Catholic Apologetics

CONTENTS

(continuation of chapter 5, the good tidings, article 1, the hopeful message)

Jesus' wonderful doctrine

The doctrine Jesus brought us suits the atmosphere of his excellent life, whose human side is the highest fulfilment of the duties the Creator charged his reasonable creature with, and whose divine side exhibits Gos's exceptional predilection and will forever remain ane unattainable but enchanting example for all people who take their delight in serving God.
Jesus' doctrine is as wonderful as his life.
It surpasses every reasonable expectation. For, while it ridicules every convention and forces its way under circumstances that seem to hinder its propagation, it makes the world a new creation and sheds a wonderful light upon the meaning of human existence with its many complicated problems.
Didn't Isaiah predict a clear light would replace the dark night of the people of Israel?
Fully conscious of his right, Jesus speaks as a teacher who knows he does possess the truth and needs not fear serious criticism.
But is Jesus rightly confident?
The long lonesome life in a hidden little town, where jurists and philosophers don't feel at home, makes people suspect Jesus has so little education that even his neigbours think he must be too arrogant. They ask themselves: where did he find this wisdom and power, being the son of a carpenter and a woman named Mary?
However, the Son of the carpenter knows the holy Books better than all learned men. He makes the Pharisees ashamed when answering their catch questions with more difficult questions that are more to the point. He even makes an impression on recognized experts of the Scriptures, so these exclaim after hearing him in the temple: "How can he be so learned without education?"
Jesus gives the answer that suffices in the given circumstances: "My doctrine isn't Mine but His who sent Me".
While clearly lacking school education, Jesus, the Teacher of Israel, is standing in the full light of his prophetic mission.
Everything in Him is impressive: the confidence of his "truly I tell you" with which He announces the highest degree of certainty, the clear insight in truth which He sees without any doubt, the harmonic train of thought with which He reduces many distinct problems of human life to the principles of God's justice and love, and the simple way of easing deep and delicate troubles people can have.
During the short space of time of Jesus' public life, which we'd better measure in months than in years, his preaching had an effect unheard of. Its effect was a thorough reform: the broadest and deepest mental reform the world ever knew. The Son of the carpenter, who seemed so little educated, was able to show to the world a truth which, whether accepted gladly or reluctantly, preserved its original vitality and is still decisive in responsible human activity.

It's easy to see why Jesus' doctrine could influence human life so profoundly.
It was the will of the Father in heaven that His Son and Servant, as the Light of the world, would bring to the whole mankind the blessing of highest truth and highest happiness. Jesus' vocation was subservient to the vocation of humanity. All the people had to be inspired to a higher life than natural life by the power of His word and His example: a spiritual and true life that's only possible by a special grace.
And this higher life, which elevates natural human insufficiency to subservient receptivity for what God's love wants to bring about in the hearts and minds beyond human calculation, is enchanting all people who consciously strive after the highest ideals.

Two characteristics above all others make the doctrine that Jesus revealed so charming. First, it answers the difficult question of Gods's rights to receive our efforts. Secondly, it discloses the mystery of our natural helplessness.
We may also put it this way: Jesus brought us the true religion and showed us the way to perfect happiness.
We may confess these two principal truths of Christian doctrine too easily and with too little conscious conviction. They may easily become a routine, like the answer our children give to the first question of the catechism: "We are on the earth to serve God and, by doing so, go to heaven".
Nothing does interest us so much as the hidden properties of divine love and human existence. Without the revelation of Jesus, all our efforts to discover our duties before our Creator and Lord, and to discover our vocation to find perfect happiness, are deemed to failure because of our demanding but dependent nature.

Man is naturally religious.
But the Revelation of Jesus was necessary to teach mankind about the indispensable laws of subservience to the Giver of all good things, because, after seeking and trying during tens of centuries, it still was tolerating lies, and had to tolerate them because it couldn't find the full truth about man and his relations to the Creator.
By giving all people His new doctrine, Jesus gave them all they desperarately needed, to be able to give themselves away and to be themselves as servants of God .
Jesus enriched human spirit with certain and convincing knowledge which is standing at a higher level than the natural knowledge it can achieve by using the independent power of human reason.
Jesus made people learn about God.

Before all, Jesus made us know the love of the Father in heaven. We fear the Father as the Lord of heaven and earth, but He also is worthy of our faith, because through loving Jesus He loves all people in whose lives the truth of his preaching and the power of his sacrifice have taken root.
In the first preach of Jesus which the Gospel has written down, He already speaks of his Father in heaven who demands a love and dedication which has to surpass all attachment to other things. And the only prayer Jesus taught us is directed to the Father who is in heaven, whose will has to be done, whose kingdom should come, and who should deliver us from evil by his paternal care.
God is the Lord and Master of all things created. Therefore we have to fear Him as the supreme Judge, to whose rightful guidance and powerful authority everyone has to submit.
But this fear should not take away our trust in God's love and mercy, because his paternal goodness made his Son guarantee the happiness of mankind.
The Father in heaven is the good God who made his Son an instrument to adopt us as his children. Compared to God, nobody can be called good. God's love for helpless mankind made him send the eternal Son to the earth at some point of time in history to help all people with their endeavours and search of happiness which is no longer a phantom and an unattainable dream, but a realistic and brilliant ideal. We can feel the goodness of the Father through the mission He charged his Son with. For the Son got the task to elevate the fallen manfind from the moors of sin and to repair its original friendship with the Father. Can the Son as the Missionary of the Father do more for mankind than offer it the double benefit of the Gospel and the Cross as its Teacher and Sacrificer? The doctrine of Revelation, which we accept in faith, brings the only true wisdom that enlightens our minds; and in the merits of the holy Passion, which grace applies to the faithful, lies the power that makes us alive and elevates us from helplessness and brings us back to the Father. Preaching and Cross, faith and grace, are the gifts of God's fatherly love no soul could hope for. They form the invaluable gift of our Father in heaven, whose love for people who answer it and serve Him is so great that even the example of divine care for the lilies in the field and the sparrows on the roof can't but fall short.
Our Father in heaven is worthy of all love. That's why Jesus gives the scribe who asks which is the most important of all commandments the following answer:
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."
At Jacob's well, to the Samaritan woman and to all her poor brothers and sisters who naturally test a religion by looking for false characteristics based on superstition and idolatry, Jesus shows the only right way to religion whereon there's no evil: the way of adoring the Father with a true spirit:
"You adore what you don't know. Yet the hour is coming and has now come when the true adorers will adore the Father with a true spirit".
Related to the great end Jesus has to prepare by order of the Father, the new Religion is for the present a promise rather than a fulfilment. The seed has been thrown and is already germinating, but we have to wait for the ripe fruit. In his goodbye speech, Jesus thanks the Father for the given disciples, but He knows the world is still waiting for its conversion. The big world is only slowly accepting truth, because it seems tied to the lies of shortsightedness and self-conceit. Yet Jesus can rejoice in the fact that many people have heard and understood his call: these have recognized truth and given their faith to the mystery of the Father's Son, who had been sent to make all people happy.
"I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty I came from you, and they believed you sent me."

Directly related to Jesus' doctrine that God is his Father, is his preaching about the kingdom of God.
After the centuries of preparation wherein the Jewish nation was awaiting a Messianic kingdom, whose power and material prosperity would shine throughout the world, Jesus comes and founds the kingdom of God, which doesn't immediately interest the people but is a kingdom of invisible grace and spiritual experience. It isn't a kingdom among many other kingdoms, but it's of a higher order, undivided and open to all nations and generations.
Whoever understands a bit of Jesus' preaching and can compare the spirit of the New Testament with the spirit of the Old Testament, will have to acknowledge that, in spite of the clear relations between them, the difference between expectation and fulfilment is greatest where the kingdom of God becomes the fulfilment of the prophetical expectations. The distinction even becomes a contradiction when we compare Jesus' doctrine of the kingdom of God with the materialistic concept the Jews have of the Messianic kingdom which they feel should be a kingdom of national pride and political power and material profit.
Jesus brings something quite different.
He disappoints them that don't want to give up their shortsighted expectations. He demands that the people of good will shall build their spirit on a solid base: "metanoeite, repent, build a different mentality!"
This already becomes clear when Jesus is saying his first words in public. We read in the Gospel of Matthew: "Jesus began to preach and said: repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near".
And in the Gospel of Marc: "After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. The time has come, he said, the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!"
When Jesus is preaching in the synagogue of Nazareth for the first time, He reads aloud a prophecy of Isaiah to demonstrate Isaiah is speaking about Himself, Jesus, when he says:
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lordís favor."
The hearers apparently want to believe the Scriptures are fulfilled, if only their idea of the Messianic kingdom isn't violated. For, as soon as Jesus makes clear He brings cure to the spiritual lepers, whereas Elijah and Elisha brought corporeal cure, and not only to the Jews, they jump up with fury and throw Him out of the city.
The kingdom of God is a mystery which contains all secrets of Christianity.
It is the kingdom of spiritual love and happiness we must not seek among sensations and appearances. It is the kingdom whereinto the Father is inviting us and the Son is directing us. Without the help of God nobody will be able to find the kingdom of God, but whoever cooperates with God's grace, believes in the Son, and arranges his life accordingly, will receive the citizenship of God's kingdom as a reward.
Only in the kingdom of God, which can't reach its highest development on the earth, but will be completed in heaven, the just and holy people can enjoy real happiness. In the life on earth, the kingdom of God is already offering us many joys, but they form only a small foretaste of the perfect joys of heaven.
From all this it is clear the Father gives us the blessings of his kingdom through Jesus - the Destroyer of sin, the Messenger of salvation, and the Son of Man who will decide upon our eternal future.
The love of the Father is revealed in Him who became man: He is the principle of life and the power that makes the lives holy of them that merit it because of their faith and love. For the grace of salvation snatches people away from the kingdom of Satan and incorporates them in the kingdom of God; it elevates them to their highest fulfilment in the eternal life; there it confirms forever what it began on the earth. The development of human minds goes along with it, because the blessed souls who are allowed to see God find there the highest completion of the supernatural knowledge about God they already had by their faith during their exile on the earth.
All of these divine gifts - being born again in a state of love and mercy and the completion in eternal life - are the precious pearl we desperately try to find if it is lost. They are the treasure that was hidden in the field, and who knows where it is, wants to buy the field at any price.
Who wants to become a citizen of the kingdom of God, has to know that the Father is asking him only one thing, which we may formulate in distinct ways: "First seek the kingdom of God and its justice, the rest will be given you as a surplus", "Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it", "Nobody can be my disciple, unless he gives away all his possessions", "For you have only one Father, and He is in heaven ... for you have only one Teacher, and He is the Christ".
The great promise of salvation the Son of the Father brought to the world will not immediately be perfectly fulfilled in every life. The little mustard seed will only slowly grow into a tree with many branches. God's grace will act gradually, like the mustard seed. In the order of God's arrangements, what means the duration of a human life compared to eternity? Apparently, God's plans don't consider the economics of time. They take centuries, whereas we use to plan only the next few hours or days. But they don't fail to be executed.
Likewise, God's plan of salvation, which the Son of the Father, when leaving the world, rendered to the small flock of his disciples to preserve it and propagate it, guided by the Holy Spirit, will mature in the Catholic Church, and thus the propagation of the faith will already bring the blessings of the kingdom of God to all nations.
In his doctrine about the kingdom of God, Jesus reveals how He, as the treasurer of the kingdom, brings salvation together with the Father, who by the merits of Jesus' cross made us his children, who participate in his divine nature and inherit the kingdom of heaven.

After the supernatural enlightenment of our intellects that makes us understand the invaluable plans of God, our wills received the revelation of the moral laws.
These moral laws show us the way to happiness in heaven.
They impose restrictions on human freedom, and for them whose thoughts and will have no other base than the natural weak forces of human initiative they are an unbearable burden.
However, they are a sweet burden to them that felt the grace of salvation and prepared their will to help fulfilling God's plans and attain to the highest ideal.
Because, if we consider the Christian moral laws rightly, we see they defend the most noble inclinations of our minds against the evil consequences of superficial judgment. Moreover, no ideal is so enchanting as the ideal of God, and no instrument is so effective as the grace we receive by the omnipotence of the Father, the sacrifice of the Son, and the love of the Holy Spirit.
The supernatural revelation made us know the rights of God and the duties we have to do in our lives to honor our greatest Benefactor. In the ideal of God and his kingdom we found the necessary stimulus to make our mental and corporeal activity subservient to the highest Good which includes both the glorification of the Creator and the perfection of our own person.
Jesus, both God and Man, convinced us with his preaching, when standing up for the right of God and teaching us the only true religion.

Jesus, the God-Man, also convinced us when He was teaching us, by means of his words and his deeds, about the deep meaning of human suffering.
We're sure it was the shortsightedness of Jesus' contemporaries that caused they couldn't understand the rich contents of the Sermon on the Mount. They hardly thought of a happiness that was not of this world. They were too much attracted by the enjoyments of a kingdom of God that was to be realized on the earth, and apparently didn't realize that temporary things are not important when compared to eternal things, and the joys of the mind are far more brilliant than the joys of the body. They thought health and illness, joy and sorrow, happiness and suffering, were all contradictory and couldn't go together.
And what does Jesus do?
He says suffering people are blessed.
He comforts the poor, the mourning, the persecuted, and those who are jeered at, saying they are happy:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit; blessed are the meek; blessed are those who weep; blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness; blessed are the merciful, blessed are the pure in heart; blessed are the peacemakers; blessed are those who are persecuted; and blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me ..."
And how strange and improbable sound his words when he prohibits each personal retaliation, says suffering is a duty, and when he extends the commandment of love so far we even have to love our enemies.
"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."
Jesus proved by the sacrifice of his own life that such an attitude of peacefulness, meekness, and open-handedness, doesn't demand an impossible effort. His life on the earth began in poorness and hardships, underwent the vexation of all possible worries during more than thirty years, and ended with the most scornful death we can imagine.
Jesus showed us that such an attitude of peacefulness, meekness, and open-handedness, isn't a dream but indeed is very useful to gain the eternal life, for which we have to give up all perishable goods, when by his resurrection He beat all pain and suffering, made his human nature immune from the poison of human evil, and bore in his glorified body all characteristics of a definite victory over all things that might spoil human life.
Because, by the example of his own life, He makes us recognize the nobleness of suffering, He has a right to demand we believe him when He says we have to do the same to finally participate in the glory for which the glorification of his own human nature is the pledge.

Jesus recognized the natural insufficiency that weighs heavy on each human life. He never said, nor did He indicate by his life, suffering is only seeming, or sorrow is based on imagination. On the contrary, He sketched in gloomy colours the life without prospect of the worldly man, as nearly nobody would dare to do. He deeply pitied the people with mental or corporeal troubles, whenever He bumped into them. And little did He count things people consider necessary for happiness. Nor did He count luxury, richess and physical pleasure. The widows and the poor never knew an advocate so full of pity, and standing up for their needs, as Jesus. And the rich youngster went away, discouraged, when he heard he had to give to the poor the very goods he thought made his life worth living.
Yet there was never an other teacher whose view on life was so holy and idealistic.
The philosophers of optimism, like Plato, Leibniz, Spinoza, Hegel, all justly or wrongly emphasized the bright side of human existence and thought evil was only necessary to develop a perfect universe. But their philosophical speculation surely was one-sided, and human conscience didn't support it. They explained the reality of human suffering by calling it necessary for to see the bright side, or their radical optimism denied the Creator acted with a free will.
Jesus didn't pass the reality of suffering so rashly.
The God-Man was spared no human suffering that may trouble a man's life, except for the mental torment of contrition which presupposes sin.
Jesus doesn't consider suffering a mystery, an enigma, or something wrong. He knows suffering suits the structure of human life. He also knows why Satan and the world and the flesh can lay snares for a man's mind and body. For his mission in the world it's necessary He knows all about sin and suffering. Being sent by the Father, his mission is to help suffering mankind by undergoing all cruelties of passion, and throwing out Satan who reigns the world. Because the heaviest pain for a man to bear is the pain he inflicts upon himself. It is the pain of sin, which doesn't make us happy, but humiliates and destroys us. By applying the old Messianic predictions to himself, Jesus confirms the historical reality of the rebellion of Adam and Eve and lets us know that original sin is the radical evil that lays upon people and community the curse of so much unnecessary suffering and makes the future of a man's life so painfully uncertain.

{{Only by the Revelation we can have sure knowledge about the historical fact that subsequent generations inherited Adam's sin and guilt.

Blaise Pascal exaggerates when he says original sin is the only possible cause of the insufficiency we experience in our personal lives. Although he thinks we can't understand original sin, he thinks without it the lack of balance in man is even less understandable:
"Sans ce mystère, le plus incompréhensible de tous, nous sommes incompréhensibles à nous-mêmes. Le noeud de notre condition prend ses replis et ses tours dans cet abîme; de sorte que l'homme est plus inconcevable sans ce mystère que ce mystère n'est inconcevable à l'homme".

We can agree with Pascal when he says the doctrine of original sin solves the world-wide problem of our pityful human existence, because there are signs that indicate the lack of balance in human life could be a punishment for a sin we all committed together long ago. The restlessness, which is typically human and catches even the best of us, the evil passions Horace, Ovid and Cicero spoke about, and the sense of shame even an advocate of pure nature can't deny, find an impressive explanation in the doctrine of original sin.
However, it's an error to think God couldn't have created man in the condition he's placed into by his birth. And above all: it remains a natural secret how mankind could be responsible for a personal sin of Adam.}}

Whereas there also exists an evil that comes from the essential limitations of creation and finds its natural place in the life of man and cosmos, the evil that comes from man's sin could have been evited. It's the anger of God because man's pride didn't sufficiently honour him. This anger made God take away the grace and love from mankind and deliver it to the vexations of a darkened mind and weakened will, of wild passion and a fragile and sensible body.

It was the mission of the God-Man to free us from the vexation of divine anger. He didn't come into the world for the just, but for the sinners. He came to free us from our sins and to make death a transition to life.
By assuming the cross voluntarily and bearing the cruelty of fortune as a substitute of sinful mankind, Jesus threw upon the mystery of suffering the light of God's holy intention with humanity. Now we know suffering isn't the inexplicable riddle philosophers think it must be. Suffering is a duty and a grace. It's a duty because, by making mind and senses purer, it makes people better and more beautiful. It restores in man the image of God that sin had darkened. Above all it's a grace, because it earns us priceless merits for the other life if we bear it with faith and love.
By Jesus' sacrifice at the cross, the way of the cross has become the royal way. The glory of Jesus' cross has set all suffering and pain we have to endure in this life under a new light: the light of moral repair and supernatural merit. "Aus dem physischen Druck ist eine ethische Kraft geworden, aus dem Leiden ein Tun, aus dem Pathos ein Ethos, aus dem Hindernis ein Hebel, aus der Fessel ein Triebfeder, aus dem Uebel ein Gut, eine wertvolle Bürgschaft der Vaterliebe Gottes, der Verbindung mit Christus, der Teilnahme an den Gnaden der Erlösung, der Annäherung ans Ziel."

Eden doesn't exist anymore.
Sin embittered the joys of life in paradise into the less peaceful pleasure of an exile wherein God's image has faded into a shadow of its original greatness and the king of creation is struggling for his right to stay.
Mankind lost a lot by the guilt Adam's sin caused to all subsequent generations. Where once was the garden of delight, is now the orchard of passion, and where once the tree of life was standing, now the cross has been planted.
But humanity couldn't lose its passionate longing for happiness, because that's part of its essence.
The bad thing is that happiness disappeared, but longing stayed.
It may be the sharpest pain sin caused to us that we, the evicted from paradise, feel that cruel nostalgia for peace and joy and want to grasp more than our hands can attain to.
But the sacrifice of the God-Man gave us back what we thought we couldn't get back. This sacrifice gave to our existence on the earth a higher destination again. Life on the earth has become a death, but a death that's temporary and will change into eternal life.
Jesus has founded a kingdom of God too great and too full of life and light to be of this world. Whoever, like Pilate, can't see the real beauty of the supernatural kingdom, will lose the chance to be counted in the flock of the elected by the King himself on Doomsday: "Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world". But whoever believes in the words of Jesus and imitates Him 'because of the hope laid up for them in heaven', obeys God's commandments and does the works of love, will be allowed to follow the Son of Man to his throne and receive a new name as a citizen of God's heavenly kingdom. His happiness will be immortal, because the glory of the Father is resting upon him, and his mind enjoys the goodness and the beauty of God's Essence, which he will see as it is, from face to face.

Jesus gave us the best He could give.
By his revelation of God's wisdom, 'a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began, and which none of the rulers of this world understood', our life, which seemed so gloomy and without perspective, suddenly got a sense.
Now we know what we are on the earth for.
We are on the earth to serve God and thereby go to heaven, where we will receive a new supernatural happiness: the contemplation of divine Essence. To get there, we will be reinforced by the grace of salvation, taking example by the Servant of Yahweh and listening to the greatest Teacher of all time.

{{The composed concept 'supernatural happiness' needs an explanation philosophy can't give.
It's true human natural ambition, which is revealed by the actual ambitions it underlies, turns out to be directed at a good man can't get by his own strength, not even under the most favorable conditions of spirit and heart. This good - the immediate pictureless contemplation and perfect enjoyment of divine Essence - is far beyond the reach of the own forces of created human mind and can't be known except through a shady image.
So when philosophy decides the perfect happiness nature can't attain at must be possible because the wise and almighty Creator also created a natural longing for this happiness and can't call to existence senseless things, it does not yet decide upon the possibility of supernatural things, understood in the sense theology gives them with reference to God's Revelation.
But philosophy does show perfect happiness must be transcendent, that is to say: beyond the reach of natural created forces.

Protestants use to confuse things supernatural and things transcendent. We can call this one of the weak sides of protestant theology, probably caused by its principal dislike of metaphysics. It gives reformed theology this indefinite and never positive character.
However, we can't say the concepts 'supernatural' and 'transcendent' are identical.
We can admit things supernatural are transcendent, because they are infinite and unlimited, unmeasurable and unattainable and miraculous. But these vague concepts don't establish the own character of the supernatural. If we say things transcendent are always supernatural, we forget there are transcendent things we can't call natural nor supernatural. We only call things supernatural if they are formally divine. We will further explain this below:

The concepts 'transcendent' and 'supernatural' both excede nature, that is the level of the created beings.
But there must be a direct relation between nature and things transcendent: the relation of onesided dependence. All nature is pointing at the Creator, who called everything to existence for his own glory, as its first Cause and its last End. But the essence of God, who by causing the things outside himself is revealing himself as the beginning and the end of all nature, is high above any dependence, and therefore transcendent: "L'affirmation de la transcendance s'appuie donc sur tout l'ordre immanent en même temps qu'elle le dépasse et lui donne son principe et sa solidité finale".
However, supernatural things are so distinct from nature they can't be derived from it in any way.
Supernatural things don't belong to the essence of nature nor can they be the foundation of it. We could define it as what is specifically divine, that is to say what is transcendent in itself and not the transcendent cause of created nature. "Übernatürlich ist dann alles was über die Natur hinausgeht (naturae superadditum); was also nicht zu ihr gehört, weder als Bestandteil, noch als Kraft, noch als Eigenschaft; was nicht aus ihr als Wirkung folgt, was nicht durch sie und die ihr zugänglichen Mittel angestrebt und verwirklicht werden kann und was sie daher in keiner Weise kraft ihres Wesensbegriffes fordern kann, was ihr vielmehr in ganz freier Schenkung von Gott verliehen wird (naturae indebitum)."

We needed the revelation of Jesus to learn we have always be invited to participate in the inner life of divine Essence.
So not only are we sure of our ability to immediately behold divine Essence, but we also know this will be reality if we voluntarily cooperate with grace, which as an inner divine force comes to support our weakness in order to realize this supernatural ambition.
Even after the Revelation of the Word, it remains a secret how the fulfilment of such a high ideal will take place, because we are only mortal people and can know the divine things only by analogy to the things created. But we are certain, unless we ourselves obstruct it, we will in the final end behold the deep mysteries of God in the glorious heavenly light without the fog of images or parables.
"Now what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." (1 John 3)
Because nature lacks the power to independently attain the beholding of God, God clearly has to make man capable to share the inner life of holy Trinity by an act of love we can't understand.
Only in heaven can man arrive in the perfectly supernatural position of intimate communication with God. All other things we call supernatural, like the Revelation of the Word, the Church, the sacraments and the grace we already receive during our life, level the ground and prepare us to possess supernatural perfection and to immediately behold the Essence of God.

Nobody will be surprised when he learns that the unfaithful world doesn't show any acceptance of the secret of man's supernatural elevation, because it only accepts truths that are visible and tangible, and denies things it doesn't know.
Neither can we very surprised many people among the alleged Christians confuse supernatural and human things, despite of all precautions not to diminish the infinite distance between them, because what made Jesus' preaching an offence was never some plausible explanation of nature, but always a secret teaching about the invisible things of God.

For example, the Pelagians of the classical era already denied we can only earn heaven with the help of God's grace, and the Beghards of the medieval era even thought a human who's received God's grace needs not die to behold God and be perfectly happy.

In the new era the Catholic Church had to defend the contingent and free nature of our supernatural salvation against, above all, Protestantism and the doctrines of Jansenius and Baius.

Martin Luther thought man's nature is either perfect or corrupt. The original righteousness was an essential element of the nature the Creator gave to Adam and Eve. They were naturally children of God; the divine virtues of faith, hope and love were "nicht von aussen darzu kommen und etwas unterschiedenes von der natur des Menschen", but "diese ding sind so natürlich in Adam gewest, wie es natürlich ist, das die augen das liecht sehen".
So this means human nature, which lost its original righteousness because of Adam's sin, has been radically corrupted, - a typical Protestant theme which we also see, albeit with less emphasis, in the doctrine of John Calvin, who is convinced modern man is a horrenda deformitas - an ugly deformity - , even though the original image of God isn't all broken.

The doctrine of Michael Baius is about supernatural happiness and the instruments to let people reach it.
According to Baius, the sin of Adam didn't deform man's nature so much that the God - Man and his work of salvation couldn't restore it. Nevertheless, there's an essential distinction between the original righteousness and the righteousness of the faithful whom Jesus Christ justified. In Adam, everything was natural. He didn't receive the divine virtues of faith, hope and love as a gift, but as a natural predisposition. Before his downfall he could earn heaven by his own power. The modern justified man can't. He has no natural right to heaven, but owes it to Christ's death of reconciliation.

Jansenism repeated the errors of Baius in a moderate form.
Cornelius Jansenius, too, overestimated the original condition of righteousness. He thought the nature of Adam and Eve was so whole they could have done good deeds without the sanctifying grace. However, after they fell into sin, everything changed. Now man isn't man anymore. Although he can say nothing is forcing him from outside, he always chooses what is guaranteeing more pleasure. Man is always a slave: either of God or of evil concupiscence. The original condition of righteousness was natural; Adam had a right to it. But we can call the grace of salvation both natural and supernatural. Indeed, it is among the things man can now lawfully demand, but is beyond our own human forces.

Erroneous teachers didn't make the concept 'supernatural' any clearer.
To better understand how important grace is and how grave sin is, they said there are supernatural components in the essence of human nature, which sin took away from us and we can't regain by our own power.
But then, what remains supernatural?
Is man already a child of God and part of God's nature by creation alone?
We can't answer 'yes' on theological or philosophical grounds, nor can we cancel such questions by changing the concept 'supernatural'.}}

Only the nobleminded will gain the happiness of heaven: the strong, the powerful, the heroes of spirit, who are prepared to follow Jesus on the royal path to the cross and forsake all worldly shortsightedness because they love the sacrifice that extinguishes debts and humiliates Satan but says thanks to the king of heaven and earth.
Without Christ, suffering and death remain an offence; the philosophers keep pondering on the enigma 'man', but this doesn't make life less insufficient.
Only the follower of Christ knows his life is safe. He allows God to lead him and finds he can bear all pains with courage and love because heaven awaits him.
Whoever knows Jesus, doesn't ask anything more. He follows the Master wherever He goes. Because whoever enters into death with Jesus, will rise with Jesus into eternal life.

The Way, the Truth and the Life

Christianity thanks its existence to a historical fact, which happened many centuries ago, when somewhere in the Middle East lived a Man who knew he had to inform the people about true Religion.
Nobody ever called Christians bad because they say they received their doctrine from the founder of a religion. Because it's natural people take their principles of religion from a wise and capable guide. Likewise, Buddhism has Buddha, Parsism has Zoroaster, and Islam has Muhammad.
But people did reproach Christians for considering Jesus as the Saviour who didn't live to die and whose preaching wasn't distinct from his life.
A Preacher who rises from death and whose ascension to heaven doesn't prevent him from continuing his life on the earth, is a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. This stumbling block made Saint Paul fall. They called him foolish. Festus couldn't save him, because how can anyone defend an odd man who speaks about a certain Jesus who died and is still alive?

Jesus is our Saviour, because He accepted his passion and death to justify mankind, which had lost its original righteousness by sin. This passion and death extinguished the debt of man to God. Saint Thomas explained this very clearly:
"The passion of Christ causes we are reconciled with God for two reasons:
First, because it takes away the sin that made man God's enemy, according to the bible book of Wisdom 'God hates the godless for their godless works' and the psalm saying 'you hate them who do injustice'.
Second, because God likes the sacrifice. Because the sacrifice reconciles God the same way as people forgive injustice if assaulters offer a service that pleases them. Therefore the first book of Samuel says: 'If the Lord has incited you against me, then may he accept an offering'.
Likewise, the passion that Christ chose to endure was so great a good that God forgave all the offences man had done to him because of this good that was found in human nature and shared by them who join Christ's passion."
Joining Christ's passion happens in the holy sacrament of baptism. Here man is descending together with his Saviour in the lonesome and poor grave where all wordly life ends and all worldly noise falls silent.
However, as Jesus' downfall wasn't real and his death was necessary for the glorious resurrection into eternal life, so whoever is to be baptized and goes with his Saviour to the loneliness of death, keeps his best chance to stay alive, and if he is courageous enough to die for the world with Jesus he will be created again and become a 'new man'. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!"
Saint Paul, more than others, elaborated the theology of holy baptism. He refers to the Revelation of Jesus, assures us he presented his doctrine in Jerusalem to the other Apostles, and points at the many merits of Jesus' sacrifice, which are applied to man by baptism.
There is only one baptism, because there is only one Saviour who suffered and died for us. His death at the cross makes we are freed from sin and reconciled with God. Reference to the authority of other people can only be of value in so far as this authority is answered for in Jesus' doctrine. Because, except for Jesus, nobody can independently dispose of the grace that leads us to salvation.
Apparently, the Corinthians had not yet fully understood this. They sought the power of holy baptism not in the merits of Jesus' death at the cross, but in the authority of him who baptized them. So they would boast "I am of Saint Paul", "I am of Apollo", "I am of Cephas" or "I am of Christ". The Apostle reproached the boasters for their narrowminded disputes and mocked: "Is Christ divided?", "Has Paul been crucified?" and "Are you baptized in the name of Saint Paul?".

One of the differences between Christianity and the other religions is that Christianity is convinced its Founder is still alive. Jesus is the only and universal Mediator. In his Person the whole rich revelation of divine life comes to mankind. Full of grace and truth, He always and everywhere is creating the 'new man' by his example, preaching and the merits of his holy passion.
Christ certified "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life". He isn't only a guide who shows us the way, but is the Way himself. He is more than a teacher who tells us what is true: He himself is the Truth. Nor does He only provide us with the conditions for life, but He himself is the Life. He is our example in everything, and in him are all treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He gives us the power to become a child of God, so that Saint Paul can say: "I don't live myself, but Christ lives in me".
In which other religion do we find so deep a common life between the faithful and the founder?
J.Huby wrote: "D'autres religions ont eu, il est vrai, leurs fondateurs que des contemporains ont pu voir de leurs yeux et toucher de leurs mains: aucun de ces prédicateurs religieux, Mahomet, le Bouddha ou Zoroastre, ne s'est proposé comme objet de la foi de ses disciples. Tous prêchent une doctrine en quelque sorte extérieure à leur propre personne."

The last advice Buddha gave to his munks was the advice of a man who is going to die and is certain that only the reminiscence of his life and doctrine can help his followers defend their faith.
When Mahomet died, his last words referred to the koran which had to replace him: "The koran has to be your guide, you have to follow it. Do what it prescribes, and don't do what it prohibits."
However, when Jesus appeared to his disciples for the last time, He comforted them with the certainty they wouldn't stay behind as orphans: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."


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