine Personality; His subjection is not a subjection to an alien power, but to a Power which is His own as God; His service and ministry are given, not to a stranger, but to the Godhead of which He is a Person and whose supereminent dignity is His own. St. Paul beautifully describes this relation (i Cor. xi. 3) as the subordination of a member to the head of a family: "The head of every man is Christ, . . . and the head of Christ is God."
III. With those who possess correct notions of the nature and origin of Christ, the question in how far He can be styled "servant of God," is but a question of words. The term "servant" (slave, servus, [and in Greek]) used without restriction, implies exclusion from the position, dignity, and possessions of the Master: it would be heresy to apply it, in this sense, to Christ, Who is at the same time Servant of the Lord and Lord Himself. True, the Latin Vulgate in the Old Testament often calls the Messias servus Dei. But the Hebrew does not convey the idea of servitude implied by the Latin servus; it means a minister, one of the household of God, (in Greek): a true worshipper of God and executor of the Divine will. In a similar sense we call saints "servants of God."
Sect. 188. --Christ as Lord of all Things.
I. On account of His humanity, Christ is subordinate to the Creator; on the other hand, by virtue of His Divine Personality, He shares with the Creator the Lordship over all things. He is, with and next to God, our Lord and "the Lord of all " (Acts x. 36; Heb. L and ii.; Ps. viii. and cix.). St. Paul lays down and develops this point of faith in Heb. i. and ii. The reason he gives for the appointment of Christ as man to be heir of all things, is that by Him God "made the world;" that 'He is "the brightness of God's glory and the figure of His substance, upholding all things by the word of His power " (Heb. i. 2, 3; iii. 1-6. See also §183 on the Redundance of Divine Glory on Christ, and §176 on the Gratia unionis).
II. Christ's dominium (ownership, lordship) over all things springs from the identity of His Person with the Creator, and is therefore infinitely above any dominium which God may give to a mere creature. This Lordship embraces all things without exception, and extends to their innermost being. Unlike created sovereignty, it includes the right to turn to Christ's own service and glory all persons and things subjected to it, so that the final object of things is to minister to the glory of Christ as well as to the glory of God.
III. The title "King of kings and Lord of lords" (i Tim. vi. 15; Apoc. xvii. 14; xix. 16) is given equally to Christ and to God. It implies that the lordship of the world belongs to Christ purely and simply, and that His Lordship is the most perfect image and likeness of the Divine Sovereignty. The only difference is that the Sovereignty of God is "essentially" the source of all other sovereignty, whereas the Lordship of Christ is neither essentially nor as a matter of fact the source of all lordship; in other words, all lordship possessed and exercised in the name of God is not also "essentially, or from its very nature," held in the name of Christ. In all other respects the resemblance is most perfect: the Lord-ship of Christ eminently and virtually contains all other lordship; no other power can limit His Power, but every power must minister to His ends, submit to His will, and deal with the persons and things over which it rules, as being His property as well as the property of God. "All power is given to me in Heaven and on earth" (Matt, xxviii. 18; cf. Phil. ii. 9, 10).
IV. A question much debated among the Schoolmen is whether Christ formally possesses all the political power held by temporal rulers, and whether He is the real (formal) owner of all private property. As to political power, it is evident from John xviii. 38, "My kingdom is not of this world," that Christ is not the only and exclusive holder of such power. He never once claimed the exercise of political sovereignty to the exclusion of its natural holders. His "eminent" dominium, like the eminent dominium of God, is perfectly compatible with real ownership in creatures. Christ's universal Lordship being founded on His substantial and personal relation to the Creator, implies the right of disposing of all created powers and things according to His will: the "Lord of all" is not merely entitled to make things temporal subservient to the ends of His spiritual kingdom; He disposes of everything for what end He pleases. And yet His Sovereignty is not formally "political," because it does not include the will or the mandate to perform acts purely political. But it contains "supereminently" all political dominium of man, that is, Christ can dispose directly and freely of the possession and exercise of all human sovereignty, for He is King of kings and Lord of lords. See St. Thomas, 3, q. 59, a. 4, ad. I.
V. The principles laid down concerning Christ's political power, likewise apply to His dominium over private property and actions of individuals. Natural ownership is nowise impaired by Christ's overlordship: He who created property, also created the owner's title to hold it. Yet Christ's overlordship is not simply a right to dispose of things temporal for spiritual ends, after the manner of the right of society to dispose of individual property for the common good; it is a real and direct ownership, in virtue of which Christ can dispose of all property as He chooses. It differs, however, so much in its origin and exaltedness from what we call private ownership, that this appellation does not formally apply to it. As a matter of fact, Christ renounced the exercise of His dominium over private property and chose to be poor. The right itself He could not renounce, because it is connatural to His Divine Personality. See the commentaries of Suarez, Lugo, and the Salmanticanses on St. Thomas, 3, q. 22.
Sect. 189. --Christ as the Natural and Supernatural Head of all Creatures.
I. By His human origin Christ is like and akin to the sons of Adam; He is a member of the great human corporation (Heb. ii. 1 1 sqq.), and occupies a place in the created universe. But, by reason of His Divine Personality, He is "the image and likeness of God" to a degree unapproached by either man or angel. Moreover, men and angels and all things have been created "in," that is, "by and for" Him. He, then, "is the first-born of every creature . . . the head of the body" (Col. i. 15-17; cf. §183, III. 3). His superiority rests upon His belonging to a higher order than His brethren; whence He ranks above them as they rank above the animal and material creation, and not merely as a king ranks above his subjects.
II. The practical object of Christ's headship is not only to place the universe, and especially mankind, under a Divine king: it is the intention of God and the will of Christ that the Incarnation should establish between the First-born and His brethren a real kinship or affinity, Christ becoming the Head of the human family, and the human family acquiring a title to participate in the supernatural privileges of their Head. "When the fulness of time was come, God sent His Son, made of a woman, that we might receive the adoption of sons" (Gal. iv. 4, 5; cf. Rom. viii. 29). When, in the virginal womb of Mary, the Word espoused human flesh, all human flesh became akin to Him; all men acquired affinity to the Man-God and fellowship in His exalted privileges: "we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones" (Eph. v. 30). The idea that Christ by taking flesh " espoused " not only the Church, but all mankind, is often dwelt upon by the Fathers. See St. Augustine, In Joan., ar. I, ch. 2; St. Gregory the Great, Hom, xxxvii. in Ezechielem; St. Leo the Great, Sermo xvi. in Nativ.; St. Cyril of Alexandria, Comm. in Joan., i. 14, etc.
III. The name "Head," so frequently given by St. Paul to Christ, is, speaking strictly, but a figure of speech; but, like the name Christ, it has a dogmatic significance. The Apostle connects it with our Lord's Divinity; the Fathers and theologians with the plenitude of Holiness and Grace, of which He is the fountain. Christ is Head in the moral and in the physical sense: head of the human family, head of the mystical body, the Church. Both senses are used by St. Paul. "God hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings ... in Christ ... He hath graced us (Greek) in His beloved Son . . . that He might make known to us the mystery of His will ... to reestablish all things in Christ, which are in heaven and on earth, in Him. . . . Raising Him up from the dead and setting Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, above all principality, and power, and virtue, and dominion . . . and He hath put all things under His feet, and hath made Him head over all the Church, which is His body, and the fulness of Him who is filled all in all" (Eph. i. 3-23). "God hath quickened us together in Christ . . . and hath raised us up together, and hath made us sit together in the heavenly places through (Greek) Christ Jesus" (Eph. ii. 5, 6). "That we may in all things grow up in Him (Greek) Who is the head, Christ: from Whom the whole body being compacted and fitly joined together by what every joint supplieth, according to the operation in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in charity" (Eph. iv. 15, 1 6. See also Eph. ii. 19-21; v. 22 sqq.; Col. i. 13-20, 23, 24; ii. 8-10, 18, 19; i Cor. xii. 12).
Christ is the Head of mankind as man, yet not by reason of some accidental perfection or external appointment: He heads the race by reason of the substantial perfection imparted to Him through the Logos, just as the head --the seat of reason --is the noblest part of the body. Again, Christ's headship being founded upon His super- natural excellence, He is our "supersubstantial" Head, to whom all the properties and functions of the natural head belong in an eminently equivalent degree. Whatever dignity accrues to the bodily head from its being the seat of the soul's chief activity --whatever power of influencing, governing, and unifying the other members is possessed by the head --the same dignity and power belong to Christ as Head in relation to mankind. His Divine Principle works on man in general, and especially on the members of the Church, with a power more perfect than that of the soul in the individual man. "In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead corporally; and you are filled in Him who is the head of all principality and power" (Col. ii. 10; cf. Eph. i. 22, 23).
IV. Adam, the first head of mankind, was a type of the Second Head inasmuch as he was the principle of natural life, the intended transmitter of supernatural life; and, in this respect, he acted on behalf of the whole human race. But, whereas Adam is the earthly, animal, and guilty head of the race, Christ is its heavenly, spiritual, and substantially holy Head. Adam is the principle of the material unity of mankind; Christ is much more the principle of its spiritual unity. Adam was a precarious mediator of supernatural life; Christ is its essential and unchangeable mediator. Hence Christ not only supplements the failings of the first head, but completes and perfects the headship. The first head, then, was, as it were, the material root of the race which was to be incorporated in and brought to perfection by Christ, its real principle and final object (Greek). Cf. I Cor. xv. 45 sqq.; Peter Lomb., 3, dist 13; St. Thomas, 3, q. 8.
Sect. 190. --Christ the Substantial and Born Mediator between Man and God.
I. Christ's Headship over mankind appears in its brightest light in His office of mediator between God and man. The office of mediator in general supposes the mediating person to stand midway between two contending persons or parties. When the parties are of different rank, as God and man, the intermediate position requires rank below the higher and above the lower party. Such a position belongs to the "one mediator of God and man, the Man Christ" (i Tim. ii. 5) by reason of His essential constitution: as true man, He is below God; as the "Man Christ," He is above all creatures. As God, He is a Person distinct from the Person of the Father; as Man, He represents a Person virtually distinct from the Logos. The Mediator, further, must be connected with both parties. The Man Christ is consubstantial with man and with God: by His humanity He is the born Head of mankind; by His Divinity He is the Only-Begotten of the Father and like unto the Father. "The head of every man is Christ . . . and the head of Christ is God" (i Cor. xi. 3). His mediatorship, then, is not accidental or delegated: it arises naturally from His personal constitution, which also makes Him the only, the universal and perfect, mediator between man and God.
II. Christ's function as mediator necessarily proceeds from His human nature as principium quo operandi, yet it obtains its mediating efficacy from the Divine Nature, i.e. from the dignity of the acting Person. Its first object, as commonly stated, is the remission of sin and the granting of grace, whereby the friendship between God and man is restored. This object is attained by the worship of infinite value, which is offered to God by and through Christ. Christ, however, is mediator on the side of God as well as on the side of man: He reveals to man Divine truths and Divine commands; He distributes the Divine gifts of grace and rules the world. St. Paul sums up this two-sided mediation in the words, "Consider the apostle and high priest (pontificem; in Greek) of our confession, Jesus" (Heb. iii. i). Jesus is the Apostle sent by God to us, the High Priest leading us on to God.
III. The fact of Christ's existence is in itself a mediation, a bond, between the Creator and His creatures. By uniting our humanity to His Divinity, He united us to God and God to us. He is of God and in God, but He is also of us and in us. In Him we know, love, and worship God; God, on the other hand, pours out His supernatural gifts on the Head of our race, and through the Head on the members. A substantial --or, as the Fathers prefer to call it, a physical union is thus effected between man and God. "That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, in Me and I in Thee. ... I in them and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one" (John xvii. 21-22) St. Thomas, 3, q. 26.
b. the supernatural attributes of christ's humanity.
Sect. 191. --The "Grace of Union " the Ground of all other Privileges.
I. All supernatural privileges granted to creatures have their ground in a deification, that is, in a union with, and an assimilation to, God (2 Pet. i. 4). Sanctifying grace in general, and the grace of union especially, consist in a participation in the Divine Being. Sanctifying grace, however, is but an accidental assimilation and union with the Godhead, whereas the grace of union, viz. the unction and impregnation of a human nature with the Divine substance, must be termed a substantial deification, or a being Divine substantially: thus the being human of the body, grounded upon its impregnation with the soul, is a being human substantially. The "being Divine" (Greek) of Christ's humanity is not a "being God;" yet it is more than a "being of God;" it is a participation in the Divine Life and Being of the Logos. The Fathers describe it as pneumatic, spiritual, and celestial being (esse), analogous to the higher being imparted to the body by the soul. The being Divine of Christ's humanity includes a substantial participation in the glory and power proper to the Divinity or to the Divine Spirit. The specific glory and power of the Divine Spirit, as distinguished from the glory and power of created spirits, lies in His Holiness. Hence all participation, by union and assimilation, in the Divine glory, is considered as a consecration or sanctification, and especially the deification of Christ's humanity is set forth as a substantial sanctification. This term expresses the nature, the ground, and the effects of the deification.
II. In the same way as the effect of sanctifying grace on the soul is to give it a holy being, the effect of the grace of union is to give to Christ's humanity a holy being; humanity, with this difference, however, that the soul is but enriched with an accidental quality. The humanity of Christ, on the contrary, is sanctified substantially: not any created quality, but the Substance of the Logos impregnates and pervades it with its own infinite sanctity, and to the utmost of its communicability. The sanctity here in question is the objective sanctity of the Divine Substance, viz. the exaltedness of God founded upon His most pure, infinite, immutable perfection. This Divine Excellence communicates itself, in various degrees, to all things of which God takes possession or sanctifies by His indwelling; the communication attains its highest degree --perfection pure and simple --in the Hypostatic Union. Here the Divine Perfection becomes, through supernatural information (insubsistence), the perfection of Christ's humanity. That created grace, which as an accident inhering in the substance of the soul operates in an imperfect manner, is here brought to the highest possible perfection by the Godhead inhering substantially in the humanity of Christ. The grace of union makes the deified humanity infinitely more pleasing to God and worshipful to man than sanctifying grace does in the souls of the just. The excellence conferred by the grace of union cannot be lost; it excludes all, even the slightest, sins; it secures the possession of all that is necessary to lead the most perfect life, and is in itself a title to the Beatific Vision.
III. The humanity of Christ is deified by the inexistence of the Logos substantially and directly. Other supernatural and Divine privileges, however, being of the nature of accidental qualities, cannot be communicated directly by the inexistence of another substance: their production is due to the assimilating action of the Divinity on the favoured person. The humanity of Christ, then, like other creatures, receives its qualitative sanctity --as distinguished from substantial holiness --through the assimilating influence of the Logos. The influence, however, of the Logos on His own human nature is eminently superior to that of any other creature. The assimilating Principle is immanent in Christ, is part of His substance, and pervades His human nature as fire pervades red-hot iron. By this union Christ's humanity has a natural right to, and possesses radically and virtually, the highest degree of assimilation to God of which it is capable. By nature, and from the beginning, it possessed not only its spiritual likeness to God and the sanctity of the soul implied therein, but also the immortality of the body, and a participation, though limited, in the Divine omnipresence: the indwelling Divine Power could preserve the body from death, and endow it with spiritual existence. It cannot, however, be said that, from the beginning, the humanity of Christ necessarily possessed the "fulness" of all the privileges rooted in the Hypostatic Union. Its qualitative sanctity is the work of God's free will, and could therefore be dispensed by degrees. Nor does the dignity of Christ require, with moral necessity, the immediate possession of the plenitude of His privileges; He can, without lowering His dignity, renounce His "external" glory and beatitude for a time. As a matter of fact, Christ's humanity began its spiritual and Divine Life at the moment of the union, whereas the transfiguration of its bodily life was not completed till later.
IV. The Logos animates His humanity after the manner in which the human soul animates the body. Yet, although He acts as a substantial form on matter, He is not the substantial form of His human nature. This would derogate from the integrity of both the Divine and the human natures. The informing action consists in actively influencing, by transfiguration, elevation, and extension (enrichment), the natural Life-power of the lower nature, thus producing assimilation. The power of assimilation is far greater in the Logos than in the soul of man. The soul cannot assimilate to itself the material body, nor is the soul the direct object of the bodily life. The Logos, on the contrary, can and does give a deified being to His human nature, and Himself is the direct object of its spiritual life. As He is the personal Principle of His humanity, that which in man is self-knowledge and self- love, in Christ is knowledge and love of God. All acts of consciousness in Christ's soul are founded upon, and centre in, this living union with the Divinity. The heavenly type of His Life is the community of life between the Father and the Son in the Blessed Trinity. See Franzelin, thes. xli.
Sect. 192. --The Fulness of the Supernatural Perfection of the Spiritual Life of Christ's Humanity --Fulness of Created Grace.
I. Although the Hypostatic Union did not destroy the essential likeness of Christ's human nature to ours, it none the less freed the united nature from all spiritual imperfections. Christ's lowliness, which is necessary for the ends of the Incarnation, extends to external appearances and internal passibility, but by no means to spiritual imperfection. The twelfth canon of the Fifth General Council lays down as a dogma, against Theodore of Mopsuestia, that Christ's spiritual perfection was not gradually developed from a state of imperfection like ours, and by a similar process. The same doctrine is stated with more detail in the Confessio Leporii (Hardouin, i. p. 1267). The body of Christ was indeed subject to natural growth, and He submitted to this in order to show His true humanity, and to set us an example of spiritual progress. Yet this only requires that the external manifestation of internal perfection should keep pace with the natural development of His bodily life. The imperfections of this latter, when accepted freely and for a good end, are neither dishonourable nor useless; whereas imperfections in the spiritual order never can be either honourable or useful. In Christ such spiritual shortcomings would be a degradation of His Divine Person, and opposed to the ends of the Incarnation.
The scriptural texts which insist upon Christ's likeness to us in all things, if read in the context, only refer to His external lowliness and passibility. "Christ, being in the form of God . . . debased (Greek) Himself," etc. (Phil. ii. 6, 7; see also Heb. ii. 17, 18, and iv. 15, and context).
II. Holy Scripture describes the perfection of Christ's humanity as complete from the beginning: as given, ipso facto, with the Hypostatic Union. Christ, on the one hand, appears as full of grace and truth and wisdom; on the other, as the model and fountain-head of all spiritual perfection in creatures. He is the Vine of which we are the branches, the Head of which we are the body. As mediator between God and man, He receives from God the fulness of perfection, and communicates perfection to man. As to the measure of His created perfection, the Fathers at least since the Nestorian heresy and the Schoolmen without exception, hold that in intension and extension it surpasses the perfection of all creatures. "And the word was made flesh . . . and we saw His glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, . . . and of His fulness we all have received, and grace for grace" (John i. 14-16; cf. iii. 34, 35). "He is the head of the body, the Church; Who is the Beginning, the First-born from the dead; that in all things He might hold the primacy: because in Him it has well pleased (the Father) that all fulness should dwell . . ." (Col. i. 18 sqq.). "In Whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge ... for in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead corporally, and you are filled in Him Who is the head of all principality and power" (Col. ii. 3, 9, 10). In presence of these dogmatic utterances, the historical text, "Jesus advanced (Greek) in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and man" (Luke ii. 52), must be understood of the external manifestation of wisdom and grace, such as would be noticed by the historian. The Fifth Council has defined this against Theodore of Mopsuestia.
III. Like the spiritual perfection of other creatures, the perfection of the soul of Christ is due to created grace, which perfects its substance after the manner of an accidental vital quality. Such grace was not required in order to make the soul of Christ holy in itself, pleasing to God, and worthy of eternal life; in fact, it is not so much a grace as a dowry due to the soul of the natural Son of God. It was only required in order that His exalted dignity should be fully endowed with all Divine gifts, should possess the principle of a life perfectly holy, and thus exhibit to God a perfect Divine likeness, and to man a perfect model of sanctity. The uncreated grace of union gives the soul of Christ right and power to hold all the supernatural perfections of its life; yet directly and effectively this perfect life is infused through grace created by the Divinity. Both ought always to be considered as organically connected.
IV. The created grace of Christ is of the same nature as that given to men and angels, and is accompanied by all the gifts ordinarily connected with sanctifying grace, viz. the theological virtues which accomplish the supernatural living union with God, and the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, as expressly foretold by Isaias (xi. 2). From the theological virtues, however, must be excluded the obscurity of the faith, and also hope, so far as it is the unfulfilled desire of the Beatific vision. Again, among the gifts of the Holy Ghost, Fear must be taken in the sense of Reverence. Besides these ordinary graces, Christ possesses the extraordinary ones gratuitously given (gratis data) to the sons of adoption, either for their personal distinction, or for the good of others, e.g. the gift of prophecy and of miracles. The Holy Spirit, from Whom these extraordinary graces come, being the own Spirit of Christ, Christ possesses them as a natural endowment, whereas in the Saints they are but externally, and more or less accidentally, connected with sanctifying grace.
V. The created grace of Christ cannot be properly infinite, because it is created. Yet it possesses a threefold infinity, which may aptly be described as comparative, moral, and virtual infinity. In the existing order of things, the measure of grace given to Christ is such that, compared to all other graces given to creatures, it surpasses them all beyond comprehension, and no greater measure of grace can be conceived. Again, considered in its organic unity with the grace of union, the created grace of Christ gives to all His actions an infinite moral value, and makes His soul the source from which an infinite number of subjects draw sanctification. In short, created grace in Christ is infinite as possessing infinite moral excellence and infinite power.
VI. Any increase in perfection is impossible in Christ: from the first moment of the Incarnation His perfection was consummata, i.e. brought to the highest possible degree. See St. Thomas, 3, q. 7; and on the text; Luke ii. 52, see De Lugo, De Verbo Incarnate, disp. xxi. § 1, and Franzelin, thes. xlii.
Sect. 193.--Mental Perfection of the Soul of Christ --Fulness of Wisdom and Truth --Vision of God.
I. The integrity of Christ's human nature postulates intellectual cognition by acts of the human intellect. The "Man Christ" is indeed wise by the wisdom of God; yet "the humanity of Christ" knows by its own mental act, not by the act of the Divine nature. All theologians, excepting Hugo of St. Victor, teach that the soul of Christ is elevated to participation in the Divine Wisdom by an infusion of Divine Light --in the same way as other creatures.
II. The Light infused into Christ's soul was given all Christ's at once, as in the case of Adam and of the Angels. So Holy Writ expressly teaches: "Coming into the world, He saith: Sacrifice and oblation Thou wouldest not, but a body Thou hast fitted to me . . . then I said: Behold I come . . . that I should do Thy will, O God" (Heb. x. 5-7).
St. Jerome explains in the same sense (Jer. xxxi. 22): "A woman shall compass a man." Christ was a new creation more than Adam and the Angels, and, like them, was made perfect from the beginning. The Divine excellence of His Person required, from the beginning, the consciousness of His dignity; and He would not be the Head of all creations if some creatures at any time surpassed Him in mental perfection.
III. The Light shed on Christ's intellect by the Logos made it the most perfect image of the Divine Wisdom and Omniscience. Its knowledge embraced God, the universe and its laws, the past, the present, and the future. Such is the sense of John iii. 34: "He Whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God, for God doth not give the Spirit by measure (Greek);" cf. Isa. xi. 2, "The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of Wisdom," etc. (see preceding section, n. II.). Knowledge of such perfection was due to the Soul of the Eternal Wisdom, to the Head of all intellectual creatures. Christ manifested it on earth by revealing the secret thoughts of men, and by foretelling future events (Luke v. 7, 8; John xiii. II; ii. 24, 25, etc.). Christ's knowledge excludes all and every error and ignorance of fact. Yet it is not infinite. Its limit, however, is only to be found in the "Possibilia," viz. in the domain of things which are possible to God's Omnipotence, but are never to be realized: the Divine ideas already realized, or still to be realized, cannot be unknown to the Head of the universe. Nescience of these latter in Christ would amount to positive ignorance, like the ignorance of law in a judge.
The difficulty from Mark xiii. 32 admits of solution. The Son has no knowledge of the day of judgment which He may communicate, or any knowledge having its source in His human intellect
IV. The theologians of, at least, the last six centuries, unanimously teach that the fulness of knowledge in the soul of Christ resides in His original and immediate vision of God. The vision of God assimilates to God (deifies) all those who enjoy it: it deifies the soul of Christ to a degree as far superior to any other as the grace of Christ is superior to any other grace.
The fulness of truth and the completeness or consummation of His grace, require that Christ should possess the vision of God. Any knowledge of God inferior to immediate vision is imperfect and unworthy of Christ (i Cor. xiii. 9-12). Christ is an eye-witness of things Divine, which the Prophets only knew by revelation (John i. 18; iii. 31, 32). He says of Himself: "Amen, amen, I say to thee, We speak what we know, and testify what we have seen" (John iii. 1 1 sqq.) The reason He gives for "having seen" what He testifies, is that He ascended into heaven, which refers to His humanity taken up in the Divinity. Again, Christ's frequent assertion that He knows the Father and is known by Him, and that He knows what the Father knows, admits of no satisfactory explanation if not understood of the Beatific Vision. Christ's soul certainly was conscious of its union with the Logos, Whom it knew with perfect, that is, intuitive science; and such science is identical with the Beatific Vision.
It is difficult to reconcile Christ's life and sufferings on earth with the beatitude demanded by the immediate vision of God. Yet this difficulty has not induced theologians to give up the doctrine in question: their unanimous consent, in spite of the difficulty, is a strong proof of the solidity of the doctrine. The only solution they offer is to the effect that in this greatest of mysteries --the union of the Highest with the lowest in one Person --minor miracles are to be expected as natural concomitants.
V. Although the knowledge possessed by Christ's human soul in the Beatific Vision comprises eminently all other kinds and degrees of knowledge, it is almost universally admitted that God infused into it a knowledge similar in kind to that of the Angels. The subject-matter of this infused science was the things outside of God, natural and supernatural. These were known in the most perfect manner, intuitively, and, according to some divines, even comprehensively. The existence, however, of infused science in Christ is less certain than His original and continual fruition of the vision of God. It is attributed to Christ on theological grounds only, viz. His soul, the first and most perfect of created Spirits, cannot be deprived of any perfection enjoyed by lower spirits. Besides, a created intellect is simply perfect only when, besides the vision of things in God, it has a vision of things in themselves. God sees all things in Himself comprehensively. Not so the blessed spirits; for these, then, there remains room for another kind of knowledge, and it is meet that Christ should have possessed it. Besides the Divine and the Angelic science, most theologians admit a "science infused per accidens" similar to that given to our first parents. See, however, St. Thomas, 3, q. I, a. 2; and on this whole section, 3, qq. 8-12: 15, a. 2.
Sect. 194. --Holiness of the Human Will of Christ.
I. As the outpouring of grace on the human intellect of Christ filled it from the beginning with heavenly light, so the effusion of grace on His human will filled this with heavenly warmth, i.e. with supernatural power and inclination to all that is morally good, and especially with the sublimest and most ardent love of God, immensely above that of all Saints and Angels. His exalted Holiness was complete from the first: not subject to increase, or change, or loss, or interruption. Such is the perfection of the holiness which the Saints acquire through the Beatific Vision; to the soul of Christ the highest degree of the same moral perfection is natural. For the plenitude of all grace (gratia consummata) belongs to it by reason of its substantial union with the Logos: in fact, its Holiness is but the Holiness of a Divine Person in His human nature. Again, the love of self, the most natural of all tendencies, is, in the soul of Christ, the love of God --the love of the Logos for Himself. And as all holiness or moral perfection resolves itself into love of God, it follows that holiness in Christ is not dependent on acts of His free will, but is as necessary and natural as the act by which He loves Himself. All the holy actions of His soul were but maniestations of the natural love which God the Son bears to God the Father.
II. Christ's holiness shines forth most conspicuously in His sinlessness and impeccability. He is "a high-priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners" (Heb. vii. 26; cf. ix. 14, and iv. 15). He is the "Holy" born of the Holy Ghost, without original sin (Luke i. 35). Holy Scripture repeatedly asserts the fact that Christ is without sin, but it nowhere distinctly sets forth His impeccability or inability to commit sin. Tradition, however, is unanimous on this point, which was settled when the Sixth General Council (Third of Constantinople) defined that the human will of Christ cannot be opposed to His Divine will. Christ cannot sin, because He is God. All His actions are the actions of a Divine Person. The Logos controls all the motions of His human soul: to permit a sin in it would be tantamount to committing sin Himself. Again, the soul of Christ has no independent self; it cannot be conceived as acting away from God: hence it lacks the first condition of sin. It also lacks the fundamental form of all sin, viz. love of self as opposed to love of God, for in Christ self-love is Divine Love. These considerations show that Christ's impeccability is a "metaphysical impossibility to commit sin," more perfect, therefore, than the physical impossibility to sin granted by the Beatific Vision, or the moral impossibility granted in this life to Saints "confirmed in grace." Although Christ's impeccability is grounded on the Hypostatic Union, it is worked or brought about by means of the fulness of His grace.
III. As Christ cannot commit sin, He cannot be tempted from within. When Scripture speaks of the temptations of Christ, it deals with external occasions of practising some virtue, e.g, patience; or with challenges to sin which were temptations only in the mind of those who proposed them.
IV. The perfection of the human will of Christ may be summed up in its conformity with the Divine will: Christ wills all things that God wills and wishes Him to will; and Christ wills them because such is the will of God: "I do always the things that please Him" (John viii. 29). In technical terms, the will of Christ is materially and formally conform to the will of God. The ground of this conformity lies in this, that the two wills belong to the same Person Who effectively rules His human by His Divine will. Then His Self-love implies Love of the Divine Person and pleasure in all the dispositions of the Divine will. As the will of the Logos is conform to that of the Father by identity, so the human will of the Son of God is conform to the same by filial submission. See St. Bonaventure, in 3, dist. 17, a. i, q. 3.
V. Not only actual sin, but all moral imperfection, and whatever may imply a moral stain, is incompatible with the Holiness of Christ. For this reason alone original sin could not have touched Him, even if He had not been exempted from it by His supernatural origin. The exclusion of original sin from Christ, in the sense of the Church, implies the exclusion of all its evil consequences, the full possession of original justice, and especially freedom from the law of concupiscence (fomes peccati). See St. Thomas, 3. q. 15.
Sect. 195. --Free Will of Christ.
I The Holiness which excludes all possibility of sinning, does not extinguish or prevent the exercise of Christ's moral liberty. The power of sinning or of performing imperfect actions, is not essential to the notion of free will. The freedom of the will is the more perfect the more the will is inclined to and fixed upon what is morally good.
The exercise of Christ's free will is, however, essentially distinct from that of creatures here on earth (in statu viae). Creatures exercise their free will in order to acquire, by independent choice, that stability in holiness which is not granted to them by nature: a loving union with God is the fruit and the reward of their exertions. Christ, on the contrary, being by reason of His constitution united to God from the first, can only exercise His free will in order to manifest, ad extra, His perfect union with God. The fruit of His actions is the glorification of God and the Atonement for the sins of the world. Their reward consists partly in the final acquisition of the external glory and dominion which were suspended during His life here on earth, and partly in the reunion of mankind with God. Christ's human will, then, is like His Divine will in this, that the moral perfection of neither depends on the exercise of freedom. The two wills are also alike in this, that their moral perfection, though not freely acquired, is their own, and is honourable to them, much more than freely acquired perfection is honourable to creatures. For the moral value of acts of the will is derived from the goodness of their object: an act performed with knowledge of and complacency in a good object, is a good act, whether it be free or not. In technical language, essential liberty gives moral value to acts of the will, even when the will lacks the power of choosing between acting and not acting. Christ possesses holiness by reason of His personal constitution, and therefore in a more perfect manner than creatures, who acquire it by exercising free will.
II. The essential difference between Christ's free will and that of mere creatures does not interfere with His capacity for performing meritorious acts. The Council of Trent (sess. vi. ch. 7) lays down that Christ "merited" our justification. But the notion of merit essentially requires the meritorious action to originate in the agent's free choice, and to be intended for the benefit of him who is to reward it. External compulsion and internal necessity are incompatible with merit. The fact of Christ's freedom from compulsion or internal necessity as regards the work of Redemption, is clearly set forth in Scripture: "I lay down My life for My sheep. . . . Therefore doth the Father love Me because I lay down My life, that I may take it again. No man taketh it away from Me, but I lay it down of myself: and I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. This commandment I have received from My Father" (John x. 15-18; cf. Is. liii. 7, and Heb. xii. 2).
III. We have now to explain, as far as possible, how the freedom of will displayed in Christ's meritorious actions is consistent with His Holiness. In consequence of the Beatific Vision, the Love of God is not free, but natural to Christ, whence it would seem that all His actions performed for the Love of God are likewise not free, but a natural and necessary consequence of His union with God. Again, His impeccability seems to imply an intrinsic necessity for carrying out at least all Divine commandments. Lastly, the perfect conformity of His human will with the Divine will seems to make it impossible for Him not to perform even such good actions as are not strictly commanded by God.
I. All theologians admit that Christ's love of God is not free. How, then, can actions inspired by this necessary love be free and meritorious? Many authors of great weight suggest that, besides the act of love included in the Beatific Vision, other acts of love exist in Christ, regulated by infused science, and therefore free, like the acts of creatures here on earth. St. Thomas (De Verit., q. 29, a. 6, ad. 6) sees no difficulty in taking as principle of merit the same act by which Christ loves God necessarily. The act of Beatific Vision, according to the Saint, was at the same time, in Christ, an act of the wayfarer (viatoris), inasmuch as His Beatific Love moved Him to will and to accomplish freely and willingly, during His mission on earth, the things ordained by God, and thus to gather merit for Himself and others. In fact, it appears quite possible that Christ's Love of God, although itself necessary, gives to the free acts of His humanity their highest moral perfection by investing them with its own moral excellence, which is independent of freedom.
2. Christ cannot sin: He cannot break the Divine commandments. How, then, does He keep them freely, and merit by so keeping them?
The precepts of the natural law, especially affirmative precepts, are vague and undetermined as to the time and circumstances: they leave a wide field for the exercise of free will, even if the will is irresistibly bent on keeping the whole law. Positive commandments --if we admit that any such were binding upon Christ --are more clearly defined than natural laws. Yet even here there is room for the use of free will. Christ could freely fulfil, e.g., the mandate of redeeming us by His death on the cross, by willing His death not as something commanded and inevitable, but by showing Himself ready to die simply because it was the Divine will and pleasure, or because of some other holy motive.
As regards the mandate of Redemption by death, the majority of modern theologians deny its strict obligatory character. The personal dignity and the perfect sanctity of Christ exclude the idea of a commandment so humiliating and so harsh. The Fathers give such a wide meaning to the mandate (Greek), that they apply it even to Christ's Divinity. Scripture uses the term to signify not only mandate, but sometimes not more than permission or leave to do something. St. Anselm (Med. xi. c. 5) sums up the question thus: "Human nature in this Man suffered nothing from any necessity, but solely from free choice . . . no obedience compelled Him; He was led by His wisdom and power. God did not compel Him to die, but He did freely and willingly (sponte) what He knew to be pleasing to the Father and profitable to man. And, as the Father gave Him this good will, although free, we can rightly say that He received it as a precept from the Father." (Cf. St. Anselm, Cur Deus Homo, 1. i. cc. 9, 10.)
3. The above solutions do not meet the difficulty arising from the fact that, because of His Holiness, Christ infallibly fulfilled all God's wishes as well as orders, and that these Divine wishes and ordinances, which extended to every detail of His life, were known to Him. (Cf. Matt. xxvi. 54.)
This very serious difficulty has no better solution than that proposed by the school of St. Thomas. If the will of Christ, independently of the wishes, ordinances, and fore- knowledge of God, had the physical power to omit an action, then He retains this same power when under the influence of the said wishes and ordinances; for these do not alter Him intrinsically. It lies in the nature of Divine ordinances addressed to a free will to appeal to its freedom of action, just as the Divine prescience of free actions presupposes their freedom. The external circumstances under consideration cause the free decision to take place without fail. The result, however, is not due to a restriction of the natural power of the will. It is due to the fulness of its perfection which enables it to tend to whatever is good, without being liable to misdirect its choice; or to the readiness of Christ's most holy will always to conform to the will of God. The certainty that a given choice will be made is not sufficient, by itself, to destroy the intrinsic liberty of the choice; to destroy liberty, the certainty of the choice must be caused by intrinsic impossibility to act otherwise. But does not Christ's knowledge of God's will and foreknowledge impose upon His will an antecedent moral necessity to conform to them? It does so, in fact; yet this moral necessity is not such as to impair the freedom required for meritorious actions: it is not an inner moral necessity, such as would lay the will under the irresistible influence of some good, and induce it to act without choice. The impossibility for Christ to act against God's decrees known to Him must be put on a par with the impossibility for us to act against God's decrees unknown to us: neither impossibility affects the choice of free will.
IV. Christ's human will is the will of God-Man: its free operations are unlike those of mere human wills; they are theandric" or divino-human operations reflecting the peculiarities of the Divine freedom. Holy Scripture at one time speaks of the Son Whom the Father has sent into the world, Who executes the Paternal mandate, and in all things does what pleases the Father; at another time it speaks of the Son equal to the Father, freely debasing Himself to the rank of servant and to a shameful death; again, it represents Him as the good Shepherd, who, having power over life and death, freely chooses to die for His flock. In all this we see the human will of Christ in organic union with the Divine will as in the Logos. The two wills aim at the same objects, and the human will is set forth as acting in union with the Father, and with the same dignity and power as the will of God the Son. An example of the harmonious and organic co-operation of the two wills is given in Phil. ii. 6, 7: " Who (Christ) being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal to God, but debased Himself, taking the form of a servant," etc. Here the act of the Logos taking the form of man is necessarily an act of His Divine will, whereas the subsequent humiliation unto death is primarily the act of His human will. The human will of Christ is as infallibly conformed to His Divine will as this is conformed to the will of the Father through identity of essence. The conformity in both cases results from inspiration and love, rather than from command; in the human will it is a kind . of filial submission to the Divine. The obedience of Christ, upon which the Apostle insists, viz. His works in the form of servant were not, as in other creatures, a natural duty towards God, but only claimed by God as a free service of love: such burthens and sacrifices could not be due by Christ because of His innocence, nor could they be imposed on Him without impairing His dignity as Lord of all things. With us merit is acquired by giving to God either what He exacts or might exact from us by right; Christ merits by freely renouncing His rights for the love of God. We pay the lawful tribute of our servitude; Christ freely submits to a servitude not intended for Him (cf. Heb. x. i. sqq.; v. 7 sqq. For this reason the time for meriting ceased with the earthly life of Christ: in His glory He cannot offer the services of a servant. See St. Thomas, 3, q. 1 8; Franzelin, thes. xliv.
Sect. 196. --Value of Christ's Actions as Acts of Worship.
I. Theologians distinguish a threefold value in every good work: (a) the "substantial" or essential value arising from its own intrinsic goodness; (b) an "accidental" value accruing to it from the accidental holiness of the agent; and (c) a "personal" value derived from the personal dignity of the same agent. Each and all of the works of Christ were performed in the service of God, directly tending to His honour and glory; they proceeded from the fountain-head of all holiness; and they were the actions of a Divine Person. They were, therefore, the best of works, done with the highest amount of Divine Love, and by the most excellent Being. The infinite worth of their author communicates itself to the works of Christ and gives them infinite value (see § 145, II.).
Closely connected with, yet distinct from, the value of Christ's actions, is their efficacy for merit and atonement. This value and efficacy are related as cause and effect The intrinsic value of an action may be compared to the intrinsic value of a coin; its efficacy to the coin's value as money. The Church uses the term valor to express both the intrinsic and the effective value of the Redeemer's actions.
II. The intrinsic value of moral actions is determined by their relation to the final object of all morality: the honour and glory of God. The character and the measure of the honour and glory of God arising out of an action (obsequium Deo praestitum) determine the action's intrinsic value. The moral works of Christ, owing to His personal excellence, give to God an honour quite unique in its kind and exaltedness. The acting principle (principium quod), the Man Christ, is a Divine Person subsisting in a human nature. The principle by which (principium quo) the actions are performed is a human nature united to, and, as it were) animated by the Divine Person, whose organ it is. But the greatness of honour rendered is commensurate with the dignity of the person who renders it. Again, the essence of giving honour consists in the submission of self to the person honoured. Hence, if we consider Christ as the honour-giving Subject, we find that the honour He gives acquires a peculiar excellence from the dignity of the Personal Principle who, in His human nature, submits Himself to God. Lastly, Christ is not only the principle and the subject, but also the subject-matter of His honorific actions. The worship of God --if not also other honorific actions --is a reflexive act: its principle and subject offers and subjects itself to God as a tribute of honour. Now, as a rule, the value of the tribute measures the greatness of the honour intended to be conferred: hence the worship of Christ, offering and subjecting Himself to the Father, is of unique, viz. of Divine value.
The specific value of Christ's worship is most manifest from this last point of view, especially in His abasement and in His death. By His voluntary abasement He renounced the exercise of His rights of Lord of all things, and offered to God a sacrifice immensely superior to the affective sacrifice by which a creature offers to God that which already is God's own. By His death He renounced and sacrificed His own Self. To sum up --the formal reason of the specific value of the actions of the Man Christ, as distinguished from those of other men, is best expressed thus: The adequate principle of Christ's actions is a Man who, even as Man, is, owing to His anointment, vested with Divine glory and holiness, and possesses the rank and character of Lord and of natural Son of God.
III. The influence of the Hypostatic Union on the actions of Christ gives them infinite value, in the same manner as it gives infinite dignity to His Body. Their value is not only relatively or comparatively, but absolutely infinite, viz. not only does it surpass any given value, or the value of all other moral actions put together, but it is equal to the infinite glory and holiness which entitle the Man Christ to Divine Worship or Adoration. Their infinitude, then, consists primarily in this, that they adequately contain the full honour to which the Divine Majesty is entitled. Hence their value cannot be equalled by the value of all actual and possible good actions of mere creatures. Especially the honour which Christ gives to God by humbling Himself is at least equivalent to all the dishonour to God arising from the sins, real and possible, of creatures.
The subtle difficulties adduced by Scotists and Nominalists against the infinite value of Christ's actions fall to the ground if the nature of that infinitude be well kept in mind. It is a participation in the "value for honour" (= honour-value) essential to Divine acts, in the same way as Christ's adorability is a participation in Divine Dignity. St. Thomas, 3, q. I, a. 2; Franzelin, thes. xlvii.
Sect. 197.--Meritoriousness of Christ s Human Actions.
I. The human actions of Christ, in addition to their eminent power for giving honour and glory to God, possess that peculiar efficacy which, in the wayfaring state (in statu viae), gives the doer of good a claim to supernatural advantages. This efficacy is "impetratory," inasmuch as impetration (patrando obtinere) connotes successful striving after a thing or fulfilment of a desire. The term "impetratory," however, does not sufficiently point out that the success of the striving or wishing is consequence and fruit of the successful action itself. In order to express the congruency or necessity of granting to the author of moral tending or acting the good he wishes to acquire, and to grant it on the ground of the worth (worthiness) he displays in his moral action, we must describe the efficacy in question as "impetratory and meritorious." Each term connotes a particular form of efficacy; impetration points to wishing and praying; merit to actual work in the service of God. Taken in organic connections, the two terms set forth all intermediate forms or means of efficacious striving after supernatural goods.
Later Schoolmen speak of the "moral" efficacy of Christ's actions, inasmuch as they appeal to the will of another, and as they imply "moral worth" on the part of their Author. But the worth of the doer of good does not, by itself, imply the success of his actions. The notion of a right or title to success must be added. "Moral and juridical, or ethico-juridical efficacy," is the adequate expression. The title to success may lie in the acceptance or ratification by God, as in the prayers of Saints; or it may lie in the action itself, as in the case of Christ, whose acts, from their very nature, possess infallible efficacy: for in these the human will works with Divine power.
II. 1. Christ being God, and one God with the Father, is physically the same Person Who merits and rewards, Who prays and answers His prayers. The double function is rendered possible by the coexistence of Christ's two wills: He acts as Man and as God, virtually as a double Person.
2. Christ, even as Man, has the power to grant all that can be prayed or worked for. Yet this power is not inherent in His Humanity, it only belongs to His Humanity as organ of His Divinity (ministerialiter or instrumentaliter). By an ordinance of God and of Christ Himself, the exercise of such instrumental power may be made dependent on prayer or meritorious work on the part of Christ's humanity. Thus the possibility of prayer and merit remains intact.
3. Christ's humanity cannot acquire any greater glory and honour or a better title to these than its Hypostatic Union with the Logos. Hence His meritorious actions can add nothing to His perfection or to His title to it. Their effect is simply to make Him worthy of Divine goods "in a new manner." And, in order to obtain this result, it was necessary that Christ should act in the form of a servant, praying and serving God after the manner of a mere creature.
4. In Christ there was no necessity of prayer and meritorious works. Whatever these can obtain, is Christ's own by birthright (Ps. ii. 7 sqq.). Nay, by birthright also He could claim the distribution of Divine gifts to others for His own external glory. As Head and member of our race, He was entitled, on the sole ground of His personal dignity, and without any further meritorious work, to claim for us a participation in His Divine privileges.
5. Hence a necessity of meritorious works can only be derived from a positive ordinance of God and of Christ Himself, to the effect that Christ should act as Servant of God (in persona et habitu servi). The direct object of this dispensation was that Christ, as servant of God and as representative of man, should by His merits obtain what mankind was bound but unable to obtain by itself. Hence he had to adopt the form of service natural to man: suffering and suppliant prayer. The indirect object of the same economy was the acquisition by personal merit of those gifts and privileges which Christ renounced in His voluntary abasement. The necessity of meriting, then, was "economical" in a twofold sense: it was a positive dispensation in favour of, and a free accommodation to the position of, others. Even when Christ prayed "for Himself," He did so partly to set us an example, partly to make us benefit implicitly by His prayer.
6. In fine, the meritorious work of Christ tended to pour out His own Holiness on mankind, and to transfigure and glorify the lower part of His own humanity. Thus His merits tend to spread "the Divine Anointment" from the Head to the body: in Himself from His higher to His lower Being; in mankind, from the mystical Head to subordinate personal members.
III. The intrinsic value of Christ's actions being infinite, their power of meriting is necessarily infinite also: no Divine gift is possible which Christ cannot by His merits purchase at its full value (i.e. merit de condigno); no other merit is possible which is not surpassed by, and virtually contained in, the merit of Christ. No finite reward can adequately remunerate His merit; no amount of other merit, not even that possible to all possible creatures, can equal it. This doctrine was opposed by Scotists and Nominalists, but has been for centuries universally admitted.
I. It is the intrinsic value or power for merit which is infinite: the reward actually obtained is finite.
2. The infinitude of Christ's merits does not imply that at once "bind" God to grant them a commensurate reward, or to accept them as title to such reward. God is only bound by His own promise. Yet, independently of the Divine promise, works which Christ wishes to be rewarded, receive their reward infallibly, thanks to the excellence of His personal dignity and to the organic co-operation of His two wills. No opposition is possible between the unconditional intentions of the will which merits and the will which rewards. Christ's human will cannot unconditionally desire a reward except on the knowledge that God has decreed to grant such reward. We may, then, sum up Christ's power for merit in the formula: "Christ effectively obtains all that He wishes to obtain and all that God has decreed should be effectively obtained."
3. Although a reward actually infinite is not necessarily connected with Christ's infinite merit, yet such infinite reward, specifically commensurate with the merit, is assigned to them. Holy Scripture points out, as reward of the Saviour's work, His exaltation to Divine honours given Him by God and man (Phil. ii. 9 sqq.); a privilege which can only be bought by infinite merit. Again, sanctifying grace, acquired by Christ for others, is of infinite value, because it gives a claim to the immediate possession and fruition of God Himself. No mere creature can merit it adequately (de condigno); even when possessed, it merely entitles its holder to an increase and to the completion of itself. But Christ adequately merits sanctifying grace for creatures entirely unable to merit it themselves, and hence His meritorious work is remunerated by a good of infinite value.
4. The infinitude of Christ's meritorious actions, being based upon the excellence of their Author, is not restricted either to any one of them or to their sum total; it belongs to each and all. Hence the same reward can be merited by several separate acts. Moreover, as the reward depends upon a Divine ordination and Christ's own intention, it is possible for the reward to be granted only to a certain number of acts organically connected. As a matter of fact the merit of the whole work of Christ was made dependent on its supreme act, the sacrifice on the Cross.
An almost perfect analogy for the infinite meriting power of Christ and its effects is found in the Divine omnipotence and its creations.
IV. The infinitude of Christ's merit implies that He can adequately merit all things whatsoever mere creatures, and also Himself, may pray for; and further, that His prayer itself is an act of merit sufficient to obtain whatsoever is prayed for. There is, however, another point of view from which the impetratory power of His prayer appears infinite. The infinite lovableness of the Son of God requires that the Father should not refuse to His prayers any of the gifts which He, to a certain extent, grants to the prayers of the just and even of sinners. Many Greek Fathers corroborate this view from Heb. v. 7, "He was heard for His reverence" (in Greek). They take " His reverence " to mean the esteem which God the Father has for His Son; for prayer is answered in proportion to the esteem which God has for him who prays, whereas merit derives its value from the esteem which he who merits shows to God, and the prayer of creatures only appeals to God's Love and Mercy. Christ's unconditional (absolute) prayers are infallibly answered: otherwise the constant assertions of Scripture that Christ's prayers are certain of success would have no sense; and Christ's Divine will would oppose His human will. His prayer in the Garden was conditional: "My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me" (Matt. xxvi. 39).
V. Another consequence of the infinite value of Christ's merit is that it can obtain for any number of other persons all the privileges of supernatural grace and glory. In this respect it is "the merit of the Mediator," inasmuch as Christ obtains privileges for others in His quality of Mediator, and transfers His own rights to His clients. The merit of the Mediator is often described as "Merit of the Head" (meritum capitis), to point out how and why the superabundant merits of the Head of mankind overflow upon the members of His mystical Body.
VI. When Christ acts with a view of meriting for Himself or others, He acts in the person of servant, and His claim to reward is, after all, like that of mere creatures, founded upon the Divine promise of acceptance of His work; technically, on a pactum divinum. Christ, however, acts not only in the person of a servant; He acts also as "minister of God," and as such in the person of Lord. His position is that of a steward or minister, with special powers to administer his master's goods, who acts at the same time as representative of the master to the servants, and as representative of the servants to the master. Hence Christ's meritorious works bear a twofold character: they call for a reward as works of a servant; and their success is guaranteed as works approved and accepted by the Lord. Again, Christ being the representative and organ of the "Lord" in such a way as to be also Lord Himself, His guarantee of success is tantamount to a disposition of His own goods, made by the owner himself. St. Paul insinuates this when he connects the acquisition of heavenly goods by Christ with the idea that Christ's sacrifice was like the death of the testator, who disposes of his own goods (Heb. ix. 16). From this point of view, the "merit of the Mediator and Head" appears in a new light. It is a merit sufficient in itself to obtain supernatural goods, not only because the Mediator, as representative of His clients, makes them perfectly worthy of the said goods, but also because the Mediator and Head, in the name and power of God, grants and gives full legal possession of the acquired goods to His clients and members. It is the substantial anointing of Christ . through the Grace of Union which constitutes Him, not merely a Servant holy and pleasing to God, but likewise a participator in the power and lordship of God Himself, a Holy Lord and a Royal High-priest, and thus secures the perfection of His merit as Mediator and Head. We are therefore justified in saying that the efficacy of Christ's work is not due to the Divine promise or pact alone, but that it has its root and origin in the Hypostatic Union. "Christ did not glorify Himself to be made a high priest, but He that said to Him: Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee" (Heb.v. 5). See St. Thomas, 3, qq. 19,21
Sect. 198. --Specific Power of Christ's Humanity to produce Supernatural Effects.
I. In the preceding section we have dealt with Christ's power of meriting supernatural goods. A question now arises as to the share of Christ's humanity in the production of these Divine goods. Does He only procure them in the sense that His merit moves God to confer the goods, or does He participate in the Divine producing power, so as to have a direct part in their production? In technical language: Is Christ's influence on the production of supernatural goods merely ethico-juridical, or also organico-dynamical? We hold, with the Fathers and St. Thomas, that Christ, besides His ethico-juridical power, possesses a "Divine dynamic power," viz. that He participates in that supernatural and spiritual power of God from which proceed all Divine benefactions and graces relating to the salvation of creatures; whether they be physical operations, such as miraculous healings and the granting of sanctifying grace, or juridical acts, such as the remission of sins and legislation. In the exercise of this Divine power, the humanity of Christ acts as an instrument of the Divinity, that is, in formal connection with the superior Divine power: as an official acts in the name or by the authority of the king, and as a tool works through the skill of the artist. He is, however, instrumental after the manner of a mystico-physical organ of the Divinity: the "flesh of the Word," being "eminently" actuated and informed by His Divinity, is the seat, the bearer, the vehicle of the Divine power; this power works through it in the same way as the powers of the human soul work through the organs of the body (supra, p. 86).
II. Christ's humanity possessed the power of producing supernatural effects, at least in the form of the grace of miracles and of the ministerial power held by the ministers of the Sacraments; and He possessed this power to its fullest extent from the beginning. Such power was necessary for the objects of His mission, and as part of the fulness of His grace. The power of Christ, however, differs in many ways from the analogous power in mere creatures. It is universal, embracing all supernatural effects within the domain of creation; it is transferable to others, and not bound up with fixed forms and ceremonies; it is natural to Christ, inasmuch as the Holy Ghost is His own Spirit by substantial union. For this latter reason the supernatural works of Christ are produced by a power corporally dwelling in Him, although not inherent in His human nature; whereas similar works of creatures are produced by a power external to them.
The Fathers teach the Divine virtue and power of Christ's humanity, as here described, in connection with the life-giving power of His flesh in Holy Eucharist. They attribute this (in Greek), vis vivifica, of the Flesh to its impregnation with Divinity, and consider it as an essential element of the (in Greek) (deification) and of the spiritualisation (l Cor. xv. 45) of Christ's humanity. So little do they doubt this power, that they use it against the Nestorians as one of the chief arguments in proof of the physical reality of the Hypostatic Union. (For passages of the Fathers, see Petavius, 1. x. c. 2.)
III. Holy Scripture sets forth the same doctrine in many ways.
1. The principle is laid down that "God anointed Him (Jesus) with the Holy Ghost and with power; Who went about doing good...." (Acts x. 38). The union of Christ with the Holy Ghost is substantial.
2. The working of the power received through the Anointing appears where Christ calls His Flesh as true a food as bread (John vi.); but bread is a substance which nourishes by its own physical power. "Virtue went out from Him and healed all" (Luke vi. 19, and viii. 46), evidently attributes a Divine power to Christ's body. The Fathers connect this healing "virtue" with the vivifying power of Christ's Body in the Holy Eucharist.
3. Christ is the principle of our life after the manner in which God is the principle of Christ's life: "As the living Father has sent Me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth Me, the same also shall live by Me" (John vi. 58). Hence Christ stands between us and the Father as an "organic" mediator.
4. The Scriptural figures of Christ, the Head of the Church, and the comparison "the first man Adam was made a living soul, the last man a quickening spirit" (i Cor. xv. 45), are almost meaningless if Christ's humanity is not organically active in the granting of supernatural life.
IV. I. The form in which the power under consideration is exercised, may be stated as follows: Although Christ's whole humanity is the organ of His Divinity, yet the Divine Union chiefly impregnates the soul, and thence spreads to the flesh. The human will, then, can pronounce the "word of His power" (Heb. i. 3) upon which supernatural effects will follow, on the ground of its mystical and organic relation to the Divine will. As the acts of Christ's human will essentially belong to the Person of the Logos and proceed from Him, they are intrinsically and essentially impregnated with the co-operating Divine power. The supernatural effect follows upon them, not as the answer to a prayer or the fulfilment of a promise, but in obedience to the "word of power" uttered in the name and authority of God. What is true of Christ's will, is likewise true of all His human actions, in as far as these are dependent on the will. In order to acknowledge the dependence of His power on Divine co-operation, Christ often accompanies its exercise with prayer and thanksgiving (e.g. Matt. xxvi. 26, et passim). Through such prayer the organic relation becomes also an ethical (moral) relation; the prayer itself is like the spiritual absorption of the influence of the spiritual power to which the soul is connected organically.
2. The Body of Christ, as well as His soul, is invested with Divinity. Christ clearly implies this in His teaching on the Eucharist (John vi., et passim), and the Fathers so much insist upon this point that sometimes they appear to know of no other "vivifying power" in Christ's humanity.
3. By means of the blood the soul maintains the vegetative life of the body. The blood, as a vehicle of life, represents the life-giving power of God in a special manner: in Christ the Blood is like a stream of Divine power and life. Nay, the Eucharistic Flesh is a life-giving Bread because it contains the vivifying Blood of Christ. For this reason also Christ could speak of the necessity of drinking His Blood without making the chalice obligatory to all: the Blood is taken with the Flesh.
4. The power of Christ as organ of the Divinity, being a participation in the Divine Power, works also under the same external conditions as the Divine Omnipotence. Thus it is not restricted to space. As a matter of fact, in the Holy Eucharist the power is exercised by contact; but this is not as a matter of necessity. Again, according to St. Thomas, Christ can perform acts which will have their effect at a future time. E.g. the institution of the Sacraments, which act virtually contained the future effects of the Sacraments, in analogy to the act of the law-giver which binds future generations.
V. The power of Christ as organ of God is the complement of His ethico-juridical power. These are not two heterogeneous powers, but work together organically. They have the same object, the salvation of man; and the same root, the union of Christ's humanity with Divinity, which diffuses both the odour of sweetness and the odour of virtue (odor suavitatis et virtutis). The authoritative power of Christ's will completes to perfection the meritorious efficiency of His acts, and the same is at the foundation of all His physical works of power. The same act, or set of acts, e.g. the Passion, may be and probably is endowed with twofold efficiency: meritorious efficiency on account of Christ's personal dignity; dynamic efficiency on account of His investment with Divine power. St. Thomas attributes to the Passion an "effective virtue" in addition to its merit; and the Greek Fathers attribute its saving force to the dynamic power of Christ as Divine organ. The same notion seems implied in Heb. ix. 13 sqq.: "For if the blood of goats and of oxen . . . sanctify such as are defiled . . . how much more shall the blood of Christ, Who through the Holy Ghost (in Greek text) offered Himself unspotted to God, cleanse our conscience from dead works...."
VI. The language of the Church attributes a certain efficacy to events in Christ's life which cannot be classed with meritorious actions. Thus His Resurrection and Ascension, His death and burial, even the opening of His side after death, are styled mysteries of salvation (sacramenta salutis). They have first a certain efficacy as symbols, types, and pledges of similar events ordained to take place in redeemed man. St. Thomas, however, and after him the Catechism of the Council of Trent (Part I. ch. 6, n. 13), also attribute to them an "efficient" causality, for which no better reason can be found than Christ's power as organ of the Divinity; e.g. the Resurrection of Christ "virtually" contains ours, because the virtue or power of Christ's will is such that the act by which He willed His Resurrection to be a type of ours, is also sufficient to warrant our resurrection. See St. Thomas, 3, q. 50, a. 6; q. 56, a. I.
c. states and principal mysteries of christ's human life.
Sect 199. --The various States of Christ's Life in general.
I. Christ, being in the form of God (Phil. ii. 6), had the right and the power to appear, even in His humanity, as equal to God," viz. with the Divine power and glory which He now enjoys sitting at the right hand of the Father. But His mission to man for the service of God made it necessary for Him "to suffer, and so to enter into His glory" (Luke xxiv. 26); as for Him, "the author of salvation," to be made perfect "by His passion" (Heb. ii. 10); as Head and Mediator of mankind, He had to be made like unto His members and His clients (Heb. ii. ic; v. 7 sqq.; vii. 27, 28). Hence Christ adopted a life similar, in its successive stages, to the life of man here below.
II. The Apostles' Creed divides the life of Christ into three stages. First, the stage of abasement: "Born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified and dead." Second, the stage of transition: "Was buried, and descended into hell." Third, the stage of exaltation: "He rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and sitteth at the right hand of the Father." The opposition between the states of abasement and of exaltation is a favourite theme of St. Paul's (i Cor. xv.; Phil. ii.; cf. Heb. i. and ii.; also Ps. ii., xxi., and cix.).
Sect. 200. --The State of Abasement (Greek) --Imperfections in Body and Soul assumed by Christ.
I. The state of abasement consists in the assumption of humanity and the simultaneous occupation of Divinity. The assumption of our nature by the Logos, if accompanied by a complete manifestation of His power and glory, would not be an abasement, but an act of gracious condescension. But He, to whom perfect glory was due from the beginning, chose to lower Himself not only to the position of our First Parents before the Fall, but to the condition of "the sons of man." He began life as an infant, lowly, weak, and dependent on others, and only gradually attained the ripeness of manhood in which Adam was created. Placed by His birth among sinners, He renounced some of the privileges of His original justice and integrity, and submitted --as far as consistent with His dignity and conducive to the salvation of man --to the imperfections of human nature, and to the ordinances and laws to which human nature is subject. He thus did homage to God sufficient to redeem His brethren; He ennobled lowliness, and showed its value in the service of God; He set us a perfect example of all virtues, but especially of humility, patience, and mercy; He acquired a perfect title to our love.
II. The likeness of Christ in His abasement to the fallen sons of Adam does not comprise the actual loss of justice and sanctity, but only the pains and penalties attached to the loss. These pains and penalties fall partly on the body, partly on the soul, and consist in a liability to suffer from internal and external causes.
1. As regards the body, Christ resembled fallen man in that He was subject to most of the pains consequent upon bodily exertion and adverse external influences, e.g. fatigue, hunger, wounds. These sufferings were natural to Christ, inasmuch as they had a sufficient reason in the nature of His body: they could only be avoided by either avoiding their causes, or by suspending the action of these causes. But Christ, unlike His brethren, had a right to be free from actual suffering (because of His holiness), and His human will had the power either to remove or to suspend the action of all causes of pain. Hence in Christ the natural necessity of suffering was entirely subject to His free will: He suffered nothing which He did not choose to suffer (Isa. liii. 7; John x. 17, 18).
Some bodily pains or states are not compatible with the dignity of Christ or useful to the objects of His mission: these He did not choose to suffer. Such are corruption (Greek), disease (not weakness or wounds), and decomposition after death. A body inhabited by the all-preserving power of God could not be given over to corruption; the body of the eminently Holy One could not be submitted to a decomposition which is the image of the destroying power of sin. Thou wilt not give Thy Holy One to see corruption" (Ps. xv. 10). Disease is the beginning of corruption, and was therefore excluded from Christ's body. Other reasons are given by theologians: diseases are due to particular influences, not to the general weakness of our nature, which is all that Christ assumed; Christ's body, formed by the Holy Ghost, did not contain the germ of disease any more than did the body of Adam created by God.
2. The natural weaknesses of the soul, the "passions" of the sensitive and rational appetites, were also retained in the soul of Christ, yet with a twofold restriction.
(a) The inordinate and sinful motions to which the soul of fallen man is exposed, found no place in the soul of Christ. They are inconsistent with His perfect holiness, and they cannot be used as means for the ends of His state of abasement. Only passions or affections of the soul, which are morally blameless (in Greek), and which in fallen man are pains or penalties, inasmuch as they cause the soul to surfer or to be disturbed, are useful to Christ's ends, and therefore were permitted to coexist with His divinity and spiritual perfection. Such are the feelings of fear and sadness (Matt. xxvi. 37; Mark xiv. 33, 34), and the share which the soul has in the sufferings of the body.
(b) Although sadness (tristitia) and other painful feelings affected the soul of Christ, they did not originate and act in Christ as they do in man after the Fall. The soul of Christ, like that of Adam before he sinned, possessed the power to prevent all such affects: their origin, intensity, and duration were alike dependent on His free choice. Moreover, He possessed the still greater power to prevent such emotions from having any disturbing effect on the operations of His soul and on His peace of mind. Fear and sadness are indeed a disturbance of the mind; yet they only upset the peace of mind when the mind resists the disturbance, which in Christ was not the case: He freely admitted the emotion, and exactly regulated its working.
The Fathers prove Christ's power of regulating the emotion of His soul from John xi. 33: " Jesus, when He saw her (Mary, the sister of Lazarus) weeping . . . troubled Himself" viz. allowed the feeling of compassion to affect Him. See St. Augustine, In Joan. tr. Ix.
III. To complete His abasement Christ chose to submit Himself to His Foster-father and His Mother; to the laws of the state, and to the positive laws of God. Yet instances occurred in which Christ by word and deed asserted His independence of all such laws. There was a special abasement in His submitting to the rite of circumcision and to the baptism of John, both of which were intended for sinners. Lastly, He took His social rank among the poor and lowly, and shared their hardships and privations. See St. Thomas, 3, qq. 14, 15.
Sect. 201. --Combination of various Human States in Christ.
I. The possession of two natures so widely different as the Divine and the human, places Christ simultaneously in widely different states. His soul was united with God and filled with the plenitude of sanctity, like the souls of the Blessed. His will had power over the forces and elements of nature sufficient to render them innocuous, like Adam in the state of integrity. But as He refrained from the use of this power, and willingly submitted to the penalties of sin, He placed Himself in the state of man after the Fall.
II. A considerable difficulty arises here from the natural incompatibility of the highest beatitude implied in the Beatific Vision, with the extreme of wretchedness suffered especially during the Passion (Matt. xxvi. 38). St. Thomas, and after him the majority of theologians, propose the following solution: The highest joy and the deepest misery cannot coexist naturally in the same soul, for they are opposed to one another. They cannot even coexist supernaturally, i.e. by a miracle, if they are to be felt in the same mental faculty, and to bear on exactly the same object. As, however, there are various faculties and, as it were, various regions in the soul; as, again, the same object may be considered under different aspects, and thus appeal differently to our faculties, we can understand that the soul of Christ, in its superior region, was filled with joy at the vision of God, whilst sadness for the sins of man afflicted its inferior region. Likewise His Passion considered as leading to the Redemption of mankind was a source of joy, whilst that same Passion gave intense pain to His body and soul. But as, on account of the unity and simplicity of the soul, the pleasures and pains of one faculty or of one region are felt by all other faculties and in all other regions, it may be asked how the infinite pleasure of the Beatific Vision did not render the soul of Christ inaccessible to sadness or pain of any kind. Or, on the other hand, how did His agony not interfere with His heavenly beatitude? It was a miracle: Christ, by His Divine power, prevented the feelings of one faculty from overflowing into and affecting any other. St. Thomas, 3, q. 46, aa. 7, 8.
Sect. 202. --The Passion of Christ.
I. The voluntary abasement of Christ attained its lowest depth in His Passion and ignominious death. But He died "according to the Scriptures" (i Cor. xv. 3, 4), viz. as foretold by the Prophets and by Himself, and thus His death impressed the seal of divinity on His whole mission. The prophecies of Christ's Passion in the Old Testament are expressed in words and in types. The Proto-evangelium itself contains the germ of such a prophecy, but its fullest statement is to be found in the Psalms, especially in Ps. xxi., and in Isaias lii. 31; liii. 12. Daniel (ix. 26) points out the time of Christ's death. Zacharias concludes the prophecies of the Old Testament referring to the Passion (xi. 12 sqq.; xii. 10, cf. John xix. 39; xiii. 7, cf. Matt, xxvi. 31). Types of the Passion are the Sacrifice of Isaac, the Brazen Serpent (Num. xxi. 9; cf. John iii. 14), Jonas, the Paschal Lamb and the bloody sacrifices of the Mosaic Law. For Christ's own predictions, see Matt. xvi. 21; Luke xviii. 3; Matt. xxvi. 24; Luke xxiv. 35, 44 sqq.
II. It was not physically necessary for Christ to suffer death. Many other ways were open to Him to effect the salvation of mankind. Yet as this way had actually been chosen by God and foretold by the Prophets, Christ was under a moral necessity of accepting it. "Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead the third day; and that penance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name unto all nations" (Luke xxiv. 46, 47).
III. Independently of the soldiers who actually crucified Christ, several other efficient causes of His death must be considered, viz. God and Christ Himself, His human persecutors, and the powers of hell.
1. The repeated assertion of Scripture that God gave His Son for us, or handed Him over to His enemies, implies a direct intention on the part of God, and of Christ Himself as God, that the Saviour should suffer death. The Divine intention directly bore on the good arising out of Christ's sufferings, viz. the glory of God and the salvation of mankind. Hence God caused the sufferings, inasmuch as He gave Christ the mandate to suffer, and inspired Him with the willingness to carry out the mandate, at the same time permitting the immediate authors of the Passion to work unchecked. He intended the Passion as a means to higher ends, and did not prevent it as He might have done.
2. In the same manner Christ Himself caused His own Passion and death. His complying with the Divine mandate is a perfect act of obedience, such as the final object of the Passion (Rom. v. 19) and the perfection of His self-sacrifice required. Directly, the Saviour caused, e.g. His sadness (tristitia) for the sins of man and the Agony in the Garden; indirectly, the persecutions which His open and fearless teaching challenged, and which He did not resist with His Divine power. Hence His sufferings exhibit the most perfect self-sacrifice: He died of His own will, renouncing the use of His Divine power to save Himself, and using His dominion over His own life to lay it down as the perfect victim of His great Sacrifice (Isa. liii. 7; John x. 17, 1 8).
3. Besides the soldiers who crucified Jesus, three moral causes of His death are to be considered: Judas, who delivered Him to the Jews; the Jews who, moved by hatred, gave Him up to the Romans; and the Roman authorities who, to please the Jews, commanded the crucifixion. The co-operation of human causes was necessary if Christ had to die the shameful death of the cross. God permitted this greatest of crimes in order to make sin subservient to its own destruction. The sin of the Jews, taken objectively, differs from all other sins in this, that it directly strikes at a Divine Person, whereas all other sins only affect the Divinity externally. Taken subjectively, the guilt of the deicides was diminished in many by their ignorance, however culpable that ignorance may have been. For these the Saviour implored forgiveness with His last breath, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke xxiii. 34), although He had said of them, after the Last Supper, "All these things they will do to you for My Name's sake, because they know not Him that sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. He that hateth Me, hateth My Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no other man hath done, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated both Me and the Father" (John xv. 21-24).
4. The human causes of Christ's passion were the instruments of Satan, under whose instigation they acted. The hatred of the Jews towards Christ is ascribed by Scripture to the devil, and so, too, is the treason of Judas. The Fathers dwell on this point in connection with the Proto-evangelium, in which they see foretold the great war between Christ and Satan, ending in the crushing of Satan's head under the heel of Christ. From many passages in Holy Scripture it is certain that the devil, though perhaps not from the beginning, knew of Christ's divinity, although he may have been ignorant of the mystery of the Redemption and its benefits to mankind (l Cor. ii. 8). In his hatred of God, he did his utmost to put the Man-God to death (St. Thomas, 3, q. 47).
IV. Christ suffered something from all external causes which can inflict pain upon man; but from organic disease He was free: on account of His supernatural perfection. Heathens and Jews, princes and their servants, and His own Apostles, contributed their share to His sufferings. He suffered in all that is dear to man: in His friends, who deserted Him; in His honour and good name through insults and blasphemy; in His possessions, when even His garments were taken from Him; in His soul through sadness and sorrow; in His body through blows and wounds nay, in all the members of His body, and in all His senses. The pains He suffered exceeded all those which man can suffer in this life: not only because of their bitterness and their number, but also because of the supernatural perfection of the Sufferer's constitution, and of His voluntary assuming an amount of suffering proportionate to the end for which He suffered, viz. the liberation of man from sin. Read St. Thomas, 3, q. 46, aa. 5, 6; Newman, "On the Mental Sufferings of Christ" (Sermons to Mixed Congregations).
Sect. 203. --The State of Christ between His Death and His Resurrection.
I. The Son of man after death "descended into hell," thus sharing to the end the common lot of His brethren. But although His body and soul were separated from one another, they both remained united to the Divine Person. Even after death Christ possessed a body and a soul, and thus was still man in a fuller sense than the other dead. The Person of Christ was at the same time in Limbo and in the sepulchre; yet all that belongs to His Person was in neither place.1 (1 Totus Christus in sepulchro et totus in inferno, seel non totum quod est Christus.)
II. The entombment of Christ confirms His death, and so shows the miracle of the Resurrection in a clearer light. It also symbolizes the death of sin in the baptized (Rom. vi. 3, 4). Corruption did not contaminate the Divine Body, and His sepulchre was glorious, as prophesied by David and Isaias (Ps. xv. 10; Isa. liii. n).
III. The dwelling place of the souls of the departed is called in Scripture (Hebrew), "(Greek), infernus, the lower parts of the earth. All these and similar names connote some space outside of, and opposed to, heaven, the dwelling place of God and the Angels. As to its situation, we are completely ignorant, and of its nature we know but little (infra, Book VIII.).
I. The fact that the soul of Christ descended into this place, is set forth in the various creeds, and has expressly been defined in the Fourth Lateran Council. Scripture and Tradition abound in corroborating evidence (Acts ii. 24, 31; Eph. iv. 8-10; I Pet. iii. 18). The substantial, as opposed to potential, descent was denied by Abelard, whose doctrine a council of Sens censured, and Pope Innocent III condemned. The opinion that Christ only stayed an instant in the lower world, either immediately after His death or before His Resurrection, was advanced by Nicephorus, but never found any supporters. According to the common belief, He remained there all the time between His death and Resurrection. It is certain that Christ, having consummated His sufferings on the Cross, did not go down to Sheol in order to partake of the pains of the damned, or of those in Purgatory. He dwelt with the souls of the just detained in "Limbo" --the Border of Hell --so called to distinguish it from Hell and Purgatory. That such a place existed may be gathered from many utterances of the Old Testament. The New Testament clearly mentions it in the parable of Dives and Lazarus. But even the just who rested in the bosom of Abraham, though free from pain and in possession of a certain beatitude, did not enjoy the vision of God. Such is the constant explanation given to Heb. ix. 7, 8: "The way into the Holies was not yet made manifest, whilst the former tabernacle was yet standing;" and ix. 15-17: "He is the Mediator of the New Testament, that by means of His death . . . they who are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where there is a testament, the death of the testator must of necessity come in. For a testament is of force after men are dead...." Besides, the gospel was preached as the good tidings of the coming kingdom of heaven. As a matter of fact, it was not becoming that those redeemed by Christ should enjoy the full fruits of Redemption before the Redeemer Himself.
2. In the lower world Christ brought to a close His mission to mankind. The Redemption He had preached on earth was now an accomplished fact; the souls of the departed just were to reap its fruit. In all probability the Beatific Vision began for them at the moment when the Saviour appeared in their midst. Limbo then was changed into Paradise, and the promise made to the Penitent Thief was literally fulfilled. It is certain that the Beatific Vision was not delayed beyond the moment the souls left Limbo with Christ. The apparition of the Saviour in Hades was probably made known to all who dwelt therein to the evil spirits and the souls of the damned, as well as to the souls of the just already purified, or still being purified. To these latter the coming of Christ was no doubt the occasion of a total or partial remission of their pains. The damned and the devils "bowed the knee" to confess "that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of the Father" (Phil. ii. 10). By leading away the captive souls (Eph. iv. 7) Christ gave Satan a first proof of His victory, and a pledge of future triumphs.
Sect. 204. --Christ's Glorification --His Resurrection and Ascension.
I. The Resurrection of Christ has many points in common with the general resurrection of mankind. Of this we shall treat in the Eighth Book. His Resurrection, however, has the following peculiarities: 1. It is necessarily a glorious Resurrection, implying not only the restoration of life through the reunion of body and soul, but also the glorification or transfiguration of the body and the bodily life: it is a new birth, the beginning of a higher life. 2. It happened very shortly after death, viz. as soon as sufficient time had elapsed to leave no doubt as to the reality of His death. 3. It was the first resurrection unto life immortal (Col. i. 1 8; i Cor. xv. 20). 4. Christ rose, or was raised, from the dead by the power of the Father, that is, the power of God. But as the power of God is Christ's own power, He rose, or raised Himself, from the dead by His own power (John ii. 19; x. 7, 18). 5. Lastly, the Resurrection having been predicted and promised as the principal proof of His preaching, it has a greater dogmatic importance than any other fact: "If Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain" (i Cor. xv. 14, et passim; see also the Catechism of the Council of Trent, Part I., ch. 6).
II. The transfiguration of Christ's body and bodily life was of the same kind as that which awaits the Blessed at their resurrection. Both are described in the same words (i Cor. xv. 42-44): "So also is the resurrection of the dead: if (the body) is sown in corruption, it shall rise in incorruption; if is sown in dishonour, it shall rise in glory; if is sown in weakness, it shall rise in power; if is sown an animal body, it shall rise a spiritual body." Yet there is between the two a specific difference: the very constitution of Christ requires the glorious transfiguration of His body, whereas the constitution of man naturally tends to corruption. The transfiguration of Christ is a manifestation of His own Divine power, and therefore a guarantee of the transfiguration of the Elect, the members of His mystic body. Read St. Thomas, 3, q. 56.
III. According to the clear teaching of Scripture, the Ascension of Christ into heaven must be looked upon as a Houston, local change of His glorified humanity from this earth to a place outside of it. The expression "He ascended above all the heavens" (Eph. iv. 10), used to be taken literally until astronomy transformed our ideas of the heavens. In St. Paul the "ascension above all the heavens" is identical with an exaltation above all the choirs of Angels and with sitting at the right hand of God: it may therefore not refer to any definite place at all, for the right hand of God is everywhere and nowhere.
Christ "was taken up" into heaven by the same Divine power that raised Him from the dead, to which, however, must be added the power which His glorified soul had over the likewise glorified body. In heaven Christ occupies a place in keeping with His Majesty and Beatitude, and with the functions He continues to perform. He sits enthroned over all creatures as their perfect Head; as perfect Mediator He stands nearest the throne of God; or, rather, as Highest King and plenipotentiary Dispenser of graces, He sits on the right hand of God on the same throne. As the Resurrection is the ground of our faith, so the Ascension of Christ our Head is the foundation of our hope, and a potent incentive to a godly life. The sending of the Holy Ghost was a first and striking proof of Christ's continued life and work in perfect communion
with the Father.
IV. The sitting of Christ on the right hand of God (Ps. cix. I sqq.; Heb. i. 3,4), with which is connected the subjection of all things under His feet and an excellence above that of the Angels, implies His equality with God, as the Fathers often point out. Henceforth on His Divine Throne (Ps. xliv. 7) Christ receives the adoration of man-kind, and all due honour from God, with Whom He shares, by nature and by merit, the royal power, the dominion over the Divine treasures, the authority over all creatures, and the juridical power. On Christ's Death, Descent into Hell, Resurrection, and Ascension, see St. Thomas, 3, qq. 50-58.
(end of PART II, VOL. 2. p. 180)