Silly fellow, the world is not so black-and-white anymore…

“’I am Jesus Whom thou persecutest.’ Saul is persecuting the Church of Damascus and Christians of Damascus, and Christ says to Saul: ‘Why persecutest thou Me?’ Christ and the Church, are they the same thing? Precisely, the Church is Christ and Christ is the Church – such is the Divine Equation.”

— Archbishop Fulton Sheen (The Catholic Hour 4/6/1930)

But of course, “There is no Catholic God.”

We’re too wise for such anthropomorphism given the “concrete realities” of our day.

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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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7 Responses to Silly fellow, the world is not so black-and-white anymore…

  1. ErnstThalmann says:

    “Precisely, the Church is Christ and Christ is the Church – such is the Divine Equation.”

    While there is a sense in which this statement is true, for all of its alleged precision, its imprecise!
    The Church is not Jesus Christ, God The Son. The Church is the Bride of Jesus Christ, God the Son. There is no ontological equivalence between the two except in a participated or, possibly, analogical sense. To see anything more than this in the relation between the two risks collapsing God into Creation perhaps in a quasi-Hegelian manner. The remark is entirely overboard theologically.

  2. ErnstThalmann says:

    A better understanding of the relation of Jesus Christ, God The Son, and the Church, is ascertained by reflecting on the place of Mary – Mother Of The Church – in the Mystery of Christ. Mary is no more the Son any more than the Church is the Son. Both simply participate in the Son.

  3. Ernst, I reply by paraphrasing St. Maximus the Confessor, one of the foremost Greek Fathers: ‘Deification is nothing other than total participation in Christ.’ I would also like to invoke St. Athanasius of Alexandria: ‘God became man so that man might become God.’ Likewise, St. Gregory Nazianzus: ‘Man has been ordered to become God.’ And St. Basil the Great: ‘From the Holy Spirit is the likeness of God, and the highest thing to be desired, to become God.’ How is this possible? Maximus clarifies: ‘All that God is, except for an identity in being, one becomes when one is deified by grace.’ In Eastern Catholic terms, this means that God the Son, who is eternally one in essence [i.e. being] with the Father, became one in essence and energy with mankind, constituting redeemed humanity His Church, His own mystical Body, that she might become one with Him physically and spiritually to such an extent that she becomes His very Divine energy. The Eastern Catholic Churches conceive of the energy [in Latin terminology, the operation/activity] of the Trinity as the Divine Nature itself, penetrating the cosmos in creation and sustaining it. Through participation in the Divine Nature, one comes to share in the very eternal life of the Holy Trinity, and be divinized by grace. However, the idea of a radical unity with God to the extent that it is accurate to say that the Church is Christ and Christ is the Church is also true on the physical level, as St. Augustine demonstrates:

    “Verbum caro factum est, et habitavit in nobis; illi carni adjungitur ecclesia, et fit Christus totus, caput et corpus.”

    “The Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us; to that flesh is joined the Church, and there is made the whole Christ, Head and Body.”

    It is very much Catholic teaching going back all the way to St. Paul [1st Corinthians 6:17; Ephesians 5:27-32] that the Church and her members become one Body and one Spirit with Christ; this is the very substance of our salvation, and the entire purpose of the Holy Eucharist. Thus, both in becoming His Divinity (in a qualified sense) through participation, and becoming His humanity through the same, we come to be Christ corporately as a Body, without actually becoming His eternal Person.

  4. To clarify: God the Son is eternally one in essence and energy with His Father and the Holy Spirit, and in time He became one in essence and energy with humanity, so that redeemed humanity, constituted His mystical Body, might participate in His Divine energy and become one Spirit and one Body with Him. Latin Catholicism affirms the gist of this while using different terminology, as we saw from St. Augustine.

  5. ErnstThalmann says:

    And your point in responding to mine is …..?

  6. My point is that Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s phrase, “Precisely, the Church is Christ and Christ is the Church”, is accurate on a couple different levels.

  7. ErnstThalmann says:

    And those points are, Jonathan? Can you be specific – and for the sake of my frayed sanity today, brief, kindly? Most certainly, there is absolutely no ontological identity between God the Son and the Church – and that was the thesis when this question was posed initially – so if that is your point, I’d suggest you reconsider. The best that can be said for Sheen’s remark is that he’d gotten carried away when he made it. The worst is that it risks collapsing God into creation and there’s a name for that. The Church – or a believer for that matter – may “participate” in God, and they most assuredly do in grace, but the idea of this participation being quite so exhaustive that the fullness of God is possessed by either approaches the rankest sort of pantheism. The notion of participation must be understood analogically, as one properly thinks analogically of the relation of the term “person” in God, on the one hand, and in humanity, on the other. To use a scriptural allusion, we are considered “sons in the Son”, not the Son Himself and neither is the Church.

Be kind, be (relatively) brief, be clear...

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