Christianity

The deification of the Virgin Mary in Christianity – 1

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The Deification of the Virgin Mary in Christianity

Many tend to claim that the Virgin Mary is not deified, was not deified at the moment of her conception, and has never been deified. This claim seems to originate from the deep-seated fear, likely Protestant in origin, that the Holy Virgin is being worshipped with that kind of worship reserved for God alone, instead of being honored as the Mother of God. This fear, however, is unfounded. What seems to be happening is the perpetuation of a misunderstanding and lack of sufficient comprehension (and use) of the terms deification and worship.

What is Worship?

Two kinds of worship exist: the worship of latreia and the worship of proskynesis (Bartolo-Abela, 2017). Latreia is the kind of worship reserved for God alone, while proskynesis is the relative worship that can be legitimately given to any saints. Proskynesis is more commonly understood by people as veneration. However, it is still worship in a technical sense, although not the kind of worship that needs to be reserved for God. What is deification and what kind of worship is employed towards those human beings who have become deified?

Deification – Brief Overview

Have I not said that you are gods? (Jn 10:34).

God, you see, wants to make you a god; not by nature, of course, like the One whom He begot but by His gift and by adoption (Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 166.4).

Through Christ, the Word made flesh, man has access to the Father in the Holy Spirit and comes to share in the divine nature (Paul VI, Dei Verbum, 1965).

The Most High knew that Adam wanted to become a god, so He sent His Son who put him on in order to grant him his desire (Ephraim the Syrian, Nisb. Hymns LXIX.12).

He became human so that he might make us gods (Athanasius of Alexandria, De Incarnatione 54.3).

According to Dionysus the Aeropagite, deification is defined as “the attaining of likeness to God and union with Him so far as is possible” (EH 1. 3, PG 3. 376a) both in this life and the next. Maximus the Confessor called deification “the invocation of the great God and Father, the symbol of the authentic and real adoption, according to the gift and grace of the Holy Spirit, thanks to the bestowal of which the saints become and will remain the sons of God” (Ad Thalas 61, PG 90, 636C; Scholia 6, ibid. 644C). Thomas Aquinas stated that deification allowed “this name God [to be] communicable not in its whole signification, but in some part of it by way of similitude so that those are called gods who share in divinity by likeness, according to the text I have said, ‘You are gods (Ps 82:6)’ (Summa Theologica, Resp. to I.13,9).

Gross (1938/2002) elaborated that deification, [the] “divinization of the Christian is not an identification with God [but] an assimilation, a very eminent restoration of the original divine likeness [where one] participates by grace in the perfections that God possesses by nature . . .  [Throughout the process of deification], the Spirit transforms the soul to the image of the Logos, the natural Son of God, thus making the Christian an adoptive child of God. Affecting, it seems, the very essence of the soul, this mysterious conformation is not of a moral nature only, but of a physical nature. It is a veritable partaking of the divine nature and of the divine life” (p. 272). Aquinas added that in deification “the gift of grace surpasses every capability of created nature, since it is nothing short of a partaking of the Divine Nature, which exceeds every other nature . . . God alone should deify, bestowing a partaking of the Divine Nature by a participated likeness” (Summa Theologica, 2.1:112.1).

Irenaeus of Lyons explained that God had “become what we are, that He might bring us to be even what He is Himself” (Adversus Haereses, Preface). He added, “Do we cast blame on Him because we were not made gods from the beginning, but were at first created merely as men and then later as gods? Although God has adopted this course out of his pure benevolence, that no one may charge him with discrimination or stinginess, He declares, ‘I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are sons of the Most High’ . . . It was necessary at first that nature be exhibited, then after that what was mortal would be conquered and swallowed up in immortality” (ibid., 4.38[4]). Clement of Alexandria declared, “Yea, I say, the Word of God became a man so that you might learn from a man how to become a god” (Exhortation to the Greeks 1). He stated, “If one knows himself, he will know God, and knowing God will become like God . . . His is beauty, true beauty, for it is God and that man becomes a god since God wills it. So Heraclitus was right when he said, ‘Men are gods and gods are men’” (Stromateis 23). Clement added, “He who obeys the Lord and follows the prophecy given through Him . . . becomes a god while still moving about in the flesh” (Stromata 716,101,4). Augustine of Hippo stated, “He Himself that justifies also deifies for by justifying He makes sons of God: ‘For he has given them power to become the sons of God’ [Jn 1:12]. If then we have been made sons of god, we have also been made gods” (On the Psalms 50.2.).

Deification is the process of fulfillment, starting from this earthly life, of the words of the Apostle Peter, “He [Christ] has given us most great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature, flying the corruption of that concupiscence which is in the world” (2 P 1:4). Deification as a term was common in the writings of the Greek Fathers and other Early Church Fathers until it was supplanted by the sterile and ‘safe’ language of the Reformation (Kharlamov, 2010).

(continued in Part 2)

A warning

To all those Catholics in North America (and possibly elsewhere) who claim that the Catholic Church is being “destroyed” by the hierarchy and the presbyterate, and that the latter two should not be supported under the rationalization of ‘enablement’:

  1. If you “do not have to attend” Mass on holy days of obligation in protest, because of the personal sins of various priests, bishops and cardinals, not to mention the Pope himself, you will be committing a mortal sin and severing your relationship with God. “We can keep the faith without them” will not cut it in front of God. Do you go to Mass for the hierarchy or for God? Or just to be seen by your peers? Or to boast that “I’m a good Catholic?”
  2. If you “need a Pope” so that you can start attending Mass in your dining room, rather than in church, when the universal Church already has its canonically-elected and validly-reigning Pope, the Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis, know that you are well on the way out of communion with God;
  3. If you think baptism of desire is going to wipe out your mortal sin of not attending Mass (vide #1), understand the following: baptism of desire, to be valid, is available only to those who have never been formally baptised. If you have already been baptised with the Trinitarian formula (whether Catholic, Christian, Orthodox), baptism of desire is no longer available to you as an option. Any sins, in particular mortal sins, committed after baptism require confession for remission, not another baptism. The only other option is the grace of perfect contrition.

For all those North American armchair-theologian Catholics who think that by publicly writing and speaking in the way you are about the Catholic Faith and the hierarchy, you are being “good Catholics,” pleasing to God and “preventing others from falling into error,” think again! If you think God enjoys your pejorative labeling and name-calling of even his most fallen priests, about whom you have had no compunction turning them into your everyday online and offline sport, think yet again!

God never looks kindly on people who attempt, in one way or another, to persuade others to remain distant from Him and to disobey His laws as handed down through the Church. Jesus Christ gave the keys of the kingdom of Heaven to Peter, not to you. Further, God is a God of Mercy, not solely Justice. This particularly applies:

Judge not, that you may not be judged. For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why do you see the mote that is in your brother’s eye; and do not see the beam that is in your own eye? Or how do you say to your brother: “Let me cast the mote out of your eye; and behold a beam is in your own eye?” You hypocrite! Cast out first the beam in your own eye and then you shall see to cast out the mote out of your brother’s eye (Mt 7:1-5).

Know this, therefore:

The culpability for the potential (and actual) loss of those souls who wish to return to God, but are put off from doing so by your infamous rhetoric to score cheap political points and support your prideful egos, will be on none other but your souls. You will also face judgment from Christ when you die in the exact same way that you had no problem – indeed, relished – doling it out to others while still alive. Unless there is contrition.

You have been warned.

The Second Coming and false prophets in the Catholic Church

Christ3Some, even in the Catholic Church itself, are claiming openly that we are at the time of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This claim is demonstrably false.

First, no one knows the exact time of the end – the day and the hour – not even the Son; only the Almighty Father knows (Mt 24:36, Mk 13:32). Anyone who claims otherwise has either been deceived, is an outright liar, or is a drunk – or thinks he knows more than God and can revise Scripture.

Second, before the very time of the end, the era of peace – the era of the reign of Spirit, the era of the fourth stage of deification, the Kingdom of the Divine Will on earth – as described in Revelation 20 has to occur. It has not yet come. Only after that time period will the final battle take place, followed by the Second Coming of Christ in glory.

Third, the global illumination of all consciences as described in Joel 3:12 has not yet taken place. That illumination takes place before the Second Coming.

Fourth, as a consequence of the global illumination of consciences, all the various Christian denominations will unite under the aegis of the Catholic Church. All the schisms will be healed. Judaism and Christianity will also become united (CCC §674). This shall take place so that the light of the Gospel can reach all nations. It will take place before the final battle and the Second Coming. As we can see, none of that has yet occurred. Neither has the Great Persecution.

So, all of the above beg the question, “Where are we in salvation history?”

Ours, right now, is the time of the Third Passover – that time of the intermediate coming of Christ. What we are going through are the labor pains to usher in the era of peace, the era of the reign of the Father in the heart of the souls, the nous, of humanity. Here is a part from Saint Bernard of Clairvaux’s writings to clarify things for you about our present time:

At an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come . . . Do not just think about his first coming when he came “to seek and to save the lost;” think, too, of that other coming when he will come to take us with him . . . But there is a third coming between the two to which I have referred and those who know of it can rest in it for their greater happiness. The other two are visible but this one is not. In the first, “the Lord has appeared on earth and has spoken to us;” . . .  in the last, “all mankind shall see the salvation of God.” But the one that comes between them is secret; it is that in which the elect alone see the Savior within themselves and their souls find salvation. In his first coming, Christ came in our flesh and in our weakness; in his coming in the midst of time, he comes in Spirit and power; in his final coming, he will come in his glory and majesty (Saint Bernard, Sermons 4 et 5 for Advent).

This is the time of the coming of the Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven; the time we have all been praying for since Christ taught us the Our Father prayer. That is the time we are living in. Those who are expecting a manifest reign of Christ on earth are making the same error Judas Iscariot did when, at the time of the First Coming, he expected Christ to physically establish His kingdom on earth and overthrow Roman rule.

 

The Mystical Body of Christ – How does one become part of the Church?

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The Mystical Body of Christ – the Church

A lot of questions, contentions and assertions, often contradictory, have arisen lately about the matter of who is, or is not, part of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. Some have been correct. However, by far, the larger part of the contentions and assertions have all been either just partially correct or flat-out wrong. Some have been fueled by inadequate knowledge; others have been fueled by partisan denominational agendas. Misunderstandings and misrepresentations abound. Let us look, therefore, at who and what constitutes the Church.

The Church is made up of three parts: the (1) Church Triumphant, which consists of all those persons who are now in Heaven, enjoying the Divine Family in a direct manner. The (2) Church Suffering, which consists of all those souls who are still being purified in Purgatory, but who have now attained the assurance of reaching Heaven once their purification has ended. And (3) the Church Militant, the visible Church that consists of all those people on earth who are part of the Body of Christ.

How does one become part of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church?

Entrance into the Body of Christ is through baptism of which there are three kinds: (1) the baptism of water, (2) the baptism of blood, and (3) the baptism of desire. Any person who receives any one of the above kinds of baptism is Christian, hence part of the Mystical Body of Christ (Paul VI, 1964. Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church). This is the official teaching of the universal Church, the fullness of which resides in the Catholic Church.  (more…)

They do not know God

biblethumpingPreach the Gospel and if necessary use words – Saint Francis of Assisi

More than a few Christians in America and beyond these days, but particularly in the United States, attempt to evangelize by thumping others on the head with their ‘values’ under a variety of rationalizations. Their judgmentalism, moreover, can oftentimes be considered nothing short of phenomenal. There can be no doubt that many of these Christians, including Catholics, are fundamentally sincere in their underlying intentions. However, they seem to have forgotten (1) that the above is not evangelization, but proselytization (which is “nonsense” – Pope Francis); (2) the words of Saint Paul in his first Letter to the Corinthians, and (3) the words of Christ in the Gospel of Matthew: “By their fruits you shall know them.”

Look at how much they love one another – Tertullian

No one has ever been attracted or won over to the One, True Faith by force. On the contrary. The more one name-calls others in a self-congratulatory manner in an attempt to ‘convert’ them – you know, those “over there” – the more seekers are driven away not brought closer to God. They are repulsed.

God gave every man and every woman free will when He created humankind in His own image and likeness. He, in fact, respects the decisions taken by our free will even when some of our choices cause Him great grief and sorrow. The sole conclusion that can, therefore, be reached from all of the above is that these Christians and Catholics do not know God other than by Name because if they did – if they knew Him, if they had truly met Him, at the very least, deep down in their hearts – they would know beyond doubt that, first and foremost, God is Love; Infinite Love.

Christianity 101 – The ‘elder brother’ syndrome

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It seems to have become the fashion these days, particularly in the US, to tell other Catholics who might disagree with one’s particular take on Catholicism that, “You are not Catholic.” The phrase, “You are not Christian,” tends to be hurled in a parallel manner by those of Protestant bent, in particular the evangelicals. Both phrases, however, are theologically incorrect, not to mention that such phrases are often used as weapons toward the ‘undesirable’ other Catholic/Christian by the ever-so-correct under the rationalization of evangelization. An analogous weapon seems to be the phrase, “You are not part of the Body of Christ.”

Leaving aside, for the moment, that the word Catholic means universal, not parochial, thus any parochialism or tribalism under the name of the Faith is to be eschewed, one becomes a Catholic Christian by being baptized with the Trinitarian formula in the Catholic Church. In a similar manner, one becomes a Christian, as the term has been appropriated and is understood by several evangelicals, by being baptized by another Christian using the Trinitarian formula. And let us not even consider here the baptism of desire and the baptism of blood.

So who is a ‘real’ Catholic? Who is a ‘real’ Christian?

Both of the above persons given as example are real Christians and the first is a Catholic Christian. This ontological change occurs no matter whether one of them professes what is either to the liking or the disliking of the other. Both of them form part of the Body of Christ, since both have been validly baptized with the Trinitarian formula – irrespective of whether the self-righteous like it or not, or if they can or cannot prop up their own egos. Whether one is a practicing Christian or a practicing Catholic, or a good/bad Christian or a good/bad Catholic, does not enter into the equation.

For Catholics, therefore, to tell other similarly baptized Catholics, “You are not Catholic,” because the former disagree with the latter, is an oxymoronic, but highly misleading, statement that is unreflective of the truth. The widespread use of these phrases also reveals what seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding on the part of the ‘phrase-throwers’ (who would ‘evangelize’ others), in relation to what and who constitutes the Church and the Body of Christ. This leaves one wondering if the situation is not one of the proverbial case of the blind leading the equally blind. The same holds true for those who consider themselves just Christians.