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Catholic Northwest Progress
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August 24, 1962     Catholic Northwest Progress
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August 24, 1962

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Friday, u 9. 24, 1962 THE PROGRESS--5 ,I Redemptive Dimensions of the Resurrection accepted as an intrinsic constitutive e I e m e a t of Christ's work of redemption. And few experts in East- ern theology and devotional life would question that the Resurrection is still today, not only an integral part, but the predominant motif in our Eastern breth- ren's view of Christ's work as Savior. In the West, however, beginning as early as Ter- llian in the early third century, the objective re- demptive work of Christ has almost just as unani- mously been identified more or less exclusively with Christ's death. I say "almost." Augustine fluctuated botween the biblical and Eastern view, and the sole emphasis on the Cross. The other giant exception was St. Thomas. Repeatedly, calmly, but with umnis- takable clarity, he insisted that not only Christ's death, but also His resurrection is efficient cause of our sal- vation. Moreover, commenting on the text from Ro- mans just quoted, he substantially advanced theologi- cal thought on the problem by stating that each, both death and resurrection, are effective causes both of remission of sins as well as justification. The dis- tinction between Christ's death and resurrection he places in the field of exemplary causality: Christ's death is the exemplar of our dying in sin: His resurrection the exemplary cause of our newness of life (cf. Summa Theol. III, the entire q.56, esp. 2,ad 4; and Ad Rom.c.IV, lect.3). So far as meritorious causality is concerned, of course, only Christ's dying could come into question, for merit of its nature is limited to the living. I may be permitted a brief digression here about St. Thomas. It has long been my conviction that no Western theologian before or since has contributed so profoundly to the development as well as to the due balance of sacramental theology as did St. Thomas. The relation of faith and sacramental sign, of sign and causality, and his clarification of the doctrine of sacramental character as well as of the instrumental causality of the sacraments -- these are genial insights of Thomas to which we theologians and liturgists must again and again revert, grate- fully, as sure guides. The5, already constitute a de- veloped theological framework of some of the chief ooueerns of the contemporary liturgical movement. And now it must be added that Thomas spoke just as surely, and with the same accents of genius, all the more remarkable because he spoke almost alone, concerning the theological tract of Redemption. Negative View Prevailed Unfortunately his voice went practically unheed- ed m until .today. Even the Council of Trent, con- cerned above all with reiterating the doctrines denied by the Reformers, treated of justification chiefly from the standpoint of meritorious causality; and in that category, obviously, only Christ's death was the clause of our salvation. And Trent found its faithful echo in our theological manuals and catec:hisms and devotional literature. Christ redeemed us by H!s passion and death; the resurrection was at best redemptive sub- jectively, insofar as it was a motive of credibility, of our faith in the divinity of Christ. And so the resur- rection continued to be viewed, to all intents and purposes, not as an intrinsic part of Christ's Work of redemption, but as something wonderful that hap- pened to Him after He had redeemed us: an after- math, a postlude, an accessory, a personal b o n u s earned by Christ for His obedience unto death. This valid, but all too truncated and largely negative view of the redemption, prevailed, as I already said, until very recent years. To illustrate: only some thirty years ago, a theologian of the stature of Maurice de la Taille could still express amazement at St Paul's affirmation that "christ by rising effected our justi- fication., ...... , .... "Solemnity of Solemnities' And yet, during all these centuries, the liturgy of the West had been proclaiming just that. Easter, not Good Friday, was always, at least in principle, re- garded as the "solemnity of solemnities." And surely this was a celebration of the great redemptive mys- tery, and not just an apologetic argument, a didactic devise. Sunday has always been our weekly renewal of Easter. In the prayers of the Mass, above all in the Anamnesis (the memorial prayer after the Consecra- tion), in oollects without number, death, resurrection mut rite resulting exaltation of ascension were cited together as the sources of our holiness. In the holy Triduum, on Good Friday itself, the radiance of the Resurrection transfigured the sorrow of the passion. The joyous song "Crucem tuam" formed the very climax of the adoration of the Cross: "We worship Your cross, O Lord, and we praise and glorify Your holy resurrection .... " The Good Fri- day hymns of "Pange Lingua" and Vevilla Regis" are hymns of triumph. Death and resurrection were so much a unity that, until a recent reform of the rubrics, the very joy of Eastertide was complemented on ferial d a y s by a commemoration of the Cross, whose antiphons and collect were substantially a para- phrase of Romans 4: 25: "The Crucified One rose from the dead and re. deemed us, alleluia, alleluia. 0 God, who [or our sake willed that Your Son suffer on the gibbet of the cross, in order to expel from us the power of the enemy, grant to us, the members of Your household, that we obtain the grace of the resurrection." Originally. moreover, the feast of Easter stood alone: far from being an "aftermath," it celebrated (and re-activated) the entire mystery of Resurrection, of Death and rising from the dead. And even after distinct celebrations were introduced, the holy Tri. duum was and remained a unity; and the Easter Vigil still clearly contains it all within itself: it celebrates the transition from darkness to light, from death to life. How could it do otherwise? It is the Pasch, the transitus Domini, His Pass-over, fulfilling and perfect- ing the Exodus and its paschal celebration, which was the central mystery of the ancient economy of sal- vation. The cross itself, for centuries, was depicted as a glorified cross or tree of life, and later was sur- mounted by the figure of the triumphant High Priest. Most constantly and significantly of all, we always prayed, "Per DOMINUM nostrum Jesum Christum." And Dominus, Kyrios, signifies the risen Christ. Per- haps the earliest profession of faith in Christ as the Son of God, whom the Father raised from the dead to give us life, was "Kyrios estin Jesous Christos" Jesus Christ is the "Kyrios" (cf.Phil.2:ll; Rein.10:9). The "Eyrie eleison" is our acclamation of our Savior the r is e n Christ. "Per Dominum nostrum ,lesus Christum" is our statement of belief that the risen Lord, in His glorified humanity, is our Mediator. Hence, too, traditionally Christians stand in prayer: we pray as members of the risen Christ, freemen, ready to walk His way. The Council of Nicea (325) in fact forbade kneeling in prayer during Eastertide and on Sundays. Need.Liturgical Revival ,On .he :one hand, in summary, from the third cen- tury to. the present, theology and spiritual writing in :,the W es t identified objective redemption with Christ'sdeath; on the other hand, the liturgy con. tinad to proclaim death and resurrection and its posi- five; objectively redemptive powers: "He died for our sins, and rose again for our justification." By all rules of psychology, we should therefore have been suffering from an aggravated case of spiritual schizo- phrenia. That we have not so suffered is proof posi- tive that we simply paid no attention to the liturgy-- and that we need a liturgical revival! Seeing we per- ceived not, hearing we understood not. Sons of the Resurrection The phenomenon clamors for an explanation. It is not sufficient, it seems to me, to allege the var- ious theological/categories of causality which have prfiiinated, meritorious causality above all/into: vzlifc'rme,ork the scriptural and liturgicS! :data tould not be properly adapted. The malaise has deep- er roots. In the East, Christ's resurrection, His rising from the dead for our justification, could readily be accepted as truly redemptive, because the East has consistently viewed redemption in its more positive aspect as a divinization. God became man, that man might become divine. Sharing the glory of the risen Lord spelled therefore the ultimate meaning and pur- pose of Christian life. In the West, on the contrary, ever since Tertullian, the more juridical (and more negative) view has predominated: that Christ's re- dempfion meant satisfaction for man's sin. The vicar- ious suffering of Christ has in both theology and de. votional life overshadowed the glad tidings of our being in very truth sons of God, sharing, through the risen Christ, in the very nature of God. And so it happened, as Father Charles Davis writes in his In- troduction to Durrweil's book, in a telling if perhaps simpliste phrase, that "the epic of a victory was re- duced to the payment of a debt" (F. X. Durrwell, "The Resurrection", p.xiii). Hence the rediscovery of the good news of divine sonship, proclaimed in Scripture and liturgy, in its full impact, devotional, spiritual and apostolic, is, as we know, one of the most significant consequences of the contemporary emphasis on the Mystical Body. The Resurrection of Christ as objectively redemptive be- longs essentially in this context: for we are sons of God because we are, as Scripture says, "sons of the ...... z Resurrection" (Luke 20:36). Witnesses Of The Resurrection How predominant a role the Resurrection as re- demptive act occupies in Holy Scripture, has been documented by Durrwell, Stanley, Lyonnet, Ahern, Cerfaux, Siegman, and others. For our purposes it may suffice to point out that in the earliest apostolic preaching (k e r y g m a ), represented especially by Peter's four discourses recorded in Acts (2:14-36; 3:12- 26; 4:8-12; 10:34-45), the apostles announced as of first importance the resurrection of Jesus. This was the chief object of their witnessing (el.Acts 4: 33). And Matthias too could be an apostle only because he too had been a witness to the Resurrection. There was observable in fact (Fr. Stanley reminds us) "a cer- tain timidity and malaise in their testimony regard- ing the death of Christ. That sureness of touch, so clearly felt in the Pauline treatment of Jesus' death, the result of its integration into a higher synthesis (together with His resurrection), is somehow lacking in the primitive preaching" (David Michael Stanley, *'Christ's Resurrection in Pauline Soteriology, p. 33). But even St. Paul, probably because he had on the road to Damascus learned to know Jesus as the risen Christ, exalted in divine glory, in his earlier epistles equated redemption with Christ's resurrec- tion. His death is mentioned, but is somehow merely preliminary. Moreover, and this I believe is significant, in the period of his transition to a more integral view- point, in the celebrated passage in Philippians 3:10:11 (aS Father Ahem has shown), Paul taught that inso- far as we have become members, brothers :ofthe risen Christ, we consequently have a share also in His suffering and death. That is, because we have fellow- ship with Christ in His resurrection, we thereby' have fellowship also in that redeeming love which found its culmination in His death. At the risk of oversimpli- fication: not, as chronologically in the person of Christ, through death to resurrection, but rather, through Christ's Resurrection to His death. It was Paul's experience at Athens, and again with the judaizers, that contributed to his viewing both death and resurrection as together effecting our redemp- tiou. This is found in fullest amplitude in the lengthy 1 C, or 15; and in most organic synthesis in Romans (1:4; 3:21-26; 4:25; 5:8-11; 8:3-4; 14:7-9). Further bitter experi!ce with the judaizers, to whom we wished to prove that Christ's death meant (Continueden Page 7)