[[ This post was published a couple of years in the past about a future of writing about our Lady that has not yet come to pass. Re-posting this just keeps it on a burner on the stove as it were. Plus, I like the snarkiness of this post to this day. ]]
A rather anthropologically inhumane comment arrived to the blog stating “co-redemptrix as a title […] is not necessary for the faith,” and that “‘Co’ seems to be too strong of a relational signifier.” – That’s from a doctor of philosophy in theology, as it were, so to speak, who’s trying to architect Catholic faith with big words. Oooo! Big words! So, he says:
- The “‘Co’ [of co-redemptrix] seems to be too strong…”
I guess he’s a man of his time. Are we all supposed to be absolute individualists, with no “relational signifiers” that are, you know, too strong, nothing that would disturb our faith so much as to be, like, actually related to others, to God?
Bwahahahaha…. Sorry. This is actually sad.
Let’s see what Saint Paul says about what kind of “relational signifiers” are appropriate:
- “He gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ, so that we may no longer be infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery, from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming. Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the body’s growth and builds itself up in love. So I declare and testify in the Lord that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; darkened in understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance, because of their hardness of heart, they have become callous…” (Ephesians 4:11-19 nab)
Get that? No? Try this:
- “He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross (through him), whether those on earth or those in heaven. And you who once were alienated and hostile in mind because of evil deeds he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through his death, to present you holy, without blemish, and irreproachable before him, provided that you persevere in the faith, firmly grounded, stable, and not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, am a minister. Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church, of which I am a minister in accordance with God’s stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God, the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past. But now it has been manifested to his holy ones, to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; it is Christ in you, the hope for glory. It is he whom we proclaim, admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. For this I labor and struggle, in accord with the exercise of his power working within me.” (Colosians 1:13-29 nab)
Let’s see, Christ the Head, we the members, one Body of Christ, Mystici corporis Christi.
But all those “relational signifiers” – like “he” – are jussst toooo haaaard!
But wait, that one line there… “Filling up what is lacking…”
Let’s pray about this:
“And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all to myself.” (John 12:32)
I mean, that’s on Calvary, during the Redemption, Jesus on the Cross, and we’re supposed to be with Him on the Cross. We, with Him, on the Cross. What’s Jesus talking about? It’s as if while He is laying down His life, the Innocent for the guilty, so that He might have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us – He is also laying down our lives, like His whole Body, Head and members. There’s a highly “relational signifier” if I ever saw one. But, here’s the methodology of it: “Blessed is he who takes no offense at me” (Luke 7:23), and “He must deny himself and take up his cross daily” (Luke 9:23 – passim…)
But let’s go back to the outrageous Saint Paul, just to make sure we understand and it’s not tooooo haaard. I mean, “relational signifiers” is certainly tooooo haaard for me.
- “God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of (Jesus) Christ. But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.” (2 Corinthians 4:6-12 nab)
- “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take Christ’s members and make them the members of a prostitute? Of course not! (Or) do you not know that anyone who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For “the two,” it says, “will become one flesh.” But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Avoid immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the immoral person sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:15-20 nab)
So, let’s go back to Genesis, where the Mother of the Redeemer is singled out in battle with Satan. Then there is a parallel of sorts in the battle between her Seed and Satan’s seed, that is, her Son and those who belong to Him, over against Satan and those who belong to him. Lot’s of “relational signifiers” going on there. If you want to know about who crushed the serpent on the head, see my conference and thesis.
It really is the Mother of the Redeemer’s Son.
Sometimes the “relational signifier” was in the feminine, so that the Mother of the Redeemer is presented as crushing the head of the great deceiver. This points to how our lives are laid down with that of the Redeemer, whose heel is crushed (and He dies) and we with Him. One Bread One Body. All that.
I would love to see an advance in artwork. I would like to see Mary crushing the serpent on the head with her heel (not just a gentle caress with a couple of toes), and I would like to see how the serpent’s head is being crushed even while that serpent is crushing the heel of Mary in all violence. More on that in a Flower for the Immaculate Conception…
Anyway, to those who think they can quote Cardinal Ratzinger from the Seewald interview, think again. At the time the great Cardinal was burdened with his utter rejection of original sin, and therefore his complete misunderstanding of the import of the Immaculate Conception. You can read about that in a homily reprinted in In the Beginning…’: A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall. Get the German. For him, at that time, it’s all about original sin not as original sin, not with propagation, but by way of imitation. This isn’t hard. Moving ahead – and this is all a long story which deserves to told at length – now Pope Benedict XVI gave his Angelus address in Lourdes on Sunday, September 14, 2008, Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. Suffice it for now to say that he reversed a lifetime of thought about original sin and the immaculate conception. Follow the French. Stare at it long and hard, repeatedly. It’s inescapable. Really. This goes to the heart of a lifetime of thought for him. This is not a small thing. He just didn’t get how close it is that Christ makes us members of His Body. But since then, he does. A gentleman. A scholar. Does he himself quote Saint Paul as I have. Yes. But, at that time, a bit from the outside. But no longer.
Look. Christ is our Redeemer, alone. I know that. But try to go deeper into the intimacy in which He unites us with Himself, His Body. There’s a couple of pages in the thesis dedicated to the great Cardinal. I made it easy for you in the link above. You don’t have to go to the Pontifical Biblical Institute to peruse it, after you get your degrees there.
I can’t resist, one more from Saint Paul, as I just can’t get over this guys usage of “relational signifiers”:
- “For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So (also) husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man shall leave (his) father and (his) mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the Church. (Ephesians 5:23-32 nab)
Talk about “relational signifiers”… HAH!
When someone says that such closeness with humanity is just too much, I think of Islam, which is scandalized by the Cross, for God could NOT love the world so much as to send His only Son so that He might make us one with Himself to give us as a gift to our Heavenly Father, through, with and in Himself, again… He having stood in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, so that He might have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us:
- For the sake of His sorrowful passion (justice)
- Have mercy on us and on the whole world (mercy)
For Islam, God is tooooooooooo hoooooooooly for such love. But God is love. Jesus does make us one with Himself. When He lays down His life, he lays down our lives with His.
To think any other way is to prostitute oneself to the world. And by the way, the prostitute doesn’t need to be accompanied in her “job”, she needs to be gotten out of that.
And that’s, analogously, why I write such things, also for Pope Francis. I had the time to study at the Pontifical Biblical Institute. He didn’t. We help each other out.
All this is encouraging me to do up the popular version of the thesis. I know that the time has come when people say that it is imprudent to speak of the Redeemer and the Mother of the Redeemer. (More “relational signifiers” there, btw.) /// end of rant