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We Must Restore Our Sense
of the Supernatural

 


 

Jesus Christ: True God and True Man

Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior, revealed the truth about His divinity with words and miraculous signs, but many still could not recognize this awesome supernatural reality hidden behind His externally-visible humanity. To the unbelieving eyes, Jesus was just an unknown carpenter from Nazareth or, at best, one of the prophets. When He said, "ĎThe Father and I are oneí"(John 10:30), "the Jews picked up rocks to stone him" (John 10:31).

On the other hand, there were some groups among the early Christians after Our Lordís Resurrection and Ascension who could not accept His humanity, asserting that He was God and only appeared to be human. To warn the Christian communities against this error, St. John the Apostle wrote: "This is how you can know the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God" (1 John 4:2).

Jesus Christ is God the Son Who took human nature and, therefore, has both the divine nature and the human nature, not separately from each other but united in the One Divine Person (Catechism of the Catholic Church #464-469). The reality of His Presence in His Church until the end of the world, which He promised before His Ascension (Matthew 28:20), must also be understood as a presence that is both divine and human. We must not think that Our Lordís presence among us after His Ascension can only be spiritual and we need to wait until His Second Coming to have His full presence again. Our Lord is not just a spirit but true God and true Man with His resurrected Body. The age of the New Testament in which we live is one of Emmanuel, meaning "God with us" in the fullest sense of the word. Thus, the Church He established as His Mystical Body also has the supernatural reality of Christís Real Presence and the Holy Spiritís guidance and sanctifying power as well as the visible exterior reality of her hierarchy, religious orders, laity, sacraments, liturgy, Catechism, Holy Scripture, Canon laws, music, architecture, educational and charitable activities, and so on. Both are essential components of the Church, just as Jesus, her Head, is both divine and human.

Likewise, our own lives as Christians should also have the supernatural inner reality and the visible exterior reality (the inner reality being the higher guiding principles for our lives). Christians may be leading a natural life that may outwardly seem not so different from othersí, but also have an inner life that is animated and guided by the Holy Spirit. Thus, their natural lives become sanctified and are made to conform to Godís Will. Done in cooperation with the promptings of the Holy Spirit, even the most trivial things in our daily lives can take on supernatural and eternal value and beauty as evidenced by the lives of the Saints.

 

Triumph of the Truth at the Council of Ephesus

Nestorius, who was Patriarch of Constantinople in the Fifth Century, asserted that there were two persons and two natures in Christ: one divine and the other human. Based on this theory, he drew the conclusion that the Holy Virgin was the mother only of the human person in Jesus, not the divine. We still hear this erroneous statement quite often in modern times. The Church condemned this Nestorian heresy and confirmed the truth of the hypostatic union of Christís divinity and humanity in the One Divine Person of God the Son during the Council of Ephesus (431). Saying that Jesus has two persons leads to a denial of the true Incarnation of God the Son in our human world and, thus, a denial of the divine, supernatural reality truly entering this world and dwelling in it. Because it denies the real union of the divinity and the humanity in the One Person of God the Son, the Nestorian assertion is also incompatible with the teaching that Jesus continues to be really and fully present in the Church with both His divine and human natures, and preconditions peopleís minds to resist the reality of the Holy Eucharist, which is the full, living Presence of the Person of Jesus Christ with His body, blood, soul, and divinity. Those who refuse or hesitate to call the Blessed Virgin Mary "the Mother of God" but only call her "the Mother of (human) Jesus" are failing to accept fully the true reality of God the Sonís Incarnation among us. In fact, it shatters the basic foundation of the Christian Faith.

 

Rejecting or doubting Our Lord's hypostatic union leads to loss of the sense of the supernatural

To those who deny the true union of divinity and humanity in the One Person of God the Son, the Jesus of history was merely a man, while the Christ of Faith, idealized in their minds, is divine (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Dr. Ludwig Ott, Tan Books, p. 128). To them, the idea of the Lord, with both His divinity and humanity, being really present in the Church and actually leading the work of human salvation through the Church, relying on her members as His instruments, must be foreign. As a result of this widespread modernist influence, the sense of the supernatural regarding everything in the Church: the Eucharist, other Sacraments, the Blessed Mother, other Saints and angels, the liturgy, music, architecture, statues, prayers, and Church teachings, has significantly weakened worldwide in recent decades. The atmosphere in some churches (especially some of the newly-built ones) lack the holiness and the celestial beauty and dignity that befit the divine presence in the church. Sometimes the church looks more like a social hall than a house of prayer and worship, with noises of gossiping and profane music and indecent attire worn by some. Failing to recognize and guard the divine presence, "worship" becomes a diluted concept; and failing to appreciate the supernatural, the Christian Faith becomes hollow. Christians need to learn again to humbly kneel and worship the Divine Lord really present in the tabernacle, asking for His mercy.

 

"God has conferred on man a supernatural destiny" (De Fide) (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Dr. Ludwig Ott)

"Manís final end consists in a participation by him in Godís Vision of Himself. The attainment of this end by men gives glory to God and fills men with supernatural happiness" (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Dr. Ludwig Ott). That we are called to a supernatural destiny not only means that we are to aim at finally making it to the Eternal Kingdom of God but also that, even while living on earth, we must lead a life that is sustained and motivated by the supernatural graces from God. Thus, we need to constantly communicate with God through prayers and meditations as His loving children and faithful servants who strive to do His Will as our highest priority, and be sanctified by His graces through the Sacraments. In other words, our natural lives need to be supernaturalized. How could the branches of a vine live by any principles of life other than those of the vine? The supernatural and natural aspects of our lives are not to be separate from each other or externally pieced together. Rather, the natural is to be intrinsically transformed, elevated, and sanctified by the supernatural. This is our true destiny that must begin in this world. The supernaturalization of our natural lives through the graces from God perfects our natural lives and sanctifies them. The Church teaches:

The supernatural is not superadded merely externally to nature, but affects nature intrinsically. It permeates the being and the power of nature, and perfects it either within the created order or through elevation into the divine order of being and activity. The Fathers and theologians compare the supernatural to fire which makes iron glow, or to a plant which is grafted on a tree.

Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma,
Dr. Ludwig Ott

The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification. Sanctifying grace is a habitual gift, a stable and supernatural disposition that perfects the soul itself to enable it to live with God, to act by his love.

Catechism of the Catholic Church,
#1999 and 2000

When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, the door to attaining their supernatural destiny, which is eternal union with God, was closed to them and their descendants. Humans regained the possibility of achieving their destiny thanks to the infinite merits earned by Our Lord through His redemptive sufferings and death. Too often, we take this reality of utmost importance too lightly, busily engaging ourselves in many concerns of this world. Many of our worldly endeavors are necessary to sustain ourselves and our society, but they must be done in the proper context and subject to what is of a higher priority, which is to love and serve God and glorify Him, because He alone is the true source of everything that is good, and He alone deserves our total love, gratitude, and dedication. What we think, speak, and do must all be motivated by the love of God and love of neighbors as taught by Our Lord.

 

Salvation: Attainment of our supernatural destiny through our sanctification

According to Martin Luther and his followers in the 16th century, human salvation could be attained exclusively by faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior and by an extrinsic attribution of Christís merits to those who have this faith. This concept of salvation leaves no room for any intrinsic transformation of sinnersóthat is, their sanctification. Under this mentality, there can be no such concept as "a canonized Saint". Even the Blessed Virgin Mary would be considered just one among many sinners and believers. No penance on earth or purification in Purgatory would be necessary, as salvation could be assured through faith alone and would not require real transformation of the soul. Martin Luther even taught that sanctification was not possible because of the irreparably corrupt human nature.

The Catholic teaching, on the other hand, emphasizes the fact that humans have free will as long as they live in this world. This free will has been weakened by sins but is still capable of choosing between right and wrong and between good and evil, and can be significantly strengthened through determined efforts with the help of the divine graces. For example, sincerely repenting oneís sins, making a good Confession, and receiving Holy Communion can substantially increase oneís strength against disorderly passions and the lures of the world. Thus, even after one initiates the process of salvation by repenting past sins, professing the faith, and receiving Baptism, he must continue the lifelong task of practicing the faith one day at a time, trying to love God with his whole heart and love his neighbors as himself. Through repeated efforts to do good, avoid evil, and do penance, virtues (that is, habits of doing good) can grow and the soul purified and sanctified by the power of the supernatural graces from God. St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo in the Fifth Century said, "He who has created thee without thyself, does not justify thee without thyself. Thus He created thee without thy knowledge, but only with thy agreement and thy will does He justify thee" (Sermon 169, II, 13).

In Scripture, St. Paul remarks more than once that we are saved through the faith, but this faith to which the Apostle refers is a living faith that functions as the basic principle for how we could work out our salvation, as repeatedly emphasized by St. James (James 1:22; 2:20; 2:24; 2:26) and St. Paul himself, "Wherefore he that thinks himself to stand, let him take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor. 10:12) and "For this is the will of God, your sanctification" (1 Thess. 4:3). Also, when St. Paul mentioned "laws" through which salvation does not come, he was referring to the laws of the Old Covenant which, he said, did not need to be observed any longer to be saved. He was definitely not implying that our salvation does not require our sanctification and thus our observing Godís Commandments and the laws written in our consciences. Our Lord said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill" (Matthew 5:17); and "If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love" (John 15:10).

Our Lord further explained how our salvation is to be worked out with the parable of the vine and its branches (John 15:1-5). The branches can bear fruit by receiving life and nutrition from the vine. Likewise, we can bear fruit for the salvation of ourselves and of others by remaining in union with the Lord, receiving His teachings and graces. Of course, as we are endowed with free will, it is up to each of us to respond to and cooperate with the promptings and assistances of the divine graces. No one should be surprised to see that there are many failures and im

perfections even among the members of the Church, as they are still working out their salvation under the constant possibility of failing if they misuse their free will. As St. Paul exhorted, "With fear and trembling work out your salvation" (Philippians 2:12).

The road to our salvation is difficult because of our weakness and self-centeredness, the lures of the world, and the snares of the devil, but the goal set by Our Lord for us remains lofty. Our Lord said, "Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). It is clear that He expects from us a complete purification from sins and sanctification through His graces so that we may be made worthy of entering Godís Kingdom. But how can we become perfect? By natural means, it is simply impossible. We are too weak and miserable even to imagine such a possibility. Nevertheless, Our Lord said, "For humans this is impossible, but for God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26). The fact that the Church has thousands of canonized Saints is good evidence of this. This is also why there is Purgatory where purification can be completed if not done so in this world. St. Paul said, ". . . the fire shall try every manís work, of what sort it is. If any manís work abide, which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any manís work burn, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire" (1 Cor. 3:13-15).

The Reformist doctrine that our salvation is attained by faith alone is not compatible with the teachings of Our Lord or the Faith of the Apostles. This is not a trivial matter, as the whole set of the Christian doctrines concerning the Church and the life in the Church hinges upon the question of whether we are saved by faith alone or by the sanctification through our continuing cooperation with the divine graces.


"Not everyone that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew: 7:21).

 

"We believe. . . in the communion of saints" (The Apostles' Creed)

As the branches receive life and nutrition from the vine, the members of the Church receive the graces from the Lord. In addition, they also receive various spiritual goods from other members through prayers, teachings, advices, encouragements, and sacrifices for each other. Conversely, when a branch becomes sick by committing a sin, it adversely affects the vine and all other branches. The work of salvation is more than an individual matter. Our Lord asked us to pray to "Our Father in Heaven" (Matthew 6:9) as we were created as social beings as well as individual persons. The task given to us is to accomplish our individual salvation and, at the same time, build up Godís Family and Kingdom, which is the Church. St. Paul said, "I desire therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all men" (1 Tim. 2:1). St. James said, "Pray for one another that you may be saved. For the continual prayer of a just man avails much" (James 5:16).

Our sufferings, St. Paul says, also have a redemptive value for the Church, "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the Church" (Col. 1:24). The Apostle was not implying that the merits of Christís sufferings were insufficient for redeeming the entire human race; he was only saying that what Christ did as the head of His Mystical Body must also be accomplished in each member of the Body so that the whole Church may become perfected as His Mystical Body. The Church teaching clarifies this profound truth even further:

God is the sovereign master of his plan. But to carry it out he also makes use of his creaturesí cooperation. This use is not a sign of weakness, but rather a token of almighty Godís greatness and goodness. For God grants his creatures not only their existence, but also the dignity of acting on their own, of being causes and principles for each other, and thus of cooperating in the accomplishment of his plan.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, #306

Through His goodness, God endowed intellect and free will upon human beings so that they may freely come to the realization that God is truly and infinitely good, just, and loving, and may willingly choose to love and serve Him in all eternity. In loving and serving God, we are called to help other people so that they may be saved also. For this reason, all the followers of Christ are called to become co-redeemers as they can make real contributions to the growth and perfection of Christís Mystical Body, the Church. As Christís Church includes not only the Church Militant on earth but also the Church Triumphant in Heaven and the Church Suffering in Purgatory, the Communion of Saints covers all Christians on earth, in Heaven, and in Purgatory (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #954-959).

  

 

Our Lady: Perfect Fruit of Christ's work of human salvation

God the Father sent His Only Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, to the world as the source of (1) the saving truths to enlighten and guide our darkened minds, and (2) the saving graces to cleanse our souls from sin and infuse Godís supernatural life in them. After Jesusí Ascension, the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit to effect and power the work of human salvation through the Church. What was needed in addition was cooperation by humans, as God would not force anyone to follow His Will. Humans are free to accept or refuse Godís invitation, but, at the same time, they will be responsible for whatever decision they make.

Misusing her free will, Eve assisted in Adamís committing sin, bringing about misery and death upon the entire human race. Our Lady, on the other hand, willingly consented to Godís plan of sending the Savior to the world (Luke 1:38) and, like Christ Himself, had to endure indescribable sorrows and sufferings in consequence of her consent (cf. Luke 2:35), eventually offering up to the Father her Divine Sonís sacrifice as well as her own at the foot of the Cross (cf. John 19:25-27) in reparation for all human sins. As her Son was the Second Divine Person of the Holy Trinity, she was rightly the Mother of God. This does not mean that God began to exist by being born of Mary but that the Person Who was born of Mary as her Son was truly God. The doctrine of Maryís Divine Motherhood is the most convincing testimony of God the Sonís Incarnation as true God and true Man. As the Church is the Mystical Body of her Divine Son, Mary is also the Mother of the Church and everyone in the Church. Her motherly role for the whole Church did not cease after her Assumption into Heaven but is continuing for the full growth and glorification of the Church:

This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. . . . Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, #969

As the Mother of the Savior and His Church, she is the closest Helper to the Savior and is the Co-Redemptrix who participates in the Lordís work of human redemption to the most outstanding degree. This truth of Maryís participation in the Lordís work of human redemption is based (1) on the doctrine that applies to all members of the Church, namely, that we are all called to follow Christ, carrying our crosses (Matthew 10:38), and, thus, to become participants in His work of human salvation, and (2) on the doctrine of the Communion of Saints, which means that all the members of the Church help each other while being in union with her head: Christ. That Mary was the most outstanding Helper to Christ as well as the Mediatrix of All Graces and the Co-Redemptrix is also based on the doctrines of her Divine Motherhood and her Motherhood of the Church. As Eve was the essential helper and intimate companion to Adam in the Old Testament era, Our Lady, the Second Eve, is the essential and closest Helper and Associate for the Savior in the New Testament era.

The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the Ďone mediator between God and maní (1 Tim. 2:5). But because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, Ďthe possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mysteryí (Gaudium et Spes 22 #5) is offered to all men. He calls his disciples to Ďtake up their cross and follow him,í for ĎChrist also suffered for us, leaving us an example so that we should follow in his stepsí (1 Pet. 2:21). In fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be its first beneficiaries (cf. Mark 10:39; John 21:18-19; Col. 1:24). This is achieved supremely in the case of his mother, who was associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of his redemptive suffering (cf. Luke 2:35)

Catechism of the Catholic Church, #619

While Christ is the source of all the graces that can sanctify our souls, Mary is the most perfect fruit of these graces, totally immaculate from the moment of her conception (Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, 1854) and filled with the divine love and holiness (cf. Luke 1:28), rendering her worthy of the Divine Motherhood. In Mary, the supernaturalization and sanctification of human beings willed by God has reached the highest summit that can ever be attained by a creature.

Sanctity of a human person is a concept referring to the state of grace to which he is elevated, but is also a dynamic concept in that it constantly flows from Godís infinite love and holiness and radiates back to Him as total love and dedication and also to fellow humans as familial love and selfless service. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta spent hours before the tabernacle every morning before she began looking after the poor and sick. Her charity for them was the necessary fruit of her total love for God. Our Ladyís immense motherly love for her children and her invincible immaculate power against the devil (cf. Gen. 3:15; Apocalypse 12) flow from God and pervade and protect the entire Church and stretch over all her children. In Naju, Our Lady repeatedly mentioned that her Heart was "flaming up with the fire of love". As numerous children on earth remain unrepentant and are walking toward hell, she manifests her indescribable sorrows with messages and miraculous signs and unceasingly works to bring about a change in peopleís hearts so that they may return to God. Our Lady is not only filled with the love and graces from God, but also is the greatest conduit of them to her children.

In her messages in Naju, the Blessed Mother has used the word errors more than twenty times, deploring the dangerous evil doctrines that are spreading in the Church like a cancer. Their erroneous ideas are polluting so many peopleís minds, inducing them to believe that salvation can be attained by faith alone or otherwise in some easy ways, without real penance and sanctification. Concepts like "salvation", "sins", "penance", "sanctity", "graces", "miracles", and "supernatural" are losing their original meanings. These influences induce people to become insensitive to the supernatural reality of Christís Work of human salvation, leading to the abandonment or equivocation of the core of the Christian Faith, namely, the Paschal Mysteries of Our Lordís Passion and Resurrection, a supernatural reality that continues in the Church and should also continue in the hearts and lives of all her individual members.

 

Conclusion

To turn the tide and prevent the approaching disaster from moral disintegration and atheistic pride, we need to restore the sense of the supernatural in our minds, our families, and our churches. We need to restore the firm faith in the truth about Our Lord, which is the hypostatic union of the divine nature and the human nature in the One Person of God the Son, Who entered our world and dwells in it through His Church for our salvation. We need to repel the insidious error that Our Lord is present in the Eucharist only as symbols and kneel humbly before the most awesome supernatural reality in the Blessed Sacrament. We need to recognize the Divine Motherhood of Our Lady as well as her Motherhood of the Church. Her sanctity and power against the devil are for our benefit. After all, a mother is the most precious gift from God for her children. We need to stop behaving like adults before God, as if we do not need any help; rather, we should humbly admit our moral frailty and spiritual destitution. We need to recognize the Divine Power at work through the sacraments, hierarchy, and teachings of the Church. We need to reopen our eyes to Godís teachings through the Church and rely on them as the principles that underlie and govern all our thoughts and decisions. "There is an organic connection between our spiritual life and the dogmas. Dogmas are lights along the path of faith; they illuminate it and make it secure. Conversely, if our life is upright, our intellect and heart will be open to welcome the light shed by the dogmas of faith" (Catechism of the Catholic Church #89). Time is precious and limited for each one of us. In that limited time, though, we can succeed in achieving our supernatural destiny if we are faithful in following the two greatest signs from Heaven: the Holy Eucharist and Our Lady.

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