Theology of the body: Part six of a nine part series.
“We are always capable of going out of ourselves towards the other. Unless we do this, other creatures will not be recognized for their true worth; we are unconcerned about caring for things for the sake of others; we fail to set limits on ourselves in order to avoid the suffering of others or the deterioration of our surroundings.” (Pope Francis, “Laudato Si’,” pa. 208) Even in light of the Redemption, the supernatural is no longer evident in the natural. It is difficult, for man, to distinguish the existential order from grace, because there is an ambiguity that plagues human existence, due to the opacity of matter and the consequences of the Fall, all of which were not removed by the redemptive act of Christ. Subsequently, the existence of the supernatural is often veiled from the naked eye. There is an ambivalence regarding the meaning of life, the credibility of faith and the truth of Christianity. Man cannot verify the supernatural by experience because grace is not something one can know empirically but only through “conjectural certitude.” Man cannot have strict certitude of possessing charity, that is, knowledge of being in a state of grace because charity is supernatural. It is immeasurable both empirically and cognitively. Man can, however, have moral certitude of whether or not he is in a state of mortal sin by virtue of his capacity to judge or, more precisely, by an examination of conscience.
Man lives in a world filled with evil, so the notion of “redemption,” even to the Christian, often seems chimerical. At times freedom still appears to be arbitrary or determined. Love is
frequently associated with emotions. More often than not, human love is self-centered and falls back on itself. All of this points to the ultimate paradox of man: he is, at once, fallen and redeemed. Here Mouroux has struck upon the heart of the problem in the relation between nature and grace. Indeed, Christ has redeemed the world. In his concrete condition, however, man enters the world related to Adam and the second Adam. He is related to the former by way of generation, by his sharing in Adam’s nature. At the same time, man is related to the second Adam, Jesus Christ, by way of his “call,” his vocation to life in Christ. In short, Christ has ushered in the new humanity of the redeemed but man, in his concrete condition, enters this world separated from the grace of Christ; wherefore, he must be personally re deemed. It is in Mouroux’s treatment of man’s personal redemption, where the problems encountered in corporeality, and by argument of association, the mystery of the human person (body, freedom and love in the relation between nature and grace), is addressed and, in Christ, is ultimately resolved. If, by virtue of God’s universal salvific will, every man has been predestined to life in Christ, then Mouroux must show that God communicates his universal offer of salvation in such a way that man both understands the content of his revelation and is truly free to accept or reject the call to divine life. God must elevate man’s faculties to grasp the content of revelation and concomitantly empower his freedom of choice to be sufficiently “free” in welcoming or refusing this call to divine life. Here surfaces the dialogue of “call” and “response,” which signifies the reality
communicated by the relation between prevenient grace and human freedom.
God’s call to salvation is personal. It comes from a personal God and is mediated to a person, by Christ. By virtue of prevenient grace, man is connaturally oriented to grasp the revelation of God’s love, the call to salvation. This invitation to divine life, that is, this “call” to a supernatural existence, is connaturally expressed in the apex of man’s soul as the call of love. Properly disposed toward justification, man assents to Christ’s call by an act of affirmation, which is a personal act of freedom. Man’s free affirmation of the divine offer of justification is an act of his whole person and the point of his re-creation. In this act, normally effected through baptism, he corporeally unites himself to Christ who justifies and thereby incorporates him into his Body, the Church. In this act of selfdonation, man receives from Christ, in the Holy Spirit, the gift which unites him to God and neighbor: the grace of charity.
Father Glenn J. Comandini, STD is the advisor to The Catholic Spirit
Love is frequently associated with emotions.
More often than not, human love is self-centered and falls back on itself.