Making Sense of Sensus Catholicus (may4ssc.htm)

Thursday
May 4, 2006
vol 17, no. 111

Christ refreshes the Apostles
Part I

      A crash-course is what one might call it as Christ, before ascending to Heaven, sought to refresh His Apostles on what He had taught to them and His followers before most had abandoned Him at the time of his trial and crucifixion. Now they believe, but will they believe by faith or feeling. If by faith, then what they impart to others will have great fruits; if by feeling, they will flee at the slightest hint of persecution. Christ prepared well these men of faith.
          Editor's Note: A hearty and heartfelt congratulations to Fr. Wathen who celebrated his 48th anniversary of his Ordination as a consecrated valid priest yesterday. We send our prayers and our wishes for a full recovery from the health problems he has been battling for many years. Ordained on May 3, 1958 just six months and 5 days before the death of the last Traditional Pope His Holiness Pope Pius XII, Fr. Wathen was one of the few in his seminary who truly studied, truly knew his Faith and recognized Vatican II for what it was when it came to the fore: anathema! If only we had more Fr. Wathen's the problems of apostasy and heresy would dissipate. for the people would know the truths of their Faith. Though belatedly a day late, Happy Anniversary, Father!
      by
      Father James F. Wathen

        "Protestants imagine that they can find and understand and possess Christ by reading the Bible. This is to treat the Bible as a disconnected and freestanding book. This is how the typical Protestant thinks of the Bible, as being the book which God has provided, in which are all the answers. Trying to read the Bible as totally unrelated to the Church is like trying to read a computer program manual without reference to a computer. They speak of finding Christ in the Scriptures. No matter how positive this sounds to them, we recognize it as a rebellion against Christ and God, for as Christ and the Father are one in the Godhead, so Christ and the Church are one in the Mystical Body. As St. Paul writes to the Ephesians: "And He [the Father] hath subjected all things under His [Christ's] feet and hath made Him head over all the Church, Which is His body and the fullness of Him Who is filled all in all' (Ephesians 1: 22-23).


        After the Last Supper, our blessed Savior spoke at length to His new priests. His words are recorded by St. John in chapters fourteen to seventeen of his Gospel. They are meant to strengthen the Apostles for the hours immediately ahead. In addition, they are revelations of His relationship to God the Father.

    John 14:1: "Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God: believe also in Me."

          The Apostles are in a state of trepidation and confusion. In one breath, their Master speaks of how they will all abandon Him that very night. In another, He speaks of His going away. Here He says that, no matter what happens, they are to put the same faith in Him that they put in the true God (by which He says that His is God, and is as strong and dependable as God). To us He says: If you are living your holy religion, saying your prayers faithfully, living a moral life, then there is no reason that you should be interiorly troubled or desperate or lonely or sorrowful.

    John 14:2. "In My Father's house there are many mansions. If not, I would have told you: because I go to prepare a place for you."

          Our Lord speaks of "mansions" to intimate how wondrous Heaven is. We know that its joy is not in anything material; this is language the Apostles and everyone else can understand. In speaking of "many mansions," He suggests that they are all different, some being more palatial than others. We understand this to mean that everyone will be rewarded according to his merits, the great saints much more bounteously than people like ourselves, whose service to date has been unimpressive.

          When Jesus speaks of "preparing a place," He means that He will ascend in order to open the gates of Heaven. Once in Heaven, He will send the Holy Ghost Who will come upon them and prepare them for Heaven. Heaven is already perfectly prepared to receive everyone who is worthy to go there.

    John 14:3. "And if I shall go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself: that where I am, you also may be."

          These are words of kindest love. He means that He will come in the Person of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost. At Pentecost, they will be endowed with great grace and understanding, to such an extent that they will be like new persons, with a new life and a new vision, a new and clear understanding of everything He has taught them.

          At their deaths, He will come to take them to Himself, and to Heaven. "That where I am, you also may be." Jesus says that His love of them is such that He wants them with Him for all eternity. This is the infinite God speaking, no only to the Apostles, but to all Who believe the Gospel as the Church teaches it. We ought often to think of these words, especially when we feel worthless and unsuccessful in our efforts to progress in virtue. Jesus loves us and wants us to be with Him forever. If we will allow Him, He will save us, because He very much wants us with Him. To the extent that we are like Him and His Mother and the saints, such is the case.

    John 14:4. "And whither I go you know: and the way you know."

          "Whither I go, etc." Jesus says these words in order to elicit Thomasí comment:

    John 14:5. "Thomas saith to him: Lord, we know not whither thou goest. And how can we know the way?"

          Jesus uses visual and concrete language to teach spiritual realities. When we use terms like: "whither I go," we think of local motion, of going from point a to point b. Jesus is speaking of something else. He is speaking, first, of changing from a child of the earth to a child of Heaven, of acquiring those virtues which mean a transformation of the person into someone truly holy. More remotely, He is speaking of going from earth to Heaven, but more of being fit for Heaven, sanctified for Heaven.

    John 14:6. "Jesus saith to him: 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by Me.'"

          Jesus teaches the sublimest doctrine in monosyllables. Here our Savior says that, in the spiritual order, He is the cause and beginning of all things. In so speaking, He is excluding all others, all other religious teachers, all other philosophers, from Simon Magus to Ron Hubbard. The central idea is that the Father is the worthy end and goal of all human desire and striving. One must be convinced that only the true God is worth human search and labor, because nothing less that the infinite God can satisfy the insatiable cravings of the human spirit. God is to the human heart what water is to thirst, and food is to hunger, and rest is to fatigue.

          Jesus does not say it explicitly here, but we understand what the Apostles and His other disciples learned on Pentecost Sunday, namely, that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, by being the Head of the Church. With regard to all human beings, there can be no knowing nor possessing Christ, except as the Head of the Church, as there can be no searching for the Father or possessing Him except through Christ in the Church.

          Protestants imagine that they can find and understand and possess Christ by reading the Bible. This is to treat the Bible as a disconnected and freestanding book. This is how the typical Protestant thinks of the Bible, as being the book which God has provided, in which are all the answers. Trying to read the Bible as totally unrelated to the Church is like trying to read a computer program manual without reference to a computer. They speak of finding Christ in the Scriptures. No matter how positive this sounds to them, we recognize it as a rebellion against Christ and God, for as Christ and the Father are one in the Godhead, so Christ and the Church are one in the Mystical Body. As St. Paul writes to the Ephesians: "And He [the Father] hath subjected all things under His [Christ's] feet and hath made Him head over all the Church, Which is His body and the fullness of Him Who is filled all in all" (Ephesians 1: 22-23).

          Therefore, when Jesus says that He is the way and the truth and the life, He is saying that the way is the Church. The true follower of Christ must enter the Church and humbly submit to its authority as the Apostles submitted to Christ. The truth that is Christ is the doctrine which the Church teaches, the "deposit of Faith." The doctrine of the Faith is capitulated in Christ Himself, the Word. When He says that He is the truth, He means that He is the Teacher and the Truth taught. And when He says His is the life, He means that through the Holy Ghost, He imparts to His members the supernatural life of charity and grace.

          "No one can come to the Father..." Since Christ is one with the Church, and on earth, the Church is a visible, recognizable institution, one must go to the Father through the Church, the Body of Christ. We must seek the truth, regardless of how difficult or narrow or exclusive it seems. We must balance all our difficulties and objections with the simple reminder that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are supremely good, the only Good; that They do all things with absolute perfection. We must further humble ourselves to the fact that many things are hidden from us in order that we will put our faith in Christ and His Church. We must despise liberalism in all its forms, for it is the most destructive and corruptive of heresies. We must recognize that the whole world is saturated with its sentimentalism, flexibility, and "reasonableness" to such an extent that even the most conscientious Catholic can be infected with it unknowingly.

    John 14:7. "If you had known Me, you would without doubt have known My Father also: and from henceforth you shall know Him. And you have seen Him."

          While He is always patient with the Apostles, He does challenge and prod them. They have been with Him now for three and a half years. They should have come to certain perceptions, made certain observations. Even though passing every day in the company of Christ was something of an intense experience--despite all, there remains about Him much that is inscrutable and bewildering. He wants them all to come to the same conclusion that Simon Peter came to when he declared: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). They should have concluded from His miracles, especially the raising of Lazarus, that He was more than just a man, and if more than a man, then most certainly God, for He called God His Father.

          "You would ...have known My Father..." He is teaching them the doctrine of the Trinity: Though they see a man, the Person Who speaks to them is more than a man. His humanity is joined to the Divine Essence, and possessed by the Second Person. Jesus, therefore has a Divine Nature, which is possessed equally by the three Persons. To know Christ, therefore is to know the Father also, because Jesus and the Father are equally God, one in infinite power and perfection. Jesus, therefore in His Divine Nature is with the Father and Holy Ghost (Whom He will mention later in this discourse) the possessor of the Divine Essence.

          "Henceforth you shall know him..." On Pentecost, when they will be fully illumined, the Apostles will grasp this great mystery and begin to preach it to the whole world.

    John 14:8. "Philip saith to him: Lord, shew us the Father; and it is enough for us."

          As if he has heard nothing of what his Master said, Philip says, Lord, shew us the Father..." It is an opening for Christ to teach them further:

    John 14:9. Jesus saith to him: 'Have I been so long a time with you and have you not known Me? Philip, he that seeth Me seeth the Father also. How sayest thou: Shew us the Father?'"

          What Jesus is saying here is: Philip and the rest of you, I hoped by now that you would recognize My divinity, and that being divine, I was of one Substance with the Father. In the human order, all men are different persons, though they are of the same nature. But they are each of them different from each other, and they are separate from each other; each has his own identity and life, his own mind and will. In the divine order, the Son, though the Second Person, is one in nature with the Father, identical to the Father, Both of Whom have the same Mind and Will. (Indeed, the Son is the eternal Idea of the Divine Mind, and the Spirit is the Love of the Divine Will.) Therefore, to see Jesus in His human form is to see the divine Second Person, and with Him, the Father.

    John 14:10. Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you, I speak not of Myself. But the Father Who abideth in Me, He doth the works.

          Jesus repeats Himself in saying that He is in the Father and the Father is in Him. In the Divine Nature, which They possess, They are one Substance. Jesus speaks these words to Philip and the others. They will understand them sufficiently on Pentecost Sunday. But it will be several centuries before the Church has developed a theology, whereby the doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation have been analyzed and expressed scientifically.

          "He doth the works" The "works " are the miracles of Christ. Christ does not deny that He works the miracles, but He says that everything He does with divine power, He does in union with the Father.

    John 14:11-12. Believe you not that I am in the Father and the Father in Me? Otherwise believe for the very works' sake. Amen, amen, I say to you, he that believeth in Me, the works that I do, he also shall do: and greater than these shall he do.

          Jesus uses hyperbole when He says that the Apostles will do greater works than Himself. He is referring to all that the Apostles will do together in the way of establishing and increasing the Church. With the coming of Pentecost, it will be as if there were twelve Christs preaching His Gospel and working miracles. To this number will be added Paul and Barnabas, so that these "additional Christs" will be an invincible force against the kingdom of Satan. The Apostles in a few years will change the landscape of the world. So prodigious will be the effect of their preaching that governments will judge that they must put them to death, and that in the cruelest ways they could devise, in the hope of putting out the fire. But the first Apostles will be followed by others, also rejoicing to suffer and die in the service of Christ.

    John 14:13. "Because I go to the Father: and whatsoever you shall ask the Father in My name, that will I do: that the Father may be glorified in the Son."

          Jesus introduces another subject, which is the power of prayer, particularly the power of their prayer to the Father by virtue of their relationship with Him and His love of them. Once Pentecost comes, the Apostles will devote themselves utterly to the Church and the Gospel of Christ. Their personal lives will be subordinated completely to the needs of the Church and the salvation of souls. Jesus tells them that in their glorious apostolate, they can be sure that He will be with them, and He will supply all their needs, both material and spiritual. They will have only to ask. They will ask, for they will be well known as men of prayer. whose words were magnified by the power of miracles. On Pentecost, they become the twelve most important men in the world, more influential and formidable than the the armies of Rome and its emperors.

          We do not recall these things without observing the situation today. With regard to the power of Christ, the truth of the Gospel, the grace of salvation, and the dire plight of men, the situation is the same as it was in thirty-four A.D. What is different is that the popes and bishops, who are the successors of the Apostles, are not shepherds but hirelings and time-servers. The Apostlesí message to the people of the world was: "Do penance: and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins. And you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38). The message of the hirelings of the modern Church is twofold: 1. Believe what you want, do as you please. 2. If anyone tells the truth, let him be anathema.

    __________________________________

        I express my thanks again to everyone who continues to pray for me. Thanks also to everyone who has sent me letters and cards of encouragement, and to those who have sent money for my material needs. It is my prayer that the Paschal Mystery continue to fill the hearts of everyone with joy and hope.

    Yours in Christ,

    Father James Wathen


    For those who want to help Father or write him, you can do so at:

        Father James F. Wathen
        P.O. Box 15152
        Evansville, IN 47716


      For past articles of Making Sense of Sensus Catholicus, see 2006ssc.htm Archives

      Thursday
      May 4, 2006
      vol 17, no. 111
      Making Sense of Sensus Catholicus