The Mystery of Faith:Biblical Foundations Fr. Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D. Loyola Institute for Spirituality, Orange, CA http://catholic-resources.org
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Overview • What is “Faith”? • “Year of Faith”(2012-13) • “Enter the Mystery”(RE Cong) • “The Mystery of Faith” • What is “Mystery”? • Biblical Foundations?
“Mystery of Faith” – Eucharistic Prayers • Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. • Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life. Lord Jesus, come in glory. • When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, Lord Jesus, until you come in glory. • Lord, by your cross and resurrection, you have set us free. You are the Savior of the World.
Eucharistic Prayers: “Mystery of Faith” Roman Missal, 3rd Edition (2011) • We proclaim your death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection until you come again. • When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your death, O Lord, until you come again. • Save us, Savior of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection, you have set us free.
What is “MYSTERY” – IN English? • “Unsolved problem” or “Not-yet-solved problem” • “Whodunit?” – we try to solve or unravel the mystery • Detective Stories • Murder-Mystery Novels • “It’s all a mystery to me!” = “I don’t know!” • Synonyms: • problem, enigma, riddle, puzzle
What is “MYSTERY” – in the Bible? • Hebrew: • no equivalent word • some related words for “hidden” or “secret” • Greek: mystērion • “a religious truth, hidden to human reason, but known throughrevelation from God” • Latin: • mysterium • sacramentum
MYSTERY: Whodunit? Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?
MYSTERY: BIBLICAL Wow!
Mystery How ? ? Wow ! !
Christian Faith What is the CORE Christian Mystery? • How would you answer this? • Hint:
Central Christian Mystery • CCC 234 – “The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the “hierarchy of the truths of faith.” The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to [humans] “and reconciles and unites with himself those who turn away from sin.”
Central Christian Mystery • CCC 237 – “The Trinity is a mystery of faith in the strict sense, one of the ‘mysteries that are hidden in God, which can never be known unless they are revealed by God’[Dei Filius 4].To be sure, God has left traces of his Trinitarian being in his work of creation and in his Revelation throughout the Old Testament. But his inmost Being as Holy Trinity is a mystery that is inaccessible to reason alone or even to Israel’s faith before the Incarnation of God’s Son and the sending of the Holy Spirit.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church: Glossary • TRINITY: The mystery of one God in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The revealed truth of the Holy Trinity is at the very root of the Church’s living faith as expressed in the Creed. The mystery of the Trinity in itself is inaccessible to the human mind and is the object of faith only because it was revealed by Jesus Christ, the divine Son of the eternal Father(see CCC #232, 237, 249, 253–256).
Central Christian Mystery: Most Holy TRINITY: • ONE God in Three Persons • Father, Son, Spirit • Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier God is… • LOVE • LIGHT • WISDOM / TRUTH • HOLY, HOLY, HOLY • Lord, King, Father, Mother, Shepherd, etc.
Trinity in the Liturgy • “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (cf. Matt 28:19) • “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (cf. 2 Cor 13:14) • “…through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.” • Creed: “I/We believe in one God…”
CORE Christian Mystery PASCHAL Mystery • Passion, Death, Resurrection of Jesus Christ • Mystery Questions: • How can Jesus be fully human and fully God? • Why did Christ have to suffer & be crucified? • How does Jesus’ death bring us salvation? • Mystery Reactions: WOW!
Catechism of the Catholic Church: Glossary • PASCHAL MYSTERY/SACRIFICE:Christ’s work of redemption accomplished principally by his Passion, death, Resurrection, and glorious Ascension, whereby “dying he destroyed our death, rising he restored our life” (1067; cf. 654). The Paschal Mystery is celebrated and made present in the liturgy of the Church, and its saving effects are communicated through the sacraments(1076), especially the Eucharist, which renews the paschal sacrifice of Christ as the sacrifice offered by the Church (571, 1362–1372).
Review: U.S. Cath. Cat. for Adults: Glossary Mystery: The term has several complimentary meanings. First, it reminds us that we can never exhaust God’s divine and infinite meaning. Second, mystery tells us that God is “wholly other” (not us), and yet so near that in him we live and move and have our being. Third, the union of the divine and human in Christ is so unique that we revere it as holy mystery. Fourth, mystery also applies to the celebration of the Sacraments in which God, Father, Son, and Spirit, are present and active for our salvation.
“Mystery” in the Bible • Old Testament • Synoptic Gospels • John and Acts • Letters of Paul • Catholic Epistles • Book of Revelation
H.B.: God Reveals Hidden Things • Recall: Word “Mystery” not found in O.T. • Isa 48:6 – “You have heard; now see all this; and will you not declare it? From this time forward I make you hear new things, hidden things that you have not known.” • Amos 3:7 – “Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.” • Daniel – “secret” used 9 times, ref. to a new age in which God will reign
“Mysterion” in the Four Gospels Matt 13:11 – “To you it has been given to know the secrets (mysteries) of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.” Luke 8:10 – “To you it has been given to know the secrets (mysteries) of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables…” Mark 4:11 – “To you has been given the secret (mystery – sg!) of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables” Note: Mysterion is not used in John or Acts
“Mysterion” in the Four Gospels Matt/Luke – “...to know the mysteries (pl.)…” Mark 4:11 – “To you has been given the secret (mystery – sg!) of the kingdom of God…” Q: What is this mystery/secret, according to Mark’s Gospel? A: JESUS himself! Jesus is the KEY to unlock all the mysteries of God
“Mysterion” in Paul’s Letters • Evangelization: • Paul preaches God’s mystery, God’s wisdom, not human wisdom (1 Cor 2:1-7) • Apostles are “servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries” (1 Cor 4:1) • Understanding mysteries & having faith are subordinate to LOVE (1 Cor 13:2) • Paul proclaims the mystery of our own bodily resurrection (1 Cor 15:51) • How? or Wow!
Ephesians: Inclusion of Gentiles “…the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, / a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. / In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: / that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” (Eph 3:3-6; cf. Rom 11:25)
Colossians: “Mystery” IS Christ Col 1:26-27 – “the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. / To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery(sacramentum),which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Col 2:2-3 – “I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
“Mystery of Faith” in 1 Timothy 1 Tim 3:9 – “they[deacons] must hold fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.” 1 Tim 3:16 – “Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great: He was revealed in flesh, vindicated in spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory.”
Eucharistic Prayers: “Mystery of Faith” Roman Missal, 3rd Edition (2011) • “We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection until you come again.” • “When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your Death, O Lord, until you come again.” • 1 Cor 11:26 – “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.” • 1 Cor 16:22b – “Our Lord, come!” (Marana-tha)
Eucharistic Prayers: “Mystery of Faith” Roman Missal, 3rd Edition (2011) • “Save us, Savior of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection you have set us free.” • Matt 8:25 – “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” • John 4:42 – “…we know that this is truly the savior of the world.” • Rom 8:21 – “…creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. ”
What Is “FAITH”?Definitions & Descriptions Handout: • Ancient/Biblical Vocabulary • Catechism of the Catholic Church • United States Catholic Catechism for Adults • “That’s What Faith Must Be” (Michael Card) • “Year of Faith” (10/11/12 – 11/24/13) Another Question for YOU:
“What Is Faith?” – Your Response? If someone (from another planet) asked you, how would YOU answer this question? • Faith as “religious system”? • Faith as “collection of doctrines”? • Faith as “trusting relationship”? 2nd Q: What verb is related to noun “faith”? • Not “to faith”; but “to believe” or “to trust” • Also “to have faith” or “to be faithful”
Dictionary.com Faith [feyth] noun 1. confidence or trust in a person or thing. 2. belief that is not based on proof. 3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion. 4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc. 5. a system of religious belief. 6. the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement, etc. 7. the observance of this obligation; fidelity to one’s promise, oath, allegiance, etc. 8. Christian Theology: the trust in God and in His promises as made through Christ and the Scriptures by which humans are justified or saved. 9. a female given name. [See also Wikipedia’s “Disambiguation” page: towns, songs, films, TV, etc.]
FAITH: Ancient Vocabulary • Ecclesiastical Latin: • fides (n: faith, faithfulness) • fidelis (adj: faithful, reliable) • credere (v: to believe) • What English words contain -fid- or -cred- ? • Biblical Greek: • pistis (n: faith, trust) • pistos (adj: faithful, trustworthy) • pisteuein (v: to believe, trust)
FAITH: Subjective and Objective • Subjective side: • Faith as Believing • Act of Faith: trusting, entrusting oneself to s.o. • Trusting relationship with a person (human or God) • Objective side: • Faith as Belief • Content of Faith: beliefs, doctrines, creeds • Intellectual assent to truths (scientific or religious) • Different Emphases: Protestant vs. Catholic?
BOTH / AND Approach • Best Answer to ANY Theological Question • Always “both/and”, never “either/or” • Contrary to “sola” approach (“only” or “alone”) • Two sides (or more) to every issue: • Coins: both heads and tails • Earth: both North Pole and South Pole • Batteries: both positive and negative terminals • Real life: both positive and negative aspects • Joys and sorrows; Strengths and weakness • Successes and failures; Goodness and evil • Etc. etc. etc.
BOTH / AND Approach • Examples from Theology: • God: both transcendent and immanent • Jesus: both fully human and fully divine • Church: both community and institution • Mass/Eucharist: both meal and sacrifice • Bible: authored both by God and by humans • So also, “Faith” is both action and content • Both subjective and objective • Both believing and beliefs • Both relational trust and intellectual truths
“Faith” defined in Epistle to the Hebrews • Heb 11:1 – “Now faith is… • the assurance of things hoped for, • and the conviction of things not seen.” • “assurance” • Gk. hypostasis (“substance, nature, essence”) • “conviction” • Gk. elenchos (“verification, evidence”) • References: • “things hoped for” = future realities • “things not seen” = spiritual realities
“That’s What Faith Must Be” • Song by Michael Card Refrain:To hear with my heart, to see with my soul,To be guided by a hand I cannot hold,To trust in a way that I cannot see,That’s what faith must be. Verse 3:Now I understand that there is a keyIt's Jesus in me, a realityThat God is in Christ and that Christ's in meThat with faith I see what is unseen.
Catechism of the Catholic Church CCC Glossary (USCCB, 2000) FAITH:Both a gift of God and a human act by which the believer gives personal adherence to God who invites his response, and freely assents to the whole truth that God has revealed. It is this revelation of God which the Church proposes for our belief, and which we profess in the Creed, celebrate in the sacraments, live by right conduct that fulfills the twofold commandment of charity (as specified in the ten commandments), and respond to in our prayer of faith. Faith is both a theological virtue given by God as grace, and an obligation which flows from the first commandment of God (see pars. 26, 142, 150, 1814, 2087).
Four Main Parts of CCC • PART ONE: The Profession of Faith(Faith & Creeds) • Section One: “I Believe” – “We Believe” • Section Two: The Profession of the Christian Faith: The Creeds • PART TWO: The Celebration of the Christian Mystery (Liturgy & Sacraments) • Section One: The Sacramental Economy • Section Two: The Seven Sacraments of the Church • PART THREE: Life in Christ (Moral Life) • Section One: Man’s Vocation: Life in the Spirit • Section Two: The Ten Commandments • PART FOUR: Christian Prayer (Spirituality) • Section One: Prayer in the Christian Life • Section Two: The Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father!”
United States Catholic Catechism for Adults USCCB, 2006 (pp. 37-39) • Faith is a personal and communal relationship. • Faith seeks understanding and is a friend of reason. • Faith is necessary for salvation. • Faith is a gift of grace. • Faith is a free, human act. • Faith believes with conviction in a message.
Pope Benedict XVI, Porta Fidei Apostolic Letter, announcing a “Year of Faith” (celebrated Oct. 11, 2012, to Nov. 24, 2013) Par. 1: “The ‘door of faith’ (Acts 14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church…To profess faith in the Trinity… is to believe in one God who is Love.”
Pope Benedict XVI, Porta Fidei Par. 2: “Ever since the start of my ministry as Successor of Peter, I have spoken of the need to rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ.”
Pope Benedict XVI, Porta Fidei Par. 7: “Today too, there is a need for stronger ecclesial commitment to new evangelization in order to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith… Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy.”