Ask Father Hardon
Vol. 4 - #3, May / June 1998
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
Q. Are the angels part of the Mystical Body of Christ? T.H., Nebraska
A. The Mystical Body of Christ has three dimensions: the Church Triumphant
in heaven, the Church Suffering in purgatory, and the Church Militant on earth.
Strictly speaking, only human beings are members of the Mystical Body of Christ.
Even the Head of the Mystical Body has a human nature; it is Jesus Christ
in His glorified humanity.
However, we may say that angels are closely associated with the
Mystical Body on all three levels. Especially here on earth, the angels are
Gods messengers to us who belong to the Church Militant. Our guardian angels,
who are also our guiding angels, are intimately related to us as the divinely
appointed spirits whom God uses to communicate His wisdom and love to us,
as we struggle through life on the way to heaven, where the angels are glorifying
the Holy Trinity.
Q. Vatican I said that God can be known with certainty
by the natural light of human reason from the things that He created. Did
the fathers of Vatican I recommend any particular path of reason for doing
that? Is this teaching Catholic dogma? D.S., Ohio
A. Vatican I based its teaching on the words of St. Paul, speaking
of the pagan Romans of his day, What can be known about God is perfectly
plain to them since God Himself has made it plain. Ever since God created
the world, His everlasting power and deity, however invisible, have been there
for the mind to see in the things He has made (Romans 1:19-20).
The First Vatican fathers did not specify any particular way for
reaching the knowledge of God by the use of our natural reason. However, the
Church has consistently taught that there are five basic ways of arriving
at the knowledge of God by the use of our reason. Everything in the world
is constantly changing; so there must be an unchangeable Being who brought
and keeps in existence this changeable universe. Everything in the world had
a beginning; but there must be one Being who had no beginning, who is God.
Everything in the world is caused by something else; but there must be a Being
that is not caused, otherwise nothing would exist. Everything in the world
is either greater or less than something else; but there must be a Being who
is beyond comparison or degree and is the norm for all other beings. Finally,
everything in the world shows the existence of an Intellect which guides and
governs and coordinates the whole universe; this Intellect we identify as
Yes, it is Catholic dogma that human reason can naturally conclude
to Gods existence. Since both St. Paul and the Book of Wisdom teach this
as revealed truth, we must say that our capacity to reason to the existence
of God is a dogma. Why? Because a dogma is a truth taught infallibly by the
Church as something which God has revealed.
Q. Does having Mass said for someone make the Mass any more efficacious
for the intended person than my personal attendance and prayerful offering
of the Mass and Holy Communion on his behalf? R.D.S., Ohio
A. The Church does not compare the efficacy of having the Mass offered
for someone with the value of personal attendance at Mass or of praying at
Mass or receiving Holy Communion for someone. Nevertheless, we may say that
to have a Mass offered for a person is very powerful. The person may be on
earth, and then the Mass is a source of grace to enlighten the persons mind
and strengthen his will. Or, the person may be in purgatory, and then the
Mass obtains either deliverance from purgatory, or lessens the time in purgatory,
or finally, reduces the intensity of the suffering in purgatory.
Over the centuries, the Church has specially emphasized the value
of having Mass offered for someone. This emphasis indicates the immense power
of the Eucharistic Sacrifice as a means of obtaining extraordinary blessings
from God for those for whom the Mass is offered.
Vol. 4 - #3, May / June 1998, p. 41
Copyright © 1998 by Inter Mirifica
No reproductions shall be made without prior written permission