Ask Father Hardon
Catholic Faith - Vol. 2 - #3, May / Jun 1996
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
Q. At what point in Jesus' life did he know that he was the Son of God? I was told at a confirmation retreat that Jesus was just like us and had to discover who He was. D.S., Ohio
A. Jesus did not have to discover that He was the Son of God. He knew this, even with His human mind, from the moment of His conception in the womb of His mother. Among the errors that have been condemned by the Church is Nestorianism. Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, was condemned by the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD. He claimed that Jesus was really two persons, one human and the other divine. As a consequence, Nestorius denied that Mary is the Mother of God. Nestorianism, therefore, says exactly what you have been told, that Jesus was just like us and had to discover who He was. That is not true. Jesus did indeed have a true human nature. But His humanity was totally assumed by His divinity. From the first moment of His human existence, Jesus knew, with His human mind, that He was true God.
Q. I understand that a Roman Catholic sister who teaches seminarians has said, "To say that Scripture is the word of God is nothing more than a metaphor." Is this not an insult to the Holy Spirit? O'D., Nebraska
A. It is indeed an insult to the Holy Spirit to claim that Scripture is only metaphorically the word of God. Sacred Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit. This means that God is truly the Author of the Bible. Certainly the human writers wrote the words of the Bible. But what they wrote is what the Holy Spirit wanted them to write, as He wanted them to write it. As a result, Sacred Scripture is reveals what the Holy Spirit wanted the human race to know. Certainly there are metaphors in the Bible. But even these metaphors are an expression of what the Holy Spirit wanted to communicate to the human race. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of recognizing the Scriptures as really, truly, and not just metaphorically, the revealed word of the infinitely wise and truthful God.
Q. Does the resurrected, glorified body have any substance? How is this possible since our bodies decompose after we die? Anonymous
A. The resurrected, glorified body most certainly has its own substance. Substance is that which
underlies the changeable properties of any creature. The substance of a glorified body is the underlying reality which gives the risen body its glorified bodily existence. Certainly our human bodies decompose when our souls leave the bodies which they animated here on earth. But that is exactly what the resurrection means. It means that on the last day our souls, which never die, are reunited with a bodily substance that is glorified for those who are saved. God produces a new body which is immortal and resplendent in beauty because the soul beholds the face of God. To be emphasized is that our glorified bodies will be our bodies. We remain we, as distinct persons, after the resurrection. We do not become someone else.
Q. A local priest publicly denies that transubstantiation takes place. Is it not true in this case that he excludes from his intention the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ and therefore his Masses are invalid? Anonymous
A. In order for a priest to offer a valid Mass, he must at least intend what Christ intends to do in
the Eucharistic sacrifice. The priest need not be in the state of grace to offer a valid Mass. He need not even believe in his priestly powers to change bread and wine into the living Christ. He must not exclude the intention to do what those who believe in transubstantiation expect him to do.
The question you raise is more serious than most people realize. A priest who denies his own priestly powers of transubstantiation is likely not to offer a valid Mass even though he goes through the ritual and words of the Eucharistic liturgy. At the very least, there is reason to doubt whether the Eucharistic ceremony which he celebrates is really the sacrifice of the Mass.
Vol. 2 - #3, May / Jun 1996
Copyright © 1996 by Inter Mirifica
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