23 April 2015

Misericordiae vultus

Firstly: a very happy S George's Day to all who count themselves English; and to those of other countries or places beneath the Patronage of S George! God bless Pope Benedict XIV, who decreed that S George was Totius Regni Angliae Protector; interestingly, doing so at a time when, according to Whig constitutional thought, the Kingdom of England had (in 1707) by statute been decreed out of existence. A great Pontiff, one of whose first actions was (upon the nomination of our late Sovereign Lord King James III) to appoint the admirable Richard Challoner (Beato pronto!) to be a Bishop.

Secondly: A very Happy Name Day to our beloved Holy Father Pope Francis! May the Protector of the Realm of England, his own Patron, pray that he have every Grace! And ... how can I have forgotten? Matthew Roth reminds me ... Ratzinger Major; and Archbishop Gaenswein!!

Thirdly: Thank You to readers who very kindly kept me informed when the definitive Latin Version of his Bull on Mercy appeared ... rather later than the vernacular versions. (Incidentally, has a Latin text for Evangelii gaudium appeared yet? If not, this will confirm Cardinal Burke's analytical judgement that it is not part of the Magisterium.)

I haven't been through Misericordiae vultus with a fine toothcomb; but my first impression is positive. Let me just, for now, share one highly important detail with you.

Long time readers will recall that one of the preoccupations to which I often come back is: that the Covenant of Salvation in Jesus Christ is freely offered to all men and women through Faith in our Saviour. Mercy is for all ... and through Jesus. I am very much opposed to the fashionable heresy that one race alone ... the Jews ... is excluded from this; and that, for them and them alone, the Old Covenant with its Torah (its prescribed way of life, its Law, its marker which identifies Jews and sets them apart as the Chosen Race distinct from the Gentiles), is still salvific, still their road to Salvation. No; the New Covenant in His Blood supersedes the old dispensation for all of humankind, just as Antitype supersedes Type, as antiquum documentum gives place Novo Ritui, as (you will remember Blessed John Henry Newman's motto) we come out of Shadows into Truth. Page after page in the New Testament makes this point. And the Fathers and the Liturgy.

And, gratifyingly, the Holy Father very firmly teaches this currently unpopular truth. Let me translate for you an important passage near the end of his Bull.  
"Before [S Paul] met Christ on the road to Damascus, he dedicated his whole life to fulfilling in every way the Righteousness of the Torah. But, converted to Christ, he so radically [prorsus] changed his mind that he wrote in his Letter to the Galatians: 'We have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we are made righteous out of Faith in Christ and not out of works prescribed by the Torah.' Paul turns totally upside down the basic idea of Righteousness [rationem iustitiae omnino evertit]. He puts in the first place, not now the Torah, but Faith. Keeping the Torah does not save, but Faith in Jesus Christ, who through his death and resurrection brings His salvation through the Mercy which makes righteous".
[The Holy Father appropriately cites Philippians 3:6 and Galatians 2:16, in both of which S Paul is concerned to emphasise strongly that Salvation is not by means of Judaism and its identity markers.]

Exactly. Precisely what S Paul taught. Couldn't be more clearly put. If this is what the Holy Father intends very firmly to continue to teach, even when he is attacked for it (as he must be) by the "Two Covenant" enthusiasts for "Inter-religious dialogue" (I wonder if Kasper has already raised the question?), then I have good vibes about this Year of Mercy.


Matthew Roth said...

It is also the name day of Mgr. Georg Ratzinger!

Anonymous said...

Here in Spain it is the "Day of the Book" when Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra is celebrated, who died on the same day as William Shakespeare; albeit apparently following different calenders (well, not following different calenders after they were deceased of course.) Feliz fiesta de San Jorge.

Paul Hellyer said...

I agree what you say about the heresy about the Jews. But is this notion a result of JP2 saying that the old Covenant with the Jews was never revoked by God.

William Tighe said...

"I agree what you say about the heresy about the Jews. But is this notion a result of JP2 saying that the old Covenant with the Jews was never revoked by God."

IIRC, he later clarified that he meant the Abrahamic covenant rather than the Mosaic one.

diff said...

I tried to consult the definitive version of Misericordiae Vultus this morning. Imagine my suprise when I discovered that the link on the Vatican's website no longer works. Unpopular truths indeed!