Category Archives: Theology

Subjected to the spirit, the body will be sexual in eternal life, according to Aquinas

The liturgical year of the Church brings to the front burner of the spiritual life a number of things at this time of year: questions about salvation, death, hell, heaven, purgatory, Christ’s kingship, conversion, and the like. In fact, a central piece of our spiritual work in the School of Community (of Communion and Liberation) right now is understanding what it means to convert, to live in spirit of conversion, to live as though we REALLY believe in Christ, turning away from sin, and turning toward the Lord. Father Julian Carron is hitting members of Communion and Liberation pretty hard with the call to conversion. However, if truth be told, Father Carron is taking his cue from Pope Benedict. Nevertheless, on the human level, for finite beings we have to be concerned with such things because we don’t live forever, just in case you didn’t know this fact; we are rightly concerned now because once we’re dead, there is no way of making a conversion (sorry, there is no reincarnation).

A professor at the Institute of Philosophy and Theology of Shkodër (Albania), Jesuit Father Mario Imperatori, wrote an essay that caught my eye, “Eschatology and Resurrection of the Body in St. Thomas Aquinas,” published in the current issue of La Civiltà Cattolica (issue # 3849; pp. 257-268). As you know, this periodical is reviewed by the Secretary of State of the Holy See prior to publication.

In the article, Father Imperatori argues, “St. Thomas’s doctrine regarding glorified bodies
is based on the resurrection of the flesh, interpreted in an
anti-spiritualistic manner. For him, in fact, the intellectual soul is the
unique and subsisting shape of the human being; after the resurrection carried
out by God, the body too will share with the soul the same incorruptibility and
bliss; it will be a spiritual body not because it becomes spirit, but because
everything will be subjected to the spirit. Aquinas adds that the human body,
because of its wholeness, will continue to be sexual, despite the absence of
procreation. The Eschatology of St. Thomas has proven controversial, but it has
the merit of asserting the bodily-spiritual reality of man as the ultimate
purpose of creation.”

So, the human body will relate as a sexual being in the eternal life. Interesting. Thanks for letting me know. What joy that will be, don’t you think? I wonder what relating sexually means for a glorified body.

Is the doctrine of Original Sin relevant today?

Good question. I am not always confident that the baptized ask this question enough in the lives as Christians. From what I can tell, there seems to be an easy dismissal of anything that requires assent and personal responsibility for our actions, words and thinking. Why? Do we admit there is a sin, that it’s part of the human condition, that it’s handed down from generation to generation? Are we no longer need of redemption? Is humanity’s need for salvation a thing of the past, quaint?  Does the fear of God no longer have currency for a relationship with the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God, creator of heaven and earth?


Jesuit Father Donath Hercsik, a professor of Dogmatic Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University (Rome), raises the question of relevance and Original Sin for those who are interested in a life with the Triune God from a some important points of interest. Father Hercsik’s essay, “Original Sin, as a Doctrine, Is It Still Relevant Today?” should be of interest to all people of faith.

Hercsik asks the question: “Is there a need for a doctrine on original sin? This
doctrine, interpreted according to the Catholic faith, offers an answer to at
least four questions that are important to both believers and non-believers:
anthropological, philosophical, liturgical, and dogmatic. The article goes on
to examine the role of the Sacred Scripture, the position of Saint Augustine,
of Saint Thomas Aquinas, and the outcomes of the Council of Trent. In
contemporary theology, there exist various tendencies on this theme: original
sin as sin of the world, original sin as psychological and/or social phenomena,
and original sin and the supremacy of the grace of Christ. 

If you are interested in reading the entire essay, it can be can be read in the Vatican-vetted journal La Civiltà
Cattolica
2010 IV, pp. 119-132; issue 3848, 
© copyright.

The Angels: An Essential Guide

A new work has been published, albeit in Italian, on angels. Monsignor Marcello Stazione recently published The Angels: An Essential Guide. Rome Reports has a news video on the project.

…ask the angels for help…

4 Pillars of the Catholic Faith

A question was asked of me about the building blocks of the Catholic faith. Is there such a thing? Do Catholics actually have a structure of belief? Well, yes, there are 4 essential building blocks of our life of faith. These 4 areas are the very same areas by which the Catechism of the Catholic is structured.


The 4 Pillars of the Catholic Faith:

-Creed
-10 Commandments
-7 Sacraments
-The Lord’s Prayer (Christian prayer)

Christ giving the keys to Peter.jpg

Catholics believe in revealed
truth. Spirituality needs to be founded on truth otherwise you have nothing.
Hence creed, code & cult are essential aspects of Catholic Faith.

The study of faith needs two distinctions to understand what’s going with the army of words and ideas associated with theological reflection: fides quae and fides
qua.  

Fides quae (“faith which”) is the faith which is held by
the Church through divine revelation or sacred tradition (it is what is considered to be objective, verifiable faith).

Fides qua
(“faith by which”) is the faith by which a person is moved to respond
to God. A person’s understanding of his or her personal relationship
to God is spoken of here; here we usually filter what hear of divine revelation; in some instances personal
revelation is located in this type of faith, e.g., the teachings of the saints would be a distinction of fides qua (we’ll say this is subjective faith, a faith known through concrete experience).

Theologically speaking, a theologian be able to
distinguish between fides quae and fides qua and to always maintain conformity
in study and work with fides quae. Only a few theologian have held a personal
faith that has been enlightened enough to illuminate fides quae. The task of
theology is gain a deeper understanding of faith; it is, as St Anselm said:
faith seeking understanding. Our study of theology is done on our knees; that
is, we study the fact of God and the allied theological sciences from a posture of adoration of
God first, in the sacred Liturgy and second, in personal prayer. 

The student of
theology takes his or her first presupposition from the position of “faith.” Faith is not a gift of God it is also the manner by which we look at
reality, it’s the “starting point for a new way -that is, a true way of
becoming aware of reality itself.” Through faith we have access to truth and through we live truth.  Without faith in the study of theology
we have mere religious studies.

Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, archangels

Archangels.jpgOur Catholic faith teaches us that angels have a general and yet an important part to play in our salvation history, especially personally guiding us. Moreover, the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are given to us by God for very specific purposes and they are the only angels named in sacred Scripture.

And so today, the Church honors the archangels, invokes their intercession and relies on their assistance in the spiritual warfare we daily face.

In Hebrew, “Michael” means “Who is like God?” Saint Michael is mentioned four times in Scripture: Daniel 10 and 12, in Jude and in Revelation. Scripture reveals to us that Saint Michael is known as the “Prince of the Heavenly Host,” hence, the leader of all angels. It is to the Prince of the Heavenly that we owe a debt of gratitude for casting down to Hell Lucifer and the evil spirits; he is invoked for protection against Satan and all evil.

Sacred Tradition teaches that there are four offices connected to Saint Michael:

  • to fight against Satan, his minions and the power of evil
  • to rescue and protect the faithful from evil, especially at the hour of death
  • to lead the people of God to full communion with God Himself
  • to call our souls to judgment before God.

We know the archangel from his announcement of the dawn of salvation to Mary: “I am Gabriel, who stand before God” (Luke 1:19). What is crucial to remember about Gabriel are his two announcements in the New Testament: the birth of John the Baptist to his father Zachary and of the Incarnation, the Word made flesh in Mary. Saint Gabriel, whose name means “God’s strength,” is also mentioned four times in Scripture. 

Again, sacred Tradition tells us that it is Saint Gabriel who appeared to Saint Joseph and to the shepherds. At the beginning of the Passion it was Gabriel who “strengthens” Jesus in the his agony of the garden.

“I am the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord” (Tobit 12:15)

Saint Raphael, whose name means “God has healed” because of his healing of Tobias’ blindness in the Book of Tobit. This book in the Old Testament is the only book in which Raphael is mentioned. He is the archangel of healing and acts of mercy. Tradition tells us that Saint Raphael is the angel in John 5:1-4 who descended upon the pond and bestowed healing powers upon it so that the first to enter it after it moved would be healed of whatever infirmity he was suffering.

As point of trivia, the Catholic hospital in New Haven, CT is named for Saint Raphael, likely the only one in the USA.

Those familiar with what is called the “old Mass” will remember praying the Prayer to Saint Michael at the conclusion of Mass. In 1899, after a vision of evil, Pope Leo XIII wanted to protect the Church and instructed that his prayer be prayed by all, especially the priest. I can’t recommend the prayer enough to you when making your thanksgiving following Mass or the Divine Office. Plus, I would recommend that you pray the Prayer to Saint Michael prior to going to bed.

Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, pray for us.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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