Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Some great questions last night

Last night was the second of five monthly talks at Saint Rose, on what we believe.

As a springboard, we've been using the Luke E. Hart series, published by the Knights of Columbus. (If you follow the link I just provided, not only will you be able to read the materials, but you can listen to a "podcast" of someone reading them aloud). They are written by Peter Kreeft, who is a fine Catholic writer and these materials reflect that.

My job, in turn, has been to "lead discussion"; and while I can talk for an hour, I wanted to prompt questions. So the last time, and this time, I prepared what I called "the cheat sheet," with some bullet points, quotes, and questions for discussion.

I have to say, it isn't always easy turning somewhat abstract points of theology into questions that can endender discussion. But so far, it seems to be working. The threat of bad weather chilled our attendance, but those who came were eager.

You might be interested in some of the questions we bandied about:

> In what way is Creation "sacramental"?

That was a word I used in my "cheat sheet," attempting to summarize something Kreeft said. The idea I was trying to convey was his observation that God is "in" his Creation and he communicates to us, through it. I would argue that this is a foreshadowing of how the sacraments communicate God himself, inasmuch as they give us sanctifying and deifying grace, making us like Christ and uniting us to the Trinity. But it's only a foreshadowing. Also, I made the point that there is a readiness in creation for the use to which Christ puts creation in the sacraments: i.e., water has a fittingness and readiness to be used for baptism.

> Does it matter if people think they become angels when they die?

On one level, maybe not. If Aunt Martha says this about someone dear who died--especially too young--correcting her may not be the kindest thing to do, and I doubt God will fault her for a pious thought.

However, it is important to make clear that being human is a good thing to be; and we were created to be human--forever.

After the talk, one of the folks present made the useful point--which I touched on only in passing--that connected to this is a failure to appreciate the importance of the body as part of who we are.

This led to...

> In what way are the saints not finished with their journey (something I said in an answer to the prior question)?

The saints--except for our Lady--do not yet enjoy their resurrected bodies. They--along with any human souls in hell--await the final resurrection. I made this point to show that being human--along with our bodies--is what we are destined for. Being an angel is a fine thing; but God could have made us angels, yet he did not.

> Who's higher--humans or angels?

You can argue it several ways. In some ways, angels seem "higher" than we are; yet a human being rules the universe, and his mother is "Queen of the Angels."

> Inasmuch as the Douay Rheims translated the Vulgate's Consummatum Est as "It is consummated," why do other English translations go for "It is finished?"

Good question. (I brought up the Douay Rheims and the Vulgate to support a point Kreeft had made about how conjugal union is like the Consecration of the Mass.) I didn't have the answer, and my questioner asked me to look into it. I hope I don't forget! I used to have a Greek Lexicon that would give the info, but it's been years since I looked at it, and I've moved many times; so I don't know if I can find it.

Also, we touched on evolution, the story of Creation in Genesis, Adam and Eve, contraception, human solidarity, Thomas Jefferson, and who knows what else, that I've forgotten!

See what you missed? See you on Tuesday, April 2, 7 pm, in the undercroft of Saint Rose. We'll talk about Jesus Christ and the Church.


Wayne said...

I wonder if the idea that when we die we go on to become angels is simply a matter of not understand what angels really are. In movies and in our popular culture (even back in the "It's a Wonderful Life" days), angels are presented to us as humans with (or without) wings. So, I'm not certain that it is out of lack of respect for the body that many people believe that we become angels (I mean who wouldn't want Grandpa coming down to look out for you as your guardian angel?) but more from a lack of knowledge that angels are another creation of God. Therefore, it is also important to know that the Devil is not and never can be as strong or powerful as God. That is why there is always hope and that is why the Church will prevail against the gates of Hell.

Obviously, I know I covered quite a bit there and made some leaps from one teaching to the next, but it is all connected and I agree that it is important to understand the nature of angels and the nature of humans.

TerryC said...

Certainly not definitive. The online website version of John 19:30 records Jesus last words as Τετέλεσται. Google translate renders that as "It is finished."

Anonymous said...

I like "consummate" which is defined in an online dictionary as "complete in every detail".

My Liddle and Scott Greek lexicon has the first definition as "to complete, fulfil, accomplish". The second definition is "to pay" as in a debt owed. The third definition is "to make perfect" and an interesting one to me, "to be consecrated" as into to sacred mysteries.