The Annunciation and Incarnation - by ALBANI, Francesco - from The Hermitage, St Petersburg
|The Incarnation of Jesus Christ within the Womb of Mary implies Three (3) facts:
Hypostatic Union - A Theological Term used with reference to the Incarnation, within the Womb of Mary, to express the Divinely Revealed Truth that in Jesus Christ, One (1) Divine Person subsists in Two (2) Natures, the Divine and the Human. The Natures are not joined in a Moral or Accidental Union; nor mixed, fused or co-mingled; but they are Substantially United for Eternity.
The position of the Catholic Church declared in the Fourth Lateran Council (1215 A.D.), is again clearly stated in the following pronouncement of the Vatican Council:
Even in Heaven, when God is seen Face-to-face, we will not fully understand Him. Infinite Being can be fully grasped only by an Infinite Intellect. How Imperfect, therefore, is our present understanding of Him! But as Aristotle says, even a little-knowledge of the highest-things is worth more than great-knowledge of lower-things. So we should ever strive to deepen our Knowledge of God.
What is Jesus Christ?
As with the Trinity, the concepts of Person and Nature must be known if we are to get some grasp of Jesus Christ as both God and Man. The Hypostatic Union is the Union of Two (2) Natures, One (1) Divine, One (1) Human, in the Person of the Word made Flesh. What is meant by Person/Personality?
The Classic Definition is that of Boethius: Person means an individual substance having a rational nature. Of this definition Saint Thomas gives the following explanation:
This explanation simply makes precise that notion of Person already held by the Common-Sense of Mankind. In everyday speech, when we speak of Person, we mean that deep inward self-ownership, that Ontological Personality, which is the root, First of the self-conscious Ego, and this we may call Psychological Personality, and Secondly of that self-controlled use of Liberty, which we may call Moral Personality.
Person/Personality, thus defined, is found in Men, in Angels, and, analogically, in God. As previously explained above, in God, according to Divine Revelation, there are Three (3) Persons, Three (3) Subjects, Intellectual and Free, which have Each the Same Intellect and the Same Liberty, the Same Act of Understanding and the Same Free Act, by which all Three (3) are One (1) Principle of External Operation. This same notion of Personality allows us to say that Jesus too is a Person, One (1) sole Intellectual and Free Subject, One (1) Sole Ego, although He has Two (2) Natures, One (1) Divine, One (1) Human, and hence First: Two (2) Intellects, and Secondly: Two (2) Liberties, His Human Liberty, however, completely conformed to His Divine Liberty. When Jesus says that He is the way, He is speaking according to His Human Nature. But when, in the same text, He adds that He is the Truth and the Life, He is speaking primarily according to His Divine Nature, which makes Him Truth Itself and Life Itself. " All things whatsoever the Father hath are Mine".
What is an Angel?
Like God, an Angel is a Pure Spirit. Each Angel is an individual Person, with a distinct Personality (Personality is that by which the Intellectual Subject is a Person), and was created immediately by God at the Beginning of Time. The Angelic Powers of Intellect and Will are far more Perfect and Powerful than those of Man because they are not restricted by limitations of the Body. They do not "Know" as we do (i.e. via the Five (5) Senses), but are co-created with a participation of the Divine Knowledge. As Pure Spirits, the Angels have great power over the Material Universe. The Angels are graded in such a way that the second least Angel has all the Perfection of the least Angel and more, the third least Angel has all the perfection of the second least and more and so on to the greatest Angel who has all the perfection of all other Angels and more. The Angels are by nature immortal. They are sometimes called " the Intelligences" and "Separated Substances".
The Angels were not created in their merely Natural State, but were created with Grace and the Supernatural Virtues and Gifts of the Holy Ghost. Those Angels Who chose to Love God above all things were immediately rewarded with the Beatific Vision. Those Spirits who chose to love themselves above all things Lost Grace and Fell into Hell where they, as Devils, Suffer Everlasting Torment. There are possibly more Angels than Men. The Holy Angels are sent by God to help us to Heaven. God permits the Fallen Angels to Tempt us so that we may prove our Love of and Faithfulness to God.
What is Man?
Scripture shows Man to be a Unity (1) of Body and Soul: he is One (1) Being, not a Spirit dwelling uneasily in a Body. Yet his Soul will survive Death. Philosophy proves his Unity (1) through the Doctrine of Matter and Form, completely ruling out Dualism and Reincarnation. It also establishes the Spirituality and Immortality of the Soul. All this reinforces what Revelation tells us, and removes the vagueness we might feel in the absence of Philosophys Lucid Statements and Compelling Evidence.
The Catholic Faith teaches that Man has been raised to a Supernatural State and that his destiny, as a son of God and member of the Mystical Body of which Christ is the Head, is the Eternal Enjoyment of the Beatific Vision.