EXPAND YOUR READING!!

"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

BENEDICTUS MOMENTS

Google+ Badge

Thursday, 30 August 2012

THEOSIS: GOD BECAME MAN SO THAT MAN COULD BECOME GOD






From a Sermon by Saint Augustine, bishop of Hippo

Beloved, our Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal creator of all things, today became our Savior by being born of a mother. Of his own will he was born for us today, in time, so that he could lead us to his Father's eternity. God became man so that man might become God. The Lord of angels became man today so that man could eat the bread of angels.

Today, the prophecy is fulfilled that said: Pour down, heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just one: let the earth be opened and bring forth a savior. The Lord who had created all things is himself now created, so that he who was lost would be found. Thus, man, in the words of the psalmist, confesses: Before I was humbled, I sinned. Man sinned and became guilty; God is born a man to free man from his guilt. Man fell, but God descended, man fell miserably, but God descended mercifully; man left through pride, God descended with his grace.

My brethren, what miracles! What prodigies! The laws of nature are changed in the case of man. God is born. A virgin becomes pregnant with man. The Word of God marries the woman who knows no man. She is now at the same time both mother and virgin. She becomes a mother, yet she remains a virgin. The virgin bears a son, yet she is not barren. He alone was born without sin, for she bore him without the embrace of a man, not by the concupiscence of the flesh but by the obedience of the mind.

The Doctrine of Theosis
Incarnation and Divinization

In the Eastern Catholic tradition, which is also reflected in certain paragraphs of theCatechism of the Catholic Church issued in 1992, the doctrine of salvation is called theosis, and it centers on the deification of man by grace [see, Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 460, 1129, 1265, 1812, 1988, 1999]. This doctrine is fundamental to the teaching of the Church Fathers, who held that "God became man, so that man might become God" [St. Augustine, Sermo 13 de Tempore, from The Office of Readings, page 125, (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1983)].  Thus, the whole point of the incarnation of God is the deification of man.

As I indicated above, this teaching is reflected in the Catechism in several places, most especially in paragraph 1988 which reads as follows: "Through the power of the Holy Spirit we take part in Christ's Passion by dying to sin, and in His Resurrection by being born to new life; we are members of His Body which is the Church, branches grafted onto the Vine which is Himself: '[God] gave Himself to us through His Spirit. By the participation of the Spirit, we become communicants in the divine nature.   . . . For this reason, those in whom the Spirit dwells are divinized'"   [Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1988].  Deification by grace, i.e., becoming sons of God in the Only Begotten Son of God, is the whole point of the incarnation, life, passion, death, resurrection and ascension of our Lord.

Thus Mary, as the exemplar of the Church, having been assumed body and soul into Heaven, has experienced theosis and has been divinized by grace, and so she has been conformed perfectly to the likeness of her Divine Son, as one day all those who are saved shall be. This does not involve the destruction of her humanity, for she remains fully human, but she has been truly divinized by the grace of Almighty God.

This doctrine must not be thought of in a "Mormon" way, as if men become little gods with their own planets, but must be understood as a true deification of man and as an intimate communion of man with God in Christ. It must never be reduced to a mere metaphor, because by his incorporation into Christ, man is really made a partaker of the divine nature [see, 2nd Peter 1:4].  This does not involve a change in man's essence, but entails an indwelling of God's Spirit within the human person, enlivening both body and soul to everlasting life.  There is an analogy between the incarnation and deification, which is most clearly indicated in the prayer of the priest during the offertory at Mass when he mixes the water with the wine and says, "By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled Himself to share in our humanity" [The Sacramentary, (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1985), page 370].

I will end with an extended quotation from the Pope's Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte in which he speaks of this powerful mystery: "Jesus is the new man (see Eph 4:24; Col 3:10) who calls redeemed humanity to share in His divine life. The mystery of the Incarnation lays the foundations for an anthropology which, reaching beyond its own limitations and contradictions, moves towards God Himself, indeed towards the goal of divinization. This occurs through the grafting of the redeemed on to Christ and their admission into the intimacy of the Trinitarian life. The Fathers have laid great stress on this soteriological dimension of the mystery of the Incarnation: it is only because the Son of God truly became man that man, in him and through him, can truly become a son of God" [Pope John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, no. 23].  The process of deification does not involve the destruction of the distinction between God as the Creator and man as the created, for this distinction always remains, but by grace man is truly elevated into the very life and energy of the Trinity.

Incarnation and Divinization Copyright © 2004  -  The Taboric Light 



This article is an excerpt from The Wellspring of Worship (Ignatius Press, 2005, ) by the late Jean Corbon OP who wrote the section on Prayer in the Catholic Catechism abd whose teaching was followed in the section on our participation in the Christian Mystery



If we consent in prayer to be flooded by the river of life, our entire being will be transformed; we will become trees of life and be increasingly able to produce the fruit of the Spirit: we will love with the very Love that is our God. It is necessary at every moment to insist on this radical consent, this decision of the heart by which our will submits unconditionally to the energy of the Holy Spirit; otherwise we shall remain subject to the illusion created by mere knowledge of God and talk about him and shall in fact remain apart from him in brokenness and death. On the other hand, if we do constantly renew this offering of our sinful hearts, let us not imagine that our New Covenant with Jesus will be a personal encounter pure and simple. The communion into which the Spirit leads us is not limited to a face-to-face encounter between the person of Christ and our own person or to an external conformity of our wills with his. The lived liturgy does indeed begin with this "moral" union, but it goes much further. The Holy Spirit is an anointing, and he seeks to transform all that we are into Christ: body, soul, spirit, heart, flesh, relations with others and the world. If love is to become our life, it is not enough for it to touch the core of our person; it must also impregnate our entire nature.



To this transformative power of the river of life that permeates the entire being (person and nature), the undivided tradition of the Churches gives an astonishing name that sums up the mystery of the lived liturgy: theosis or divinization. Through baptism and the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit we have become "sharers of the divine nature" (2 Pet 1:4). In the liturgy of the heart, the wellspring of this divinization streams out as the Holy Spirit, and our individual persons converge in a single origin. But how is this mysterious synergy to infuse our entire nature from its smallest recesses to its most obvious behaviors? This process is the drama of divinization in which the mystery of the lived liturgy is brought to completion in each Christian.



The Mystery of Jesus



To enter into the name of the holy Lord Jesus does not mean simply contemplating it from time to time or occasionally identifying with his passionate love for the Father and his compassion for men. It also means sharing faithfully and increasingly in his humanity, in assuming which he assumed ours as well. In our baptism we "put on Christ" in order that this putting on might become the very substance of our life. The beloved Son has united us to himself in his body, and the more he makes our humanity like his own, the more he causes us to share in his divinity. The humanity of Jesus is new because it is holy. Even in its mortal state it shared in the divine energies of the Word, without confusion and in an unfathomable synergy in which his will and human behavior played their part. Jesus is not a divinized man; he is the truly incarnated Word of God.



This last statement means that we need not imitate, from afar and in an external way, the behavior of Jesus as recorded in the Gospel, in order thereby to effect our own divinization and become "like God"; self-divinization is the primal temptation ever lurking in wait. On the contrary, it is the Word who divinizes this human nature, which he has united to himself once and for all. Since his Resurrection his divinehuman energies are those of his Holy Spirit, who elicits and calls for our response; in the measure of this synergy of the Spirit and our heart our humanity shares in the life of the holy humanity of Christ. To enter into the name of Jesus, Son of God and Lord, means therefore to be drawn into him in the very depths of our being, by the same drawing movement in which he assumed our humanity by taking flesh and living out our human condition even to the point of dying. There is no "panchristic" pseudo-mysticism here, because the human person remains itself, a creature who is free over against its Lord and God. Neither, however, is there any moralism (a further error that waits to ensnare us), because our human nature really shares in the divinity of its Savior.



"Man becomes God as much as God becomes a man", says Saint Maximus the Confessor. [1] Christian holiness is divinization because in our concrete humanity we share in the divinity of the Word who married our flesh. The "divine nature" of which Saint Peter speaks (2 Pet 1:4) is not an, abstraction or a model, but the very life of the Father, which he eternally communicates to his Son and his Holy Spirit. The Father is its source, and the Son extends it to us by becoming a man. We become God by being more and more united to the humanity of Jesus. The only question left, then since this humanity is the way by which our humanity will put on his divinity–is this: How did the Son of God live as a man in our mortal condition? The Gospel has been written precisely in order to show us "the mind of Christ Jesus" (Phil 2:5); [2] it is this mind with which the Holy Spirit seeks to fill our hearts.



According to the spirituality of the Church and according to the gifts of the Spirit given to every one, each of the baptized lives out more intensely one or other aspect of the mind of Christ; at the same time, however, the mystery of divinization is fundamentally the same in all Christians. Their humanity no longer belongs to them, in the possessive and deadly sense of "belong", but to him who died and rose for them. In an utterly true sense, all that makes up my nature–its powers of life and death, its gifts and experiences, its limits and sins–is no longer "mine" but belongs to "him who loved me and gave himself up for me". This transfer of ownership is not idealistic or moral but realistic and mystical. As we shall see, the identification of Jesus with the humanity of every human person plays a very large part in the new relationship that persons establish with other men; but when the identification is willingly accepted and when our rebellious wills submit to his Spirit, divinization is at work. I was wounded by sin and radically incapable of loving; now Love has become part of my nature again: "I am alive; yet it is no longer 1, but Christ living in me" (Gal 2:20).



The Realism of the Liturgy of the Heart



The mystical realism of our divinization is the fruit of the sacramental realism of the liturgy. Conversely, evangelical moralism, with which we so often confuse life according to the Spirit, is the inevitable result of a deterioration of the liturgy into sacred routines. But when the fontal liturgy, which is the realism of the mystery of Christ, gives life to our sacramental celebrations, in the same measure the Spirit transfigures us in Christ.



The Fathers of the early centuries tell us that "the Son of God became a man, in order that men might become sons of God". The stages by which the beloved Son came among us and united himself to us to the point of dying our death are the same stages by which he unites us to him and leads us to the Father, to the point of making us live his life. These stages of the one Way that is Christ are shown to us in figures in the Old Testament; Jesus fulfilled the prefigurations. The stages are creation and promise, Passover and exodus, Covenant and kingdom, exile and return, restoration and expectation of the consummation. The two Testaments inscribed this great Passover of the divinizing Incarnation in the book of history. But in the last times the Bible becomes life; it exists in a liturgical condition, and the action of God is inscribed in our hearts. Knowledge of the mystery is no longer a mental process but an event that the Holy Spirit accomplishes in the celebrated liturgy and then brings to fulfillment by divinizing us.



But it is not enough simply to understand the ways in which Christ divinizes us; the primary thing is to be able to live them. At certain "moments" the celebrated liturgy gives us an intense experience of the economy of salvation, which is divinization, in order that we may live it at all "times", these new times into which it has brought us. According to the Fathers of the desert, either we pray always or we never pray. But in order to pray always we must pray often and sometimes at length. In like manner (for we are dealing with the same mystery), in order to divinize us the Spirit must divinize us often and sometimes very intensely. The economy of salvation that emerges from the Father through his Christ in the Holy Spirit expands to become the divinized life that Christians live in the Holy Spirit, through the name of Jesus, the Christ and Lord, in movement toward the Father. But the celebration of the liturgy is the place and moment in which the river of life, hidden in the economy, penetrates the life of the baptized in order to divinize it. It is there that everything that the Word experiences for the sake of man becomes Spirit and life.



The Holy Spirit, Iconographer of Divinization



In the economy of salvation everything reaches completion in Jesus through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit; in the liturgy as celebrated and as lived everything begins through the Holy Spirit. That is why at the existential origin of our divinization is the liturgy of the heart, the synergy in which the Holy Spirit unites himself to our spirit (Rom 8:16) in order to make us be, and show that we are, sons of God. The same Spirit who "anointed" the Word with our humanity and imprinted our nature upon him is written in our hearts as the living seal of the promise, in order that he may "anoint" us with the divine nature: he makes us christs in Christ. Our divinization is not passively imposed on us, but is our own vital activity, proceeding inseparably from him and from ourselves.



When the Spirit begins his work in us and with us, he is not faced with the raw, passive earth out of that he fashioned the first Adam or, much less, the virginal earth, permeated by faith, that he used in effecting the conception of the second Adam. What the Spirit finds is a remnant of glory, an icon of the Son: ceaselessly loved, but broken and disfigured. Each of us can whisper to him what the funeral liturgy cries out in the name of the dead person: I remain the image of your inexpressible glory, even though I am wounded by sin!" [3] This trust that cannot be confounded and this Covenant that cannot be broken form the space wherein the patient mystery of our divinization is worked out.



The sciences provide grills for interpreting the human riddle, but when these have been applied three great questions still remain in all that we seek and in all that we do: the search for our origin, the quest for dialogue, the aspiration for communion. On the one hand, why is it that I am what I am, in obedience to a law that is stronger than I am (see Rom 7)? On the other, in the smallest of my actions I await a word, a counterpart who will dialogue with me. Finally, it is clear that our mysterious selves cannot achieve fulfillment on any level, from the most organic to the most aesthetic, except in communion. These three pathways in my being are, as it were, the primary imprints in me of the image of glory, of the call of my very being to the divine likeness in which my divinization will be completed. The Holy Spirit uses arrows of fire in restoring our disfigured image. The fire of love consumes its opposite (sin) and transforms us into itself, which is Light.



We wander astray like orphans as long as we have not accepted him, the Spirit of sonship, as our virginal source. All burdens are laid upon us, and we are slaves as long as we are not surrendered to him who is freedom and grace. And because he is the Breath of Life, it is he who will teach us to listen (we are dumb only because we are deaf); then, the more we learn to hear the Word, the better we shall be able to speak. Our consciences will no longer be closed or asleep, but will be transformed into creative silence. Finally, Utopian love and the communion that cannot be found because it is "not of this world" are present in him, the "treasure of every blessing", not as acquired and possessed but as pure gift; our relationship with others becomes transparent once again. This communion of the Holy Spirit is the master stroke in the work of divinization, because in this communion we are in communion also with the Father and his Son, Jesus (2 Cor 13:13; Jn 1:3), and with all our brothers.



Following these three pathways of the transfigured icon, we are divinized to the extent that the least impulses of our nature find fulfillment in the communion of the Blessed Trinity We then "live" by the Spirit, in oneness with Christ, for the Father. The only obstacle is possessiveness, the focusing of our persons on the demands of our nature, and this is sin for the quest of self breaks the relation with God. The asceticism that is essential to our divinization and that represents once again a synergy of grace consists in simply but resolutely turning every movement toward possessiveness into an offering. The epiclesis on the altar of the heart must be intense at these moments, so that the Holy Spirit may touch and consume our death and the sin that is death's sting. Entering into the name of Jesus, the Son of God and the Lord who shows mercy to us sinners, means handing over to him our wounded nature, which he does not change by assuming but which he divinizes by putting on. From offertory to epiclesis and from epiclesis to communion the Spirit can then ceaselessly divinize us; our life becomes a eucharist until the icon is completely transformed into him who is the splendor of the Father.



ENDNOTES:



[1] PG 91:101C.



[2] 'Sometimes translated as "the sentiments of Christ Jesus" . The meaning, however, is not "sentiments" in an emotional sense, but rather attitudes of the heart that lead to certain forms of behavior, that is, the "ways of God" lived at the human level.



[3] Byzantine funeral liturgy



The Spirit and the Assumption: Deification and Vatican II
August 15th, 2007, by MATTHEW TSAKANIKAS  

The Second Vatican Council only promulgated two dogmatic constitutions: Dei Verbum (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation) and Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church). Stating this is not meant to downplay the other constitutions and documents of the council. Rather, it is to highlight key opening passages found in a dogmatic context. Certain repeated passages at the start of these dogmatic constitutions beckon the faithful to renew their evangelical pronouncements and catechetical methods by incorporating a recovery of the biblical and patristic understanding of deification (in Greek: theosis) into the New Evangelization.

Byzantine (Greek Catholic and Orthodox) theology, spirituality, and catechetical tradition has always centered on the near-symmetry that "God became man so that man might become God" (cf. CCC#460). The pronouncement balances and encompasses the wider meaning of "salvation" and the purpose of the Incarnation as defended by Saint Athanasius against the Arians. In the East, catechetical reiteration upon "participation in the divine nature" (2 Pet 1:4) and "becoming God" by grace was always standard fare. In the West, the symmetry was never lost but the doctrine seemingly waned catechetically from the time of the 14th Century until the 20th Century. Nevertheless, the heart of the matter was always maintained in Western mystical theology, especially in Saint John of the Cross, and known implicitly in Marian devotion and study. Liturgically, at the Offertory, we still hear, "By the mingling of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity."

Certainly a creature can never become equal to God in all respects. Such is a contradiction. God had no beginning and is eternal. No creature can ever overcome the fact that he must receive a beginning. No transformation can change the fact that a creature is forever defined by his need for a beginning. A creature forever remains dependent upon God for life and existence. Human nature is a gift and mercy that allows us to overcome 'non-existence'; it is the foundation of our existence. Nevertheless, once a human begins to exist, God can so elevate the capacities of the spiritual soul to know Him that a human begins to participate in God's very power. When God unites Himself to a creature to enable such knowledge, the human can rightly be said to have "become God" by sharing in this union. Without loss to human identity and nature, the grace of deification (becoming God) enables humans into participation in the Trinity and makes humans real family members with God (cf. Jn 1:12).

This teaching is so intrinsic to the Christian message that the dogmatic constitution, Lumen Gentium, immediately stressed God's purpose in creation as: "His plan…to raise men to a participation of the divine life" (#2). The other dogmatic constitution, Dei Verbum reiterates the same at its opening: "through Christ, the Word made flesh, man might in the Holy Spirit have access to the Father and come to share in the divine nature (see Eph. 2:18; 2 Peter 1:4)" (#2). We are called to experience the infinite bliss which God knows, and we are given a share in God's own power to experience Him! On the Feast of the Assumption we should at least briefly reflect upon what deification meant for the Virgin Mary.

Renewing Mariology

Commenting on the theological movement of popes since the Second Vatican Council, Stratford Caldecott, contributing editor to Communio and director of the Centre for Faith and Culture (Oxford) writes: "In particular, it is the 'rediscovered' doctrine of theosis [deification] or divinization by grace, when combined with other fundamental principles of Catholic theology, that indicates how we can safely attribute to our Lady many of the titles and honors that popular devotion wishes to bestow upon her, without driving a wedge between her and the Church, or between her and ourselves" (Logos 3:3 p.89).

An excellent passage from Saint Basil the Great can serve as one such sturdy launching pad for such a reflection and rediscovery. The passage ties closely together the mystery of one's share in the Holy Spirit and one's becoming a source (mediatrix) of grace for others. In his work, De spiritu sancto, Basil explains:

As souls that bear the Spirit are illumined by the Spirit they become spiritual themselves and send forth grace to others. Thence comes foreknowledge of the future, understanding of mysteries, apprehension of things hidden, distribution of spiritual gifts, citizenship in heaven, the dance with the angels, joy without end, divine distribution, likeness to God, and the summit of our longings, namely, to become God (9:23).

Certainly he is speaking of all Christians sending forth grace to others because of their union with the Holy Spirit. The greater such union, the greater they become relative sources of grace. How much more so this must be true of the Saints in heaven who experience the greatest possible union with the Holy Spirit and watch over us! Jesus pointed to such a share in his mediation when he said, "Whoever believes in me will do the works I do and greater ones than these" (John 14:12).

If those who have been touched by sin and are now in heaven can be mediators of grace in Christ, how much more so can the one "conceived without sin" be a mediatrix of grace! She is the Immaculate Conception, totally united with the Holy Spirit from the moment of her conception and never knowing sin due to the saving power of Christ in her predestination. No one believed more in Jesus than the Virgin Mary, and no one received a greater share in Jesus' Spirit (cf. 2 Kings 2:9) than the Virgin Mary. Christ, the new Adam (cf. 1 Cor 15:45) prepared a new Eve to be the mother to all who are participants in the Spirit. Christ's saving office as new Adam and high-priest did not end in death. Nor did Mary's saving office, bestowed at the Annunciation and prepared in the Immaculate Conception, end in death. She is the first to be fully saved in Christ Jesus.

Queen Assumed into Heaven

Sent to earth to be our true Adam and source of deification, Jesus needed to resurrect from the dead, body and soul, so there could be a renewed humanity in which we could share through the Holy Spirit. "High-priest for all humanity" is an office in which only Jesus can serve and an office on behalf of humanity requires someone still fully-human (body and soul): "He learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, declared by God high priest…" (Heb 5:8-9). As a man, Jesus was given a mission, and that mission was not to end in death. He is now the heavenly man who has become "the Last Adam a life-giving spirit" (1 Cor 15:45).

The superabundant and life-giving relationship Jesus has with the Father became accessible to us because the Word (Jesus) was made flesh and dwelt amongst us (John 1:14). He showed us how to enter into this relationship and empowered us to make gifts of ourselves to God. Jesus gives us a participation in his relationship with the Father when he gives us the Holy Spirit to know and love the Father as He does: "No one knows the Son but the Father and no one knows the Father but the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him" (Matthew 11:27). This share in the Son's relationship with the Father is the beginning of our deification as "sons in the Son", the beginning of eternal life in us. Just as we share in Jesus' relationship with the Father through the Holy Spirit, we also share in Christ's one mediation through the same power of the Holy Spirit according as the gift is distributed.

Given the brief nature of this article, it suffices to say that the angel Gabriel's invitation to Mary to be the mother of the Messiah, included a cooperation (an office) which God willed would not end at Jesus' birth. God bestowed an office upon Mary when she agreed that the Spirit should descend upon her and make her fruitful for the sake of the Messiah and his mission; that her heart should be united with his and also be "pierced" (Luke 2:35). Her whole life is dedicated to Christ and she becomes the Mother of all disciples according to the announcement from the Cross: "Behold your Mother!" (John 19:27). The Mother of the Lord is Queen Mother for the Kingdom. The office is three-times re-affirmed. She was there to nurture Christ as a babe and obtain the new wine at the Wedding Feast of Cana. She continues to be there for those newly born of her Son and she participates with the Spirit in bringing them into union with Christ just as she did at Pentecost (Acts 1:14). From her union with the mission of her Son, the Spirit continues to shower us with graces.

"This mediation flows from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it, and draws all its power from it. It does not hinder in any way the immediate union of the faithful with Christ but on the contrary fosters it" (Lumen Gentium #60).  Since only she can fill the office of Queen Mother to the Kingdom which Jesus finalized at the Cross, and since Jesus desires to foster union of the faithful with himself, Jesus has already raised her body and soul to continue her office on behalf of humanity.

Taken together with the words of Saint Basil from De spiritu sancto, along with the meaning of our deification, Mary's prerogatives are explained by the Second Vatican Council: "Taken up into heaven, she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to procure for us the gifts of eternal salvation…Therefore the blessed Virgin is invoked in the church under the titles of advocate, helper, benefactress, and mediatrix" (Lumen Gentium #62).

"O, Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!"


Post a Comment

Search This Blog

La Virgen de Guadalupe

La Virgen de Guadalupe

Followers

My Blog List

Fr David Bird

Fr David Bird
Me on a good day

Blog Archive