Saturday, August 2, 2014

Deus, qui humanae substantiae...

The following prayer is recited as the water is poured into the chalice. This is actually done by the subdeacon at Solemn Mass in the usus antiquior as the priest blesses the water and recites the prayer. The prayer was abridged in the new rite, with the blessing omitted. It being the Collect for Christmas Day, the revisers of the new rite simplified the second half of that prayer (leaving the first part intact as in the old prayer at the admixture of water and wine) and then split it for its usage at the Offertory...

Deus, + qui humanae substantiae dignitatem mirabiliter condidisti, et mirabilius reformasti: da nobis per huius aquae et vini mysterium, eius divinitatis esse consortes, qui humanitatis nostrae fieri dignatus est particeps, Iesus Christus Filius tuus Dominus noster: Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus: per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

O God, + Who, in creating human nature, didst wonderfully dignify it, and still more wonderfully restore it, grant that, by the Mystery of this water and wine, we may be made partakers of His divine nature, who vouchsafed to be made partaker of our human nature, Jesus Christ our Lord, Thy Son, Who with Thee, liveth and reigneth in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God: world without end. Amen.
One immediately notices that this has an eschatological element.  Christ is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega. And so it is with creation. God created the world in a state of journeying towards perfection. It was not perfect, but it was always directed towards its perfection in the fullness of time, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church instructs very clearly. On that note, God always creates, redeems, and sanctifies. It is part of, for lack of a better phrasing, the divine substance that is shared by each hypostases of the Blessed Trinity, though it is very clear that aspects of those three are shown in particular ways by the Father (the creation of the world), the Son (redemption of humanity), and the Holy Spirit (sanctification by grace).

 Being that God is infinite, there is no best of all possible worlds, but rather each possibility has its own possible pitfalls and challenges not present in the others. Being also that God is wise above all powers and principalities, He created this world that we inhabit. Man can reason freely and come to know things through its intelligence, including of the existence of God. Persons can give to each other freely and fully for the good of the other, that is to say, they can love. No other creature can do this, and God thus gave Man dominion over the whole of creation.

This radical ability to love also means we can turn away from God, cutting off charity in our lives through mortal sin, and this was first done by Adam and Eve in their disobedience to God's command not to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. But we are not Protestants who hold to the doctrine of total depravity. In fact, St. Paul explicitly rejects this idea in the epistle to the Philippians, as he says, "For the rest, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever modest, whatsoever just, whatsoever holy, whatsoever lovely, whatsoever of good fame, if there be any virtue, if any praise of discipline, think on these things." If the natural light of reason was injured at the Fall to the extent claimed by Protestants, I am not sure how St. Paul could say this outside of an explicit sacramental context (which Protestants tend to reject anyways). And knowing of the existence of the Creator is explained so well by the Angelic Doctor in his Five Ways.

As has been said before, this does not mean we can come into communion with the divine, that is, to know God, to share in the divine life of the Trinity or to even know of the Trinity, the interior life of God? It is impossible to infer the Trinity from creation. How can this tree be made by the Father, and this tree the Son, and this tree the Holy Spirit? It also requires a great deal of intelligence and time to come to correct understandings of what can be known in nature about God. Now, I should clarify what I mean by intelligence. Reason being what it is, these things are available to know by all men by virtue of being men. It is a rather Aristotelian framework. But there are men who have deeper gifts of intelligence than others, and more importantly, the Fall has injured the mind as well as the body, so it is harder for men to come to know of God correctly.

Thus God revealed Himself in words and deeds throughout human history, most especially through the Incarnation of Christ and the descent of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost, to illuminate and guide men so that all men might know of His existence in a timely fashion without the admixture of error. That would be sufficient reason for God to reveal Scripture and Tradition to us, but in His graciousness, He redirected men to our supernatural end which is life in the mystery that is the eternal exchange of love between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The theological term is theosis or divinization, men becoming gods (or like gods...).

A poignant feature is that by this redirection, the Lord also made provision for man's restoration in the sight of God (righteousness!) and in fact, God elevated him above the state of original righteousness. Man is better off, fantastically so, in the state of grace in the New Covenant than he was in the Garden before the Fall.

I love this prayer. It points us to the perfect union of the divine and human wills present in the divine hypostasis, known dogmatically as the hypostatic union. This allowed for a man to atone to the Father for Man's sin, as Man alone was capable of near-infinite destruction (Ratzinger summarizes St. Anselm using infinite, but I'm not so sure about that) but very incapable of creation. Hence, God had to restore Man, but only in the form of the God-man, as God Himself could not die (though of course He did suffer and die, insofar as Jesus Christ is True God and True Man...). Perhaps "The solely divine hypostasis without any recourse to being human could not die for redemption" is a way to explain it. The wine by the consecration becomes for us the Blood of Christ, the chalice of the new and eternal testament, poured out for you and for many for the redemption of sin. The Precious Blood and Water flowed from the side of Christ as a fountain of mercy for us. That is the fountain of grace, and it truly is the birth of the Church. Man now had a means to follow the Law, that is to say, by grace.

The question I leave is: How is the Incarnation connected to the Messianic types? Obviously we know of the Incarnation from prophets of the Old Testament. Isaiah prophesies the Virgin Birth, etc. But how is it connected to sacrifice, immolation, and offering as shown in the suffering and death of Christ on the Cross?



    The doctrine of irresistible grace, that was promoted by John Calvin, teaches that God's grace is applied only to those to whom He has determined to save, overcoming their resistance to obeying the call of the gospel, imputing them with faith in Christ so that they might become saved.

    God's grace is available to all who hear the gospel.

    Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.

    God's grace is available to all men, however, most men reject the salvation offered by God. Men have a choice, grace is not irresistible.

    Matthew 7:13-14 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

    Men can and do resist the Holy Spirit.

    Acts 7:51 "You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.

    Men have a choice to accept or reject the gospel. Men do resist the Holy Spirit.

    Luke 9:5 "And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them."

    Why would Jesus say whoever will not receive you, if grace was irresistible? Grace is resistible.

    Luke 13:34 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!

    Jesus wanted to save all Jerusalem, however, they resisted that call. Men have free-will to accept or reject God's salvation.

    Men have always and will always have a choice to obey or disobey God.

    Joshua 24:15 "And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served, that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

    Men still have have choice of whom they will serve. God does not force men into service.

    Faith comes by hearing the gospel preached. Faith does not come because of irresistible grace.

    Romans 10:17 So the faith comes by hearing , and hearing by the word of God.

    Men accept the word of God by faith. Men are not imputed with faith by irresistible grace given by the Holy Spirit. Men have a choice.

    1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcome it not as the word of men, but as truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.


    1 Timothy 2:3-4...God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.

    If irresistible grace were true, then all men would be saved.
    The truth is, all who hear the gospel can be saved, but not all men are obedient to the gospel plan of salvation.


    (Scripture from: NKJV)


    1. Agreed. I've never understood why Calvin took Augustine to his logical conclusions or even picked up ideas that Augustine dismissed as incorrect (he dismissed irresistability of grace in To Simplician).