Hypostatic Union of Christ
The Personhood of Christ
Two (2) Natures in One (1) Divine Person

[The Union of His Two Natures, united during the Incarnation, in the Womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, by the Power of the Holy Spirit]


The Incarnation of Jesus with Six Saints - by BARTOLOMEO, Fra - from Musée du Louvre, Paris

 

The Incarnation of Jesus within the Womb of Mary implies Three (3) facts:

The Divine Person of Jesus Christ;

The Human Nature of Jesus Christ;

The Hypostatic Union of the Human with the Divine Nature in the Divine Person of Jesus Christ.

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 Personhood of Christ
Two (2) Natures in One (1) Divine Person

by
Father Walter Farrell and Father Martin Healy
Based on the writings of "The Summa of Saint Thomas Aquinas"

 

angelbar.gif (3645 bytes)

How the Two Natures are Joined

Now in the Incarnation we say that there are Two (2) Natures, but only One (1) Person. In the Person of Christ, the Son of God, there are Two (2) Natures, One (1) Divine, One (1) Human. Christ is God, the Supreme Being, the Omnipotent Creator and Lord of the World. The Person, Christ, is the Divine Nature. But He also has a Human Nature, a Human Body and a Human Soul. The One (1) Person is both God and Man. There are Two (2) "Whats" in Christ, but only One (1) "Who". If we ask, " What is Christ?", we must give Two (2) Answers: we must say, "He is God", and "He is Man". But if we inquire, "Who is He?" then we must have only One (1) Reply; we must declare, "He is the Son of God". It does not matter that we might also state, "He is the Second Person of the Trinity", or "He is Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary of Nazareth", or "He is the Messiah". All these are only other-names for One (1) and the Same Person. In Christ, then, we have One (1) Divine Person Who exists in Two (2) Natures, One (1) Human, the Other (1) Divine.

stone.gif (6963 bytes) stone.gif (6963 bytes) In Christ, the Divine Nature and the Human Nature are United ( Hypostatic Union). In what way are they United? Here we find ourselves in the very heart of this great Mystery. Obviously they are not simply United in the way in which Two (2) Stones lying together on the ground are United. If that were the case, then there would be Two (2) Persons in Christ, the Divine Person and a Human Person. This would not be a Union, but simply a Juxtaposition, a placing-together of Two (2) Natures. Nor can we say that the Two (2) Natures are Fused together, in the way, for example, that Hydrogen and Oxygen are mixed-together to make Water (2H2+O2 > 2H2O). This is impossible, First-of-all because it would mean that the Divine Nature of Christ would have to be changed in some way, and the Divine Nature is Absolutely-Unchangeable. If the Divine and the Human Natures in Christ were really Fused together, either the Divine Nature would become Human, or the Human Nature would become Divine, or the resulting-mixture would be something that was neither Human nor Divine. But none of these things is possible. The Divine Nature cannot be changed at all (all Attributes of God are Unchangeable); the Human Nature cannot become Divine; and Christ is not something that is neither Divine nor Human. He is both God and Man. In Christ we find Both (2) Natures in their Full Perfection.

Nor can we say that the Two (2) Natures are United to one another as the Soul and Body are United together to form One (1) Man. In this case, Soul and Body are Two (2) Incomplete-Principles which complete one another in their Union. But the Divine Nature is not at all Incomplete or Imperfect. It cannot directly Unite with a Human Nature as One (1) Incomplete-Principle with Another (1). Besides, as in the case of Hydrogen and Oxygen, the Union of Body and Soul brings-into-being something which is different from either the Body or the Soul alone; it brings-into-being the Whole Man. But in the Incarnation, the Union of the Two (2) Natures does not bring-into-being any Third Being distinct from the Divine and Human Natures. In the Incarnation the Two (2) Natures are Complete, not Mixed or Fused or Merged with one another, nor forming a Third Thing distinct from both.

 

The Union of Christ's Two Natures is a Personal Union

The Divine Person/Personality of Christ Unites the gap between His Human and the Divine Natures

Divine
Person/
Personality
(Personal Union)

Divine Nature of Christ

Brick Wall between Natures
(Not Mixed or Fused or Merged)

Human Nature of Christ

 

The Union between the Two (2) Natures in Christ is a Personal Union. It takes place in the Person of the Son of God. The Two (2) Natures are not United to one another Directly. They are not Mixed or Fused or Merged or Mingled with one another to form a Third Thing distinct from both. Rather They are United to one another Indirectly in the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Nor is this Personal Union of the Two (2) Natures in Christ like the Union between Body and Soul in a Man.

Human Being/Person
(A Union of Body and Soul)

Body/
Passions/
Inferior Will/
Senses/
Imagination
(Subordinate-Partner)

Soul/Intellect/
Superior Will/
Grace/
Infused Knowledge/
Conscience
(Dominant Partner)

 

In an ordinary Man, His Person or Personality is the result of the Union of Soul and Body. There is no Human Person until a Human Soul and a Body are United together to form the Whole Man. But in the Incarnation, the Person Pre-Exists the Union of the Two (2) Natures, because It is the Person of the Eternal Son of God. In the Incarnation, the Son of God, Who is Eternal, assumes to Himself a complete Human Nature, a Body and Soul. By this Union, the Human Nature becomes the Human Nature of the Son of God. He is the Person existing in this Human Nature, the Person responsible for all Its actions, the Responsible Agent acting in-and-through this Human Nature in the World of Men. It should be clear at once that the Human Nature of Christ has no Human Personality. If we were to look at the Human Nature of Christ and ask, "What is it?" the answer would have to be, "It is a Human Nature". But if we were to inquire, "Who is He?" then we would not give in reply the name of any Human or Created Person, because there is no Created Personality present in Christ. We should have to say, "He is Christ, the Son of God".

Because there is only One (1) Person in Christ, and because that Person exists and acts in Two (2) Natures, One (1) Human, One (1) Divine, it follows that all the Actions of Both Natures can be and must be Attributed to the Same One (1) Person. It is the Person, not the Nature, which is the Responsible Agent. Hence, we can say of Christ that He Created the World; that He Performed Miracles by His Own Power; that He is Immortal and Eternal; and on-the-other-hand, that He Ate, Drank, Slept, Suffered, Died, Rose-Again and Ascended into Heaven.

Surely this is a Profound Mystery. We cannot hope to understand It until we see It clearly in the Vision of God. We cannot positively understand how it is possible for God to Assume to Himself a Human Nature. We even find Difficulty in seeking to Understand how the Human Nature of Christ can exist without a Human Personality. But this is a Mystery revealed to us by God Himself. With the Humility of Faith, we submit our own Minds to the Infinite Wisdom and Truth of God. Because God has Revealed this Sublime Truth to us, we know that it is possible for the Son of God to-assume-to Himself a Human Nature without a Human Personality. Because God has said so, we know that this staggering possibility is an Actual Fact, a Consoling Fact. For, if God has so Loved Men that He sent His Only-Begotten Son into the World as Man, then surely God's Love can raise Man up to the Unfathomable Happiness of the Vision of God.

In many ways, as we have already seen, it was fitting that the Son of God should assume a Human Nature, in fact it was more fitting for Him to assume a Human Nature than any other kind of Nature. From the point-of-view of Dignity, it is fitting that the Son of God, Who is the Absolute Perfection of Divine Knowledge, Who is the Divine Intellect, and should assume to Himself a Nature that is also Rational and Intellectual. Again, even though the Angels are also Intellectual Beings, it was more fitting that God should become Man [not become a Man], because Man needed Salvation and could be Saved, whereas the Evil Angels, the Devils, could not be Saved, and the Good Angels do not need Redemption.

Summary of Personhoods

Event/
(Place)

Nature

Action/
Agent

Nature/
Agent

Result

Incarnation
(Mary's Womb)

Divine Nature

Assumes
(Power of God)

Human Nature
(Mary's blood solely, flows through the Body of Christ)

Jesus Christ
(
Body, Blood,
Soul, Divinity)

Conception
(Mother's Womb)

Soul

Unites With(Power of God)

Body
(Mother & Father)

Human Person
(Body, Blood,
Soul)

 

Notare Bene: The 'Womb' of a Woman is a Private and Sacred Place where God and Woman cooperate in the formation of a Human Nature. God is completely in charge and allows fertilization to take place in order to provide the Body and Blood, and in the same instant He creates a Soul to give Life to the Fetus. In the case of Jesus Christ, the Fetus in Mary's Womb was instantly assumed to  His Divinity, resulting in the God-Man necessary for our Redemption and Salvation.

 

Why Christ assumed a Human Nature For Our Salvation

Since the purpose of the Incarnation was the Salvation of the Sinful Race of Adam, it was also fitting that the Son of God should assume to Himself an Individual Nature of the Race of Adam. In this way, the same Human Race that had Offended God in Adam, and had Lost God's Grace, could Satisfy God for Man's Sin and Regain the Grace of God.

For this reason, too, the Son of God assumed to Himself a Complete, Perfect Human Nature, a Human Body United to a Human Soul, a Rational, Intellectual Soul. If He had not done this, then He could not have Satisfied God for Sin as a Real Man, a True Representative of the Race of Adam. We cannot escape from this Mystery, then, by saying either that God only appeared to us as a Man, but that His Body had no Human Soul, no Human Intellect or Human Free Will. In all these hypotheses, Christ would not have been a Real Man and He would not have been able to offer God a Man's Reparation for Sin.

The Son of God assumed to Himself a complete Human Nature. Now, because this Human Nature is the Human Nature of a Person Who is God, it is only Natural that this Human Nature will have all the Perfection that is possible to a Human Nature and that is not opposed to the Purpose of the Incarnation -- the Redemption of Mankind. We must consider briefly both the Perfection of Christ's Human Nature and Its Weaknesses.

In the Order of Divine Grace, the Human Nature of Christ is the Most Perfect of all Human Natures. Since the Human Soul of Christ is so intimately United to the Person of the Son of God, it is only Natural that His Soul should be Perfectly Sanctified by Divine Grace. [Notare Bene: Grace resides within the Soul, but can be expelled from the Soul by Sin].

 

The Human Soul of Christ

Human Being/Person
(A Union of Body and Soul)

Body
(Lower Nature)

Natural
Organism

Supernatural Organism

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) Soul (Higher Nature)

  yellowdot.gif (100 bytes)Intellect
  yellowdot.gif (100 bytes)Will

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) Sanctifying Grace (static)

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) Infused Virtues and Gifts of the Holy Spirit (dynamic)

 

Divine Grace made His Soul Holy and Pleasing to God, just as It does in the Souls of other Men. Moreover, the Soul of Christ was to be the Source of the Supernatural Acts by which the Redemption of Man would be accomplished. But Sanctifying Grace is necessary for Meritorious Supernatural Acts; hence the Soul of Christ was given this Grace. In addition, Christ was to be the source of Grace for all other Men. How could He give Grace to others if He did not possess It Himself?

As in other Men, so too in Christ, Sanctifying Grace brought to His Soul the Perfection of the Supernatural Virtues. But because of the Perfection of Christ's Grace, not all of these Virtues were necessary to Christ. In the Perfection of His Grace, Christ already possessed the Vision of God. His Soul already Enjoyed from the beginning of Its existence the Happiness of seeing God Face-to-face. Hence there was no need in Christ for the Virtues of Faith or Hope. He did not need Faith, for He saw God Face-to-face; and He did not have to Hope for what He already possessed, and being Perfect He did not need the Moral Virtue of Penance. But Christ had the other Supernatural Virtues and Gifts of the Holy Ghost in a Pre-eminent Degree.

Christ also possessed to the Fullest Degree the Gratuitous Graces of which we have already spoken, including the Gift of Prophecy and the Power of working Miracles. In God's Plan, Christ was to be the Perfect Teacher of all Men; hence God gave Him these Gifts to fit Him for this task.

To sum it all up, we must say that Christ possessed the Fullness of Grace. His Soul is Intimately and Substantially United to God in the Person of the Son of God. Because It is more closely United to God, the Source of Divine Grace, than any other creature, It receives the Greatest Outpouring of Grace. Since Christ is to Communicate the Grace of God to others, It must possess the Greatest Degree of Grace. It might be well to remark here that Christ possessed an Absolute Fullness of Grace. We say of Mary, His Mother, and some of the Saints, that were also Full of God's Grace. In Their case we are referring to a Relative-Fullness of Grace; They possessed as much Grace as They needed to perform the work God gave Them to do. But Christ had the Most Stupendous Task of all: He had to Redeem the whole Human Race, and hence, possessed an Absolute Fullness of Grace.

Although the Soul of Christ possessed the Fullness of Grace, His Grace was still a Created-Reality; It was something Finite and Limited in Itself. It was the Greatest Possible Participation in the Divine Life, the Greatest Share in the Divine Life, and to this extent might be called Infinite. No other degree of Grace, in fact the Grace of all other Men and Angels put-together cannot surpass the Grace of Christ; but in Itself the Grace of Christ is still a Finite Created-Reality, although unlike the Grace of other Men, It is not capable of any increase; no one can gain more than the Greatest-Degree of anything, and from the beginning Christ possessed the Greatest-Degree of Grace.

This Great Grace was given to Him also because of the Divine Plan that He was to be the Head of the whole Human Race in the Spiritual Order. Adam is the Head in the Natural Order of the Body. Adam was also the Spiritual Head before his Sin. By his Sin he Lost God's Grace for himself and for all his descendants, and in this way he ceased to be the Head of the Human Race in the Spiritual Order. However, God determined to Restore Grace to the Human Race, and He made Christ the New Spiritual Head of all Men. It is in this sense that the Fathers of the Church called Christ "the second Adam". From Adam until the End of Time, all Grace comes to Men from Christ. Since His Own Personal Sanctifying Grace is the source of Grace for all Men, His Grace is sometimes called Capital Grace or the Grace of Headship, which we will cover in a later segment. But for now we need to go deeper into the Human Nature and Knowledge of Christ:

 

The Perfections of the Human Nature and Knowledge of Christ

Since the Human Nature of Christ is the Human Nature of the Son of God, and since Christ in that Nature is the Head of Men and Angels, it is natural to expect that It will have the Maximum Excellence that is possible to a Human Nature. This is precisely the case: in Knowledge and Power, the Human Nature of Christ possesses all the Perfection possible to a Human Nature.

Definition - Philosophy 101
Man's Understanding (that is, his Mind, Intellect, Knowledge, Intelligence, Reason) and his Will are his Higher Faculties. Higher Faculties have their Proper Subject in Man's Soul alone.

From the point-of-view of Knowledge, it would have been absurd for God to give Christ a Human Mind without Endowing It with all the Knowledge possible to It. As God, Christ Possessed the Perfection of the Divine Knowledge. As God, Christ knew everything that could be known about God and the World, about the Past, the Present and the Future. But still, the Perfection of the Human Nature of Christ demands that the Soul of Christ should know everything that a Human Soul may know, and in the way in which it is possible for a Human Soul to know anything.

 

Christ as Head of His Church

Christ is the Head of His Church. This is a Truth which is profoundly significant for all Men, especially the Members of His Church. Christ is the Head of the Church and the Church is His Mystical Body. The terms "Head" and "Body" are used in comparison with the Head and Body of a Man. The Head of a Man is the First Part of His Body, beginning from the top down. The Head is also His Noblest part, for in It we find all the Five Senses of Man ----- Sight, Hearing, Taste, Smell and Touch, plus the Imagination and Reason ----- whereas in the rest of the Body we find only the Sense of Touch. The Head is also the Power which rules the rest of the Body, for in It we find the Brain, which Moves all the Parts of the Body to their different actions for the Good of the whole Body. Now Christ plays all these roles in relation to His Church. He is the First, or the Topmost, part of the Church, for He is the First-Born of all the Sons of God through Grace. He is the Noblest or Most Perfect part of the Church, for He possesses the Absolute Fullness of Grace. Through His Graces, He is the closest Human Being to God and His Soul is the instrument by which the Wisdom and Power of God become active in the World of Men. He is the Teacher, the Ruler and the Sanctifier of all Men. Lastly, as the Head directs the members of the Body to the Good of the Whole, as the Head gives Life and Movement to the Body, so, too, Christ directs the Members of the Church to the Good of the Whole Church and imparts Life to all the Members of His Church. Christ possesses the Grace of Headship because He bestows Grace on all.

 

mystical_body_hypostatic.jpg (39846 bytes)

 

Christ is the Head of Men principally in relation to Their Souls. However, the Bodies of Men are the Instruments by which they act in the World; hence, Christ can be said to have an influence on the Bodies of Men in-so-far-as He Sanctifies and Moves their Souls by Grace. In a Man whose Soul lives by the Grace of Christ, the Body is an Instrument for the performance of Works of Justice, rather than for Works of Iniquity. In this way Christ Sanctifies both the Souls and Bodies of Men. We can say, also, that at the time of the Resurrection of Men at the End of the World, the Souls of those who are in Heaven will Glorify their Risen Bodies. The Glory of the Saintly Soul will flow into the Risen Body. In this way, too, Christ is the Head of Men's Bodies as well as Their Souls.

Christ is, in the Divine Plan, the Head of all Men. Now, in a Human Body the Head and all the members exist together and simultaneously. This is evidently not the case in the Headship of Christ. All Men do not live at-the-same-time, nor are They all actually United to Christ, Their Head. Christ, then, is the Head of all Men, but in different ways. If we consider all the Men who have-existed or who will-exist in the course-of-time, then we may express Their relation to Christ as Their Head in the following way:

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) Christ is the actual Head of all those who are already with Him in Heaven enjoying the Vision of God, the final Fruition of the Life of Grace. (i.e. Church Triumphant)

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) He is also the actual Head of all the Men Who are not yet in Heaven (i.e. Church Militant and Church Suffering), but who are United to Him in Grace and Charity. He is actually the Head of all those who are United to Him by Faith, even though, through Mortal Sin, they have Lost Grace and Charity. In this case, though, it is clear that such Men are Less-Perfectly His Members than those who are in the State of Grace. Lastly, other Men, while they are still in this life, are the Members of Christ's Body in Potentiality. They are not actual Members of His Church, but they can become Members. Of these Men some will, in the Providence of God, become actual Members of Christ, but others will not. After Death, those Men who did not Die as Members of Christ will cease even to be Potential Members of Christ.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) Christ is also the Head of the Angels. The Perfection of His Grace places Him nearer to God than even the Highest Angel. In addition, Christ uses the Ministry of Angels in working out the Salvation of Men; and in this way He adds to their Accidental Glory and Happiness, and directs their actions to the Good of the whole Mystical Body which is His Church.

Christ is the Head of His Church, both because He is the Source of the Grace by which Its Members are Spiritually alive, and because He Governs the whole Church. Now He has given to Men a Share in these Powers. Christ Himself has ascended into Heaven. He is no longer with us in the Flesh; but He has remembered that We are only Human Beings, that We cannot live solely in the realm of the Spirit. He has, as it were, left behind Him Other-Christs who continue to exercise His functions as Head of the Church. It is True that only Christ, because of the close Union between His Soul and His Divinity, can directly cause Grace to flow into the Souls of the Members of His Church. He alone, as the Son of God, can send the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, into the World to cause God's Grace to exist in the Souls of Men. But He has given His Bishops and Priests the Power to act on the Souls of Men through the Sacraments which He Himself has instituted. When a Priest Baptizes an infant, or when a Bishop Confirms someone, it is Christ Himself Who acts through the Priest or Bishop and through the Sacrament, to introduce God's Grace into the Soul of the Person Baptized or Confirmed. In the Sacrament of Matrimony it is the Bride and Groom who make the Sacrament, and the Power of Christ acts through them and through the Sacrament to give them the Grace of the Sacrament.

Christ has also entrusted the External Government and Instruction of His Church to Men, to the Pope and the Bishops. He has given authority to Rule and to Teach His Church. In a sense, then, these Men may also be called Heads of the Church. But they are Subordinate Heads, like the Heads of the various Departments in a giant Corporation. They Rule some particular section of the Church, as a Bishop Rules and Teaches one particular Diocese. The Pope of Rome, however, is the Vicar of Christ. He takes Christ's place on Earth as the Ruler and the Teacher of the whole Church on Earth. It is this participation of the Pope and the Bishops in the Headship of Christ which Merits for them the Respect, Obedience and Love which all the Members of Christ's Church give to them. They speak to Men for Christ. They speak with His Voice. He speaks through them, and hence in matters of Faith or Morals they can speak Infallibly. The Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit, reminds them of all that Christ has Commanded them.

 

Christ as Headship

If Christ is the Head of His Church, then the Church is His Body. As the term "Head" is used Figuratively of Christ in relation to the Church, so also the term "Body" is used Figuratively of the Church in relation to Christ. It is obvious that the Church is not a Physical Body as the Body of a Man. It is rather a Body in the sense in which we speak of a Moral Body, such as the Body Politic. The Body Politic is a group of Men United to work together to achieve the common goal of all Men in the Temporal Order. Now the Church is a group of Men United to work together under the Authority of Christ for the Good of the whole Church, which is the attainment of the Vision of God. However, the Church is even more than a Moral Body. In a Moral Body, the only means of Union between the Members is the Free Decision of their Wills to work-together. But in the Church the Members of Christ's Body are United to Christ and to one another by the Supernatural Bond of God's Grace and Charity. All the Members of Christ's Body, the Church, are United, not by a Natural Union of Wills, but in the Divine Life of Grace and in the Supernatural Bond of Christian Charity. Because both Grace and Charity are Supernatural Realities which are not fully understood by Men in this life, we call this Union a Mystical, or Mysterious Union. Hence, the Church is called not simply the Body of Christ, but the Mystical Body of Christ.

Definition - from the Catholic Encyclopedia
The Supernatural Order is the 'ensemble of effects' exceeding the powers of the Created Universe, and gratuitously produced by God for the purpose of raising the Rational Creature above its native sphere to a God-like life and destiny. The meaning of the phrase fluctuates with that of its Antithesis, the Natural Order. A Supernatural Gift may be defined as something conferred upon Nature that is above all the powers (vires) of Created Nature.

 

Elements - Supernatural Organism

Subject: Soul
Formal Principle: Sanctifying Grace
Faculties/Powers: Infused Virtues and Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Operations: Acts of the Virtues and Gifts

A Natural Body is alive, so the Mystical Body of Christ is alive in the Supernatural Order. As the Soul is the source-of-the-life of the Human Body, so the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, is the Life of the Mystical Body of Christ. From Heaven, Christ, as the Son of God, sends the Spirit into the World to give Supernatural Life to His Church. The Holy Spirit communicates Life to the Church in the Order of Truth, Holiness and Discipline:

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) He is the Source of Truth in the Church, because it is the Holy Spirit Who imparts Infallibility to the Pope and Bishops in the Teaching of Christian Doctrine.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) He is the Source of Truth for all the Members of the Church, for it is He Who bestows on all the Gift of Divine Faith whereby they lay hold on God's Revealed Truth.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) He is the Source of Holiness, since He is the Principal Agent infusing Grace ----- a share in the Divine Life ----- into the Souls of Men.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) He is the Source of Discipline, as it is He Who chooses ----- in a Mysterious, Invisible Way ----- those who will be the Visible Rulers of the Church in the World.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) He is the Primary Source of all Vocations to the Priesthood or the Religious Life, to the Episcopacy or the Papacy.

It is for these reasons that the Holy Spirit is called the Soul of the Church, the Soul of the Mystical Body of Christ. He is the Source of all Its Supernatural Life. He is the Source of the Charity (see white lines on the below diagram) which binds-together all the Members of the Church.

As there are many and different members in a living Human Body, so, too, Christ and the Holy Spirit have placed Numerous and Diverse Members in the Church. As we have just said, some Members of the Church are placed in Positions of Authority, and they are endowed with the Graces necessary for Teaching, Ruling and Sanctifying. To the others are given the Graces required for Obeying and Serving the Church. But in all the Members of the Church, whether they be Rulers or Ruled, God produces an astonishing variety of Graces which gives the Church the Great Beauty that is to be found in any living body. In the Church there are Humble Missioners with the Gift of Tongues or of Persuasive Preaching. We can find, also, Intellectual Geniuses such as Saint Thomas or Saint Bonaventure. In the Church God produces the Zeal of Saint Paul, the Charity of Saint John the Evangelist, the Fortitude of Pope Gregory VII or of Saint Ambrose, the Temperance of Matt Talbot, the Humility of the Cure de Ars, the Purity of Saint Agnes, the Crusading Spirit of Saint Louis of France, the Martyrdom of Saint Maria Goretti.

 

Drawing2.gif (7869 bytes)

Block Diagram of the interactions between the Communion of Saints (His Church/Mystical Body) discussed below. White lines represent the Spiritual Union (Charity, et al) which exists between the various parts of the Mystical Body of Christ.

 

In all these Mysterious Ways, God works out His Divine Plan for Men and for His Church. All the Members of His Church labor together for the building-up of the Body of Christ, for the Salvation of Men. Christ, His Blessed Mother, the Angels and Saints in Heaven work for the release of the Souls in Purgatory ----- the Church Suffering. They also work for the Salvation of the Church Militant ----- the Church here on Earth. Seeing us in their Vision of God, they know all our Needs, our Trials and Difficulties. Through their Prayers, a constant Torrent of God's Graces is pouring into Purgatory and into the World to Redeem Men. The Souls in Purgatory ----- the Church Suffering ----- expiate their Sins in the Purifying Fires of Purgatory. Some Theologians think they also can Pray for the Church Militant on Earth. At any rate, when their Souls are fully Cleansed and they are admitted to Heaven, then they, also, as Saints of God, intercede for us who still remain here on Earth. The Members of the Church here on Earth ----- the Church Militant ----- in their turn Toil and pray for their own Salvation and for the release of the Souls in Purgatory. In addition, they praise God in Himself and in His Saints. In all these wonderful ways, the Grace of Christ circulates through the Three (3) great Sections of His Church, the Church Triumphant in Heaven, the Church Suffering in Purgatory and the Church Militant on Earth, binding Them all together in the Communion of Saints.

This marvelous Supernatural Life of the Church is all traceable to the Grace of Headship which is Christ's. From this point-of-view, we can say that the Church is Christ; it is from Him that Supernatural Life flows to all Its Members. Christ lives-on forever in His Church; here on Earth the Church is the continuance of His Life. In the Church, Christ still Teaches Men the Truths of Salvation, Sanctifies their Souls, and Rules them for the Salvation of the World.

lucifer.gif (13631 bytes) There are, unfortunately, some Men who are not under the Headship of Christ. These are They Who are either already in Hell for their Sins, or Who will be condemned to Hell for their Sins. These Men have Lost their True Head, and now are under the Rule of the Devil. They have no Real Head in the sense of a source of Supernatural Life; but they are subject to the External Government of the Devil.

Since the Human Nature of Christ is the Human Nature of the Son of God, and since Christ in that Nature is the Head of Men and Angels, it is natural to expect that It will have all the Excellence that is possible to a Human Nature. This is precisely the case: in Knowledge and Power, the Human Nature of Christ possesses all the Perfection possible. This means that the Soul of Christ must have been Enriched from the beginning with the Vision of God. If Christ was to make it possible for other Men to see God, certainly He must have seen God with His Own Human Intellect. Obviously, this Vision of God in the Human Intellect of Christ cannot be equal to the Infinitely Perfect Vision of God which is proper to God alone. But since Christ, in His Human Nature, is the Head of all creatures, He will see in His Vision of God all that can be known about Creatures ----- that is, He will see everything that is real about Creation: all that has-been, that is, or that will-be. He will not see everything that is possible to God; only God can fully realize the Infinite Power of God.

In addition, the Human Soul of Christ possesses Infused Knowledge. We realize that this is possible, because the Angelic Intellects know by means of Infused Knowledge, and the Souls of the Dead also know by Infused Knowledge, since they no longer have any Eyes, Ears, and so forth by which they could know anything. If the Angels and the Souls of the Dead are to know the things in the world, they must know them through Knowledge which God Infuses into their Minds. Since Knowledge of this kind is attainable by a Created Mind, It must exist in the Human Mind of Christ. Surely, God would not allow the Mind of His Own Human Nature to lack any possible Perfection. Through this Infused Knowledge, Christ would not know the Essence of God; He knew the Essence of God through His Beatific Vision of God. But through this Infused Knowledge He would know everything that is possible for a Created Intellect to know. Lastly, the Human Intellect of Christ could Acquire Knowledge just as other Men obtain It. Through the Five (5) Senses He would come to learn the World in which Men live; by the Power of His Mind He would come to Understand the meaning of things just as other Men do. It follows, then, that while the Vision of God in the Soul of Christ and the Infused Knowledge in His Soul could not Grow or Increase, the Acquired Knowledge in the Soul of Christ could Increase. This is the meaning of the statement in Sacred Scripture that the Boy Christ advanced in Wisdom. Neither His Beatific Vision of God nor His Infused Knowledge Increased, but His Natural Acquired Knowledge was Augmented. Naturally, since the Human Nature of Christ was a Perfect Human Nature, since the Power of Christ's Mind was never Weakened or Darkened by Sin, even the Acquired Knowledge of Christ surpasses the Knowledge of all other Men. We do not say that Christ, in this way, knew even things of which He had not experience, such as the Television or the Atom Bomb. But His Mind grasped the Essence of All-Things. Naturally, too, since Christ is God, it was not fitting that Christ should learn anything either from Angels or Men. God is the Source of all Knowledge; therefore, even in His Human Nature, He Acquired all that He knew without any Angelic or Human Teacher.

As we have already noted, the great Perfection of the Human Knowledge of Christ is due to the fact that it is the Knowledge of the Human Nature that is God's, the Human Nature that was Assumed by the Son of God. The Absolute Perfection of the Son of God demands that the Human Nature He Assumes be as Perfect as It can be. The necessity of this Perfect Knowledge in Christ appears even more clearly when we recall the role that Christ plays in the Universe. He is the Head of Men and Angels, and must direct them; therefore, He must know Perfectly the World of Men and Angels. In addition, He is to lead Men to the Vision of God. But unless He knows the destination well, how can He lead Men to it? It was necessary then, for Christ to know God and the whole Universe as Perfectly as is possible.

We may say the same about the Power of Christ. Since He is God, it is fitting that His Human Nature possess all the Power possible to a Creature. As He is the Head of Men and Angels, it is fitting that He have all the Power necessary to fulfill this role in the Universe. Because the Human Nature of Christ is a Creature, It cannot have the Omnipotence of God. It cannot Create anything or Annihilate anything; these Actions are proper to God alone. But Christ had the Power to work Miracles through His Human Nature; It was the Instrument used by His Divinity to produce Miraculous Effects in the World. Obviously, too, the Human Nature of Christ, in-virtue-of Its Fullness of Grace and Perfection of Knowledge, had the Power to Instruct all Creatures.

The Perfection of the Human Nature of Christ is an Inspiration to all Men. It shows Them what God wants Them to be; not that all Men, or any One (1) Man, could ever reach the Excellence of Christ. But it is the Will of God that all should Approach the Perfections of Christ as closely as possible. Still, God, in His Wisdom, did not make the Human Nature of Christ so Perfect that Men might not recognize Christ as One of Themselves, as another Person with a Human Nature. In Christ we find those Human Imperfections which are not contrary to His Human Perfection, and which are useful in the work of Redemption which Christ was to accomplish:

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) Christ was Hungry at times, and Thirsty, and Tired;

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) He could feel Pain.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) He could Suffer and Die, and He did Suffer and Die for the Sins of Men. By His Sufferings and Death He Paid the Penalty of the Sins of Men.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) He could feel Sorrow at the prospect of Death; He could Weep over the Death of Lazarus, His friend.

But He did not have those Defects of Human Nature which are due solely to Sin. Since He had to Suffer and Die to Redeem Men from Sin, He Assumed in His Body the Defects of Suffering and Death; but He Himself, because He was Sinless , did not Contract the Penalties of Suffering and Death as a Punishment for His Own Sins. He Assumed these Defects only to Pay the Penalty of other Men's Sins. He Himself was absolutely Sinless; the Perfection of His Holiness did not even tolerate in Him any Inclination to Evil, any Disordered Concupiscence of the Flesh. But the Sufferings and the Death He endured for Men are an example of Patience and Love to all.

The Son of God has become Man. Christ is both God and Man. Important Consequences result from this Tremendous Fact. From the point-of-view of Christ Himself, it follows that since there is only One (1) Person in Christ, whatever we can say of either of His Natures can be said of that Person. Hence, we can declare that Christ is God, or that Christ is Man. We can state that the Son of God is Eternal, and that He Died on the Cross at Calvary. Because the Person in Christ is a Divine Person, the Son of God, we can call Mary the Mother of God; she has given birth to God in His Human Nature. However, it is important to remember that the Two (2) Natures of Christ remain themselves; hence, we cannot say that the Divinity of Christ is Human, or that the Divine Nature Died on the Cross, or that the Human Nature of Christ is Eternal or strictly Omnipotent.

In virtue of the Oneness (1) of Personality in Christ, we must also assert that there are not Two (2) Christs, the One (1) Human and the Other (1) Divine. We must affirm that there is One (1) Christ, Who is both Human and Divine. Because there is but One (1) Person, One (1) Responsible Agent in Christ, it follows that there must also be a Unity or a Conformity between the Divine Will of Christ and His Human Will. Since Christ possessed a Perfect Human Nature, He also possessed a Free Human Will. The Human Will of Christ was Perfectly Conformed to the Divine Will of Christ. It did not Will anything against the Divine Will, nor did It refuse anything the Divine Will Commanded. This does not mean that Christ did not Suffer at all in undergoing Death on the Cross. Christ Allowed His Sensitive Appetite to function quite Naturally during His Passion and Death. As in other Men, His Soul, through the action of the Sensitive Appetite, Feared the prospect of Suffering and Death. This is the meaning of Christ's statement in the Garden of Gethsemane: "My Soul is Sorrowful unto Death". His Will, considered simply as a tendency to Good, also Shrank from Suffering and Death. But His Will as a Rational Appetite, as an Inclination to Good under the control of Reason, Accepted Suffering and Death as the Will of God. In the Action of His Human Will, then, Christ gave us the example of a Perfect Will. While still subject to the Movement of the Passions, the Will of Christ was Rationally Obedient to God, even unto the Death of the Cross.

As a Person with a Human Nature, Christ had also the Power to act in a Human Way. He was capable of Acts of Reason and Will. In fact, all the Actions of the Human Nature of Christ, even the purely Vegetative Functions of His Body, were under the control of His Rational Human Will. Moreover, since Christ was able to act Freely, He was capable of Meriting Grace for Himself and for others. But here we must make an important distinction. Since Christ did not exist in His Human Nature until the Son of God Assumed a Human Nature to Himself in the Womb of the Virgin Mary, Christ did not Merit for Himself either the Personal Union of His Human Nature with the Son of God, nor Sanctifying Grace, nor the Perfection of His Knowledge. But He Merited for Himself the Glory of His Body after His Resurrection and His Ascension, and, in general, all the Perfections which He acquired in the course of time. In addition, He Merited by His Free Actions all the Graces given to Men as Members of His Mystical Body, and even the Graces whereby the Angels assist Him in the work of building-up His Mystical Body.

 

Christ in Relation to His Father

We may also consider the Consequences of the Incarnation from the point-of-view of the Relations between Christ and His Father. As God, the Son of God is equal in Divinity to the Father; but in His Human Nature, the Son of God is subject-to the Father. In the First Place, all the Goodness of the Human Nature of Christ comes from God the Father. Secondly, the Human Nature of Christ, as all Creatures, is subject-to the Divine Governance of the World by God the Father. Lastly, since the Will of the Human Nature of Christ was Perfect in Grace, It was Fully and Freely subject-to God the Father. Christ, then, gives us once again a Perfect Example of the Proper Subjection of Men to God.

Because Christ was Human, He Prayed to His Father. In this, also, He afforded us a Perfect Model. He asked for those things which God wished to give Him through Prayer, such as the Glorification of His Body after the Resurrection. But He also offered to God in Prayer the desires of His Sensitive Appetite. Thus, at the beginning of His Passion He Prayed: "Let this Chalice pass from Me". By so doing He showed us that it is possible for Man to desire what God does not wish. But He also taught us on the same occasion that our Rational Wills should be Conformed to the Will of God against the tendencies of the Sensitive Appetite, for He concluded His Prayer with the words: "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt". Because His Prayers were always in Conformity with the Will of God, They were always answered.

Through the Incarnation, Christ is the High Priest of God and the Human Race. It is the function of a Priest to act as a Mediator between God and Men. He must bring the Gifts of God to Men, and He must take the Offerings of Men to God, and make Satisfaction for their Sins. Now Christ fulfilled this role Perfectly. He is the Perfect Mediator between God and Men, because He Himself is both God and Man. He brings God's Gifts to Men, because it is through Christ that Divine Grace is given to Men. He Offered Himself on the Cross to God as a Satisfaction for the Sins of Men, and in this way He both brought to God the offering of Mankind and made Satisfaction for Sin.

The Offering which Christ made to God for Men was the Sacrifice of Himself on the Cross. In this Sacrifice, Christ was both the Victim and the Priest. As we have already seen, every Visible Sacrifice is a sign of an Invisible Sacrifice. The Death of Christ on the Cross was the Visible Sign of the Internal Act of Will by which Christ Offered Himself to His Father for the Sins of Men. Christ was thus both the Priest Offering the Victim of Sacrifice to God, and the Victim. His Sacrifice on the Cross Accomplished the Three (3) Goals (Requirements) of Sacrifice:

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) The Remission of Sin,

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) Peace between God and Men, and

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) Holocaust.

By His Death, Christ Redeemed Men from Sin, and Won for Them the Grace which establishes Peace between God and Men. Through His Death, Christ Offered Himself wholly to God for Men, and so was made a Holocaust, that is, a Victim wholly Burnt or Offered to God. Because it is God Himself, the Son of God, Who Offers this Sacrifice, the Sacrifice is of Infinite Value and It Purchases an Eternal Reward for Men, the Vision of God in Eternity. For this reason, the Priesthood of Christ is Eternal (Thou art a Priest forever according to the Order of Melchizadek). It is important to note that Christ is the Natural Son of God. Other Men may become the Adopted Sons of God through Grace; but since Christ is the Second Person of the Trinity, He is the Natural Son of God, and not the Adopted Son of God.

The Incarnation is a Work of God in the World. It was, therefore, a part of the Plan of Divine Providence from the beginning. From all Eternity, God the Father intended that His Son should become Incarnate in Jesus Christ. We can say, then, that Christ, a Man, was Predestined to be the Son of God.

From the point-of-view of the Relation of Christ to Men, it is important to remember both that He is Man and that He is God. Because He is Man, a Man can be inspired by His example, attracted by His Humanity, and Ennobled by a familiarity with Him in Prayer and Grace. But since He is God, all Men owe Him Adoration. Adoration, as we have seen, is Paying Tribute to someone's excellence. When it is Homage to God's Perfection as the Supreme Being, the Creator of the World, then the Adoration is Latria. When it is any Lesser Tribute to some Lesser Excellence, then it is Veneration or Dulia. Since Christ is God, we must pay Him the Adoration of Latria. We must acknowledge Him as the Supreme Being and the Creator of the World. Since there is only One (1) Person in Christ, we must even give this Adoration to Christ in His Human Nature, or in the Images of Him which Men make for use in Religious Actions. Naturally, we do not give the Worship of Latria to the Human Nature of Christ, or to Images of Christ insofar as they are Creatures. We give this Worship to Christ in or through His Human Nature, or the Images which represent Him to us. We might put it in another way by saying that we give an Absolute Adoration to the Person of Christ, but a Relative Adoration to His Human Nature and to Images of Him.

When Men Adore Christ, they truly Adore God. Christ is Emmanuel, that is, God-with-us. In Christ we can, so-to-speak, see the Face of God. It is His Human Face, it is true. But even this vision is a foretaste of the Beatific Vision of God which is the inheritance of all those who are Members of Christ's Body, the Church. It is their inheritance because Christ is the Perfect Mediator between God and Men. He Stands-Between God and Men ----- He Mediates between them ----- because He brings God's Gifts to Men and He takes Men to God. As Man, He is the Perfect Mediator because He occupies a position Midway-Between God and Men. As Man He is not God, and so He stands-below God. But, as a Man possessing the Fullness of Grace, Knowledge and Power, He Stands-Above Men. He is thus in a Perfect Position to Mediate between God and Men. And this is what Christ is doing ceaselessly for Men in and through His Body, the Church.

The Incarnation is God's Answer to the Misery of Men without God. God stoops to Man to raise Him to Himself. "And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all things to Myself". Man has only to accept freely Christ as His Mediator. Not even Christ Saves a Man against His Will.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) Because Man is Proud, God has stooped-down to Him.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) Since Man is Disobedient, God has given Him the example of the Perfect Obedience of Christ.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) As Man is Ignorant and in Error, God has given Him Christ, the Perfect Teacher.

Could the Love of God do more for Man"? By this hath the Charity of God appeared towards us, because God hath sent His Only Begotten Son into the World, that we may live by Him".

 

End of writings by Father Walter Farrell and Father Martin Healy

 

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