Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 1104-1109 – The Holy Spirit Makes Present the Mystery of Christ

clock February 20, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections continue the discussion of the Holy Spirit in the Liturgy. Supporting material comes from St. John Damascene’s “Exposition on the Orthodox Faith”.

The Holy Spirit makes present the mystery of Christ

1104 Christian liturgy not only recalls the events that saved us but actualizes them, makes them present. The Paschal mystery of Christ is celebrated, not repeated. It is the celebrations that are repeated, and in each celebration there is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that makes the unique mystery present.

1105 The Epiclesis ("invocation upon") is the intercession in which the priest begs the Father to send the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, so that the offerings may become the body and blood of Christ and that the faithful by receiving them, may themselves become a living offering to God.23

1106 Together with the anamnesis, the epiclesis is at the heart of each sacramental celebration, most especially of the Eucharist:

You ask how the bread becomes the Body of Christ, and the wine . . . the Blood of Christ I shall tell you: the Holy Spirit comes upon them and accomplishes what surpasses every word and thought . . . Let it be enough for you to understand that it is by the Holy Spirit, just as it was of the Holy Virgin and by the Holy Spirit that the Lord, through and in himself, took flesh.24

1107 The Holy Spirit's transforming power in the liturgy hastens the coming of the kingdom and the consummation of the mystery of salvation. While we wait in hope he causes us really to anticipate the fullness of communion with the Holy Trinity. Sent by the Father who hears the epiclesis of the Church, the Spirit gives life to those who accept him and is, even now, the "guarantee" of their inheritance.25

The communion of the Holy Spirit

1108 In every liturgical action the Holy Spirit is sent in order to bring us into communion with Christ and so to form his Body. The Holy Spirit is like the sap of the Father's vine which bears fruit on its branches.26 The most intimate cooperation of the Holy Spirit and the Church is achieved in the liturgy. The Spirit who is the Spirit of communion, abides indefectibly in the Church. For this reason the Church is the great sacrament of divine communion which gathers God's scattered children together. Communion with the Holy Trinity and fraternal communion are inseparably the fruit of the Spirit in the liturgy.27

1109 The epiclesis is also a prayer for the full effect of the assembly's communion with the mystery of Christ. "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit"28 have to remain with us always and bear fruit beyond the Eucharistic celebration. The Church therefore asks the Father to send the Holy Spirit to make the lives of the faithful a living sacrifice to God by their spiritual transformation into the image of Christ, by concern for the Church's unity, and by taking part in her mission through the witness and service of charity.

St. John Damascene describes the work of the Holy Spirit in the Liturgy in his “Exposition on the Orthodox Faith” (4, 13).

If then the Word of God is quick and energising Hebrews 4:12, and the Lord did all that He willed ; if He said, Let there be light and there was light, let there be a firmament and there was a firmament ; if the heavens were established by the Word of the Lord and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth ; if the heaven and the earth, water and fire and air and the whole glory of these, and, in truth, this most noble creature, man, were perfected by the Word of the Lord; if God the Word of His own will became man and the pure and undefiled blood of the holy and ever-virginal One made His flesh without the aid of seed , can He not then make the bread His body and the wine and water His blood? He said in the beginning, Let the earth bring forth grass Genesis 1:11, and even until this present day, when the rain comes it brings forth its proper fruits, urged on and strengthened by the divine command. God said, This is My body, and This is My blood, and this do ye in remembrance of Me. And so it is at His omnipotent command until He come: for it was in this sense that He said until He come: and the overshadowing power of the Holy Spirit becomes through the invocation the rain to this new tillage. For just as God made all that He made by the energy of the Holy Spirit, so also now the energy of the Spirit performs those things that are supernatural and which it is not possible to comprehend unless by faith alone. How shall this be, said the holy Virgin, seeing I know not a man? And the archangel Gabriel answered her: The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you. Luke 1:34-35 And now you ask, how the bread became Christ's body and the wine and water Christ's blood. And I say unto you, The Holy Spirit is present and does those things which surpass reason and thought.

Further, bread and wine are employed: for God knows man's infirmity: for in general man turns away discontentedly from what is not well-worn by custom: and so with His usual indulgence He performs His supernatural works through familiar objects: and just as, in the case of baptism, since it is man's custom to wash himself with water and anoint himself with oil, He connected the grace of the Spirit with the oil and the water and made it the water of regeneration, in like manner since it is man's custom to eat and to drink water and wine , He connected His divinity with these and made them His body and blood in order that we may rise to what is supernatural through what is familiar and natural.

Footnotes

23 Cf. ⇒ Rom 12:1.
24 St. John Damascene, De fide orth 4, 13: PG 94, 1145A.
25 Cf. ⇒ Eph 1:14; ⇒ 2 Cor 1:22.
26 Cf. ⇒ Jn 15:1-17; ⇒ Gal 5:22.
27 Cf. ⇒ Jn 1:3-7.
28 ⇒ 2 Cor 13:13.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 624-630 – Jesus Christ was Buried

clock December 23, 2012 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the burial of Jesus. Supporting material comes from St. John of Damascus.

Paragraph 3. JESUS CHRIST WAS BURIED

624 "By the grace of God" Jesus tasted death "for every one".459 In his plan of salvation, God ordained that his Son should not only "die for our sins"460 but should also "taste death", experience the condition of death, the separation of his soul from his body, between the time he expired on the cross and the time he was raised from the dead. The state of the dead Christ is the mystery of the tomb and the descent into hell. It is the mystery of Holy Saturday, when Christ, lying in the tomb,461 reveals God's great Sabbath rest462 after the fulfilment463 of man's salvation, which brings peace to the whole universe.464

Christ in the tomb in his body

625 Christ's stay in the tomb constitutes the real link between his passible state before Easter and his glorious and risen state today. The same person of the "Living One" can say, "I died, and behold I am alive for evermore":465

God [the Son] did not impede death from separating his soul from his body according to the necessary order of nature, but has reunited them to one another in the Resurrection, so that he himself might be, in his person, the meeting point for death and life, by arresting in himself the decomposition of nature produced by death and so becoming the source of reunion for the separated parts.466

626 Since the "Author of life" who was killed467 is the same "living one [who has] risen",468 The divine person of the Son of God necessarily continued to possess his human soul and body, separated from each other by death:

By the fact that at Christ's death his soul was separated from his flesh, his one person is not itself divided into two persons; for the human body and soul of Christ have existed in the same way from the beginning of his earthly existence, in the divine person of the Word; and in death, although separated from each other, both remained with one and the same person of the Word.469

"You will not let your Holy One see corruption"

627 Christ's death was a real death in that it put an end to his earthly human existence. But because of the union his body retained with the person of the Son, his was not a mortal corpse like others, for "divine power preserved Christ's body from corruption."470 Both of these statements can be said of Christ: "He was cut off out of the land of the living",471 and "My flesh will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let your Holy One see corruption."472 Jesus' Resurrection "on the third day" was the proof of this, for bodily decay was held to begin on the fourth day after death.473

"Buried with Christ. . ."

628 Baptism, the original and full sign of which is immersion, efficaciously signifies the descent into the tomb by the Christian who dies to sin with Christ in order to live a new life. "We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life."474

IN BRIEF

629 To the benefit of every man, Jesus Christ tasted death (cf ⇒ Heb 2:9). It is truly the Son of God made man who died and was buried.

630 During Christ's period in the tomb, his divine person continued to assume both his soul and his body, although they were separated from each other by death. For this reason the dead Christ's body "saw no corruption" (⇒ Acts 13:37).

St. John of Damascus discusses the death of Christ in relation to the Hypostatic Union in Book III of his work, “Exposition of the Orthodox Faith” (27):

Since our Lord Jesus Christ was without sin (for He committed no sin, He Who took away the sin of the world, nor was there any deceit found in His mouth ) He was not subject to death, since death came into the world through sin. (Romans 5:12) He dies, therefore, because He took on Himself death on our behalf, and He makes Himself an offering to the Father for our sakes. For we had sinned against Him, and it was meet that He should receive the ransom for us, and that we should thus be delivered from the condemnation. God forbid that the blood of the Lord should have been offered to the tyrant. Wherefore death approaches, and swallowing up the body as a bait is transfixed on the hook of divinity, and after tasting of a sinless and life-giving body, perishes, and brings up again all whom of old he swallowed up. For just as darkness disappears on the introduction of light, so is death repulsed before the assault of life, and brings life to all, but death to the destroyer.

Wherefore, although He died as man and His Holy Spirit was severed from His immaculate body, yet His divinity remained inseparable from both, I mean, from His soul and His body, and so even thus His one hypostasis was not divided into two hypostases. For body and soul received simultaneously in the beginning their being in the subsistence of the Word, and although they were severed from one another by death, yet they continued, each of them, having the one subsistence of the Word. So that the one subsistence of the Word is alike the subsistence of the Word, and of soul and body. For at no time had either soul or body a separate subsistence of their own, different from that of the Word, and the subsistence of the Word is for ever one, and at no time two. So that the subsistence of Christ is always one. For, although the soul was separated from the body topically, yet hypostatically they were united through the Word.

Footnotes

459 ⇒ Heb 2:9.
460 ⇒ I Cor 15:3.
461 Cf. ⇒ Jn 19:42.
462 Cf. ⇒ Heb 4:7-9.
463 Cf. ⇒ Jn 19:30.
464 Cf ⇒ Col 1: 18-20.
465 ⇒ Rev 1:18.
466 St. Gregory of Nyssa, Orat. catech. 16: PG 45, 52D.
467 ⇒ Acts 3:15.
468 ⇒ Lk 24:5-6.
469 St. John Damascene, De fide orth. 3, 27: PG 94, 1097.
470 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 51, 3.
471 ⇒ Is 53:8.
472 ⇒ Acts 2:26-27; cf. ⇒ Ps 16:9-10.
473 Cf. ⇒ I Cor 15:4; ⇒ Lk 24:46; ⇒ Mt 12:40; ⇒ Jon 2:1; ⇒ Hos 6:2; cf. ⇒ Jn 11:39.
474 ⇒ Rom 6:4; cf. ⇒ Col 2:12; ⇒ Eph 5:26.