Sunday, March 20, 2005

Palm Sunday

We need to deepen the understanding of priesthood. Priesthood means mediation. The mediation that is priesthood before Christ - pagan and Jewish - was extrinsic. It was the sacrifice and offering of something or someone outside of or extrinsic to the mediator or priest. The Office of readings of today says, "Since the law had only a shadow of the good things to come, and no real image of them, it was never able to perfect the worshipers by the same sacrifices offered continually year after year. Were matters otherwise, the priests would have stopped offering them, for the worshipers, once cleansed, would have had no sin on their conscience. But through those sacrifices there came only a yearly recalling of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take sins away. Wherefore, Jesus said, `sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you have prepared for me... I have come to do your will, O God'"... By this `will,' we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Every other priest stands ministering day by day, and offering again and again those same sacrifices which can never take away sins. But Jesus offered one sacrifice for sins and took his seat forever at the right hand of God... By one offering he has forever perfected those who are being sanctified.... `Their sins and their transgressions I will remember no more'" (Hebrews 1-18).
This distinction between extrinsic and intrinsic mediation and the insight as to the difference between the pagan and Levitical priesthoods and the priesthood of Jesus Christ (in mysterious connection with Melchisedech) depends on a heightening of epistemology. That is, without getting at the self as subject and real, we are always dealing with the "known" as object. This includes the self as object. And as long as the self is object, sacrifice is always of the other as extrinsic. Priest always mediates, then, between object and object.
This makes it impossible to understand the real meaning of the priesthood of Jesus Christ, and our share in it such that we become "priests of our own existence." Notice that "it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take sins away," but Christ was fitted with a body that is "His," or better "Him," so that He can make a gift of Himself in the flesh. Through the medium of this "body" (which includes human soul, will and intellect), which is His very Self, Christ is able to "become sin" (2 Cor 5, 21) and obey to death thus turning the disobedience of "His" sin into the obedience that is His Trinitarian relation to the Father and the meaning of His Being, and Life (Zoe). In a word, the gift of self produces in the humanity of Christ, and therefore in us (if we freely practice it), trinitarian (eternal) Life.
St. Thomas does the metaphysical anthropology underlying this Christology by raising the question "is there only one esse in Christ?" He responds quod illud esse aeternum Filii Dei, quod est divina natura, fit esse hominis, in quantum human natura assumitur a Filio Dei in unitatem personae(the eternal esse of the Son of God, which is the divine nature, becomes the esse of the man (Jesus of Nazareth) in that human nature is assumed by the Son of God into the oneness of the Person (S. Th. 111, 17 2, ad 2). This equips us to understand that the divine Person of the Word can subdue and master the human will of the man Jesus of Nazareth (there being no human person) as His own will, and therefore mediate between Himself and the Father for us. The key is to be able to understand that the Person of the Word can subdue Himself as man and therefore be Priest of His own existence whereupon He offers Himself.
This cannot be understood if we remain in the horizon of objects. The key is to enter into the horizon of the subject whereupon self-mastery as instrinsic mediation becomes comprehensible. If we remain only in the horizon of the object, this remains impossible. St. Paul says, "But as it is, once for all at the end of thee ages, he has appeared for the destruction of sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Hebrews 10, 27). And again, "For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; therefore it is necessary that this one also should have something to offer. If then he were on earth, he would not even be a priest, since there are already others to offer gifts according to the Law. The worship they offer is a mere copyy and shadow of things heavenly..." (Heb. 8, 3-5). "But when Christ appeared... he entered once for all... by virtue of his own blood" (Hebrews 9, 11- 13).
Without the benefit of a phenomenology of the "I" as being, it would not be possible to penetrate to the insight of this paradigm shift from extrinsic priesthood to intrinsic, and how that affects those baptized into the priesthood of Christ to live it universally in the exercise of secular work. This anthropology of priesthood constitutes the foundation of what we have come to understand as the freedom of the lay mentality and the formation of the true meaning of secularity in the creation of a priestly people effecting a new culture on the occasion of work.
Today, Palm Sunday, the palms and the donkey are symbols of this intrinsic priesthood of self-gift and the ontological re-constitution of the human person from the ravages of sin.


Secular examples of this intrinsic priesthood - not wholly in conformity with the full truth of Christ but which exemplify the anthropology of self-gift that is its metaphysical core - come to mind from Whittaker Chambers' masterpiece "Witness." When asked by a juror before the Hiss trial "What does it mean to be a Communist?," Chambers answered:
"When I was a Communist, I had three heroes. One was a Russian. One was a Pole. One was German Jew.
"The Pole was Felix Djerjinsky. He was ascetic, highly sensitive, intelligent. He was a Coommunist. After the Russian Revolution, he became head of the Tcheka and organizer of the Red Terror. As a young man, Djerjinsky had abeen a political prisoner in the Paviak Prison in Warsaw. There he insisted on being given the task of cleaning the latrines of the other prisoners. For he held that the most developed member of any community must take upon himself the lowliest tasks as an example to those who are less developed. That is one thing that it meant to be a Communist.
"The German Jew was Eugen Levine. He was a Communist. During the Bavarian Soviet Republic in 1919, Levine was the organizer of the Workers and Soldiers Soviets. When the Bavarian Soviet Republic was crushed, Levine was captured and courtmartialed. The court-martial told him: "`You are under sentence of death.' Levine answered: `We Communists are always under sentence of death.' That is another thing that it meant to be a Communist.
"The Russian was not a Communist. He was a pre-Communist revolutionist named Kalyaev. (I should have said Sazonov.) He was arrested for a minor part in the assasination of the Tsarist prime minister, von Plehve. He was sent into Siberian exile to one of the worst prison camps, where the potical prisoners were flogged. Kalyaev sought some way to protest this outrage to the world. The means were few, but at last he found a way. In protest against the flogging of other men, Kalyaev drenched hmiself in kerosene, set himself on fire and burned himself to death. That also is what it meant to be a Communist."
That also is what it means to be a witness."

It is also what it means to be a priest in the following of Christ.

PRIESTHOOD: "Priestly Soul and Lay Mentality"

Class @ Our Lady of Peace, New Providence, N.J.(December 9, 2004).

Daniel Cere: The Priestly Vocation and Mission: The laity rarely give much thought to their priestly identity. Martin Scorsese, director of the Last Temptation of Christ, once thought that he had a “religious” calling: “I wanted to be a priest. However, I soon realized that my real vocation, my real calling was the movies.” (Graham, 314). Scorsese places priesthood, vocation and calling on a floor with work in the movie industry—he opted for movies. Scorsese’s curious remarks about his “calling” make sense in a culture which has gutted “priest” and “vocation” of any real meaning beyond that of career.
Clericalized views of the laity try to color in “priestly” tones to lay existence by blurring the essential distinction between the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial priesthood. We are being priestly to the extent that we share in the activities proper to ministerial priesthood.
Careerist and clericalized views of the priesthood skew the message of Vatican II and its most outstanding interpreter, John Paul II.. One of the most original contributions of Vatican II was its profound emphasis on the “two” modalities of Christian priesthood: the common priesthood and the ministerial priesthood. Vatican II attempted to rouse the laity to a more profound and enriched sense of their participation in the priesthood of Christ.
It also drew attention to the profound complementarity between the common and ministerial priesthood in a way that moved the common priesthood to center stage. (Rosato2) According the John Paul II, the core mission of ministerial priesthood is to maintain and develop the common priesthood. (1980: 227) The ministerial priesthood is ordered to the common priesthood: “the ministerial priesthood is at the service of the common priesthood. It is directed at the unfolding of the baptismal grace of all Christians.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 1547).
The common priesthood is part of the “mystery” or ontology of the human person. (John Paul II 1979: ch.15) This priestly dimension is not just a question of tasks or functions to be performed; it defines the very nature and stance of the human person before God. John Paul II states that it “expresses in a particularly intimate but fundamental way the existential essence of faith.” The essence of faith is a primordial priestly act of sacrifice or self-giving in which the human person make a gift of himself to God—“commits his entire self to God.” “This commitment, contained in the very essence of faith, is realized most fully in the attitude which derives from sharing in the priesthood of Christ.” (John Paul II 1980: 223-25) John Paul II constantly returns to a pivotal passage in the Vatican II documents: “It follows, then, that if man is the only creature on earth that God has wanted for its own sake, man can fully discover his true self only in a sincere giving of himself.” The Pope states that “when man gives himself to God in this way, he rediscovers himself most fully.” (John Paul II 1980: 225)
The Gift of Self to God: Priesthood expresses the fundamental human vocation—the gift of self to God. In this sense, our participation in the priesthood of Christ is the most primordial of the threefold missions of Christ—“the simplest and profoundest expression of faith.” The priestly dimension of human personhood “contains within itself the authentic Christian relationship with God.” “This attitude also expresses the vocation of the person in its existential nucleus.” It is this primordial experience of vocation “to which we must constantly return.” (John Paul II 1980: 224)
For Newman, the priestly mission is also a signal of transcendence. Priesthood is a call to “devotion,” to “worship,” to “self-sacrificing love” (Newman 1901 I: xli, xciv). Pope John Paul II also underlines the importance of this aspect of the priestly mission: “The priesthood in particular is the form of self-expression of the man for who the world’s ultimate meaning can be found only in the dimension of the transcendental: in turning towards God who, as the fullness of personal Being, in himself transcends the world.” (John Paul II 1979: 1323) The priestly mission expresses the reality that “human existence is ‘being directed towards God.’”
The Call to Sacrifice: The priestly dimension of life is embodied in the call to sacrifice. Christ “came as a Priest” insofar as he “offered a sacrifice” and “that Sacrifice was Himself—He offered Himself” (Newman’s italics; Newman 1991: 68) Newman argues that our “surrender and sacrifice of self to God” lies at the very core of Christian faith (Newman 1997: 1113, 1119). However, Newman also draws attention to the very practical ramifications of this surrender or sacrifice of self to God. Giving one’s life to God entails practical daily self-denial. The sacrificial or priestly dimension of human existence is a call to adulthood. (Newman 1997: 215-223, 1470-78)
In the “Discontents of Adulthood” David Guttmann provides an anthropological analysis of the link between adulthood and sacrifice. He argues that the mark of the transition to adulthood in most cultures is signaled by some rite that tests your willingness to risk your life, to sacrifice it, for a greater good. (Guttmann 19994) In this sense, the priestly mission of the laity is a call to adulthood. It requires men and women who have the courage to sacrifice themselves, their time, their energy, their lives, for the sake of greater goods, for the sake of greater loves. It requires a “Gethsemane” willingness to risk and venture amid the uncertainties of the future.
The Catholic apostolate in the university offers a special context for this critical transition from adolescence to adulthood. Too often university-level spiritual formation programs are either non-existent or only serve to reinforce an adolescent focus on self-growth rather than facilitate transformation to adult self-giving. An adolescent faith cannot support adult life-structures or serve young men and women as they negotiate the difficult choices that lie before them. Participation in Christ’s priestly office involves a willingness to encounter and enter into difficulties, sufferings, failures, and poverty of life.
In short, the priestly dimension of lay formation is an education in Christian realism. “New age” forms of spirituality tend to skirt around the thorny realism of Christianity. Newman condemns such views as “superficial” and “unreal.” The cross of Christ offers us a deeper and truer perspective on the world. (Newman 1997: 1239-455) Life is beautiful; but life is also difficult, broken and deadly. Entering into life, loving, marrying, pursuing an occupation, are calls to adulthood. Young adults are invited to encounter the cross—to seek Christ in the dark and difficult sides of life. (Newman 1898: 546)
The Call to Prayer and Consecration of Daily Life: Another practical expression of the priestly life of the laity is the call to holiness and devotion: “the Christian sacrifice is the life of prayer and praise.” Insofar as each lay person “offers up his own prayers…he is so far a priest for himself” (Newman 1991 “Sermons”: 68-69). Lay spirituality must overcome the fragmentation of faith and life. The priestly dimension of the laity is expressed in the call to consecrate daily life. In his sermon, “Doing God’s Glory in the Pursuits of the World” Newman writes that for the lay person the encounter with Christ “lies in his worldly business…he will see Christ revealed to his soul amid the ordinary actions of the day, as by a sort of sacrament. Thus he will take his worldly business as a gift from Him, and love it as such.” (Newman 1997: 1662). A central part of this priestly mission of the laity is to develop an authentically “lay spirituality” that penetrates, illuminates, and consecrates daily life in the light of faith. Newman highlights the importance of the lay or popular spiritual and devotional life of the Church. He argues that the Church must be attentive to this critical domain of Catholic spirituality. He also suggests that the laity have a priestly competence over their spiritual life that needs to be attended to. The “devotional sentiments” of the laity “ought to be consulted” for “the laity have a testimony to give” (Coulson: 104). Furthermore, the laity should be responsibly proactive in the exercise of their priestly mission to offer prayer, worship and praise. In a sense, “the people have a special right to interfere in questions of devotion” (Holmes 1979: 104). Our young men and women must discover the importance of their priestly identity and mission in their own personal lives and in the life of their communities. They need to study the lives of lay men and women who have actualized this priestly mission as guides, mentors and leaders in the lay spiritual journey.

* * * * * * * *

Priesthood always means mediation. In the revelation of Jesus Christ – the meaning of man from the beginning (i.e., Adam) – mediation is the very self of Adam given in obedience to the covenant of God to subdue the earth. When the self is given, mediation is truth. When it is not given, but turns back on self, it is not mediation and therefore not priesthood. Sin, the turning back on self, is not truth, mediation or priesthood.
Man is priest in actualizing his humanity, because one becomes self by the giving of the self in actualizing the likeness (act) of the image of the Trinitarian Persons (Relations). Adam was priest in the act of obedience whereby he tilled the earth and named the animals. The male and female were priests in the act of conjugal union. The notion of ministry is spousal (sexual) – the bridegroom and the bride are ontologically “ministers” of their mutual self-donation – in view of the prototype of Christ and the Church as Bridegroom to Bride. Had there been no sin, God would still have become man in the spousal relationship of Bridegroom to Bride since it was foreordained according to Ephesians, “Even as he chose us in him [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish in his sight in love. He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ as his sons…” (Eph 1, 4-5). After sin, Jesus Christ restores and heightens their priesthood oby incorporating them into Himself and living out the supreme priestly act of obeying the Father to death for us.

Women Priests? Yes, But Not By Holy Orders

Hence, there are two (2) essentially different sacramental ways of being priest in Jesus Christ: 1) by Baptism, everyone is priest of his/her very existence in work and conjugal life as revealed in Genesis. To til the soil and name the animals are the occasion of subduing the self to make the gift of the self in obedience to the divine commands. Man and woman are equally and properly priests: “You, however, are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people” (1 Peter 2, 9). 2) By the sacrament of Orders, men – not women – are capacitated to act in the Person of Christ the Bridegroom in His service of death for the Bride. They act in persona Christi, and therefore not in their own name (Eucharist: “This is my Body…”), and if in their own name, not with their own power (Penance: “I absolve you from your sins…”).
These two sacramental sharings in the one priesthood of Christ are irreducibly7 different and make up the heterogeneous character of the Church as a Communio of self gift (not a political institution). This is the Church as a priestly people.
Secularity is derived from priesthood. This priestly dimension and character of the Church is the root of its secularity. Secularity means autonomy as the freedom of self-determination8 that we will see as the very anthropology of mediation and therefore priesthood. The freedom of self-determination is antecedent to freedom of choice and is its underpinnings. One can be “free” to choose this or that because one transcends being moved by cosmic causes and stimuli extrinsic and external to the self as something objective. True freedom as revealed in Jesus Christ is the mastery of the self to get possession of the self and thus be able to make the gift of the self. The truth of choice comes from being embedded in that deeper context of freedom. John Paul II proposes Christ crucified as the icon of freedom: “The Crucified Christ reveals the authentic meaning of freedom; he lives it fully in the total gift of himself and calls his disciples to share in his freedom.”9
Secularity is not secularism (an absence of God). As mentioned, it is the autonomy of the self as truly free, i.e., to determine the self. Secularity is a Christian phenomenon because Christ’s determination of Himself as God-man to obey the Father to death is the prototype and paradigm of the freedom of God Himself as man. Therefore, the Church presents the human will of Jesus of Nazareth as assumed by the very Person of the Son of the Father and which He makes His own. Therefore, the human will of Christ – being assumed into the Person of God as personal is not abolished - becomes the freedom of God while remaining consummately human. It defines the autonomy of all human activity. But this activity as truly free is Christian. Hence, priesthood is the key to the autonomy that we understand to be “secular.”

Priesthood and Work: The Mass
The supreme act of the priesthood of Jesus Christ is His death on the C ross. This is the prototype of self-giving. It is instantiated in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The occasion of this self-gift for the common priesthood of the laity and the ministerial priesthood is secular work. Hence, to fulfill the prophecy of Jesus Christ crucified, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself” (Jn 12, 32), work in the secular world must become the occasion of the use of freedom and autonomy that is the giving of the self.

“Sweat and toil, which work necessarily involves in the present condition of the human race, present the Christian and everyone who is called to follow Christ with the possibility of sharing lovingly in the work that Christ came to do. This work of salvation came about through suffering and death on a Cross. By enduring the toil of work in union with Christ crucified for us, man in a way collaborates with the Son of God for the redemption of humanity. He shows himself a true disciple of Christ by carrying the cross in his turn every day in the activity that he is called upon to perform…. Through toil – and never without it. On the one hand this confirms the indispensability of the Cross in the spirituality of human work; on the other hand the Cross which this toil constitutes reveals a new good springing from work itself, from work understood in depth and in all its aspects and never apart from work.”10

The Plan of John Paul II: The Year of the Eucharist: 2004-2005
The Eucharist is not only “strength needed for this mission, but is also – in some sense – its plan. For the Eucharist is a mode of being [underline mine] which passes from Jesus into each Christian, though whose testimony it is meant to spread throughout society and culture.”11 This “mode of being” is the giving of the self that cultivates the human person and is the deeper meaning of “culture.” This segues immediately into the social doctrine of the Church, as the Pope will say, becomes the “washing of feet (Jn 13, 1-20).” This is the “bending down to wash the feet “ as “the meaning of the Eucharist unequivocally.”12
“Can we not make this Year of the Eucharist an occasion… to responding with fraternal solicitude to one of the many forms of poverty present in our world? I think for example of the tragedy of hunger which plagues hundreds of millions of human beings, the diseases which afflict developing countries, the loneliness of the elderly, the hardships faced by the unemployed, the struggles of immigrants. These are evils, which are present – albeit to a different degree – even in areas of immense wealth. We cannot delude ourselves: by our mutual love and, in particular, by our concern for those in need we will be recognized as true followers of Christ (cf. Jn 13, 35; Mt 25, 31-46). This will be the criterion by which the authenticity of our Eucharistic celebrations is judged.”13

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Catechism of the Catholic Church:1548 “Christ is the source of all priesthood: the priest of the old law was a figure of Christ, and the priest of the new law acts in the person of Christ.”14
1544 The revelation of priesthood is mediation: “Everything that the priesthood of the Old Covenant prefigured finds its fulfillment in Christ Jesus, the `one mediator between God and men’ (1 Tim 2, 5).”

Mediation: The topic of mediation and the anthropology explaining it is decisive in understanding the meaning of priesthood in the Old Law and in the New Law. St. Paul works up the contrast between the Levitical priesthood that is by carnal descent and the priesthood of Christ that points beyond the Mosaic Law to its origin in the priesthood of Melchisedech. “Christ is like Melchizedek in having no human father, for no genealogy is given of Melchizedek (Heb certainly did not intend to imply that Melchizedek was unbegotten, but seizes upon this external similarity as a point of illustration). Therefore Christ, unlike priests of the line of Aaron, is priest by divine appointment and not by descent. But Abraham, the carnal ancestor of Aaron, recognized the priesthood of Melchizedek by giving him tithes and receiving his blessing; therefore the priesthood descended from Abraham had to await the greater priesthood which its ancestor had recognized. This priesthood is that of Christ.”15 This priesthood as mediation is presented by St. Paul as being intrinsic to Christ as offering or giving Himself, rather than extrinsic as between individual entities.i
In what does this Mediation “within” Jesus Christ consist? 1) “The Logos adopts the being of the man Jesus into his own being and speaks of it in terms of his own I: `For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me’ (Jn. 6, 38). In the Son’s obedience, where both wills become one single Yes to the will of the Father, communion takes place between human and divine being. The `wondrous exchange,’ the `alchemy of being,’ is realized here as a liberating and reconciling communication, which becomes a communion between Creator and creature. It is in the pain of this exchange, and only here, that the fundamental change takes place in man, the change that alone can redeem him and transform the condition of the world. Here community is born, here the Church comes into being. The act whereby we participate in the Son’s obedience, which involves man’s genuine transformation, is also the only really effective contribution toward renewing and transforming society and the world as a whole.”1 2) Jesus Christ is the revelation of the meaning of man and woman. Not only who God is, but who man is and who woman is. Therefore, involved here is the question of whether women are priests by the very wiring of the anthropology. The answer is affirmative:
“In reality it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear. For Adam, the first man, was a type of him who was to come, Christ the Lord, Christ the new Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, fully reveals man to himself…”16
Therefore, the anthropology of priesthood in Christ is the anthropology of priesthood in the human person. Again, if Christ is the prototype of man, then what makes Christ a priest will make the human person a priest. If giftedness of self – actualizing the self as relation - is what makes Christ priest, then giftedness – actualizing self as a relation - is what will make man priest.17
If Christ as divine Person (Logos) had to subdue His human will to make it His own and thus obey the will of the Father to die on the Cross: the exercise of self-gift that is priesthood (mediation between self and the Father), then the human person must subdue himself, take possession of self, in order to make the gift of self to the Father – like Christ.
Born in sin, the human person is trapped in the prison of the self. Baptism is the sacrament of mystical insertion into Christ that enables the person to dynamize this subduing and this giving. It is strengthened by Confirmation, restored by Penance and perfected in the Eucharist.
Hence, Vatican II articulates the supreme expression of Christian anthropology, that is the very meaning of priesthood:
“Furthermore, the Lord Jesus, when praying to the Father `that they may all be one… even as we are one’ (Jn. 17, 21-22), has opened up new horizons closed to human reason by implying that there is a certain parallel between the union existing among the divine persons and the union of the sons of God in truth and love. It follows, then, that if man is the only creature on earth that God has wanted for its own sake, man can fully discover his true self only in a sincere giving of himself.” 18
Let’s look at this anthropology offered by the Magisterium of the Church as explained in 1974 by pre-papal Wojtyla:
“In Vatican II's Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, we read that "the human being, who is the only creature on earth that God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself or herself except through a disinterested gift of himself or herself" (24)….
"As I said earlier, in the experience of self-determination the human person stands revealed before us as a distinctive structure of self-possession and self-governance. Neither the one nor the other, however, implies being closed in on oneself. On the contrary, both self-possession and self-governance imply a special disposition to make a "gift of oneself," and this a "disinterested" gift. Only if one possesses oneself can one give oneself and do this in a disinterested way. And only if one governs oneself can one make a gift of oneself, and this again a disinterested gift. The problematic of disinterestedness certainly deserves a separate analysis, which it is not my intention to present here. An understanding of the person in categories of gift, which the teaching of Vatican II reemphasizes, seems to reach even more deeply into those dimensions brought to light by the foregoing analysis. Such an understanding seems to disclose even more fully the personal structure of self-determination.

[Self-determination in truth is priesthood in Christ and therefore in man – every man]
Only if one can determine oneself—as I attempted to show earlier—can one also become a gift for others. The Council's statement that "the human being...cannot fully find himself or herself except through a disinterested gift of himself or herself" allows us to conclude that it is precisely when one becomes a gift for others that one most fully becomes oneself. This "law of the gift," if it may be so designated, is inscribed deep within the dynamic structure of the person. The text of Vatican II certainly draws its inspiration from revelation, in the light of which it paints this portrait of the human being as a person. One could say that this is a portrait in which the person is depicted as a being willed by God "for itself" and, at the same time, as a being turned "toward" others. This relational portrait of the person, however, necessarily presupposes the immanent (and indirectly "substantial") portrait that unfolds before us from an analysis of the personal structure of self-determination….
I have attempted, however, even in this short presentation, to stress the very real need for a confrontation of the metaphysical view of the person that we find in St. Thomas and in the traditions of Thomistic philosophy with the comprehensive experience of the human being. Such a confrontation will throw more light on the cognitive sources from which the Angelic Doctor derived his metaphysical view. The full richness of those sources will then become visible. At the same time, perhaps we will better be able to perceive points of possible convergence with contemporary thought, as well as points of irrevocable divergence from it in the interests of the truth about reality.”19
Finally, Dominum et Vivificantem #59 spells out this recovery of the “I” – Gift as the very meaning of Christian anthropology and with Novo Millennio Ineunte and the discovery of the face of Jesus Christ, the blueprint for the year 2001, the 21st century and the Third Millennium.
“As the year 2000 since the birth of Christ draws near, it is a question of ensuring that an ever greater number of people “may fully find themselves...through a sincere gift of self,” according to the expression of the Council already quoted. Through the action of the Spirit-Paraclete, may there be accomplished in our world a process of true growth in humanity, in both individual and community life. In this regard Jesus himself "when he prayed to the Father, 'that all may be we are one' (Jn 17: 21-22)...implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine persons and the union of the children of God in truth and charity." The Council repeats this truth about man, and the Church sees in it a particularly strong and conclusive indication of her own apostolic tasks. For if man is the way of the Church, this way passes through the whole mystery of Christ, as man's divine model. Along this way the Holy Spirit, strengthening in each of us “the inner man,” enables man ever more “fully to find himself through a sincere gift of self.” These words of the Pastoral Constitution of the Council can be said to sum up the whole of Christian anthropology: that theory and practice, based on the Gospel, in which man discovers himself as belonging to Christ and discovers that in Christ he is raised to the status of a child of God, and so understands better his own dignity as man, precisely because he is the subject of God's approach and presence, the subject of the divine condescension, which contains the prospect and the very root of definitive glorification. Thus it can truly be said “the glory of God is the living man, yet man's life is the vision of God”: man, living a divine life, is the glory of God, and the Holy Spirit is the hidden dispenser of this life and this glory. The Holy Spirit—says the great Basil—“while simple in essence and manifold in his virtues...extends himself without undergoing any diminishing, is present in each subject capable of receiving him as if he were the only one, and gives grace which is sufficient for all.”
Rev. Robert A. Connor

1 Daniel Cere, “`Rouse Yourselves’ Towards a ‘High’ Doctrine of the Laity,” Newman Rambler 2000 @ McGill University, 5-8.
2 Rosato, Philip J. (1987) “Priesthood of the Baptized and Priesthood of the Ordained” Gregorianum 68: 339-46.
3 John Paul II, Sign of Contradiction, New York: Seabury.
4 Guttmann, David, “Adulthood and Its Discontents,” Working Paper for the Council on Families, Institute for American Values.
5 Newman, John Henry, “Parochial and Plain Sermons,” Ignatius Press.
6 Newman, John Henry, “Sermons Bearing on Subjects of the Day,” Longmans: London.
7 Why? Lumen Gentium # 10 reads: “Though they differ essentially and not only in degree, the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood are none the less ordered one to another; each in its own proper way shares in the one priesthood of Christ.” The essential difference consists in the spousal (sexual) difference between Bridegroom and Bride. Ontologically (not just functionally) Bridegroom (Christ) is gift as donation; Bride (Church) is gift as reception. The ontological relationality (that is more and other than “accidental”) of male and female renders them irreducible to an abstraction of sameness (univocity).
8 The Magisterium of the “freedom of self-determination” is enshrined in #24 of Gaudium et spes that reads: “man, the only earthly being that God has willed for itself, finds himself only by the sincere gift of himself.” The explanation of the phrase “the only earthly being that God has willed for itself” is explained in Love and Responsibility (Farrar Straus Giroux [1981] 27) which reads: “we must never treat a person as the means to an end. This principle has a universal validity. Nobody can use a person as a means towards an end, no human being, not even God the Creator. On the part of God, indeed, it is totally out of the question, since, by giving man an intelligent and free nature, he has thereby ordained that each man alone will decide for himself the ends of his activity, and not be a blind tool of someone else’s ends. Therefore, if God intends to direct man towards certain goals, he allows him to begin to know those goals, so that he may make them his own and strive towards them independently. In this amongst other things resides the most profound logic of revelation: God allows man to learn His supernatural ends, but the decision to strive towards an end, the choice of course, is left to man’s free will. God does not redeem man against his will.”
9 John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor # 85.
10 John Paul II, Laborem Exercens, #27, DSP
11 John Paul II, Mane Nobiscum Domine #25.
12 Ibid. 28.
13 Ibid.
14 St. Thomas Aquinas, S. Th. III, 22, 4c.
15 John L. McKenzie, Dictionary of the Bible, Bruce Publishing. Co. (1965) 563.
16 Gaudium et spes, #22.
17 The paradigm shift consists in experiencing man in terms of Jesus Christ instead of considering Him to be an “exception” to man. Until the Second Vatican Council, Jesus Christ was considered from above, while man was considered from below. Christ was a transcendent relational Person a Subsistent Relation; man was an immanent person, an in-itself substance distinguished from the animals only by the specific difference of rationality. Ratzinger says,

“The second great misunderstanding [in mediaeval Christology] is to see Christ as the simply unique ontological exception which must be treated as such. This exception is an object of highly interesting ontological speculation, but it must remain separate in its box as an exception to the rule and must not be permitted to mix with the rest of human thought…. Scripture expresses this point by calling Christ the last Adam or `the second Adam.’ It thereby characterizes him as the true fulfillment of the idea of the human person, in which the direction of meaning of this being comes fully to light for the first time. If it is true, however, that Christ is not the ontological exception, if from his exceptional position he is, on the contrary, the fulfillment of the entire human being, then the Christological concept of person is an indication for theology of how person is to be understood as such. In fact, this concept of person, or simply the dimension that has become visible here, has always acted as a spark in intellectual history and it has propelled development, even when it had long come to a standstill in theology”17(underline mine).
18 Gaudium et Spes #24.
19 Karol Wojtyla, “The Personal Structure of Self-Determination,” Person and Community, Lang (1993) 193-195.
20 John Paul II, Lord and Giver of Life, #59.
i Hebrews Chapter 7: The priesthood of Christ according to the order of Melchisedech excels the Levitical priesthood and puts an end both to that and to the law. 7:1. For this Melchisedech was king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him: 7:2. To whom also Abraham divided the tithes of all: who first indeed by interpretation is king of justice: and then also king of Salem, that is, king of peace: 7:3. Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but likened unto the Son of God, continueth a priest for ever. Without father, etc. Not that he had no father, etc., but that neither his father, nor his pedigree, nor his birth, nor his death, are set down in scripture. 7:4. Now consider how great this man is, to whom also Abraham the patriarch gave tithes out of the principal things. 7:5. And indeed they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is to say, of their brethren: though they themselves also came out of the loins of Abraham. 7:6. But he, whose pedigree is not numbered among them, received tithes of Abraham and blessed him that had the promises. 7:7. And without all contradiction, that which is less is blessed by the better. 7:9. And (as it may be said) even Levi who received tithes paid tithes in Abraham: 7:10. For he was yet in the loins of his father when Melchisedech met him. 7:11. If then perfection was by the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchisedech: and not be called according to the order of Aaron? 7:12. For the priesthood being translated, it is necessary that a translation also be made of the law, 7:13. For he of whom these things are spoken is of another tribe, of which no one attended on the altar. 7:14. For it is evident that our Lord sprung out of Juda: in which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priests. 7:15. And it is yet far more evident: if according to the similitude of Melchisedech there ariseth another priest, 7:16. Who is made, not according to the law of a law of a carnal commandment, but according to the power of an indissoluble life. 7:17. For he testifieth: Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech. 7:18. There is indeed a setting aside of the former commandment, because of the weakness and unprofitableness thereof: 7:19. For the law brought nothing to perfection: but a bringing in of a better hope, by which we draw nigh to God. 7:20. And inasmuch as it is not without an oath (for the others indeed were made priests without an oath: 7:21. But this with an oath, by him that said unto him: The Lord hath sworn and he will not repent: Thou art a priest forever). 7:22. By so much is Jesus made a surety of a better testament. 7:23. And the others indeed were made many priests, because by reason of death they were not suffered to continue: Many priests, etc... The apostle notes this difference between the high priests of the law, and our high priest Jesus Christ; that they being removed by death, made way for their successors; whereas our Lord Jesus is a priest for ever, and hath no successor; but liveth and concurreth for ever with his ministers, the priests of the new testament, in all their functions. Also, that no one priest of the law, nor all of them together, could offer that absolute sacrifice of everlasting redemption, which our one high priest Jesus Christ has offered once, and for ever. 7:24. But this, for that he continueth for ever, hath an everlasting priesthood: 7:25. Whereby he is able also to save forever them that come to God by him; always living to make intercession for us. Make intercession... Christ, as man, continually maketh intercession for us, by representing his passion to his Father. 7:26. For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than the heavens: 7:27. Who needeth not daily (as the other priests) to offer sacrifices, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, in offering himself. 7:28. For the law maketh men priests, who have infirmity: but the word of the oath (which was since the law) the Son who is perfected for evermore. Hebrews Chapter 8: More of the excellence of the priesthood of Christ and of the New Testament. 8:1. Now of the things which we have spoken, this is the sum: We have such an high priest who is set on the right hand of the throne of majesty in the heavens, 8:2. A minister of the holies and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord hath pitched, and not man. The holies... That is, the sanctuary. 8:3. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is necessary that he also should have some thing to offer. 8:4. If then he were on earth, he would not be a priest: seeing that there would be others to offer gifts according to the law. If then he were on earth, etc... That is, if he were not of a higher condition than the Levitical order of earthly priests, and had not another kind of sacrifice to offer, he should be excluded by them from the priesthood, and its functions, which by the law were appropriated to their tribe. 8:5. Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things. As it was answered to Moses, when he was to finish the tabernacle: See (saith he) that thou make all things according to the pattern which was shewn thee on the mount. Who serve unto, etc... The priesthood of the law and its functions were a kind of an example and shadow of what is done by Christ in his church militant and triumphant, of which the tabernacle was a pattern. 8:6. But now he hath obtained a better ministry, by how much also he is a mediator of a better testament which is established on better promises. 8:7. For if that former had been faultless, there should not indeed a place have been sought for a second. 8:8. For, finding fault with them, he saith: Behold the days shall come, saith the Lord: and I will perfect, unto the house of Israel and unto the house of Juda, a new testament: 8:9. Not according to the testament which I made to their fathers, on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt: because they continued not in my testament: and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. 8:10. For this is the testament which I will make on the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord: I will give my laws into their mind: and in their heart will I write them. And I will be their God: and they shall be my people. 8:11. And they shall not teach every man his neighbor and every man his brother, saying: Know the Lord. For all shall know me, from the least to the greatest of them. They shall not teach, etc... So great shall be light and grace of the new testament, that it shall not be necessary to inculcate to the faithful the belief and knowledge of the true God, for they shall all know him. 8:12. Because I will be merciful to their iniquities: and their sins I will remember no more. 8:13. Now in saying a new, he hath made the former old. And that which decayeth and groweth old is near its end. A new... Supply `covenant'. Hebrews Chapter 9: The sacrifices of the law were far inferior to that of Christ. 9:1. The former indeed had also justifications of divine service and a sanctuary. 9:2. For there was a tabernacle made the first, wherein were the candlesticks and the table and the setting forth of loaves, which is called the Holy. 9:3. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies: 9:4. Having a golden censer and the ark of the testament covered about on every part with gold, in which was a golden pot that had manna and the rod of Aaron that had blossomed and the tables of the testament. 9:5. And over it were the cherubims of glory overshadowing the propitiatory: of hich it is not needful to speak now particularly. 9:6. Now these things being thus ordered, into the first tabernacle, the priests indeed always entered, accomplishing the offices of sacrifices. 9:7. But into the second, the high priest alone, once a year: not without blood, which he offereth for his own and the people's ignorance: 9:8. The Holy Ghost signifying this: That the way into the Holies was not yet made manifest, whilst the former tabernacle was yet standing. 9:9. Which is a parable of the time present: according to which gifts and sacrifices are offered, which cannot, as to the conscience, make him perfect that serveth, only in meats and in drinks, 9:10. And divers washings and justices of the flesh laid on them until the time of correction. Of correction... Viz., when Christ should correct and settle all things. 9:11. But Christ, being come an high Priest of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hand, that is, not of this creation: 9:12. Neither by the blood of goats or of calves, but by his own blood, entered once into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption. Eternal redemption... By that one sacrifice of his blood, once offered on the cross, Christ our Lord paid and exhibited, once for all, the general price and ransom of all mankind: which no other priest could do. 9:13. For if the blood of goats and of oxen, and the ashes of an heifer, being sprinkled, sanctify such as are defiled, to the cleansing of the flesh: 9:14. How much more shall the blood of Christ, who by the Holy Ghost offered himself unspotted unto God, cleanse our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God? 9:15. And therefore he is the mediator of the new testament: that by means of his death for the redemption of those transgressions which were under the former testament, they that are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance. 9:16. For where there is a testament the death of the testator must of necessity come in. 9:17. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is as yet of no strength, whilst the testator liveth. 9:18. Whereupon neither was the first indeed dedicated without blood. 9:19. For when every commandment of the law had been read by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people. 9:20. Saying: This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. 9:21. The tabernacle also and all the vessels of the ministry, in like manner, he sprinkled with blood. 9:22. And almost all things, according to the law, are cleansed with blood: and without shedding of blood there is no remission. 9:23. It is necessary therefore that the patterns of heavenly things should be cleansed with these: but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 9:24. For Jesus is not entered into the Holies made with hands, the patterns of the true: but into Heaven itself, that he may appear now in the presence of God for us. 9:25. Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the Holies every year with the blood of others: Offer himself often... Christ shall never more offer himself in sacrifice, in that violent, painful, and bloody manner, nor can there be any occasion for it: since by that one sacrifice upon the cross, he has furnished the full ransom, redemption, and remedy for all the sins of the world. But this hinders not that he may offer himself daily in the sacred mysteries in an unbloody manner, for the daily application of that one sacrifice of redemption to our souls. 9:26. For then he ought to have suffered often from the beginning of the world. But now once, at the end of ages, he hath appeared for the destruction of sin by the sacrifice of himself. 9:27. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment: 9:28. So also Christ was offered once to exhaust the sins of many. The second time he shall appear without sin to them that expect him unto salvation. To exhaust... That is, to empty, or draw out to the very bottom, by a plentiful and perfect redemption.

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