Photos from the Beatification of Bl. Gabriel M. Allegra

Ave Maria!

Here are two photos from the Beatification of Bl. Gabriel M. Allegra which took place yesterday (Sept. 29th, 2012) in Sicily, Italy.

With the help of God, I will be beginning a series of posts here this week reflecting on the writings of this great Scotistic Theologian, Bl. Gabriel Allegra, on the subject of the absolute primacy of Christ according to the thought of St. Paul and Bl. John Duns Scotus.

Blessed Gabriel Mary Allegra, pray for us!

In Corde Matris,

Fr. Maximilian M. Dean

Bl. Gabriel M. Allegra: primacy of Jesus and Mary, Coredemption

The Marian Coredemption in Bl. Gabriel Mary Allegra (+ 1976)

By Fr. Stefano M. Manelli, F.I.

Friar Minor, missionary in China and celebrated biblical scholar, Bl. Gabriel Allegra supported and defended the truth of Marian Coredemption and Mediation by demonstrating authoritatively the dogmatic definibility of the universal Coredemption and Mediation of all graces.

The thought of Bl. Gabriel Allegra on Marian Coredemption reveals itself as theologically “clear and integral, luminous and harmonious,” says Fr. L. Murabito, particularly rich in its biblical authority and spiritual intonation. Above all on this subject of biblical authority, “Fr. Allegra,” continues Murabito, “insists that, read well, Scripture teaches the entire design of God about Mary: her predestination to be the Mother of the Word Incarnate, her Coredemption at the foot of the Cross, her sweet office of Mother of the Church, her victory over the dragon, participating in the glory of her Risen Son.”

With significant expression, for example, Bl. Allegra calls Our Lady the “new Eve-Co-redemptrix,” to indicate with clear biblical reference that the first Eve was the cause (secondary) of our fall with the first Adam (primary cause), while the second Eve has been the cause (secondary) of salvation with the second Adam (primary cause): He, the new Adam-Redeemer, she the “new Eve-Co-redemptrix.” With another expression, no less clear, the Blessed writes that “the Mother of the Word Incarnate was also the Co-redemptrix, the new Eve, as Jesus was the new Adam.”

Elsewhere on other pages of his Marian writings Bl. Gabriel Allegra speaks of the “mystery of the Immaculate-Mother-Co-redemptrix” and calls Our Blessed Lady the “Sorrowful Mother-Co-redemptrix,” and again: “our Co-redemptrix,” thus employing the term Co-redemptrix with great freedom,
without any reserve or preoccupation over the dangers of such usage, which presently some would like to describe as presumptuous, risking to obscure the term Redeemer. On this point the decisive affirmation of Bl. Allegra is authoritative; he writes:

“I firmly believe, and with all my strength I will preach to the rest of the faithful, that the title of Co-redemptrix is theologically exact in explaining the part that Mary had in the work of our salvation.”

This is the word of a great biblical scholar, one who is about to be honored at the altars.

Bl. Allegra expounds the truth of the term Co-redemptrix and its theological significance in terms of a balanced and secure Marian soteriology: that is, the term Co-redemptrix signifies the dependent participation, nonetheless direct and immediate, of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the work of the universal Redemption:

“Mary’s cooperation in our Redemption,” writes the Blessed, “is such that Mary merited the title Co-redemptrix,” above all because “she intimately united herself to her dying Son on the Cross as our Co-redemptrix,” and thus she was united with Him by means of that maternal compassion which “intimately unites us to the dying Christ. . . The Compassion constitutes the Coredemption.”


And again: To be the Co-redemptrix means to be a “partaker of all the mysteries of the Son on earth,” explains Fr. Murabito, “a partaker of the definitive battle and eschatological triumph of Jesus,” according to Bl. Allegra.

He structures the Marian Coredemption, therefore, entirely in terms of the intimate and total union between the divine Son and Mother, between Jesus the Redeemer and Mary the Co-redemptrix. It is in the union of both their sorrows offered together that the universal Redemption is effected.

“The afflictions of Mary and those of Jesus,” the Blessed stirringly writes, “were but one affliction which made two Hearts to suffer. . . The Compassion of Mary increased the suffering of Jesus and the Passion of Jesus was the source of Mary’s sorrows. This double offering redeemed the world.”

Furthermore, Bl. Gabriel also points to the celebrated Franciscan thesis of the predestination of the Blessed Virgin “together with her Son from all eternity. Jesus is the King, and Mary the Queen of the universe; Jesus is the Redeemer, Mary the Co-redemptrix,” and at that fixed moment, “when the fullness of time arrived” (cf. Gal 4:4), the Immaculate Conception became “the Mother of the mystical Body of the Lord, in virtue of the ‘fiat’ of the Annunciation, of the Coredemption on Calvary and of the glorious Assumption.”

Regarding the doctrine of the absolute primacy of Christ and Mary, Bl. Allegra “knew well,” Fr. Murabito points out, “that not a few theologians ignored the Franciscan and Scotistic doctrine on the Incarnation and absolute predestination of Christ together with Mary,” and yet the Blessed, as early as 1945, noticed: “I hear that the exegetes and biblical theologians are ready to direct themselves towards the doctrine of the absolute Primacy of Christ…;” and Fr. Murabito adds that the Blessed was already speaking of the “necessity to make known to the faithful the doctrine of the predestination of Mary in the mystery of Christ and the pilgrim Church and in history, because this doctrine sheds the most light on the doctrine and mystery of Mary Mediatrix and Co-redemptrix.”

As to the thorny problem of ecumenism, in particular, the Blessed suffered and lamented because, to cite Fr. Murabito again, “the theologians, whether under the influence of protestantism or just lacking conviction of the transcendent dignity of the Mother of God and of her mission in the Church, were becoming silent, when they were not directly denying this or that prerogative of the Immaculate Mother. From this arose their more or less open opposition to the doctrine of the universal Mediation and Coredemption of Mary.”

Bl. Gabriel Allegra, to the contrary, and in perfect accord with St. Leopold Mandic, was thoroughly convinced that “the Immaculate Mother, the Mediatrix and Co-redemptrix, would be the Victor of the ecumenical battle because, as he would say, the Immaculate will triumph.”

The doctrine of Bl. Gabriel Maria Allegra on Mary Immaculate, universal Co-redemptrix and Mediatrix-Dispensatrix of all graces, is filled with light, is anointed with inspiration, is solid in its structure, grounds a most lively hope for the whole Church and for all humanity. The Immaculate Co-redemptrix and universal Mediatrix is an entirely maternal Heart for us.

Bl. Gabriel M. Allegra, OFM: exclusive video/photos

Ave Maria!

Today, the vigil of Ven. Fr. Gabriel M. Allegra’s beatification, we rejoice with all of the Church – Angels and Saints in Heaven, the souls in Purgatory, and the entire Church militant on earth. I will be posting a series of translations of his pertinent writings on the Absolute Primacy of Christ according to St. Paul and Bl. John Duns Scotus shortly, but for now thought I’d post some photos/images.

He was a man of great courage and generosity, not afraid of the difficult mission in China (language, culture, climate, etc.), not afraid even of dialoguing with and censuring Fr. Pierre Teilhard (while maintaining utmost charity and respect towards Fr. Teilhard, he remained firm in censuring him because of the dangerous ambiguities and at times ideas in Teilhard’s writings that could have compromised the Catholic Faith), not afraid to say the “whole truth” about Our Blessed Mother as the

Coredemptrix of the human race and Mediatrix of all graces as taught in Scripture and Tradition. In a word, our new Blessed was a modern Apostle of God’s Holy Word and of the Catholic Faith to China, and now, elevated to the honors of the altar, a missionary beacon to the entire Catholic Church.

Here is a video which, although in Italian and with a modern taste in music, has lots of photos of our “saint”.

Come back for more posts on Bl. Gabriel M. Allegra, in particular on Our Lady in God’s plan and, of course, his writings on the absolute primacy of Jesus in creation.

Blessed Gabriel Mary Allegra, pray for us!

In Corde Matris,

Fr. Maximilian M. Dean

Dr. Taylor Marshall, Anglican convert to Roman Catholicism, on the Incarnation

Would Christ Have Become Man If Man Had Not Sinned?

Dr. Taylor Marshall takes up this question in his blog Stay Salty my Friends. He writes:

A common question in scholastic discussions centered on whether the Divine Logos would have become man, even if Adam had not sinned.
Saint Thomas Aquinas discusses this at Summa theologiae III, q. 1, a. 3: “Whether, if man had not sinned, God would have become incarnate?”Saint Thomas follows Saint Augustine in stating that God would not have become incarnate had man not sinned:

“Therefore, if man had not sinned, the Son of Man would not have come”

– St Augustine, De Verbo Apost. 8, 2.

Thomas also cites the traditional blessing of the Paschal candle, which we still recite, as evidence of a conditional incarnation: “O happy fault, that merited such and so great a Redeemer!” Both sources suggest that human sin occasioned the incarnation of Christ.

However, Thomas also adds this: “And yet the power of God is not limited to this; even had sin not existed, God could have become incarnate.”

Saint Thomas Aquinas thus grants that God could have become incarnate regardless of sin. However, it is Thomas’ position that that sin occasioned the incarnation.

I was recently challenged to reassess this on account of something written by Saint Albert the Great – the master and teacher of Aquinas. Saint Albert teaches that the Divine Logos would have become man even if man had not sinned:

“I believe that the Son of God would have become man even if there had been no sin…Nevertheless, on this subject I say nothing in a definitive manner; but I believe that what I said is more in harmony with the piety of faith.”

Credo quod Filius Dei factus fuisset homo, etiamsi numquam fuisset peccatum…tamen nihil de hoc asserendo dico : sed credo hoc quod dixi, magis concordare pietati fidei.”

– St Albertus Magnus, III In Sententiarum d. 20, a. 4

Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Lawrence of Brindisi (both official doctors of the Catholic Church) also held to the thesis that the Incarnation of Christ would have occurred even if man had never sinned.

They reason there is nature, grace, and glory. God’s assumption of a human nature entails that Christ’s created soul beholds the beatific vision from the moment of its existence. By participating in this reality – the participation of the created in the beatitude of God – angels and men are also able to participate in the divine beatitude.

In this scenario, glory and beatitude depend on the Incarnation. Now if sin was the sole occasion of the incarnation, then sin was necessary – yet this is blasphemy. This also entails that Christ’s humanity is conditioned by rebellion and sin.

We must also ask a few more questions.

Is the light of glory granted to us in and through the created soul of Christ or not? If the light of glory for beatitude is granted to us in and through the soul of Christ, then it seems that the incarnation of Christ is necessary for the beatitude of the angels and the beatitude of humans. If that is the case and if God willed to share His divine beatitude with angels and humans, then the incarnation would have happened whether there was sin or not.

Creation is contingent. The Incarnation is contingent. However, might the creation be ordered to the incarnation? Is not creation created in and through and for Christ? So then, might the goal and purpose of creation be the incarnation and the sharing of beatitude with creatures?

My mind is about to explode. These things are beyond my weak intellect…

Sincerely in Christ through Mary,

Taylor Marshall

PS: If Albert, Scotus, Lawrence, and Francis de Sales are correct about the unconditional incarnation of Christ (that Christ would have become man even if men didn’t sin), then the creation of a human mother of the Divine Word (“Theotokos”) is also something not occasioned by sin. This further elevates that status of the Blessed Mother and highlights her place in the eternal plan of God.

PPS: The “happy fault” or “felix culpa” formula of the Paschal candle blessing may be interpreted as referring to meriting the the incarnate Christ as “Redeemer” – not necessarily the incarnation of Christ as man per se. Some may not find this satisfactory, but it certainly doesn’t do violence to the text of the Exultet.

[Dr. Marshall is correct on the interpretation of the Exultet. This is discussed more indepth where I treat of the “Felix culpa – O happy fault” – scroll down to “O happy fault!”]

Thank you Dr. Marshall!

Ss. Albert the Great, Francis de Sales and Lawrence of Brindisi, pray for us!

In Corde Matris,

fr maximilian mary dean, F.I.


Archpriest G. Florovosky: primary motive of the Incarnation – an Orthodox perspective

This is a very well prepared article which was posted at Ad Orientem.

It is well worth the time to read:

The Motive of the Incarnation

-Archpriest G. Florovsky

“I am the Alpha and the Omega.” (Rev. 1:8)


The Christian message was from the very beginning the message of Salvation, and accordingly our Lord was depicted primarily as the Savior, Who has redeemed His people from bondage of sin and corruption. The very fact of the Incarnation was usually interpreted in early Christian theology in the perspective of Redemption. Erroneous conceptions of the Person of Christ with which the early Church had to wrestle were criticized and refuted precisely when they tended to undermine the reality of human Redemption. It was generally assumed that the very meaning of Salvation was that the intimate union between God and man had been restored, and it was inferred that the Redeemed had to belong Himself to both sides, i.e. to be at once both Divine and human, for otherwise the broken communion between God and man would not have been re-established. This was the main line of reasoning of St. Athanasius in his struggle with the Arians, of St. Gregory of Nazianzus in his refutation of Apollinarianism, and of other writers of the IVth and Vth centuries. “That is saved which is united with God,” says St. Gregory of Nazianzus.1 The redeeming aspect and impact of the Incarnation were emphatically stressed by the Fathers. The purpose and the effect of the Incarnation were defined precisely as the Redemption of man and his restoration to those original conditions which were destroyed by the fall and sin. The sin of the world was abrogated and taken away by the Incarnate One, and He only, being both Divine and human, could have done it. On the other hand, it would be unfair to claim that the Fathers regarded this redeeming purpose as the only reason for the Incarnation, so that the Incarnation would not have taken place at all, had not man sinned. In this form the question was never asked by the Fathers. The question about the ultimate motive of the Incarnation was never formally discussed in the Patristic Age. The problem of the relation between the mystery of the Incarnation and the original purpose of Creation was not touched upon by the Fathers; they never elaborated this point systematically. “It may perhaps be truly said that the thought of an Incarnation independent of the Fall harmonizes with the general tenor of Greek theology. Some patristic phrases seem to imply that the thought was distinctly realized here and there, and perhaps discussed.”2 These ‘patristic phrases’ were not collected and examined. In fact, the same Fathers could be quoted in favor of opposite opinions. It is not enough to accumulate quotations, taking them out of their context and ignoring the purpose, very often polemical, for which particular writings were composed. Many of these ‘patristic phrases’ were just ‘occasional’ statements, and they can be used only with utter care and caution. Their proper meaning can be ascertained only when they are read in the context, Le. in the perspective of the thought of each particular writer.


Rupert of Deutz (d. 1135) seems to be the first among the medieval theologians who formally raised the question of the motive of the Incarnation, and his contention was that the Incarnation belonged to the original design of Creation and was therefore independent of the Fall. Incarnation was, in his interpretation, the consummation of the original creative purpose of God, an aim in itself, and not merely a redemptive remedy for human failure.3 Honorius of Autun (d. 1152) was of the same conviction.4 The great doctors of the XHIth century, such as Alexander of Hales and Albert Magnus, admitted the idea of an Incarnation independent of the Fall as a most convenient solution of the problem.5 Duns Scotus (c. 1266-1308) elaborated the whole conception with great care and logical consistency. For him the Incarnation apart from the Fall was not merely a most convenient assumption, but rather an indispensable doctrinal presupposition. The Incarnation of the Son of God was for him the very reason of the whole Creation. Otherwise, he thought, this supreme action of God would have been something merely accidental or ‘occasional’. “Again, if the Fall were the cause of the predestination of Christ, it would follow that God’s greatest work was only occasional, for the glory of all will not be so intense as that of Christ, and it seems unreasonable to think that God would have foregone such a work because of Adam’s good deed, if he had not sinned.” The whole question for Duns Scotus was precisely that of the order of Divine ‘predestination’ or purpose, i.e. of the order of thoughts in the Divine counsel of Creation. Christ, the Incarnate, was the first object of the creative will of God, and it was for Christ’s sake that anything else had been created at all. “The Incarnation of Christ was not foreseen occasionally, but was viewed as an immediate end by God from eternity; thus, in speaking about things which are predestined, Christ in human nature was predestined before others, since He is nearer to an end.” This order of ‘purposes’ or ‘previsions’ was, of course, just a logical one. The main emphasis of Duns Scotus was on the unconditional and primordial character of the Divine decree of the Incarnation, seen in the total perspective of Creation.6 Aquinas (1224-1274) also discussed the problem at considerable length. He saw the whole weight of the arguments in favor of the opinion that, even apart from the Fall, “nevertheless, God would have become incarnate,” and he quoted the phrase of St. Augustine: “in the Incarnation of Christ, other things must be considered besides absolution from sin.” (De Trinitate, XIII. 17). But Aquinas could not find, either in Scripture or in the Patristic writings, any definite witness to this Incarnation independent of the Fall, and therefore was inclined to believe that the Son of God would not have been incarnate if the first man did not sin: “Although God could have become incarnate without the existence of sin, it is nevertheless more appropriate to say that, if man had not sinned, God would not have become incarnate, since in Sacred Scripture the reason for the Incarnation is everywhere given as the sin of the first man.” The unfathomable mystery of the Divine will can be comprehended by man only in so far as it is plainly attested in Holy Scripture, “only to the extent that [these things] are transmitted in Sacred Scripture,” or, as Aquinas says in another place, “only in so far as we are informed by the authority of the saints, through whom God has revealed His will.” Christ alone knows the right answer to this question: “The truth of the matter only He can know, Who was born and Who was offerred up, because He so willed.”7 Bonaventura (1221-1274) suggested the same caution. Comparing the two opinions — one in favor of an Incarnation apart from the Fall and the other dependent on it, he concluded: “Both [opinions] excite the soul to devotion by different considerations: the first, however, more consonant with the judgment of reason; yet it appears that the second is more agreeable to the piety of faith.” One should rely rather on the direct testimony of the Scriptures than on the arguments of human logic.8 On the whole, Duns Scotus was followed by the majority of theologians of the Franciscan order, and also by not a few outside it, as, for instance, by Dionysius Carthusianus, by Gabriel Biel, by John Wessel, and, in the time of the Council of Trent, by Giacomo Nachianti, Bishop of Chiozza (Jacobus Naclantus), and also by some of the early Reformers, for instance, by Andreas Osiander.9 This opinion was strongly opposed by others, and not only by the strict Thomists, and the whole problem was much discussed both by Roman Catholic and by Protestant theologians in the XVIIth century.10 Among the Roman Catholic champions of the absolute decree of the Incarnation one should mention especially Fran£ois de Sales and Malebranche. Malebranche strongly insisted on the meta-phycical necessity of the Incarnation, quite apart from the Fall, for otherwise, he contended, there would have been no adequate reason or purpose for the act of Creation itself.11 The controversy is still going on among Roman Catholic theologians, sometimes with excessive heat and vigor, and the question is not settled.12 Among the Anglicans, in the last century, Bishop Wescott strongly pleaded for the ‘absolute motive’, in his admirable essay on “The Gospel of Creation.”13 The late Father Sergii Bulgakov was strongly in favor of the opinion that the Incarnation should be regarded as an absolute decree of God, prior to the catastrophe of the Fall.14


In the course of this age-long discussion a constant appeal has been made to the testimony of the Fathers. Strangely enough, the most important item has been overlooked in this anthology of quotations. Since the question of the motive of the Incarnation was never formally raised in the Patristic age, most of the texts used in the later discussions could not provide any direct guidance.15 St. Maximus the Confessor (580-662) seems to be the only Father who was directly concerned with the problem, although not in the same setting as the later theologians in the West. He stated plainly that the Incarnation should be regarded as an absolute and primary purpose of God in the act of Creation. The nature of the Incarnation, of this union of the Divine majesty with human frailty, is indeed an unfathomable mystery, but we can at least grasp the reason and the purpose of this supreme mystery, its logos and skopos. And this original reason, or the ultimate purpose, was, in the opinion of St. Maximus, precisely the Incarnation itself and then our own incorporation into the Body of the Incarnate One. The phrasing of St. Maximus is straight and clear. The 60th questio ad Thalassium, is a commentary on I Peter, 1:19-20: “[Christ was] like a blameless and spotless lamb, who was foreordained from the foundation of the world.” Now the question is: St. Maximus first briefly summarizes the true teaching about the Person of Christ, and then proceeds: “This is the blessed end, on account of which everything was created. This is the Divine purpose, which was thought of before the beginning of Creation, and which we call an intended fulfillment. All creation exists on account of this fulfillment and yet the fulfillment itself exists because of nothing that was created. Since God had this end in full view, he produced the natures of things. This is truly the fulfillment of Providence and of planning. Through this there is a recapitulation to God of those created by Him. This is the mystery circumscribing all ages, the awesome plan of God, super-infinite and infinitely pre-existing the ages. The Messenger, who is in essence Himself the Word of God, became man on account of this fulfillment. And it may be said that it was He Himself Who restored the manifest innermost depths of the goodness handed down by the Father; and He revealed the fulfillment in Himself, by which creation has won the beginning of true existence. For on account of Christ, that is to say the mystery concerning Christ, all time and that which is in time have found the beginning and the end of their existence in Christ. For before time there was secretly purposed a union of the ages, of the determined and the Indeterminate, of the measurable and the Immeasurable, of the finite and Infinity, of the creation and the Creator, of motion and rest — a union which was made manifest in Christ during these last times.” (M., P.G., XC, 621, A-B.) One has to distinguish most carefully between the eternal being of the Logos, in the bosom of the Holy Trinity, and the ‘economy’ of His Incarnation. ‘Prevision’ is related precisely to the Incarnation: “Therefore Christ was foreknown, not as He was according to His own nature, but as he later appeared incarnate for our sake in accordance with the final economy.” (M., P.G., XC, 624D). The ‘absolute predestination’ of Christ is alluded to with full clarity.16 This conviction was in full agreement with the general tenor of the theological system of St. Maximus, and he returns to the problem on many occasions, both in his answers to Thalassius and in his Ambigua. For instance, in connection with Ephesians 1:9, St. Maximus says: “[By this Incarnation and by our age] he has shown us for what purpose we were made and the greatest good will be of God towards us before the ages.” (M., P.G., 1097C). By his very constitution man anticipates in himself “the great mystery of the Divine purpose,” the ultimate consummation of all things in God. The whole history of Divine Providence is for St. Maximus divided into two great periods: the first culminates in the Incarnation of the Logos and is the story of Divine condescension (“through the Incarnation”); the second is the story of human ascension into the glory of deification, an extension, as it were, of the Incarnation to the whole creation. “Therefore we may divide time into two parts according to its design, and we may distinguish both the ages pertaining to the mystery of the Incarnation of the Divine, and the ages concerning the deification of the human by grace… and to say it concisely: both those ages which concern the descent of God to men, and those which have begun the ascent of men to God… Or, to say it even better, the beginning, the middle, and the end of all the ages, those which have gone by, those of the present time, and those which are yet to come, is our Lord Jesus Christ.” (M., P.G., XC, 320, B-C). The ultimate consummation is linked in the vision of St. Maximus with the primordial creative will and purpose of God, and therefore his whole conception is strictly ‘theocentric’, and at the same time ‘Christocentric’. In no sense, however, does this obscure the sad reality of sin, of the utter misery of sinful existence. The great stress is always laid by St. Maximus on the conversion and cleansing of the human will, on the struggle with passions and with evil. But he views the tragedy of the Fall and the apostasy of the created in the wider perspective of the original plan of Creation.17


What is the actual weight of the witness of St. Maximus ? Was it more than his ‘private opinion,’ and what is the authority of such Opinions’? It is perfectly clear that to the question of the first or ultimate ‘motive’ of the Incarnation no more than a ‘hypothetical’ (or ‘convenient’) answer can be given. But many doctrinal statements are precisely such hypothetical statements or ‘theologoumena’.18 And it seems that the ‘hypothesis’ of an Incarnation apart from the Fall is at least permissible in the system of Orthodox theology and fits well enough into the mainstream of Patristic teaching. An adequate answer to the question of the ‘motive’ of the Incarnaion can be given only in the context of the general doctrine of Creation.

Notes and References

l. Epist. 101, ad Cledoniutn (M., P.G., 37, col. 118).

2. Bishop B. F. Westcott, “The Gospel of Creation,” in The Epistles of St. John, The Greek Text with notes and essays, Third Edition. (Macmillan, 1892), p. 288.

8. Rupertus Tuitensis, De Gloria et honore Filii hominis super Matthaeum, lib. 13, (M., P.L., 148, col. 1628): “Here it is first proper to ask whether or not the Son of God, Whom this discourse concerns, would have become man, even if sin, on account of which all die, had not intervened. There is no doubt that He would not have become mortal and assumed a mortal body if sin had not occurred and caused man to become mortal; only an infidel could be ignorant as to this. The question is: would this have occurred, and would it somehow have been necessary for mankind that God become man, the Head and King of all, as He now is? What will be the answer?” Rupert then quotes from St. Augustine about the eternal predestination of the saints (De Civitate Dei, 14. 23.) and continues: “Since, with regard to the saints and all the elect there is no doubt but that they will all be found, up to the number appointed in God’s plan, about which He says in blessing, before sin, ‘Increase and multiply,’ and it is absurd to think that sin was necessary in order to obtain that number, what must be thought about the very Head and King of all the elect, angels and men, but that He had indeed no necessary cause for becoming man, but that His love’s ‘delights were to be with the children of men.’ [Proverbs 8:31]” Cf. also De Glorificatione Trinitatis, lib. 3. 20 (M., P.L., 169, col. 72): “Therefore, we say quite probably, not so much that man [was made] to make up the number of the angels [i.e., for those who had fallen], but that both angels and men were made because of one man, Jesus Christ, so that, as He Himself was begotten God from God, and was to be found a man, He would have a family prepared on both sides. .. From the beginning, before God made anything, it was in His plan that the Word {Logos} of God, God the Word [Logos], would be made flesh, and dwell among men with great love and the deepest humility, which are His true delights.” (Allusion again to Proverbs 8:31.)

4. Honorius of Autun, Libellus octo quaestionum de angelis et homine, cap. 2 (Μ., P.L., 172, col. 72): “And therefore the first man’s sin was not the cause of Christ’s Incarnation; rather, it was the cause of death and damnation. The cause of Christ’s Incarnation was the predestination of human deification. It was indeed predestined by God from all eternity that man would be deified, for the Lord said, ‘Father, Thou hast loved them* before the creation of the world,’ [cf. John 17:24] those, that is, who are deified through Me… It was necessary, therefore, for Him to become incarnate, so that man could be deified, and thus it does not follow that sin was the cause of His Incarnation, but it follows all the more logically that sin could not alter God’s plan for deifying man; since in fact both the authority of Sacred Scripture and clear reason declare that God would have assumed man even had man never sinned. [*S. Script., Jn. 17:24, reads ‘me’ for ‘them’.”]

5. Alexander Halensis, Summa tkeologica, ed. ad. Claras Aquas, dist. 3, qu. 3, m. 3; Albertus Magnus, In 3, 1. Sententiarum, dist. 20, art. 4, ed. Borgnet, t. 28, 361: “On this question it must be said that the solution is uncertain, but insofar as I can express an opinion, I believe that the Son of God would have been made man, even if sin had never been.”

6. Duns Scotus, Opus Oxoniense, 3, dist. 19, ed. Wadding, t. 7, p. 415. Cf. Reportata Parisiensia, lib. 3, dist. 7, qu. 4, schol. 2, ed. Wadding, t. 11. 1, p. 451. “I say, nevertheless, that the Fall is not the cause of Christ’s predestination. Indeed, even if one angel had not fallen, or one man, Christ would still have been predestined thus—even if others had not been created, but only Christ. This I demonstrate thus: anyone who wills methodically first wills an end, and then more immediately, those things which are more immediate to the end. But God wills most methodically; therefore, He wills thus: first He wills Himself, and everything intrinsic to Himself; more directly, so far as concerns things extrinsic, is the soul of Christ. Therefore, in relation to whatever merit and before whatever dement was foreseen, He foresees that Christ must be united to Him in a substantial union… The disposition and predestination is first complete concerning the elect, and then something is done concerning the reprobate, as a secondary act, lest anyone rejoice as if the loss of another was a reward for himself; therefore, before the foreseen Fall, and before any demerit, the whole process concerning Christ was foreseen… Therefore, I say thus: first, God loves Himself; second, He loves Himself by others, and this love of His is pure; third, He wills that He be loved by another, one who can love Him to the highest degree (in speaking about the love of someone extrinsic); fourth, He foresees the union of that nature which ought to love Him to the highest degree, although none had fallen [i.e., even if no one had fallen] … and, therefore, in the fifth instance, He sees a coming mediator who will suffer and redeem His people; He would not have come as a mediator, to suffer and to redeem, unless someone had first sinned, unless the glory of the flesh had become swelled with pride, unless something needed to be redeemed; otherwise, He would have immediately been the whole Christ glorified.” The same reasoning is in the Opus Oxoniensey dist. 7, qu. 3, scholium 3, Wadding 202. See P. Raymond, “Duns Scot,” in Dictionnaire de la Theologie Catholique, t.4, col. 1890-1891, and his article, “Le Motif de l’lncarnation: Duns Scot et l’ficole scotiste,” in Etudes Franciscaines (1912); also R. ieeberg, Die Tbeologie des Johannes Duns Scotus (Leipzig, 1900), s. 250.

7. Summa theol, 3a, qu. 1, art. 3; in 3 Sentent., dist. 1, qu. 1, art. 3.

8. Bonaventura, in 3 Sentent., dist. 1, qu. 2, ed. Lugduni (1668), pp. 10-12.

9. Cf. A. Michele, “Incarnation,” in Dictionnaire de la Theologie Catholique, t. 7, col. 1495 ss. John Wessel, De causis Incarnationis, lib. 2, c. 7, quoted by G. Ullman, Die Reformatoren vor der Reformation, Bd. 2 (Gotha, 1866), s. 398 ff. On Naclantus see Westcott, op. cit., p. 312 ff. Andreas Osiander, An Filius Dei fuit incarnatus, si peccatum non inter-vents set in mundum? Item de imagine Dei quid sit? Ex cert is et evidentibus S. Scripturae testimoniis et non ex philosophicis et humanae rationis cogitationibus derompta explicatio (Monte Regia Prussiae, 1550); see I. A. Dorner, Entivicklun gsgeschichte der Lehre von der Person Christi, 2 Aufl. (1853), Bd. 2, s. 438 ff. and 584; Otto Ritschl, Dogmengeschichte des Protestantismus, Bd. 2 (Leipzig, 1912), s. 462. Osiander was vigorously criticized by Calvin, Institutio, lib. 2, cap. 12, 4-7, ed. Tholuck, 1, s. 304-309.

10. See for instance the long discussion in “Dogmata Theologica” of L. Thomassin (1619-1695) in tomus 3, De Incamatione Verbi Dei, 2, cap 5 to 11, ed. nova (Parisiis, 1866), pp. 189-249. Thomassin dismisses the Scotist theory as just a “hallucination,” contradicted openly by the evidence of Scripture and the teaching of the Fathers. He gives a long list of Patristic passages, mainly from St. Augustine. Bellarmin (1542-1621) dismisses this idea in one phrase: “For if Adam had remained in that innocence wherein he had been created, doubtless the Son of God would not have suffered; He probably would not even have assumed human flesh, as even Calvin himself teaches”; De Christo, lib. 5, cap. 10, editio prima Romana (Romae, 1832), t. 1, p. 432. Petavius (1583-1652) was little interested in the controversy: “This question is widely and very contentiously disputed in the schools, but, being removed from the controversy, we will explain it in a few words.” There is no evidence for this conception in Tradition, and Petavius gives some few quotations to the opposite effect. “Opus de Theologicis Dogmatibus,” tomus 4, De Incamatione, lib. 2, cap. 17, 7-12, ed. (Venetiis, 1757), pp. 95-96. On the Protestant side see a brief discussion in John Gerhard, Loci Theologici, Locus Quartus, “De Persona et Officio Christi,” cap. 7, with valuable references to the earlier literature and an interesting set of Patristic quotations; ed. Sd. Preuss (Berolini, 1863), t. 1, pp. 513-514, and a longer one in J. A. Quenstedt, Theologia Didactico—Polemica, sive $y sterna Theologicum (Wittebergae, 1961), Pars 3 & 4, Pars 3, Cap. 3, Membrum 1, Sectio 1, Quaestio 1, pp. 108-116. On the other hand, Suarez (1548-1617) advocated a recon-ciliatory view in which both conflicting opinions could be kept together. See his comments on Summa, 3a, Disput. 4, sectio 12, and the whole Disp. 5a, Opera Omnia, ed. Berton (Parisiis, I860), pp. 186-266.

11. Frangois de Sales, Traite de Vamour de Dieu, Iivre 2, ch. 4 and 5, in Oeuvres, edition complete, t. 4 (Annecy, 1894), pp. 99ss. and 102ss. Malebranche, Entretiens sur la Metaphysique et sur la Religion, Edition critique par Armand Cuvillier (Paris, 1948), tome 2, Entretien 9, 6, p. 14: “Oui assurement l’lncarnation du Verbe est le premier et le principal des desseins de Dieu; c’est ce qui justifie sa conduite”; Traite de la Nature et de la Grace (Rotterdam, 1712), Discours 1, 1, p. 2. Seconde Eclaircissement, p. 3O2ss.; Reflexions sur la Promotion Physique (Paris, 1715), p. 300: “II suit evidemment, ce me semble, de ce que je viens de dire, que le premier et le principal dessein de Dieu dans la creation, est 1’Incarnation du Verbe: puisque Jesus Christ est le premier en toutes choses. . . et qu’ainsi, quand 1’homme n’aurait point peche, le Verbe se serait incarne”; cf. p. 211 and passim. See for further information: J. Vidgrain, Le Christianisme dans la philosophie de Maleranche (Paris, 1923), pp. 99ss. and 112ss; H. Gouhier, La Philosophie de Malebranche et son Experience Religieuse (Paris, 1926), p. 22ss.; J. Maydieu, “La Creation du Monde et 1’Incarnation du Verbe dans la Philosophie de Malebranche,” in Bulletin de Litterature Ecclesiastique (Toulouse, 1935). It is of interest to mention that Leibniz also regarded the Incarnation as an absolute purpose in creation; see quotations from his unpublished papers in J. Baruzi, Leibniz et I Organization religieuse de la Terre (Paris, 1907), pp. 273-274.

12. The Scotist point of view has been presented by a Franciscan, Father Chrysostome, in his two books: Christus Alpha et Omega, seu de Christi universali regno (Lille, 1910, published without the name of the author) and Le Motif de 1’Incarnation et les principaux thomistes contemporains (Tours, 1921). The latter was a reply to the critics in which he assembled an impressive array of Patristic texts. The Thomist point of view was taken by Father E. Hogon, Le Mystere de Vlncarnation (Paris, 1913), p. 63ss., and Father Paul Galtier, S. J. De Incarnatione et Redemptione (Parisiis, 1926); see also Father Hilair de Paris, Cur Deus Homo? Dissertario de motivo Incarnationis (Lyons, 1867) [includes an analysis of Patristic texts from the Thomist point of view]. Cf. also the introduction in the book of Dr. Aloysius Spindler, Cur Verbum, caro factum? Das Motiv der Menschiverdung und das Verhaltnis der Erlosung zur Menschwerdung in den christologischen Glaubenskdmpfen des vierten und funten christlichen Jahrhunderts (Paderborn, 1938) [‘Torschungen zur christlichen Literatur— und Dogmengeschichte,” hsgg. von A. Ehrhard und Dr. J. P. Kirsch, Bd. 18, 2 Heft].

13. See note 1 above.

14. Fr. Sergii Bulgakov, Agnets Bozhii (Paris, 1933), p. 191 ff. (in Russian). French translation, Du Verbe Incarne (Paris, 1943).

15. Dr. Spindler was the only student of the problem using the proper historical method in handling the texts.

16. Cf. Hans Urs von Balthasar, Liturgie Cosmique: Maxime le Confesseur (Paris, Aubier, 1947), pp. 204-205; Father Balthasar quotes Qu. ad Talass. 60 and adds that St. Maximus would have taken the Scotist side in the scholastic controversy, yet with an important qualification: “Maxime de reste est totalement etranger au postulat de ce debat scholastique qui imagine la possibilite d’un autre ordre du monde sans pecho et totalement irreel. Pour lui la ‘volonte preexistante’ de Dieu est identique au monde des ‘idees’ et des ‘possibles’: l’ordre des essences et l’ordre des faits coincident en ce point supreme” (in the German edition, Kosmische Liturgie, s. 267-268). See also Dom Polycarp Sherwood, O.S.B., “The Earlier Ambigua of Saint Maximus the Confessor” in Studia Anselmiana (Romae, 1955), fasc. 36, ch. 4, pp. 155ff.

17. The best exposition of the theology of St. Maximus is by S. L. Epifanovich, St. Maximus the Confessor and Byzantine Theology (Kiev, 1915; in Russian); cf. also the chapter on St. Maximus in my book, The Byzantine Fathers (Paris, 1933), pp. 200-227 (in Russian). In addition to the book of Father von Balthasar, quoted above, one may consult with profit the “Introduction” of Dom Polycarp Sherwood to his translation of The Four Centuries on Charity of St. Maximus, Ancient Christian Writers, No. 21 (London and Westminster, Md., 1955). See also Lars Thunberg, Microcosm and Mediator: The Theological Anthropology of Maximus the Confessor (Lund, 1965).

18. See the definition of “theologoumena” by Bolotov, Thesen iiber das “Filioque,” first published without the name of the author (“von einem russischen Theologen”) in Revue Internationale de Thiologie, No. 24 (Oct.-Dec, 1898), p. 682: “Man kann fragen, was ich unter Theologou-menon verstehe? Seinem Wesen nach ist es auch eine theologische Meinung, aber eine theologische Meinung derer, welche fiir einen jeden ‘Katholiken’ mehr bedeuten als gewohnliche Theologen; es sind die theologische Meinungen der hi. Vater der einen ungeteilten Kirche; es sind die Meinungen der Manner, unter denen auch die mit Recht hoi didaskaloi tes oikoumenes genannten sich befinden.” No “theologoumenon” can claim more than “probability,” and no “theologoumenon” should be accepted if it has been clearly disavowed by an authoritative or “dogmatic” pronouncement of the Church.

Phillippe Yates: Christ is the beginning, the centre and the end of the universe

The following is an excerpt from an article by Philippe Yates in Faith Magazine on the absolute primacy of Christ. To read the full article with all of the footnotes go to their website: FAITH Magazine January-February 2008

The Primacy of Christ in John Duns Scotus: An Assessment
by Phillippe Yates

The Primacy of Christ

The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, which the Church definitively approved and declared infallible in 1854, was predicated upon the primacy of Christ. For it is precisely because Christ is the summit of creation and the first-born among creation that it is fitting that his mother should be preserved from all stain of sin. It is only fitting that the one for whom creation was made should be born of the holiest of the saints, indeed anything less is scarcely conceivable.

But to understand the primacy of Christ and the novelty of what it means, we should first contrast with it the doctrine that is more familiar. The doctrine that the deacon proclaims in the Exultet on Easter night is what we might call the anthropocentric doctrine of the Incarnation. Adam and Eve were created good, but sinned and fell into the grip of the devil. Their sin cut them off irrevocably from God and so God decided to repair the damage done by sending his Son to take that sin upon himself and so restore human beings to righteousness. But the redemption won by Christ’s death was greater than the original state of innocence for it brought humanity to an intimacy with God that they had not known in Eden, for in the person of Christ humanity was brought into union with God. This is the doctrine that Anselm proclaimed and Aquinas followed. It is a doctrine that is perfectly orthodox.

But there is another manner of looking at the Incarnation, that is also permitted by the Church, although you will find it less widespread. It is a Christocentric thesis, which includes creation and Incarnation in one great theory of the love of God that underlies all existence. This is the theory proposed by Blessed John Duns Scotus in which everything that is is viewed through the lens of the primacy of Christ, the freedom of God and the contingency of the world.

The Purpose of Creation

God is absolutely free and therefore if he creates it is because he wants to create. He wants to create in order to reveal and communicate his goodness and love to another. So creation is a freely willed act of our God who loves and who, St. John tells us, is love. Only a Christian can say that God is love, none of the other religions, monotheistic or other, could possibly make such a claim. But a Christian can, and in order to be true to revelation, must affirm this about God. For God to be love he must be more than one person, for love requires a lover and a beloved. In Scotus’ theology God is the Trinity in a communion of love – an eternal movement of the lover (the Father), the beloved (the Son) and the sharing of love (the Spirit). This Trinity who creates is the model of all reality and especially of human relationships.

God’s love is the cause of creation and it is also at the root of all creation. Because God loves, he wills that the creation he makes should also be infused by love. Since love must go out to another, it is only right and good that the highest object of creation’s love should be God himself, for nothing within creation could be a more fitting object of love than the God who lovingly created.

So God made creation in such a way that it should love, and above all love the divine nature that is the object of love of all the persons in the Trinity. Now for creation to be able to love to the highest extent, there must be at least one created thing capable of the highest love. That created thing is the human nature of Christ. The human nature of Christ was predestined by God to that highest glory of the beatific sharing in the inner life of the divine persons. Once God had decided upon this predestination of Christ’s human nature, then he willed the union of Christ’s divine nature with his human nature in the person of Christ since only a human nature united to the divine nature in one person could love to the highest extent, the extent to which God loves. St. Paul tells us that Christ was the first-born of all creation, and Scotus’ theology makes sense of this affirmation. Scotus did not believe that the acts of creation and Incarnation were separate, but part of one divine plan. So rather than the Incarnation being a sort of “Plan B” to rescue humanity after the fall, in Scotus’ theology it is the whole purpose of creation. Christ is the masterpiece of love in the midst of a creation designed for love, rather than a divine plumber come to fix the mess of original sin. Thus the Incarnation is placed by Scotus in the context of creation and not of human sin.

Since all of creation is made for Christ, then for the coming of Christ there had to be within creation a nature capable of understanding and freely responding to God’s love. Humanity is free to love and has the capacity to understand God, precisely because such a nature is desired by God to be united in Christ to the divine nature of the Son. Creation is a preparation for the Incarnation which is the outcome that God willed from the very outset. St. Paul puts it like this “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now” (Rom 8:22)

Christ and Creation

Aquinas emphasised the material and formal causes in creation, but Scotus placed his emphasis on the final cause as determining the work of the artist. In other words it is the purpose of creation that determines its form. Since creation is created to love, it is ordered to allow it to fulfil the role for which it was created. So we find ourselves in a universe united around its purpose – which is to reflect in love the loving God who created it.

The highest expression of this purpose is the one who loves most perfectly, Christ who is the goal of creation and to whom all of creation tends. For Christ is the meaning and model of all that is created and every creature is made in the image of Christ. Every leaf, stone, fruit, animal and person is an expression of the Word of God, spoken in love. Christ’s entry into creation is not then an entry into an alien environment, but the culmination of all that creation is and means. The Incarnation completes creation rather than supplementing it, as the anthropocentric view of creation would have us believe. Scotus’ theology is an expression of the insight that St. Francis of Assisi expressed in his poem the “Canticle of the Creatures”: God is praised through creatures, precisely because all creatures have life through Christ, in Christ and with Christ. For Christ is the Word through whom all things were made.

This Christoform theology of creation presents Christ as the blueprint for creation. In Christ the divine-human communion reaches its culmination and so in Christ the meaning and purpose of creation reaches its highest point. In Christ, what all of creation is ordered towards, that is the praise and glory of God in a communion of love, finds its centre and its highest meaning. With the Incarnation at its centre, creation becomes a cosmic hymn to the Trinity, in which the universe, bound together in and through the cosmic Christ, offers praise and glory to God.

One Order of Being

So we know God through the created world, but we have not yet looked at howw e know God through the created world. Scotus teaches that the path to knowledge of God runs through our being. For our being and God’s being are of the same order. That is to say that there is a common meeting ground between the Creator and his creatures since all possess being. This doctrine is called that of the univocity of being. For Aquinas God’s being and created being are of a different order and so while we can in some way participate in God’s being we will always be separate from it. Thus, for Aquinas, created reality can teach us what God’s being is like but can never show us what God’s being is. Scotus teaches, by contrast, that there is only one order of being. The first principle of being is one, true and good and all beings are related to it in a way that brings out the unity of all that is. So it is not that there is God on one side in His state of being and creatures on the other in a separate order of being. Instead all being is related in the order of being of which God is the first principle but is not inherently separated from created being.

Scotus does not teach that God’s being and created being are one and the same thing but God’s being and created being are two different modes of being. God’s being is infinite and created being is finite. We can see the sense of this intuitively – for the most surprising thing about existence is that there is anything. What is striking about all that is is that it exists at all, that it “has being”. The only alternative would be for there not to be anything. So it seems reasonable to say that being is one concept.

Because things are, because there is being, we seek to know. What we get to know when we know being, is not just being as created but, because there is but one concept of being, we get to know the first principle of being, God Himself.

Thus our seeking to know creation is not something separated from our seeking to know God. All created things have a dignity in that they all share being not only with one another but with God. So the ineffable being of God is made known through the known existence of creation. In this way, through our contemplation of creation we can apprehend the divine mystery – it is no longer beyond reason. Although of course, since God’s being is infinite and created being finite, the fullness of the mystery still lies beyond reason. Thus in Scotus’ theology creation is endowed with a light that is of the same order as the light that shines in God. Just as looking at a fire we understand what light is so that when we see the sun we can know that it is light that we see – so by looking at creation we can see a spark of life that radiates something of God’s life. Or as Ilia Delio puts it “Creation is not a window but a lamp, and each unique created being radiates the light of God.”

It follows from the essential univocity of being that the divine mystery can be perceived from within the created order. In the Incarnation what is true in the basic created order of things (that God is at the root of all that is and all that is shines forth with the light of God) becomes even more explicitly expressed when a created nature becomes united in one person to the divine nature of the Word. In this way creation reaches its fulfilment.

The Specificity of Being

But if Christ is the pattern of everything in creation, does this not make creation too uniform, too bland, too samey? In Scotus’ philosophy each particular being has its own intrinsic, unique and proper being. Thus everything has an inherent dignity, an essential “thisness” that makes it itself and not something else. So while univocity of being provides a philosophical basis for the unity of all created things his understanding of “thisness” ensures that within that unity each created thing has its own place, a place that can be taken by no other. We tell one thing from another by perceiving the “thisness” that each thing possesses.

When we combine the notions of the primacy of Christ with those of univocity of being and the essential thisness of each thing then we can see a powerful ecological message emerging for the people of our day. For if all things are rooted in a being which is of the same order as the being of God, if all things are predicated on Christ as the first-born of all creation, and if each thing expresses this in a unique, and uniquely beautiful way – then we are forced to contemplate our created order with awe and reverence. For each creature shines with something of God that can be expressed by no other. Each sun, star, proton, grape and grain is charged with a divine meaning – a meaning that no other can express. And each creature speaks to us of Christ who is the first among creatures.

Fr. Louis O.C.S.O. (Thomas Merton): Definition of the Absolute Primacy of Christ through the prayers of Mary would be a turning point in the history of the Church

I approach Merton with great caution because towards the end of his life he showed a seemingly excessive openness to non-Christian religions and praise of Eastern methods of meditation which are not rooted in the Scripture or the Tradition of the Church. Nonetheless, he wrote many beautiful books on contemplation before his oriental fascination and in the following passage he shows his devotion to Our Lady, his stark evaluation of our times (“terrible times”), his study of the Papal documents (“Quas primas”) and his hope to see the Scotist doctrine of the absolute primacy of Christ defined like that of the Immaculate Conception. On November 10th 1947, Thomas Merton wrote in his journal, among other things:

Today also I thought of St. Leornard of Port Maurice—off my usual track!—and his fight to get the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception defined one hundred years before it was.

It seems to me that definition was a turning point in the history of the Church.

The world has been put into the hands of our Immaculate Lady and she is our hope in the terrible days we live in.

Perhaps another turning point will come when her prayers at last obtain the definition of the other great Scotist doctrine with which her Immaculate Conception is so intimately connected: the Absolute Primacy of Christ.

At first sight these things seem abstract and trifling, but they are of tremendous importance because the salvation of the world depends on what people know and believe about God and the economy of salvation. Christ’s Kingdom will not come until the universal Church declares just how much His Kingship really means and that has not yet been done, even by Quas Primas .

May Our Lady indeed obtain us this grace… the definition as revealed doctrine of the absolute primacy of Christ!

Mater Christi, ora pro nobis!

fr. maximilian mary dean, F.I.

St. Francis de Sales – primary reason for the Incarnation is the communication of divine love ad extra

Below is a very enlightening passage from St. Francis de Sales’ Treatise on the Love of God where he teaches that the primary reason for the Incarnation was not the redemption of fallen man from sin, but that God willed the Incarnation first and foremost in order to “communicate Himself” to a creature in a most perfect way: “in such sort that the creature might be engrafted and implanted in the divinity, and become one single person with It”. To this created nature, namely the Sacred Humanity of Christ, God “destined that incomparable honor of personal union with His Divine Majesty, to the end that for all eternity it might enjoy by excellence the treasures of His infinite glory.”


By St Francis de Sales

Book II. The History Of The Generation And Heavenly Birth Of Divine Love.

Ch 4. Of The Supernatural Providence Which God Uses Towards Reasonable Creatures.

All God’s works are ordained to the salvation of men and angels; and the order of his providence is this, as far as, by attention to the Holy Scriptures and the doctrine of the Fathers, we are able to discover and our weakness permits us to describe it.

God knew from all eternity that he could make an innumerable multitude of creatures with divers perfections and qualities, to whom he might communicate himself, and considering that amongst all the different communications there was none so excellent as that of uniting himself to some created nature, in such sort that the creature might be engrafted and implanted in the divinity, and become one single person with it, his infinite goodness, which of itself and by itself tends towards communication, resolved and determined to communicate himself in this manner. So that, as eternally there is an essential communication in God by which the Father communicates all his infinite and indivisible divinity to the Son in producing him and the Father and the Son together producing the Holy Ghost communicate to him also their own singular divinity; – so this sovereign sweetness was so perfectly communicated externally to a creature, that the created nature and the divinity, retaining each of them its own properties, were notwithstanding so united together that they were but one same person.

Now of all the creatures which that sovereign omnipotence could produce, he thought good to make choice of the same humanity which afterwards in effect was united to the person of God the Son; to which he destined that incomparable honour of personal union with his divine Majesty, to the end that for all eternity it might enjoy by excellence the treasures of his infinite glory.

Then having selected for this happiness the sacred humanity of our Saviour, the supreme providence decreed not to restrain his goodness to the only person of his well-beloved Son, but for his sake to pour it out upon divers other creatures, and out of the mass of that innumerable quantity of things which he could produce, he chose to create men and angels to accompany his Son, participate in his graces and glory, adore and praise him for ever. And inasmuch as he saw that he could in various manners form the humanity of this Son, while making him true man, as for example by creating him out of nothing, not only in regard of the soul but also in regard of the body; or again by forming the body of some previously existing matter as he did that of Adam and Eve, or by way of ordinary human birth, or finally by extraordinary birth from a woman without man, he determined that the work should be effected by the last way, and of all the women he might have chosen to this end he made choice of the most holy virgin Our Lady, through whom the Saviour of our souls should not only be man, but a child of the human race.

Furthermore the sacred providence determined to produce all other things as well natural as supernatural in behalf of Our Saviour, in order that angels and men might, by serving him, share in his glory; on which account, although God willed to create both angels and men with free-will, free with a true freedom to choose evil or good, still, to show that on the part of the divine goodness they were dedicated to good and to glory, he created them all in original justice, which is no other thing than a most sweet love, which disposed, turned and set them forward towards eternal felicity.

But because this supreme wisdom had determined so to temper this original love with the will of his creatures that love should not force the will but should leave it in its freedom, he foresaw that a part, yet the less part, of the angelic nature, voluntarily quitting holy love, would consequently lose glory. And because the angelic nature could only commit this sin by an express malice, without temptation or any motive which could excuse them, and on the other hand the far greater part of that same nature would remain constant in the service of their Saviour, – therefore God, who had so amply glorified his mercy in the work of the creation of angels, would also magnify his justice, and in the fury of his indignation resolved for ever to abandon that woful and accursed troop of traitors, who in the fury of their rebellion had so villanously abandoned him.

He also clearly foresaw that the first man would abuse his liberty and forsaking grace would lose glory, yet would he not treat human nature so rigorously as he determined to treat the angelic. It was human nature of which he had determined to take a blessed portion to unite it to his divinity. He saw that it was a feeble nature, a wind which goeth and returneth not, (1) that is, which is dissipated as it goes. He had regard to the surprise by which the malign and perverse Satan had taken the first man, and to the greatness of the temptation which ruined him. He saw that all the race of men was perishing by the fault of one only, so that for these reasons he beheld our nature with the eye of pity and resolved to admit it to his mercy.

But in order that the sweetness of his mercy might be adorned with the beauty of his justice, he determined to save man by way of a rigorous redemption. And as this could not properly be done but by his Son, he settled that he should redeem man not only by one of his amorous actions, which would have been perfectly sufficient to ransom a million million of worlds: but also by all the innumerable amorous actions and dolorous passions which he would perform or suffer till death, and the death of the cross, to which he destined him.

He willed that thus he should make himself the companion of our miseries to make us afterwards companions of his glory, showing thereby the riches of his goodness, by this copious, abundant, superabundant, magnificent and excessive redemption, which has gained for us, and as it were reconquered for us, all the means necessary to attain glory, so that no man can ever complain as though the divine mercy were wanting to any one.

St. Francis de Sales, pray for us!

Fr. Frederick Faber on the absolute primacy of Christ

Fr. Frederick Faber (1814-1863): convert to Catholicism from the Anglican ecclesial community, poet and songwriter (ie. Faith of our Fathers), author of many profound volumes both devotional and doctrinal on the Catholic Faith. Fr. Faber held the Franciscan position of Bl. John Duns Scotus on the Incarnation, namely that Christ has absolute primacy in God’s plan quite apart from any consideration of sin and, with and subordinate to Christ, Mary was predestined to be the Mother of God (Theotokos) with a subordinate primacy above all men and angels. The following is a snippet from a conference given by Msgr. Arthur B. Calkins where he shows the eloquent expressions of Fr. Faber illustrating the absolute primacy of Christ Jesus:

[…]It should be noted that, while Faber did not hesitate to employ the hypothetical mode of defending the Scotist position, his aim always went beyond such a limited formulation. What he underscored was that “Jesus was decreed before all creatures, and therefore before the permission of sin”.

Faber clearly saw the implications of the Scotist thesis in establishing the predestination and primacy of Christ. Here is how he put the matter in his last work and masterpiece, Bethlehem:

What then was the first aspect of creation in the divine mind, if we may use the word “first”, of that which was eternal? There may at least be a priority of order, even though there be no priority of time. There is precedence in decrees, even where there is not succession. The first aspect of creation, as it lay in the mind of God, was a created nature assumed to his own uncreated nature in a Divine Person. In other words, the first sight in creation was the Babe of Bethlehem. The first step outside of God, the first standing-point in creation, is the created nature assumed to a Divine Person. Through this, as it were, lay the passage from the Creator to creatures. This was the point of union, the junction between the finite and the Infinite, the creature blending unconfusedly with the Creator. This first-born creature, this Sacred Humanity, was not only the primal creature, but it was also the cause of all other creatures whatsoever. … Its predestination is the fountain of all other predestinations. The whole meaning of creation, equally with the destinies of each individual creature, is bound up with this created Nature assumed to a Divine Person. [40]

Consistent expositor of the Scotistic thesis that Faber was, he recognized that it provides a marvellous key for entering into the mystery that “all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:16-17). “This means”, as Juniper Carol put it, “that in the divine mind from all eternity the creation of the universe and everything in it was based on Christ, had Christ as its foundation, fulcrum and support.” [41] Faber also rightly dwelt on the biblical datum that the Father “chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He predestined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:4-5). Thus the predestination of the elect is conditioned on Christ, and not the other way around. It presupposes the existence of Christ present to the mind of God in His eternal plans. [42]

In no human creature is predestination in Christ illustrated to greater perfection than in Mary. In willing the Incarnation, God willed Mary. Here is how Faber put it in Bethlehem:

Mary thus lies high up in the very fountain-head of creation. She was the choice of God himself, and he chose her to be his Mother. She was the gate by which the Creator entered into his own creation. She ministered to him in a way and for an end unlike those of any other creature whatsoever. … When we have said that Mary was the Word’s eternal choice, we have said that which already involves all the doctrine of the Church about her, and all the homage of Christians to her. … What more can be said? She fulfilled his idea, or rather she did not so much suit his idea, but she was herself the idea, and his idea of her was the cause of her creation. The whole theology of Mary lies in this eternal and efficacious choice of her in the Bosom of the Father. [43]

It is precisely on this basis that Faber speaks constantly in all of his books about “the predestination of Jesus and Mary” and “the mysteries of Jesus and Mary”. Even though Jesus is God and Mary is only a human creature, in willing the Incarnation, God also willed and predestined Mary.

It was, in fact, only in Faber’s lifetime that the supreme authority of the Church solemnly ratified this foundational datum of what has come to be called the “Franciscan thesis” on the joint predestination of Jesus and Mary. The roots of this thesis, as Father Peter Damian Fehlner tells us

antedate both Scotus and Francis himself. It is franciscan, not by reason of origin (in this it is rather Catholic), but by reason of its promotion, of its being rendered more explicit and then more effectively incorporated into the life of the Church, as St. Maximilian Kolbe would say. [44]

The specific intervention on the part of the magisterium was the statement to be found in Ineffabilis Deus, Pius IX’s Bull defining the dogma of the Immaculate Conception: “God, by one and the same decree, had established the origin of Mary and the Incarnation of Divine Wisdom.” [45] On the basis of this principle, subsequently re-confirmed by the papal magisterium, [46] Mary’s intimate association with Jesus in the work of the redemption is also axiomatic and, thus, Pius IX declared in the same Apostolic Constitution:

Hence, just as Christ, the Mediator between God and man, assumed human nature, blotted the handwriting of the decree that stood against us, and fastened it triumphantly to the cross, so the most holy Virgin, united with Him by a most intimate and indissoluble bond [uno eodemque decreto], was, with Him and through Him, eternally at enmity with the evil serpent, and most completely triumphed over him, and thus crushed his head with her immaculate foot. [47]

Mary at the Foot of the Cross: Acts of the International Symposium on Marian Coredemption ^ | March 7, 2002 | Msgr. Arthur B. Calkins
Another quote of Fr. Faber on the subject can be found in his book The Blessed Sacrament, written in 1854:

The third view of the Incarnation, and the one assumed throughout this treatise to be true, is the view taken by the Scotists, and by Suarez, and many other theologians both ancient and modern. It teaches, that our Lord came principally to save fallen man, that for this end He came in passible flesh; but that even if Adam had not fallen He would have come, and by Mary, in impassible flesh, that He was predestinated the first-born of creatures before the decree which permitted sin, that the Incarnation was from the first an intentional part of the immense mercy of creation, and did not merely take occasion from sin, which only caused Him to come in a particular way in which He came, and was not the cause of His coming altogether. …

Those who hold it (this view) dwell very much on the doctrine that Jesus was decreed before all creatures, and therefore before the permission of sin. Thus we read in Scripture, I came out of the mouth of the Most High, the first-born before all creatures. And St. Paul, speaking of our Lord, says to the Colossians, that He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature. For in Him were all things created in heaven, and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers. All things were created by Him and in Him, and He is before all, and by Him all things consist. And He is the Head of the Body, the Church, who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in all things He may hold the primacy…

From these and a host of similar authorities, the Scotists, with Suarez and others, particularly Franciscans and Jesuits, consider that it follows that all men came because of Christ, not Christ because of them, that all creation was for Him, and was not only decreed subsequently to His predestination, but for His sole sake. …

Both the Thomist and Scotist views of the Incarnation are free opinions in the schools; and I have only dwelt more at length on the last because it is the one I have all along assumed to be true, and because I think Suarez does not succeed in making a harmony of the two: and as I have mainly followed St. Thomas in the other questions which have been touched upon in this book, it seemed necessary to confess to this somewhat notable exception.

From The Blessed Sacrament (Philadelphia: The Peter Reilly Co., 1958) 336-337, 339

lapidem angularem: Christ the cornerstone

While I have already treated this subject in the section Christ, the Cornerstone, I recently came across a very interesting passage in the book of Job. After all that Job had been through and all his “friends” put him through, God then humiliates him to the dust – that is, before lifting him back up and blessing even more than before. In showing Job that he is, well, basically nothing, God asks Job if he knows anything, really, at all about the Creator and His handiwork. In that discourse God asks him:

Where wast thou when I laid up the foundations of the earth? tell me if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Upon what are its bases grounded? or who laid the corner stone thereof, When the morning stars praised me together, and all the sons of God made a joyful melody?
(Job 38:4-7)

While, on a superficial level, one can write this off as just saying, “Where were you, you ignorant nothing, when I did My work of creation?”, nonetheless, it is unique in that here God notes that there was praise and joyful melody regarding “the corner stone”.

I can’t go into it here (I hope to later), but there is an entire deposit of Wisdom literature where created Wisdom is spoken of as being present before God when He created the universe (see, for example, Prov 8:22-9:6). We know that the Word is uncreated Wisdom, but Scripture reveals to us that when God created the universe He had before Him that created Wisdom. This is a clear reference to the Humanity (created) of Christ, that is, to the Incarnate Word. Jesus is one Divine Person (Wisdom) with two natures: divine (uncreated, eternal) and human (created, temporal). In creating the universe God first willed Christ, the Word Incarnate, the cornerstone – lapidem angularem (Job 38:6), He willed to build all upon Him as the supreme cornerstone – summo angulari lapide Christo Iesu (Eph 2:20). All creation is with Christ in mind (He is the center of all creation – Col 1:15-20).

For convenience, here is the link of a pertinent video on Christ the Cornerstone:

Blessings in Christ the cornerstone!
fr maximilian mary dean, F.I.