Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Aprops Benedict's Address to the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, October 11, 2010.

Consider the affinity of the address of Benedict XVI gave on October 11, 2010 to the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops which was under way in Rome through Oct. 24.

It was also the date of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

1) With regard to Opus Dei, on October 11, 1943, the Holy See gave Diocesan approval to the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross as a “Society of Common Life without Vows.” Since it was unthinkable at that time to consider lay faithful working in the secular world as equally called to sanctity with the clergy, St. Josemaria took advantage of the above canonical structure that was clerical but secular that fit within the Code of Canon Law of 1917 and connected Opus Dei as a distinct but inseparable association of laity with it. From Opus Dei, a small number of lay male members would be prepared for ordination within the “Priestly Society of the Holy Cross.” What in historical fact - but not yet in law - was being approved was the radical equality of laity and priests being called to sanctity in the secular milieu by the exercise of professional, secular work. The Holy See granted its Nihil Obstat and the path opened to what would become the Second Vatican Council and the recognition of the People of God where all are equally called to sanctity in their state in life.

2) This was a major precedent for what would become Lumen Gentium of Vatican II where the Church was re-envisioned as “People of God,” all with the vocation to sanctity be they in the world, or religious.

3) This document of Benedict XVI makes explicit reference to the Gospel of Jn. 12, 32 which was precisely the text that St. Josemaria “heard” on August 7, 1931. The text reads: “Et si exaltatus fuero a terra, omnia traham ad meipsum.” And he “heard” the exact exegesis of the text: “I say it to you not in the sense that Scripture says it. I say it to you in the sense that you are to raise me up in all human activities; that in all the world there should be Christians with a personal and most free dedication, that they be other Christs.”[1]

That is to say, the Kingdom of God will not be the result of being drawn out of the world, but it will be the result of each person being converted into another Me. The theological precision of this is found in John Paul II’s “Mission of the Redeemer” [#18: “The kingdom of God is not a concept, a doctrine, or a program subject to free interpretation, but it is b efore all else a person with the fact and name of Jesus of Nazareth, the image of the invisible God.”], and in Benedict’s “Jesus of Nazareth” where he offers the eschatology of the “already” – “not yet.” That is, Jesus Christ is present “already.” As Escriva says: “Christ lives!” [The Way: 584]. The Kingdom of God and the living Christ that is the Kingdom is now. And Christ becomes present now in the secular world by the conversion of each of us into “another Christ” by the act of faith on the occasion and in the execution of secular work. It is the same act as our Lady in hearing the Word, receiving it into herself and saturating it with her humanity (doing the Word). Christ lives in her, and she becomes the Mother, not only of Jesus of Nazareth, but of Christ, the Son of the living God. This is the reason that Our Lady is fundamental for us in the prosecution of sanctity in the world. We mimic her act of faith, and Christ is re-incarnated in us in the “omnia” of “I will draw all things to myself.

Consider the address again in the light of the above:

“With the Incarnation, with the event of the Theotókos, this [the non-relationality of god in Aristotelian philosophy] radically changed, because God drew us into Himself and God in Himself is the relationship and allows us to participate in His interior relationship. Thus we are in His being Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we are within His being in relationship, we are in relationship with Him and He truly created a relationship with us. At that moment, God wished to be born from woman and to remain Himself always: this is the great event. And thus we can understand the depth of the act of Pope John, who entrusted the Council, the Synodal Assembly to the central mystery, to the Mother of God who is drawn by the Lord into Himself, and thus all of us with Her.

The Council began with the icon of the Theotókos. Upon its closure, Pope Paul VI recognized Our Lady with the title of Mater Ecclesiae. And these two icons, which begin and end the Council, are intrinsically linked, and are, in the end, a single icon because Christ was not born like any other individual. He was born to create a body for Himself: He was born as John says in Chapter 12 of his Gospel to attract all to Him and in Him. He was born as it says in the Letters to the Colossians and to the Ephesians to deliver the whole world. He was born as the firstborn of many brothers. He was born to unite the cosmos in Him, so that He is the Head of a great Body. Where Christ is born, the movement of recapitulation begins, the moment of the calling begins, of construction of his Body, of the Holy Church. The Mother of Theós, the Mother of God, is the Mother of the Church, because she is the Mother of the One who came to unite all in His resurrected Body.

[1] See John Coverdale, “Uncommon Faith,” Scepter (2002) 90.

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