Monday, May 21, 2012

For today's feast of Ss. Constantine and Helen, Equals to the Apostles

Perhaps so his baptism would cleanse as many sins as possible, St. Constantine the Great, ἰσαπόστολος, postponed it until he was near death. In the meantime, just for example, he ordered the poisoning of his son Crispus and the scalding suffocation of his wife Fausta (326). His sins were great. Then his glorification shows God’s great mercy. His baptism was by the Arian Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia (337). Then his canonization demonstrates one significant thing that extra ecclesiam nulla salus does not mean. This implicit acceptance of a baptism from a heretical hand shows the mysterious workings of God’s grace.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Confession and Eucharist

The mysteries of the Church - like the Church herself - are each human and divine. They are each an act of God performed through humans upon humans. As with the rest, this is also so of confession and eucharist. Each is both of God and of man. Each is both of the God-man. If I may say so, however, there is a manner in which confession more greatly emphasizes the human and eucharist the divine.

This is so in reference to the forgiveness of our sins. Both confession and eucharist are for the forgiveness of our sin, so why do we need both? Because the Church, which is the assembly of those in Christ, is both human and divine.

God knows what you’ve done. He knows your sin. He knows also whether you approach him in penitence. If you do, He receives you in mercy and forgiveness into communion with himself in the eucharist, which we receive for the remission of our sins and for life everlasting. If you do not, perhaps you eat and drink judgment and condemnation upon yourself. The eucharist offers you the divine seal of your forgiveness in Jesus Christ by uniting you to him - by making you a part of his own body. The miracle of the eucharist - to paraphrase Taft - is not simply to make bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus, but more importantly, to make you, together with all the people of God, the members of his Church, into the body and blood of Jesus.

The human members of this body, however, do not know what you’ve done. They do not know your sin. The Church, as both a human and divine institution must offer its members both human and divine forgiveness. For humans to forgive, they must hear confessions, and so James taught us in our apostolic infancy to confess our sins to one another, not only to whisper them into the wind that only God can hear. God has become a man and he is acting through men in his Church. As a man, he waits to hear your confession spoken with your lips. Your lips, and the ears of the priest who hears what they speak, are entirely human. They are dust and to dust they shall return. It’s true. But it is also true that they are taken on by God himself in his incarnation. They are being raised up and given eternal life. They are being divinized. For the Church in her humanity to offer you human forgiveness and reintegration into her human community, she must hear your human confession. This human forgiveness is necessary for you because it is being made divine and what sins humans forgive are forgiven also by God.

Most Popular Posts this Month

Most Popular Posts of All Time