Preach My Psalter

Province of St. Martin de Porres

INTRODUCTION

     The article for today is about the origins of the orans posture used in ancient Israel and in the Church. “Orans” is a Latin word for praying. You may be asking yourself what this orans posture is, because you may not know it by this name, but you certainly would know it by seeing it. It is a posture for praying that involves a person extending his hands by raising them to God in prayer.  More specifically, the person raises his hands in prayer to God while bending his elbows at his sides with the palms of his hands facing each other or facing outward.  From ancient times, the person of faith, hope and love has used this posture in offering prayer to the Living and True God.  The question is this: Who may use this posture?  Is this posture for the laity or only for the priest?  Let me begin by saying that my answer to this question is both “yes” and “no” based on the authority of the received tradition. This means that both the priest and the laity have faithfully used this traditional orans posture, through the centuries, to pray to God, either in personal prayer or in communal prayer.  Indeed, they have both raised their hands to God in prayer in the Tradition.  On the one hand, the lay people of God have traditionally used the orans posture in offering personal prayer to God, especially during difficult times.  On the other hand, the priest, for his part, has traditionally offered communal prayer to God using the orans posture.  In fact, in the tradition, he has also used the orans for personal prayer, but he did not receive his consecration as a priest primarily to offer personal prayer to God.  On the contrary, he, first and foremost, received his priestly consecration to offer communal prayer to God using this posture. Accordingly, the orans was certainly used by both the laity and the priest from ancient times. Indeed, there is a basis for them using this posture for praying in Scripture and Tradition.

DOMESTIC ORANS POSTURE

     First of all, as for the laity in ancient Israel, they used the “domestic orans posture” in their homes for praying to God.  This would be the personal prayer they offered to God, whether praying alone or with their family, at home.  In doing so, they extended their hands in prayer to God by raising them as they recited the Old Testament aloud from memory to recall God’s divine actions for them throughout their history. This involved blessing, praising and thanking God for His faithfulness in offering them justice and mercy, especially in saving them from sin, from death and from their enemies. Moreover, they also used this posture to offer their pleas and supplications to God.  In fact, there are various phrases in the Old Testament that refer to the orans posture that the laity used in praying to God. They include the lifting or raising up of their hands in prayer to God, or the extending or stretching forth of their hands in prayer to Him.  For this reason, in Israel, parents certainly taught their children, by their words and actions, to use this orans posture in offering prayer to God at home.  After all, God Himself had instructed them to teach their children to be faithful to Him by raising their hands to Him in prayer.  In this sense, their formation of their children as a faithful people of prayer began in their home.  Indeed, at home, they learned from their parents that faithfully raising their hands to God in prayer meant, above all, raising their hearts to Him by an interior act of faith, hope and love in praying to Him.  As such, the orans was, first and foremost, an interior posture of their hearts.  The people of God, including their children, could only raise their hands in prayer to God because they had first raised their hearts to Him in prayer. They certainly used this orans posture for praying to God in their homes during normal circumstances, but their leaders also instructed them to raise their hands to God in prayer from their homes during famine, plague and war.  As a result, a normal posture for praying in their homes became a manner of praying from their homes during trials and tribulations.  For instance, in the First Book of Kings, King Solomon instructs the people of Israel, particularly the laity, or non-priests, who sin against God during famine, plague or war, to raise their hands in prayer to God in the direction of the Temple to receive God’s forgiveness (1 Kgs 8:37-39).  This certainly would include praying from their homes, but would also include praying wherever they may be during these trials and tribulations.  Furthermore, after the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem, including the Temple, the Prophet Jeremiah instructs the poor people remaining in Jerusalem to cry out to God by pouring out their hearts to Him as they raise their hands in prayer to Him for the lives of their children.  In their poverty, their children are suffering from hunger and thirst there (Lm 2: 19).  Additionally, Jeremiah also instructs them to raise their hearts and hands to God in prayer as they repent for their sins (Lm 3:41-42).  For he says that they have suffered this destruction in Jerusalem, including their poverty and hunger, as a punishment from God for their sinfulness.  On this basis, the laity in ancient Israel certainly used the orans posture for personal prayer in their homes, or wherever they happened to be, by raising their hands to God in prayer, especially during trials and tribulations.

LITURGICAL ORANS POSTURE

     In the second place, the priests of ancient Israel, particularly Aaron and his descendants, used a “liturgical orans posture” in offering prayers and sacrifices to God on the altar of God. This would be communal prayer in liturgy.  Here the priests would lead the people in praying liturgically.  In doing so, they raised their hearts to God, just as the laity raised their hearts to God in the domestic orans posture.  For in the liturgy the raising of their hands to God was also a raising of their hearts to God, as they acted on behalf of the people as mediators in praying to God liturgically. On the one hand, they first used this orans posture by raising their hands to God in offering liturgical prayers and sacrifices to God on the altar of the Tabernacle in the desert before they ever built the Temple in Jerusalem.  For this reason, in Leviticus, after Aaron finishes offering sacrifice for sin, the burnt offering and the peace offering on the altar of the Tabernacle, he raises his hands in prayer calling for God’s blessing upon the people (Lv 9:22). On the other hand, after they built the Temple in Jerusalem, the priests used this orans posture as they offered prayers and sacrifices on the altar of God in the Temple liturgy.  Thus, in Second Maccabees, after the priests finish offering sacrifice to purify the Temple, they raise their hands to God praying that God may preserve and guard the Temple, including the people, from the threats of defilement and destruction by the pagan general, Nicanor (2 Maccabees 15:34-36). Accordingly, in offering such prayer and sacrifice to God on behalf of the people, first on the altar of the Tabernacle and later on the altar of the Temple, the priests would receive the offerings from the people to sacrifice them to God liturgically on their behalf. In this sense, the priests alone raised their hands to God in communal prayer as they led the people during liturgy. For as consecrated priests, they alone could act on behalf of the people as mediators to God in offering liturgical prayers and sacrifices to God for them through the orans.

ISRAEL’S USE OF THE ORANS POSTURE INFORMS THE CHURCH’S USE OF THE ORANS

     As you can see, this orans posture that both the laity and the priests used in ancient Israel, domestically and liturgically, is the original antecedent and model for the Church, the New Israel, using the orans posture in the same manner.  This, of course, does not mean that other people in Palestine, such as the Arabs, or the Gentiles in Greco-Roman society did not use the orans posture in praying.  They certainly did, but the first members of the Church, all Israelites, did not first learn the orans from either of these people.   On the contrary, these first Israelite members of the Church, including the Head Himself, Jesus Christ, Blessed Mary, St. Joseph and the Apostles, first learned the orans posture from their Israelite people, especially from their parents.  As such, the orans posture was originally introduced to them at home, during childhood and adolescence, through their parents, before they ever became members of the Church.  In this sense, Jesus, Mary, St. Joseph and the Apostles first learned to use the domestic orans posture from their Israelite parents in offering prayer to God as they recited or recalled the Old Testament Scriptures at home, especially during trials and tribulations.  For this reason, in the providence of God, they first received this domestic posture for praying to God from the Tradition of Israel. As a result, this received Tradition certainly formed and prepared the laity in the Church to pray to God in the same manner at home, beginning in the first century. Accordingly, the laity in the early Church, including men, woman, children and adolescents, learned that they could use this domestic orans posture in their homes by raising their hands to God in prayer.  At the same time, they also learned by Tradition that the orans posture in liturgy could only be used by the priests of the Church, including the High Priest Himself, Jesus Christ, and His Apostles, as they acted as mediators on behalf of the lay people in offering prayer and sacrifice to God liturgically. This was, first and foremost, the raising of their hands in prayer to God in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the Sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ, in Holy Mass instituted by Christ during the Last Supper. On this basis, in the received Tradition of the Church, priests alone could raise their hands in offering prayer to God in Liturgy.

     Thus, through the centuries, the Church has traditionally reserved this liturgical orans posture for the priest alone in the rubrics of the Roman Missal for offering Holy Mass.  The word, rubrics, means the rules or laws in the Missal that refer to the instructions in red that regulate the recitation of the prayer formulae in black.  In this sense, they guide or instruct the priest to recite the prayers in the Rite of Holy Mass, using the assigned postures that he alone may use, as intended by the Church.  For this reason, the priest does the red and says the black in offering Mass according to the rubrics.  These rubrics proceed from the highest authority in the Church, from the sovereign pontiff himself, for maintaining good or proper order in the Liturgy of Holy Mass.  As indicated by the rubrics, this means that the priest alone may use the orans posture in reciting the prayers in the Eucharist as he intercedes to God on behalf of the people.  As such, he alone may extend his hands in Holy Mass by raising them to God in prayer. In fact, he is instructed, by the rubrics, to use this posture about fourteen times from the Introductory Rites of the Mass to the Concluding Rites.  This would include the prayer he says after the Universal Prayer. Accordingly, the rubrics assign the orans posture to the priest alone because he alone acts in the person of Christ, the Head, in offering Holy Mass as mediator to God on behalf of the Body of Christ, the Church.

     Conversely, there is not a single rubric in the Roman Missal that instructs the deacon or the laity to use the orans posture in the Liturgy of Holy Mass.  On the contrary, none of the rubrics there instruct the laity or deacon to extend their hands in prayer to God by raising them during Mass. Nevertheless, people claim that because the rubrics are silent on this question, this would suggest an implicit permission or tolerance, by the Church, for the laity and deacon to use the orans posture.  However, arguing for the use of the orans by lay people and the deacon on the basis of such rubrical silence is contrary to the Liturgical Tradition of the Church, and harmful to the uniformity of the Liturgy of Holy Mass. Indeed, using this argument from silence has already introduced other harmful practices into Holy Mass that the rubrics are silent about, such as holding hands during the Our Father.

     Furthermore, in addressing the assigned postures of the priest, the deacon and the laity in Holy Mass, the Church’s General Instruction of the Roman Missal says that they are all required to be faithful to the received liturgical Tradition as determined by the General Instruction and by the Traditional practice of the Roman Rite.  In doing so, they act, not according to their private inclination or subjective choice, but in the service of the common spiritual good of the people of God (GIRM 42). For this reason, the Church calls the priest, deacon and the laity to follow the instructions in the rubrics of the Missal that they may be uniform in the postures assigned to them during Holy Mass (GIRM 43).

     Consequently, in Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Council Fathers of Vatican II teach that no person, not even a priest, nor a lay person, may add, remove, or change the objective norms of the Liturgy on his authority. This prohibition would certainly apply to the lay person who uses a posture in Mass not assigned to him in the rubrics of the Rite, particularly the orans posture. In doing so, he would be acting contrary to the received Liturgical Tradition (SS 22.3). On this basis, here the Council Fathers remind the priest, deacon and laity that they are called to do nothing else, but only those actions or postures in Holy Mass assigned to them by the nature of the Roman Rite and the principles of Liturgy (SS 28).

     Moreover, in the Church’s Instruction on Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful in the Ministry of the Priest, the Church reminds the people of God that Canon 907 says that neither deacons nor lay persons may use actions or postures in Holy Mass that are proper to the priest celebrant alone, such as the orans posture.  As a consequence, in this Instruction, She warns that any deacon or lay person intending to quasi-preside at Mass would be guilty of a grave Liturgical abuse (Instruction, Article 6).

     Finally, in Redemptionis Sacramentum, the Church’s Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, instructs the laity to avoid clericalizing their actions in Holy Mass by imitating the clerical actions that are reserved to the priest alone, particularly the orans posture (RS Chapter 2, Paragraph 45). This means that the laity may only do those actions in Mass that are assigned to them.  As a result, here again, the Church forbids the use of the orans posture by the deacon and laity in Holy Mass.

BEGGING ORANS POSTURE, THE POSTURE OF THE POOR

     At the same time, I will argue that the hand posture that many lay persons use in Holy Mass is, in fact, not the Traditional orans posture used by the priest, neither materially nor formally.  As you recall, the orans posture by the priest involves extending his hands by raising them up to God in prayer.  More specifically, he raises his hands in prayer to God while bending his elbows at his sides with the palms of his hands facing each other or facing outward.  This is the posture he uses materially.  In doing so, he formally intends to act in the person of Christ, the Head, liturgically as mediator to God on behalf of the people of God.  In this sense, as mediator, he raises his hands in prayer to God that he may receive gifts from God to dispense them to the people.  This means, above all, raising his heart to God in faith, hope and love to mediate the gifts of God to them. As such, the terminus or end of him using the orans posture in Liturgy, as mediator, is to act as dispenser of such gifts. Conversely, the hand posture that many lay people use in Holy Mass does not meet this criteria that defines the orans posture materially and formally.  They neither use the orans posture materially, as in the same material act that the priest uses in extending their hands, nor do they formally intend the same end of the act as the priest in extending their hands.  On the contrary, materially, their hand posture involves extending their hands, not by raising them up, but by lowering them down while bending their elbows at their side with the palms of their hands facing upward as they pray. This is, formally, the hand posture of poor people, beggars, intending or hoping to receive gifts from God Himself through the priest.  For this reason, here they are certainly not using the liturgical orans posture as mediators who dispense gifts.  They are merely lowering their hands with the palms of their hands facing upward trusting that God in His providence will provide for all their needs. On this basis, this form of the orans that many lay people use in liturgy, the lowing of their hands with their hands facing upward, is not the liturgical orans posture used by the priest, neither materially nor formally, but a begging orans posture.  This may be an ancient posture used by the people of God in liturgy.  In fact, having their hands in this posture describes accurately the Church’s understanding of the laity’s action in the liturgy as “receivers” of God’s gifts through the ministry of the mediator, the priest.  For this reason, I believe there would be a theological and liturgical basis for the Pope approving of this posture for the laity in liturgy.  I repeat, this posture in question is not, by any means, the same posture that the priest uses in offering Holy Mass.  Still, until the people of God receive official approval from the Pope to use this form of the orans posture, the begging posture, in Holy Mass, they should not use it.  They would certainly be guilty of a liturgical abuse, at least materially, if not formally also, if they did use it Holy Mass.

CONCLUSION

     In conclusion, the use of the domestic and liturgical orans postures by the lay people and the priest in ancient Israel for personal and communal forms of prayer is the tradition that informs the traditional practice of the Church.  On the one hand, this means that the priest alone may use the liturgical orans posture as he acts in the person of Christ, the Head, in praying to God on behalf of the people in liturgy.  On the other hand, the people of God can certainly use the domestic orans posture for praying at home, but not during the liturgy.  For the Church’s liturgical documents, as already mentioned, teach that nothing may be added to the liturgy.  I believe the only form of the orans that the laity could someday use in liturgy, if the Pope ever approved it, would be the begging orans posture, inasmuch as it accurately describes their action in the liturgy, or at least this particular action, as receivers of the gifts of God through the priest. Finally, as Scripture reveals, the people of Israel especially used the domestic orans posture during trials and tribulations.  In doing so, they raised their hearts to God in prayer, hoping for His justice and mercy in their sufferings.  On this basis, I pray that you, as sons and daughters of God, will do the same in the trials and tribulations that you have suffered during this pandemic.  Indeed, raise your hands in prayer to God that He may bless you.  May He help you bear your crucibles virtuously.

In Christ with Blessed Mary,

Friar Mariano D. Veliz, O.P.

I. INTRODUCTION

     This article is about the controversial video clip of Pope Francis.  The clip itself was part of a documentary of Pope Francis in 2019 in Mexico.  The documentary is called “Francesco”.  I am hoping and praying I can help you understand what Pope Francis said in the clip, but this requires context.  Indeed, his message cannot be properly understood without the proper context in which he offers his message.  This context is revealed in the full video of the documentary. For this reason, in my desire to understand what Pope Francis said in the video clip, I had hoped to see the full video on Thursday, after receiving it from a friend, but shortly thereafter it was removed.  It will apparently be made available to the public, but I do not know when.  I have already seen the video clip in which the Pope recommends the establishment of a “ley de convivencia civil” for certain persons.  This clip was either removed from the original footage of the video or was a clip from another video for the documentary. Various authors have suggested that Pope Francis may not have approved for this video clip to be included in the final product.  Whatever the case may be, this much is true: in the video clip he uses the term, “ley de convivencia civil”, as he is discussing, not heterosexual persons, but homosexual persons.  This clip began to circulate online this past Wednesday. Fortunately, I was able to read the transcript of the documentary on Thursday evening.  This was more than just the video clip, but here the Pope’s call for a “ley de convivencia civil” for homosexual persons was, once again, removed from the original transcript of the documentary. Nevertheless, after reading the transcript, I can say that I have a fuller and proper understanding of the meaning of the Pope’s message in the video clip, including his reason for saying what he said.  I believe he offers a good message for people if they open their hearts to hear him.  At the same time, his message in the video clip can only be correctly understood in its proper context. Herein lies the problem. Many people are not hearing or understanding his message in its proper context. In fact, it appears that they have no interest in hearing his message in its proper context.  As a consequence, they are forming incorrect or false judgments about his message.

     Moreover, there are people in society and in the Church who claim that homosexual persons should have a right to be in a homosexual marriage or civil union where they could licitly or morally practice their homosexuality. These people are using the video clip of Pope Francis to argue that he is advocating for the practice of homosexuality.  Consequently, they claim that the Pope’s message is a basis for them living a homosexual life.  This is completely false.  These people are completely misunderstanding the Pope’s message outside its proper context.  If they really had an interest in the truth, they would hear his message in its proper context to acquire a true understanding of what he said. I have this message for these people: There is nothing, nada, nil in Scripture, Tradition or Magisterium, and certainly nothing in the video clip of Pope Francis, that could serve as a basis for their claim.  I invite them to humbly open their hearts to the message in this article. Here I will offer them the proper context from the transcript of the documentary to help them correctly understand what Pope Francis really meant in the video clip.  He was certainly not approving or advocating, in the least, for a sinful homosexual marriage, a sinful homosexual civil union or the right for homosexual people to practice sinful homosexual acts.  He could never advocate for such moral evils.  That would be irrational and immoral on his part, not to mention scandalous.

     In my original statements I never accused Pope Francis of advocating for any of these sinful homosexual forms of life.  I never believed that he would advocate for them.  Nevertheless, as a Roman Catholic, as a Dominican friar and as a priest, I was certainly concerned about what he meant by the law of “convivencia civil”. I was even more concerned that people could possibly misunderstand him, become discouraged and fall from the belief and practice of Catholic faith and morals.  Did I have a right to be concerned?  Certainly!  After all, I am in the business of shepherding people to Christ.  Having said that, I hereby retract my former statement that Pope Francis was responsible for causing the scandal in the Church.  I repent for that statement.  May God have mercy upon me.  Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.  At the same time, I believe that there are people in secular society, in the Church and in the media searching for occasions to create scandal.  I offer you this article as a means to help shepherd you, the people of God, beyond the misunderstanding, beyond the discouragement and beyond the failure to trust in the Successor of St. Peter, the Sovereign Pontiff and Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis.

II. TRANSCRIPT OF VIDEO CLIP IN SPANISH

“Las personas homosexuales tienen el derecho estar en una familia.  Son hijos de Dios.  Tienen derecho a una familia.  No se puede echar de la familia a nadie, ni hacerle la vida imposible por eso.  Lo que tenemos que hacer es una ley de convivencia civil.  Tienen derecho a estar cubiertos legalmente.” – Pope Francis

III. ENGLISH TRANSLATION

“Homosexual persons have a right to be in a family.  They are sons and daughters of God.  They have a right to a family.  Nobody can throw anyone out of the family nor make his life impossible because of that.  What we have to do is make a law of convivencia civil. They have a right to be covered legally.”

IV. SUMMARY OF THE CONTEXT

     Here I offer you a summary of the transcript of the documentary. This will help you understand the proper context of the video clip of Pope Francis.  The documentary itself covers various subjects in a question-answer format. In this summary, I will limit myself to the relevant parts of the documentary that hopefully will help everyone understand the circumstances in which Pope Francis said what he said in the video clip. In the documentary, the woman reporter asks Pope Francis questions about homosexual persons and the subject of homosexual marriage.  He begins by saying that homosexual people, people who have a homosexual orientation, have a right to be members of a family.  Indeed, they have a right to be in a family and their parents have a right to see them for who they really are as human beings. They are children of God.  The implication here is that Pope Francis knows that there are parents and families in society who do not see their homosexual sons and daughters as children of God.  On the contrary, they see them merely as garbage.  As a result, they oftentimes discard them from their life, just because they are homosexual.  They may or may not be living a homosexual life.  The problem may be their homosexual orientation.  This alone may be the reason their parents and families discard them.  Nevertheless, they should never discard them. That would not only be sinful and harmful to their children and relatives, but also scandalous.  Consequently, Pope Francis suggests that homosexual persons are especially subject to unjust discrimination and suffering in society, including in their families.  For this reason, he recommends the establishment of a “ley de convivencia civil” that would legally cover homosexual persons by protecting them under civil law from such injustices in their family and society.  This would give them legal status to live together civilly, not as married couples, not as lovers, not as boyfriends or girlfriends, but as brothers or sisters living together in chaste friendship under the protection of civil law.  In this sense, such a “ley de convivencia civil” would be a civil union that would help them safeguard and support each other financially and medically as brothers or sisters.  At the same time, the Pope also says that their right to form such a family, by civil union, a union of friendship or brotherhood, does not mean that they would have a right to practice homosexual acts.  On the contrary, he proclaims that this right is not an approval for such acts.  The many people in society, including in the Church, who are advocating for a sinful homosexual marriage, a sinful homosexual civil union or sinful homosexual acts, fail to understand or accept this message from the Pope in the documentary: he is against all sinful forms of practicing homosexuality.  Finally, he says that he has defended the Church’s traditional teaching on Marriage in which a man and a woman alone have a right to marry one another, whether civilly or sacramentally.  As such, Pope Francis is certainly against marriage for homosexual persons, including a civil union for homosexuals that would involve homosexual acts.  On this basis, the relevant parts of the documentary that relate to homosexual persons reveal that the message of Pope Francis in the video clip is, first and foremost, concerned not about offering them an option for a sinful homosexual marriage or civil union in which they could practice their homosexuality, but is concerned, above all, about protecting them civilly from unjust discrimination from their family members and from society who have oftentimes discarded them as garbage.  In my understanding, these are the difficult circumstances that moved Pope Francis to recommend a convivencia civil for homosexual persons in the video clip.

V. UNDERSTANDING THE “LEY DE CONVIVENCIA CIVIL”

     Indeed, in this context, he calls for a ley de convivencia civil as a legal protection for homosexual persons. The problem here is that people are claiming that the Pope’s use of this term was incorrectly translated as civil union. I speak Spanish fluently, have researched the term and have spoken to Latin American friends about this term.  As a result, the consensus is that translating convivencia civil as civil union is a correct translation. It is not a literal translation, but it is a translation which is faithful to the meaning of the word.  This term, convivencia civil, means “legal cohabitation” or “legally living together” which would certainly include civil union, but none of this suggests homosexual relations.  Accordingly, convivencia civil refers to a legal or civil union. For this reason, I believe that civil union, as the Pope uses it, is not an incorrect translation. It is a legal concept and status that would offer homosexual persons, including heterosexuals, legal protection against the dangers and injustices already mentioned. That is what the Pope is concerned about. He wants to protect them as sons and daughters of God from being discarded as garbage by others. On this basis, this convivencia civil, or civil union, for homosexual persons neither involves marriage nor homosexual relations, but merely a legal status for protection against unjust discrimination.

     In these last days, after I learned about the documentary, Francesco, I read articles in which some archbishops from the United States and Latin America offer their guidance in helping the people of God, including myself, to understand the meaning of the Pope’s use of convivencia civil. What they said, confirmed that he, in fact, does understand this term to mean civil union. Here I will briefly offer you their thoughts on the subject.

     In an article published by the Archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore J. Cordileone, he says that last January during his ad limina visit in Rome with Pope Francis and the Bishops of his region, they discussed the subject of the “ley de convivencia civil”.  In the discussion, they referred to this ley de convivencia civil as a civil union.  In doing so, they distinguished it from marriage. In fact, Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez from Argentina, a theological advisor to Pope Francis for many years, agrees that the Pope understands the phrase, convivencia civil, to substantially mean civil union.  According to him, this is not a mistranslation.  The Pope, as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, used the term in this manner. Similarly, Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans concurs that Pope Francis, both during his papacy and as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, has used the term, civil union, many times in referring to this legal relationship granted to people by the government.  According to Aymond, Pope Francis understands the idea of a civil union as a civil rights question. In this sense, he understands that these people should receive certain benefits and protections legally in a civil union on the basis of these rights.  Accordingly, the persons living together legally, as brothers or sisters, in such a union of chaste friendship would receive mutual financial and medical benefits under civil law, but under no circumstances would they be considered a married couple or lovers or have the right to practice intercourse.  Furthermore, Archbishop Cordileone says that this form of civil union should be made available to both heterosexual and homosexual persons, including a biological brother and sister, and other family members, such as an aunt and a niece, if the circumstances call for this.  They would all have access to receive mutual benefits under civil law.  As such, for Cordileone, this civil union would not just be for homosexual persons, but for all human beings, including family members and friends, who are not married. On this basis, Cordileone suggests that there would be no reason to call or define this ley de convivencia civil a civil union only for homosexuals, but a union for all people, including heterosexuals.

VI. CONCLUSION

     From what I have said in this article thus far, I hope and pray you understand that Pope Francis was certainly not advocating for a sinful homosexual civil union where sinful homosexual acts could be practiced by homosexual persons.  That is not what he was saying.  He never said that.  That would be contrary to Catholic faith and morals.

     In conclusion, I offer you these thoughts as reminders to help you form and maintain a true judgment about the message from Pope Francis in the documentary.  First of all, in the documentary, Francesco, Pope Francis is not changing nor can he change the received Catholic Teaching on the nature and meaning of the sacrament of holy matrimony. Nor can he change the nature and meaning of civil marriage. This is unchangeable. For in the beginning, after God Himself established Marriage as a natural sacrament, a sacrament of nature, involving the complementarity of man and a woman, He later raised this marriage to a sacrament of grace for them. In doing so, He revealed the three goods of marriage: the indissolubility of the marriage bond, the faithful or chaste love and the openness to the generation of human life. In Catholic Teaching, these goods can only be pursued and fulfilled virtuously through the complementarity of a man and a woman in marriage.

     Secondly, the Pope’s recommendation of a particular form of civil union, a chaste union of friendship or brotherhood, involving homosexual persons, and others, is neither an endorsement of a civil marriage nor an endorsement of a sacramental marriage for them. For Francis, such a union is not the same as a marriage whatsoever, neither legally nor sacramentally.  He is saying that homosexuals, including heterosexuals, and relatives, are members of the human family who have a right to form this civil union to safeguard and support each other legally, financially and medically under civil law. In calling for these homosexual persons to be covered as such, through a civil union, the Pope is defending them civilly against unjust discrimination or harm. In this sense, this is a legal defense for their health and safety as members of the human family and citizens of the state. For Francis, this is a question of legal justice. On this basis, he is saying that such a civil union is good insofar as it legally protects these people as human persons.  This is the natural desire or inclination of human beings to self-preservation.  All people, according to St. Thomas, are naturally inclined to preserve themselves, their lives, from all danger or harm.  On this basis, the desire or inclination for a civil union as a legal protection for their health and safety against danger and injustice proceeds from the natural law.

     Furthermore, Pope Francis is not arguing theologically for this form of civil union from the chair of St. Peter on the basis of the revealed Catholic deposit of faith and morals, as mediated in Scripture and Tradition and as safeguarded by the Magisterium. As such, he is certainly not formally defining or offering any doctrine here for Catholics to believe theologically or morally. In fact, I would argue that he is mainly addressing the civil authorities, not the Church. In doing so, I believe he is acting more as a citizen of the state, a citizen of good will, than as the Sovereign Pontiff of the Roman Church.  The manner in which he offers his thoughts on this subject in a secular documentary indicate that he is not acting officially and formally as the Roman Pontiff.  He is not formally pronouncing a doctrine or dogma on faith or morals for Catholics to believe and profess. He is merely calling for the legal protections of peoples through a procedure in civil law.  There will be people who will claim that he is departing from the Tradition, or at least moving the Tradition in a manner unhelpful to these people and the Church.  My response to this is that he is doing nothing more, nothing less, than helping to protect them personally and socially, including economically and medically, by advocating for a form of the convivencia civil for them that conforms to the truth of Catholic faith and morals.  This would certainly be a means to lead them to salvation in Christ.  Once again, in the Pope’s understanding, this form of civil union, or chaste friendship under civil law, neither involves marriage nor sexual relations.

     Finally, in this documentary, the Pope is not redefining the morality or moral nature of homosexual acts as morally good. He cannot. This would be contrary to Scripture, Tradition and Magisterium, including right reason and nature. On this basis, homosexual acts remain intrinsically evil.  Indeed, they remain evil by nature.  This means that there is no teaching, no Sacrament, no authority in heaven or on earth that could ever morally rehabilitate, redeem or change the morality of these acts from being intrinsically evil to intrinsically good.  This would be a contradiction in terms.  Consequently, they are neither perfective of human beings spiritually and morally nor are they ordainable to God as to their Last End. For this reason, please do not presume that the Pope’s support of a particular form of civil union means that he is redefining Catholic teaching here. I repeat, he cannot.  That is not his intention.  Is there a danger of scandal that people may claim that Pope Francis is redefining doctrine?  Yes!  The scandal is already happening, not because of him, but because people are not understanding him properly in the proper context.  As I have already said, I, myself, developed and humbly corrected my understanding of his message in the video clip, after reading the transcript.  Thanks be to God.  I hope and pray you open your heart to understand the true meaning of this message.

VII. MESSAGE TO PARENTS OF HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS

     If you have a son who has a homosexual orientation, you are certainly called by God to love him virtuously as God wills. As all human beings, this person, your child, is the beneficiary of God’s love. For God created him in His image for Himself that he would know Him, love Him and serve Him.  As such, God loves your child perfectly. Indeed, He loves him as His child. After all, God is, by nature, the full or perfect actuality of infinite Love. As a result, His love for your homosexual son can neither increase nor decrease nor cease. He remains Himself forever as perfect Love. Accordingly, God is not a changeable creature in potency to full perfection nor is He subject to corruption. In this sense, He does not mature in His love for your child nor can He fail to love your child. On the contrary, He is the uncreated unchangeable God who is Love. On this basis, do not yield to the fallacy or temptation that God either does not love your son at all or loves him only imperfectly, because of his homosexual orientation. God certainly loves him. Moreover, he does not have to earn God’s love either. God loves him freely. He loves him as His beloved child. On this basis, the homosexual orientation of your son can neither change nor nullify this truth about God’s love for him.

     At the same time, in Catholic Teaching, the homosexual orientation is not natural in the human being.  On the contrary, it is an interior disordered movement or inclination of the concupiscible appetite that conditions and inclines a person intellectually and emotionolly to an immoral object through his rational appetite.  This inner movement precedes the act of the rational appetite, the will. Consequently, the Church does not call this orientation a moral evil or sin per se, but a disordered orientation, inasmuch as it inclines a person to an evil moral object, an object contrary to right reason, nature and revelation. According to Scripture, Tradition and Magisterium, under no circumstances may a human being act on such an orientation through his will. For he would be sinning against God, possibly mortally, under certain conditions.  In this sense, a person was not created by God to be a homosexual. He did not receive this interior homosexual orientation from God in creation. On the contrary, as the Church teaches, he incurred this orientation as a consequence of the original sin of his first parents, Adam and Eve.

     Moreover, for the Church, the nature of man, the nature of your son, his full sacred dignity as a human person, cannot be reduced merely or primarily to his homosexual orientation. He himself is not an orientation. He is much more than an orientation. He is a person created in God’s divine image as a rational, free person called to holiness through good moral choices. In doing so, he opens himself for the grace of God to perfect his human nature. In this sense, he is not perfected as a moral agent through his orientation, but through the grace that informs his moral agency as a full person. This life of grace would involve practicing the theological and moral virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit, including chastity, as a faithful son of God. This alone will lead him to full healing in God interiorly and morally.

     Additionally, this will involve the homosexual person, your child, learning to love God as his First or Greatest Love. For this reason, he is called to mature in his love for God until he reaches full perfection in heaven. In this sense, he will neither reach heaven merely because God loves him perfectly nor will he reach heaven as an unrepentant sinner guilty of mortal sin.  On the contrary, he will only reach heaven by remaining in the love of God.  As Jesus says in the Gospel, “Remain in my love.  If you remain in my love, you will bear much fruit.”  Only in the love of God will your homosexual child prepare himself to die fruitfully. This preparation would also involve opening his heart to receive the mercy of God through repentance if he falls by acting on his orientation. As such, God’s mercy will be available to him throughout his life, but this is not a license for him to act immorally. Loving God First will move him to prepare himself for heavenly beatitude through repentance and a holy life of virtue. This is true freedom, a freedom for happiness.

     Finally, in preparing himself for heaven, God calls your son to love his neighbor virtuously as himself in this life. Is he willing to do this? Is he willing to learn to love sacrificially as Jesus Himself through holy chastity. I pray he is prepared to do this, but he will need the help of God to be chaste in his love of neighbor, just as everyone does.

In Christ with Blessed Mary,

Friar Mariano D. Veliz, O.P.

Dear friends, please join me in offering a Rosary for the novices of the class of 2020-2021.  Pray also for the Novice Master, fr. Ian Bordenave, O.P., as he teaches, shepherds and forms them in Dominican life. God bless them all.  May God inspire more young men to this holy vocation.
In Christ with Blessed Mary, 
Friar Mariano D. Veliz, O.P.

 

      THE DOMINICAN “LONG LENT”


     Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in September I will begin offering to God the Traditional Dominican Penance, called the “Long Lent” or “Great Monastic Fast” for the repentance of priests and bishops guilty of child abuse, for the reparation of their sins against God and His children, including their immoral handling of such cases, and for the healing of all people who have suffered from this abuse, including their family and friends, and all people.  God desires faithful bishops and priests in His Church.  He desires all shepherds to be faithful in preaching, teaching and living the Truth and Love of Christ for the salvation of all people.  I hope and pray that others will join me in offering this penance that God’s Church may be fully purified, healed and sanctified through God’s grace.  Would you please consider joining me?  This penance will be offered daily (except Sundays and Solemnities) from the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Friday, September 14th) until the Easter Vigil (Saturday, April 20th), including all Fridays throughout the year.  May all Catholics, all people, open their hearts to enter the Passion of Christ sacrificially through penance for repentance, reparation and healing in the Church.


     For myself, this penance during the “Long Lent” will first involve fasting by eating only 1 full meal per day, normally dinner, and 1 small meal either in the morning or the afternoon, and bread and water for the other meal.  This also includes abstinence from all meat on Fridays during the “Long Lent” and throughout the year.  This is a choice I have made for myself.

     As for yourself, before you decide to do this penance, remember that your age, health or dietary needs may prevent you from participating. For this reason, please be prudent in determining this for yourself. This penance is not for everyone.

     On the other hand, if you decide that you can participate, please use these canonical norms for Lent in the Latin Church (including any norms that your ordinary may establish in your diocese) as guidance for fasting during the “Great Monastic Fast” or “Long Lent.”  First of all, on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, and Good Friday, the Roman Church requires Catholics to fast and abstain from meat. Moreover, all Fridays during Lent are days of fasting and abstinence from meat.  All members of the Latin Catholic Church, ages 18 to 59, are required to fast. This means only eating 1 full meal per day, and 2 smaller meals that together do not equal a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are required of all members of the Latin Church from age 14. Finally, all Fridays throughout the year are days of penance for Catholics (see Canons 1249-1253).

     Futhermore, prayer cannot be separated from fasting, as Jesus teaches in the Gospel.  On the contrary, fasting prepares a person to offer a greater act of faith, hope and love to God in prayer. As such, I have decided to offer a fourth Rosary daily for repentance, reparation and healing in the Church. I will also be  offering a Mass every Friday for this intention.

     I hope and pray that many people will consider joining me in offering this penance by practicing the “Long Lent” through fasting and prayer.  This will be an annual penance for repentance, reparation and healing in the Church.  I have never abused a child in my life or in my vocation as a priest nor will I ever, but inasmuch as I am a sinner, I certainly have abused Christ and His Church spiritually and morally at times through my thoughts, words, actions and omissions. Consequently, I accuse myself in God’s presence, in the presence of Blessed Mary, St. Dominic and all God’s people of having sinned or failed at times in my life and vocation as a shepherd of the Church. On this basis, in offering to God this Long Lent of fasting and prayer, I also include myself as someone in need of repentance, reparation and healing. May God help me and all priests become holy shepherds of God’s people.  If you are interested in joining me in this ministry, please email or message me.

In Christ with Blessed Mary,                      


Friar Mariano D. Veliz, O.P.,
Promoter of the Rosary

frmarianovelizop@preachmypsalter.com

PRAYING THE DOMINICAN ROSARY

A. THE BEGINNING
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Tracing a cross over the lips with the right thumb:
. O Lord, open my lips.
. Any my mouth shall declare Thy praise.

Making the Sign o the Cross:
. O God, come to my assistance.
. O Lord, make haste to help me. 

Bowing deeply for the versicle:
. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.  Alleluia. (From Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday the ‘Alleluia’ is replaced with ‘Praise to Thee, O Lord, King of eternal Glory!)

B. THE MYSTERIES (FOR EACH ROSARY, YOU PRAY A GROUP OF FIVE MYSTERIES, ONE MYSTERY PER DECADE)
1. Joyful Mysteries (Monday, Saturday)
a. Annunciation
b. Visitation
c. Nativity
d. Presentation
e. Finding in the Temple

2. Sorrowful Mysteries (Tuesday, Friday)
a. Agony in the Garden
b. Scourging at the Pillar
c. Crowning with Thorns
d. Carrying of the Cross
e. Crucifixion

3. Glorious Mysteries (Sunday, Wednesday)
a. Resurrection
b. Ascension
c. Descent of the Holy Spirit
d. Assumption
e. Coronation

4. Luminous Mysteries (Thursday)
a. Baptism in the Jordan
b. Wedding at Cana
c. Preaching of the Kingdom
d. Transfiguration
e. Institution of the Eucharist

C. THE DECADES (FOR EACH DECADE, YOU PRAY ONE OUR FATHER, TEN HAIL MARYS AND ONE GLORY)
1. One ‘Our Father’
. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come, they will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

2. Ten ‘Hail Marys’
. Hail Mary, full of grace.  The Lord is with thee.  Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

3. One ‘Glory’
. Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

D. THE ENDING

Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope.  To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.  To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning, and weeping in this valley of tears.  Turn, then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and, after this our exile, show unto us thy blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!

. Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us.
. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

. Let us pray:
. O God, whose only-begotten Son, by His life, death and resurrection has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant, we beseech thee, that meditating upon these mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise.  Through the same Christ our Lord.  Amen.

. May the divine assistance remain always with us.
. Amen.

. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
. Amen.

. May the blessing † of Almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, descend upon us and remain with us always.
. Amen.

Greetings, dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, children of Our Lady of the Rosary!

     I am posting this message to invite you to participate in the Dominican Rosary Apostolate, Preach My Psalter.  Please consider joining me in offering at least one Rosary daily to build up the Body of Christ, the Church, through the maternal intercession of Blessed Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary. Here is my daily Rosary schedule. I pray these Rosaries in New Orleans, LA @ 6:00 AM, 3;00 PM and 10:00 PM CST. I have also listed the times for other geographic areas of the United States. This will help people join together in prayer. I have a General Intention for each Rosary, but you may email me your Particular Intentions for each Rosary. In fact, I have already been receiving many emails from people.  I anticipate that the number of these emails will only increase.  For this reason, I have some instructions for you that will help me manage this Dominican Rosary Apostolate efficiently.   

     First of all, when you email your intentions to me, please put in the SUBJECT field of your email message the Particular Rosary (Morning, Afternoon, or Night), the DAY and DATE. For instance, for each Rosary the Subject field would read as follows: “Morning Rosary for Wednesday, July 4th”; or “Afternoon Rosary for Thursday, July 5th”; or “Night Rosary for Friday, July 6th”. 


     Secondly, be certain your Particular Intentions for each Rosary conform to the General Intentions.  This is what I mean.  MORNING ROSARY: The General Intention of the Morning Rosary is for the Healing of all People.  As such, your Particular Intentions for this Rosary should be for the healing of someone who is ill. AFTERNOON ROSARY: The General Intention for the Afternoon Rosary is for the Sanctification of all Vocations.  For this reason, your Particular Intentions for this Rosary should be for the sanctification of particular people in their vocations.  NIGHT ROSARY: The General Intention for the Night Rosary is for the Repose of all the Deceased. Accordingly, your Particular Intentions for this Rosary should be for particular people who have died, such as your parents or grandparents.


     Finally, please send your Particular Intentions to me at least 2 or 3 hours beforehand via email, so I have sufficient time to read them.  I certainly cannot respond to them all, but I will respond to some. I appreciate you understanding. Please share this flyer via social media and email. Thanks! 


In Christ with Blessed Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary

Friar Mariano D. Veliz, O.P., Promoter of the Rosary

     O Blessed Virgin Mary, Lady of the Holy Rosary, as I prepare myself to preach, contemplate and pray God’s Word in the Sacred Mysteries of your Holy Rosary in this Novena, I proclaim you, in the presence of God and His people, to be the Second Eve, “the woman” prophesied in Scriptures who would become the Virgin Mother of the Redeemer, the “Second Adam,” the Lord Jesus Christ.  As “the Mother of my Lord,” you are “the most blessed among women.”  “The Lord is with you” as with no other human being. For through His conception in your womb as man by the Holy Spirit, He became “really related” to you as a Son to His Mother.  In doing so, He formed a singular personal union or relationship with you not only through the body He received from you in becoming your Son, but also through the singular grace you received from Him in becoming His Mother.  In this sense, your communion as Mother and Son through nature and grace is far beyond any other relationship involving God and creature.  For this reason, Blessed Mary, I approach you NOT to worship you as the Uncreated God, but to “honor” you as God’s greatest creature, His Most Holy Mother.  In the Scriptures God calls His people to honor their mothers. This included honoring not only the good mothers in their society, but also those mothers considered bad or imperfect. In this sense, the first and natural basis for honoring them was neither their goodness nor their imperfection as mothers, but their natural maternity or motherhood they received from God as a blessing. For this reason, their sons and daughters had a natural sacred responsibility to honor them throughout their life. For they conceived them as their children in the order of nature.  Thus, “Children, honor your mother for being your mother, whether she is good or bad. In doing so, you will be acting righteously. You will be loving her faithfully as good sons and daughters as the Living God wills.”  Nevertheless, Blessed Mary, natural maternity was not the only reason for honoring their mothers.  They also had a second, spiritual basis for honoring “certain mothers” in their society. Specifically, God called His people to especially honor certain mothers for their spiritual goodness or righteousness.  Accordingly, they could only offer this honor to those righteous or virtuous mothers among God’s people who loved God and their neighbors faithfully, including their children.  These mothers alone had the goodness required for being models of spiritual motherhood to their sons and daughters and others.  They lived holy lives.  Hence, they could nourish, form, counsel and instruct their children spiritually by their words, actions and prayers. Thus, God called His people to honor them by humbly receiving their spiritual help. In this sense, through their holiness of life as spiritual mothers, they could act as maternal mediators or intercessors for their spiritual good. This is especially true of you, Blessed Mary, as the Most Holy Mother of God.  You are the greatest maternal intercessor for human beings before God.  As such, your maternal mediation is far greater than any other spiritual mother.  In God’s Providence, you became the most perfect model of spiritual and natural motherhood.  In you, the spiritual fully perfects the natural through the singular grace of holiness you received in your Immaculate Conception. For God created you “full of grace” as His Immaculate Daughter to prepare you to say yes to the greatest blessing you would receive in your life, “the blessed fruit of your womb,” the uncreated person of God the Son as man, in your Divine Maternity.  Blessed Mary, as I preach, pray and contemplate God’s Word in your life through the Sacred Mysteries of your Holy Rosary, may I honor you as the Most Perfect Mother, the all-holy Virgin Mother of God, throughout my life.
     O Blessed Mother of God, Lady of the Holy Rosary, God created you in His divine image as a rational, free person, full of grace. For He desired you to respond rationally and freely to His Word in “the fullness of time” by believing and loving Him perfectly as only you could as the Immaculate Conception.  As a result, after the angel Gabriel announced to you God’s plan for you to become the Mother of His Son, you humbly opened your heart to His Word in faithful and loving obedience to Him, as the Second Eve. For this reason, “Blessed are you, Mary, who believed and obeyed God’s message.” In doing so, you proclaimed your great fiat, your great yes, to God. “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” In this great fiat to God, you became His Mother by choice.  You said yes to your singular vocation in God’s plan of salvation. As such, you are honored as the first and greatest disciple of your Son, the first member of His Body, the Church. For you responded faithfully and lovingly to your call to become His Mother. Accordingly, Blessed Mary, as Mother of God the Redeemer, you desire only to lead others to salvation in Him. In this sense, in offering yourself fully to your Son as His Mother through your great yes, you teach all peoples to say yes to Him.  You teach them to do as He says.  You did this during the marriage feast of Cana by instructing the people, “Do whatever He tells you.”  Blessed Mary, as I preach, pray and contemplate God’s Word in your life through the Sacred Mysteries of your Holy Rosary, may I also humbly say yes to Him throughout my life as a faithful and loving disciple, as you did.
     O Blessed Mother of the Church, Lady of the Holy Rosary, in calling you to be the Mother of His Son, God also called you to be the Mother of His disciples. You would fulfill this Maternal vocation on their behalf throughout your life, first interiorly in your heart and later publically. This Maternity would become more and more public during your lifetime, especially after the death of your Son, Jesus Christ. For this reason, from the cross before He died, He publically proclaimed you to be the Mother of His disciple, St. John. For He said to John, “Behold, your Mother,” Mary. In doing so, He also told you, “Woman, behold, your son.”  Henceforth, John publically honored you as his Mother by welcoming you into his home as a faithful and loving son.  In a sense, he represents all your Son’s disciples in this Gospel story.  As such, he receives you as his Mother on their behalf.  For God providentially predestined you to “full or perfect Motherhood” of BOTH the “Head” and the “Body” of Christ.  The Head represents your Son, Jesus Christ, and the Body signifies His Church.  They form a spiritual communion in grace through the Holy Spirit. Hence, the Holy Spirit unites the Head and the Body to one another supernaturally as a single subject. For this reason, they belong to one another spiritually in the Holy Spirit.  Consequently, Blessed Mary, people who claim that your Motherhood does not include the Body, but only the Head, have an imperfect or incomplete understanding of the nature of your Maternity.  For through the Holy Spirit, you became the Mother of the Head in the order of nature and the Mother of the Body in the order of grace.  Accordingly, your perfect or full Maternity includes being both natural Mother to the Head and spiritual Mother to the Body.  For through your yes, God created your Maternity first by conceiving His Son as man and later His disciples as Church by the Holy Spirit.  In this sense, He called you not merely to be the Mother of the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ, but also to be the Mother of the members of the Church, the disciples.  Hence, God fulfilled your first or natural Maternity by conceiving His Son in you as man through the Holy Spirit. For this reason, you are the Mother of God the Son by nature, for He received His body from yours and His soul from God in His conception, as all human beings do.  On the other hand, God fulfilled your second Maternity, your spiritual Maternity, in you by recreating the disciples in the image of your Son as adopted sons and daughters of the Father by the grace of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.  In doing so, He made them your spiritual children; and spiritual siblings to Christ, their Lord and Redeemer. Accordingly, Blessed Mary, in the Church you are a spiritual Mother to all the disciples of Christ in the order of grace.  Thus, the basis for your spiritual Maternity is your natural Maternity of God the Son. For you first received your spiritual Maternity interiorly by becoming the natural Mother of God. In His preaching ministry, your Son briefly mentions this spiritual Motherhood, at least implicitly. He says that the woman who “does the will of God” is His “mother.” But no woman has ever fulfilled God’s will more perfectly in life than you have, Blessed Mary. You are the most perfect model of spiritual motherhood for all women in the Church because you fulfilled God’s will perfectly.  In you, they can all learn to be true spiritual mothers through their faithful and loving obedience to God’s will.  As I preach, pray and contemplate God’s Word in your life through the Sacred Mysteries of your Holy Rosary, may I become more and more a faithful and loving son of yours throughout my life.  I welcome you into my heart to be “my Mother” for all eternity, as St. John did.
     O Blessed Mother of God and Mother of His People, Lady of the Holy Rosary, as I preach, pray and contemplate your faithful and loving response to God’s call in the Sacred Mysteries, I am inspired to offer myself completely to Christ through you. You are the greatest Mother and Disciple of your Son.  You only desire for all people to be fully perfected in Him spiritually. This is the goal of your discipleship vocation as Mother of God and Mother of His Church.  Dear Mother, intercede to your Son for me this day through your prayers. May I find blessing in Him through your maternal  intercession. For as His Mother, you have received the singular vocation of mothering all peoples to salvation in Him. Hence, all generations have called you “blessed” because in your blessedness as God’s Mother, they have all received blessing. They have become beneficiaries of God the Son through your Motherhood. Therefore, Blessed Mother, I call upon you as your son to help form and guide me as a faithful and loving disciple of Christ.  As children are naturally subject to their mother in life, I freely and fully subject myself to you as my Mother, including my intellect and will, all the senses of my body, my heart, my soul and all my passions. Mother me, Blessed Mary. Teach and guide me to love your Son and all people faithfully all the days of my life. May this Rosary Novena help me become increasingly perfected in your Son through your faithful and loving maternal intercession. Amen.
In Christ with Blessed Mary, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary,
Friar Mariano D. Veliz, O.P.
frmarianovelizop@preachmypsalter.com 

     In Saint Thomas Aquinas’ treatise on the Sacrament of the Eucharist in the Tertia Pars of his Summa Theologiae, he says that the “whole Christ” [1] is “really present” [2] in the Eucharist.  For Thomas, this means that “Christ Himself is contained in the Eucharist sacramentally” [3] as the Son of God, not “in His proper species” [4], but “under the sacramental species” [5].  In this sense, He is present in the Eucharist, not as He appears in the proper species of His Glorified Humanity in Heaven [6], but as He appears under “the species of bread and wine” [7].  For this reason, He is in this sacrament “in a special manner” [8].  Accordingly, this special presence of Christ in the Eucharist is “proper to this sacrament” alone [9].  For He is really and fully contained in the Eucharist sacramentally as the “God-Man” [10].  Indeed, He remains the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Incarnate Son of God, under the species of this sacrament.  Hence, this is a real or true presence of Christ in this sacrament.


      According to Thomas, the basis for this teaching is the authority of the Divine Person of Christ Himself 
[11]. During the Last Supper Christ revealed to His Apostles His real presence in the Eucharist [12]. In Thomas’ teaching, this means that Christ is really contained in the Eucharist as the God-Man “after the manner of substance” [13]. Thus, His real presence in the sacrament is a substantial presence.  The term substance (substantiae) here from the Latin “substare” signifies the unchangeable, substantial reality of a thing, what the thing really is in itself substantially as it stands under changeable appearances or sensible accidents.  For instance, the substance of what a person is, what he really is substantially remains unchanged and unchangeable, inasmuch as he remains a human being in the substance of his human nature, but his sensible appearance certainly can and will change as he matures physically and ages from infancy to childhood, from childhood to adolescence, from adolescence to adulthood, and from adulthood to an elderly person. Throughout these changes in his appearance, he remains the same substantially in his human nature.  His appearance may also change due to injury, illness, or surgery, but he remains fully what God created him to be, a human being in the substance of his humanity.  As a result, Thomas says that Christ remains unchanged and unchangeable in what He really is substantially in the substance of His Humanity, the God-Man, under the appearance of the sacramental species [14]. Thus, for Thomas, Christ is “substantially present” [15] in the Eucharist.  The sacramental species here includes the signs of bread and wine that contain Christ substantially.  For at the Last Supper Christ proclaimed to His apostles His real, substantial presence in the Eucharist, the presence of His Body and Blood, under the appearance of the sacramental signs of bread and wine. According to the Gospel, first, “he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it and gave it to [His Apostles], saying, ‘This is my body’…And [then] the cup [of wine]…saying, ‘This…[is] my blood’” [16].  By these words Christ revealed to His apostles His real, substantial presence in the Eucharist through the signs of bread and wine.  For this reason, He wills for these sacramental signs to contain the reality they signify.  The  reality contained here is the real presence of the Body and Blood of the God-Man, Jesus Christ, under the appearance of bread and wine that signify Christ.  Accordingly, Thomas teaches that at the Last Supper Christ Himself instituted the Eucharist as both sign and reality. For there Christ proclaimed that He really becomes fully present substantially [17] in His Body and Blood through sacramental signs [18].
      Specifically, in his treatise, Thomas says that the “whole Christ” is “really present” in the Eucharist “in a twofold manner” [19].  In the first place, he says that Christ is present in the Eucharist “by the power of the sacrament [itself]” [20]. This power refers to the “efficacy” [21] of Christ’s “words of consecration” [22] through the action of the Holy Spirit. These are the “words for consecrating the bread and wine” [23] that Christ “the High Priest” [24] pronounced “in instituting [the Eucharist]” [25] as the “memorial of [His] Passion” [26] during the Last Supper.  In doing so, He instructed His Apostles to henceforth commemorate this sacrificial offering of Himself, the offering of His Body and Blood on the cross, through their consecration of the bread and wine in the Eucharist [27]. For this reason, He says to them, “Do this in remembrance of me” [28].  As such, Thomas says that Christ conferred upon His Apostles a participation in his priestly ministry [29] during His institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper [30]. The oldest scriptural account of this institution is recorded in Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians.  In this letter Paul reminds them: “For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’  For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes” [31].  As the first priests of the Church who received their priesthood from Christ, the Apostles, in their faithfulness to what Christ Himself had instructed them to do, would be the first to proclaim “the death of the Lord” in the Eucharist as they acted in the person of Christ the Head (in persona Christi capitis) by proclaiming the words of consecration over the bread and wine and consuming them for what they really had become in this consecration, the true Body and Blood of Christ.  Accordingly, this would be a proclamation of the sacrifice of Christ that all priests after them would be called to proclaim. In Thomas’ teaching, as the priest pronounces the words of consecration from Christ’s institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, there is a substantial change that occurs in the substance of the Eucharistic species through the power of the sacrament.  This means the Eucharistic bread and wine are substantially changed in this consecration.  This change that occurs in the consecration at Mass is sui generis (a singular class in itself).  As a consequence, the substantial change here does not conform to the categories of Aristotle, who believed that every substantial change required a change in appearance or what he called the accidents.  As such, in this special or supernatural substantial change in the consecration of the bread and wine, Christ becomes present substantially, but the appearance of bread and wine remain unchanged.  Thomas calls this substantial change, transubstantiation, for here the substance of bread and wine are changed substantially into the substance of Christ through the priest’s pronouncement of the words of consecration. Consequently, in this sacred priestly act, the substance of the bread and wine cease to be.  For as the priest pronounces the words of consecration the full substance of the bread really becomes the full substance of the Body of Christ, and the full substance of the wine really becomes the full substance of the Blood of Christ.  In this sense, the Body and Blood of Christ really and fully become present in the Eucharist “after the manner of substance”.  This means that the full substance of the Body and Blood of Christ is truly and fully present under each of the Eucharistic species of bread and wine, including under every part, meaning under every piece and drop of the species [32]. On this basis, after the consecration, the Body and Blood of Christ really and fully become present substantially under the appearance of bread and wine by the power of the sacrament.  This is the first manner of Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist.
     Secondly, Thomas also says that Christ is really present in the Eucharist from natural or real concomitance.  This is the second manner of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Specifically, this means that although the substantial change or transubstantiation of the substance of the Eucharistic bread terminates in the substance of the Body of Christ, the full Human Nature and Divinity of Christ are also present in the Body of Christ by their union in Him from real concomitance.  In this sense, the Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ are present concomitantly in the Body of Christ. Hence, the recipient of the Body of Christ receives Christ fully.  The same is true of the Blood of Christ.  As the substantial change of the wine terminates in the substance of the Blood of Christ, the full Humanity and Divine Nature of Christ are also present in His Blood concomitantly by reason of their union in Him.  Accordingly, the Body, Soul and Divinity of Christ are fully present in the Blood of Christ.  In receiving the Blood of Christ, the communicant receives Christ fully.  As such, the term “concomitance” refers to the real, indissoluble unity or relation of the full Humanity and Divinity in the single Subject or Person of Christ Himself by His incarnation. From the time of His conception as man in the All Holy Virgin through the Holy Spirit, these Natures, the Human and the Divine, have been fully and perfectly united in Him.  For this reason, in the priest’s consecration of the Eucharistic species of bread and wine, these Natures remain fully and perfectly united in Christ in every piece and in every drop of the Eucharist.  On this basis, the full Person of Christ, the God-Man, is really present in the Eucharist in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity through the “power of the sacrament” and by “real concomitance” [33].
      According to Thomas, Christ first and foremost becomes fully present substantially in the Eucharist as a means to efficaciously communicate the grace of the saving merits of His satisfactory Passion, His suffering and death on the cross, to human beings.  As such, Thomas says that the reason Christ, the Uncreated Son of God from all eternity, became the Son of Man through a created Human Nature was to mercifully offer Himself fully to the Father through the Holy Spirit as a Sacrifice to satisfy for the original sin of Adam and Eve and for all particular sins of their descendants. For they had acted against the order of God’s justice through sin.  Consequently, God’s justice required satisfaction for sin.  In treating the doctrine of satisfaction, Thomas recalls the general principle that a human being can satisfy for a particular brother or sister if he remains in a state of charity, but he cannot satisfy for all human beings because the act of a single human being does not have the value of all the people in the human race [34].  On the other hand, the action of Christ, the Divine Person of God the Son as Man had a value that could satisfy for the sin of all people by reason of His Infinite Dignity [35].  In Thomas’ teaching, he defines satisfaction as every difficult action or passion by a person that removes some impediment or impairment to the fulfillment of glory.  In the case of Christ, He satisfied for the sins of the human race by offering Himself as the Lamb of Sacrifice.  In doing so, He suffered in His Human Nature to pay the debt of punishment that human beings incurred for sinning against God’s justice, but Thomas says that the suffering of Christ alone could not satisfy for their sin.  The suffering was not the principle or cause of satisfaction. On the contrary, the principle of satisfaction was the love in the heart of Christ as a habit of His soul, whereby He was inclined as Man to voluntarily satisfy for human beings [36]. For this reason, Friar Romanus Cessario, O.P., says that the efficacy of Christ’s satisfaction for sin was in His love [37].  As a result, in offering Himself in His Body and Blood on the cross as a sacrificial act of love, He efficaciously merited the glory of salvation for all human beings. This is what reconciled them to God in preparation for the glory of Heaven and the glorious resurrection. 
     For Thomas, Christ the High Priest constituted the Apostles as the first priests of the Church at the Last Supper to participate in His priestly ministry by dispensing the grace of the saving merits of His Passion through the Sacraments He instituted in the Church.  Hence, all the Sacraments have their relevance here, but especially the Eucharist in this article.  For in the Eucharist the sacrificial offering of Christ on the cross in His Body and Blood, once and for all in human history, is really made present substantially on the altar daily through the priest’s pronouncement of the words of consecration [38].  Thus, Thomas says that the offering of the Eucharist is, first of all, called a Sacrifice because it images the offering of Christ as the Sacrificial Lamb on the cross [39].  In this sense, here the offering of the Eucharist is an image representing the offering of Christ in His Passion. In the second place, Thomas teaches that the Eucharist is also called a Sacrifice because a person receives a spiritual participation in the Passion of Christ through particular sacrificial effects or fruits in the Eucharist.  As a Sacrifice, the Eucharist can be offered for the spiritual benefit of any person, present or absent from the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, including for the dead [40].  On this basis, the priest offers the Sacrifice of the Eucharist for the people of God that they may participate more and more in the fruits of the Passion of Christ.
      Moreover, Thomas teaches that the Eucharist is a Sacrament because in Holy Mass the people of God receive the Body and Blood of Christ.  Here the sacramental effects benefit only the people who are present to consume them [41].  In receiving Christ in First Holy Communion, a person receives the Bread from Heaven, the Heavenly Manna, as the spiritual nourishment he requires to be fully alive as image of Christ.  For in Baptism the person was recreated in the image of Christ through the grace of justification that he may live for Him as a faithful disciple. As such, this grace perfected his nature for the reception of Christ in Holy Communion throughout his life.  In doing so, he receives various fruits or effects.  In particular, Christ tells His disciples that this fullness of life for them through Holy Communion includes the spiritual or interior presence of the life of Christ in their hearts, eternal life and the glorious resurrection on the Last Day [42].  Furthermore, as people who are called to be fully alive in Christ, they can only reach full maturity or perfection in Christ through their regular reception of the Eucharist. This Bread of Life will help them live and act faithfully as disciples of Christ.
     All the same, a person considering the Eucharist, especially a non-Catholic or a Catholic not fully formed in Church teaching, may reasonably question if this doctrine is really true.  After all, as a creature created in God’s divine image, the human being is a rational, free person who has a natural desire to learn the truth available to him through his spiritual, bodily nature.  For this reason, he fulfills himself as man intellectually by forming a true understanding of the objects that he perceives through the senses of his body. This formation in truth for the human being will certainly involve questioning the true nature or meaning of such objects.  He will especially question those difficult teachings or claims about particular objects that do not seem to be based on the reality he perceives through his bodily senses.  In his mind, these teachings would include the doctrine of Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist.  As such, he readily questions this doctrine.  For he does not naturally sense the Son of God as man under the Eucharistic species.  Indeed, in this sacrament he does not sense Christ as he senses other sensible goods or objects in creation.  On the contrary, he merely perceives the bread and wine in the Eucharist.  Consequently, he may reasonably ask, “Is this doctrine really credible or true? Is Christ’s Body and Blood really present substantially in the Eucharist?”  Is He really contained as the God-Man under the Eucharistic species?  Certainly, the mature Catholic formed in Church teaching is fully prepared to say “yes” to this question.  He is ready to profess the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  For he has reached a certain maturity in Christ as a Catholic.  On the other hand, the non-Catholic or the Catholic unformed doctrinally is unprepared to say “yes” to this teaching.  As a result, he will question the real presence of Christ under the Eucharistic species. Indeed, he may either doubt or reject this doctrine.  In a sense, either response seems reasonable for such a person.  For in the Eucharist Christ does not appear as He is in His proper species as the God-Man in Heavenly Glory.  Hence, a person questioning this doctrine seems to have good reason for doubting or rejecting the real, substantial presence of Christ. After all, the sensible signs of bread and wine do not have the natural sensible form or appearance of a person. This means they do not image the Person of Christ accidentally in His proper species as He is in Heaven.  For the sensible accidents of the Eucharistic species, including height, width, weight, shape, color, scent and flavor, do not belong to the nature of a person. On the contrary, they belong to the nature of bread and wine.  Consequently, the human being merely senses them accidentally as bread and wine through his sense nature.  Indeed, he sees, touches, tastes and smells them as such.  In doing so, he perceives them, not for what they “really are” substantially, but for what they “appear to be” accidentally. Accordingly, he identifies merely their accidental sense nature through the natural operations of his bodily senses. For the proper or natural objects of his sense organs include all the sensibles in material creation, not the real substance of Christ in the Eucharist.  Therefore, the real, substantial presence of Christ in this Sacrament is not subject to the senses of the body.  These organs do not have the capacity to sense Christ as such.   On this basis, created in the image of God, the non-Catholic or unformed Catholic, in his desire for truth will readily question the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, after perceiving merely the sensible signs of bread and wine.
      As the image of God, this questioning can help such a person open his mind to receive the truth he desires, but this alone is insufficient for fulfilling the end.  He will require more than merely questions to fulfill his desire for truth.  First of all, as a rational being, he will need intellectual formation in the truth of the Church’s teaching concerning the Sacrament of Eucharist.  This formation will help him understand what the Church is proclaiming in this doctrine materially. In this education, he will learn that the Church’s doctrine of the real, substantial presence of Christ in the Eucharist completely transcends all the natural faculties and operations of man.  This would include not only the natural operations of his bodily senses as already mentioned, but also the natural reasoning capacity of his mind or intellect. Consequently, he cannot naturally reason from the sensible signs of the Eucharistic species to the conclusion that Christ is really present substantially in the Eucharist. For in this Sacrament the truth of the real, substantial presence of Christ is not naturally subject or accessible to the natural operations or faculties of man.  Accordingly, the non-Catholic or unformed Catholic will first have to develop at least a sufficient understanding of the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist materially in preparation to formally receive this truth.  This formation in truth will be the first means of preparing himself for the desired end.
     Secondly, his preparation will also involve opening his heart to the grace of God. According to Thomas, God’s grace perfects the nature of man supernaturally.  On the one hand, for the non-Christian, this movement to perfection in him begins through an actual grace he receives from God.  This particular grace is a temporary supernatural illumination or inspiration that moves the person to open himself to receive the habitual grace of justification in Baptism.  On the other hand, for the unformed Catholic, a person who has not practiced Catholic faith and morals during his life, the movement to perfection in him also begins through an actual grace he receives from God, but this grace moves him to open his heart to the Sacrament of Penance (Confession).  For in this Sacrament he will, once again, receive the grace of justification he lost sometime after Baptism.  Thus, in either case, the human nature of the non-Christian or the unformed Catholic will be perfected supernaturally through the grace of justification in Baptism or Confession.  In particular, Thomas teaches that in the Sacrament of Baptism God perfects the mind of the human being supernaturally through the theological virtue of faith [43] that he may “see” the God-Man “substantially” under the Eucharistic species by an intellectual act of faith. As for the unformed Catholic, the grace of the Sacrament of Penance perfects his mind supernaturally through faith that he may also “see” the real, substantial presence of Christ in the Eucharist. In this sense, for the human being, “seeing Christ” is a metaphor for believing in the real, substantial presence of Christ intellectually through faith.  For “the substance” of Christ in the Eucharist comes “under the intellect” [44] as the proper object of the mind that has been supernaturally perfected by faith [45].  This means that the real, substantial presence of Christ only becomes subject or accessible to the person in the supernatural perfection of his intellect through faith.  Thus, Thomas says that the human being is perfected in his mind through theological faith that he may believe that Christ is really present substantially under the appearance of the sensible signs or accidents of bread and wine [46]. Therefore, he becomes capable of a supernatural act of the intellect to believe through the faith he receives in the grace of justification.  On this basis, this grace of God perfects the nature of man that he may formally believe in the truth contained in the Eucharist.
     At the same time, the Church teaches that in Baptism and Penance the beneficiary of the Sacrament is initially perfected in his intellect through theological faith merely in seminal or seed form.  In this sense, the faith here is not a fully perfected faith, but merely the beginning of the seed of faith in the intellect that still requires maturation [47].  Thus, Friar Romanus Cessario, O.P., says that for a person who has formally professed his faith in Christ, either through Baptism or Penance, there is still in him a certain movement to perfection of faith that remains incomplete, inasmuch as he remains in potency to full perfection or conformity to Christ as a graced human being [48]. This seminal faith in the person is certainly sufficient for seeing Christ in the Eucharist, but as the person matures in his bodily and spiritual nature as man through childhood, adolescence and adulthood, he cannot remain unchanged or underdeveloped intellectually as a person of faith.  For God did not first create him and later recreate him merely to remain immature as a believer.  On the contrary, God wills for the person to gradually develop to adulthood in his faith.  According to Cessario, the Christian can only mature if he remains spiritually alive in Christ.  Hence, this maturation indicates that he is in the grace of Christ [49].  For this reason, in the Gospels Jesus instructs his disciples to become perfect as sons of God [50].  Indeed, he uses certain metaphors from creation, agriculture and commerce in his parables to call them to increase or develop the seeds of grace they have received from God interiorly.  The Church teaches that this would certainly include the seminal gifts and virtues they have received from God in Baptism and Penance such as faith.  Accordingly, as they develop these seeds of grace as faithful disciples, they will more and more bear fruit, first and foremost, in their hearts through the intellectual act of faith [51]. In fact, in his preaching St. Paul calls Christians to this faithful maturation in Christ [52].  He also reminds them that God alone will “cause” this fruitful increase or maturation in them [53].  He alone will fully perfect them as a people of faith.  All the same, this does not mean that they cannot contribute to their maturation.  Certainly, they can.  As persons created in the image of God, and recreated in the image of Christ, through the grace of justification, these people have the graced, rational capacity for the theological and moral actions that will dispose or prepare them to receive from God an increase of faith in Christ.  In particular, they can till the soil of their hearts, nurture their seeds of faith and water them through prayer, study and contemplation of truth, penitential sacrifice and acts of mercy.  In Thomas’ teaching, this is a living faith for them, a maturing faith informed by love.  For this reason, through such faith, they become more and more perfected in their love for the real, substantial presence of Christ under the Eucharistic species.  This faithful love for Christ in the Eucharist is at the heart of their movement to full conformity to the person of Christ in this life.  Consequently, seminal faith is certainly sufficient for beginning this pilgrimage of faith in Christ, but does not suffice for full perfection in Christ.  The disciple can only become fully conformed to Christ through the perfection of his faithful love for the real, substantial presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  This perfection requires his maturation as a man of faith throughout his life to the desired end or terminus.  As a result, the grace of God further perfects the nature of man as he matures to full adulthood as a faithful lover of Christ.  In doing so, he comes to see the real substance of the Person of Christ, the God-man, under the Eucharistic species more and more fully through the eyes of a loving and maturing faith.
In the Crucified and Risen Christ with Blessed Mary,
Friar Mariano D. Veliz, O.P. 
frmarianovelizop@preachmypsalter.com


Bibliography

Aquinas, Thomas.  Summa Theologiae.  New York: Benzinger Brothers, Inc., 1947.
Aquinas, Thomas. De Veritate.  Paris: J. Vrin, 2002.
Cessario, Romanus.  The Godly Image.  Petersham, MA: St. Bede’s Publications,  
     1990.
Cessario, Romanus.  The Moral Virtues and Theological Virtues.  Notre Dame, 
     Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 2009.
Dauphinais, Michael  and Levering, Matthew.  Rediscovering Aquinas and the 
     Sacraments.  Chicago/Mundelein, Illinois: Hillenbrand Books, 2009.
Dauphinais, Michael and Levering, Matthew.  Knowing the Love of Christ.  Notre 
     Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 2002.  
Denzinger, Henry.  The Sources of Catholic Dogma. B. Herder Book Co., 1957.
Pope John Paul II.  Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Vatican City: Libreria 
     Editrice Vaticana, 2012..
Pope Pius V.  Catechism of the Council of Trent.  Charlotte, North Carolina: Tan 
     Books, 1982.
Endnotes

[1] Summa Theologiae, IIIa, Q. 76, a. 1-2.
[2] Ibid., Q. 75, a. 2.
[3] Ibid., Q. 73, a. 5, Q. 80, a. 5.
[4] Ibid., Q. 80, a. 5.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid., Q. 76, a. 8, Q. 90, a. 2.
[7] Ibid., Q. 77, a. 1, Q. 80, a. 2.
[8] Ibid., Q. 75, a. 1.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Ibid., Q. 36, a. 5.
[11] Ibid., Q. 75, a. 1.
[12] Ibid., Q. 73, a. 5.
[13] Ibid., Q. 76, a. 4.
[14] Ibid., a. 7.
[15] Ibid.
[16] Luke 22:19-20.
[17] Idem, Summa Theologaie, IIIa, Q. 78, a. 6.
[18] Knowing the Love of Christ, Pg. 114.
[19] Idem, Q. 76, a. 1.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Ibid., Q. 78, a. 4.
[22] Ibid., Q. 83, a. 1.
[23] Ibid., Q. 78, a. 6.
[24] Ibid., Q. 83, a. 6.
[25] Ibid., Q. 74, a. 5.
[26] Ibid., Q. 76, a. 2.
[27] Ibid., Q. 83, a. 2, Q. 82, a. 1-2.
[28] 1 Corinthians 11:24-26.
[29] Idem, Q. 63, a. 3, Q. 82, a. 3.
[30] Ibid., Q. 82, a. 2.
[31] 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
[32] The Council of Trent, Session XIII, Canon III.
[33] Idem, IIIa, Q. 76, a. 1.
[34] De Veritate, Q. 29, a. 7.
[35] Ibid., Q. 29, a. 3 and 7.
[36] Ibid., Q. 29, a. 4, Summa Theologiae, IIIa, Q. 14, a. 1.
[37] The Godly Image, Chapter IV, Pg. 93.
[38] Idem, Summa Theologiae, IIIa, Q. 83, a. 1.
[39] Ibid., IIIa, Q. 83, a. 1, Q. 79, a. 5.
[40] Ibid., IIIa, Q. 83, a. 1, Q. 79, a. 7.
[41] Rediscovering Aquinas and the Sacraments, Chapter 4, Pg. 40.
[42] John 6: 53-58.
[43] Idem, Summa Theologaie, IIa-IIae Q. 1, a. 1 and 3.
[44] Ibid., IIIa, Q. 76, a. 7.
[45] Ibid.
[46] Ibid.
[47] The Catechism of the Catholic Church: 1253.
[48] The Moral Virtues and Theological Ethics, Chapter 1. The Moral Virtues and Christian Faith, Pg. 24.
[49] Ibid., Pg. 25.
[50] Matthew 5:48.
[51] Mark 4:1-20, 4:26-34, Luke 19:11-26 and John 15:1-8.
[52] Ephesians 4:13-16; Philippians 1:25, 3:9, 12, 15; 1 Corinthians 2:6, 14:20; Colossians 1:6, 9-10; Romans 6:5; and 1 Thessalonians 4:10.
[53] 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 and Colossians 2:19.

“We believe that Jesus died and rose and that in the same way God will bring with Him those [people] who have fallen asleep in Jesus” (1 Th 4:14). They are the “dead in Christ [who] will rise first” (1 Th 4:16d) – St. Paul of Tarsus 

“We believe that Jesus died and rose” (4:14a)
     In chapter 4, verse 14a of St. Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians, he first proclaims to the Thessalonians the truth of the saving death and resurrection of Christ. For the Crucified and Risen Christ is the source of their salvation. For this reason, in his preaching to the Thessalonian Christians, Paul appeals to their “belief” in Jesus’ saving death and resurrection as the basis for their “hope” of salvation for Christians who have died “in Jesus”. Here Paul does not mean that Jesus raised himself from the dead. On the contrary, what he means is that “God…raised Jesus from the dead” (Gal 1:1; 1 Th 1:9) by the Holy Spirit (Rm 8:11). Sometimes Paul will describe the Holy Spirit as God’s “glory” (Rm 6:4), or “power” (2 Cor 13:4). As a result, he can preach that Jesus “was raised from the dead by the glory” of God (Rm 6:4); and that “by the power of God, Jesus is alive” (2 Cor 13:4). What he means is that God the Father saved His Son from human death, by raising him to life, through the Holy Spirit. Accordingly, if the Thessalonians believe that God saved Jesus from death by raising him to life, through the Spirit, they should also believe that God will save their Christian brothers and sisters who have died in Jesus.
“in the same way God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus” (4:14b)
     In chapter 4, verse 14b, Paul proclaims what this salvation means for Christians who have “fallen asleep in Jesus”.  In the first place, at their death, they receive their particular judgment of salvation from God in the afterlife before their resurrection.  For he says in this verse, “God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus” (1 Th 4:14b).  Indeed, He will bring with Him those who have died in Jesus because of His judgment that they have merited salvation through their participation in the saving merits of Christ’s death.  In doing so, He saves their souls.  Hence, according to Paul, God saves them in death by the same Spirit they received from Him in Baptism (1 Th 4:8). Consequently, this verse (14b) does not concern their resurrection from the dead. Paul will address that later in verse 16d.  What he alludes to in 14b is the “state of the righteous” in death, meaning a state of grace for them in the afterlife. As an Israelite, trained in the tradition of the Pharisees, Paul believes that the righteous people of God receive the recompense or blessing of God’s friendship in the afterlife. In his understanding, this is an intermediate state of grace for the dead in Christ in which “God will bring with Him” (1 Th 4:14b) into paradise those dead Christians, who are united “in Jesus” (1 Th 4:14b), through the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:13). For this reason, in his Second Letter to the Corinthians, Paul says that he knows that they “would rather leave the body…to be at home with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:8) in paradise. In this sense, although the dead in Christ are separated from their body in death, they remain united to Christ, their Head. As such, in his letter to the Romans he tells them that the love of God has been poured into their hearts by the Holy Spirit, which they have received from God as a gift (Rm 5:5). Consequently, not even death (Rm 8:38a) can separate them from that love, which they have in Christ Jesus through the Spirit (Rm 8:39b; 5:5). As a result, Paul says that in death they still “belong to the Lord” (Rm 14:8). Paul’s belief in this intermediate state of union with Christ in the afterlife is also found in his letter to the Philippians in which he reveals to them that he desires “to depart this life and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Ph 1:23).  Indeed, it would be far better for Paul to die in Christ because he would be with Christ forever. In his teaching, this means that those Christians, who die united to Christ in love, will enter into a state of glory with him in death, perhaps not immediately, but eventually.  For they may require spiritual purification from venial sin or temporal punishment beforehand. On this basis, Paul can proclaim to the Philippians that “death is a gain” (Ph 1:21), because in death he will be with Jesus Christ.
     The later Old Testament scriptures contributed to Paul’s understanding of this intermediate state of grace for the righteous dead in the afterlife. These Scriptures would include the Second Maccabees (2 Mc 15:13-16) and Wisdom. For instance, in Wisdom the author writes that the “souls of the righteous [dead] are in the hand of God” (Ws 3:1) where they “shall remain with him in love” (Ws 3:9) and “peace” (Ws 3:3) “forever” (Ws 5:15).
     Furthermore, in the first century A.D. the oral traditions about Jesus that circulated among Christians throughout the Greco-Roman world, also had an influence on Paul’s understanding of the afterlife. In Jesus’ preaching, he reveals his belief that the deceased, who had lived a righteous life on earth, would enter an intermediate state of “paradise” (Lk 23: 43) in the hereafter, which would eventually lead to their resurrection from the dead at the general judgment. This is recorded in Jesus’ discussion with the Sadducees. First of all, he mentions the particular judgment of the righteous dead “who are judged worthy of a place in the other world” (Lk 20:35a); and “in the resurrection of the dead” (Lk 20:35b). Secondly, he proclaims that in their state of death in the afterlife “they can no longer die, because they are like angels” (Lk 20:36a) which means that, like angels, they are alive in Christ through God’s Holy Spirit.  As such, they image something of God’s spiritual glory. Thirdly, he also proclaims that the righteous dead “are the children of God, because they are the ones who will rise” in glory (Lk 20: 36b). Finally, he includes Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses, among the righteous dead in paradise, who will rise in glory someday (Lk 20:38). Jesus’ belief in a state of paradise for the righteous in death in the afterlife is also recorded in his parable about the poor man Lazarus. According to Jesus, “when the poor man died, he was carried away by the angels to the bosom of Abraham” (Lk 16:22). This is an intermediate “place” of paradise for the righteous in the afterlife. For this reason, he says that in this paradise Lazarus was “comforted” by God (Lk 16:25). This belief can also be found in the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ transfiguration when “Moses and Elijah” (Lk 9:30), who had passed into the afterlife centuries before, “appeared” to Jesus “in glory” (Lk 9:31) as they “spoke” to him (Lk 9:31). 

     On this basis, if the Thessalonian Christians believe Paul’s message that God saved Jesus from death by raising him to life through the Spirit, then they should also believe that God will bring with Him into His paradise those Christians who have fallen asleep in Jesus (1 Th 4:14b), by the same Spirit they received from Him (1 Th 4:8). In this sense, their hope for the Christian dead in the afterlife lies in their belief that God saves them through Jesus who died and rose for their salvation. 
They are “the dead in Christ [who] will rise first” (4:16)

     Moreover, in chapter 4, verse 16 of Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians, he proclaims that this salvation for the dead in Christ will also involve their glorious resurrection.  As good and blessed as the afterlife would be for the souls of the dead in Christ, their full salvation in Christ remains incomplete or unfinished in the intermediate state, inasmuch as God did not create them to be spirits or souls, but spiritual, bodily persons.  For this reason,  salvation in Christ for them will certainly include not only the salvation of their soul in the afterlife through heavenly glorification, but also the salvation of their body  through the glory of the resurrection at the general judgment.  Thus, he says, “the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Th 4:16d).  As such, in Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, he teaches them that full salvation for the dead in Christ requires the resurrection of their body (1 Cor 15:1-58).  This is the final end or terminus of their glorious salvation in Christ.  

     Accordingly, the salvation of Christians involves their full conformity to the Crucified and Risen Christ.  For this reason,
 Jesus himself remains the model for their glorification in death and resurrection. As Jesus died and was raised to a life of glory by the Father in the Spirit, the faithful Thessalonians who have died in Christ will also be glorified by the Father in the Spirit. For they will receive from the Father a life of glory in the paradise of heaven and a glorious resurrection.  Thus, Paul instructs the Christians of Thessalonica that the basis of their hope for salvation for their deceased brothers and sisters in Christ is their belief that Christ died and rose to save them.  Hence, they will be fully conformed to Christ, first of all, in death through the intermediate state, but later in the resurrection.  This is Paul’s basic message in verses 14 and 16 of chapter 4 of his First Letter to the Thessalonians.
In the Crucified and Risen Christ with Mary Most Holy,
Friar Mariano D. Veliz, O.P. 

frmarianovelizop@preachmypsalter.com

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