Christ-centered Anthropology and the mystery of man

That Pope John Paul II was profoundly formed by and faithful to the general pastoral purpose and style of Gaudium et Spes throughout his pontificate is easy to show. He not only made constant reference to Gaudium et Spes, 22 and 24, referring to the former as encapsulating the motif of his pontificate, his encyclical, Fides et Ratio, stressed the unity of the two orders of knowledge, natural and supernatural. There is a “unity of truth” assured by the fact that God is Creator and Redeemer and thus the Author of what is revealed through creation and through the economy of salvation.

Carl Olson Pope John Paul II and the Christ-centered Anthropology of “Gaudium et Spes”

Here is Gaudium et Spes 22.

The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of Him Who was to come,(20) namely Christ the Lord. Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear. It is not surprising, then, that in Him all the aforementioned truths find their root and attain their crown.

He Who is “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15),(21) is Himself the perfect man. To the sons of Adam He restores the divine likeness which had been disfigured from the first sin onward. Since human nature as He assumed it was not annulled,(22) by that very fact it has been raised up to a divine dignity in our respect too. For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man. He worked with human hands, He thought with a human mind, acted by human choice(23) and loved with a human heart. Born of the Virgin Mary, He has truly been made one of us, like us in all things except sin.(24)

The Christian man, conformed to the likeness of that Son Who is the firstborn of many brothers,(27) received “the first-fruits of the Spirit” (Rom. 8:23) by which he becomes capable of discharging the new law of love.(28) Through this Spirit, who is “the pledge of our inheritance” (Eph. 1:14), the whole man is renewed from within, even to the achievement of “the redemption of the body” (Rom. 8:23):

Such is the mystery of man, and it is a great one, as seen by believers in the light of Christian revelation.

Christodoulos

Orthodoxwiki tells us about Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and Primate of Greece who died this week.

Wikipedia gives plenty of detail on the public impact Christodoulos made.

Christodoulos opposed the decision to remove the ‘Religion’ field from national ID cards, seeing as part of a wider plan to marginalise the Church from Greek public life and stating that the decision was “put forward by neo-intellectuals who want to attack us like rabid dogs and tear at our flesh”

In 2004 the Archbishop criticized globalisation as a “bulldozer that is out to demolish everything, on account of those who want to rule the world without resistance or obstacles” adding that Greeks live in a paradise compared to other Europeans, because “they have a strong faith, they build churches, follow traditions, and resist globalisation”.

On another occasion he stated that “the forces of Darkness cannot stand it [that Greece is a predominantly Orthodox country], and for this reason they want to decapitate it and flatten everything, by means of globalisation, the novel deity

Give us another like Christodoulos.

John Owen Today

A conference on the theology of John Owen

Westminster College
Cambridge, UK
19–22 August 2008

An increasing number of scholars from a wide range of disciplines are finding the thought of John Owen to be a fertile field for study. Nine of them will be presenting papers on his work at Westminster College, home to the original copy of the Westminster Confession.

Willem van Asselt
Utrecht University, Holland

Stephen R Holmes
St Mary’s College, University of St Andrews, UK

Michael S Horton
Westminster Seminary, California, USA

George Hunsinger
Princeton Theological Seminary, New Jersey, USA

Kelly M Kapic
Covenant College, Georgia, USA

Suzanne MacDonald
Calvin College, Grand Rapids, USA

Sebastian Rehnman
Johannelunds Theological Seminary, Sweden

Alan Spence
United Reformed Church, London, UK

Carl R Trueman
Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, USA

For further details and a booking form – johnowentoday@aol.com
A John Owen blog gives links to some of the speakers.
Learn more and more about Owen.

Well done Alan (and Terry and Andy).

Collaboration between some bishops and the state security agencies

Long since the Moscow Patriarchate defrocked Father Gleb Yakunin, a Moscow priest who, as an elected deputy in 1990, had privileged access to the KGB archives and discovered that the collaboration between some bishops and the state security agencies had been worse than even he had imagined. The Church has never properly investigated this, clearly because so many of the bishops, not least the Patriarch, rose to power with the say-so of state authority.

Sometimes it is the local bishop who acts as an agent of secular power. Father Sergei Taratukhin was imprisoned in the 1980s as a Soviet-era dissident. In prison he became a believer, trained for the priesthood and became chaplain in Penal Colony No10, near Chita in eastern Siberia. He served there seven years, befriending an inmate, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, condemned by a Moscow court in 2005 for financial misdemeanours in a trial widely seen as politically motivated.

Taratukhin became convinced that Khodorkovsky was a political prisoner and campaigned for him. Bishop Yevstafy, his diocesan, intervened and removed him to a remote parish. Taratukhin objected, so his bishop defrocked him. Now the priest has appeared abjectly contrite on TV, in a scene reminiscent of clergy who recanted their anti-Soviet activities in former days. The bishop has offered him forgiveness and partial reinstatement – he now organises rubbish collection and shovels snow from the paths around Chita’s new cathedral.

Michael Bourdeaux Putin and the Patriarchs

28 January – Saint Thomas Aquinas

In the man Jesus Christ however there was no movement of sense that was not controlled by reason; and even his natural bodily activities were in a sense voluntary, inasmuch as that he willed that his flesh should do and suffer according to its own proper nature. So there is even greater unity of activity in Christ than there is in other men. … Christ’s grace was not just his own personal grace but the grace proper to the head of the whole Church, to whom all members are joined so as to constitute one person mystically. So what Christ earned he earned for all his members, just as what man does with his head serves all his members. The sin of Adam, whom God appointed to beget the whole of humanity, passed on as inheritance to others by bodily propagation; the earnings of Christ, whom God set up as the head of all men by grace, pass on to all his members by spiritual birth of baptism which makes us members of Christ’s body.

Saint Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologiae Part III, chapter 13, 19.1

25 January – Saint Paul and Saint Gregory Nazianzus

Today is the feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul and also the feast of Saint Gregory Nazianzus

At his birth we duly kept Festival, both I, the leader of the Feast, and you, and all that is in the world and above the world. With the Star we ran, and with the Magi we worshipped, and with the Shepherds we were illuminated, and with the Angels we glorified Him, and with Simeon we took Him up in our arms, and with Anna the aged and chaste we made our responsive confession. And thanks be to Him who came to His own in the guise of a stranger, because He glorified the stranger. Now, we come to another action of Christ, and another mystery. I cannot restrain my pleasure; I am rapt into God.

Almost like John I proclaim good tidings; for though I be not a Forerunner, yet am I from the desert. Christ is illumined, let us shine forth with Him. Christ is baptized, let us descend with Him that we may also ascend with Him. Jesus is baptized; but who is He, and by whom is He baptized, and at what time? He is the All-pure; and He is baptized by John; and the time is the beginning of His miracles. What are we to learn and to be taught by this? To purify ourselves first; to be lowly minded; and to preach only in maturity both of spiritual and bodily stature.

Oration on the Holy Lights (XIV)

The saints are there to do us good. Let’s get to know them. Many thanks to Wikipedia contributors to the saints pages, list of saints, chronological list and links to calendars.

Now I’d like a single ecumenical saint-a-day calendar please.

Providence and the doctrine of God

Every Christian doctrine is an exemplification of the Christian doctrine of God. The Christian confession of God and that God is for us, requires an account of the generous provision of God, which is what providence is, and it requires all the other doctrines that make our talk about providence meaningful. The Christian doctrine of God tells us that we are not God, and so we are discharged from the exhausting though self-imposed duty to make ourselves divine, that is to take ourselves to be everything, and also to be able to stand outside this everything and decide whether or not to affirm it. One corollary is that we can really know other people, but we cannot know them and master them utterly, because they belong not in the first place to us, but to God, who has high ambitions for them. We are not ourselves by being ‘just-human’, without God. Thus the doctrine of God gives us the truth of man, but the truth of man cannot be extracted from this doctrine and cashed out into a theory about man. Because God mystery, by which we mean he is knowable only to extent he makes himself known, and man is the creature of God, man is a mystery too. The assessment of God is that we along with rest of the world are worth waiting for, and the Church is the demonstration that this is still the good judgment – of God. The secret of being human, is hidden with God, and only in communion with him, can we be human, together, with other humans.

The Son and the Spirit in the Providence of God – John Zizioulas on time and communion

Better citizens, more faithful Catholics

Catholic Identity in the American Public Square

When we speak about a nation’s culture, we mean the entire fabric of its common life, from art and music to sports and schools. But since this is an election year, I want to apply the idea of Catholic witness specifically to our public life as citizens. Here are ten simple points to remember.

1. George Orwell said that one of the biggest dangers for modern democratic life is dishonest political language. Dishonest language leads to dishonest politics-which then leads to bad public policy and bad law. So we need to speak and act in a spirit of truth.

2. Catholic is a word that has real meaning. We don’t control or invent that meaning as individuals. We inherit it from the gospel and the experience of the Church over the centuries. We can choose to be something else, but if we choose to call ourselves Catholic, then that word has consequences for what we believe and how we act. We can’t truthfully claim to be Catholic and then act as though we’re not.

3. Being a Catholic is a bit like being married. We have a relationship with the Church and with Jesus Christ that’s similar to being a spouse. If a man says he loves his wife, his wife will want to see the evidence in his love and fidelity. The same applies to our relationship with God. If we say we’re Catholic, we need to show that by our love for the Church and our fidelity to what she teaches and believes. Otherwise we’re just fooling ourselves, because God certainly won’t be fooled.

10. The heart of truly faithful citizenship is this: We’re better citizens when we’re more faithful Catholics. The more authentically Catholic we are in our lives, choices, actions and convictions, the more truly we will contribute to the moral and political life of our nation.

Archbishop of Denver Charles J Chaput shows his fellow bishops how to do it. Even his website demonstrates a determination to communicate clearly, generously and evangelically. Can’t we do that?

Pray without ceasing

This is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2008

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is an expression of the ecumenical movement – a worldwide movement among Christians to heal the divisions within the Church; to promote dialogues among churches and Christian communities; and to encourage Christians everywhere to better understand and reflect the implications of “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Each year from January 18 – 25, Christians are encouraged to pray together as a sign of the unity that is already theirs in Christ and that that unity will become complete.

Here are some very considerable resources, giving the background to the week, and a form of worship for each day of the week, from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, jointly produced with the World Council of Churches Faith and Order

Children in worship

6.9.2 The Church needs children present in its worship, as patterns of discipleship, as reminders that we come into the presence of God not through our own deserving, but because we are creatures of God’s creation. But children also need to be present in worship because it is the locus of Christian formation. Worship is fundamental if children are to grow in the knowledge and love of God.

Christian formation is lifelong, and it begins in infancy; children who are excluded from worship suffer significant deprivation. Of course, we can make up for experiences missed in childhood, but it is hard work. We know that in many areas of experience, learning in childhood is much easier than later in life: this applies in worship no less than in learning a language. The language, gesture and attitudes which facilitate both our worship and our growth in faith are acquired most easily in childhood, and what is learnt then forms the foundation on which all subsequent learning is to be built. It is constantly necessary to challenge the prevailing misapprehension that children do not ‘understand’ what is happening in worship, and that education for worship is a top-down didactic exercise.

Transforming Worship: Report of the Liturgical Commission