The Story of the Redemption of Mankind
by Father Paul A. Duffner, O.P.
In the Biblical Account of the beginning of the Human Race, the Fall of our First Parents
introduced Conflict, Suffering and
Death into the Human Scene. They Lost the
Supernatural Life of Grace that made them Children of
God, and were Reduced from a State of
Friendship with God, to one of
Enmity with God. Not only could Mankind do nothing, of itself, to Regain
the Gifts that were Lost, but
Heaven was Closed to the Human Race. In addition, our First Parents incurred for Mankind an
Infinite (∞) Debt of
Punishment for which Man was Utterly Helpless and Unable to make Reparation.
States of Man before, and after the Fall of our First Parents
States of Man >
Infused Grace & Knowledge
Lost Grace -
Grace Restored -
Vision of God
Tends to Malice
Tends to Malice
The Loss of the Harmony, Integrity, Coordination or Balance between Body and
Soul. The Emotions of the Body are not
Docile Servants of the Soul, but often Rebel against the limitations which
Reason enlightened by Faith impose as the Norm of Action.
They Lost the Harmony between
Flesh (Body) and Spirit,
i.e. the Perfect Subordination of the former to the
latter. The "Will" was
Weakened, and their Intellect was
Obscured so that they often chose Evil under the Appearance of
Good, and they were left with an Inclination to seek what Pleased them, rather than what
Pleased God. Had Adam not Sinned, all
the Gifts he Enjoyed before the "
Fall" would have been Inherited by their Descendents. Because of the "
Fall", every Descendent of Adam comes into this World Deprived of those
Gifts, Inheriting a Wounded
"Will" and "Intellect",
an Inclination to Evil, and a Lack of Subordination
of his Lower Nature to the Higher. Such was the Pitiful
Plight of our First Parents after their Rebellion against the Limitation
that God had placed on them.
In Response to the Disobedience of Adam and Eve,
God Could have simply:
Pardoned them and their Descendents without requiring any
Or He Could have Lessened
His Gift to Mankind, making their Ultimate Goal a purely Natural Happiness
Again, He Could have Inflicted
Eternal Punishment on them Immediately, as
He did with the Fallen Angels.
But this was not in keeping with Gods Salvific Plan of
Mercy and Justice for the Human Race. The
Divine Response was not slow-in-coming. As the First Man and Woman had
Rebelled at the Instigation and
Deception of the Devil, who appeared in the form of a
Serpent, another Man and Woman
would in-time undo the Damage they had brought upon the Human Race, and would
Conquer decisively the Devil and his
"And the Lord God said to the Serpent, because you have done this ... I will put Enmity between you and the woman,
between your seed and her Seed; she shall Crush your Head, and you will lie in wait for her Heel" (Genesis 3:15).
Those Words might be Paraphrased as follows:
"Since you have made use of a woman to lead Mankind into Sin, I will make use of a woman to bring about the
Redemption of Mankind. The woman I will choose and prepare, inferior to you by Nature, will be Superior in Grace and Glory to what you
were before your Fall, and more Powerful than you and all your Rebellious Followers. Never for a moment will you be able to Seduce her
as you did Eve, or have Dominion over her. With the Power of her Divine Offspring (her "Seed") she will Crush your Head. She will be My
Instrument in your Humiliating Defeat, and your Eternal Shame and Confusion".
The above Promise, issued at the very beginning of the Human Race, was a Source-of-Encouragement to Mankind, for it gave a
Divine Assurance of the Ultimate Triumph of
Good over Evil. The
One promised by God would Restore - Partially in this Life and Totally in the Life
to Come - that which was Lost. However, as the
Centuries passed, there was a Gradual Moral Degradation of the Human Race, and the
Promised Redemption made in the beginning and the Hope
it brought was lost-sight-of by many.
At a Point-in-time, some 18 Centuries before Christ,
God singled-out a Chosen People to Keep-alive the
Knowledge of the Promised Redeemer, and to further
Reveal to Mankind the Divine Plan of Salvation. Thus
the Old Testament Prepared the Way for the Promised
Redeemer, Whose coming was gradually announced in more detail regarding the
Time, Place and Circumstances
of His Mission.
The Promised Redeemer
In the Fullness of Time, this long-awaited Prophesy was Fulfilled, and the
Divine Plan of Redemption was carried out. The "
Woman" of Genesis, the New Eve,
Miraculously conceived of the Holy Spirit, and brought forth the Promised
One foretold Centuries before and announced
by the Angel Gabriel:
"He shall be Great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the Throne of David
His Father, and He shall be King over the House of Jacob forever; and of His Kingdom there shall be no End"
The Divine Offspring of Mary, the Promised
Messiah and Redeemer, came as
Prophet, Priest and King.
As PROPHET, He went about Preaching and
Teaching for Three (3) Years, announcing the Good News of the
As PRIEST, He offered
Himself in Sacrifice accomplishing that
Redemption, and Meriting for Mankind the Restoration of the
Grace that Adam had Lost.
As KING, He established the
Kingdom of God, which has its beginning on Earth, and its Fulfillment in
Heaven. "My Kingdom is not of this World" (John 18:36).
It is His Role as High Priest of the
New Law that we are mainly interested in here, for it is in that Role that
He Redeemed Mankind.
The word "Redeem" means to buy back,
to Pay a Price for something that was Lost. By their
Sin, our First Parents had thrown away their Birthright of Union with
God by sharing in His Divine Nature through
Grace, and Eternal Happiness in
Heaven. That was Lost not only for themselves, but for their Descendents as well.
Our Divine Redeemer, as a Member of the Human Race and as the Second
Adam, had become Man precisely to Purchase-back that Birthright for us, but what a High Price
He Paid for it.
"You know that you were Redeemed . . . not with perishable things, with silver or gold, but with the Precious Blood
of Christ, as of a Lamb without Blemish and without Spot" (1Peter 1:18). "You are not your
own, for you have been bought at a Great Price. Glorify God and bear Him in your Body" (1Corinthians 6:19).
Because Christ was Man, He could
Pay the Debt on the part of Mankind; and because He was
God, He could Offer
Infinite (∞) Reparation, Rendering to the
Father far more than was required to Satisfy for the
Sins of the entire Human Race. By their Rebellion against
God at the Instigation of the Devil, Adam and Eve and their Descendents
came under the Dominion of the Devil
(John 8:34; 2Peter 2:19), from which only God could
Rescue them. And from this Dominion
God Ransomed them and all Mankind through the
Sacrifice of His only-begotten
Son. "The Son of Man has not come to be served but to serve, and
to give His Life for the Ransom of Many". (Matthew 20:28).
"You are not Your Own"
Those Words of Saint Paul, quoted above, should provoke Profound Reflection. Not only are we
Gods Possession, because He Created us, and gave us every
Gift of Nature and Grace that we possess;
but when the Human Race was put on Trial (in the Person of Adam, its Head) and
Failed in that Trial,
Losing our Divine Birthright and incurring an
Infinite (∞) Debt,
God sent His only-begotten
Son to Redeem us from Everlasting Separation from
Him by means of His Passion
and Death. How much more, then, are we Gods
Possession. How much more does God have a Strict Right to our
Obedience, our Love, our Worship,
Among the various Gifts with which God has endowed
Human Beings is Mans Free Will. It is the Source of his Great
Dignity, but can also be the Source of his Downfall. We have been given the Power
(not the Right) to Reject what God Commands of
us. We hear so much today "I have a Right to Choose" referring to something
Gravely Sinful. No one has a 'Right' against God, the
Creator. He made us Free, so
that we might Freely fulfill His
"Will" making our Acts Meritorious. But we have the
Capacity of Freely Rejecting
Gods "Will", making our Acts
Sinful. No one with the Use of Reason goes to
Heaven without Freely Choosing what is in
Conformity with Gods "Will"; and no one is ever
Lost Eternally except by Freely
Choosing what is Forbidden by God, and
Clinging to that Choice.
How many there are who, in their Blindness, seem Totally Unmindful of their
Indebtedness to their Creator, claiming the
Right to live their Life as they Choose. How many, like Eve, Deceived
by the Evil One, Choose the Creature
in Preference to the Creator.
Twofold Fruit of Christ's Passion
The Crucifixion - by GRÜNEWALD, Matthias - from Musée d'Unterlinden, Colmar
Through His Death on the
Cross, Christ Redeemed Mankind from a
Twofold Need that only God could Remedy:
1) To Pay the
Infinite (∞) Debt of
Reparation that Mankind owed God because of
the Rebellion of Adam, its Head. Christs
Sacrifice was Infinite (∞) in its
Redeeming Value, thus offering more-than-adequate Atonement for the
Offense of Adam and all of his Descendents. Christs
Passion and Death were more Acceptable to
God than all of the Sacrifices of the
Old Testament combined. It offered the Father
Glory, and all of the Disobedience,
Insults, Sacrileges and Rebellion
of the Human Race since the beginning of the World were more than Counterbalanced. Adams
Sin, and every Sin of his Descendents involves
an element of Self-Glorification and Disobedience
to God. Christ, the
Second Adam, made Reparation in the Name of all Humanity
through His "Obedience, even to the Death on the Cross"
(Philippians 2:8). "As by one mans Disobedience many were made Sinners, so by One Mans
Obedience many will be made Righteous" (Romans 5:19).
2) To Merit the Restoration of
Grace which Adam Lost for himself and his
Descendents. Without that Grace Man could never attain the
Vision of God in Heaven for which he was Created. But now, through the
Merits of Christs Redeeming
Sacrifice, Man can once again be Restored to the
Supernatural State of Grace. If Adam had not Sinned, the
Soul of every Individual Man, Created by God
at the Moment of Conception, would be Adorned with Divine
Grace. Adam and his Descendents would have passed on not only Human Nature, but
Supernatural Divine Life.
Christs Redeeming Action Healed the
Breach between God and Mankind by Restoring the Divine Life of
Grace, but He did not Restore the
Preternatural Gifts that Adam enjoyed before the Fall, e.g.
Freedom from Death, from
Suffering and Sickness. Too, He
let remain the Wounds in Human Nature, e.g. Weakness
of Will, Obscurity of
Judgment and an Inclination to Evil.
God allowed these to remain to Afford us the Opportunity of
Atoning for Sin (ours and that of others) by being
United with the Suffering Christ.
Yet He Merited for us Sufficient
Grace to Overcome these Weaknesses and
Profit by our Trials.
Christ's Redemption is Universal
The Mystical Body of Christ includes the Church Militant, Church Suffering, the Church Triumphant, and
even God's Angels. Christ, along with all Members of His Mystical Body (i.e. Communion of Saints), participate in each and every
Sacrifice of the Mass.
An Essential Concept in the Understanding of Catholic Theology of the
Redemption of Mankind, is the Mystery of the
Mystical Body of Christ, that Supernatural
Organism of which Christ is the Head,
and all Souls United to
Him through Grace - in Heaven, in
Purgatory and on Earth - are the Members. By laying down His
Life through Love and Obedience;
as Head of the Body,
Christ Paid the Price for Adams Sin and
the Sins of all Mankind, the Members of His Body.
As Saint Thomas Aquinas explains, "as the Head and Members are, as it were, One (1) Mystical Person,
so the Satisfaction of Christ belongs to all the Faithful as to His Members"
(III,46,3). And again: "The Satisfaction of
Christ has its effect in us in so far as we are Incorporated in Him, as Members with the Head"
Christs Passion was Sufficient to
Redeem all, from all Sins, and
to Restore all the Gifts Lost by Adam. Yet,
this does not Guarantee the Salvation of all, because all do not use
the Means Established by Christ to Share in the Fruits
of His Redeeming Sacrifice. As the Council of Trent
stated: "Although Christ Died for all, yet all do not receive the Benefit of His Death, but those only to whom
the Merit of His Passion is Communicated" (Ch.3; Denz. 795). The Fruits of
His Passion have to be Applied to Individual
Souls (according to their Capacity and
Opportunity) through the Sacraments,
Prayer, Mortification, the Crosses of
Life Patiently borne, Works of Mercy,
the Sacrifices needed to keep Gods Commandments
and Fulfill the Duties of one's State-in-life, etc.
What about Unbaptized Infants who Die not
having Received the Cleansing Waters of Baptism?
Since Christ Died for all (Romans 5:18;
1John 2:2) do His Redeeming Merits and
Satisfaction apply to them as well? On this Point, the New Catechism of the Catholic Church
states the following:
CCC1261 "As regards children who have Died without Baptism, the
Church can only entrust them to the Mercy of God, as she does in her Funeral Rites for them. Indeed, the great Mercy of God Who desires that
all men be Saved, and Jesus Tenderness toward Children which caused Him to say: Let the children come to Me, do not hinder them,
allow us to Hope that there is a Way of Salvation for children who Died without Baptism". (Note: the above
would apply to all Unbaptized Infants whether Born or Unborn.)
Jesus Needs Our Help
Absolutely speaking, Christ has no need of us in the
Redemption of Man. But in the Divine Plan of Salvation He Wills to
Use the Church and its Members in that Wonderful Mystery.
As Pope Pius XII stated in his Encyclical on the
"In carrying out the Work of Redemption, Christ wishes to be helped by the Members of His Body. This is not because He
is Indigent and Weak, but rather because He so Willed it for the Greater Glory of His Spotless Spouse. Dying on the Cross, He left to His Church the
Immense Treasury of the Redemption. Towards this She (the Church) contributed nothing. But when those Graces come to be Distributed, not only does He
Share this Task of Sanctification with His Church, but He wants it, in a way, to be due to her Action. What a deep Mystery . . . that the Salvation of
many depends on the Prayers and Voluntary Penances which the Members of the Mystical Body offer for that Intention, and on the Assistance of Pastors of
Souls and of the Faithful, especially of Fathers and Mothers of families, which they must offer to our Divine Savior as though they were His
What a Wonderful Mystery this is that, in the Divine Plan,
God Himself needs our Cooperation in the Salvation of
Souls; and that the Salvation of some
Souls will Depend-on the Prayers and Sacrifices of
others. It was for this very reason that the Blessed Mother asked for Prayer
and Sacrifice at Fatima: "Many souls are going to Hell,
she said, "because there is no one to offer
Prayer and Sacrifice for them".
The Work of Redemption, then, will continue on until the End-of-the-World. Each of us is called, in the
Commandments to Love our Neighbor, to Collaborate with
Christ in the Salvation of Souls.
In His Infinite Mercy, He allows One
(1) Member of His Mystical Body to make-up (by
Prayer and Sacrifice) for what is Wanting in
"I find Joy in the Sufferings I endure for you. In my own flesh I fill up what is lacking in the
Sufferings of Christ for the sake of His Body, the Church" (Colossians 1:24).
Saint Paul is not saying that something is Wanting in the
Passion of Christ, the Head of the
Mystical Body, but in the Members of that Body. He is not saying that
Christs Passion was incomplete, nor that
his own Sufferings Increase the Value of the Redemption;
but rather that since Christ Suffered in order to
Establish the Reign of God, anyone who Collaborates with His Redeeming
Mission must Share His Suffering.
A final note on Marys Role in the Mystery of
our Redemption. While God wishes the Collaboration of
Man in the Distribution of the Graces acquired by His Son
on Calvary, Mary had the very Special Privilege of
Cooperating with Christ (although totally dependent on Him)
in the very Acquiring of those Graces. Her
Redeeming Role (while Subordinate to that of Christ)
was Coextensive with His - Offering her
Divine Son and herself for the
Redemption of Mankind. This is the basis of her Universal Participation in
the Distribution of all Graces to all Men. As Pope Pius X stated in his Encyclical
Ad Diem Illum.
"By the Communion of Sorrows and Will between Christ and Mary, she Merited to become the Dispenser of
all the Benefits which Jesus Acquired by shedding His Blood."
||Tell everyone that God grants His Graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
It is to her that we must ask for them. The Sacred Heart of Jesus wants us to Venerate the Immaculate Heart of Mary together with
-- Jacinta of Fatima on her deathbed
Prayer to Divine Providence
O Sweet and Tender Providence of God, into Thy Hands I commend my Spirit, to Thee I
abandon myself, my Hopes, my Fears, my Desires, my Repugnance's, my Temporal and Eternal Prospects. To Thee I commit the Wants of my
Perishable Body, to Thee I commit the far more Precious Interests of my Immortal Soul, for whose interests I have Nothing to Fear while
I withdraw it not from Thy Bosom. Though my Faults are many, my Misery Great, my Spiritual Poverty Extreme, my Hope in Thee surpasses all.
It is Greater than my Difficulties, Stronger than Death. Though Temptations should Assail me, I will Hope in Thee, though I should Sink
beneath my Weakness, I will Hope in Thee still, though I should Break my Resolutions a Thousand Times, I will look to Thee Confidently
for Grace to keep them at last; though Thou shouldst Slay me, even then will I Trust Thee, for Thou art my God, my Father and my Friend.
Thou art my Kind, my Tender, my Indulgent Parent, and I am Thy Loving Child, who cast myself into Thy Arms and beg Thy Blessing, who put
my Trust in Thee, and so Trusting, shall Never be Confounded.
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