Tag: Passion

Benedict’s Thinking – III

Benedict’s Thinking – III posted in Eleison Comments on July 23, 2011

After studying the roots of Pope Benedict’s thinking (EC 209), Bishop Tissier in his Faith Imperilled by Reason proceeds to study its fruits. If that thinking is rooted above all in the systematic subjectivism of Kant (1724–1804), those fruits cannot be good. How can the objective truths of the Faith be made in any way intrinsically dependent on the participation or reactions of the subjective believer? The Gospel, dogma, the Church, society, Christ the King and the Last Ends will be, one after another, mortally stricken.

Let us start with the Gospel. Its value lies no longer in telling the historical facts of the life and death of Our Lord, but rather in the power of its narrative to evoke existential problems of our own time. For instance whether Our Lord’s very own body sprang re-united with his human soul out of the tomb on Easter morning is not important. What matters is the modern meaning behind the narrative: love is stronger than death, Christ lives on by the force of love, and guarantees that we too will survive by love. Forget the reality or the facts. “All you need is love.”

Dogma needs likewise to be purified of the past and enriched by the present. Now the present-day philosopher Heidegger teaches that the person is a “self-surpassing.” Then Christ was the man so totally self-surpassing, so completely striving for the infinite beyond himself, that he fulfilled himself to the point of becoming divine. So the dogma of the Incarnation no longer means that God became man, but that man became God! Similarly the Redemption must mean no longer that Jesus paid to his Father by his terrible Passion the debt for all men’s sins, but that by his Cross he loved God in our stead as God should be loved, and he attracts us to do the same. Sin has ceased to be a mortal offence against God, it is merely a selfishness, a lack of love. So Mass no longer needs to be a sacrifice, and the priest becomes merely the animator of the communal celebration. No wonder Benedict believes in the Novus Ordo Mass.

As for the Church, since the existent person is the supreme value (cf. EC 209) and all persons are equally existent, then away with a Church of hierarchical inequalities, and away with the Catholic Church as the one and only Ark of Salvation, because the followers of every religion are existent persons. Let ecumenism replace all Catholic missionary efforts. Also, making the person into the supreme value will dissolve society by subordinating the common good to the individual’s rights, and it will undermine both marriage and society by putting the mutual company of the male and female persons in front of children. As for Christ the King, he will be dethroned by the bestowing upon every person such dignity that the State must protect that person’s right to choose his own religion.

Finally death, from a penalty, becomes a remedy for our ills. The particular judgment means only a reward. Hell is no more than an irrevocably selfish state of soul. Heaven will be “an ever new immersion in the infinity of being” – what being? – and so on. Here is a new religion, comments Bishop Tissier, rather more comfortable – at least vhere below – than the Catholic religion.

Kyrie eleison.

Wonderful, Counsellor

Wonderful, Counsellor posted in Eleison Comments on December 25, 2010

Christmas Day is a suitable moment to recall why we may and should rejoice in the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He and he alone can solve all the real problems of men, which go back to the very beginnings of mankind, and which are graver than ever today.

This is because all real problems of men involve sin. Any purely material disorder only becomes serious if it is in some way spiritual, for instance if a physical illness makes a man curse or bless. And anything spiritual that goes on inside me is only a disorder if it is in some way a sin. For instance Job lamented bitterly his physical afflictions, but his lamenting was not sinful. As for sin, it is a disorder or offence primarily against God, secondarily against self and only thirdly against neighbour.

Therefore all real problems of men which are not merely material problems, are problems of men having offended God. A terrible example is provided by a woman who has committed an abortion. Superficially her problem is solved. The baby is out of the way, and her life is “back to normal.” But deep down, either she hardens her heart (and joins in a world coming to hate and suppress Christmas), or she knows and admits to herself that she has done something terribly wrong. Either way something in her is more or less twisted out of true for the rest of her days, and many such women, even if they are Catholics and know by their Faith that God has forgiven them through sacramental Absolution, can still be tormented, such is the wound that that sin has inflicted on their souls. Nor is abortion the worst of sins. Sinning directly against God is graver.

Grim thoughts for Christmas Day? Yes and no. The problem of sin is grim, but the joy of knowing that it has a real solution is correspondingly great. If the poor girl goes to confession, almost every Catholic priest will do all he can to persuade her that if she is truly sorry for her sin (with a sorrow of Peter and not of Judas Iscariot), then through his absolving her she may not doubt that God has forgiven her. How many penitents then walk out of the confessional with a sense of relief and joy that nothing else can give them, because offending God was at the heart of their torment, and they know that God has forgiven them.

And where did this joy take its beginning? In the certainty that God took a human nature from a Jewish maiden, lived upon earth and gave us, amongst other sacraments, that of Penance, deriving its force from the merits of his Passion and Death, which he endured only with the help of the same maiden and mother. But how could he have died unless he had been born? It all began with his human birth from the Blessed Virgin Mary – Christmas.

So the solution of all the world’s most terrible problems of my fellow-men and myself is available. No wonder Catholics are joyful. No wonder there is a special joy available even to disbelievers at Christmastime – so long as they have not yet hardened their hearts.

Kyrie eleison.

Christ’s Suffering

Christ’s Suffering posted in Eleison Comments on April 4, 2009

The eve of Palm Sunday is surely a good moment to consider with St. Thomas Aquinas (IIIa, Q46, art.5,6) how Christ’s suffering surpassed all other sufferings. Of course Christ could not suffer in his impassible divine nature, but he had chosen his perfect human nature, conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary, to provide him with an incomparably sensitive instrument of suffering, in body and soul, to redeem us all and to save us from Hell if we wish.

As for Christ’s body, every part of it, from thorn-crowned head to nailed feet, was tormented in his Passion, culminating in the excruciating pains of death on the Cross, three hours racked between cramp from pushing up on nailed feet to breathe, and breathlessness or suffocation from slumping down on nailed hands to relieve the cramp. Crucifixion was positively designed to be excruciating – both words derive from the Latin for “cross” (crux, crucis).

As for Christ’s soul with its far greater range of perception than that of mere bodily senses, however perfect, St. Thomas names three heads of suffering. Firstly, by infused knowledge, Christ saw all sins of all men of all time, and chose to pay by his self-sacrifice for all those sins in general. In other words he used his superhuman gifts not to avoid suffering but to suffer the more. Yet at the same time he wished to suffer not just by a divine reckoning according to which a mere pin-prick of the Divine Person would have been payment infinite and more than enough, but by a human reckoning, as though he alone were to undergo umpteen executions to pay for umpteen criminals!

Secondly, by normal human knowledge, Christ suffered in his soul from observing all the kinds of people contributing to his Passion: Jew and Gentile, man and woman (e.g. the serving-girl mocking Peter), leaders and people, friend and foe. In particular, says St. Thomas, Christ suffered in his soul from being hated by his own people, then still God’s Chosen People, and – worst of all – from being abandoned and betrayed by his very own Apostles. Thirdly, like any man, Christ suffered in his soul from having to die, and the more innocent and perfect his life had been, the more keenly he suffered its loss and the injustice of its loss.

Now what other human being, or mass of human beings, have lived a perfect and innocent life; have chosen to lay it down by a death anything like as terrible as crucifixion; have been able to see all sins of all men and wish to pay for them; finally have observed abandonment all around them to the point of feeling deserted even by God (“lama, lama, sabactani”)? Were there six million such men, still they could not claim that their sacrifice was motivated by anything like the charity of Christ, with his overwhelming divine and human love for every one of us poor sinners. So their sacrifice would still not be remotely comparable to His.

Kyrie eleison.