God is Catholic or the Catholic Church is not divine…

“[O]ur minds are so chained to the things of sense, that we imagine our Lord as instituting the Blessed Sacrament with bread and wine as the remote matter of it because bread and wine reminded him of that grace which he intended the Blessed Sacrament to bestow. But, if you come to think of it, it was just the other way about. When he created the worlds, he gave common bread and wine for our use in order that we might understand what the Blessed Sacrament was when it came to be instituted. He did not design the Sacred Host to be something like bread. He designed bread to be something like the Sacred Host.”

— Ronald Knox, The Window in the Wall (London, 1956), p. 80

“The eucharist is the centre of all other presences of God toward us. In the eucharist, we touch the basis of all reality, the Holy Trinity; here are concentrated the uncreated, personalized, loving energies of God as loving community. God’s fullness of love moves toward us in order to transform us into his loving children.”

–– George A. Maloney*, SJ, Be Filled with the Fullness of God (Hyde Park, New York: St. Paul’s, 1993), p. 120.

This is the proper order.

[ADDED A DAY LATER: God is Catholic–or ecclesially incarnate–in the same way that God is Creator. God did not necessarily create the world, but since He has, to deny His creator-status is to deny Him. Likewise, nothing in God’s nature compelled Him to establish the Catholic Church–so He’s not intrinsically Catholic, so to speak–but since He has wedded Himself to the Church, to deny His uniquely ecclesial presence is to deny Him. While God exists ‘in Himself’ as pure spirit, three Persons in one divine nature, He exists as Creator only by means of, and in the mode of, Christ in the Eucharist. God did not need the creation, therefore, to be God (qua divinity); but He does need the Eucharist to be the God of creation.]

If it makes me a Scotist, so be it. If this makes me even more of a Salesian, then so be it. (St. Francis de Sales is my patron saint, after all!)

It dawned on me, once more, today, after some exchanges in various comboxes, how radical Fr. Keefe’s vision of sacramental reality is. It challenges every worldly category at the root, and is thus polyvalently contrarian. It gives us the closest thing to a naturalistic defense of Catholicism, and is thus radically indigestible. In essence, Fr. Keefe says that the Incarnation makes Creation possible, rather than the other way around. This radically sacramental ontology wholly uproots rationalistic, pagan attempts to understand, much less embrace, “the world” apart from Christ. The Incarnation did not, in other words, take place in some abstract, absolute time, but, rather, spacetime ‘takes place’ inside the the transcendental possibilities afforded by there being a Eucharistic feast in the first place. [The Eucharist, as the One Flesh of Christ with His Bride, the Church, is the “prime analogate of being,” and therefore any valid metaphysics must begin with the ontological contours afforded by the Eucharistic parousia [PDF]. If you’re still interested (or awake),] here’s a brief-ish but worthy guide to the whole issue.

The upshot, dear reader, is that if you don’t understand Fr. Keefe’s eucharistic ontology, you won’t possibly understand my views on the existence of “the Catholic God,” which, God willing, I am determined to publish when the time comes. Keefe’s book changed my life. Having said that, there is no denying that Keefe’s work is rough sledding even for the most intrepid. But, when all is said and done, it is well worth the effort.

Lastly, since at least person keeps. demanding. an. answer. RIGHTNOW!, my comments on the pope’s error on conscience is due to be released in the next few weeks. Likewise, part 3 of “The Battle Within” about Pope Francis is a little closer to being done. My other blogging goals will show up in time.

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About The Codgitator (a cadgertator)

Catholic convert. Quasi-Zorbatic. Freelance interpreter, translator, and web marketer. Former ESL teacher in Taiwan (2003-2012) and former public high school teacher (2012-2014). Married father of three. Multilingual, would-be scholar, and fairly consistent fitness monkey. My research interests include: the interface of religion and science, the history and philosophy of science and technology, ancient and medieval philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience. Please pray for me.
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8 Responses to God is Catholic or the Catholic Church is not divine…

  1. If the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ…. and the Church is Catholic…. then it seems to follow logically.

  2. Yeah, but, see, Pope Francis said these things in an interview that he himself has since repudiated, so WE MUST BELIEVE THE CLAIMS HE MADE. To do any less would be a Pelagian dereliction of duty.

  3. c matt says:

    I thought “there is no Catholic God” was defensible in the sense that God is not exclusively the God of Catholics, but the God of all (i.e., He’s your God, whether or not you are Catholic). However, HF’s follow up statment (IIRC) to the effect that God is not Catholic was a little more difficult to square. If Catholicism (i.e., a revelation/understanding of God) is true, and God is true, how could He not be Catholic?

  4. mortimer zilch says:

    I too am a Scotist, at least I think I am…. But I agree with the Pope’s statement that God is not a “Catholic God,” which is meant to be a very liberating statement – for us, and a very humanistic statement to the world at large. (Jesus is the Greatest Humanist.) Clearly the Church teaches that the desire for God is written in the human heart. God – The Father – is the Creator of all things, and that the Church, through Jesus, offers the surest way to the Father. The Mass is said as a prayer to God, The Father. The Creator of all things to whom the human heart aspires, and which the Catholic Church, although pan-ethnic in essence, but historically Greco-Judean and Western in its Roman form, provides access to the most graces to unite the soul to God the Father in the Trinitarian experience of the Son and Spirit. But the key is that God is Transcendent. St. Paul emphasizes this over and over. Unknowable in the sense of being able to be grasped. And so, the question we are addressing here touches on the very mission of the Church in the world; on the mission of the Church to sanctify, educate, and evangelize – to bring all things to God in Christ.
    But God is ever transcendent.

  5. Yes, God is ever transcendent, but no future insight into his nature and will shall ever contradict defined Catholic teaching about Him. To pit the Church’s catholicity against its humanistic scope is to negate what that catholicity means in the first place. The God of Catholicism is the only truly universal God, since there is only one God over all. Our knowledge of God will certainly expand beyond its current scope, but the Catholic faith will forever remain riveted to the same God who uniquely reveals Himself in and by the Catholic Church. This is an ontological, not an epistemological, issue. The Catholic Church uniquely pinpoints the true God in spacetime. All other conceptions of God, except where they deny an essential point in Catholic revelation, are nested epistemological models inside the ontological reality of the one God whom the Catholic Church manifests. If Muslims affirm God as one, simple, and eternal, then they are actually worshipping the God of Catholicism, as an ontological target, although they have a truncated epistemological account of Him. However, as far as Muslims reject the Incarnation and Trinity, which are not only Catholic epistemological truths but also ontological facts about God, their deficient epistemological attachments divert their worship from the ontological reality of the God of Catholicism onto some other ontological reality which is not the Catholic God. The Catholic Church alone is correct to call God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and no amount of “transcendence” can ever sublimate or render contingent those claims of the creed. The God of the Church is the God of all mankind, and hence the sanctity of the Church is the home of all mankind. The “God of Catholicism” is not simply the Catholic take on the Unknown God of Acts 17, but is the very God whom all religions seek by means of their devotion to the Unknown God. There is no higher God beyond the God of Catholicism, even though that same God exceeds the verbal limits of the Catholic faith without contradicting them. The veracity of the Catholic trinitarian creed is coterminous with the reality of the triune, and that is why God is Catholic: the Catholic faith is the sole locus in which his universality is wholly accurately expressed. If it’s no biggie for the pope to say that there is no Catholic God, why don’t we just say there is no Judeo-Christian God?

  6. Pingback: Guerilla blogfare… | FideCogitActio : "Omnis per gratiam"

  7. Pingback: Silly fellow, the world is not so black-and-white anymore… | FideCogitActio : "Omnis per gratiam" fidescogitactio @ gmail . com

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