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Father Raymond T. Gawronski, SJ and Deacon Mark Doherty discuss details in San Francisco, California.
[from a correspondent and posted as an item of interest to the reader]see also: Deomar de Guedes, http://www.life-after-rc.com/2013/11/there-is-no-hope-for-change.html
“The Last Laugh”
Would you send your son or daughter to a school whose formative program was designed by a pedophile?
Would you seek guidance on issues of morality from a sodomizer?
Would you attend marriage counseling offered by a profligate womanizer?
Would you delegate the role of mentorship and character building to a pathological liar and conman?
Would you donate money to a cause founded by a thief whose only moral compass were the demands of his own outrageous lifestyle?
Would you expect the Catholic Church to entrust the formation of its priests to any of the deviants listed above?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these preposterous suggestions, then you will be pleased with the way in which the resolution of the scandal that is the Legion of Christ appears to be approaching its ignominious end.
In roughly 90 days the Legion will hold its General Chapter, the pre-scripted tragicomedy that is supposed to sweep the truth of the embattled congregation under the rug forever and free its weary leadership from future scrutiny, responsibility and, best of all, criticism.
This is not the first General Chapter of the Legion, although its architects are the same as the previous two, held in the early ‘80s and again in 1995 under the controlling gaze of Fr. Maciel. The tone and contents of the first Chapters are an eerie reverse-prophecy of all that will be cosmetically altered come January 2014 as the Legion once again reinvents itself while remaining what it will always essentially be: the legacy of a perverse, devious and recklessly arrogant abuser whose name may no longer be mentioned, but who continues to live and breathe in the fraudulent masterpiece he engineered.
The conclusive documents of the Legion’s General Chapters may be found on the Wikileaks website. Although the translation is fairly poor, enough of the hubris and pathology on which the inner life of the congregation is predicated comes through to offer what will surely be a most interesting contrast with the carefully rendered documents that will be released after the next Chapter as proof of the Legion’s rebirth.
Whatever the outcome, nothing will erase the frustration and disgrace of the inexplicably missed opportunity to truthfully and courageously uproot and atone for one of the worst scandals in the Church’s history.
How did it get this far? When did the Legion become ‘too big to fail’ in the eyes of Church authority? Whose heads would have rolled and who would have been implicated had the Vatican decided to launch a full and impartial investigation into the history, canonical legitimacy, inner workings and finances of the Legion of Christ?
The Catholic Church doesn’t need – never needed – this scandalous brainchild of Marcial Maciel, but it has gone to unfathomable, self-incriminating lengths to keep it on life support.
If mirth is permitted wherever Fr. Maciel finds himself at present, there is no doubt that he has that leering grin on his face that so many of us recognize well. Everything continues to go according to plan.
Unless Pope Francis still has a surprise or two up his sleeve, which we hope will be the case, Nuestro Padre, when all is said and done, got the last laugh.
[from an anonymous source]
Mr. Jeremy Priest, Mr. Nathaniel Hop and Mr. Cory Noeker discuss selling donuts! St. Mary’s University Parish.
Billy Graham’s grandson: evangelicals ‘worse’ than Catholics on sex abuse
Sarah Pulliam Bailey | Sep 26, 2013 |
Basyle “Boz” Tchividjian from Liberty Universtiy School of Law speaks during a panel titled “Investigating Religion: The Continuing Story of Clergy Abuse Beyond Roman Catholics” at the Religion Newswriters Association Conference in Austin on Thursday (Sept. 26).
Basyle “Boz” Tchividjian from Liberty Universtiy School of Law speaks during a panel titled “Investigating Religion: The Continuing Story of Clergy Abuse Beyond Roman Catholics” at the Religion Newswriters Association Conference in Austin on Thursday (Sept. 26).
AUSTIN, Texas (RNS) The Christian mission field is a “magnet” for sexual abusers, Boz Tchividjian, a Liberty University law professor who investigates abuse said Thursday (Sept. 26) to a room of journalists.
While comparing evangelicals to Catholics on abuse response, ”I think we are worse,” he said at the Religion Newswriters Association conference, saying too many evangelicals had “sacrificed the souls” of young victims.
“Protestants can be very arrogant when pointing to Catholics,” said Tchividjian, a grandson of evangelist Billy Graham and executive director of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE), which has investigated sex abuse allegations.
Earlier this summer, GRACE spearheaded an online petition decrying the “silence” and “inattention” of evangelical leaders to sexual abuse in their churches.
Mission agencies, “where abuse is most prevalent,” often don’t report abuse because they fear being barred from working in foreign countries, he said. Abusers will get sent home and might join another agency. Of known data from abuse cases, 25 percent are repeat cases, he said.
Still, he says, he sees some positive movements among some Protestants. Bob Jones University has hired GRACE to investigate abuse allegations, a move that encourages Tchividjian, a former Florida prosecutor. ”That’s like the mothership of fundamentalism,” he said. His grandfather split with Bob Jones in a fundamentalist and evangelical division.
“The Protestant culture is defined by independence,” Tchividjian said. Evangelicals often frown upon transparency and accountability, he said, as many Protestants rely on Scripture more than religious leaders, compared to Catholics.
Abusers discourage whistle-blowing by condemning gossip to try to keep people from reporting abuse, he said. Victims are also told to protect the reputation of Jesus.
Too many Protestant institutions have sacrificed souls in order to protect their institutions, he said. ”We’ve got the Gospels backwards,” he said.
Tchividjian said he is speaking with Pepperdine University, a Church of Christ-affiliated school in California, about creating a national GRACE center.
Denigrating Carl Rogers: William Coulson’s Last Crusade
by Howard Kirschenbaum
Journal of Counseling and Development, v69 n5 p411-13 May-Jun 1991
Reviews William Coulson’s assertions that Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, and he initiated the humanistic education field, that Rogers repudiated his philosophy late in life, and that they owe the nation’s parents an apology. Argues that these charges are groundless and provides examples and quotations from Rogers’ later writings to show how Rogers remained constant to his beliefs. (Author/LLL)
Keywords: Counseling Theories, Humanistic Education, Nondirective Counseling
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Humanistic Psychology; Rogers (Carl)
Hint: Readers may wish to consult in this regard–
“Carl Rogers and the IHM Nuns:
Sensitivity Training, Psychological Warfare and the “Catholic Problem”"
by E. Michael Jones, Ph.D.
Pope Francis and Pope Benedict bless the Saint Michael the Archangel statue in the Vatican this year
Nathaniel Hop, Bro. Theodore, Father Van Hove and Michael Repovz: Enjoying Marmion Abbey in North Aurora, Illinois!
You may wish to bring information about the Leonine Prayers to the attention of your associates. Some of them refer to those prayers and the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel as formerly “for the conversion of Russia” which is just not church history.
The Leonine Prayers are a set of prayers that from 1884 to early 1965 were prescribed by the Popes for recitation after Low Mass. They are still sometimes used at celebrations today. Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield has restored the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, as have younger pastors around North America.
These prayers did not form part of the Mass itself, but were prescribed for specific intentions. The original intention was the defence of the temporal sovereignty of the Holy See. After this problem was settled with the Lateran Treaty of 1929, Pope Pius XI ordered that the prayers should be said for the restoration to the people of Russia of tranquillity and freedom to profess the Catholic faith. This gave rise to the unofficial and inaccurate use of the name “Prayers for the Conversion of Russia” for the prayers, which were also known, less inaccurately, as the “Prayers after Mass.”
The final form of the Leonine Prayers consisted of three Ave Marias, a Salve Regina followed by a versicle and response, a prayer for the conversion of sinners and the liberty and exaltation of the Catholic Church, and a prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel. Pope Pius X permitted the addition of the invocation “Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us,” repeated three times.
The Holy See’s 26 September 1964 Instruction Inter Oecumenici, which came into force on 7 March 1965, declared: “The Leonine Prayers are suppressed.” This removed the obligation and the prayers became optional.
Since then, the Leonine Prayers or parts of the set of them have been revived locally in some places.
May 31st, 2013 | Author: bsindelar
(CNS photo/Jose Luis Aguirre, The Catholic Voice)
Jesuit Father Michael Barber, 59, was installed as bishop of the Oakland Diocese on May 25 at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, Calif. Appointed by Pope Francis, Bishop Barber is the fifth bishop in the history of the diocese and the first Jesuit.
San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone was the ordaining bishop of Bishop Barber, who succeeds him in Oakland. Bishop Barber was installed with his brother, Jesuit Father Stephen Barber, at his side. Another brother, Kevin Barber, served as a reader.
“People have asked me, ‘what is your vision as bishop?’ I would like to do for Oakland what Pope Francis is doing for the whole church,” Bishop Barber said.
“My vision is this: The priests take care of the people. The bishop takes care of the priests. And we all take care of the poor, and the sick and the suffering.”
(CNS photo/Jose Luis Aguirre, The Catholic Voice)
He offered greetings to Gov. Jerry Brown, who had trained three and a half years as a Jesuit, before becoming governor of California, twice, and mayor of Oakland.
“Governor, I’m honored that you are here today, because on this day, only here in Oakland, in the state of California, in the United States of America, do you have a Jesuit bishop, to go with a Jesuit pope and a Jesuit governor.”
Bishop Barber’s career as a priest focused on education, with assignments including assistant professor of theology at Gregorian University in Rome; researcher and tutor at Oxford University in England; director of the School of Pastoral Leadership in the Archdiocese of San Francisco; assistant professor of systematic and moral theology and spiritual director at St. Patrick’s Seminary & University in Menlo Park, Calif.; and director of spiritual formation at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Mass.
Bishop Barber said that until three weeks ago it never entered his mind that he would be bishop of Oakland.
(CNS photo/Jose Luis Aguirre, The Catholic Voice)
In his initial nervousness, he said he recalled that Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the previous apostolic nuncio, had told a priest who was nervous about being made a bishop: The Lord himself is going to be bishop of your diocese. You’re only going to help him.
“That’s what I’d like to do,” he said. “I’m helping our Lord here be the bishop of this diocese. I know I’m unworthy, but I do know one other thing: That for all eternity, in the mind of God, to be bishop of Oakland has been my vocation. With God’s help, and your prayers, and the love of Mother Mary, I intend to fulfill it.” [Catholic San Francisco]
Below is video of Bishop Barber’s remarks at the end of his episcopal ordination Mass in Oakland.
The Two Standards: Truth Incarnate or The Father of Lies.
John M. DeJak liked this post
Liars are children of the devil by imitation.
Recently, I saw a disgusting sight on Kevin O’Brien’s blog as people reacted to a post wherein Kevin exhorted people to tell the truth (he gives more examples in his post about this article). The comments are horrid and remind one that no matter how pious and clean the outside, like the Pharisees, it’s what one believes and does from the inside that matters. There is a side discussion going on there wherein they are parsing a Chesterton quote on whether one can deceive — the discussion seems to be missing the terms “open mental reservation” versus “closed mental reservations.” I’ll leave that part of the discussion for another day. Chesterton himself was referring to “Jesuitry” which was a misnomer for an error of the day that attributed Voltaire’s justification of lying as if the Jesuits taught it — this has never been the case as it was always the case that “The end does not justify the means.” Back to the matter of telling the truth:
I’ve been working on the question of why nobody in the Church talks about telling the truth anymore, especially since I posted the Theology of the Body (ToB) in One Paragraph noting that one sure path to chastity is telling the truth (but you’ll never hear that from the ToB people — despite the fact that about 10% of JPII’s ToB talks were precisely on telling the truth). That’s because chastity is a mirror of inside and out — it is to the body what telling the truth is to the mind. It is here — the inconsistency between what is spoken and what is held in the mind where we see it:
Lies are hypocrisy of speech. Telling the truth is a matter of speaking all that one holds in one’s mind. Lying is saying something contradictory to the truth held in one’s mind. Lying therefore sows error in the minds of others. Error, recall, is synonymous with evil and sin (see here).
Jesus warned the Pharisees of duplicity, clearly stating the problem: “whited sepulchers, which indeed are beautiful on the outside but full of dead mens bones.” Liars are by the words they use to project false reality, making themselves different on the outside than they are on the inside. Such duplicity is abhorrent to God, and it’s unreal to see anyone attack someone for saying that lying in wrong.
Nevertheless, because nobody talks about the basic duty to tell the truth, I’ve compiled some motivational catechesis below. It goes without saying that God does not lie — He is truth. Thus, lying is not of God. It’s that simple. Yet, since people need to be reminded, here is a mini-catechism on truth.
1. The liar is like the devil and displeasing to God.
He who forfeits the confidence of his fellow-men causes a great deal of harm and is capable of committing all manner of evil [sub sinful or erroneous] deeds.
The liar resembles the devil, for the devil is a liar and the father thereof (John viii. 44). Remember how the serpent in paradise lied to Eve. Liars are children of the devil, not by nature, but by imitation. The liar is displeasing to God. God is truth itself, and therefore He abhors the liar. Our Lord did not speak as sharply of any one as of the Pharisees. And why? Because they were hypocrites (Matt. xxiii. 27).
Liars and Pharisees Are the only ones not Repented in the Gospels. From every class of sinners He gave an example of one who was saved; e.g., Zacheus among usurers, the good thief among highwaymen, Magdalen and the Samaritan at Jacob’s well among profligate women, Saul among persecutors of the Church, but not one single individual among liars and hypocrites did He mention as having sought and found pardon.
Many a time God punished liars severely: witness Ananias and his wife Saphira, who for their falsehood fell dead at St. Peter’s feet (Acts v.) and Giezi, the servant of Eliseus, who was struck with leprosy for his lies and avarice (4 Kings V.). “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord” (Prov. xii. 22).
The liar forfeits the trust of his fellow-men. The shepherd who cried “Wolf” when no wolf was near, found he was not believed when his flock was really attacked; his comrades had been so often deceived that they did not heed his cries. A liar is not trusted when he speaks the truth; he is hated by God and man.
Liars often do a great deal of harm. The spies who went to view the Promised Land deceived the Israelites by their false report, and alarmed them so that they blasphemed God, wanted to stone the two spies who spoke the truth, and clamored to return to Egypt. See what mischief those men wrought: God declared His intention to destroy the people (Numb. xiii.). Jacob deceived his father and obtained his blessing fraudulently; his brother Esau threatened to kill him and Jacob was obliged to take to flight. “He that hath no guard on his speech shall meet with evils” (Prov. xiii. 3).
The liar falls into many other sins. “Show me a liar and I will show you a thief.” Where you find hypocrisy, you find cheating and all manner of evil practices. A liar cannot possibly be God-fearing. The Holy Spirit will flee from the deceitful (Wisd. i. 5). All the piety and devotion of one whose words serve to conceal, not to express his thoughts, is a mere sham; do not associate with such a one, lest he corrupt you with his ungodly ways. “Lying men are without honor” (Eccles./Sirach xx. 28). “The just shall hate a lying word ” (Prov. xiii. 5).
2. The pernicious habit of lying leads a man into mortal sin and to eternal perdition.
Lying is in itself a venial sin; but it can easily become a mortal sin if it is the means of doing great harm, or causing great scandal. He who indulges the habit of lying runs no small risk of losing his soul, for God withdraws His grace from those who deceive their neighbor. “The mouth that belieth killeth the soul” (Wisd. i. 11).
A thief is not so bad as a liar, for the thief can give back what he has stolen, whereas the liar cannot restore his neighbor’s good name, of which he has robbed him.
“A thief is better than a man that is always lying; but both of them shall inherit destruction” (Eccles. xx. 27). A lie is a foul blot in a man (v. 26).
The soul of the liar is like a counterfeit coin, stamped with the devil’s effigy; when at the Last Day, the Judge shall ask: “Whose image is this?” the answer will be “the devil’s;” and He will then say: “Render unto the devil the things that are his” (St. Thomas Aquinas). (!)
The Lord will destroy all that speak a lie (Ps. v. 7). Liars shall have their portion in the lake burning with fire (Apoc. xxi. 8). Our Lord uttered a terrible denunciation of the Pharisees because of their hypocrisy (Matt, xxiii. 13).
Lying is consequently forbidden, even if it may be the means of effecting much good.
St. Augustine says it is just as wrong to tell a lie for your neighbor’s advantage as to steal for the good of the poor. Not even to save one’s own life or the life of another, is a falsehood justifiable. St. Anthimus, Bishop of Nicomedia, would not allow the soldiers who were sent to arrest him, and who were enjoying his hospitality, to save him by a lie; he preferred to suffer martyrdom. We must not do evil that there may come good (Rom. iii. 8). The end does not justify the means, even if seems like it could.
9 May 2013
Vatican declares Mexican Death Saint blasphemous
Santa Muerte is typically represented by a skeletal figure of a woman carrying her scythe.
Continue reading the main story
A senior Vatican official has condemned the cult of Santa Muerte, or Holy Death, in Mexico as “blasphemous”.
The president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, said worshipping Santa Muerte was a “degeneration of religion”.
Cardinal Ravasi spoke at a series of events for believers and non-believers in Mexico City.
The cult, which reveres death, has been growing rapidly in Mexico.
It is represented by a cloaked female skeleton clutching a scythe.
It is particularly popular in areas of Mexico that have suffered from extreme violence carried out by the country’s drug cartels.
The cult is believed to date back to colonial times.
It merges indigenous beliefs with the tradition of venerating saints introduced by Christian missionaries after the Spanish conquest of Mexico.
‘Anti-religious’Devotees pray to the saint at home-made altars and often offer votive candles, fruit and tequila in the hope Santa Muerte will grant their wishes.
Cardinal Ravasi said the practice was “anti-religious”. “Religion celebrates life, but here you have death,” he said.
“It’s not religion just because it’s dressed up like religion; it’s a blasphemy against religion”, he said.
The cardinal also referred to the fact that the cult is particularly popular among members of Mexico’s drug cartels and accused “criminals” of invoking it.
Cardinal Ravasi said a country like Mexico, where more than 70,000 people are estimated to have been killed in drug-related violence over the past six years, had to send out a clear message to its young generation.
“The mafia, drug trafficking and organised crime don’t have a religious aspect and have nothing to do with religion, even if they use the image of Santa Muerte,” he said.
There are no reliable figures showing how many people worship Santa Muerte, but academics studying the subject say more and more Santa Muerte shrines have been popping up in Mexico and the US, where the cult is popular with Mexican immigrants.
Last year, police in northern Mexico arrested eight people in connection with the killing of two boys and a woman in ritual sacrifices which prosecutors said were linked to the cult of Santa Muerte.
Edison Just Won’t Look at the Camera while his father Edward Anetor Ehiabhi graduated with a brand new M.S.I.S.
Pope Francis has named Reverend Michael Barber, SJ, 58, as the Fifth Bishop of Oakland. You can read more about Fr. Barber here. The Bishop-elect was introduced to the diocese at a May 3 press conference at The Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland. Read the Catholic Voice report here.
The Obligations of Continence and Celibacy for Priests
CELIBACY is a hotly debated issue in the Catholic Church for a number of
reasons. There is the enormous scandal of sexual abuse by clergy and the perception by many people that if the law on celibacy was changed then sexual abuse would be a much smaller problem.
There are many cultures around the world that do not accept celibacy. For example, although missionaries have been working with Inuit people in Northern Canada for well over 100 years, not one Inuit man has ever been ordained a Catholic priest. However, there are married Inuit clergy belonging to other denominations.
History of Celibacy
There are two very divergent approaches to celibacy at the theological level beginning with Gustav Bickell (1838-1917) and Francis Xavier Funk (1821-1917). Gustav Bickell argued that clerical celibacy was of apostolic origins and intrinsically related to ministry. Celibacy was initially a customary law, and only gradually received a fixed, written form. Scholarship in recent times that supports the argument of Gustav Bickell has been the work of Cochini in Paris, Cholij at the Gregorian University, and the Vatican archivist Stickler.1
Francis Xavier Funk argued that clerical celibacy was the consequence of canon law and Church discipline beginning with the Council of Elvira, in Spain, in 306. Many scholars including Vogels,2 Balducelli3 and Dennis4 are very critical of Cochini and the idea that clerical continence was of apostolic origins. They contend that this has not been proved. They argue that there is a lack of clear evidence about priestly celibacy and continence prior to the fourth century especially in relation to the apostles and in the first century after their deaths. They say patristic support is limited. However, they do not produce strong patristic or council legislation to support their own view. Balducelli is very critical of the theological justifications for continence in the sources that Cochini uses. These sources have a negative attitude to sexual intercourse: e.g. the reference to Origen’s 6th homily on Leviticus 21 concerning the necessity of perpetual prayer and the necessity of uninterrupted continence.5
Cochini, recognising this, argues that the theological justification for celibacy should change to the priest’s relationship to Christ whom he represents.
At this point in the Church’s history, everyone is conscious of the sexual misconduct and abuse problems within the Church. Unfortunately, there seems to have always been a gap between the teaching of Jesus and the human reality. This human reality has always complicated the Church’s legislation and any interpretation of it. Balducelli is probably right in contending that historical objectivity is elusive when clerical celibacy is being discussed. As Stickler maintained ‘a correct interpretation of the sources can only be established on this basis: by taking into account their authenticity, integrity, credibility and particular worth.’6
The Chinese have a proverb that ‘the first step towards wisdom is getting things by their right names’. This is particularly true on the subject of celibacy.
>Clerics7 are all those who have been ordained deacons.
>‘Continence means the non-use of the sexual faculties.’8
>‘Chastity is the moral virtue that moderates and regulates the sexual appetite in man and woman.’9 ‘Single persons are chaste when they are continent with all persons until they marry. Clergy are bound to perfect and perpetual continence; and are chaste when they do not use their sexual faculties with anyone of either sex for life.
Celibacy is a publicly committed state of living chastely, whereby the person, accepting the gift of God and identifying with Jesus Christ, freely chooses not to marry for the sake of the kingdom of God while serving God and other people.
‘Celibacy’ comes etymologically from the Latin coelebs meaning an unmarried man. However, it must be distinguished from simply being not married like a bachelor, as well as reflecting key aspects of Church teaching.10
Jesus taught that the reign of God was imminent and that following him overrode many ordinary activities in life. Being a disciple involved ‘losing one’s life’ (Mk. 8:35); ‘leaving the dead to bury their dead’ (Mt. 8:22); ‘taking up the cross’ (Mk. 8:34); since anyone loving ‘father or mother, son or daughter more than
him would not be worthy of him’ (Mt. 10:37). For Jesus and his disciples the task of proclamation had to also be enacted ‘sacramentally’ in their lives ‘for the sake of the kingdom of heaven’ (Mt. 19:12). Peter was married since Jesus cured his mother-in-law. (Mark 1: 29-31) In the text of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus makes
the leaving of wife explicit in his answer to Peter’s question:
In Matthew 19:27 and Mark 10:29-30, leaving one’s wife is merely implied in the context of leaving everything in order to follow Jesus. The apostles left home because of their commitment to the Lord and to the preaching of the Gospel. People at home were left behind as a result.
Saint Paul writing to the Corinthians shows his clear preference for celibacy:I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided.12
The Pastoral letters, to Timothy and Titus, teach us that bishops, presbyters and deacons were often married men. In the Pastoral Letters to Timothy and Titus there is a special phrase that recurs also in early canonical legislation and patristic writings: ‘a husband of one wife’. Saint Paul writes to Timothy stating that: ‘A bishop must be above reproach, married only once.’ (1 Tim 3:2.). Then writing to Titus, Saint Paul tells him to appoint, in Crete,presbyters ‘married only once’.(Titus 1:6). Writing to Timothy concerning deacons Paul says, ‘Let deacons be married only once’ (1 Tim 3:12). De la Potterie is of the opinion that there is no doubt that the expression ‘husband of one wife’ is a covenantal formula.13 De la Potterie14 points out the parallel with 2 Corinthians 11:2,where Saint Paul describes the Church in Corinth as a ‘wife’, a ‘bride’ presented to Christ as a ‘chaste virgin’. Elsewhere in the New Testament, bridal imagery is significant as in Rev. 21:1-3, or in Ephesians 5: 22-23, where marriage is a sacramental image of the union of Christ and his Church. Ordination makes ordained ministers sacramentally representative of the relationship of Christ to the Church as bridegroom to bride, so that those ordained can only be ‘husband of one wife.’15
Clement of Rome (ca. 96) and Ignatius of Antioch16 (ca. 110) speak of early Christians being celibate and imitating Christ. However, in the first few centuries of the Church, early inscriptions, synods, papal decretals and patristic writings demonstrate very many of the clergy were married and had children. Pope Hormisdas (514-523) fathered a son who became Pope Silverius (536-358).17 However, we do not know if Pope Hormisdas fathered his son before ordination.
While it is relatively easy to compile impressive lists of married clergy, Cholij, Cochini and Stickler argue that the married status existed with a longstanding, discipline of obligatory clerical continence that was of apostolic origin. This discipline existed in both Eastern and Western Churches. The basis for the
total continence was the cleric’s total consecration to God and the Church. Total personal consecration was understood to be intimately connected to ordination. Once a person was ordained as a deacon, priest or bishop, then that person was sacramentally consecrated to God. A single man or a widower could not marry
after ordination, since the man was then obliged to continence anyway.
* * *
The Spanish Council of Elvira in 305 A.D taught in canon 33:We decree that all bishops, priests, and deacons, and all clerics engaged in the ministry, are forbidden entirely to have conjugal relations with their wives and to beget children; whoever shall do so, will be deposed from clerical dignity.18
There is no indication that this legislation is a new imposition on clergy. If it were new legislation, there would have to be a case made to justify its introduction. Also, there would be historical records of opposition to such a demanding new requirement of clergy. Clearly this was no new legislation, but legislation that was made to counter a non-observance of a well-known and recognised tradition.
All the leading Latin Fathers of the 4th century, including Saints Augustine, Jerome (347-419) in his Commentary on the Epistle to Titus19 and Ambrose (333-397) in his Letter to the Church of Vercelli,20 support the legislation concerning clerical continence.
Pope Siricius (384-399) in the decretals Directa (385 A.D.) wrote a letter to Himerius answering his questions about continence. This letter was intended for circulation amongst the Carthaginians in one of the provinces of Spain. It stated:Moreover, as it is worthy, chaste and honest to do so, this is what we advise: let the priests and Levites have no intercourse with their wives, inasmuch as they are absorbed in the daily duties of their ministries. Paul, when writing to the Corinthians, told them: ‘Leave yourself free for prayer’ (1 Cor 7:5).21
Pope Siricius followed this letter up with one to North Africa in 386 in order to communicate the deliberations of the Roman Synod in 386. He quoted from 2 Thessalonians 2:15 ‘stand firm, and hold to the traditions’ that clearly included continence as taught by Saint Paul, and celibacy.
After receipt of the letter of Siricius, the Council of Carthage in 390 was very influential:The bishops declared unanimously: It pleases us all that bishop, priest and deacon, guardians of purity, abstain from [conjugal intercourse] with their wives, so that those who serve at the altar may keep a perfect chastity.22
Rusticus of Narbonne asked Pope Leo the Great if married clergy could have conjugal relations. He replied ca. 458:The law of continence is the same for the ministers of the altar as for bishops and priests, who when they were laymen or readers could lawfully marry and have offspring. But when they reached the said ranks what was before lawful ceased to be so.23
A cleric was required to live with his wife in continence.
The laws on celibacy were sometimes enforced. Socrates, the Byzantine historian [ca. 440] records the excommunication of clerics not being continent with their wives after ordination at Thessalonika.24 The Emperor Justinian (483-565) considered that priests were obliged to be continent even if they did not always observe the law:Some of them despite the holy canons beget children from the wives with whom, according to the priestly rule, they are not permitted to have relations.25
Justinian declared all children born after ordination to be illegitimate, and he required bishops to have no children for fear that they would give church property to them.
Gregory of Tours (538-594), in his History of the Franks, recounts how Urbicus, bishop of Clermont, was deposed because he did not persevere in being continent.26
Celibacy was first legislated for deacons at the Eastern Council of Ancyra [314 A.D.]:Canon 10. If deacons at the time of their ordination declare they must marry, and that they cannot be continent, and if accordingly they marry, they may continue in their ministry, because the bishop gave them permission to marry; but if at the time of their ordination they were silent and received the imposition of hands and professed continence, and if later they marry, they ought to cease from ministry.27
Varying texts of the canon exist and Cochini argues that if someone says before ordination that he could not be continent, then he would not be ordained.28
Celibacy was first legislated for presbyters at the Council of Neocaesarea (314-325):Canon 1: If a priest marries, he will be excluded from the ranks of the clergy; if he commits fornication or adultery, he will in addition be excommunicated and subject to penance’.29
Cochini points out that an Armenian collection of canons (365 A.D.), the Apostolic Constitutions (300-400 A.D.) and, indirectly, canon 14 of the Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.) supports this discipline for deacons and priests.30
The Council of Trullo (691/692) was a crucial council for deciding Greek practice over clerical celibacy. In Canon 13, the Council stated:Since we know it to have been handed down as a rule in the Roman Church that those who are deemed worthy to be advanced to the diaconate or presbyterate should promise to no longer cohabit with their wives we, preserving the ancient rule and apostolic perfection and order, will that the lawful marriages of men who in holy orders be from this time forward firm, by no means dissolving their union with their wives nor depriving them of their mutual relations at a convenient time. Wherefore, if anyone shall have been found worthy to be ordained subdeacon or deacon or presbyter, he is by no means to be prohibited from admittance to such a rank, even if he shall live with a lawful wife. Nor shall it be demanded of him at the time of his ordination that he promises to abstain from lawful relations with his wife.31
The canon is clearly directed against the Latin Church and its practice. Moreover in canon 12, the Council had defended the discipline of continence. The use of marriage was not unconditional, and whenever a priest acted liturgically as a priest he had to live a discipline of temporary continence.32 In conceding the use of marriage to clerics lower than bishops, the Council had to re-edit ancient texts. The canons of Carthage that legislated for permanent continence were represented as laws for temporary continence.
First Lateran Council (1123)
At the first Lateran Council, attended by at least 300 bishops, abbots and religious, clerical celibacy was legislated for the universal Church in canon 21:We absolutely forbid priests, deacons, subdeacons and monks to have concubines or to contract marriages. We adjudge, as the sacred canons have laid down, that a marriage contract between such persons should be made void and the persons ought to undergo penance. 33
The Council reinforced an existing obligation by declaring prohibited marriages invalid.
Saint Raymond of Penafort (1180-1275) summed up the reasons for the law of celibacy:The reason is twofold: sacerdotal purity, in order that they may obtain in all sincerity that which with their prayers they ask from God (Dist. 84, c. 3 and dict. p.c. l, Dist. 31); the second reason is that they pray unhindered (1 Cor 7:5) and exercise their office. They cannot do both things together: that is, to serve their wife and the Church.34
However, in the period leading up to the Council of Trent, many clergy were not practicing continence or celibacy. The Council of Trent discussed the question of celibacy and firmly rejected the teaching of the reformers stating that the marriages of clerics and religious were invalid.35 In fact the Council was very successful in bringing about a general observance of the law of celibacy because it introduced seminaries for the training of priests.
* * *
Canons 132 and 133 legislated for the obligation of celibacy:Canon 132§1. Clerics constituted in major orders are prohibited from marriage and are bound by the obligation of observing chastity, so that those sinning against this are sacrilegious, with due regard for the prescription of canon 214§1.36
The law required that clerics had to abstain from marriage and positively to observe perfect and perpetual chastity. Canon 133 then legislated for prudential behaviour to support the celibate commitment.37
Clerics could not live in the same house with any woman, or frequently visit her or receive visits from her in order to safeguard chastity and guard against the appearance of evil. The general thrust of the law was to enable clerics to avoid compromising their celibacy.
Vatican ll and the Post Vatican ll Debates and Documents
From the time of the second Vatican Council, the issue of optional celibacy for priests has often been raised and discussed in the media and theological circles. In the 1960’s and 1970’s many priests and seminarians expected that
optional celibacy would soon be a reality in the Catholic Church.
Clerical celibacy was not formally on the agenda of the Vatican Council, but it came up frequently in discussions and debates.38 The vote on the proposal to ordain young men to the priesthood without the obligation of celibacy was 839 for and 1364 against.39
In the decree on Priestly Life and Ministry 16, the Council enunciated the theological basis for celibacy:Perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven was recommended by the Lord (Mt 19:12). It has been freely accepted and laudably observed by many Christians down through the centuries as well as in our own time, and has always been highly esteemed in a special way by the Church as a feature of priestly life. For it simultaneously signifies and incites pastoral charity as well as being in a special way a source of spiritual fruitfulness in the world.40
Great stress was placed on celibacy for the sake of the kingdom, with references to its worth and history in the Church. The Council was confident ‘that the gift of celibacy, so appropriate to the priesthood of the New Testament, is liberally granted by the Father.41
In the debate on life and ministry of priests, the general secretary of the Council read a letter from Pope Paul Vl recommending that the issue of priestly celibacy not be addressed by the Council. The Council Fathers applauded this move. Pope Paul Vl stated on October 11, 1965:It is not suitable to have a public debate on this subject which requires not only to preserve this ancient, holy and providential law of priestly celibacy as far as we can, but to reinforce the observance of it by reminding the priests of the Roman Church of the causes and reasons which, particularly today, make one consider this law of celibacy very suitable because through it priests can devote all their love solely to Christ and give themselves completely to the service of souls.42
The decree on Priestly Training no. 10 insisted that seminarians should be thoroughly prepared to accept the obligation of celibacy ‘as a precious gift of God’.43 Similarly, but in more detail, the Decree on the Renewal of Religious Life spelt out the obligation to celibacy and continence, while noting that ‘the observance of perpetual continence touches intimately the deeper inclinations of human nature.’ 44
1967 Encyclical on Priestly Celibacy
Pope Paul Vl acknowledged that serious questions had been raised concerning celibacy and outlined the arguments that had been raised for and against priestly celibacy, but concluded:Hence, we consider that the present law of celibacy should today continue to be linked to the ecclesiastical ministry. This law should support the minister in his exclusive, definitive and total choice of the unique and supreme love of Christ; it should uphold him in the entire dedication of himself to the public worship of God and to the service of the Church; it should distinguish his state of life both among the faithful and in the world at large. The gift of priestly vocation dedicated to the divine worship and to the religious and pastoral service of the People of God, is undoubtedly distinct from that which leads a person to choose celibacy as a state of consecrated life.45
Pope Paul Vl clearly distinguished priestly celibacy from celibacy in onsecrated life in a religious institute, but upheld celibacy despite all the difficulties and criticisms that have been made of it.
The 1971 Synod of Bishops
The 1971 Synod established a special commission to prepare a document summarising the discussions of the synod. It was published through a papal rescript dated November 30, 1971. The Synod document repeated Church
teaching on celibacy:
Towards the end of the Synod the bishops voted on the law of celibacy: ‘The current law of celibacy for priests in the Latin Church must be observed in its entirety.’ Voting Placet 168; Non placet 10; Placet iuxta modum 21; abstentions 3 .
Then on the ordination of married men, the bishops were asked to vote for eitherFormula A: Always without prejudice to the right of the Supreme Pontiff, the ordination of married men as priest is not admitted, not even in special cases.
Formula B: It belongs to the Supreme Pontiff alone, in special cases, because of pastoral needs and in view of the good of the universal Church, to allow ordination as priests to married men who, however, are of rather advanced age and of upright life.
107 voted for Formula A while 87 voted for Formula B. There were 2 abstentions and 2 null votes.47
Pope John Paul ll
On the occasion of the Lord’s Supper, Holy Thursday 1979, Pope John Paul ll wrote his first letter to the priests of the world. He acknowledged that the question of priestly celibacy had been considered profoundly and completely at Vatican ll, in the encyclical Sacerdotalis caelibatus and at the 1971 Synod of Bishops. He explained the reason for celibacy was that Jesus inspired it himself:The essential, proper and adequate reason (for celibacy) in fact, is contained in the truth that Christ declared when he spoke about a renunciation of marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and which St. Paul proclaimed when he wrote that each person in the church has his or her own gifts. Celibacy is precisely a ‘gift of the Spirit.’ 48
In this letter to priests, the Pope did acknowledge the difficulties of celibacy and
spoke in no. 8 of the treasure of celibacy being held ‘in vessels of clay.’ Throughout his pontificate he was always conscious of how celibacy was both an eschatological sign as well as being of great social importance for ministry to the people of God.
Relationship of Marriage and Celibacy
Pope John Paul ll was conscious of the relationship between celibacy and marriage. He saw issues, such as the commitment involved and the appreciation of the importance of each, being intertwined in particular societies. He
stated in his encyclical Redemptor hominis March 4, 1979:
In the apostolic exhortation Familiaris consortio, November 22, 1981, the Pope upheld the importance of celibacy:Virginity or celibacy, by liberating the human heart in a unique way, ‘so as to make it burn with greater love for God and all humanity,’bears witness that the Kingdom of God and His justice is that pearl of great price which is to be preferred to every other value no matter how great, and hence must be sought as the only definitive value.50
The Pope maintained the discipline of celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven is an important eschatological sign.
Formation of Canon 277 of the 1983 Code
Following Vatican Council ll, the Pontifical Commission for the Revision of the Code of Canon Law worked on the Schema De clericis in 1966. The study group on clerics discussed celibacy October 24-28, 1966. They proposed texts for draft canons 132 and 133. In canon 132, a §2 was proposed exempting married deacons from the obligations of celibacy and continence.51
Following consultations around the world, the 1977 and 1980 Schemas had two canons concerning celibacy. Married deacons were exempted from the obligations of celibacy and continence:Canon 135 §1. Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven, and are therefore bound to celibacy. §2. The prescription of §1 does not bind men of a mature age who are married and are promoted to the permanent diaconate; who, however, if their wife dies are bound to celibacy.52
Following consultation around the world two proposed canons concerning priestly celibacy were discussed on 15 January 1980 and the last phrase of canon 135, 2 concerning married deacons remarrying was removed. The canons now became canons 250 and 251 in the 1980 Schema.53
These canons were discussed at the plenary session of the Pontificia Commissio Codici Iuris Canonici Recognoscendo 20-28 October 1981. It was said that the violation of perfect continence pertained to moral theology. In canon 251§2 audito consilio presbyterali was removed, as it would affect the legislative power of the bishop, who might know confidential facts and matters. The phrase ‘quod est peculiare Dei donum’ [which is a special gift of God] was added to canon 250§1 of the 1980 schema. This phrase had been used in Presbyterorum ordinis 16, and it was inserted to answer the question how the charism of celibacy, that God gives to some, can be made obligatory for all priests.
On 25 March 1982 the last schema of the Code of Canon Law54 was prepared and was submitted to the Pope on 22 April 1982.55 The texts of canons 250 and 251 of the 1980 schema became canons 279 and 280 of the 1982 schema:Canon 279, 1 §1. Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven, and are therefore bound to celibacy. Celibacy is a special gift of God by which sacred ministers can more easily remain close to Christ with an undivided heart, and can dedicate themselves more freely to the service of God and their neighbour. §2 The prescription of §1 does not bind men who are married and are promoted to the permanent diaconate.56 Canon 280§1. Clerics are to behave with due prudence in relation to persons whose company can be a danger to their obligation of preserving continence or can lead to scandal of the faithful. The diocesan Bishop has authority to establish more detailed rules concerning this matter, and to pass judgment on the observance of the obligation in particular cases.57
Pope John Paul ll, after receiving the final draft of the new Code of Canon Law on 22 April 1982, assisted by seven experts, including Josef Cardinal Ratzinger and Alfons Cardinal Stickler, personally reviewed the entire draft.58 A small number of changes were made to the final draft. These included removing a number of references to administrative tribunals and the second paragraph of canon 279 of the 1982 schema. This paragraph had said that the obligation for celibacy and perpetual continence did not apply to married deacons. Draft canons 279 and 280 were combined to become canon 277 of the 1983 Code that was then promulgated on 25 January 1983.
The text of canon 277 read:§1 Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven, and are therefore bound to celibacy. Celibacy is a special gift of God by which sacred ministers can more easily remain closeto Christ with an undivided heart, and can dedicate themselves more freely to the service of God and their neighbour. §2 Clerics are to behave with due prudence in relation to persons whose company can be a danger to their obligation of preserving continence or can lead to scandal of the faithful. §3 The diocesan Bishop has authority to establish more detailed rules concerning this matter, and to pass judgment on the observance of the obligation in particular cases.59
Canon 277§1 defines the obligation of celibacy, and the motivations for being celibate, especially for the Kingdom of God. Canon 277§2 advises clerics to be prudent so as not to endanger their continence or cause scandal. The 1983 Code does not single out men or women as being a source of scandal, and leaves it to the diocesan bishop to make particular law concerning this matter as well as to make judgments on particular cases. Clerics cannot validly marry without a dispensation from celibacy. If they marry without a dispensation from celibacy, they are automatically removed from office, and can eventually be dismissed from the clerical state.60
Significantly Pope John Paul ll decided to make continence obligatory for all clerics in the Latin Church, whether they were married deacons or not. This decision illustrates the absolute conviction that Pope John Paul ll had concerning the importance and value of celibacy and continence. His approach fits in perfectly with the argument of Cochini that all clerics within the Latin Church, from apostolic times, were obliged to continence.61
Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis
After the 1990 Synod of Bishops, Pope John Paul ll issued the Apostolic Exhortation on priestly formation.62 In it he stated that celibacy is a special charism:Referring to the evangelical counsels, the council states that pre-eminent among these counsels is that precious gift of divine grace given to some by the Father (cf. Mt. 19:11; 1 Cor 7:7) in order more easily to devote themselves to God alone with an undivided heart (cf. 1 Cor. 7:32-34) in virginity or celibacy. This perfect continence for love of the kingdom of heaven has always been held in high esteem by the church as a sign and stimulus of love, and as a singular source of spiritual fertility in the world.… In virginity or celibacy, the human being is awaiting, also in a bodily way, the eschatological marriage of Christ with the church, giving himself or herself completely to the church in the hope that Christ may give himself to the church in the full truth of eternal life.63
Continence is to be consciously chosen for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The Church requires celibacy for priests because it sees a link between celibacy and ordination:For an adequate priestly spiritual life, celibacy ought not to be considered and lived as an isolated or purely negative element, but as one aspect of a positive, specific and characteristic approach to being a priest. Leaving father and mother, the priest follows Jesus the Good Shepherd in an apostolic communion, in the service of the people of God. Celibacy, then, is to be welcomed and continually renewed with a free and loving decision as a priceless gift from God, as an ‘incentive to pastoral charity’, as a singular sharing in God’s fatherhood and in the fruitfulness of the Church, and as a witness to the world of the eschatological kingdom.64
Clerics profess undivided loyalty to Christ and the Church. People usually marry, so the commitment of celibacy requires discipline and a determined spiritual effort. The Pope was conscious of the difficulties and pointed out:At the same time let priests make use of all the supernatural and natural helps which are now available to all. Once again it is prayer, together with the Church’s sacraments and ascetical practice, which will provide hope in difficulties, forgiveness in failings, and confidence and courage in resuming the journey.65
As Pope John Paul ll taught in his encyclical Veritatis splendor, 22 it is not possible for a human being, using only his own strength alone, to transcend human aspirations.66
Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis
A Synod of Bishops devoted to the Eucharist was held in October 2005. At the synod the issue of married clergy was raised in order to alleviate the shortage of priests and to make celebrations of the Eucharist more accessible for people.
Following the Synod, Pope Benedict XVl addressed the issues of celibacy and continence within the context of his apostolic exhortation on the Eucharist in no. 24 where he pointed out that:The Synod Fathers wished to emphasise that the ministerial priesthood, through ordination, calls for complete configuration to Christ… This choice on the part of the priest expresses in a special way the dedication that conforms him to Christ and his exclusive offering of himself for the Kingdom of God. The fact that Christ himself, the eternal priest, lived his mission even to the sacrifice of the Cross in the state of virginity constitutes the sure point of reference for understanding the meaning of the tradition of the Latin Church. It is not sufficient to understand priestly celibacy in purely functional terms. Celibacy is really a special way of conforming oneself to Christ’s own way of life… it is a profound identification with the heart of Christ the Bridegroom who gives his life for his Bride… I reaffirm the beauty and the importance of a priestly life lived in celibacy as a sign expressing total and exclusive devotion to Christ, to the Church and to the Kingdom of God.67
Pope Benedict XVl has reiterated the identification between the priest and the person of Jesus Christ. The way of life of the priest is to be modelled on that of Jesus himself. Being a priest is not just a functional job. The priest is required to conform his way of life to that of Jesus Christ. Pope Benedict XVl, in an address to the Roman Curia on 22 December 2006 pointed out that the rationale for celibacy, ‘The solely pragmatic reasons, the reference to greater availability, is not enough: such a greater availability of time could easily become also a form of egoism that saves a person from the sacrifices and efforts demanded by the reciprocal acceptance and forbearance in matrimony; thus, it could lead to a spiritual impoverishment or to hardening of the heart.’ 68 The priest represents Jesus Christ and acts in his name in a special way. His celibacy expresses his total and exclusive devotion to Christ, and his commitment to carrying on his mission.
Anglicans In Full Communion
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on November 4, 2009, promulgated an Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus, Providing for Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans Entering into Full Communion with the Catholic Church.69 The document provides for the spiritual and liturgical heritage of Anglicans, and addresses issues for former Anglican clergy entering in full communion. It states concerning celibacy in no. VI.§1: Those who ministered as Anglican deacons, priests, or bishops, and who fulfill the requisites established by canon law and are not impeded by irregularities or other impediments may be accepted by the Ordinary as candidates for Holy Orders in the Catholic Church. In the case of married ministers, the norms established in the Encyclical Letter of Pope Paul VI Sacerdotalis coelibatus, n. 42 and in the Statement In June, are to be observed. Unmarried ministers must submit to the norm of clerical celibacy of CIC can. 277, §1. §2. The Ordinary, in full observance of the discipline of celibate clergy in the Latin Church, as a rule (pro regula) will admit only celibate men to the order of presbyter. He may also petition the Roman Pontiff, as a derogation from can. 277, §1, for the admission of married men to the order of presbyter on a case by case basis, according to objective criteria approved by the Holy See.70
These procedures for the granting of a privilege are the same as those for the ‘Pastoral Provision’ for Episcopalian priests in the United States being ordained as Catholic priests.71
Father Gianfranco Ghirlanda S.J., Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University, points out that:
… by the concession that those who were married Anglican ministers, including bishops, may be ordained priests according to the norms of the Encyclical letter of Paul Vl Sacerdotalis coelibatus, n. 42 and of the Declaration In June, while remaining in the married state (Ap. Cons.Vl § 1); 4. by the possibility that, following a process of discernment based on objective criteria and the needs of the Ordinariate (CN Art. 6§ 1), the Ordinary may also petition the Roman Pontiff, on a case by case basis, to admit married men to the priesthood as a derogation of CIC can. 277 §1, although the general norm of the Ordinariate will be to admit only celibate men (Ap. Cons. Vl § 2).72
Former married Anglican bishops can only be ordained priests when they enter the Ordinariate. This practice respects the tradition of the Church as reflected by the Oriental Churches which require all bishops to be celibate. Former married Anglican priests may be ordained as Catholic priests. However, it is clear that future candidates for ordination as priests in the Personal Ordinariates will have to be celibate.
Pope John Paul ll at a General Audience summarised the history of the law on celibacy:Jesus did not promulgate a law, but rather proposed an ideal of celibacy for the new priesthood that he was instituting. This ideal has been increasingly affirmed in the Church. It may be understood that, in the first phase of dissemination and development of Christianity, a large number of priests were married men, chosen and ordained following the Judaic tradition… This is a phase of the Church that was undergoing the process of organising itself, and, to put it in this way, of experimenting with what, as a discipline of the states of life, best reflected the ideal and the advice which the Lord had proposed. Based on experience and reflection, the discipline of celibacy has continued to slowly affirm itself, until it has become generalised in the Western Church, by virtue of canonical legislation.73
A Priest acts ‘in the person of Christ the Head.’74 By virtue of his ordination, a priest is sacramentally configured and ontologically identified with Christ. The priest is not simply another Christ like every baptised Christian. Rather a priest represents Christ precisely in his leadership role as head of the body the Church. Just as Jesus does not marry and is totally committed to his mission, the Church requires that those to be ordained as priests have discerned a vocation to celibacy, before they are ordained and act in his name. Their celibacy expresses their complete and total identification with Christ and their commitment to continuing his mission.
NOTES1 Christian Cochini, S.J., The Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy, trans. Nelly Marans, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1990), 469 p, French original 1981. Roman Cholij, Clerical Celibacy in East and West, (Herefordshire: Fowler Wright Books, 1989), 226 p. Alphons Cardinal Stickler, The Case for Clerical Celibacy: Its Historical Development and Theological Foundations, trans. Brian Ferme, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press), 1995. 2 Heinz Vogels, Celibacy – Gift or Law? A Critical Investigation, (London: Burns and Oates, 1992), 3 Roger Balducelli, “The Apostolic Origins of Clerical Continence: A critical Appraisal of a New Book”, Theological Studies, 43(1982), 693-705. 4 George Dennis, Theological Studies, 52(1991), 738-739. 5 Cochini, The Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy, 251. 6 Alfons Stickler, The Case for Clerical Celibacy, 14. 7 Canon 266§1. “By the reception of the diaconate a person becomes a cleric, and is incardinated in the particular Church or personal Prelature for whose service he is ordained.” 8 J. Provost, “Offences against the Sixth Commandment: Toward a Canonical Analysis of Canon 1395”, The Jurist, 55(1995), 650. I think his definition of celibacy as “not being married”, is technically correct in law, but there is a need to take into account the fact that it is a positive quality expressing one’s commitment to Christ, and is not just a negative quality of not marrying. 9 Roman Cholij, “Clerical Celibacy in the Western Church: Some Clarifications”, Priests and People, September, 1989, 301. 10 John Paul ll, Apostolic Exhortation, Pastores dabo vobis, 25 March 1992, AAS, 84(1992), no. 29. (hereinafter PDV) Richard Sipe has a definition of “Celibacy is a freely chosen dynamic state, usually vowed, that involves an honest and sustained attempt to live without direct sexual gratification in order to serve others productively for a spiritual motive”, in Celibacy: a way of loving, living and serving, (Missouri: Triumph Books, 1996), 41. Paul Vl, Encyclical, Sacerdotalis Caelibatus, 24 June 1967, AAS, 59 (1967), 657-697. 11 Luke 18:28-30. Scripture translations taken from the New Revised Standard Version, 1995, (New York: Oxford University Press). 12 1 Corinthians 7: 32-33. 13 Ignace De la Potterie, S.J., “The Biblical Foundations of Priestly Celibacy”, For Love Alone: Reflections on Priestly Celibacy, Ed. Divo Barsotti, (Slough: St. Pauls, 1993), 219. 14 De la Potterie, “The Biblical Foundations of Priestly Celibacy”, 23. 15 Paul Williamson, Seminar on Priestly Celibacy, at Holy Cross Seminary, Auckland, 2000. 16 1 Clement 33, 1-2; Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to Polycarp, 5, 2. 17 Cochini, Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy, 112. He has list of married clergy 87-123. 18 Cholij, Clerical Celibacy in East and West, 36. 19 “But if laymen are asked to abstain from relations with their wives for the sake of prayer, what should one think [then] of the bishop, of him whomust be able to present spotless offerings to Godevery day, for his own sins and for those of the people?…Let the bishop also practice abstinence:not only, as some think, with respect to carnal desires and embraces with his wife, but also withrespect to all the troubles that can agitate the soul”,in Cochini, The Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy, 238. 20 “he orders that the bishops be the husband of an only wife, not in order to exclude the one who never took part in the marriage (which is in fact beyond the law), but so that, through conjugal chastity, he keep the grace of his baptism, and on the other hand, the apostolic authority does not ask him to beget children during his priestly [career];[the Apostle] did talk about a man who [already]had children, but not about one who is begetting[others] or contracts a new marriage.”, in Cochini, The Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy, 234. 21 Cochini, The Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy, 11. 22 Concilia Africae a. 345-525, ed. By Munier, Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina 149, (Turnout, 1974) 13; in Alfons Stickler, The Case for Clerical Celibacy, 24. 23 Cholij, Clerical Celibacy in East and West, 37. 24 PG 67, English translation in Cochini, The Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy, 320. 25 Codex Justinianus, l, 3, 44, in Cochini, The Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy, 354. 26 Cholij, Clerical Celibacy in East and West, 73. 27 English translation from Henry Percival, (Ed.),The Seven Ecumenical Councils of the UndividedChurch, (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1900),67. 28 Cochini, Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy, 171. 29 Cochini, Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy, 177. 30 Cholij, Clerical Celibacy in East and West, 138 ff. 31 Council of Trullo; English translation in Cholij, Clerical Celibacy in East and West, 115-116. 32 Cholij, Clerical Celibacy in East and West, 199. 33 First Lateran Council, English translation in Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, vol. 1, 194. 34 Quoted in Stickler, The Case for Clerical Celibacy, 50. 35 Council of Trent, Canon 9. “If anyone says that clerics in holy orders, or regulars who have made solemn profession of chastity, may contract marriage, and that such a contract is valid, in spite of church law and the vow… let him be anathema.” English translation in Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, vol. 2, 755. 36 Codex Iuris Canonici (1917), Pope Pius X, (Rome: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1917); English trans. Edward Peters, San Francisco, Ignatius Press, 2001. “Canon 132§ §2. Minor clerics can enter marriage, but, unless the marriage was null because of inflicted force and fear, they drop from the clerical state by the law itself. §3. A married man, who, even in good faith, takes up major orders without apostolic dispensation is prohibited from exercising those orders.” 37 Codex Iuris Canonici (1917), Pope Pius X, Rome, Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1917; English trans. Edward Peters, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2001). “Canon 133§1. Clerics should take care not to retain or in other ways to frequent women upon whom suspicion can fall. §2. It is permitted to them to cohabit only with the sort of women whose natural bond places them above suspicion, such as mother, sister, aunt, and others of this kind, or others whose upright way of life in view of maturity of years removes all suspicion. §3. The judgment about retaining or frequenting women, even those who commonly fall under no suspicion, in particular cases where scandal is possible or where there is given a danger of incontinence, belongs to the local Ordinary, who can prohibit clerics from retaining or frequenting [such women]. §4. Contumacious [clerics] are presumed [to be living in] concubinage.” 38 K. Wulf, “Commentary on the Decree Presbyterorum Ordinis, in Commentary on the Documents of Vatican ll, ed. Herbert Vorgrimler,vol. 4, (New York: Herder and Herder, 1969), 279-288. 39 W. Bassett and P. Huizing, eds, Celibacy in the Church, (New York: Herder and Herder, 1972), 57-75. 40 Flannery, 892. 41 P.O. 16; English translation in Flannery, 892. 42 T. L. Bouscarin, CLD, vol 6, 200. 43 Vatican Council ll, O.T. 10; English translation in Flannery, Vatican Council ll: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, Collegeville, The Liturgical Press, 1975, 715. 44 Vatican Council ll, Perfectae Caritatis, 12, in Flannery, ibid.,618 45 Paul Vl, Encyclical, Priestly Celibacy, Sacerdotalis caelibatus, 24 June,1967, no.s 14-15, St. Paul Editions, 8-9; AAS, 59(1967), 662-663; Flannery, vol 2, 289 46 Synod of Bishops, Apostolic Exhortation, Ultimis temporibus, November 30, 1971; AAS, 63(1971), 898-922; Flannery, 687. 47 AAS 63(1971), 917-918; Flannery, vol. 2, 689-690. 48 John Paul ll, Epistle, Novo Incipiente, 8 April 1979, AAS, 71(1979), 407; Flannery, Vol. 2, 354-355. 49 John Paul ll, Encyclical, Redemptor hominis March 4, 1979; in AAS, 71(1979), 257-324; English translation in Origins, 8(1979), 642. 50 Pope John Paul ll apostolic exhortation Familiaris consortio, November 22, 1981, no. 16; AAS 74(1982), 81-191; Flannery, 826-827. 51 Coetus Studiorum De Clericis, Sessio l, 24-28 October 1966, Communicationes, 16(1984), 174-178. “Canon 132§1. Clerici, recepto diaconatus ordine, obligatione tenentur servandi perfectam perpetuamque propter Regnum coelorum continentiam, ideoque ad coelibatum adstringuntur.” “§2. Praescripto paragraphi 1 non tenentur viri maturioris aetatis in matrimonio viventes qui iuxta decreta compentis Episcoporum Conferentiae a Summo Pontifice ad probata, ad diaconatum stabilem promoventur.” 52 1977 Schema Canon 135§1: “Clerici obligatione tenentur servandi perfectam perpetuamque propter Regnum coelorum continentiam ideoque ad coelibatum adstringuntur. §2. Praescripto §1 non tenentur viri maturioris aetatis in matrimonio viventes qui ad diaconatum stabilem promoti sunt; qui tamen et ipsi, amissa uxore, ad coelibatum servandum tenentur.”52 53 Canon 250§1. “Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven, and are therefore bound to celibacy. §2. The prescription of §1 does not bind men who are married and are promoted to the permanent diaconate.” Canon 251§1. “Clerics are to behave with due prudence in relation to persons whose company can be a danger to their obligation of preserving continence or can lead to scandal of the faithful. §2. The diocesan Bishop, having consulted the Council of Priests, has the authority to establish more detailed rules concerning this matter, and to pass judgment on the observance of the obligation in particular cases.” 54 Pontificia Commissio Codici Iuris Canonici Recognoscendo, Codex Iuris Canonici SchemaNovissimum, Rome, Typis Polyglottis Vativanis, 1982, 308 p. 55 Nereus Tun Min, The Diocesan Bishop’s Concern for Clerical Celibacy in the Light of Canon 277§3: Bishops of Myanmar and Priestly Celibacy, Doctoral Thesis, (Rome: Pontificia Universitas Urbaniana, 2001), 30, has useful material on this. Cf. also Edward N. Peters, op. cit., 171. 56 Canon 279§1: “Clerici obligatione tenentur servandi perfectam perpetuamque propter Regnum coelorum continentiam ideoque ad coelibatum adstringuntur, quod est peculiare Dei donum, quo quidem sacri ministri indiviso corde Christo facilius adhaerere possunt atque Dei hominumque servitio liberius sese dedicare valent.§2, Praescripto 1 non tenentur viri qui in matrimonio viventes ad diaconatum permanentem promoti sunt.” 57 Canon 280§1: “Debita cum prudentia clerici se gerant cum personis quarum frequentatio suam obligationem ad continentiam servandam in discrimen vocare aut in fidelium scandalum cedere possit. §2. Competit Episcopo dioecesano ut hac de re, audito Consilio presbyterali, normas statuat magis determinatas utque de servata hac obligatione in casibus particularibus iudicium ferat.” 58 Edward N. Peters, “Canonical Considerations on Diaconal Continence”, Studia canonica, 39(2005), 171. 59 Canon 277§1: “Clerici obligatione tenentur servandi perfectam perpetuamque propter Regnum coelorum continentiam ideoque ad coelibatum adstringuntur, quod est peculiare Dei donum, quo quidem sacri ministri indiviso corde Christo facilius adhaerere possunt atque Dei hominumque servitio liberius sese dedicare valent. §2: “Debita cum prudentia clerici se gerant cum personis quarum frequentatio ipsorum obligationem ad continentiam servandam in discrimen vocare aut in fidelium scandalum vertere possit. §3. Competit Episcopo dioecesano ut hac de re, normas statuat magis determinatas utque de huius obligationis observantia in casibus particularibus iudicium ferat.” 60 Canons 1087, 194§1, 1394§1. 61 Cochini, C., Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1981). See also Edward N. Peters, “Canonical Considerations on Diaconal Continence”, Studia canonica, 39(2005), 147-180, and Congregation for the Clergy, Directory of the Life and Ministry of Deacons, http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congreg a t i o n s / c c a t h e d u c / d o c u m e n t s /rc_con_ccatheduc_doc_31031998_directoriumdiaconi_en.html number 61 62 Pope John Paul ll, apostolic exhortation, Pastores dabo vobis, 25 March 1992, AAS, 84(1992), 658-804; English translation in Origins, 21(1992-1993), 717, 719-759. 63 Pope John Paul ll, Pastores dabo vobis, 29. 64 Pope John Paul ll, Pastores dabo vobis, 29. 65 Pope John Paul ll, Pastores dabo vobis, 29. 66 Pope John Paul ll, Veritatis splendor, 6 August 1993; AAS, 77(1992), 507-785; English translation Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 67 Pope Benedict XVl, apostolic exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis, http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/apost_exhortations/index_en.htm 68 http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/s p e e c h e s / 2 0 0 6 / d e c e m b e r / d o c u m e n t s /hf_ben_xvi_spe_20061222_curia-romana_en.html 69 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus, “Providing For Personal Ordinariates for AnglicansEntering Into Full Communion with the CatholicChurch,”4 November, 2009. http://126.96.36.199/news_services/bulletin/news/24626.php?index=24626&lang=en# APOSTOLIC C O N S T I T U T I O N A N G L I C A N O R UM COETIBUS accessed 16 November, 2009. 70 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ibid. 71 Bishop Bernard Law, “Report of Bishop Bernard Law on the Episcopal Priests Who Seek Roman Catholic Priesthood,” in Origins, 4 September 1980, 10(1980), 178. C.f. Brendan Daly, “Anglican Clergy Becoming Catholic Clergy – Why Re-ordination?” Canon Law Society of Australia and New Zealand Newsletter, 2009:1; 62-73. 72 Gianfranco Ghirlanda, S.J., “The Significance of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus,” http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/ library/view.cfm?recnum=9178, accessed 16 November 2009. 73 John Paul ll, General Audience, July 17, 1993, in L’Osservatore Romano, July 21, 1993, 11. 74 “in persona Christi capitis”, LG. 10. *************
Referring to the evangelical counsels, the council states that pre-eminent among these counsels is that precious gift of divine grace given to some by the Father (cf. Mt. 19:11; 1 Cor 7:7) in order more easily to devote themselves to God alone with an undivided heart (cf. 1 Cor. 7:32-34) in virginity or celibacy. This perfect continence for love of the kingdom of heaven has always been held in high esteem by the church as a sign and stimulus of love, and as a singular source of spiritual fertility in the world.… In virginity or celibacy, the human being is awaiting, also in a bodily way, the eschatological marriage of Christ with the church, giving himself or herself completely to the church in the hope that Christ may give himself to the church in the full truth of eternal life. —Pope John Paul ll, Pastores dabo vobis, 29.
Rev. Dr Brendan Daly is Principal at Good Shepherd College, Auckland, a Lecturer in Canon Law, a Judge on the Appeal Tribunal of the Catholic Church for Australia and New Zealand, and an Associate Judicial Vicar of the Tribunal in New Zealand.
PRIESTLY CELIBACY, COMPASS 2009 #4.indd 33
BIBLICAL SYMBOLISM AND THE MORALITY OF IN VITRO FERTILIZATION Rev. Donald J. Keefe, S.J.  [Father Keefe was an Associate Professor of Doqmatic and Systematic Theology in the Divinity School of Saint Louis University. Father Keefe is a graduate of Colgate University and the Georgetown School of Law. He received his licentiate in theology at Woodstock College and his doctorate at the Gregorian University in Rome. Father Keefe is a member of the Bars of the District of Columbia, State of New York and the U.S. Supreme Court. He taught theology at Canisius College in Buffalo before coming to Saint Louis University in 1970. He is the author of a book, "Thomism and the Ontological Theology of Paul Tillich: A Comparison of Systems" (1971).] *** During the past few years a number of developments in widely separated fields have raised the problem of the human norm to a level of urgency which Catholic theology cannot ignore. Some of these developments are technical, particularly in the biomedical area; some are dogmatic, touching particularly the requirement of masculinity for the Catholic priesthood; some are more properly cultural and put in question the conventional norms of sexual morality. Any attempt to propose the fundamental structure of properly human existence will inevitably reflect upon these concerns, and doubtless upon many other’s. It is evident that a brief article on this topic will be open to objections arising from interests which have been inadequately considered, if at all, and very few of which can be given a brief response. In consequence, some limitations must be placed upon any given discussion, limits which are in no sense a disavowal of the implications which the norm proposed may entail. For our purposes, the discussion must be limited to a single issue: the bearing of the norm upon the morality of “in vitro” conception of human life. This is in itself a limitation upon the broader topic of the morality of what has come to be called genetic manipulation or genetic engineering. The most adequate treatment of the more general topic by a Catholic theologian is undoubtedly that of Karl Rahner;(1) his approach is also endorsed by James Gustafson.(2) As might be expected, Rahner’s treatment of the topic is not without subtlety. In the first place, he rejects the possibility of a deductive approach to moral theology, an approach which would proceed by inference from some adequate definition of human nature. The objection to such an approach is its static quality, and its consequent ignorance of the creative and historical dynamism of human morality, of human freedom. He then proposes as his own moral norm what he calls the faith-instinct. This he regards as universally given to all human beings as the origin of their moral understanding. The actual process of moral understanding is one of historical self-determination; otherwise put, it is the noetic aspect of our con-creation of ourselves in history. The faith-instinct is directed to a goal, which is already given: the predetermined nature of man. This predetermined nature is the object of an existential intuition. This intuition is simply the direct self-awareness each of us has of his humanity: it is immediate knowledge, preconceptual, prior to and the a priori of all reflex thought and utterance. It must be remembered that Rahner accepts no dichotomy between our self-awareness and our existence; to exist as human is to exist as self-aware, and this self-awareness is historical, a being-toward, an awareness-toward, a final goal which is already given us as the meaning and the norm of historical existence. It is this final goal which is the truth of our humanity. Our immediacy to, our intuition of this truth is also that by which we are free: to live humanly, historically, morally is therefore a matter of choice, of decision. We can express our self-awareness by affirming the human structure which is the meaning of history, and by so affirming enter into the con-creation of ourselves, or we can refuse: so to refuse is to refuse history, the “absolute future” of our humanity. Thus, our faith-instinct is expressed in moral existence. It cannot be reduced to objective statement, for its content is the “prius” of any conceivable conceptual elaboration and is always available for further expression into history than has been given it. For Rahner, morality has therefore the structure of self-creativity; it is a dynamism oriented to a goal which is pre-determined, toward the production of a self whose ontological truth is not negotiable, to a destiny uniquely individual which must be individually accepted as the gift of God, not feared as an alien trespass upon one’s proper autonomy. For Rahner, it is this fear of one’s destiny which is expressed in genetic manipulation. Now man is in a certain respect most free when he is not dealing with a “thing” but calling into being another, freely responsible person. If he is not to conceal or fall short of his nature, man must be presented clearly with the dialectically opposite position of his freedom as a man. And in concrete terms that means that the freedom to determine another person must remain a clear-cut and radical destiny, which one has not chosen but accepted. Procreation in particular must not become an act of neurotic anxiety in the face of fate. The other person must remain the one who is both made and accepted; both an elevating influence, because he has been chosen, and a burden to be accepted and carried. If man, when confronted with his child, saw only what he had himself planned, he would not be looking at his own nature, nor would he experience his true self which is both free and the object of external determination. Genetic manipulation is the embodiment of the fear of oneself, the fear of accepting one’s self as the unknown quantity it is. . . . . What in actual fact is the driving force behind genetic manipulation? What sort of person is driven to it? And the answer would be, in the first place, the hate of one’s destiny; and secondly, it is the man who, at his innermost level, is in despair because he cannot dispose of existence.(3) This argument Rahner supplements with others: for example, a sphere of intimacy is necessary to personal freedom, and must be safeguarded; for another, the fundamental Christian conviction that history is irreversible should urge our cultivation of “a sober and critical resistance to the fascination of novel possibilities.” However, these arguments are not thought to be conclusive; it is not upon their cogency that the moral decision is to be based; Rahner considers such reasoning to constitute no more than an appeal to, and the inadequate objectifying of, a human and Christian “instinct” which can be discovered in the moral field. A moral awareness of this kind (which both is and does more than we have mentioned here) forms the context in which man has the courage to make decisions; thus a decision is also more than its rationale, because the act is always more than its theoretical foundation. . . . This will is meaningful in spite of the fact that it neither claims nor is obliged to be exhaustively analysable by theoretical reason; measured against the opposite will, this will is more deeply meaningful and more genuinely human.(4) Rahner is certainly correct in his analysis of the place of discursive reason in moral decision. The theological rationale can never be more than an appeal to freedom. It is calculated to enhance, not displace, free choice and for this to be possible there must be some co-naturality between the truth which the rationale proposes, and that presumed to be in the inchoate possession of the person to whom the appeal is directed. Consequently, the instinct of faith, understood as the direct awareness of an as yet unuttered knowledge of the self, is seen without much difficulty to be the condition of possibility of moral choice, and so the norm of moral choice, the human norm. Rahner has also provided it with a certain content, which may be summed up as historicity: those familiar with his anthropology will recognize the weight of this word, and acknowledge as well the power of the transcendental method which has elaborated its meaning. But in this elaboration we verge upon scholasticism; the appeal begins to be again to logic, rather than to the instinct of faith, and this seems to be forced by the need to give the instinct a public content. Rahner is well aware of the difficulty; his notion of the anonymous Christian underlies his attempts to meet it.(5) Unfortunately, this anonymity accorded the expression of the instinct of faith is in some tension with its historicity: it should make some identifiable difference to be a Christian. Given that the anonymity is not complete, and that the anonymous Christian is urged by his faith-instinct toward a more adequate, and therefore less anonymous, expression of his self-awareness, it remains difficult to locate the public content of the faith-instinct. In what follows, we will suggest that this human norm which is given us in the faith-instinct has achieved a privileged public expression in Judaeo-Christian history. Before doing this, it will be necessary to look somewhat more closely at the instinct of faith itself: to many, it will have an unfamiliar sound. The intuition which is designated the instinct of faith in the Thomist theological tradition is not a private possession of Rahnerian Thomism, although the term itself is identifiably Thomist. Anyone wishing to familiarize himself with its fortunes in that school may well begin by reading E. Schillebeeckx’s (6) discussion in the second volume of his Revelation and Theology, where an ample further bibliography is available. Those standing outside the Thomist tradition can turn to Tillich’s analysis of ultimate concern for an understanding of the some reality. More remotely, we are dealing with Augustinian illumination; still more remotely, with Platonic anamnesis, given a Christian conversion. In the medieval period, Bonaventure provided it with its classic account in the Itinerarium mentis in Deo. Its importance to the Thomist synthesis is a rediscovery of the present century, after some centuries of scholastic rationalism. Schleiermacher revived the interest of Protestant theologians in it in his equation of faith with a sense of total dependence. The most important development of it in the modern period is undoubtedly that of Kierkegaard, whose identification of truth and subjectivity underlies much of the theological development of the present century, although the contributions of Newman and Blondel are also significant. The instinct of faith can thus claim to be as ancient and as recent as anything in Christian theology. In the simplest terms, it is intellectual intuition, the complex datum of immediate awareness. Our problem is to identify the object of this intuition: precisely what is it that is intuited, in the concrete? It cannot be simply the triune God, for the intuition is also an awareness of oneself; further, it is difficult to understand how an intuition of the Godhead could be referred to faith in the historical Jesus who is the Christ. On the other hand, if it is an intuition of the Christ, then the ontological possibility of such an intuition as a universal datum of consciousness must be established, and that in such a manner that the experience permit the anonymity of which we have spoken, as well as the historical mediation of its content. This is of course the task of systematic theology: we cannot undertake it here. Suffice it to say that during the past quarter century or thereabouts the conviction has been growing that the root datum of everyone’s direct, preconceptual awareness is a God-given, gratuitous intuition of one’s relatedness to God in Christ through the pleroma of his creation, of which we are all participations. More succintly stated, the instinct of faith, however labelled, is the intellectual aspect of our creation in Christ. Rahner has himself been hesitant to go so far,(7) yet there is some reason to believe that he also is coming to share this view of the matter. It is in any case the view upon which we shall now proceed. If we grant that the object of the immediate intuition which we have been referring to as the instinct of faith is the Christ, we must at the same time remember that we have to do with self-awareness, with the global experience of ourself in relation to Christ and to his creation which is the condition precedent, the ontological ground, of our articulated experience. We are self-aware precisely as radicated in the fundamental relatedness of Christ to his creation. This correlation of Christ to his creation constitutes what is usually called the “whole Christ”: this “whole Christ,” constituted in its entirety by the Father’s sending of the Son to give the Spirit, is that by which we exist, for our creation is but our participation in this fullness. Because our immediate dependence upon it is constitutive of our whole reality, it is constitutive of our self-awareness, and is therefore the object, the immediate datum, of the intuition which we have called the instinct of faith. This instinct is universal, the subject matter of all religious experience and of all religious expression. It is a “lumen,” a continuing illumination, prior to all concepts, which we can no more escape than we can escape our creation. We can refuse it by turning away from it, so to speak, but it is inseparable from our constitution as human in this world. Because it is prior to any distinction in us between will and intellect, it is immediacy in the order of goodness as well as in the order of truth: it is inspiration as well as illumination. It is an invitation, a continual temptation, to enter freely into the creative-redemptive work of Christ, to con-create ourselves and our world in Christ. The appropriate response to this invitation is simply to live in Christ. Such a life may well be anonymous in its Christianity, but it is not automatic, for it demands a decision for the good and the true, for the human, which is not imposed upon us. This decision is the fundamental moral option, continually before all human beings throughout history and the world. Its universal availability is the universal grace of participation in the Christ, the light of the world. Because we are immersed in a fallen humanity and in a fallen history, we have the mysterious ability to refuse to be creative, to refuse to be free, to refuse to exist in the only order of history which is real, the history of salvation in Christ. There is within us a counter dynamism, an inclination contradictory to that of the instinct of faith. This concupiscence, which according to the Catholic tradition is rather the effect of sin and the temptation to sin than sin itself, is oriented to the nullification rather than the creation of humanity, to the disintegration of those correlations between Creator and creation which are the truth and the reality of man, which are intuited in the instinct of faith. The most devastating disintegration worked by the concupiscent instinct is the isolation of the divine from history and so from the world of men; the cosmos then becomes a place of servitude and death. This is the commonplace of the pagan religions, whose salvation schemes, as those of the philosophical systems which are their heir, require the removal of man from matter and from time. One elected people were delivered, by their worship of the God of history, from this trap; their history is their liturgy, for Yahweh is present to them in the now, this day, forcing their exodus from cosmic servitude into the freedom of the desert, into the responsibilities of freedom. We are today the inheritors of their history; we stand in continuity with it by our worship of their God, the God of history. We are then members of a worshipping community, a community whose history is the history of the discovery of the structure of truly human existence, which is the structure of the worship of the God of history. It must be stressed that we have no other ultimately reliable criteria for free, moral, historical existence than those which this worship has discovered, for this worship is the only proper response to the normative presence of the Lord of history in the midst of his people. All other criteria can be no more than possibilities of thought: those of historical worship are the actuality of creation. This worship is then crucial; it is a struggle, sustained by the creative presence of God in history. It is a struggle for significant, sacramental existence. For this worship and for this significant existence, the bipolarity of human sexuality has been discovered to be of fundamental importance, of an absolutely radical liturgical value.(8) For Judaism, as for the fertility religions which menaced her faith, woman is the symbol of immanence, of nature, but within Judaism this feminine symbolism is not of alienation, but of reciprocity or bipolarity with the masculine, as in the Jahwist creation account, where she is the helpmate of man, or in Proverbs 8, where she is the cooperator with God in the creation of the world. The bi-sexuality of the creation is simultaneous with its goodness: this is a consistent theme from the Jahwist creation account to the late Wisdom literature of the post-exilic period. In particular, the positive value accorded femininity in the Old Testament is equivalent to the rejection of the pessimistic dualism which characterizes the cosmic religions of the pagan world. This was by no means an instant insight; the Old Testament has many traces of the primitive deprecation of woman,(9) but the history of the Hebrew people from the tenth to the first century before Christ is a history of the purification of Judaism from the primitive tendency to see in woman the ancient and ambivalent adversary of the masculine divinity. The value accorded the feminine by the cosmic religions is the expression of their experience of the natural world, ambivalent in its simultaneous threat and promise. The value given woman by the Jahwist religion corresponds to the instinct of faith which is expressed in the affirmation that the world is created good, that it has in it no immanent principle of evil, and therefore, no ambivalence.(10) The Wisdom tradition is explicit. Created Wisdom, described by von Rad(11) as “the mystery inherent in the creation of the world,” as “a voice which came from creation, the voice of the primeval order,” is also “the darling, the pet,” who, present at the creation of the world, is personified as feminine: “she was the dearest child of God, and played with Creation and with men.” Contrasted in Proverbs 1-8 with the seductive harlot, the temptress whose lineaments are clearly drawn from the temple prostitute of Canaanite worship, this created Wisdom is herself a seductress: her voice is addressed to the individual, not to the covenant community. She summons those who would possess her, offering them life; entirely benevolent, evoking and even provoking the acceptance of her gift of salvation, she is Eve to those who seek her, a testimony emanating from creation, the good creation whose primordial order is such that it must be symbolized and personified as woman. This quasi-personal Wisdom speaks with the undifferentiated voice of the primordially feminine: as companion, sister, lover, bride, wife and mother to men, and as the created cooperator with Jahweh in the creation of the world. She speaks not to Israel but to the individual who seeks her, and who is masculine in the seeking. What is sought is life, the summary salvation benefit which is the gift of God alone, mediated by motherhood. To see in this Wisdom the face of Eve, “the mother of all the living,” is no great step, one all but explicit in the Wisdom hymns. The antithesis of this Wisdom is not the male, but the harlot whose temptation is to destruction, to foolishness and death. It is the harlot who repeats the cosmic symbol of the antagonist of the masculine, the demonic feminine, the principle of disorder, of chaos, old ocean and dark night. To follow her is to abandon Yahweh, to enter upon a pagan worship of the principle of death. For the harlot is either sterile or the destroyer of her children: false to Yahweh, she has no life to mediate, for she serves idols who are not God. The Yahwist worship simply transposes the pagan religion into demonolatry, at the some time introducing the true feminine symbolism, the truth which summons one to leave the foolish servitude of cosmic demons, to enter the service of the God of history, the God of the living, not of the dead, who does not enslave but proclaims the year of jubilee. The application of the feminine symbol to the covenant community is equally striking. While feminine Wisdom is primarily oriented toward the individual Hebrew, the feminine symbol which is Israel is primarily oriented to Jahweh, as bride to bridegroom. This relation between the God of the covenant and his covenanted people is too well known to require much illustration here. Some of its most vivid expressions are to be found in the Prophets, in Hosea, Jeremiah, Deutero-Isaiah and Ezekiel.(12) The theme is again insistent: Israel’s infidelity to the covenant is assimilated to the betrayal of a marriage bond; it is adultery, fornication with false lovers, harlotry. The prophets continually summon Israel to return to her first love, to cease her barren prostitution to false gods. There is then a noticeable tension between the feminine imagery of the Wisdom literature and that of the prophets; the latter stress the historical fallenness and degradation of the bridal community of the covenant, while the emphasis or tonality of the Wisdom symbol is eschatological or primordial, with little reference to fallenness. The eschatologically good creation beckons to each man, enticing him to an achievement never wholly realized, the achievement which is his own con-creation of himself,(13) his own integration into the primeval order of creation. The historical symbol of the fallen woman who is the unfaithful Israel does not however bear the same unrelieved condemnation which is visited upon the “alien woman” and the “seductress” of Proverbs 1 and 5; the pessimism of Amos and Hosea gives way in the later prophets to the conviction that Jahweh is intent upon the restoration of his covenanted bride to the innocence and purity of her primordial fidelity. In one of the latest of the Wisdom books we find this bridal Israel theme of the prophetic books resumed; in the Song of Songs the feminine imagery of the good creation and of the redeemed Israel merge in the single vision of the eschatological nuptials of Jahweh and his people, a vision which is also that of Deutero-Isaiah. The historical creation of the Jahwist tradition finally identifies with the cosmic interest of the post-Exilic writers, and the theme of the good creation is given its universal application: creation is salvific, as history is.(14) The feminine symbols combine to express this experience which is Israel’s: the experience of order in history under Jahweh,(15) the Lord of history and of the world. The New Testament further develops this coalescence of the feminine symbols; they now converge upon Mary and the Church.(16) In Colossians, Paul develops the cosmic role of the Christ; by him, Christians are set free of their cosmic servitude to the “principalities and powers,” simply because these, no less than humanity and the universe itself, are created in Christ and so are subordinate to him. The entire created order is assimilated to the Body of which Christ is the head, and in the letter to the Ephesians Paul has come to realize that this relation is marital, for the Christ’s relation of headship to his Body is that of husband to wife. By this life-giving union — for all life belongs to God — the Church is fecundated by the life-giving Spirit, as was Mary, the archetype of the Church. This parallel is brought out first by Luke, then John, and has been the subject of an ecclesial meditation from that time forward: from it has been developed all that the Church has taught of Mary, and necessarily of the Church as well: they are the single locus of the divine presence in the world, of creation and redemption in Christ, and of freedom from the ancient enslavement to cosmic futility. Since the second century, the Fathers have seen in Mary’s virginal relation to God, as bride and as mother, the reality of the created Wisdom of which Sirach and the Psalmist sang; in her “Fiat” they have seen the eschatalogical fidelity of the covenanted bride, the Church, to the New Covenant by which she is “one flesh” with her head, the Christ. Over the centuries the reflex of this meditation, whose ground is already given in Ephesians, has seen that the meaning of the sexual relation is realized only in its lived symbolism of Christ as the head of his Body which is the Church.(17) There has been more than logic at work here: Paul does not reason from the nature the marriage to the nature of the Christ-Church relation. Rather, it is the meaning, the truth, the liturgical significance of sexuality which is given to him concomitantly with the revelation of the unity of Christ with his Church. Paul’s condemnation of extramarital sexual expression is that it is idolatrous, inseparable from false worship. He insists upon this, not as a child of his time, immersed in the idiosyncracies of Judaism despite himself, but as the recipient of a revelation of the order of God to man so vast as to defeat explanation: it must be lived, by a life which is in Christ, a life which shares the experience of order given to Paul in such surpassing measure. For it is an experience of order with which we have to deal, an experience which lives out the instinct of faith to call creation good precisely by symbolizing it as feminine, possessing an intrinsic truth and beauty which is that of daughter, sister, bride and mother: the face of Eve, the mother of the living, as of Mary, the mother of God. It is an experience which has found abominable all sexual expression which is not liturgical, which does not celebrate the saving presence of God to his people. It is an experience which sees, beyond all the long recital of our betrayal of each other and of God, a steadfast love of God for his people which is properly that of Father, Son, Brother and Bridegroom, a relation of love which gives meaning to these human roles, rendering them holy, liturgical, so that to be a man is to worship God by imaging his relation to his creation, as to be a woman is to worship God by imaging the relation to him of his pleroma, the spiendour by which He is present to us, and we to him. This experience is an experience of conversion, an experience given to faith, in and to the community of the faith, through some three millennia of historical discovery, a discovery which has been called by one of the greatest Christian minds of the century an unveiling of the mystery of the etemal feminine,(18) whose ultimate realization is Mary, the Mother of God. It is obvious that any argument for the normative value of this Judaeo-Christian experience of God in history can do no more than describe it: the appeal is to faith, as Rahner has said. Even from such a hasty survey as this, some indication of the profundity of this sexual symbolism can be obtained, and some appreciation of its inseparability from the experience of order which is salvation history, which is the worship of the Lord of History, and whose only adequate articulation is liturgical. This liturgical tradition has found in the masculine-feminine polarity a significance transcending all other signs by which reality may be communicated. The faith-instinct of the Jewish and the Christian people has found no more profound symbol of God’s love for humanity than that which a man should have for his wife, no more profound symbol of the splendour of the good creation than that of feminine beauty, and no more profound symbol of betrayal, the betrayal of the covenant, than marital infidelity. In sum, neither the Old Covenant nor the New can dispense with the holiness of the marriage relation, and from the liturgical significance of masculine and feminine existence. Karl Barth was not wrong to find sexuality to be at the root of our imaging of God;(19) if the creation of man is the apt means by which God expresses himself in the finite, as the Trinitarian theology (20) of Rahner maintains, the conclusion is inescapable. The mystery of God’s relation to humanity in history and in the world is not communicated to us as information: it cannot be conveyed except as an experience of order, the experience whose initial moment is that of a conversion, a conversion which is a transvaluation of the relation between ourselves and the world. This conversion is simultaneous with the exaltation of the feminine, as the symbol of the good creation: we refuse both, if we refuse either. Very simply put, the alternative to the sacramentality of femininity and masculinity is a relapse to a dualistic pessimism, the pessimism which finds the individual human being to have no more than a pragmatic value, to be only a thing whose worth is precisely measured by its fulfillment of a function. If we do not approach our sexuality as revelatory, and therefore as mysterious, bearing a meaning and value which only worship can unveil, we will again be trapped by an ancient dialectic which can give no value to masculinity which is not a suppression of women, and none to femininity which does not conclude to the emasculation of the male. Eliade (21) has illustrated the universal use of the masculine-feminine polarity to depict the radical dichotomies which are instinct to the experience which the ancient pagan liturgies express. These antagonisms are the very structure of a mimetic experience of order which puts no value in the individual or in personal freedom. Private initiative and personal responsibility become thus a defiance of the timeless order established “in illo tempore” by the divinity, an order which, as Gilgamesh learns, has reserved death to men and life to the Gods, or as the creation story in the Enuma elish tells us, an order which charges man with servitude, that the gods might be free. The absolute tensions placed by this experience between the free individual and the society, between experienced reality and discursive reason, between time and eternity, between man and god, are all epitomized in the dichotomy between the masculine (understood as the symbol of order, rationality, divine transcendence) and the feminine (the symbol of chaos, mystery, nature, immanence). Plato’s rationalist attack upon the mimetic understanding of the poets is only an objectification of the instinct of pagan wisdom to defeminize the world: the stifling of history is its goal, Sparta has been its inspiration, and a homosexual sterility its destiny. (23) The correlatives of the secularization of humanity and of human sexuality do not wait to be discovered: the discovery is part of every culture unformed by the Judaeo-Christian experience of order in history. If we do not experience salvation by the Lord of history within our history, we shall surely seek it outside of history, as has every primitive religion apart from Judaism, and as has every rationalist objectification of the pagan experience of disorder in history, of creation as evil. Much has been written and said over the past seven years concerning the problem of what is called “civil religion.” Insofar as every society, every culture, is in search of a remedy for the evils at hand, there is a certain kind of quest for salvation at work in all peoples, at all times. More than most people, the citizens of this nation seek such salvation: from the burdens of poverty, of ignorance, of disease and even of death. But every such quest must decide, if only implicitly, whether the problems which we encounter are those which yield to logic, to technology, to the application of the machine. This decision is one about man, about the source of the evil in his world, about the value of freedom and of history. When the salvation sought is equivalent to a foreclosure of freedom, a moratorium upon human unpredictability and spontaneity, those who seek salvation in this guise are converted to a new experience of order, one incompatible to and fundamentally at war with that which has formed the Western world for some three thousand years. With every such conversion, a new adherent to a new civil religion is gained, and the tensions endemic in a free society are increased. We should not be deceived. If there is no perception of the indecency of reducing human mating to a laboratory event, it is because we are involved in a different experience of order than were the founders of our religious and cultural institutions. This difference is simply a loss of faith: we are no longer able to affirm the revelation, for the symbols by which its truth may be uttered are no longer alive to speak for us and to us. We have turned away from the light, and no longer recognize the splendour of our humanity, we no longer see in ourselves the image of God. Having rejected the symbolic and sacramental significance of the sexuality whose truth is luminous of Jahweh’s relation to his people, we have rejected the fundamental mystery by which we live in history, by which we worship God. For the Christian symbols are true because they are participations in the reality of which they speak: their truth is inescapable in history. It is possible to ignore that truth, but it is not possible to escape the consequences of that ignorance, of that refusal of the Wisdom which the good creation utters. The truth of these symbols is not a matter of information; it cannot be summed up in however prolonged a statement. Their mystery is revealed only to worship; it is given to faith and not otherwise. When that faith is historical, when it is not the mere ritual re-enactment of a cosmic legend or of a cosmic, because equally timeless, philosophy of man, but is rather the participation of the worshiping community in the creative deed of God in history, then the history of the community is the history of its participation in the good creation, and in the Wisdom which is its voice, a voice heard in the streets, not of the faithless and whoring Babylon, but of that Jerusalem which is the Church. It is with that wisdom that we are now concerned: it utters at once the meaning of history, the structure of freedom, and the uniquely valid norm of the human and the moral. This norm, as we have seen, safeguards and is safeguarded by the instinct of faith. By means of this faith instinct, it has become explicit in the Judaeo-Christian salvation history that human sexuality is holy, that it is the profoundly meaningful human structure by which the historical revelation of Jahweh as present to his people is mediated, not as information, but in reality, as reality: the meaning of the feminine is Mary’s mediation, as the meaning of the masculine is Christ’s. Their relation is the revelation of a single mystery, the truth of God and man. Thus the relation between human sexuality and salvation history is reciprocal: only within this relation is sexuality known to be holy, to be significant, and only when it is so valued, can its symbolic power be creative, salvific rather than destructive. Again, there is no matter of logical inference here; we do not deduce the sanctity of the masculine-feminine relation from the revelation, or vice versa. These are given simultaneously and inseparably in what von Rad and Voegelin have referred to as an experience of order in history: we have made that language our own. This experience is an ongoing intuition of the structure of significant existence, of the moral norm. Radically, this is an experience of living in a salvation history, in a benevolent world, the good creation. Its ontological prerequisite is our creation in Christ. Its finality is the building up of the full membership of the Body which is the Church. The Church is then encountered as the truth of that eternal feminine which the pagan seers experienced as the animating principle of nature, which the Old Testament authors found at once in the figure of created Wisdom and in the fallen and redeemed Israel whose paradigm is Eve, and which in the New Testament and the patristic tradition focuses finally upon the Church, and upon Mary as the archetype of the Church. This feminine principle is the created medium of salvation, bridging the abyss between God and man precisely as feminine: to be feminine has no other meaning than to be the pleroma,(24) the splendour, the beauty, the fullness of God’s presence among men, enticing men to their salvation by the bearing of His gifts. In this experience, the value of masculinity pivots upon that assigned the feminine, as the cautionary verses in Proverbs may remind us. The feminine mediation of Jahweh is also the mediation of the revelation of the masculine, which can no longer be self- enclosed, fearful of mutuality, alienated from woman whether by isolation or nullification. The Jahwist has said goodbye to all that, and the record of the Old Testament history is a record of the purification of these symbols from their circumambient pagan context, a purification worked not by reason but by the worship which is also the experience of order. In this experience, the sexual relation is marital, the great sacrament of Christ and his Church. Of all this, enough has been said to point out the basis for believing that such technological rationalizations, secularizations, of human sexuality as in vitro fertilization are simply blasphemous. They convert the value of the feminine to that of a producer of egg cells, a functional definition as inhuman and as suppressive as any known to the ancient idolatries (which at least respected her mystery even in fearing it). They are consequently dismissive of any value in masculinity irrelevant to the process of fertilization. That this will provide even a technological solution to a human problem is open to question: that it will introduce a destructive degradation of the symbols by which we live in history is quite certain. The fact that such technological procedures are now sufficiently commonplace to be matters of public and academic discussion is witness to the presence among us of a new mentality, perhaps not yet dominant, but certainly interested in domination. Its newness is however only with relation to the experience of order which has formed the western world; it is actually the ancient alternative to the worship of the God of history. Its re-emergence has not gone unremarked. Eric Voegelin (25) gave an account of its progressive impact upon our legal and political institutions some twenty years ago; more recently Karl Stern (26) has pointed out its association with the decline of trust in our cultural institutions, as manifested in the writings of half a dozen salient authors since Descartes. For our own inquiry, Leon Kass has spoken to the some effect: We are witnessing the erosion, perhaps the final erosion, of the idea of man as something splendid or divine, and its replacement with a view that sees man, no less than nature, as simply more raw material for manipulation and homogenization. Hence our peculiar moral crisis. We are in turbulent seas without a landmark precisely because we adhere more and more to a view of nature and of man which gives us enormous power and, at the same time, denies all possibility of standards to guide its use. (27) Later in the some article, Kass urges some reliance upon caution and education for protection against the evident danger of the new mentality. Education is sufficiently broad a term as to need some specification. It is axiomatic to decry the equation of education and morality as a mistake of Socrates; yet, as I have read somewhere, we may suppose that Socrates, and Kass, know what any schoolboy knows. For it is true that it is our educational institutions which must bear the blame for the resurgence of the new gnosticism. By institutions I do not especially designate the schools, though it is in their purlieus that most of the more optimistic estimates of technological salvation are heard. For all our cultural institutions have failed notably to make their symbols live and speak. And underlying that failure is a more sombre and personal one. Many of us have lost all experience of our own historical significance, and it is perhaps not too much to say that for all of us that experience is highly dilute; in these circumstances, it is not remarkable that we are unable to communicate effectively our own experience of order. It is usual to refer this loss of conviction to the weight of technological manipulation, but this is simplistic; even such enormous tools as the new generation of computers remain without autonomy; they possess no intrinsic dynamism inimical to man, however enormous their potential. The primary educational institution remains the voice of Wisdom, and the worship which responds to that voice. Our failure is a failure to worship the God of history, to enter effectively into the con-creation of the world. For that worship is the only guarantee we have of being more than meets the eye, more than a rabble of phenomena ripe for rearrangement in the image, and according to the likeness, of that sullen god of a timeless utopia, the philosopher king whose transcendence is our diminution. It is to his foolishness that we must listen, if we will not hear the voice of Wisdom, if we will not heed the instinct of faith. If our technology is not assimilated to the worship of the God of history,(28) it will be because we ourselves have decided, like many before us, to be less than we are, and in the service of that decision, have undertaken our own domestication, which is also our disintegration, our reduction to the integers of which Dr. B. F. Skinner has spoken so well. The human truth is then rendered entirely manageable. The one symbol which resists this dehumanization utterly is that of the human community, the sexual community. When we tamper with this, when we treat the stuff of life as though we were mixing reagents in a bottle, we are in the sanctuary of a false god, whose image is not man, but a cypher. And we shall find in that bottle not a man, but a demon. ENDNOTES 1. Karl Rahner, “Experiment with Man,” Theological Investigations ix, 244-245. 2. James Gustafson, “Genetic Engineering and the Normative View of the Human,” Ethical Issues in Biology and Medicine, ed. Preston Williams, Schenkman Publishing Co., Cambridge, Mass., 1973, 57. 3. Rahner, op. cit., 244-245. 4. Ibid., 251. 5. Karl Rahner, “Christian Humanism,” Theological Investigations ix, 187-243; x, Part Four, “The Church and the World,” 293-388. 6. Edouard Schillebeeckx, Revelation and Theology, ii, Sheed and Ward, 1968, 30-72. 7. Karl Rahner, “Questions of Controversial Theology on Justification,” Theological Investigations iv, 210-218. Rahner’s more recent work, The Trinity, Herder and Herder, New York, 1968, seems to be more amenable to, and even to require, a doctrine of creation in Christ. 8. Gerhard von Rad, Old Testament Theology, i, tr. D.G.M. Stalker, Harper and Row, New York, 1963, 150. 9. Thierry Maertens, La promotion de la femme dans la bible, Casterman, Tournai, 1967, esp. 49 ff. Edouard Schillebeeckx, Marriage: Human Reality and Saving Mystery, Part 1, tr. N.D. Smith, Sheed and Ward, New York, 1965. 10. von Rad, Wisdom in Israel, Abingdon Press, Nashville and New York, 1972, p. 305. 11. von Rad, Wisdom in Israel, 163-175; Old Testament Theology, 447. 12. E.g., Hos 1-3; Jer 2:1-2, 3:1-13, 4:30-31, 5:7-11, 13:20-27, 18:13, 23: 10-11; Is 47, 50: 1-3, 54: 1-17, 62: 1-12, 66: 7-13, Ezk 16, 23. 13. von Rad, Wisdom in Israel, 308-311. 14. von Rad, Old Testament Theology i, 137-139, observes that in Deutero-Isaiah and in the Wisdom tradition in particular, creation is understood to be soteriological; the creation of the cosmos and of Israel are seen almost as coinciding in Is 51:9. 15. Eric Voegelin has established the meaning of this expression, whose contrast is with the experience of order in the cosmos. Each type of order has its peculiar symbolic expression. Voegelin remarks, relative to the Judaeo-Christion experience, For mankind is not constituted through a survey of phenomena by even the most erudite historian, but through the experience of order in the present under God. When finite speculation possesses itself of the meaning of history, philosophy and Christianity are destroyed and existence in the historical form has ceased. Order in History, ii, The World of the Polis, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, La., 1957, 16, 19. 16. Ren‚ Laurentin, Courte trait‚ de th‚ologie mariale, 4e edition, P. Lethielieux, Paris, 1959, provides an indispensable starting point for the study of the Marian theology which is the prime locus for the Church’s meditation upon feminine symbolism. See also Otto Semmelroth, Mary, Archetype of the Church, tr. Maria von Eroes and John Devlin, with an Introduction by Jaroslav Pelikan, Sheed and Ward, New York, 1963; Hugo Rahner, Our Lady and the Church, tr. Sebastian Bullough, O.P., Darton, Longman, Todd, London, 1961; Karl Rahner, Mary, Mother of the Lord, Herder and Herder, New York, 1963, as well as the numerous Marian articles dispersed in the Theological Investigations; Louis Bouyer, The Seat of Wisdom, tr. A.V. Littledale, Pantheon Books, Random House, New York, 1962, and Max Thurian, Mary, Mother of All Christians, Herder and Herder, New York, 1963, for a review of contemporary Marian theology. The most comprehensive dogmatic study is H.U. von Balthasar’s Sponsa Verbi: Skizzen zr Theologie II, Einsiedeln, Johannes Verlag, 1960. 17. Karl Rahner, “Marriage as a Sacrament,” Theological Investigations x, 199-221, esp. 218. 18. Teilhard’s development of this theme is the subject of Henri de Lubac’s L’ternel Feminin, Aubier-Montaigne, Paris, 1967, esp. 179-215, in which the Teilhardian symbol, the “veiled Virgin” is seen as the sign of creation itself, precisely as saivific, and as finally unveiled in Mary. There is far more than metaphor here. 19. Some little digression may be useful here. When Karl Barth asserted, (Church Dogmatics 3/1, 183-206) some twenty years ago, with a good deal of vehemence and some contemporary support, that the creation of man to the image and likeness of God should be referred to the interpersonality of man and woman, he ran counter to the received exegetical opinion, which considers that man’s imaging of God is rather to be found in the dominion given him over the created world. Cf, von Rad, Old Testament Theology I, 136-153, and The Interpreter’s Bible, i, 484-485. More recently, Leo Scheffczyk, Creation and Providence, tr. R. Strachan, Herder and Herder, New York, 1970, 10, has been at pains to point out Barth’s supposed error. The chief argument against Barth’s reading of Gen 1:27 would seem to be that supplied by von Rad: that contemporary paganism understood the image notion, which was a common one, in terms of man’s imitation of divine despotism, and further that the Priestly tradition had a horror of the intrusion of sexuality into Jahweh’s creative deed: this in sharp reaction to the Canaanite mythology. This argumentation seems quite inconclusive. If, as is the case, the cosmic Babylonian creation myths are rejected by the Priestly creation account, which nonetheless has a cosmic rather than a historical emphasis (in contrast to the Jahwist creation story), is not the conversion from dualism which controls the reworking of the pagan understanding of creation also that which accounts for a reworking of the negative valuation of sexuality operative in the Canaanite creation myth? The despotic god of the Babylonian culture necessarily had an antagonistic relation to the recalcitrant — and feminine — principle of immanence; does it really make sense to suppose that the notion of despotic dominion as the specific attribute of Jahweh remains a part of the Priestly tradition? If on the contrary this notion is given a transvaluation appropriate to the Lord of history, of the good creation, so that lordship is no longer despotic, antagonistic to creation, then the idea that the sexual mutuality of man and woman is an imaging of God in his soteriological relation to his creation is hardly inconsistent with the Priestly tradition, particularly inasmuch as its final redaction is had at a time when the Canaanite religion is no longer a vital alternative to Jahwism. In brief. the good creation theme of the Priestly account is simultaneously the abandonment of divine despotism, and of the objectionable content of the sexual symbolism associated with that despotism; this occurs in the conversion process which is equivalent to faith in Jahweh, the lord of history whose relation to his creation, to humanity, to Israel, is seen as marital at an early period: he is a jealous, not a despotic God. The “heiros gamos” of the cosmic mythology has not been abandoned, but transvalued. In consequence, there seems to be a scriptural base for Barth’s assertion. 20. Karl Rahner, The Trinity. 21. Mircia Eliade, Mephistopheles and The Androgyne, Sheed and Ward, New York, 1966. To assert, as Eliade does, the nexus between the flight from history is of course to reject the occasional embarrassment over the sexuality of mankind which we find even in such eminent authorities as Gregory of Nyssa; v. In Cantica Canticorum, homilia vii, P.G. 44, 916b, cited in Gregoire de Nysse, La cr‚ation de l’homme, intro. et trad. de Jean Laplace, S.J.; notes de Jean Danielou, S.J., Editions du Cerf, Paris, Editions de L’Abeille, Lyon, 1943, 56. Gregory reads Gal 3:28 to mean that the eschatologically redeemed creation is sexless. H.U. von Balthasar points out the gnostic roots of this mentality in Liturgie Cosmique: Maxime le Confesseur, tr. L. Haumet et H.-A. Prentout, Aubier Editions, Montaigne, Paris, 1947, 127-150. It nonetheless has had a certain vogue of late: e.g., Wayne Meeks, “The Image of the Androgyne: Some Uses of a Symbol in Earliest Christianity,” History of Religions xii, 3, (Feb. 1974) 165-208. 22. Eric Havelock, Preface to Plato, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 1963. 23. Henri Marrou, The History of Education in Antiquity, Sheed and Ward, New York, 1956, has detailed the close association in classic culture between the devaluation of the feminine, whether in the militarist culture of Sparta or in the philosophy schools of Athens, and the perversion of the male. See esp. ch. 2 and 3. 24. Henri de Lubac. Corpus Mysticum: L’Eucharistie et L’‚glise au Moyen Age. Etude Historique. Deuxieme Edition, Revue et Augmentie. Aubier, Editions Montaigne, Paris, 1949, 139. The author observes of the Pauline notion of the Church, “`Corps,’ c’est aussi organisme, c’est ‚change entre des membres aux fonctions variees et conspirants, et c’est aussi plenitude.” 25. Eric Voegelin, The New Science of Politics, The Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1952, describes a continual degradation of the historical experience of order as written into the constitutive law of the American and European republics over the past two and a half centuries. 26. Karl Stern, The Flight from Woman, Farrar Strauss and Giroux, New York, 1965, finds a comparable decline in Western literature since Descartes, linking it to a decline of the mutuality of the masculine and the feminine in our culture, and to a consequent homosexual emphasis. In this connection, the celebrated vision of Aidous Huxley, as manifest in Brave New World, may be a bit myopic. The possibility that there may be no particular demand for the pneumatic ladies of his utopia is quite real. The anti-utopias envisioned by Orwell and C.S. Lewis are more realistic. 27. Leon R. Kass, “The New Biology: What Price Relieving Man’s Estate?”, Ethical Issues in Biology and Medicine, ed. Preston Williams, 164. 28. Philippe Roqueplo, O.P., “La cr‚ation g‚mit en travail d’enfantement,” La nature: problŠme politique, Desclee de Brouwer, Paris, 1971, 162 ff, suggests the need for such an assimilation. DISCUSSION SATTLER: Don, what do you mean when in the early part of the paper you refer to the predetermined nature of man? KEEFE: It’s difficult to point to an eschatological reality without treating it in a language that makes it sound uneschatological, and therefore, unmysterious. Predetermined means fixed, in the sense that God has created man. Therefore… SATTLER: To be a certain kind of being? KEEFE: Therefore, man is what God has made him to be, and this is determined. It is not open to indefinite change. Man has a structure. It is one which is to be discovered, certainly. It is one which is to be discovered in worship. SATTLER: In other words, his concreation is not open to his arbitrariness? KEEFE: No. He is created in the image of God. That image is a matter of discovery, but it’s also a matter of fact. Does that… SATTLER: It’s a start, I’m sure. But we’re going to have to work at it. KINDSCHI: Don, in your description of human sexuality as the key paradigm for a relationship between God and his people, or between Christ and his Church, how do you explain or how do you fit into that the fact that two of the key developments in the biblical imagery are asexual? Both Eve out of the rib of Adam and Christ from the Virgin Mary, either are asexual. How does that fit into this picture? KEEFE: Let me take the latter one first. Creation is, as understood theologically, as the Father sending the Son to give the Spirit, to give the lifegiving Spirit. Consequently, Mary’s generation of the Christ is virginal insofar as it is a total dedication of her life-giving function to God. This is the ordinary patristic explanation of this. You were saying that, if sexuality is the key symbol, then it should be operative at the moment of creation. Then it would be a symbol of itself. Sexuality is a symbol of creation. It’s a symbol of something other than itself. The incarnation, if we take the creation in Christ seriously, is the radical moment of creation. The focal energy of God’s relation to man is released at the incarnation. If we take creation in Christ seriously, this is what it means. Therefore, the sexual relation is symbolic of that reality which precisely involves femininity as that to which Christ’s humanity is responsive, and that into which his humanity is sent by God. In consequence, then, her femininity is a mediation between God and man. Man precisely is Christ. Now, to answer your question simply would be to go through a whole theory of symbol. What we mean by symbol, in relation to that which is symbolized. But ultimately it would seem that the pagan temptation to use sexuality in its various accounts of the cosmogenesis are rejected because this is in some fashion a violation of the good creation. As soon as you have the various accounts of the sacred marriage in paganism, or more primitively of some divine masturbatory act by which the first pair of gods come into being, you are already supposing a web of relationships which say something about the interrelation to the sexes. The fundamental mystery is the good creation. The symbol points to this, but it is not identified with it. Now, that is about as close as I can get to an answer to a very difficult question, a difficulty I’m sure you’re aware of. THOMAS: If I follow the logic of your argument in terms of the development, the historical development of the man-woman relationship, the meaning that that has in the history, etc., the reflective nature of the divine covenant, it would seem that the logic would lead to a conclusion that there should be no man-made technological interference with the basic natural creative dynamics of this relationship. Now, you can see it, I think, something like “in vitro” embryology where the technology is perhaps more apparent. But if you pulled it back a little bit and think of the issues relating to birth control, say, that you have a technological intervention there as well. Does your argument stand, you might say, as the biblical dogmatic basis against that kind of thing, as well as against other technologiztion? KEEFE: It’s certainly relevant to it. It isn’t dispositive of it. The reason that I restricted this just to the “in vitro” situation is because there you have the sharpest and the clearest case that I know of reducing human sexuality to a function and nothing more. It is, I think, true that a laboratory is an unhistorical environment in that it attempts to make the intrusion of the unpredictable as slight as possible. When one does this there is immediately a refusal of the symbolic truth insofar as that is not reduced to the univocal symbols of mathematics. The notion that sexuality then has a value which is not available to the apparatus in the laboratory is ignored. Now it seems to me that when you suppose that human sexuality can be turned over to such a use that you are treating it in an overall sense as something that is of no more significance, say, than the processes of digestion. It keeps occurring to me that there have been many programs for improving the race. These are almost as old as human history. Attempts to improve the breed by referring its blood lines to divinity, attempts to keep noble blood pure and so on. These are commonplace. And all of them failed. The most recent failure I suppose being that of the Third Reich. They failed because history finally defeated them. They’re inconsistent with the realities of history. And almost always they involve some sort of an attempt to isolate that which is to be controlled from historical reality. A laboratory is about as unhistorical as you can get because its isolation from the contingent is the most complete. And it seems to me when there is a real attempt to produce human life in a laboratory you have already admitted that the contingencies of the human reality of which one deals — and I take it that the fertilized ova of which we are dealing — are human beings. There could be only one reason for putting a human being in an unhistorical environment. That is to subject him or her to total control. That is to deny his transcendence. Now, can this be applied to the question of contraception? I think the question of contraception is a classic instance of an attempt to solve a human historical, liturgical problem without reference to worship. It was thought for reasons of natural law, upon a basis which upon examination seems to be rationalist, that contraception violates the decencies of sexual symbolism. And well it may. But this has not been a matter of discovery. This has been a matter of law. At least we seem to be in a position where it is practically impossible to find a consensus within Catholicism on this point. And the failure of consensus on a point of this importance seems to me to indicate that it has not been permitted to become a matter of discovery by worship. It would seem that if there is an indecency in the sort of contraceptive usages which you refer to, that it would be discovered by decent Christian people who are truly involved in Christian worship and would discover in this worship the same sort of inconsistency between that worship and contraception that Paul discovered between that worship and the deeds of which he is concerned with in the first chapter of Romans. But it isn’t something that is going to be a matter of inference or of argument. The only possible discovery process for the structures of the human norm is historical worship which is an educational process among other things. At least that’s the way it seems to me your question must be answered. McLEOD: When you were talking about sexuality as the symbol of creation, isn’t it, more fundamentally than that, a symbol of love? KEEFE: Well, it’s a good creation. Presumably it’s a creation which is an act of love. McLEOD: And Christianity is really saying what love is, being self-giving, free-giving, creation? KEEFE: The Father sending the Son to give the Spirit, precisely. And this immediately involves a sexual expression of that sending. That is, the incarnation. That is what I mean. I haven’t said this very well, I recognize.
and the Ordination of Women
Father Donald J. Keefe, S.J.
In a paper presented at an ITEST conference held at Fordyce House
two years ago, a theology of sexuality was sketched as a basis
for the consideration of the moral questions posed by the
fertilization “in vitro” of human ova. Such a theology could not
but carry over into other fields of considers e ecumenical
concern. A contemporary focal point for that concern is the much
discussed issue of the ordination of women. If the further
development of that theology in the present essay is to be kept
within reasonable bounds, it must be understood to require as its
preface the Proceedings of the October, 1974 ITEST Conference,
and particularly the article in which its scriptural ground, or
perhaps support, was proposed.(1) Even so, the sum of the present
article cannot amount to more than an introduction to the
questions which such ordination raises and a pointer to the
direction in which their solution lies.
In broadest outline, that earlier paper tied the transvaluation
of cosmic or nonhistorical sexual symbolism,(2) e.g., that of the
Babylonian mythology, to a conversion to the worship of the Lord
of history, a worship which is integral with faith in the
fundamental goodness of creation. More precisely, such faith
causes or is constituted by this transvaluation. The cosmic
religions expressed their ambivalent experience of the universe
in terms of an ambivalent relation between the sexes, a relation
whose liturgical expression variously required priests who were
kingly, and priests who were castrate; virgin guardians of the
temple, and temple prostitutes. The metaphysical expression of
this experience oscillated between a dualist alienation of the
principles of transcendence and immanence, and their monist
identifications.(3) Its supreme poetic integration is the
tragedy,(4) in which human futility and human dignity are found
implacably and eternally opposed.
That cosmic ambivalence found the feminine principle, in all its
manifestations, irreconciliable with that of masculinity; the
exaltation of the one is inevitably the suppression of the other.
Human existence thus experienced and a cosmos thus structured
cannot be called good; their salvation must come from their
dissolution, from the elimination of those antagonisms which are
encountered universally.(5) The experience of all qualification
of reality and of all differentiation as injustice, as strife and
pain puts limits upon what salvation can mean. From this cosmic
point of view, the escape from evil, from the fallenness of
things, is by deliverance from all qualitative differentiation.
The religious, and later the theoretical, explorations of this
salvation found that two modalities were possible to it: the
masculine one of absolute transcendence, the transcendence of an
unqualified self, and the feminine one of an absolute immanence,
the immanence of the absolute community. In either mode an utter
serenity, an unqualified consciousness is attained; the past is
concluded and the future foregone in an intuition of the real
which refuses value to whatever is resistant to undifferentiated
unity. This vision has been competitive with Christianity from
its beginnings, and continues to be in our own day.(6)
The faith of the covenanted people of Yahweh in the goodness of
historical creation, in the goodness of the covenanted history of
Israel, was simultaneously a refusal to accept the cosmic
conflict between transcendence and immanence, between God and his
creation. This faith was identical with an experience of order in
history under Yahweh’s lordship. Within this covenant experience
evil was not encountered as a blind inevitability in the
universe; rather it was experienced as the result of a free
refusal of Yahweh’s good creation. Such a refusal could not avoid
a return to the cosmic religion, lived out in a pagan use of
sexual symbols. No longer expressive of the good creation, such a
use was seen as unholy, as whoring and fornication, and at the
same time as idolatry. The prophetic condemnation of this
infidelity to Yahweh condemns it as adultery, for Yahweh is
understood to be in a marital relation to his people, to the good
creation formed by his continual presence to it as the Lord of
history. By this marital presence, which knows no primal
ambivalence, Yahweh affirms the immanent good of his creation in
a word which the New Testament knows to have been irrevocably
given and uttered into the good creation.(7) That word is his
covenant, the definitive institution of a free people whose
freedom is their history, their worship of the Lord of history.
In this worship they are delivered from slavery to the cosmic
powers through the continual offer of a future which transcends
their past, and in which they can be sustained by him alone. His
word is not uttered in vain; it evokes the created response which
is wisdom, the splendor and fulness of his creation. This
response the Old Testament recognizes to be feminine; by this
insight the cosmic notion of the feminine is transvalued, and the
new realization enters, through the appropriation process which
is the worship of Yahweh, into the reassessment of the marital
This process is impeded by the fallenness of the covenanted
people, who hesitated then as now before the demands of
historical existence. Their fallenness is portrayed in the
prophets by the imagery of a woman unfaithful to her marriage
vows who turns away from Yahweh, the giver of life, toward
sterility and death. But the prophetic protest against Israel’s
and Judah’s sin, however concerned with the threat of divorce and
abandonment by Yahweh, concludes in the later books with the
assurance of his forgiveness and the final consummation of
Yahweh’s covenant with his bridal people. Out of this struggle
emerged a consciousness of the strict connection between the good
creation, the covenant, and the marital relation: all of these
involve the same conversion, the same transvaluation, the same
historical existence, the same faith.
Thus baldly summarized, the Old Testament symbolism announces a
reversal of the pagan assessment of the masculine-feminine
polarity: that polarity is now the structure of the creation
which is good, and the bisexuality which once signalized the
ambivalence of the finite world becomes the symbol of the
reciprocity of God’s love for the people he has made his own, and
their love for him. As this is seen to be the meaning of the
holy, so also the marital relation is transformed, to become a
religious sign and realization of the covenant which grounds
it.(8) In this transformation, the world ceases to be an
ambivalent reflection of masculine value and feminine disvalue;
that ancient antagonism is concluded. The masculine henceforth is
so by a creative and life-giving love, not by isolation from or
supression of a destructive femininity, while the feminine is so
by her mediation of that love, not by subordination to an alien
power. Nor is this symbolism dispensable, as peripheral to
Judaism, for it is integral to the revelation itself; Yahweh is
known only in his election of his people, and that elective love
This Old Testament use of marital symbolism is given its highest
development in the Pauline letters, particularly in Ephesians,
whose marital doctrine is rooted in Gen 2:24, “Therefore a man
leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and
they become one Flesh.”(10) In this letter Paul integrates the
First and Second Adam theme of Rom 5 and 1 Cor 15, the Church as
Body theme of 1 Cor 15, the tangled intimation of the sexual
bipolarity of the human image of God which we find in I Cor 7 and
11, and the passing reference in 2 Cor 11 to the Church as the
Bride of Christ in an unexplored comparison to Eve. His struggle
to express the truth he had received culminates in a contrapuntal
theology of the New Creation, the New Man and the New Bride whose
Head purifies her by the sacrifice of his body and blood, by
which sacrifice he is “one flesh” with his body.(11) In this New
Creation Christ is the incarnate image of the unseen God; the
letter to the Colossians puts him at the center of the universe
and of humanity. But he is thus Image and Creator as Head of the
Church, his Bride; he is Image as sacrifice, as priest, as the
second Adam to her whom the patristic reflection designated the
second Eve. By this bipolarity Christ is incarnate, and Image.
Luke adds a further modulation to this marital symbolism, in the
parallel accounts of the descent of the Spirit upon Mary, whereby
she becomes the “Theotokos,” and upon the apostles at Pentecost,
where, in what may have been a celebration of the New Covenant, a
commemoration of the body and blood of the sacrifice, the Church
comes to be.(12) The patristic meditation upon the interrelation
of these themes has found in Mary’s virginal motherhood of our
Lord the antitype of the Head-Body relation which constitutes the
Church: it is by Christ’s mission from the Father that his Spirit
inspires at once the freedom of Mary’s “Fiat” and the New
Creation within her body, a child whose masculinity was conceived
by her immaculate response to God’s elective love.(13) By Mary’s
free worship, the New Covenant is given, and the New Israel is
formed, in and to whom God is definitively present, because made
man. The masculine-feminine dialectic is identical in Acts: the
descent of the Spirit of Christ creates the Church in a moment of
ecstatic freedom whose prius is the Eucharistic immanence of the
risen Christ. The “one flesh” of Mary’s conception of her Lord is
identically the “one flesh” of the Church’s celebration of her
Head, the sacramental consummation of the New Covenant which she,
in the integral freedom of her worship, conceived.
The theological development of these themes has found in Gen 2:24
the summary of the New Creation, the New Covenant, the New Adam
and the New Eve, “Una Caro.”(14) There also, inchoate, is the
charter of all Christian sacramentalism, the revelation that
God’s creative freedom is most powerfully exercised in the
creation of our own free response to him, a creation in and of
the Church by the presence in it of His Son. This sacramental
structure of reality, of the good creation which is created in
Christ, is the warrant for Christian freedom and the basis for
Christian morality: it provides the meaning and the significance
of human life and history. This meaning, this value and truth, is
not abstract, not a matter submitted to the judgment of
scholarship and theory. It is a gift, not a necessity of thought,
and it is given concretely in the life of worship which is our
existence in Christ., our communion in the ‘one flesh’ of his
union with his Church.
Within the communion of Roman Catholicism, ordination has
traditionally been reserved to men. This reservation was first
put in question within the less tradition-oriented Protestant
communions; the question is now raised by Catholic theologians.
Because the sacramental principle is so integral with the Church,
any theological discussion of it is inevitably also an
ecclesiology. Disputes over the ordination of women tend to
become disputes over the nature of the Church, and thus to range
beyond the limits of the initial subject matter. In fact, the
ordination of women is often advocated as the implication of a
more fundamental argument.
A most instructive development of the ecclesiological and
sacramental theology which is found consistent with the
ordination of women has been presented in a recent article by
Edward Kilmartin.(15) Kilmartin has been teaching and writing in
this field for some twenty years; his theological credentials are
of a very high order. It may not be too much to say that no more
cogent statement of the theses underlying the advocacy of women’s
ordination is available in English.
The basic concern of Kilmartin’s article is the inadequacy of the
“ex opere operato” doctrine of the Eucharistic worship. He finds
this device employed in such a fashion as to disintegrate the
organic unity of Eucharistic worship; specifically, it reduces
the role of the laity in the congregation to mere passivity while
reserving to the consecrating priest the substance of the
worship. By way of corrective, Kilmartin examines the meaning of
the Church’s apostolicity, and concludes that this meaning is to
be derived from the fundamental mode of the immanence of the
Risen Christ in the Eucharistic community. Kilmartin understands
this fundamental presence of Christ to be a presence by faith.
This faith is of course caused by the gift of the Spirit, a gift
given by the risen Christ. The Spirit inspired in the apostles
that faith which is the faith of the Church; the Church is made
to be Church by this faith, the first effect of the presence of
the Spirit. The faith of the apostles is then a secondary
consequence; Kilmartin understands them to be dependent upon the
prior faith of the Church. Their apostolic office’ is
consequently a participation in the power of the Spirit only as
this power is mediated to them by the Church: they participate
only indirectly in the priesthood of Christ, as do all other
Christians. Thus understood, apostolicity is not a ‘character’ or
an ‘office’ or a ‘power’ distinct from the one gift of the
Spirit, mediated by the Church, which is faith.
There is no question then of an ontological reality passed on
from the apostles to their successors by the sacrament of orders
in such wise that any bearer of the apostolic character is
dependent for that character upon a line of direct succession by
ordination from one of the apostles upon whom that office first
rested, whether by the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost, or by
a mission from the risen Christ. Rather, office in the Church is
understood now to be a function delegated to an office holder by
the local Church in which apostolicity primarily resides. This
view of office as functional rather than as ontological removes
from it any intrinsic characteristic which the Church must
consider as visibly and historically constitutive for Eucharistic
worship and thus for the Church itself. Instead it is the
Church’s faith, seen as a spiritual “anamnesis” of the sacrifice
of the Cross, which is constitutive for the worship as for the
Church; absent this “anamnesis”-faith, there is no Eucharist, no
Body of Christ, no presence of Christ, no Church. If the
“anamnesis” is given, no particular ordination ritual may be
insisted upon as necessary for the Eucharist, for Eucharistic
presence is by faith, not by an “ex opere operato” effective
consecration by a priest of the bread and wine of the sacrifice.
The radical consequence of this theology is that the Church is
not caused by the sacramental-historical event of Christ’s
sacrificial relation to the Church in and by which he is
sacramentally present as at once priest and sacrifice. Rather,
the Church is caused, created, by the presence of the Spirit sent
by the risen Christ, who is ‘not here.’ The ontological
Eucharistic presence is identified with faith.
Kilmartin draws a number of conclusions from this notion of
apostolicity; they are those already familiar to the Christianity
of the Reformation. They are (1) Priestly character can no longer
be considered the power to consecrate, for the functional nature
of the priesthood excludes such a power; (2) Apostolic office is
required, not for the Church’s liturgy, nor because the power of
orders makes the priest the direct representative of Christ,
“alter Christus,” but because the priest must be linked
historically to an office instituted by Christ for stewardship
over the faith; (3) The role of the priest in the Eucharistic
liturgy is the ritual expression of the faith of the Church;
apart from this faith there is no Eucharist; (4) There can be no
ordination except to a function in a local Church; all absolute
ordination to the Church at large is excluded; (5) The priest
cannot distribute the fruits of the Mass, because he is not an
“alter Christus”; (6) Protestant Eucharists cannot be judged
invalid for failure of valid orders; they must be judged only in
terms of the relation they signify and symbolize between “the
comprehensive ecclesial reality” and the Eucharist; (7) There can
be no basic objection to the ordination of women, since priests
represent directly not the Christ but the one Church which,
according to Gal 3:28, transcends all masculine-feminine
distinction; (8) The pope is not the vicar of Christ in the sense
of effectively playing the role of Christ.
The logic of Kilmartin’s reasoning is unassailable; once the
original concession is made, the conclusions he arrives at are
inevitable, as are others which he does not pursue. When the
presence of the risen Christ to the Church, by which the Church
is created, is understood to be a presence by faith, there is in
view an ecclesiology completely different from that which
understands the Church to subsist and be caused by the immanence
in her of the risen Lord as the unfailing consequence of her
visible and historical worship. In the technical language of
classical sacramental theology, Kilmartin’s theory denies the
infallible efficacy of the sacramental sign (“sacramentum
tantum”) and as a necessary consequence denies the infallible
effect (“res et sacramentum”) of that sign. All saving efficacy
of the Cross is now detached from any free human activity save
that of Jesus on the Cross, and even the efficacy of the Cross is
no longer referred to any contemporary historical event or
structure. The Christian’s worship is now reduced to an absolute
simplicity: that “anamnesis” of the Cross which is without any
identifying characteristics which might distinguish it from
non-worship. The refusal of the “ex opere operato” efficacy of
the sacramental sign (i.e., the denial of the distinct reality of
the “res et sacramentum,” whether the baptismal or priestly
character, the event of absolution, the sacrifice of the Mass as
the re-presentation of the Cross — in brief the denial of the
reliable historicity of Christian worship) rejects the intrinsic
value of all human and historical reality. Any alternative
inevitably tends toward a vainglorious theology of the Church
triumphal, a theology which does not understand how the
significance of the Cross must include the denial of our own
For Kilmartin then,, the reformation of Catholic Eucharistic
worship requires its being telescoped: the sacramental sign
(“sacramentum tantum”) is dispensable because without any
intrinsic significance and without any spiritual and creative
efficacy; it then follows that there is no sacramental effect of
such a sign, an effect which itself signifies and causes union
with Christ but is not itself that union (i.e., no “res et
sacramentum”). All that remains is the Cross of Christ and the
salvation which it causes. Christ’s deed empties human history of
meaning, instead of filling it with meaning; His deed is
discontinuous with all of ours in this life, doomed as our lives
are to complete inefficacy, for without him we can do nothing,
and he is not here but in his Kingdom, the only “res sacramenti.”
The denial of the good creation which this theology entails is
obvious. We should not then be surprised that attached to it is
the refusal of the marital symbolism by which the Old Testament
and the New have known and uttered the goodness of creation.
The union of the faithful with Christ can no longer be understood
in Kilmartin’s theology as the union of the Head and the Body,
for such a comprehension, native to the classical theology, rests
upon the supposition that marriage is a sacrament, a historical
sign of worship whose unfailing effect, the marriage bond (“res
et sacramentum”), is a sign of the greater mystery to which it
can only point, the union of the faithful in Christ. That the
marriage bond, with its exclusivity, its indissolubility, its
sexual bipolarity, is a sacrament means at a minimum that Christ
is to his Body as bridegroom to bride. The classical theology
reinforces this relation by its insistence upon the historical
immanence of the sacrifice of Christ in the historical Church.
The marital dialectic of the Eucharistic ‘one flesh’ is
eliminated with the elimination of all concrete presence of the
sacrificed and sacrificing Christ to his Body, to the Bride for
whom the sacrifice is offered and by which she is created through
the gift to her, in her history, of the Spirit. That dialectic
falls within the condemnation of “ex opere operato” historical
efficacity of all sacramental signs, whether marital or
Eucharistic. Head and Body are now blended in a unity
transcending all masculinity and femininity (we are referred to
Gal 3:28), a unity which must become a logical identity as soon
as the inability of any historical and intrinsically
differentiated symbol to signify it sacramentally is seriously
accepted. Of this Christ-faithful union the most complete union
fallen humanity knows has nothing to say, being utterly
transcended by it. Sacramental signs have been reduced to a
pragmatic gesturing, of some social and psychological value, but
without any intrinsic relation to our salvation, for that faith
has no historical expression which may be relied upon. This
isolation of ritual from any significance, from any efficacy, is
the hallmark of the decadent scholasticism of the 14th and 15th
century; its rejection of all secondary causality prepared the
way for the ‘total corruption’ pessimism of the Reformation: the
road is a well-travelled one.
As Kilmartin observes, his ecclesiology requires that the one
Church “transcend all masculine-feminine distinction.” Once the
sacrifice of the Mass is dismissed by the reduction of the
presence of Christ in the Church to a presence by faith, all
concrete qualification of historical human existence loses
religious value, because every such qualification stands in
contradiction to the ineffable “Una Sancta,” the Church which has
no immanence in the historical humanity it utterly transcends:
absent the Head, absent also the Body. The antihistorical cosmic
salvation is restored, again androgynous, the nullification
rather than the fulfillment of creation in the Image of God.(17)
Such an ecciesiology makes of the Christ an “Uebermensch” whose
transcendence is rationalized; no longer in mysterious union with
his immanence, his transcendence is controlled by an inexorable a
priori logic which forbids such immanence. His unique sacrifice
submits to the same logic, to become the nullification rather
than the sustenance and support of our historical significance,
our worship. Once the proposition is accepted that the sacrifice
of Jesus the Christ on the Cross admits no representation in the
Mass, this cosmic nullification of history is already in effect.
The event of the Cross then has the mythic quality of an event
“in illo tempore,” a moment entirely discontinuous with our
Whether such a theology as Kilmartin has offered is always and
everywhere satisfactory to those who advocate the ordination of
women may be doubted; certainly some would consider their
ordination consistent with the traditional notion of the
priesthood. But it is upon notions such as his that most
systematic justifications for the ordination of women rest;(18)
at a minimum they play down the sacrificial aspect of the
priestly office as the corollary of the contention that the
priestly role is not that of an “alter Christus,” and therefore
not limited to men. Rather, the priest should be understood as
“alter ecclesia,” as Kilmartin has suggested; sometimes one hears
“alter Spiritus.” With whatever accent the redesignation is
proposed, the meaning of the Catholic worship is transformed: the
Mass, the Eucharistic celebration becomes a faith-response to the
Event “in illo tempore” which voids history of significance, the
event of the Cross. The response which is fit is thereby
problematic, for it can be annexed to no effective sign: the new
notion of worship cannot permit sacramental efficacy. We begin to
hear again echoes of the late medieval dissolution of all
experienced meaning by means of logical analysis, a dissolution
which so separated the elements of reality as to deprive the
created world of immanent value as of transcendent significance,
and so of mediation of God. Upon this we cannot delay, save to
observe that the decision to reduce all worship to faith can rest
only upon a reduction of all human life in history to
insignificance. If this be the remedy for such exaggerations as
have been foisted upon the sacramental worship of Roman
Catholicism, one cannot but wonder at the diagnosis.
That Kilmartin does not push the logic of his reworking of the
Eucharist to its cosmic extremity is clear enough; neither did
the “sanior pars” of the Reformation, but the objections to such
extrapolation are themselves irrational, as the Calvinists
pointed out to the Lutherans, and the sacramentarians to the
Calvinists. When theology does not find its unity in the
historical tradition of the Church, by which the revelation is
mediated, that unity will be found in the ideal immediacy of
God.(19) Only the former position is Catholic; the latter is
cosmic, founded upon the logical isolation of God from man which,
in default of the historical revelation, is understood to be
ontological as well. Between the Catholic and the cosmic there is
no bargaining space. When it is urged that the theological
principle which travels under the tag of “ex opere operato” has
served only to corrupt the Eucharistic worship of the Church, the
appropriate therapy would appear to be the renewal of the primacy
of the reality which is to be understood over the speculative
devices by which theologians have managed to misunderstand it.
One cannot reasonably abandon the ecclesial tradition because it
has been misunderstood by theologians or liturgists; to do so is
to make the same mistake against which the original complaint had
been lodged. It is really not possible to restore the true
function of the lay congregation in the Eucharist by unfrocking
the priest if the reason for so doing is that his performance is
a nullity in any event: what is left to be presided over? Are
women then to be ordained on the grounds that they are no more
futile than men?
The most immediately appealing objection to the restriction of
orders to men is that it is unjust, that it entails a religious
subjugation of women, and their ontological subordination: in
brief, that this practice, however time-honored, amounts to an
indignity. The charge is a serious one, but its correctness is
not self-evident, except on grounds of a cosmic egalitarianism.
These have been found wanting, not applicable to the human
reality; the good creation by whose goodness justice is given its
Christian meaning, is a rejection of the egalitarian cosmos in
which all differentiation is accounted unjust.(20) If we are to
take the charge of injustice with that seriousness which it
merits, we must place it in a Christian frame of reference, that
of the Eucharistic celebration.
This is the celebration of the definitive presence of the Lord of
history in his people, the liturgical promulgation of the Good
News of the definitively Good Creation whose goodness is by the
Trinitarian mission of the Son and the Spirit into the world.
This sending of the Son by the Father, and the Spirit by the
Father and the Son, is not distinct from the creation of the
world. If we are truly to understand what it is we celebrate, it
is necessary to rid our imaginations of the exaggerated reading
of Anselm which later theology accepted in the distinction
between a “natural” creation by the One God, and a subsequent
Trinitarian presence in the world simply “propter peccatum.”(21)
The mistake of this theology was that it made the Incarnation of
the Son merely incidental to the world of man and to his history,
and reduced the role of the Spirit to one of repair, rather than
admit the creativity the liturgy has affirmed of Him. But the
Christocentric theology which began with Scotus finds it
impossible to maintain the distinction which Thomas accepted
between a natural creation “ad imaginem,” and a supernatural
“recreatio”: the Creator and the Christ are one God: as
incarnate, Christ is also his Image, the adequate utterance into
creation of the truth of God. This truth is not information about
an abstract deity, but the truth of God’s relation to his
creation. This truth is the revelation, concretely uttered into
the world at the moment of Mary’s acceptance. But truth and
reality cannot be distinguished: if the truth of creation is
concrete in the Christ, so also is the reality of creation: His
lordship, His revelation and his creation are the some, his
headship and his imaging.
The good creation which is actual in Christ is not then to be
thought of as an object or thing “placed outside its causes” as
an older theology expressed it in quite nominalist terms. The
victory of Christocentrism is required by the doctrine of Mary’s
Immaculate Conception, in which Christ’s grace is understood to
be effective in history prior to the Incarnation, and effective
precisely as creative. His Lordship transcends all time, and all
time is meaningful, historical time only by that Lordship,
through which its discrete moments are unified and valorized. His
lordship is similarly transcendent to space, making it a world;
to humanity, making it the people, the Church; in all its
exercise, his transcendence is effective by his immanence. He is
the creator-redeemer, present in his creation as Image, by a
communication which is “ex nihilo,” without any antecedent
possibility. His presence is so total as to be in personal
identity with himself, not the suppression of any human being by
its subordination to his divinity, but the constitution of his
own humanity in the evocation of the integrally free affirmation
of it in that acme of worship which is Mary’s conception of her
Lord. Her affirmation is constitutive for his imaging; precisely,
it is the constitution of his masculinity, which was not imposed
upon her, but conceived by her in untrammelled freedom as the
total expression of the perfection of her worship, as her
femininity is that in which the Good creation worships, the
wisdom and loveliness by which it glorifies God in the joyful
celebration of the presence of the Lord.
It is this dialectic within creation, now a fallen creation, that
Ephesians 5:22ff describes. Christ’s lordship, his presence in
creation, is his submission to sin and death, and the sacrifice
of the Cross, at once the triumphant vindication of his creative
mission from the Father, of his obedience and of his Lordship,
and the pouring out of his Spirit upon his Bride, the second Eve,
the Church itself, “societas qua inhereamus Deo,” caused by the
offering of his body and his blood. As Mary is intelligible only
within the masculine-feminine polarity by which she is
“theotokos,” the Church is intelligible only through the polarity
by which she is “Sponsa Christi,” continually redeemed by his
sacrifice, continually rejoicing in, celebrating the Good News of
the Good Creation which is in his Image. The reality of his
presence is her food and drink, her daily bread. As Christ is the
Christ by his total self-giving, the Church is Church by her
response to the gift, the worship by which she mediates the more
abundant life he died to give us. In this mediation, the
distribution of the bread of life, she is the second Eve, taken
from the side of Jesus on the Cross, the second Adam. It is as
priest and as sacrifice that Christ is present to the Church; it
is by his sacrifice that the Church is designated the Body of
which he is the Head. The Eucharistic Body which the Church
distributes and by which it lives is the one flesh of her union
with her Lord. If we admit the historicity of this union, we must
admit the historicity of its polar elements, and recognize with
Paul that it is in this union that the full value of human
sexuality is to be found; this is what the sacramentality of
marriage means. Nothing in the relation between Christ and the
Church is unjust, for both exist by their total affirmation of
the other; in this mutuality the Good Creation is actual in its
imaging of God.
Does the Eucharistic worship in which this relation is concrete
require the altereity between Church and alter Christus which the
classical view of apostolicity supposes to be essential to the
Eucharist? Does it require a sacramental representative of the
Head, in order that his sacrifice be sacramentally offered, and
his,Body sanctified by communion in one flesh with him? The
affirmative response which the sacrificial and event-character of
the Eucharist requires does not at first glance force the
conclusion that women should not be ordained, however much it may
suggest it. If Christ’s masculinity is inseparable from his
relation to the Church, it is evidently appropriate that the
priest who stands in his place in the Eucharistic celebration
should be male. But is it necessary? Does masculinity enter into
the very sign-value of the Eucharistic consecration, of the words
of institution, by which the sacrifice of the Cross is
re-presented? To assert such an integration of masculinity with
the priesthood is to assert also that human sexuality, masculine
or feminine, is integral with the personal existence in Christ
which is personal participation in the Church’s worship. This
integration is the fundamental assertion of Eph 5:21-33, an
assertion not in tension with that of Gal 3:28.(22) The latter
speaks of the full equality of all human beings in Christ; to
construe this as removing all religious significance from
masculinity and femininity is to presuppose that our unity in
Christ is unqualified, undifferentiated, which Paul notoriously
denies. Whatever heretofore undiscovered meanings exegesis may
find in Gal 3:28, Paul’s enlistment in unisex will not be among
them. But it is in the Letter to the Ephesians that the
sacramentality of our sexual bipolarity is assured, by the
discovery of the meaning and significance of sexual love in the
relation between Christ and his Church. This Pauline
understanding of marriage is grounded in the ‘one flesh’ of Gen
2:24;(23) it does not at all depend upon the sentence passed on
the fallen Eve. For Paul, the full meaning of Gen 2:24 is found
in the relation of Christ to his Church; in this relation,
marriage has its ground, as from it masculinity and femininity
draw their value and significance. These are indispensable to the
New Testament as to the Old, to the good creation in the image of
God, and to the New Creation in Christ.
The citation of Gen 2:24 in Ephesians 5:31 establishes the
continuity of Paul’s theology of marriage with that of the Old
Testament, wherein it was seen to be holy with that holiness
which belongs to the unfallen condition of humanity: sexual
bipolarity belongs to the Good Creation.(24) Paul merely takes
this insight and adapts it to the New Creation in Christ: the
relation of Christ, the Head, to his Body which is the Church
reflects the Old Testament covenantal relation between Yahweh and
his people. What was there implicit is now explicit: the meaning
of marriage, in which the truth of sexuality is given its
concrete and historical expression, is a matter of mystery, to be
discovered in its wellspring, the mutuality of Christ and the
Church, in which the full meaning of masculinity and femininity
is given, and given in the Revelation whose truth is
appropriated, not by human cleverness, but only in worship. Only
thus is its mystery respected, and the full significance of human
sexuality realized into history.
Paul has no difficulty in expressing the sacrificial nucleus of
Christ’s marital relation to his Body, the Bridal Church. He has
no difficulty in asserting the full equality of husband and wife;
they are to be mutually submissive, each seeking the good of the
other, without any ontological superiority on either side. Nor is
there much difficulty today in seeing that the covenantal
relation which must govern the Church’s bridal response to the
Christ is also the norm for the wife in marriage; her virtue,
like her husband’s, is covenant virtue. Our whole problem lies in
language, in finding words responsive to the truth of the marital
relation thus derived. All our language is tainted by its cosmic
origins, and by our penchant for rationalization. Paul’s language
can be understood only when one keeps firmly in mind that its
meaning is governed not by ordinary usage or by ordinary common
sense; these are not in service of the revelation which he
serves. Paul’s use of such antagonistic words as fear, submission
and the like, to describe the appropriate reaction of the
Christian wife to her husband is entirely misunderstood when it
is forgotten that we do not know what this language means in any
adequate sense.(25) We do know that Paul is neither a dualist nor
a monistic egalitarian; he insists at once upon the full
equality, the full human dignity, of both sexes, and also insists
upon their difference and irreducibility. This is simply
incomprehensible to our ordinary and quite pagan way of thinking,
as the history of theology shows quite plainly. There is no room
here for an examination of the history in the Old and New
Testaments of Paul’s language; it is evident enough that such
words are used in relation to the old Israel and the New without
any consequent demonization of Yahweh or of his Messiah, although
this use involved a complete reassessment of their meaning. One
may then assert the real difference in the masculine and the
feminine modes of worship in the Church without placing a greater
ontological value in one than in the other; only in a cosmic
religious context does qualitative differentiation imply
Nor is this qualitative differentiation between man and woman of
only occasional significance; it characterizes our creation and
our existence. It is not simply by a violation of the marriage
bond that one profanes the sacramental significance of one’s
sexuality, but by whatever expression of sexuality that
contravenes the meaning which is revealed in Christ’s relation to
the Church, and the Church’s reciprocal relation to Christ. This
is the foundation of Paul’s condemnations of promiscuity; it
the “Pauline privilege” as well. We are members of the
Body as masculine or as feminine, not as members of a
qualitatively indifferent fellowship; there is no aspect of our
worship, or of our existence “in Christ” which is neuter, in
which our sexuality is without significance and sacramentality.
If it be true that masculinity and femininity are thus
sacramental, and that all human existence is engaged in this
signing, it must follow that the only paradigms by which the
mystery, the meaning, of masculinity and femininity may be
approached are those provided by the marital relation between
Christ and his Church, between the Head and the Body, a polarity
intrinsic to the New Covenant, to the New Creation, to the
imaging of God. The appropriation of this sacramental truth is
identical to the worship of the Church, for in and by this
worship the Good News which is preached and celebrated is no more
or less than the truth of humanity which is revealed in Christ.
No one can enter into this worship except as a man or as a woman,
as the bearer of an existential meaning which is holy, and whose
affirmation is inseparable from one’s prayer. The content of this
affirmation is the self, which is uttered, not to a neutral and
merely reciprocal Thou, but to another mystery by whom one’s own
is itself affirmed in an utterance which is not repetitive but
responsive to oneself. In this mutuality, that of the Covenant,
the meaning of masculinity is complete in Christ’s sacrificial
relation to the Church, and the sacramentality of every masculine
existence is tested by its conformity to that model. The meaning
of femininity is complete in the Church, and the sacramental
truth of all feminine existence and worship is tested by its
conformity to that model. There has been very little attention
paid to the historical content of this sacramentality, even in
Catholic theology, and it is evidently not possible to make up
for that neglect by any less strenuous device than a thorough
re-examination of the entirety of the Catholic tradition:
scriptural, patristic, liturgical, and also cultural. But short
of that endeavor, we are not entirely ignorant, not entirely
controlled by stereotypes. The Catholic insistence upon the
sacramentality of masculinity and femininity rests upon the
Catholic faith in the historical actuality of the Head-Body
relation of the sacrificing and sacrificed Christ to the Church
in the event of the Eucharistic worship. If this sacrificial
Head-Body relation is not actual in the here and now of our
worship, then the marital relation has nothing to signify, and
sexuality becomes religiously unimportant, deprived of
sacramentality, as all our worship is deprived. Reduced to faith,
no expression of our worship has any intrinsic historical
importance, and no problem exists with regard to the ordination
of women, or indeed with regard to anything else, insofar as
intrinsic structure and value are concerned. Much of contemporary
moral theology is already embarked upon this path. But if we
reject this nihilism, admit the transcendent importance of being
a man or a woman, then the other consequences of sacramental
realism “ex opere operato” also follow; they are in brief the
negatives of those which Kilmartin s drawn and to which we have
already referred. Particularly, the sacramentality of feminine
existence and worship is that of the historical Church, “alter
ecclesia,” which cannot be identified with or assimilated to the
worship of the consecrating and sacrificing priest, “alter
Christus,” in the Eucharistic celebration; the alternative is
that merger of Christ and his Church which would make of them one
nature, “mia physis.” But between this monophysitism and the “una
caro” of the marital symbolism which celebrates rather than
supresses the dignity of sexuality, there is all the difference
which separates the Judaeo-Christian faith in the goodness of the
historical creation from all its counterfeits and from their
devaluation of the humanity which God made in his image, as of
the history through which the good creation is redeemed. Many
voices now urge this devaluation, not least those advocating the
ordination of women to the priesthood. If as seems to be the
case, such a devaluation of human sexuality and human history is
integral to that advocacy, it must follow that such ordination
cannot take place within the Catholic Church.
1. D. Keefe, “Biblical Symbolism and the Morality of “in vitro”
Fertilization,” Proceedings, ITEST Conference on Fabricated Man,
Oct., 1974; reprinted in “Theology Digest” (Winter, 1974)
2. M. Barth, “Ephesians: Translation and Commentary on Chapters
4-6″ (Anchor Bible, vol. 34a) Doubleday and Company, Inc., Garden
City, New York, 1977, 687.
3. P. Tillich, “Systematic Theology,” 3 vols., University of
Chicago Press, Chicago, Ill., 1951-63, I, 23lff.
4. Werner Jaeger, “Paideia: The Ideals of Greek Culture,” 3
vols., tr. Gilbert Highet, Oxford University Press, New York,
1965, 1, 237-2-85; Tillich, op. cit., III, 92.
5. Werner Jaeger, Op. cit., 110, 156f wherein appears a
commentary upon Anaximander’s famous dictum, “It is necessary
that things should pass away into that from which they are born.
For things must pay one another the penalty and compensation for
their injustice according to the ordinance of time.”
Anaximander’s discovery of a cosmic order of justice is a
liberation from the mythic notion of fate by the substitution for
it of a no less fatal physical necessity, the remote anticipation
of the iron laws of thermodynamics.
6. The universal solvent for all problems, difficulties, and
suffering, from this point of view, is always a return to the
lost primal unity; only thus is the spectre of injustice
exercised. This solution to the problems posed in contemporary
theology is well known in ecumenical circles; it seeks for the
primal unity of Christians in a least common denominator of
doctrine, liturgy and morality. The temptation posed to Catholic
participants in such discussions is considerable, for they also
are frequently against injustice. A fair example of the Catholic
discovery of injustice in the non-ordination of women is George
Tavard’s “Woman in Christian Tradition,” University of Notre Dame
Press, 1973, whose axial theme is the equation drawn between
injustice and the admission of religiously significant sexual
differentiation. This equation is founded upon an egalitarian –
and cosmic — reading of Gal 3:28, which, if taken seriously,
simply puts an end to the sacramental worship of Roman
Catholicism. See esp. pp. 77 and 96.
7. M. Barth, Op. cit., 688.
8. Ibid., 630, footnote 85, citing J. Pedersen’s “Israel, Its
Life and Culture,” 2nd ed., Oxford University Press, 1946, 1-11;
702, in which Barth expressly refers to God’s marital covenant
with Israel; Georges Azou, in “The Formation of the Bible,” tr.
Josepha Thornton, The B. Herder Book Co., St. Louis and London,
1963, proposes the same idea (60-61); John L. McKenzie’s “Aspects
of Old Testament Thought,” The Jerome Biblical Commentary,
Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1968, 11,
752-753, para. 95-8 should be read in this connection. See also
K. Barth, “Church Dogmatics” III, The Doctrine of Creation,” Part
four, ed. G. Bromley and T. Torrance, Edinburgh, 1961, 197-198,
wherein Barth refers to marriage as the supreme manifestation of
9. M. Barth, Op. cit., 707.
10. Ibid., 615, 618, 669, 720.
11. Ibid., 614, 618-19, 645, 723, 729ff.
12. J. Munck, “The Acts of the Apostles: Introduction,
Translation, and Notes.” Revised by William F. Albright and C.S.
Mann. (Anchor Bible, vol. 31); Doubleday and Company, Inc.,
Garden City, New York, 1967, 232. See also 0. Cullmann, “Early
Christian Worship, Studies in Biblical Theology” 10, tr. A.
Stewart Todd and James B. Torrance, S.C.M. Press, Ltd. 966, 21,
13. This meditation seems to have begun with Irenaeus, probably
in response to the gnostic use of Ephesians 5 alluded to by M.
Barth, (644-45,, op. cit.) Tavard, op. Cit., 69-70, provides an
interesting commentary upon Irenaeus’ development of these
14. H. de Lubac, “Corpus Mysticum: L’Eucharistie et L’eglise au
Moyen Age. Etude Historique.” Revue et augmentee. Aubier,
Editions Montaigne, Paris, 1949, 139-209, provides an
indispensable account of the development of the “Una Caro”
terminology in its application to the Eucharist from Jerome
onward through the 12th century. Before Berengarius, its
dialectic served to unite the three bodies’ of the Eucharistic
worship: The Church, the crucified and risen Lord, the Body of
the Eucharistic sacrifice. The interrelation of marriage and
Eucharist was again emphasized by Bossuet; see G. Bacon, “La
pensee de Bossuet sur l’Eucharistie, mystere d’unite,” Revue des
sciences religieuses xlv, (1971) 209-239. Most recently A.
Ambrosiano has returned to the topic in “Mariage et Eucharistie,”
Nouvelle revue theologique, 98 (1976) 289-305.
15. E. Kilmartin, “Apostolic Office: Sacrament of Christ,”
Theological Studies 36:2 (1975) 243-264. Kilmartin’s
ecclesiology, while of an evident ecumenical interest, is not
essential to that interest; see Emmanuel Lanne’s “L’Eucharistie
dans la recherche oecumenique actuelle,” Irenikon, 1975, 48:2,
201-214. The controversy within Catholic theology which surrounds
views such as Kilmartin now proposes is well illustrated by C.J.
Vogel, “Die Eucharistie heute,” Zeitschrift fur Katholische
Theologie 97:4 (1975) 389-414, responded to by Alexander Gerken,
“Kann sich die Eucharistielehre „ndern?” in the same issue.
Joseph Finkenzeller has recently addressed the same questions as
Kilmartin: “Zur Diskussion uber das Verstandnis der apostolischen
Sukzession,” Theologisch-praktische Quartalschrift 123:4 (1975)
321-340, and “Das kirchliche Amt und die Eucharistie,”
Theologisch-praktische Quartalschrift 124:1 (1976) 3-14.
16. Gunther Bornkamm, Luthers Auslegen der Galatersbrief, Walter
de Gruyter & Co., Berlin, 1963, 277-280, provides the radical
interpretation of Gal 3:28 upon which ecclesiologies such as
Kilmartin’s rest: insofar as our justification is concerned, we
are bound to no external work whatever (nulli prorsus uni externo
operi sumus alligati). And the consequence is accepted: the man
of faith is without a name, without species or difference,
without “persona” (homo sine nomine, sine specie, sine
differentia, sine persona). Luther himself of course refused to
deduce social revolutions from his doctrine, a point of view
which is entirely consistent with its dehistoricizing thrust. The
distinction between the “volkisch” and the “religios” sense of
Gal 3:28 is still controlling in D. Albrecht Oepke, “Der Brief des
Paulus an die Galater, 2nd ed., Evangelischer Verlagsanstalt,
Berlin, 1957, 90-91.
“Da das zweite Glied unmoglisch in Sinne der Sklaven, (I KR
7, 20ff) das dritte nicht in dem der Frauenmanzipation
gemeint sein kann (I Kr 11, 7ff; KI 3, 18; Eph 5:22ff) so
ware es ebenfalls verfehit, das erste in Sinne eines blassen
Internationalismus verstehen zu wolien.” Nonetheless: “Die
Glaubigen sind in Christus’ zu einer Person verschmolzen.
The religious unity in Christ with which Galatians is concerned
has no particular social relevance: “non alligati sumus”; between
the sacred and the secular a disjunction is set which no “works”
can bridge, which no sacramental sign can transcend.
17. 0. Cullmann, “Baptism in the New Testament (Studies in
Theology 4)”, S.C.M. Press, London, 1950, 30, uses Col
1:24, 2 Cor 1:5 and 1 Pet 4:13 to establish that the Body of
Christ into which we are baptized, the Church, is the crucified
and risen body of Jesus; this theme had been more particularly
developed in his “La delivrance anticipee du corps humain d’apres
le Nouveau Testament,” “Homage et Reconnaissance: Recueil de
travaux publie a l’occasion du 60e anniversaire de Karl Barth,
Cahiers Theologiques de l’Actualite Protestante, Hors Serie 2,”
Delachaux et Niestle, Neuchatel, 1946, 31-40, in which he also
makes some attempt to accommodate the “mysterious identity” of
Christ-Church to the marital symbolism of Eph 5:22ff. This
attempt requires a careful avoidance of the Head-Body language of
Ephesians and Colossians, by which the duality-in-unity of Christ
and the Church as the antitype of the marital ‘one flesh’ is
affirmed, for in Cullmann’s theology there is no Christ-Church
union to be symbolized by marriage: there is only an identity,
mysterious no doubt, but still identity. Thus he understands the
‘one flesh’ of Gen 2:24 and Eph 5:31, leaving quite unresolved
the difficulty of understanding how the inherent duality of
marriage can have any reference to the much-insisted-upon
identity of Christ and his Church. In this connection, see his
“Baptism in the N.T.,” 45, note 1. Cullmann’s reading of Gal 3:28
is consistent with his reading of one flesh’; “every difference
between men and women here disappears.” (Baptism, 65.) For
Cullmann as for Kilmartin, the active role of the congregation in
worship excludes all “ex opere operato” sacramental efficacy. In
his controversy with K. Barth over infant baptism, Cullmann
insists upon the absolute passivity of all incorporation by
baptism into the Body, which knows no moment of free becoming,
“contra” the doctrine of Eph 5:21-33, in which the Body-Church is
in a relation of freedom to the Head who is Christ. Despite
Cullmann’s well-known stress upon salvation history, his
ecclesiology is finally reducible to an eschatology: between the
Cross and the Parousia, nothing of significance is effected
through the use of historical human freedom. The parallel between
Cullmann’s development and Kilmartin’s seems clear.
18. Paul K. Jewett, “Man as Male and Female: A Study in Sexual
Relationships from a Theological Point of View,” William B.
Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Mich., 1975, is a fair
illustration. He assumes the anti-sacramental stance proper to
Protestant theology from its inception, with the expected
19. Luther’s insistence upon the objectivity of Christ’s
Eucharistic presence, as forced upon him by his loyalty to
Scripture, is in a considerable tension with the theological
account of that presence, which looked upon it as a special
instance of divine omnipresence. The event-character of the
Eucharistic worship having been abandoned with its sacrificial
character, the Eucharistic presence becomes accountable for only
in non-historic terms.
20. P. Tavard, op. cit., 184, 191, 195; P. Jewett, op. cit., has
the same difficulty as Tavard in admitting that the “submission”
language with which Paul points to the paradigmatic relation of
the Church to her Head need not and cannot be understood as
demanding the ontological inferiority of the feminine. Karl
Barth’s explanation of “submission” as existence within the order
of creation (examined in pages 69-82) is also used by M. Barth,
op. cit. 709. This coincides with the phraseology used by
Voegelin and von Rad to which reference was made in the article
to which the present one is sequel. See footnote 1.
21. M. Barth, op. cit., 654, 731.
22. The interpretation of Gal 3:28 which Joseph Fitzmyer has
contributed to the Jerome Biblical Commentary (11, 242a) reads:
“Secondary differences vanish through the effects of this primary
incorporation of Christians into Christ’s body through “one
Spirit” (1 Cor 12:13). This verse is really the climax of Paul’s
letter.” At first glance, this language has considerable
affinities with the Lutheran phraseology cited in note 16, as
with the contemporary views of Kilmartin and Tavard. The
implications which a literalist reading of e.g. Fitzmyer’s
summary statement has for Catholic sacramentalism have been
pointed out. It is curious that even after the 1965 endorsement
by Danielou (v. Tavard’s citation, op. cit., 217, note 10) and
its later popularization via the CTSA (v. vol. 24 (1969) of the
CTSA Proceedings) in this country and the works of Hans Kung
internationally, the recent commentaries on Galatians pay little
attention to the bearing of 3:28 upon women’s ordination. Pierre
Bonnard, “L’Epitre de Saint Paul aux Galates,” 2nd ed., revue et
augmentee, Delachaux et Niestle, 1972, writes, of the distinction
between male and female, “Depasse’es et non supprimees, ces
distinctions ne sont pas abolies dans l’eglise.” (78-79) John
Bligh, in “Galatians: A Discussion of St. Paul’s Epistle,”
Householder Commentaries, No. 1, St. Paul Publications, London,
1969, writes “St. Paul is discussing, Who are the heirs of
Abraham? His answer is that the distinctions between Jew and
Greek, slave and free, male and female are irrelevant here. All
Christians are equally heirs.” (327) Franz Mussner, in “Der
Galater Brief, Herder Theologischer Kommentar zum Neuen
Testament,” ix, Herder, Freiberg, Basel, Wien, 1974, writes “Der
Apostel will domit seltstverstandlich nicht sagen, dass derartige
Unterschiede 5usserlich nicht mehr bestehen — Mann bleibt Mann
und Frau bleibt Frau, auch nach der Taufe –. aber sie haben
jegliche Heilsbedeutung vor Gott verloren.” Mussner does exclude
any identification of Christ ard the faithful, but when he tries
to elucidate further what the baptismal unity might be, he falls
back upon metaphor: “Diese Heils-sprare’ noch naher zu
bezeichnen, ist sprachlich keim moglich.” (264, 265) “Im ubrigen
redet hier Paulus von einem Mysterium, das sich begrifflich nicht
vollkommen fassen lasst, am wenigsten mit Kategorien moderner
Existenialanalyse.” (266) The categories Paul uses in Ephesians
5:21-33 evidently do not occur to Mussner as applicable here. And
this is odd. Heinrich Schlier has been more sensitive to the
issues raised by Gal 3:28; in the 13th edition of “Der Brief an
der Galater, (Kritisch-Exegetischer Kommentar Uber das Neue
Testament Begrundet von Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer, Siebente
Abteilung),” Gottingen, 1965, 175, he remarks, albeit in a
footnote, “Erkennt man diese Enschranking der Aussage in V.28, so
hutet man sich, aus ihm direkte Folgerungen fur die Ordnung des
kirchlichen Amtes oder auch der politisehen (sic) Geselischaft zu
ziehen. Das kirchliche Amt beruht ja nicht direkt auf der Taufe,
sondern, auf der Sendung, und die politische Gesellschaft ist
niemals identisch mit dem Leibe Christi.” (Note 4)
23. M. Barth, Op. cit., 734; see also 641, 703.
24. Ibid., 645.
25. Ibid., 630-715.
Father General Pedro Arrupe on the subject of ‘Humanae vitae’Epistula A.R.P.N. Generalis ad omnem Societatem occasione Litterarum Encyclicarum “Humanae vitae.” Acta Romana Societatis Iesu. Vol. XV, Fasc. II, anno 1968
Dear Fathers and Brothers, Pax Christi
We are all aware of the response given to the most recent encyclical of Pope Paul VI, Humanae vitae, about the problems raised by the question of contraception. While many completely accept the teaching of the encyclical, a number of the clergy, religious and laity violently reject it in a way that no one in the Society can think of sharing. Yet, because the opposition to the encyclical has become widespread in some places, I wish to delay no longer before calling to mind once more our duty as Jesuits. With regard to the successor of Peter, the only response for us is an attitude of obedience which is at once loving, firm, open and truly creative. I do not say that this is necessarily painless and easy.
In fact, on various grounds and because of particular competence, some of us may experience certain reservations and difficulties. A sincere desire to be truly loyal does not rule out problems, as the Pope himself says. A teaching such as the one he presents merits assent not simply because of the reasons he offers, but also, and above all, because of the charism which enables him to present it. Guided by the authentic word of the Pope– a word that need not be infallible to be highly respected – every Jesuit owes it to himself, by reason of his vocation, to do everything possible to penetrate, and to help others penetrate, into the thought which may not have been his own previously; however, as he goes beyond the evidence available to him personally, he finds or will find a solid foundation for it.
To obey, therefore, is not to stop thinking, to parrot the encyclical word for word in a servile manner. On the contrary, it is to commit oneself to study it as profoundly as possible so as to discover for one self and to show others the meaning of an intervention judged necessary by the Holy Father.
Once we have correctly grasped the meaning of the encyclical, let us not remain passive. Let us not be afraid to rectify our teaching, if need be, while at the same time explaining why we are doing so. Let us develop our teaching as profoundly as possible rather than restrict it. Let is strive for a better pastoral theology of the family and of the young people. We must not forget that our present world, for all its amazing scientific conquests, is sadly lacking a true sense of God and is in danger of deceiving itself completely. We must see what is demanded of us as Jesuits. Let us collaborate with others in centers of the basic research on man, where the specific data of Christian revelation can be brought together with the genuine achievements of the human sciences and thus achieve the happy results that can be legitimately anticipated. In all this work of sympathy, intelligence, and love, let us always be enlightened by the Gospel and by the living tradition of the Church. Let us never abandon the papal teaching we have just received. Rather, we must continually seek to integrate it into an ever-widening anthropology. The present crisis makes clear this urgent need.
In so fulfilling our mission as Jesuits, which is to make the thought of the Church understood and loved, we can help the laity, who themselves have much to bring to the problems touched on in the encyclical, and who rely on us for a deep understanding of their points of view. [“atque nostram expectant cooperationem pro intimiore penetratione magisterii Pauli VI.”]
You understand well that it is the spirit of the Constitutions which inspires me as I write these words. For, as the Constitutions tell us in substance, each member of the Society must remember that his personal manner of serving God is realized through a faithful obedience to the Roman pontiff. That is why I am certain that today too, the Society is able to show itself worthy of four centuries of complete fidelity to the Holy See.
It certainly cannot be said that the Second Vatican Council has changed all this. The Council itself speaks formally of “this religious submission of will and of mind,” which “must be shown in a special way to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra. That is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence and the judgments made by him sincerely adhered to according to his manifest mind and will”. (Lumen Gentium, n.25).
Nor can it be said that the Pope was speaking of matters that do not involve our faith, since the essence of his teaching directly concerns the human and divine dignity of man and of love. In the enormous crisis of growth which envelops the whole world, the Pope himself has been what the entire Church must be, and Vatican II affirmed, “both a sign and a safeguard of the transcendence of the human person” (Gaudium et Spes,n.76). For this reason the service we as Jesuits owe to the Holy Father and to the Church is at the same time a service we owe to humanity itself.
In my awareness of our obvious duty as Jesuits I could say much more, particularly at this time which seems to me crucial for the Church. Difficult times are times made for the Society, not to seeks its own glory, but to show its fidelity. This is why I am certain that all of you will understand my words. As for those for whom the encyclical presents personal problems of conscience, I wish to assure them that for that very reason I am keeping them in my affection and prayers.
May St. Ignatius help each of us to become, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, more Ignatian than ever. May he obtain for us the understanding that our legitimate desire to be totally present to this world demands of us an ever-increasing fidelity in the service of the Church, the Spouse of Christ and the Mother of all mankind.
I commend myself to the prayers of all of you.Rome, 15 August 1968. Most devotedly in Christ, Pedro Arrupe Praep. Gen. Soc. Iesu. [This English translation was transcribed by Fr. Joseph Carola, S.J., from the article "Father Arrupe: 'Think with the church'," which appeared in the National Catholic Reporter, September 18th, 1968, p. 7]
The Lasting Legacy of Cardinal Daniélou
“Reviled by his progressive contemporaries, Jean Daniélou accurately diagnosed many of the problems that continue to trouble the Church today.”
By Brian Van Hove, S.J.Wednesday, October 03, 2012
The August 7-11 meeting in St. Louis, Missouri of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious reminds us of the sober words of Cardinal Jean Daniélou, SJ in 1972. The LCWR featured a keynote speaker whose theme was “Conscious Evolution,” which is as removed from the Pope and the Magisterium as science fiction is from Albert Einstein.In the National Catholic Reporter on August 6, 2012 Alice Popovici wrote of the LCWR keynote speaker: “Barbara Marx Hubbard, an evolutionary thinker who is to speak this week before the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, is not Catholic or part of any mainstream religion. But she says she has faith in the future.”
By sharp contrast, Daniélou warned in an interview on Vatican Radio on October 23, 1972:
One of the greatest threats to religious life today is the mass of disputable theological opinions. In minimizing the supernatural aspect of God’s gift, in minimizing everything that pertains to the action of the Spirit, it destroys the very base on which the religious life is built. That is why it is important today to seek out spiritual directors and theologians from those who represent the true thinking of the Church. There must be a care to have a deep unity with the sovereign Pontiff and with the orientations given by him the Sovereign Pontiff, in particular those which concern religious life.
As to a union with the Sovereign Pontiff, the LCWR rejected even the presence of the canonical pontifical delegate:
Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle, who has been charged by the Vatican with responsibility for supervising a reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), has been told by the group’s leaders that his presence ‘would not be helpful’ at the LCWR’s annual assembly this week.
On the subject of the crisis in religious life, again in 1972 Daniélou spoke thus:
Vatican II declared that human values must be taken seriously. It never said that we were entering in to a secularized world where the religious dimension would be no longer present in civilization. It is in the name of a false secularization that religious men and women give up their religious habit and abandon the adoration of God for social and political activities. And this is, furthermore, counter to the spiritual need manifested in the world of today. (Why the Church?, p. 166-167)
Robert A. Connor succinctly summarizes the cardinal’s lifetime work:
After his short spell as a military chaplain ended with the fall of France in 1940, he devoted himself to the study of the Fathers of the Church, and with Fr. Henri de Lubac was one of the founders of Sources Chrétiennes, a popular yet scholarly series of key writings from the patristic period. Over the years, Daniélou produced a flow of books and articles on the worship and theology of the Early Church. Such was his reputation and influence that Blessed Pope John XXIII named him as a theological expert for the Second Vatican Council. In 1969 he was made a cardinal by Pope Paul VI, and elected to the Académie Française.
Why would a patristics scholar of Daniélou’s stature get involved in current Church events at such a popular level?
Perhaps in the tradition of Jesuits such as Robert Bellarmine and Augustine Bea, Daniélou was expressly made bishop and cardinal in 1969 by the Pope. Not surprisingly, a flood of protest pamphlets descended from the clerestory and marred the Mass of ordination. The battle was engaged. Newspapers carried the photo of the “indoor snowfall” in the sanctuary of the church where the ordination took place. Friends of Daniélou reported that same year, 1969, that he had refused these ecclesiastical awards. However, Pope Paul VI had personally ordered him under obedience to accept being made bishop and cardinal “so that you might suffer with me for the Church.” The son of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Jean Daniélou, might have added, “If this be the case, then together we will proceed, both of us to suffer for Christ.”
At that point Daniélou accepted the burden imposed upon him. He went on to engage in energetic apologetics, what his opponents reduced to polemics favorable to the Pope and the Magisterium, with special reference to Humanae Vitae. They called him a reactionary and a traditionalist, in French “intégriste.”
Unlike many who agreed with Daniélou but remained primarily scholars, he became an activist-popularizer at the price of deeper scholarship. For Daniélou the Jesuit, the apostolate was first. He was not a careerist, but apostolic to the end. He completed the Jesuit “tertianship”in 1940, and in his notes from that experience, he pleaded with God for the grace of apostolic zeal (Carnets Spirituels, p. 241).
In Western Europe and the Americas the voices of Catholic orthodoxy were few and constantly attacked at that time, especially from inside the Church. The Pope needed every voice that he could get, especially after the withering assaults upon his person subsequent to July 1968 and the promulgation of Humanae Vitae.
After the Second Vatican Council, American and European Catholic popular and semi-popular periodicals and publishing houses either disappeared or mutated into organs of fashionable progressivism. Especially in the wake of that fateful year of 1968, they undermined the ecclesiastical Magisterium. Catholic writers who were orthodox in faith and morals found it next to impossible to get published in Western Europe and North America.
With few exceptions, Alba House, the Daughters of St. Paul/Pauline Books and Media (under the spiritual influence of Father John A. Hardon, SJ), OSV and the Franciscan Herald Press were the only publishing houses that remained. They published books consciously faithful to the Magisterium before the founding of Ignatius Press in 1978.
Before the birth of Ignatius Press, the heroic and unflagging persistence of the Franciscan Herald Press’ chief editor, Father Mark Paul Hegener, O.F.M. brought us Daniélou’s Why the Church? in English translation in 1975, the year after the cardinal’s sudden death in Paris. This book was a collection of talks, interviews, and essays delivered in France and in Rome in defense of the historical Church and her authoritative teaching. It was surely as unwelcome in avant-garde circles in the United States as it was in European progressivist ones. Both Hegener and Daniélou were maligned, the objects of scorn as they fought against a growing opposition within the Church. This movement made an effort to portray orthodox Catholics as mere relics of a bygone age. Cardinal Daniélou wrote:
To misunderstand this, to think that we are all going to start from scratch, to believe that everything that came from yesterday is useless to the man of today because today’s man is radically different from the man of yesterday, is one of the greatest illusions of a certain number of philosophers and theologians of today. And it is a total illusion, for what constitute the essential elements, namely, human nature and the spiritual life, are permanent realities. It would be particularly stupid to say that in the area of human genius we had made great strides since Plato or since Dante, or since Shakespeare. That really would be stupid, for there is no progress in the qualitative order of genius. Bach and Mozart will always remain, because they have reached greater depths than certain modern works which grow old so quickly. (Why the Church?, p. 180)
Commenting on the era of Daniélou, an American academic in 2012 put it this way:
In those days, the quasi-Catholic intellectual did not want to read anything defending the Church’s tradition, which is fundamentally Eucharistic. Crouzel noticed the refusal of supposedly Catholic journals to publish defenses of the reservation of Orders to men. Some of us were attacked a number of times during those years for daring to uphold this rank injustice and, worse, for appearing to regard our opponents as not too bright. Those were the days when feelings began to trump honesty, even honest inquiry, and since then little has changed.
In other words, we can say that Daniélou was not alone in the Church’s hour of need. Intellectuals met in Strasbourg in 1971, and intellectuals who had formed the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars met in Kansas City in 1977. They tried. Joseph Ratzinger and others broke with Concilium in 1970. Abandoning Concilium, Americans and Europeans, including Jean Daniélou, took up the invitation of Hans Urs von Balthasar in 1972 to found Communio, an international Catholic journal that would “cross fertilize” various cultural and language groups within the context of Catholic orthodoxy. Louis Bouyer, Henri de Lubac, Stanislas de Lestapis, Stanislas Lyonnet, Ignace de la Potterie, Louis Ligier, Hubert Jedin, John R. Sheets, Paul M. Quay, Benedict Ashley, William E. May, and others worked in their respective fields with dignity and fidelity. Cardinal John Wright founded the Paul VI Institute to foster orthodox catechetics on the diocesan level. There were other small efforts which were not sustained. But it was somehow left to Daniélou to be the voice heard for a time above all others before his untimely death.
This voice was silenced in 1974 and subsequently his memory was nearly erased. Here is how Sandro Magister put it in a May 2012 Chiesa column for Espresso Online:
The clash had been precipitated by an interview with Daniélou on Vatican Radio in which he harshly criticized the “decadence” that was devastating so many men’s and women’s religious orders, because of “a false interpretation of Vatican II.”
The interview was interpreted as an accusation brought against the Society of Jesus itself, the superior general of which at the time was Father Pedro Arrupe, who was also the head of the union of superiors general of religious orders.
The Jesuit Bruno Ribes, director of “Études,” was one of the most active in making scorched earth around Daniélou.
The positions of the two had become antithetical. In 1974, the year of Daniélou’s death, Ribes positioned “Études” in open disobedience with respect to the teaching of the encyclical “Humanae Vitae” on contraception.
And he collaborated with other “progressive” theologians—including the Dominicans Jacques Pohier and Bernard Quelquejeu—in the drafting of the law that in that same year introduced unrestricted abortion in France, with Simone Veil as health minister, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing as president, and Jacques Chirac as prime minister.
The following year, 1975, Father Ribes left the helm of “Études.” And afterward he abandoned the Society of Jesus, and then the Catholic Church.
The hostile media tried to defame Cardinal Daniélou by falsifying the circumstances of his death. We know now the truth. After a symposium sponsored jointly by the Fraternity of Saint Charles Borromeo and by the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross (Opus Dei) on May 9, 2012 entitled “Windows Open on the Mystery,”there is no possible doubt left. His death was in the context of a secret work of charity:
In May 1974, the 69-year old cleric was the chaplain to a group of nuns in Paris, and lived alone in a small apartment close to the convent. On a Monday afternoon that month, the local police were astonished when a Madame Santoni, known to her customers as “Mimi,” phoned them urgently to say that a cardinal had just died in her apartment. They were right to be startled, for the Rue Dulong was one of Paris seedier areas, and the woman in question was known to them as a “madame” and the wife of a man recently jailed for pimping.
When a cardinal suffers a fatal heart attack, with a substantial sum of money in his pocket, and in the house of a prostitute, there’s a story that can run for weeks. The Paris newspapers had a field day, with the anti-clerical Le Canard Enchaîné trumpeting yet another exposé of Catholic hypocrisy.
One thing was for sure, Cardinal Daniélou’s reputation as an authoritative teacher in the Church was eclipsed by his death. Although the French Jesuits carried out a thorough investigation into his sudden death and discovered the visit to the Santoni residence was part of his secret works of charity to the most despised people in need of God’s love, his confrères made little effort to dispel the miasma of suspicion that enshrouded the name of this illustrious scholar. That afternoon Cardinal Daniélou’s final errand of mercy was to give Madame Santoni money to hire a lawyer to get bail for her jailed husband.
Legends and myths perdure, however. After so many years many of those who would have longed for the full truth to be disclosed have already gone to their Lord, while the young do not even know the name “Daniélou.”
But one thing is known to the young. Small religious communities from re-founded older ones are gaining youthful recruits each year. Cardinal Daniélou, in that October 1972 interview, recommended:
I think that the unique and urgent solution is shift from the false orientations taken in a certain number of Institutes. For that, we must stop all the experimentations and all the decisions which are contrary to the directives of the Council; we must be on guard against the books, magazines, and workshops where these erroneous conceptions are diffused; we must restore in their integrity the practice of the Constitutions with their adaptations asked by the Council. In the places where this appears to be impossible, it seems to me that we cannot refuse to the religious who want to be faithful to the Constitutions of their Orders and to the directives of Vatican II the right to form distinct communities. The religious superiors are obliged to respect this desire. These communities must be authorized to have their own houses of formation. Experience will show if vocations are more numerous in the houses of strict observance or in the houses of less strict observance. In the cases where superiors would be opposed to these legitimate demands, recourse to the Sovereign Pontiff is certainly authorized.
Americans, at least, are familiar with Father Benedict Groeschel’s Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, Father Andrew Apostoli’s Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, Mother Mary Quentin’s Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, and Mother Assumpta Long’s Dominican Sisters of Mary, the Mother of the Eucharist. These are only some of the new offshoots from older religious communities which are thriving in the Church today. Cardinal Daniélou predicted that “experience” would show, and so it has. His counsel to seek recourse to the pope also bore fruit when Cardinal James Hickey and Cardinal Augustin Mayer OSB, among others, assisted in the formation of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, which has formal pontifical status. Cardinal Mayer also helped fledgling individual communities achieve canonical pontifical right.
One can be assured the CMSWR would gladly invite Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle to their meetings—and there would be no chance of Barbara Marx Hubbard ever hearing from the CMSWR.
|From Catholic World Report |
Copyright © 2012 Catholic World Report
All Rights Reserved.
‘God’s Call and Man’s Response:
Structures for the Analysis of True and False Vocations’
Published in Review for Religious, vol. 33 (1974/5): 1062-1099
At the writing of this article, Father Paul M. Quay, S.J. (1924-1994) was associate professor in the Department of Physics and adjunct associate professor of spirituality in the School of Divinity, St. Louis University, 221 North Grand Boulevard, St. Louis, Missouri 63103.
The dramatic efflux of Religious over the past ten years, coupled with a sharp dropping of suitable applicants, has signaled a “crisis in vocations” which touches deeply those who remain. Yet, though striking and novel means of “vocation promotion” have come into use as older ones seemed to fall, though careful psychological screening of candidates is becoming routine to the point of generating tension between those who see the Spirit’s action blocked principally by undisclosed psychological problems and those who see Him blocked by psychiatrists, though “discernment” would seem to find in vocations its connatural subject matter, though formation programs have been repeatedly revised, one may still question whether these and many other efforts have really brought us to grips with the fundamental problems.
Orientations of the Article
This article has as its principal purpose to take seriously the fact that vocation is, before all else, God’s own action in calling people to some concrete activity which He desires of them personally, and that in consequence our actions, concerning vocations or anything else, have value concretely only insofar as they are pure response to His sole initiative.1
This approach will lead not only to questions and, I hope, some satisfactory answers concerning mistakes in individual vocations but also to ascertain the effects such mistakes have on the institutes affected and, conversely, how false attitudes thus generated within institutes foment spurious vocations. Taking God’s callings seriously will show quickly why the present situation is as poor as it is, not only for individuals but for groups.
I shall sketch out in this article in modern language a somewhat classical view of vocation?’ It is not that there are not many other interesting and novel viewpoints; but in an article which will follow this one, I wish to deal with the immediate practical consequences that flow from the approach I take here. When dealing with matters that affect people’s lives, more solidly based and less speculative approaches seem preferable.
It will be clear already that I cannot hope to do much more than to uncover some of the basic structures, theoretical and practical, of vocational dynamics and to show how the more pressing problems appear in such a context. Likewise, the range of the material will compel me to take positions on all sorts of current theological and Scriptural disputes, without even the time to point out the fact as we move by. This is not to imply that these positions have been taken at haphazard, however; for, what is presented here is but that fragment of a theology of vocation which relates directly to religious. Evidently the integral theory must deal not only with all Christian states of life but with all possible Christian activity as well.
The spirituality which undergirds this article is largely Ignatian, though my students have opened to me many valuable insights from their own traditions. But, as will be seen if what follows here is correct, each religious institute would, in any case, of necessity rethink within its own spirituality what is here presented under penalty of serious misunderstanding. What is said or implied about Jesuits or Ignatius is needed to concretize the discussion, but must perforce have no further value than illustration or example.
Our basic practical concern is to be of help to those, individuals or entire institutes, who find themselves somehow in a false position in the matter of vocation. Since the variety of such cases is well-nigh infinite, we shall consider only those that are especially simple or important; only so are we likely to be able to make any headway in the handling of the real and extremely complex cases that are the “ordinary” ones we meet.
I. STRUCTURES WITHIN A CALL FROM GOD
God calls every Christian adult, at least of those who desire to hear Him, to some particular way of life.
Calling and Call
The “calling” that act of God by which He calls, is one with Himself, and by that fact escapes all but our faintest understanding ‒ minds dazzled by His brightness see but little more in some ways than if they were in the darkness. A sound theology here will direct one toward the mystery by pointing and gesture, inciting rather to worship than to elaborate scaffoldings of ideas.
The “call,” however, is the created manifestation of that calling. What God is for His creature impinges in space and time upon the creature and terminates in his “hearing” or “seeing,” a “perception” which, though created and finite, somehow truly expresses God’s knowledge of how that person is now related to Himself and how, in His love, he might be still more closely” related to Him in Christ.’ Hence, a call cannot be reduced to something rooted in or originating from the person as its source. It may be knowable only in those terms, but it has its total origin in God Himself as free and independent source and agent of it and of its direction. Whether one considers God as outside, acting in, or as more intimate than the self, the gratuity and originality of the call are His.
All the above would appear to be true of any conscious relationships between the creature and its Creator. What is proper to “calling” and to “call” is that they designate God’s making known to us His will in the mode of invitation or, more rarely, command.5 But His “will,” when this term is used, implies nothing whatever as to any communication with creatures concerning His will.
Yet today, a somewhat corrosive atmosphere of opinion surrounds us which denies that God really calls anyone to a particular way of life. Though often supported by an impressive array of theological and philosophical arguments, this attitude grows chiefly, it seems, from hidden and painful disappointment, from a conviction that, whatever He might be doing for others, He has had nothing to say to me–unless somehow I arbitrarily interpret my own doings and choices as His call. This sense of being let down does more, I think, to render Christians susceptible to the systematic rejection of the possibility of call than any intrinsic force of the reasoning.
The arguments are well known: God gives us ourselves; and with our liberty, an initial endowment of self-creativity and wishes us, with whatever unperceived, unconscious grace may be necessary, to work out our own way to Him. As self-actualizing beings, it is we who must accept the full responsibility (and, though not mentioned, receive all the glory) for the determination of our lives. Anything else would render us perpetually immature and our liberty only apparent. For the adult Christian of the modern Church, such perfection as there may be consists in deciding for himself what to do with his life, what he wishes to become, and then in setting resolutely to work to achieve it.
Nor, it is said, even apart from the above difficulties, would God want to communicate with us about vocation. He has no need to speak with us individually, apart from the Christian community, about what we are supposed to do in life. Since we are freely self-creating, it makes no sense to say that we are “supposed to do” anything, least of all in these days when a “blueprint” picture of His providence is no longer acceptable. A superstructure of grace can be erected on these foundations according to taste, God pointing out, for example, further possibilities to man’s initiative than he could have conjectured on his own, for example, the Catholic priesthood.
One may admit a value to these arguments insofar as they attack a quite unworthy sort of passivity — “inertness,” better — too often found in Christians, without conceding their excessive claim to human autonomy. But this is not the place to argue the matter. Jesus is our model; it is towards His full stature and adulthood that we grow if we mature as Christians; and He did nothing and said nothing except as the Father gave Him to say and do, in accordance with His will.
Call and Revelation
It will be, I think, much to our purpose to see in greater detail the intensity of God’s desire to speak with us — or, if you prefer, to communicate with us personally. For His calls are merely particular cases of such communication, those cases in which He tells us of His preferences as to our serving Him and all His children. “Call” is continuous with, is of the same basic nature as, any other mode of divine communication explicit enough to convey the details of the message.
God’s personal speaking to man is most obvious where it is most explicit: in divine revelation, taken in its narrowest and strongest sense.
This revelation we find as far back at least as the time of Abraham ‒ and it is precisely in God’s call to Abram that this revelation first comes. Glimmerings of it are seen long before. The author of Genesis, at least, finds no difficulty in picturing God communicating personally, even familiarly, not only with Adam and Eve, after the Fall as well as before, but with Abel and with Cain, a sinner still in his sins, with Enoch and with Noah, with whom He established a covenant. His personal concern for man is clear enough though close converse did not occur frequently, for it was only “at that time [that] men began to call upon the name of the Lord,” (Gn 4:26); and even long centuries later, “The word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision” (1 Sam 3:1).
After Abraham we know almost nothing of His self-revelation save to those who were of the chosen stock, descended from Abraham, His friend. He dealt with them most familiarly, though apparently only on occasion, not in continuous fashion, almost as if He were another one of the same tribe or clan but living at a distance. But when He sent His Son, that distance vanished altogether, and He lived among His people.
Most importantly for us, all this was also meant to reveal Him to us who live now. His revelation was to be transmitted, some things jetted down as His own writing by those who heard Him, in the Scriptures; other things reaching us via the tradition of the Church, that complex totality of the lived and living faith of the Church, never exhaustively describable ‒ in whatever fashion, however, intended for all those to whom He wishes to make Himself fully known.
The Speaking of the Present God
Now when we speak of public revelation as communication, we are implying also that God is now present and at hand, in some way illuminating the text or the tradition for us by His present grace, enabling us not merely to give the basic assent of faith but to hear Him speaking to us personally at this moment.
So, for example, we take a passage of Scripture for meditation and suddenly we find one line, one word, one aspect of the mystery illumined for us in faith. We see it as if for the first time; it enters easily into us and into our life, far more deeply than our busiest ratiocination could ever make it go. We are changed, not merely our thoughts or feelings. The ideas that couch the “insight” may be false, we may even know them at the time to be false; and yet they are the vehicle of truth. The meaning we grasp in the text may have no significance or resonance for anyone else; yet it is clearly true, and assists us in serving and praising God. This truth is not something adventitious to the text, a gloss spun out by our own fantasy–no, it is something that is there in and from the text, but it is a meaning of the text which it could not have had for its original author, who knew little enough, say, of modern fears of nuclear destruction when singing of God’s power over the thundering waves of the sea. God acts individually upon each person in prayer and frequently, through the divers movements of grace, enlightens or even, perhaps, obscures those things which at the time will aid us or be too much for us.” It is important to see that the “already-givenness” of His public revelation does not take away its personal quality. The fact of a general revelation to all men does not in any way deny the co-presence in the same text or tradition, of particular and individual revelation to each.
The structure, then, for which we have been looking in this long digression, is this: God, working through and by individual men, forms or establishes an objective, public, and universal manifestation of Himself, which is directed towards and actively effects some universal social good, which yet can only be fruitfully and effectively appropriated or received by this society through and by individuals, in the personal exercise of their freedom in response under grace to the general gift, given once, yet for all, to all, by God.
Other examples exist, so many and so consistent in their structuring that one might well conjecture that all God’s communications to men have this form. Here let me merely point to a few illustrations and move on.
The natural moral law has exactly the same structure mentioned. One of the fathers, I have been told (though I have never been able to track down the source), put it this way: “Deus legisfert creando” — God legislates by creating. The natural moral law is communicated, intimated to all intelligent beings, by the very nature of their concrete mode of existence in the world. But this, also, is individual. It is not the communication of an abstraction, as if God had a kind of codex of laws and norms sitting in front of propositions He reads off and declares to us. Rather, we, in our concreteness, are the natural law. By our being what we are in that world in which in fact we actually exist we are subject to law. It is the individual pers0n’s nature-in-the~w0rld that is the natural law. The natural goal of man is built into each man, not in the sense that it has been reached, but that, by what he already is, only one kind of goal can satisfy him and constitute his fulfillment and reward. Thus, God does communicate with each person by the very act of creating him to be whatever he is, wherever he is, under whatever circumstances he is. If we take it seriously that He has a plan for us and also for the world’s history, a plan specified in terms of initial “givenness” and a goal which perdures through all changing angles of approach and vantage points,’ there is a communication of at least parts or aspects of that plan right where we find ourselves and in what we find ourselves to be. So that all our natural inclinations, aptitudes, circumstances, incapacities, inabilities constitute a true message from God to us concerning, among other things, the work He would have us do in our life.
The same structure appears again in the Eucharist: The physical Body of Christ., now in glory, is received by each individual Christian, giving him the grace of union and intimacy with his Lord-but precisely in order to build up and nurture by Charity the one Mystical Body of Christ, Christ Himself living in each and all, drawing all into oneness with each other. The grace of the sacrament is our union with each other in Christ, the building up of the whole Christ, a social and corporate grace for the Church, for the Body, as a whole; yet this is participated in and of profit to each by the individuals’ active living of lives of Christian charity.
God’s communication of pardon and forgiveness has again the same structure; the reader can easily add further examples.
Structure and the Call to a State of Life
But this general structure of His communication with us is exactly the structure to be found when He invites us to take up one or other state of life. For the life must be lived by the individual and in accord with his unique gifts from and relations with the Lord. Yet it is for the good of his whole institute and, so, for the whole Body of Christ that his life is to be lived-that is what constitutes it one of the Christian states of life. These states, publicly approved and made known by the Church, can be preserved and nourish, however, only insofar as they are embraced by individuals, through God’s grace individually given, drawing them each to what He desires.
But if He has spoken to us so often and so fully, why must we envision this last speaking? Cannot a person choose his way of life among those the Church approves through the use of reason and ordinary grace, without a further intervention by God. Why is an individual call or vocation needed?
One reason becomes clear as soon as we reflect that more than one option may lie open before a person, options all commended, to greater or less degree, by reason in the light of faith. We can know much of His desires for us from consideration of our concrete situation and from His other modes of communicating with us. All that will more or less strongly limit or at least weight the alternatives before us. But it seems in principle impossible that these limits could eliminate all concrete courses of action save one, without His personal intervention. Which of many good lines of action He prefers, only He knows, and the person with whom He shares this knowledge. It is that final intervention, this element that is irreducibly reserved to Himself, that most properly and fully deserves the name of “call” whatever other elements of nature and of grace truly belong to and form part of His call to us.
More deeply, God alone is in a position to have 21 will wholly His own, because He only has none above Him, He only is perfectly good and perfectly wise. It is His will alone that counts or that will ultimately prevail. It is, therefore, His will that we have to find, But God alone knows His concrete will for any of us. Only if He chooses to communicate with us about it, can we come to know it. Urs von Balthasar states it thus: “The man obedient to his mission [“Mission” here is, closely enough, equivalent to “call”; in a few lines, to “objective of call”] fulfills his own being, although he Could never this archetype and ideal of himself by penetrating to the deepest Centre of his nature, his super-ego or his subconscious, or by scrutinizing his own dispositions, aspirations, talents and potentialities. Simon, fisherman, before his meeting with Christ, however thoroughly he might have searched within himself, could not possibly have found a trace of Peter. Yet the form ‘Peter,’ the particular mission reserved for him alone, which till then lay hid in the secret of Christ’s soul and, at the moment of this encounter, was delivered over to him sternly and imperatively–was to be the fulfillment of all that, in Simon, would have sought vainly for a form ultimately valid in the eyes of God and for eternity.”
A priori, it must be admitted, He could content Himself with whatever choice we make; He could want neither this line of action nor that, as such, for us but prefer whichever we pick, s0 long as our motivation and attitudes are centered on Him and the good of our fellowmen. As we will see later, there is an element of truth here we shall need to retain; but it is an inadequate viewpoint if taken as total.
For we are, in Christ, His children. Now, it is true that better human fathers would seem to deal with their children as they mature in just the manner I have set aside as inadequate. Yet this comes simply from the fact that they can do no better for us. Full knowledge and infinite love is not so easy to content. Nor may we forget that His plan and providence govern all things for a single goal; our choices have implications thereby which we can in no way foresee.
More basically, though, God would like to deal with each of us as He dealt with Christ, and will do so to the degree that, living in Christ, we let Him. As He was wholly open and free with His Son, so will He be with us in proportion to the intensity with which we live the life of Jesus. He has given us His Spirit, who will teach us all things He hears from the Father. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are given us to make us able to receive His impulse, so that the Spirit may blow whithersoever He wishes, and that we will go where l-le goes. Such are all that are born of the Spirit of God.
What God Wants When He Calls Us to Something
To understand vocation adequately, however, we must turn to the topic of what it is that God wants when he calls us to do something, for example, to enter the Religious life. Earlier on, I distinguished between God’s call and ‘God’s will in what must have seemed an exaggerated carefulness for a non-technical article. But now we shall have to make full use of the distinction.
If God invites a woman to the Religious life and she, for whatever reasons, marries instead and raises a family, what is God’s will for her as to her state of life? It is to be a Christian wife and mother, at least till some, presumably far distant, date. Thus, we have to say that He can will that people stay in states of life which they have entered without His calling them there, or even against His call.
Nor is His willing of such a situation to be interpreted as a call to it, that is, as a new call taking account of the new circumstances, though often in such cases He may. In the case just above, that God speak to this woman about remaining in her married condition rather than going to a convent, especially if she is on bad terms with Him generally, while quite possible seems in no way required. Or it would be God’s will, should a man steal some great sum of money, that he make restitution. Would He have to call him to restitution ‒ by any stronger means, at least, than the natural law? God might will, at least permissively, that a man contract syphilis while whoring. There is clearly no invitation to do so, and no command. On the other hand, He wills that men follow an invincibly erroneous conscience, say, to kill and eat in some religious rite some other man. But He does not ordinarily call them thereto.
God wills things, then, to which He does not call. He wills that we will what we are convinced that He wills, not what He does will; and He need not call us to either the one or the other. The basic reason for this lies in the gratuity of His calling, in His freedom as to how, and Whether, He will communicate with anyone on anything.
Turning in another direction, we find St. Ignatius Loyola writing to St. Francis Borgia to tell him that the same divine Spirit can, for reasons of his own, move Ignatius to obstruct Borgia’s being made a cardinal and can, for other reasons of His own, move other people to seek Borgia’s elevation, and Himself will that the latter be successful. Both sides in the conflict are called, constituted indeed in opposition to each other, by God; He wills that only one of them win out.
It is a commonplace in religious literature that God may truly call a man, say, to go on the foreign missions and, in fact, will that he never leave his native city. The classic case of this sort, of course, is that of the call (of command) to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. There He called to a sacrifice He did not want and, so far as the text indicates, wanted a sacrifice to which He did not call. A further situation, apparently not infrequent according to Vatican II, is this, that God call a Christian to perfection and yet not will unconditionally and, therefore, in the concrete case, effectively that he or she reach it. God, then, calls to what He does not will.
Unlike the former set of cases which hinged on God’s freedom to speak to us, this set hinges upon the temporality of man. It is the neglect or failure to grasp the full significance and importance of this temporal aspect of God’s calls that has chiefly bedeviled this whole domain.
Two Aspects of God’s Call
God’s calling, His own action, is eternal, apart altogether from time. Hence, His call, that which His calling produces in the created order, will have two aspects: From and in its relation to God, it will appear to us in some way as all-at-a-moment, as instantaneous. The ancient definition of eternity as “the entire and perfect possession, all at once, of life without bound or limit” fits here with the insistence of Christian mystics, Ignatius apparently among them, on the quasi-instantaneous quality of the purest of God’s interventions in the soul.” But from the human side, His call not merely takes place into time but in time. It is spread out in time. It is always a process, having an intrinsic temporal structure, no matter how tightly compressed, Hence, though there may be “peak experiences,” “strong times,” and sudden interventions, useful indeed for structuring and understanding our experience, still there are, from our side, no true point-events. Any call will still retain, despite its brevity a certain structure and pattern in duration.
Even in the calls of Matthew and Saul, classic cases of “instantaneous” call, the temporal element is not, for all that, wholly suppressed. Even apart from the call’s being couched in the temporal duration of human speech, it brings Matthew first internally to respond by leaving all things, then to rise, to follow, then to confirm all by the feast and reception; and Saul, dazzled within as well as without by the flash of Him who is eternally New, stammers in the back-and-forth of an overpowered nature seeking to some hold or point of reference for the mind in what has happened to it, yet Christ too enters into this back-and-forth, pressing home the call, then bringing in Ananias to heal, but also to testify to and confirm that call. No matter how instantaneous we may suppose God’s action into time to have been, the human reception of it is a process in time.
When, then, God invites or commands a human being to do something makes no least difference is necessarily setting the person into motion, initiating a process which begins as necessary, reception but which at once and in ever growing measure involves more and more the human will until a response is given in full liberty. If the call is accepted, the person sets about taking the means suitable for achieving the expressed objective of the call. A command, then, “Do this now” is implicitly equivalent to: “As you come to grasp what I am saying to you, accept this command on my authority as your own will and set about its accomplishment!” A command is a direct but not an express manifestation of His will that I accept His injunction actively (that is, in the sense of choosing with my own freedom to tend at once towards the actions indicated). What the command states expressly is the objective of the call, what is to be aimed at, sought, achieved, but which, no matter how perfect my response, may in fact never be achieved or realized, for example, I might drop dead the next minute. This temporal disjoining is, if anything, accentuated in an invitation, which by its very nature as asking for a response that God does not require to be given, interjects a note of consideration and reflection.
Whence, if God calls, He must will (absolutely, unconditionally) the initial non-free, at most merely voluntary elements of my response. Further, He wills (conditionally: should I live so long; should I wish to please Him; and so forth) that I engage my full freedom in response to His call, accept it, and choose to take appropriate action to achieve its stated objective. But He need not will that I reach that objective ‒ nor indeed that it be attained in any manner by anyone ‒ which then serves but as the Pole Star, the direction-giver, the compendious specifier of the response which He does desire from me.
Whether, then, God desires for someone the objective towards which He calls him (something he will not ordinarily know except by the fact of reaching it) or not, He does desire this first movement of free response, this particular, concrete engagement of this person’s liberty, and indeed in an affirmative sense: by accepting and making his own God’s manifested desire. This free response need not be regarded, I think, as ever strictly simultaneous with the moment of call, but it is initiated thereby as a temporal process. Since the human act of freedom itself is a-temporal and quasi-eterna1, some flow of time at least will elapse between these moments. If God were to call someone who dies before his liberty can become operative in responding, then it is for some goal or reason lying quite outside His personal relations with that person.
Now, the objective of the call, when God effectively wills that also, and also the first free response are always particular and concrete as seen by God. God has only a concrete will (though in no way an isolating, “individualistic” one). He does not think or choose by abstraction. And every existent is only because and insofar as He wills it to. This does not do away, of course, with the distinction between His antecedent and consequent willing; He can will to bring to be whatever we choose while also willing or repudiating the thing we choose. But from our side, it is not by any means always clear what He has in mind in some call, neither what precise objective is aimed at nor what precise response He at this moment desires.
This necessary gap in time between a call and the achieving of its objective can itself be something not merely tolerated, so to speak, by God till the person addressed can get himself in gear and attain it. It can be directly chosen by Him. For, God is not constrained to give His call only at the point in time when it can be realized or when it first lies with the person called to be able to take effective action. He can and does call long before this point as well as (the case we more easily envisage) long after. There is nothing to prevent His calling to and willing an objective which it is, and long remains, quite impossible for the person called to reach or even to know about, save by ostension, or in any direct fashion to move towards.
Thus God can call a young girl to the cloister, a young boy to the priesthood, either to the married state, even to marrying a particular spouse. These calls are not void or vacuous, even though their express objectives are strictly impossible of present attainment. A generous response, however, can be made at once in every case; and it is this response, presumably, that God desires in making His call anticipate possibility by so many years. It is extraordinarily important in practice to keep in mind that the mere fact of a genuine call to a particular way of life in no way implies that God wants this person to enter upon that way of life or that, even if He does want him to do so, there is any need for him to do, or be allowed to do, anything directly towards achieving it for, perhaps, many more years.
While discussing the temporal aspects of a call, we should consider such questions as, “Does God call a person more than once? Does He call him continuously or only at some favored moment? Does He call a person to one objective now and to another later?”
It seems, on the basis of the Scriptures and of experience, that God often calls a person more than once, in the sense of renewing or repeating His call towards a given objective. Consider the case of Samuel, though there the reiterations are so close that distinguishing them would be trivial in any other context. God keeps calling Jonas to the same mission until he responds in the desired fashion. Note, however, that each repetition of a call is to the person differently situated, since each earlier call has been turned down, misunderstood, forgotten, and so forth. It may happen, too, that a person hears a call from God, responds positively, and is then in a position to receive another call to a further and different objective; and if he responds well to that, then another call may come which takes him further still.
Two types of situation, the repeated call to one objective and the sequence of calls to consecutive objectives, seem to differ only in that the repeated calls, when not declined, are in some way inadequately or inappropriately received, whereas the sequence of calls supposes a correlative series of positive responses. It seems likely, too, that what appears to us as a sequence of calls, broken up into discreteness in time by the discontinuity of our free choices, is seen from God’s side as one call, gradually being fulfilled, to a particular, historical, essentially temporal manifestation and imaging of the Lord of history who is Christ, God enfleshed in time.
II. STRUCTURE OF THE HUMAN RESPONSE
We have briefly glanced above at some of the structures to be seen within a call
from God. But if it is the free response by which the person moves to embrace that call that is the only thing we can be wholly certain that God is willing when He calls someone, then we must give attention also to the structure of that response. It will, clearly, be more important to know how to respond to His call than to know how to attain its objective, much as we tend to invert this order in practice.
The Call Must Be Known
Since what God desires is free response, we must know that we are responding, that is, that someone is addressing us, to whom a free response can be made, about something which specifies the content of our response.
Thus, I could conceivably walk into a friend’s house by chance at such a time as to join in a party he is giving. But that would not be a response to the invitation which he had sent me to this party, since I had only carelessly glanced at that, mistaking it for an invitation sent by an acquaintance whom I had but little desire to see again. In fact, if I still do not put things together properly once I find myself at the party, I could be a little miffed that I was left to discover this party by accident.
Response, positive or negative, to an invitation, then, is much more than doing or not doing that to which one is invited. The invitation must be known as such. When it is, then there will be a gratitude for its being extended to me, a growth in affection, and a sort of interior consolidation: it is good for my self-esteem that so-and-so has shown again his friendship for me this way. And so, to respond to God’s call in that manner which He desires and for which, in some primary sense, He gave it, I must know that He is calling me and that it is He, no other, who is calling.
Firmness through Knowledge of the Call
No greater solidity, groundedness, firmness can be given to anyone’s mode of life than by the knowledge ‒ admittedly in faith, not vision ‒ that it is the Lord who has called him to that state. No matter how agonizing his situation may be, no matter how much his own sins have contributed to make it so, he can hold on and fight his way through because of the consciousness that it is to this way of life that God has, in His love, invited him and in this He has preserved him. This knowledge of His call is also the grounding of the great joy that is so characteristic not only of the saints and blessed, but of ordinary holy people. I know there is much theological writing today which argues that if you really believe, then you are totally in the dark and uncertain and insecure about everything above the natural. But Scripture speaks otherwise, as does the teaching of the saints.
When our Lady stood beneath the cross, Simeon’s words remembered made clear that to this seemingly idiot horror the Father Himself had called her: and so she stood in the darkness, physical and spiritual, of her agony. And for St. Paul, how much like a refrain, in slightly varied language, is his speech of his call as the basis of his confidence, as an apostle not from man nor through men, called by Him who had set him apart before he was born, who had called him through His grace.
It is from this same source, it seems, that come the peace and joy and enthusiasm that characterize the early days of the foundation of Orders and congregations. These are groups in which they know that they, each and all, are called to this; thus, they can take any amount of other uncertainty, humiliation, suffering, contradiction, and the rest, because, whatever God may ultimately have in mind, they know that this is where He wants them now to be. The great reason, then, for being so careful about whether a person is truly called by God to a particular way of life, helping him to get where God is indeed calling him, is so that he can serve the Lord with this enthusiasm, this wholeheartedness, this joy which, setting him free of self-concern, flows out in that mutual love, which speaks Christ’s praise loudly to all men and is the strongest witness to Him short of the martyrdom of blood, of which the white martyrdom of religious life is the undying reverberation. This true knowledge of our call is the great ground of building up the Church and of apostolate. Few things else draw men so much as this rootedness in God, which all men’s hearts are made for.
Admittedly, no matter how much we know our call, we can always betray like Judas and can always deny like Peter, and have much to repent of ‒ yet the ground of Peter’s repentance, when Jesus turned and looked at him, was just this awareness of Christ’s call as the manifestation of His love for him. If we are aware of being personally called by Him who loves us and who is faithful, if we are brought here not merely by circumstances, laws of nature, or hidden mechanisms of the psyche, or even by the free decision of an adult human person, choosing what seems best under essentially unknowable circumstances, or by some general providence forcing us, then, apart from the weakness of our own freedom and from our own sinfulness, there is nothing on this earth that can shake us ‒ “who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” There, Paul is speaking of the Christian life in general; can it be less true in relation to His more personal and intimate calls to living the Christian life in those ways which please Him most?
This is the foundation of any Christian life fully lived: the Rock which is Christ ‒ not abstractly considered but present, in glory, calling me, and promising to sustain me; we are grounded in Christ, since it is He who calls.
Ways of Coming to Knowledge of God’s Call
Protest can be made that too much in the way of knowledge is demanded here; that, were all this correct, God’s call would be not less, perhaps more, than the clear, quiet, but unmistakable voice in the inner heart that would constitute a call more extraordinary in its most basic aspects than if it were mediated visibly by an angel. And it can rightly be urged that St. Francis de Sales ‒ to mention but one ‒ and Pope St. Pius X roundly denounced such restrictive ideas of God’s call.
St. Ignatius, in the Spiritual Exercises, offers, I believe, a response. There he distinguishes three characteristic ways of coming to this clear and reflex knowledge of God`s call which is under discussion. God can and does ‒ not as infrequently as is often assumed ‒ make His call heard by acting directly and immediately on the soul, bypassing created media, stirring and drawing the will so mightily that the person follows His call at once without doubt or power to doubt. Matthew and Saul are given as typical instances, much more frequently, He acts less directly, bringing about a gradual dawning of knowledge and clear realization of His invitation through the consolations He gives, mostly through His angels and other creatures, and the desolations He permits from the side of fallen nature or the powers of hell.
But there is a further and fairly common way in which God’s voice can be heard and recognized. For, there are times when God indeed calls, but when the created manifestation does not appear to the person called in the guise of invitation or command. All that a person sees or feels is simply his own activity, calmly weighing in the light of faith and reason the various opportunities; then, in peace and full tranquility of soul, choosing that which seems most to God’s glory and service and his own soul’s good; finally, offering the choice so made to God, asking humbly for His confirmation of the choice and being willing to make it over again if He should so indicate. Ultimately, the decision is taken with God’s grace; but it seems at first as if there were no element of communication in it, no apparent initiative there from God’s side.
Well-ordered Decisions as Hearing God’s Call
What, then, justifies our treating such well-ordered decisions as modes of hearing a call from God, especially as I have already set aside the notion that God would be content with any well-made choice?
Firstly, as Karl Rahner points out with great acumen, the very silence of God can be an indication that He wishes us to make our choice in this fashion, without the consolation of a more direct awareness of His speaking. As with men, so with God, much can be said by silence. But the meaning of the silence depends crucially, in both cases, upon the total situation. For, it is not merely that God is silent that convinces us that we have in such case heard His call ‒ this is the gross but common error that some make in their gibes at the Spiritual Exercises ‒ but that He is silent in a precise way, in a precise context, at a precise time.
He is silent, but in such a way that the presence of His grace is manifest in its power. This son or daughter of God, who has (if we take the strong case of the Spiritual Exercises) been two or three weeks in deep prayer and penance, learning to receive His grace, to hear Him speak, to respond to His Word, is now in tranquility and peace, firmly desirous of sharing everything and living everything that Jesus lived and endured, not in the least put off by the thought of the humiliations, hardships, and austerity that await him in varying degrees in any Christian state of life, but rather drawn to them by and because of his love for Christ. Yet there is no strong movement of soul, no waves of consolation and desolation. Many states of life seem good and possible; all have problems connected with them. But in peace, the person works through the pros and cons to see where the weight of argument would seem to incline, to see what God will show him through faith and reason.
Were God not powerfully and operatively present, this pattern of effective (though little felt) love of Christ, purity of heart, and simple and unanxious tranquility would not be possible, certainly not for long. That a man can make his choice in the manner which Ignatius indicates without moving out of this context, save, perhaps, for transient difficulties, shows well enough that God is supervising the process and acting effectively to bring it through to a successful conclusion.
Nor does the matter ordinarily rest there. Some sort of confirmation or positive sign of God’s accepting the choice so made is to be looked for. Is there any resonance afterwards between what they have chosen and the gospel? anything that indicates that indeed God is closer to them than before? Is there any greater ease in prayer, any greater openness in charity to other people, any greater solidity in their spiritual life? any sense of reso1ution of conflict (something more than simply cessation of conflict; for if one has been struggling with a question, there is a certain sort of peace which comes from the mere fact that one has made a choice in either direction)? Do they give themselves quietly but energetically to the way they have chosen, without looking back, without regrets, without saying, “Maybe I’ve done the wrong thing” and wavering, even when confronted with obstacles or difficulties growing directly from the choice? And, with all of this, can they seriously and freely consider new alternatives proposed to them or old ones, indeed, when asked to do so? Is there a sense that, were God to indicate, however slightly, that their choice was not His, they could bring their own choice around gladly, without upset or turmoil?
The exigencies made by grace, if one is clearly to hear God’s call in this manner, are evidently not trifling. Yet neither are they impossible or infrequently met ‒ it is not human strength but God’s grace that is primarily at work here also. It is easily possible to meet Religious in numbers who, without any express advertence to the context and structures we have mentioned, have made their choice in basically the same fashion. For example, a young woman needs to take a direction with her life, asks God for His help, and considers the various ways she might best serve Him and her neighbor; and, as a result of all the evidence she has carefully gathered and weighed, decides that this is the way of life for her, one that she has the grace to live well and in which the road to her own salvation and others’ stands wide open. But any such person has not merely arrived at a choice but at a knowledge, only implicit, perhaps, but genuine, that God has helped her in her choosing, and that the choice made was God’s concrete will for her. The choosing itself was the free response to God’s calling, not only in its being made in freedom but in its discovered objective (a free agent must needs choose something; those poles are inseparable).
On the other hand, it has happened often enough that people have chosen their way of life without such a resultant knowledge. Either God did not call or they did not hear well or understand correctly. In my following article, such situations will be discussed at length. Suffice it here to say that they are serious situations and deserve careful consideration.
The Range of Appropriate Responses
While God’s call is always concrete and particular with regard both to the free response desired when He calls and to the objective, whenever or to whatever extent God effectively wills its attainment, as also to whatever lies between these, under the same condition, still the person called does not have to know any one of these conditions in its concreteness to begin with. As to the call’s objective and intermediate actions, who is it that does know on entering the seminary that he will in fact be ordained? Who knows on entering a novitiate that he will be admitted to final vows in that institute? Who knows, even, that the more general and wholly essential call to glory will attain a fulfillment in him?
It is true that God does, at times, not merely call a person but promise him that He will bring him to the objective. This greater gift, of course, invites a greater response. Hence, the high point of Abraham’s faith with regard to the sacrifice of Isaac was not merely that he was willing to make the sacrifice but that he still believed, hoping against hope, that God’s promise to him would hold and that in and through Isaac would his chosen and blessed posterity inherit the world.
As to ignorance of the first free response which God desires, one common result of a call in the concrete ‒ one that a director should keep constantly in mind ‒ is that the person begins to wrestle and struggle to discern it ‒ the process we noted above in Saul, and which is evident in Zachary and even in our Lady herself ‒ that is, to make himself reflexly aware of it in its true nature. Here, in general, he will be acting freely, though not yet in the response of acceptance (or rejection).
Further, a little reflection shows that there is a great range of appropriate and free responses, all of which could be lumped together under the general label of “inquiry” into what God might be saying or has said; primarily with God in prayer, but also in reflection, discussion with a spiritual director, making some kind of retreat, checking out one’s natural psychological state and balance, and so forth. For one can know that something has happened without knowing it is God who has acted; one can know that He has acted without knowing that He has spoken; that He has spoken without knowing what He has said; what He has said without knowing His meaning, His intent, still less His goals. Any of the responses indicated could presumably be sufficient reason for God’s calling, even were all others to fail. But in the most ordinary cases, at least, He desires not only the inquiry into but the acceptance of the call.
Thus also, not every call comes to a liberty disengaged, to a freedom that has no decisions already taken. When it comes, it may seem to contradict or, at least, accord but ill with what has already been accepted and known, not merely as His call but as His will. What then? Then the response must be a questioning, if not about the fact of the call or the author of it, then at least as to its meaning or its content, though evidently a question on any of these could have repercussions on all the others.
Consider Mary’s question which, not concerned as Zachary’s was with possibility, was deeply concerned about consistency. Yet she does not ask if this message, seemingly from the Lord, is indeed consonant with the promise she had already made Him of a virginal body and heart. Even that would imply a challenge and fail in reverence. But how it is to be, that she must know, lest she assent to something displeasing to Him; for, He is ever the same, however different in our eyes, and cannot undo the work of grace which He has done, however He may choose to add to or alter it. Thus, I think no apodictic norms can be given concerning what in detail He first is looking for from His creatures when He calls them. In questions of vocation, direction, consequently, one must be very careful about judging too hastily those movements as unworthy or as some cowardly refusal to respond.
The possible positive responses, then, are manifold; and in response to a single call, a whole series may be evoked. Corresponding negative responses, declining or rejecting the call or inquiry, are always possible also. But there are other patterns of response which we shall want to consider in great detail in the article devoted to practical applications. Thus, a person can hear, but only partially. This partial hearing is often an instinctive refusal of one or other element in the call ‒ or thought to be in it, since this instinctive repression usually precedes any adequate inquiry into the content or direction of the call.
Conversely’, calls can be “heard” that have never been given, an unfortunately common situation. Or a call may be heard but the response can be mistaken: the person may interpret the call as pointing one way when in reality it was aimed in some wholly different direction. The reasons for such mistakes can range from simple error, whether through misinformation given them by others or through inadvertence, all the way to a deep-driving warping and twisting of the impulse of grace received in order to satisfy some need or craving in its recipient.
Detailed investigation of the reasons for these situations can be remanded to my following article. Here it will be of interest to look at those general structures of our knowing that render this whole area so difficult.
Difficulty of Obscurity
The most obvious, generic difficulty is that the knowledge of one’s call is a knowledge which always remains within the domain of faith; being known through faith only, it can never be stronger or clearer than the person’s faith. Hence, there will always remain in our knowledge of our call an element of obscurity. But the obscurity of faith is that of the luminous cloud which overshadowed the Apostles on the mountain of the Transfiguration ‒ antecedent to the human acceptance of and free action in and from faith, all remains dark; one can make no necessary argument; if there is no conclusive proof that one should not believe, yet one can see no real reason for doing so. But once one acts in faith, once the leap is taken in the dark for the act of faith in conversion seems to set the pattern for all subsequent acts of faith ‒ and faith is not just assented to notionally but carried into choice and action, like the faith of Abraham on the summit in Moriah, then all is light, a light which illumines all, though without explaining, which .floods the understanding and the heart without any least diminution or “solution” to the mystery.
Nor is there any reason why God’s call need add any obscurity of its own to all else that is known by faith. If one knows Christ, His Church, His mysteries, and so forth, the call may be just as clear, having no darkness proper to itself (once heard and accepted, for what is said in the last paragraph above remains true). The converse need not be true, however. Without apparent influence on the other areas of faith, one’s vocation can seem, at one time or another, plunged wholly into darkness.
As noted above, feelings can be mistaken for faith. So also ‒ a point that has many practical repercussions ‒ the response of freedom is all too easily confused with a response of feeling. The former is, however, always a choice, an action of liberty, an acceptance or rejection ‒ something in the person himself is irretrievably changed for good or ill. In the latter, nothing is truly changed, except perhaps as a result of some impulsive action brought on by the strength of the feeling. The confusion may come, in part, from mere carelessness or from the current addiction to “experience.” But more basically, it comes from the way our choices can cover themselves with our feelings in elaborate mechanisms of defense against what we fear to face squarely and in truth. Hence, also, the response that God clearly desires in many of His communications with us is a change of heart, an opening up of some such defense to His light, and a healing of ancient feelings, long buried, repressed, feared or, perhaps, secretly nurtured. But whenever such is the case, human freedom, if it is not engaged in the discovery and the opening and healing process, must yet ratify and accept what God has done ‒ or else refuse it. And it is more often in this context of refusal that feelings, from that time onward, parade as will.
Difficulty of Our Unwillingness
The other major type of difficulty is pointed to in Augustine’s remarks in the Confessions (Bk. 10, n. 26): “You reply clearly to all, though they ask about different matters; but all do not clearly hear . . . they do not always hear what they wish. But your best servant is the one who does not look more to hear from You what he would wish, but rather to wish what he shall have heard from You.”
If, then, we have grounds to complain that God does not speak to us, is not the problem less that He is unwilling to speak than that we are unwilling to hear? As Jesus with the men of His day, so now: the ordinary condition for God’s free communication with us is our openness to hearing His voice, our ability to listen to all that He desires. For He loves us and would rather not have true of us that, hearing, we hear but do not understand or that, seeing, we see but do not perceive and, so, fail to turn to Him that He may heal us.
It is easier now to understand what Ignatius is about in the Spiritual Exercises. Ever desiring to seek the best service of His Lord, he could almost be said merely to have picked up the last sentence just quoted from Augustine and to have written a practical commentary, a “How-to” handbook on it. To many devout Christians the Exercises have seemed almost blasphemous, demanding that God come when I snap my fingers and tell me what He wants me to do with my life. But neither in the Exercises nor in all the less structured appeals to God in prayer, of such endless variety among Christians, appeals for light to know and strength to do His will, is there any question of “snapping one’s fingers.” It is rather that Christians see very clearly that God wants to talk to us; He would like to be with us as He was with Adam, walking with him in the cool of the day; His delight is to be with the children of men. It does not hurt Him in any way or detract from His majesty or goodness to be with us, to talk with us, to make His desires known to us.
The only problem is that we are so terribly unready to pay Him any attention or, like Adam, run to hide from Him our sinfulness and nakedness, and we rise so swiftly in revolt when He even intimates from a great distance what He would like that often, were He to come closer, it would be for our condemnation rather than for our blessing. Remember The Dream of Gerontius where the soul in purgatory flies up toward God and in that light, because of its own impurity, instead of reflecting the light in glory, absorbs it and is heated and turned, until burned pure, into a spark. We would burn were we too much in His light but not receiving it as it ought to be received. God is silent for very good reasons, most frequently to protect us from ourselves, to purify us, but also, to strengthen our faith, to intensify our hope, to enlarge our capacity to love Him by making us desire Him the more, and so forth ‒ but not because He does want to talk to us.
III. THE OBJECTIVES OF GOD’S CALL
We wish now to look at the objectives of God’s calls. For, important as it is to distinguish between initial free responses to His call and attainment of the call’s objective, yet in far the greater number of cases, it seems that God does will the objective also (although, in view of human ignorance and sin, conditionally). He desires the vocational goal to which He calls us and offers us full opportunity and means to reach it.
For the Good of the Body of Christ
The objectives which He chooses for us are chosen primarily for the good of the Body of Christ, through and in which the whole of mankind is meant to glorify the Father. As in our bodies the individual cells are mostly grouped in tissues, organs, and members, with some few able to move about freely, so in the Body of Christ, with individual Christians as its “cells.” These “cells” group together (or are meant to) according to the objectives of His calls to them. Each unit so composed serves the whole through some relatively restricted, precisely laid out pattern of functioning-though, as in the human body, all sorts of hidden powers enter into play in complex programs of adaptation in time of emergency or in case of failure of other parts. Again, as in the natural body, some few in each “organ” are called upon to maintain express communication with the rest of the Body (like nerve cells) or to situate the “organ” properly and hold it in its proper shape and structure to do its work (like connective tissues).
Each class of “cell” by its efficient and proper functioning, serves the whole Body, for example, generating essential products to circulate throughout, catalyzing reactions in other units, purifying the system, enabling it to move about, helping it in the preservation of its temporal existence, and the rest. But note, each “cell” insofar as it reaches its objective serves each other “cell,” directly or indirectly, so that it too may function well for the good of each and of all. This good is mostly done by the “cells” acting in unison (not necessarily in uniformity), acting according to their individual objectives in collective modes of function, ranging from the relatively simple additivity of muscle fibers to the still unfathomable complexity of cellular interactions in the brain.
So also, as each cell in our bodies is stamped with identical genetic information,” each Christian has the same seal and sign of his divine begetting and inheritance through baptism and confirmation.
Likewise, as each cell, no matter how similar to its fellows, has its own characteristics and aptitudes, strengths and weaknesses, peculiar environment and “history,” so, in far stronger fashion, each person in Christ is called to an objective which retains in some manner his special, God-created gifts of nature and prior grace. Yet the objective of our call may fit us into the Body in a manner requiring high specialization. Thus, as the welfare of our bodies depends most upon such uniquely specialized and irreplaceable cells as the great nerve cells of the spine or those brain cells which stretch out to form the retina of the eye, or the strange muscle fiber of the heart, or the mysterious “chemical factories” of the pituitary gland, so the Body of the Church requires specialization, with all its correlative drawbacks for the cells in question, if they are ever considered simply in themselves. Most specialized, they are also most vulnerable to disease or injury, least capable of recovery or adaptation to drastically new and adverse situations. Thus, the aptitudes and capacities of which we are aware may have minimal significance in God’s eyes in comparison with those others which only His call and favor can make prominent and effective for the Church.
The beauty of the body lies not merely or even chiefly in the perfect balance or dynamic interrelations of the forms and movements of all of its parts, but in an all-suffusing and inexpressible shining-forth of the person himself. So, in the Church, what God is seeking to bring about in this Bride for His Son is a loveliness of the whole through that balance and graceful movement of action between all parts which best permits the world to see her aglow with the Spirit, yearning for Christ alone.
In this context it should be clear that, although for the health or life of an entire organ or member a cutting away of some group of cells, even an amputation, may be needed, most surgery in the matter of vocation will deal with “grafts,” helping people move from where they are, when perhaps they have long been in some religious institute, to some other institute or state of life, not in punishment or repudiation but so that they can find that place where God is now at least calling them or wishing them to be and where their greatest hope of happiness and salvation lies.
The Call Makes Possible the Reception of the Call
I have spoken of God’s consideration of our natural aptitudes and other endowments; but here a basic and difficult question arises. As indicated by von Balthasar in the remarks quoted above, there is no way in which, looking at Simon, with all his natural aptitudes, temperament, dispositions, and desires, you could have deduced Peter ‒ probably not even if you knew what God’s grace had done in him up till then. And even if you were given what Peter was to be, you could not have known what you would have needed in Simon in order to have Peter. Here, indeed, we touch the mystery of God’s calling.
The Father asks: “I wish my Son to become man, to take human flesh. Who would be a suitable person in Whom He might be conceived?” How would you go about finding a suitable person for that? There is nothing in human nature that could make anyone suitable or qualified for such a vocation. It is not given to man, as man, to be suitable to be the mother of God. Even though all natural endowments come from God, it is not given to the creature to be qualified for the objectives of God’s calls. This is the rock bottom truth for any vocation: everyone is utterly unfit for whatever it is he is called to if his fitness be measured by whatever he has of his own self and of antecedent grace.
This is deep-rooted in the faith: reread the Canons of the Second Council of Orange, magnificent in their spiritual depth, taken up again by Trent. No vigor of our natures can suffice for any good effects in the order of salvation and for the upbuilding of the Body of Christ. Even when we have been reborn in grace and healed, we still cannot achieve any objective to which He calls us without His further help, which we can only pray for as we ought if He gives us the desire so to pray.
But this indicates not only our lack of qualification, but also the solution to the puzzle: no qualifications are possible in advance; none are needed; but, by His call, He Himself makes possible the reception of the call and a positive response and, whenever He wishes the objective, He gives the qualifications, or the promise of them, along with the call itself.
So, for Our Lady, God having chosen to call her to be the Mother of God, she, so chosen, is formed by an immaculate conception, grows sinless to maturity, and virginally gives birth to the Son of God. So she becomes a fit instrument ‒ recall all those prayers at Mass: “a worthy habitation,” “a fitting dwelling-place,” “who merited to be the Mother of Your Son,” “He whom you deserved to bear,” As Karl Barth remarked, opposing our doctrine concerning Mary, she stands in a certain way for every Christian; if these privileges belong to the Mother, then to some degree they belong to each of her children. It is not that we are sinless and the rest, but that precisely this same pattern of grace and merit is at work in us. So that if He calls us to something, and wants us to arrive at it, to that same extent He will grace us and give us all that we need for that mode of life in His service.
This indicates another reason why it is so important for a person to know with some certainty whether and to what he is called by God. What is being attempted in the following out of any Christian state of life is beyond human capacity; and without His call and the gifts which it supposes and grants, there can be no good outcome. This does not deny that God can draw good from and remedy all our mistakes and blunders; but that is another matter.
Dimensions of a State of Life
The objectives of God’s calls are of enormous diversity. There is no mode or manner of Christian life to which He does not call; and He would seem steadily to generate new manners of life, hitherto unthought-of of.
In order to obtain some insight into this diversity, to find some key to its structuring, and to deal with the almost unmanageable richness of the concrete cases we must look at, it is helpful to note, without any attempt to treat the matter exhaustively, what can be called the “dimensions” of a state of life in the Church, in order to indicate how one might situate, relative to one another, the different states, actual or possible.
Degree of Sacramental Power
The simplest dimension in structure is that of the degree of sacramental power in the service of the Church. Its divisions are well-known: the lay state, constituted by baptism and confirmation (since these two are not meant to be permanently separated, no stable state is constituted by baptism alone) and the three states constituted by orders: diaconate, priesthood, episcopacy.
The Secular to Religious Spectrum
A second dimension is characterized most easily as that which extends from the secular to the religious (in the sense used in “a religious order,” for example). At one pole is the life of the married secular Christian, whether lay, diaconal, or as in the Eastern rites, priestly; then in some sort of rough ordering, the so called secular institutes, the communities of common life, the religious congregations, the religious orders, and the eremitical life. This is evidently a dimension of spirituality rather than of power. Since the various categories of “religious life” are to some degree defined by their position along this axis, it will be useful to spell out how the “polar” states are specified, at least for our present purposes.
Secular spirituality helps man to use, develop, and enjoy the temporal order under the action of grace, thus bearing witness that the value given to temporal things by creation has not been diminished but consecrated through Christ’s taking up of our human nature ‒ and all else natural in connection with it ‒ in His Incarnation. Hence, the man of purely secular spirituality serves the Church by preparing the necessary natural conditions for the spreading and support of the kingdom of God. Most distinctively, he works within the temporal precisely to bring about the Christianization of the social order, illuminating the city of man, as it is being built, by the light of Christ.
The spirituality of a Religious Order, strictly so called, has as its primary aim as conscious and immediate a union with God as possible. This union, however, of the sin-stained creature with the Divine Majesty can only take place in and through the redemptive mysteries of our Lord’s Passion and Glorification. Renouncing, then, such foundation stones of the temporal order as possessions, family, and the free disposition of his own activity, the Religious strives to give every element in his life the imprint of Christ’s redeeming death in order to share more intensely, now, His risen life. As was early learned in Christian history, however, God always remains the master of His gifts; mystical graces are not due to religious or essential to the full living of the religious life. Hence, the Religious state is a way of life characterized by having all of its elements directed to producing that purification of its members which will make them open and ready for whatever degree of conscious union God may choose, in His freedom, to give them. Through its bond with man’s redemption, the Religious state possesses its own form of intrinsic apostolate; the multiple witness which it bears before the world to the possibility and immense desirability of divine union, as well as to the necessity of crucifixion with Christ before men can make an integrally natural use of the temporal order, and to the trifling value of temporal goods insofar as these act concretely as hindrances to our eternal sharing in His glory. It is this witness which forms the core of all Religious apostolates.
The Dimension of Apostolic Engagement
A third dimension exists, again “at right angles” to the dimensions already considered, that of apostolic engagement. Thus, at all roughly the same position in terms of the and second dimensions, one finds, for example, Carthusians, Trappists, Benedictines, Franciscans, Dominicans, and Jesuits, arranged roughly in order of the increasing influence which an active apostolate has upon the inner spirituality of the contemplative. Some of these, I believe, as originally founded and first approved by the Church, were lay institutes, others priestly, others comprising laity and priests; and all have, though in different modes, the same strongly contemplative emphasis on total purification and abnegation of heart characteristic of the Religious Order. The effects of these relations to apostolic action we shall return to shortly. At another position, there are the congregations: Ursulines, Servites, Christian Brothers, Passionists, Redemptorists, and so on through a lengthy list. Or, at roughly the same level of the secular, there are not only both the married and the unmarried secular lay states, but the secular institutes (Opus Dei, the Nardines, and so forth) and the Oriental secular clergy. These lists can be greatly extended by filling in the apparent “gaps” and much subdivided by what might be called “internal coordinates” proper to the various groups, for example, in the Jesuits, there are three permanent “grades” (the solemnly professed, the spiritual coadjutors, the temporal coadjutors) who differ in their manner of supporting and assisting the particular apostolic intent characteristic of the Society of Jesus. It is here that the sexual coordinate belongs: the distinction between Trappists and Trappistines, Franciscans and Poor Clares, the male and female branches of Carmelites, Maryknolls, and so forth.
The Varieties of “Religious Life”
It seems clear, then, that “Religious life” is a term nearly empty of useful content so far as specifying the objectives of vocations is concerned. Indeed, it can do more harm than good unless it is seen that it is used only analogously of the different institutes to which it can be applied. In fact, only a highly abstract form of analogy is useful here, for example, the relation between Franciscans and their vows, say, is analogous to but in no way the same as the relation between Trappists and their vows.
The poverty of Franciscans, mitigated though it may be from what Francis was called to by the Lord, is still very different from the poverty, say, of Benedictines, not merely in its concrete forms and embodiment but in its spiritual function within their respective modes of life. The poverty of the Franciscans is meant, I believe, to generate a close relationship with the poor of both cities and countryside, as well as ease of movement and continued nourishing of popular devotion wherever they happen to be on their journeys. This differs greatly from the stable austerity and hospitable sharing of the fruits of their own toil which characterize the Benedictines. The obedience of Jesuits differs profoundly from that of Trappists. The corporal penances, simplicity of life, and labor in quasi-isolation of the latter call for a submission of will different in kind and function from that which is meant to serve as the dominant instrument of abnegation, purification of heart, and bond of fraternal union among men immersed in continual converse with persons of every condition of life and disposition of soul. The chastity of Carthusians is not that of Dominicans; not necessarily a greater but a different quality of chastity is needed by the active apostolate of the preacher than by a quasi-eremitical life. The solitudo cordis, the reservation of the heart for God alone, the aim in some way of all religious chastity, can, since true charity is but a single virtue directed at the same time to God and to all men for His sake, and must take on varied forms as the institute lays greater or less stress on communal life and on spiritual ministries to women as well as men. The differences in these and endlessly many other respects is far greater still between any order, say, and a congregation or, in turn, a community of common life.
Diversity among Religious desired by God
This brings us to the central point of this section: all this diversity among religious, to go no further afield, is desired by God, who generated it by personally calling people to each of these ways of living the Gospel. This multiplicity and specificity of orientation, structure, and function is His choosing. If, then, we try to suppress any authentic differences among institutes, it is God whom we are resisting.
There has been, however, at least during the last generation or two in this country, a strong tendency to try to level all degrees and to make every spirituality basically the same. “All vocations are equally holy. Married people are as holy as religious, priests are no better than laymen but just have a different function.” Now, if the question is of concrete holiness, that is, a person’s degree of active charity, then, of course, all Christians are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity, whatever their state in life; and only God Himself knows who is called to the higher holiness or who will respond the more generously to the calls He gives. But to argue on that basis that the various spiritualities found in the Church are not different in important ways is simply wrong.
Or, it is said, “Really, Franciscans are no different from Jesuits except that Jesuits tend to favor teaching, especially in universities, more than do Franciscans. Spiritually speaking, there is only one spirituality and that is Christian spirituality. If we all love God with all our hearts and minds and souls and strengths and our neighbors as ourselves, then what difference do these other things make?” Of course, if we love Him that way, then these other things do not make any difference. But we are not yet in heaven, and we do not love Him that way, and these details make a great difference. Due to the Incarnation, our own natural diversities of temperament, ability, interests and the rest are taken up in true if unforeseeable ways into Christ’s plans for us and His Father’s objective in calling us. One cannot make light of specific differences in spirituality without what is basically a denial that God does not call everyone to be everything, that He calls in virtue of roles within the Body of Christ, of distinctive functions in the service of the whole, which functions can only truly serve if truly diverse.
That leveling attitude seems also to have been fostered by the seeming insistence of the Code of Canon Law on trying to define “Religious life” in non-analogous terms through finding a lowest common denominator, some property, however minimal, which would be possessed in the same manner by all “Religious institutes.”
Few things, in my opinion, show as strikingly the working of the grace of God in Vatican II as that much maligned little decree on Religious life. Enacted by bishops who, for the most part, had little detailed knowledge of the spiritualities of Religious, who in some cases were much more concerned to limit their exemptions than to understand the complex dynamics of ways of life which the Religious themselves did not grasp clearly, it contains much that is unclear or lacks distinctions. But, in spite of or perhaps because of all that, Perfectae caritatis made the all-important contribution of sending each institute back to its sources, to the original spirit and purposes which God’s call had in view in His objectives for the founders and to the healthy traditions which distilled from the seeking of the concrete objectives of those He personally called over the centuries to serve Him therein.
Moreover, the purpose spelled out there for this return to the sources, that is, “It contributes to what is truly the good of the Church that institutes have their own particular character and function,” becomes one of the Council’s perduring themes. So true is it that this diversity of characteristics serves the best interests of the Church, that, for example, the Council invariably restricts what bishops or others can ask of Religious to those things which fall within the special nature and characteristic functions of their own institute. All that, moreover, was given priority over any kind of modernization, though explicitly not so as to exclude the latter. But modernization was to take place within that framework of characteristic nature and function, the better to achieve them; there is no hint that the special character of any institute be changed for the sake of modernization. With that, religious are not merely free but obligated to live their own special modes of life ‒ with God’s grace leading them back even further to the first priority always, the gospel.
Stating the matter a little differently: the different spiritualities characteristic of different institutes represent the results of His calls over the centuries, gradually achieving their objectives more or less effectively in accord with men’s cooperation. It is like the growth of coral. The coral animals begin life free-swimming, then find their “objective” and are drawn back to the social structure from which they emerged, each to make its contribution according to its species, retaining always the same specific orientations and functions, and thus forming bit by bit the gorgeous riot of colors and forms that constitute the great reefs. So, too, a key factor in the incredible beauty of the Church is the extraordinary diversity which is compatible with her life in the midst of the most profoundly organic and tightly knit unity.
Importance of the Diversity of Religious Objectives
But once it is seen that the diversity of “Religious objectives” is more God’s doing than man’s, and is willed by Him, we can see still further reasons for care in trying to hear His call. Each objective has its function in glorifying Him in the Church; insofar as people do not hear their calls or go elsewhere than called, something is damaged in that harmony and order of the Body which He desired for it. Evidently, too, the possibilities for a substantive mistake are vastly greater than is usually thought, And not only can a person be called to one group and, if not listening attentively, wind up in another, but he can fail to hear God calling him to begin some way of life that does not yet exist.
For, indeed, God does call to objectives which do not yet exist in the Church. Every religious institute is evidence of at least one person so called for its founding. And there are always “anomalous” calls, such as that of St. Benedict Joseph Labre, which lie wholly outside any standard patterns.
All this can be summed up by referring to St. Paul again ‒ reread 1 Cor 12 and see how all the charisms of which he speaks are things whose source in God is knowable, which represent calls, if not always to states of life as for apostles and perhaps prophets and evangelists, at any rate to the habitual performing of some useful and highly specific service to the Church. So for the diversity of calls to states of life: these objectives are intended by God and knowable as such. Vocations, rightly heard and responded to, are charisms for the service of the Church. Both for the individual and for the whole People of God it is important that each one hear the message given him and carry out his own God-designated ministry for all.
Here there is neither space nor need to rehearse in detail what little is known about the onset, prior to Vatican II, of confusion in the Church over the specificity of religious institutes. Briefly, the problem seems to have become serious in the early l600’s, first simply as a mixing, in practice, of elements from different groups, each borrowing what struck it as “great ideas” from others, but failing to see that these good points were organically united with the entire structure and so, when borrowed, were perforce thrown out of context. Over the next sixty years or so, there came a confusion as well of the canonical classifications, that is, it ceased gradually to be apparent how the reality of the various institutes and the classifications of the law enmeshed with each other. All this took place, however, without much confusion at the level of vocation ‒ people still easily recognized in the concrete lives of the institutes the objectives of God’s calls to them. But this ceased in the turbulence of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars; so that, from the 1820’s till now, an ever growing number of groups and individuals have been wandering far from their first inspirations, drowning their distinctive traits in a flood of “practical measures” largely designed to keep themselves in existence or to meet the ever-present needs of the Church all around them, without much concern as to whether it was they who should seek to meet them. At least, let us learn the lesson: Each group must see and accept its own spiritual physiognomy, without apologies and without attempting to take on the good things practiced or discovered by others. Whether higher or lower on the scale of vocations, one is at least different. Vive la différence!
Diversity with Regard to Time and Development
There is a mode of diversity between religious institutes of which I have said nothing so far but which may be the most important of all in the practical order. This is their diversity of attitude with regard to time and human development, though the spatial images of threshold and keyhole serve most usefully to describe it.
Let us go back for a moment to the question of what qualifications are to be required in a candidate for a particular institute, say some Religious Order. Now, at first glance, one would tend to think that such a way of life, which is more strongly supernatural in its means, if not in its ultimate goal, and therefore less merely natural and “normal,” and hence, more difficult in itself than marriage, would require a greater maturity, a greater possession and assimilation of one’s own sexuality, a greater openness to other people, and a greater emotional balance than needed to enter the married state.
Yet there are difficulties with this, the chief being Church history: in its earliest days and in many groups even to the present, Religious life apparently requires far less maturity at entry than does marriage. At the time of the desert fathers, free access and entry were offered to anyone who asked and no questions were asked him. Even after cenobitic life had begun, a man still had only to knock at the gate; he was received, given his sackcloth, sent to a secluded cave or cell, assigned or given choice of an older monk to guide him; and he would set about growing in the Lord. It was up to him whether he honored his vows or not, stayed or left.
It is important to see just what was happening there: people could and often did enter the monastery as sinners with the wounds of their sins still bleeding. Vagabonds, criminals seeking to escape punishment, all categories of human sinfulness and weakness were allowed in. The religious life, however, had then, as now, its essential work in bringing about the purification necessary for divine union. It will clearly take much purification for a man long steeped in sin before he is ready for such union; but with Christian confidence in God’s forgiveness, the religious community could guarantee that purification for him, should he honor his vows and remain under its discipline.
The meaning of his vows was correspondingly different from what is now often taken for granted. Their first meaning was simply penance, chastity being a harshly ascetical practice of dominating one’s lust; the others, equally ascetical renunciation of other roots of grave sin. But other meanings were not lacking ‒ as the person grew sufficiently to understand them. Even in our own day, the penances done during Lent, say, can be seen and practiced at various levels, one level succeeding another in importance gradually: they are a means of bringing the body into submission to one’s will; and the will, to grace; then they are penances for one’s sins, as a token of the disorder of that sinfulness and of sorrow for it; then, a token of receptivity to what the sufferings of Christ gained for the penitent personally; finally, the penances are done precisely in order to suffer with Christ and in Christ, to share in what He suffered by union of life with Him.
All the elements, then, of religious practice were geared to straightening a person out (as Aloysius remarked of his motives in joining the Jesuits: “I am a piece of twisted iron, and have entered the Society of Jesus to be hammered straight”) and forming him to the model of Christ, leading him onward and upward to whatever union God might give him. The religious life, at least in its earlier forms, was conceived of as a dynamic process in time–whence its ancient designation as “a state for the acquiring of perfection” even when starting from zero.
But later on, many forms of religious life came into being which concerned themselves with spiritual ministries for others. Thus, people were no longer merely being purified for the sake of contemplative union, though that remained and remains the dominant and defining element in any religious order. But, especially in the clerical orders, the purification came to be seen as being of help to other men, especially in conjunction with the priestly or diaconal ministries. Contemplative union, though not put at the service of an apostolate, which would reverse the divine order of things altogether, is put in tune with and brought into strong interaction with the particular apostolates, by the special graces of the founders. Further, this concern for helping others made necessary entrance requirements; for example, to guarantee an effective part in the Dominicans’ ministry of preaching, some conditions concerning the ability to learn could be imposed which would have had no reason in the desert where neither reading nor writing was needed for the vast majority. So the question of qualifications begins to enter, qualifications for particular duties or functions proper to this or that mode of religious life in its service of others within the Church.
But more, if you are working for the perfection of others, then you ought to have a certain perfection yourself, especially in a clerical order where you are called to ordination to the priesthood; you need to have a certain perfection already achieved, not in the sense of “having arrived,” where no further progress is possible, but in the sense that real progress has been made, that, for example, the qualifications listed in the Pastoral Epistles can be met; the newly baptized convert from paganism or the just reformed murderer is not a suitable subject. Thus, even to enter a group called to some active and genuinely spiritual ministry, you must already “be somewhere” spiritually.
Such an Order cannot accept those who must start from scratch, with the first conversion, since there is already, so to speak, too much ground to cover in the available time. The clerical Orders have, then, a perfectly legitimate right to say: “We could indeed accept those still in their sins; but we would not know, even were they obviously working hard at their purgation, that they would arrive at the requisite holiness of life in good time for ordination. Let us rather wait and see where in fact they get, and take people in only when they have reached a suitable level and still seem to be headed upwards.” Here one can begin to grasp the importance of knowing exactly how the group sees its own function within the Church, better still, how God sees that function, at least as that is given approximately through the views of the founders and the ratification by the Church.
There exists, therefore, a set of qualifications for admission to or entrance upon some state of life which depends critically upon the nature of that state in its detailed, concrete embodiment. These qualifications are called for, not by the ultimate goal of the state or by the objectives of those called there but by the state’s apostolic relations to all those outside itself, by the characteristic service of the Body of Christ.
We can, therefore, speak of a “threshold” of a way of life: It is the complexus of special characteristics and functions of the way of life considered from the point of view of engaging smoothly the spiritual dynamic of any person called there by God with the dynamics of the life. If his growth and development in time are such that, on entry into this particular state, those processes in him will mesh and integrate with the intrinsic one of the institute so that he can move with its aid to the perfection of that particular state, to that particular coloration and shape of charity which is its charism for the People of God, then he is at the threshold of that state. To enter into the process which will bring him towards the objective of the life without tempting God by requiring miracles, a human being must have, over and above his call from God, such-and-such capabilities and possessed Christian maturity.
The threshold, however, is not simply a level, whether high or low, but is shaped and structured, like a keyhole or the ancient gates of some oriental cities, requiring a very special configuration in both the person and the state and a detailed matching of their psychological and spiritual qualities. Does the person mesh well enough at present with the special characteristics of the institute to be able to profit from their working upon him and shaping him from this point onwards? For the threshold is not, like the call, a personal thing. It is something that inheres in the very nature and structure of the way of life in question. It is not an artificial norm, a legal contrivance, or an adventitious or partly arbitrary exercise of piety. Thus, also, in an Order where not one single person was living the life, the threshold would still be where it was ‒ though with garbage and junk piled on it so that it would be effectively higher for a young person thinking seriously of trying to live that mode of life.
The threshold, then, of any way of life is an exigence for that complexus of basic qualifications (in a person actually called there by God) such that, if possessed by him, the way of life can, according to its intrinsic patterns of functioning, carry this person on from there and help him to achieve the objective to which God has called him, but which, if lacking, render that normal functioning either concretely impossible or else harmful or deleterious to the person, blocking him out from the objective of his call. Thus a particular Religious institute is able to help onwards only people who can step easily across its threshold. It is not competent to deal with those falling below its threshold save by way of exception, if then. Instead, it would be hindered in its helping the growth of its other members and in its own apostolate if it were constrained to care for those who should not (yet, at least) be among its members.
Importance of the Threshold for the Call
If a man falls short of the threshold but is admitted nonetheless, he will soon find the life impossible or intolerably difficult, even though God called him to it. Consider a simple example. Suppose that God calls a boy of ten to the married state. At sixteen, however, he gets a girl pregnant; and though still in search of his own identity, as is she, is pressured by both sets of parents into marrying her. God’s objective in calling him six years before, however much he may have obtained in terms of the free response, is most unlikely now of attainment. Such a marriage seems doomed, save with the most extraordinary assistance. The threshold for marriage ‒ from its very nature and in this cultural context ‒ lies at that stage of maturity which Eriksen designated as “generativity.” The further one falls short of that at the time he marries, the more nearly impossible it will be for him, even if called by God to marriage, to achieve the objective of that call.
The existence of a clear call from God in no way exempts one from His will: that each person mature to the point of being able rightly to seek and to reach the objective of His call. So if the threshold as a whole is too high, a person can suffer considerable harm, even if he is excellently qualified in some ways and is holy and relatively mature. The converse is not true. On the contrary, if a man is well beyond the threshold, then no harm is done him ‒ he sails along, perhaps a bit annoyed or bored; but basically nothing there is able to injure him, except for pride in his “being so advanced.” By assumption, he is already far enough along to understand why what is done is being done.
The drawing carefully, in all its varied aspects, of the threshold pattern, though of major importance, is often overlooked. What will require even more attention, when we come to deal with the practical side of things, is that many in vocation work do not realize that even a perfectly drawn threshold cannot, by itself, indicate whether a person should enter but only when: now, or later.
Temporality and the Religious Institute
There is, of course, more of temporality in the objectives of God’s calls than merely the configurations of growth processes in the people called to those objectives or the intrinsic dynamics of the ways of life. Modes of life themselves can come and go and change within. Thus, there would seem to be nothing in revelation, which would argue against God’s calling individuals to start some way of life which will die out quickly after the individual dies. Is it necessary that everything begun be perpetuated forever? The Church alone has been given any such guarantee. Only insofar as the individual organs share in that eternal covenant by functioning properly and specifically within the Body of the Church can they gain some share of perpetuity.
Yet even that assumes too much. God wants the Church to be an organism that grows toward the full stature of Christ. Now in our own bodies there are parts that are much needed at one time but later atrophy and disappear. An example is the thymus gland in the chest of a baby, which is practically gone by late adolescence; another: the body of an adult stops producing the enzyme which makes possible the digestion of milk-sugar, so that milk becomes more or less indigestible for adults and much of its food value is wasted for them. In the other direction, there is the well-measured increase of sensory acuity at adolescence, as also sexual maturation with its new powers and drives. It is hard, then, to see that any particular institute should be able to flourish under all circumstances, in all cultures, at all times. Since God is God of the living, who acts in history and who wants things to change and develop, individuals and groups alike, the objective of His call has to be understood dynamically. Every institute, no matter which, is repeatedly thrust by circumstances (under His providence) into choices between alternatives, each of them perhaps involving a great good. We do a certain work according to our institute in a region where it is desperately needed ‒ but no one joins us there; or we change our work appreciably, deviating from our institute, and young people are attracted in crowds. Which should we do ‒ if either? We shall take a closer look at this in the article on practical applications.
But just as the body’s ebb and flow of powers moves with great harmony, so is it of calls from God, the creator and lover of harmony. God calls to change but He does not call to disorder. Thus, if any group is to die out, its task completed, they should die out in fidelity to their call and their mission. God has called them here; let those He calls elsewhere go there. To attempt to survive, contrary to or apart from one’s call and mission, only breeds confusion within the Church. If the Lord has no further need of us, with our specific functioning, it will be for some good reason; let us accept it and leave the ground free for some new and healthier or more suitable growth. If He does not wish us to die out, He will send us the people we need. This requires, indeed, a great trust in God on our own part. But nothing in the nature of religious life is intended to make it easy or successful in even a minimal (human) way all the time. Indeed, its nature would seem to promise that, if we lived, it should be continually threatened with suffering and destruction.
IV. THE MATTER OF THE VOWS
One essential aspect of religious life has been omitted here till now. In talking of ways of life, I have used the phrase interchangeably with “states of life”; but this latter phrase is, in ordinary Christian usage, reserved to designate those particular ways of life in which one consecrates oneself by vow. This matter of vows is the final topic to be glanced at here.
What is the purpose of vows which bind a person in and to a certain way of life. The answers that have been given are many: to offer in sacrifice to God what is most precious: our liberty to dispose of ourselves as we wish; to offer the will itself to God; to render myself a holy thing by making myself God’s possession, consecrated like a chalice to His solo use; to render our wills firm in the good; to merit more, since now acting or refraining out of the virtues of religion and fidelity as well as the virtues which form the proper subject of the vow ‒ to give but a few examples.” I have no complaint to make about these and similar answers. But I should prefer to come at the question in a way more consonant with the rest of this article.
Vows, like calls, refer to created manifestations of God’s action which involve our own; and on the human side they have a strong relationship to time. Here, at least, the temporal aspect has always been in evidence. It is implicit in most, if not all, the answers listed just above, and is usually rendered explicit in any explanations of them.
The Vows and Our Changeability
We are extremely changeable beings. No matter what we promise today, to God or to our fellows, we know that tomorrow we will feel, at least, like revoking it. Yet there are orientations of our lives and dispositions of our hearts that we would wish to make permanent in spite of all obstacles, including our own fickleness. A vow, then, is a means of using our liberty, when it is fully under the power of His grace, to bind our liberty for future times when it is so no longer or does not seem to be. It is a way to force ourselves, by self-imposed but not self-dissoluble obligations, to continue to do what we have discovered is pleasing to Him, even at those times when it seems that He is no longer in the universe.
On that basis, however, there can come a lurking disquiet that perhaps vows are not different enough from, “Though all deny You, I will never deny You.” The danger is not unreal. Peter’s fault, of course, was not in his desire never to deny his Lord but in his vigorous assurance that he could avoid doing so by strength of will. Now, in Religious life, as in other vowed states, there are in fact people who have entered, confident in their own strength, and who take their vows without God’s asking them. Unless they change their attitude quickly, they will usually come to share Peter’s experience of falling; it is to be hoped, also, to share his repentance. But if God calls a person to take vows, then at least he is able to confide in and bank on His strength. Again, the importance of being called and of knowing one’s only so can there be a Christian assurance which stands not on a putative human strength or permanent power of decision but on God’s own gracious invitation and goodness.
The Vows and Love
More deeply, however, engaging ourselves by vow grows from our desire to learn how truly and rightly to love and be loved. For, two things we know from our earliest days: we do not really know yet how to love or to be loved; yet we do know, somehow, that love that is not faithful and abiding should not be called love at all.
Consider in this respect the case of marriage vows, to which, from the beginning, the vows of religion have been seen as analogs. Whom does God call to marriage? Most usually, young people, in their late ’teens or early twenties. Rarely does he call anybody to marriage who already knows what marriage is all about, who understands marriage deeply, profoundly, and experientially. In most cases, He calls to marriage people who are incapable, given their age and their inexperience of life, of having any real idea of the nature and burdens of marriage. They like each other; they know something of the sexual pleasure that can be found in marriage; they may or may not have a strong desire for a family. But they do know that there is more.
The precise point of their marriage vows is that they bind themselves to hunt together for the true significance of the life they are undertaking together. The vow is for the future, to give stability to their search for understanding what they have done. They do not really understand what perfect love is or implies; but they are willing and desirous of it, and willing and able to commit themselves. That commitment is a commitment to growing in love. Even two people very much in love will still be aware that their love is not perfect, that they are not the world’s ideal couple, that each has a few faults at least, which they can take in stride, now, because they love each other. The marriage bond is the way to say effectively: “We bind ourselves to seek full love for each other together, knowing that we have to seek it, that our love is still imperfect. No defect of love is an argument against our marriage, since we know we are deficient in love and, precisely because deficient, we are binding ourselves to a situation which will goad us on as well as draw us forward to seek the perfection of love.” Therefore, no discovery that one or other party is hideously deficient in love, can offer any grounds for nullifying marriage.
The same thing is true of the vows of religion. The Religious is not so much asserting or promising future fidelity, like Peter, or seeking a created share of immutability. Rather he is engaging himself to learn how to love God, how to accept God’s free and gratuitous love for him, how to let His love expose all his defects and hideous deficiencies of love and so to learnNo other viewers
from God’s fidelity how to be faithful himself. Vows do not so much constrain my impermanence or fix once for all my mutability or prevent my sinful weakness as they place me in a situation where, whatever my weakness, I am still being forced forward towards Him, albeit reluctantly at times, in ardent love or in shamefaced penitence.
As with marriage, so in religion also, the fulfillment of the vocation, the objective of God’s call, is, of strict necessity, long delayed. Impossible at the beginning, it is the goal, not a presupposition or a necessary condition, nor even the goal we think we know and set before ourselves. God who calls alone knows what final objectives He has in mind for us.
Vows and the Fidelity of God
There is, however, a further aspect to vows, far too little treated, though representing perhaps their major function: to glorify God, who is faithful, by entering into a relation with Him, according to His invitation, in which His own fidelity is engaged, a fidelity which our sins and failures can be used to manifest no less than our progress in His love and service.
When God calls someone, He calls from His love for him; but He calls also from His faithfulness. He is faithful because He is God. He can choose not to engage His fidelity, that is, not to enter into a relation that leads Him to bind Himself; but He cannot choose not to be faithful. Since fidelity belongs to His nature, it is not contingent or dependent upon our behavior in His regard. But by His fidelity we too can be made faithful, sharing as His children this aspect also of the divine nature.
The vows of religion, then, are a special kind of response to His call, one in which His fidelity is engaged as well as ours ‒ the relationship of covenant. Indeed, while “no one rightly vows to the Lord anything unless he shall have received from Him what he vows,” yet our vowing in some way calls to God to respond to us. He does respond, with the response of eternal faithfulness.
If a man is unfaithful to what God has called him to ‒ this not a question of not accepting the call ‒ if he accepts His call, binds himself by vow and enters into covenant, espoused to God, and then betrays that trust, fidelity remains, but man goes into exile. But always He recalls a penitent people from exile. The exile is itself the preparatory part of that call back.
This is important to remember when dealing with priests, Religious, or married people who have messed things up thoroughly for themselves by their infidelity ‒ as is so common in these days. One must help them to see that, though they are, in truth, far off the road to which God had invited them, though they have been carried by their enemies into slavery, there is no desert between Babylon and the heavenly Jerusalem so arid that it cannot be crossed by His mercy. The way may be even more glorious and splendid, for the manifesting of God’s glory, than the way they had started on. God takes into exile both to punish and to purify. He purifies in order to bring back and to renew his covenant. The glories of Jerusalem after the Exile are more splendid than anything David or Solomon dreamt of. His fidelity remains in spite of our infidelity. It is on that basis and that basis only that anyone can properly call people to repentance when once they have set Christ aside.
Now, many of these things have long been spoken of in a somewhat dry or legal language. Thus, when a person speaks, for example, about the grace of vocation, the grace of the sacrament of marriage, the grace of ordination, what he has in mind is a grace given now, or pledged now, upon which he can always call to assist him in the future. It is a title to grace whenever he needs it in order to maintain his own fidelity. For, God’s fidelity is now engaged (the reality behind the legal “title to grace”) and anytime the person vowed is in need of Him, He is there, by His own promise. He is no longer a “free agent”; He has bound Himself. The same point can be made concerning the notion of “stability,” that is, the stability of the states of life. Stability is important for a state of life, but God’s faithfulness is why it is important. A common presentation is that it is more meritorious to bind yourself forever without knowing what is coming than to bind yourself successively as you see how things are working out. It is true; but notice how much is lost in the cramped legal style. Stability is a tremendous thing because it is something that no creature can have of itself. Non-angelic creatures, at least, are essentially temporal, mutable, changeable. This sort of stability is something that can only happen by the power of God and for His glory. A person can, of course, survive in some sense by simple rigidity, but that is death, spiritual or psychological mummification.
No individual covenant, however, can have standing independent of the New Covenant, in Christ’s Blood. For this reason, the Church, born from His side upon the cross, has in her full control and in entire dependence upon her will (so long as she subjects herself to Christ’s will) the taking of vows of religion or of marriage, and all else that relates to them.
There occurs in connection with perpetual vows one of the most difficult problems in theology: God seems to permit people to engage themselves validly and forever when He has not called them to take vows, when, even, it was flatly against His will and sinful for them to take them.
I think, indeed, that a sound theoretical position is possible concerning this problem. But theoretical positions, especially if and complex, are of small pastoral value. Consequently, I shall make no attempt here to meet that question head-on, but I will leave to the subsequent article a consideration of how one may deal with it in practice, whatever the state of the theory.
1”Concretely” implies here, “for the individual and for the Church”; the statement above is not a metaphysical one, denying ontological worth to any creature. But, unless otherwise noted, we shall be moving at a different level, that at which, for example, sinful actions are bad and Satan is evil, leaving to the reader the standard exercise of translating everything into the language of metaphysical understanding, a mode of understanding with which I have no quarrel but shall not need here.
2 My theological framework here has been most influenced by von Balthasar, de Lubac, the two Rahners, and Fessard.
3The serious ambiguity inhering in the term “vocation” can be reduced somewhat by the language suggested here.
4An extended sense of “call” is also common, that is, that to which a person is called; this sense I shall avoid, using instead the phase “objective of call” or, perhaps “vocation,” which can, as in ordinary language, be used for any of these terms.
5God’s “will” usually corresponds to “the objective of His call,” thus pointing to what in fact He is willing conditionally or absolutely, though in standard parlance it is also used for that willing which is Himself in fact, what Aquinas calls His will of good pleasure.
6All this can happen less directly to us, of course, through our natures also; part of the illumination may be that today we are alert and clearheaded, or have a touch of ﬂu, or stayed up too late the night before — in any event, our physical condition can help us penetrate more deeply what we are reading.
7Why is it that so many thinkers confuse the analogy of a plan of development centered on an unchangeable goal, which therefore admits of a continuous infinity of alternatives and of unceasing temporal adaptation without being overturned, with that of a set of blueprints of static plans for a static structure?
8Hans Urs von Balthasar, Prayer, tr. by A. V. Littledale (New York, 1961), p. 49.
9We have stressed the punctual nature of God’s immediate and direct activity in man’s soul. It should be clear that He need not always act in this fashion. Yet neither will some trace of this aspect of the eternal be missing, however He acts.
10Karl Rahner, S.J. The Dynamic Element in the Church, tr. by W.J. O’Hara (New York, 1964), p. 105.
11This is indeed the only reason why Ignatius hedges this manner of choice with so many preparations, instructions, precautions: that it be possible for the retreatant to be certain that it is God he is hearing, that he is not fooling himself or being deluded. The more grounded the certitude, the better; and this is one major reason for the renewed interest today in the original form of the Spiritual and for concern to find competent spiritual directors.
12 Could God will that a timid youngster, who is wrongly and excessively fearful of Him, refuse His invitation to the religious life precisely so that he might learn something of the freedom of His children? I do not know; but I should definitely not want to exclude the possibility a priori ‒ one further difficulty I have with the position that would make of all God’s invitations merely covert commands.
13 I am referring here solely to the infused and supernatural gift of faith, not to any feeling or psychological “experience,” whether those somehow from or connected with faith or otherwise.
14The one exception is the germ cells. In the Church this difference, too, is preserved analogously. For the unbaptized has the “natural” components for a Christian being but is lacking the lifegiving power of the divine components to be given by the Spirit.
15Many more answers could be given were one to consider as well the purposes of the particular vows of religion or, more generally, if one seeks the rationale for the kinds of things that may be vowed.
Dr. William E. May : “Standing With Peter: Reflections of a Lay Moral Theologian on God’s Loving Providence”
William E. May Standing With Peter: Reflections of a Lay Moral Theologian on God’s Loving Providence Requiem Press: Bethune, South Carolina, 2006 ISBN-10: 0-97-88687-0-6 ISBN-13: 978-0-9788687-0-3 92 pages, paperback by Reverend Brian Van Hove, S.J., Ph.D. Alma, Michigan
Dr. William E. May was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He celebrated his 80th birthday on 27 May 2008. In Chapter One of these autobiographical reminiscences he wrote about his early years in St. Louis where he had a happy childhood. He loved the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet who taught him, and the diocesan priests who served at St. Margaret of Scotland and at St. Luke the Evangelist. He tells about his early dream to become a Maryknoll missionary in China, a dream never realized. May definitely had a positive childhood in “Catholic St. Louis” and his memories of Catholic institutions were a source of joy for him.
In Standing With Peter we also learn about seminary life in Washington, D.C. Archbishop Ritter in 1948 sent William May to the Sulpician Seminary or Theological College as a Basselin Foundation scholar. The foundation had been set up by Theodore Basselin decades earlier to train seminarians in philosophy, English and public speaking. During those fine years May met a number of fellow students who went on to become well known in the story of American ecclesiastical life ― among them were Joseph Bernardin, Christopher Huntington and Jude Patrick Dougherty.
In 1954 May left the seminary and subsequently worked for two Catholic publishing houses, first the Newman Press in Westminster, Maryland, and then for the Bruce Publishing Company in Milwaukee; Bruce (formerly “Bruss”) was the largest Catholic publishing house of the era.
He left Maryland for Milwaukee in the hope of finding a young Catholic woman, and met Patricia Ann Keck, a St. Louisan, on 13 December 1957. They met at a pre-Christmas dance sponsored by the Catholic Alumni of Milwaukee, a group of graduates from Catholic colleges around the country. Bill and “Pat”, as he called her, married on 4 October 1958 at St. Mary’s Church in Mount Vernon, Illinois. Eventually they had seven children. William May earned a doctorate in philosophy from Marquette University in 1968, but continued in the profession of book editor until entering academic life at The Catholic University of American in the fall of 1971.
Since then May has been professor of “Christian ethics” or moral theology. To his regret, in a moment of weakness in 1968 he signed the protest against Pope Paul VI’s encyclical “Humanae vitae”. Though he inwardly repented of this act, by 1971 he had not yet made a formal public retraction, and he wrote that this probably made him a more favorable candidate to be hired at CUA. Charles Curran, the mastermind of the dissent movement among the American Catholic academics, was then teaching in the CUA Theology Department.
William E. May spent the rest of his academic career after 1971 promoting and defending the morality of the Church, with special reference to the teaching on contraception and abortion. In 1978 he was instrumental in founding The Fellowship of Catholic Scholars. In 1986 Pope John Paul II appointed him to the International Theological Commission, and in 1991 to the present he has taught moral theology at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family inWashington, D.C. In 2008 he directed the successful doctoral dissertation of Father James G. Knapp, S.J., a faculty member of Saint Louis University High School.
Given his defense of “Humanae vitae” over a long career, and his high profile position at The Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America, St. Louisan Dr. “Bill” May was pleased at the announcement that in 2008 a symposium entitled “The Legacy of Humanae Vitae: 40 Years”, co-sponsored by Saint Louis University’s School of Nursing and the Office of Natural Family Planning of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, was held on July 25 and 26.
The final chapter and the concluding reflections of Standing with Peter carry the title “The Battle Over Contraception and Its Significance”. May succinctly explained the dualistic understanding of the human person which is explicit in the contraceptive act, and how it is philosophically incompatible with a Catholic theology of the body.Published in the St. Louis Review, vol. 67, no. 22 (30 May 2008): 14. http://www.stlouisreview.com/article.php?id=15435