Friday, September 21, 2018

Gratefulness

Gratitude and gratitude,
Only gratitude for the many blessings
Received for the last four years in Canada.
It was today, on Sept 21, 2014, that I put my first step in Canada.
It was the feast of St. Matthew, the Evangelist!
Today, my heart is but grateful for all the experiences.

Fearful and reluctant were first few days, weeks, and months.
I knew no one and had to figure things out by myself.
Many came as angels to help me through my studies and life in general.
I came into contact with so many good people.
Today, my heart is but grateful for all the experiences.

I was confident that everything would be fine by the grace of God.
I plunged deep into the unknown culture and tradition.
Learned many new things through interactions,
And through visits to various places, including 10 provinces of Canada.
Today, my heart is but grateful for all the experiences.



Friday, September 8, 2017

Canadian Canoe Pilgrimage 2017

The long awaited Canadian Canoe Pilgrimage 2017 was launched on July 21, 2017 from Martyrs' Shrine, Midland, Ontario. Fr Peter Bisson, SJ, the provincial of English Canada, presided over the commissioning Mass at the Shrine church. Deacon Roshan Kiro, SJ served as the deacon on the occasion. The canoeists followed the routes of the first Jesuit missionaries and other voyagers who travelled by canoes from Montreal, Quebec to Midland, Ontario. The Canoe Pilgrimage covered over 850 kms for 26 days until August 15th, the feast day of the Assumption of Our Lady, to reach its destination at Kahnewake, Quebec. The thanksgiving mass was held at the church at Kahnawake where St Kateri Tekkakwitha’s tomb is laid.
The Canadian Canoe Pilgrimage is organized once in fifty years. It meant that the last Canoe Pilgrimage was organised in 1967. The Canadian Canoe Pilgrimage 2017 also marked the 150th birthday of Canada. About 30 young and old, men and women, Jesuits and non-Jesuits, indigenous and non-indigenous paddlers took part from beginning to the end. It comprised the core group of the paddlers. Many other interested paddlers joined and dropped on different stages on the way. The pilgrims were welcomed by hundreds of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples along the way. The paddlers enriched their companionship by sharing their joys and sorrows with one another. They also developed a new bond of love for one another as they prepared and shared food in turns. The act of sharing and caring for one another provided glimpses of reconciliation. The paddlers became aware how vulnerable they were before nature as they paddled through on the rough water of the Georgian Bay. They realized they needed to respect nature and follow the course of water when they were in water. ‘Water is powerful––if it can give life; it can take life as well,” warned Small Cook from Wikwemkong.
The Sisters of St Joseph’s at North Bay generously opened the doors of their Motherhouse for the pilgrims and welcomed them with the sound of music and celebration. The sisters and people from Nipissing First Nations organized a number of programs on the feast day of St Ignatius of Loyola on July 31st. Fr Eric Oland, SJ, the provincial of French Canada, presided over the feast day mass, while Deacon Roshan Kiro, SJ served as the deacon on that auspicious day.

Some of the main purposes of the pilgrimage were: to bring different cultures together, to encourage the skills needed for dialogue and reconciliation, to build a new relationship, to increase awareness around Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its Calls-to-Action, to build on our rich and varied traditions, and to foster a deeper respect, immersion and connection with all of creation around us. 





Monday, May 15, 2017

Merciful Compassion

The Holy Trinity, sitting is a circle in the heavenly throne,
Stooped down to the earth;
Only to see the misery of humanity who have strayed from their true path;
And have clung to the things of this earth as their saviour.
You wondered if that was the original plan of humanity!

Looking at human condition and of creation,
Jesus, your heart bled with compassion;
You wept bitterly that humanity had forgotten their true selves;
And in the valley of darkness, they are perishing in selfishness and apathy.
Lord, you showed your merciful compassion, and risked yourself to be born in human flesh.

Since the Trinity had not given up hope on humanity;
Mary wilted with fear and amazement as the invitation of Angel reached her;
Without comprehending the risk and cost of the invitation, Mary said, “YES”.
Jesus, your heart melted at the reaction and fear of Mary, of course, with compassion;
For you knew that Mary had her own plans, and yet embraced the plan of God.

The noble plans of Joseph, the righteous one, were scattered with the Annunciation;
And wondered if Mary was true to him.
But God intervened with Joseph through a dream,
And gave him the courage and light to take Mary as his wife;
For the conception was not due to unfaithfulness, but was from the Holy Spirit.

Thus, the young couple made the choice of the Trinity theirs;
And embraced Jesus, the eternal Word;
And the fullness of God’s unconditional love, to form the Holy Family;
That through Him, with Him, and in Him all might be saved for eternal life.
Yet, how can a mortal fathom the depths of God’s merciful compassion and love!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Partakers of the Divine Nature (2 Peter 1:4)

“The Word became flesh” (John 1:14) to make us “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). In each Eucharistic mass the priest or deacon says quietly a very powerful prayer––“By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”[1] The mutual sharing of divinity and humanity is termed as theōsis, or deification, or divinization. The concept of deification emerged mainly in the Eastern Churches. The great fourth century theologian, St Gregory of Nazianzus coined the term theōsis. In Christian theology, theōsis refers to the transformation of believers into the likeness of God. It is a divine act that involves all three members of the Trinity, as humanity is connected to the Son through the Spirit and to the Father through the Son. A fruitful way to explore the idea of deification (or theōsis or divinization, or human beings as partakers of the Divine nature) and its effect in the Christian belief is to examine how the Church Fathers and contemporary theologians treat the theology of redemption, faith, scripture, and the experience of God.
The early Church Fathers, St Irenaeus and St Athanasius unhesitatingly
Assert that God created the entire world, and at pinnacle of his creation, he made humanity in his image and likeness. Due to disobedience at the Fall, humanity incurred sin and death upon not only itself but upon all of creation. Sin obscured the image and likeness and, therefore, it placed humanity in need of re-creation. From the results of the Fall, the process of redemptive history jumps to the one who re-creates the image and likeness within humanity, the Incarnate Christ.[2]

The pattern of John 1:14, “the Word became flesh” is maintained by them. St Irenaeus affirms that, “Christ is God the Creator in human flesh who came to the earth to recapitulate all of humanity’s experience, including the details of each stage of humanity for the purpose of its deification.”[3] Similarly St Athanasius proposes, against the Arians (who held that Christ was not fully divine) that “Christ is not merely a creature, but he is transcendent as the Almighty Creator God and immanent as fully human so that he can connect God to humanity and deify it.”[4] The Church Fathers maintained that Christ could not have saved us had he not been in one person true God and true man. The purpose of the Incarnation and redemption is not only to undo the consequences of sin, but also to assume mankind into God’s own Trinitarian life.[5]
St Athanasius underlines the divine likeness of our first ancestor as the prototype of our divinization. As God created Adam in his own image and likeness (Gen 1: 26) and thus Adam shared the likeness (Greek term homoiousios which corresponds to likeness) with the Logos and, by this, with God, as the most precious of divine gifts, a similitude which was for our first ancestor (and so Adam was a historical being) the source of the knowledge of God, of happiness, and of incorruptibility.[6] This divine likeness of humankind results from the indwelling of the Logos in us which St Athanasius calls a grace. He interprets 1 John 3:2, “claiming that it refers to humanity’s participation in God as his children, and he claims that humanity becomes like God, but like God in habits and qualities rather than in essence.”[7] God’s substantial presence “implies that of the Father and of the Holy Spirit, the Logos has transfigured the soul of Adam to the point of making of it His own image; through this He has assured to him, with the divine sonship, incorruptibility and a happy life in intimacy with God.”[8] Gross illustrates what Athanasius claims humankind to be in relation to God as follows: 
By virtue of our origin and according to our nature we are creatures and that our Creator is God through the Logos; that we are taken as children later and that our Creator at that time becomes our Father as well…we are not children by nature, but really the Son who is in us, and that in His turn God is not our Father by nature, but Father of the Logos, who is in us.[9] 

The highest goal of the Christian faith, as Gross sees in the writing of Fonsegrive, “is to make us partake of the very nature of God––divinae consortes naturae, says Saint Peter––to divinize us and thus, by the grace of God, to make us gods.”[10] Following the New Testament, the Church Fathers indeed saw the new life imparted to the Christian as a participation in the divine life itself due to the incarnation of the Word and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the soul of the righteous, and being completed through the actual gift of bodily incorruptibility.[11] James Starr points out that 2 Peter 1:4 does not speak “of apotheosis in the sense of becoming a part of God’s essence or ceasing to be human, but of the partaking in specific divine attributes, seen perfectly in Christ.”[12] Starr presents the divine attributes (from 2 Peter 1: 1-4) which are “explicitly linked with divinity, and by association, with divine nature: incorruptibility, power, glory, excellence or virtue, and righteousness or justice.”[13]
 Gross continue to assert that through the violation of God’s precept, Adam alienated himself from, emptied himself of, the Logos. With the knowledge of the divine, he also lost incorruptibility and fell under the law of corruption and death.[14] St Cyril of Alexandria distinguishes “‘two natures’: the uncreated nature, ‘incorruptible and indestructible by essence,’ and the created nature, ‘necessarily subject to corruption’ and to the return to its origin, which is nothingness.”[15] Gross affirms that Son of God became human in order to give back to us what we had lost in Adam. He quotes St Irenaeus to show that the work of perfect restoration postulates a God-Man:
The Word of God became human and the One who is the Son of God became the Son of Man, united with the Word of God, in order that humankind might receive adoption and became sons of God. For we could not receive incorruptibility and immortality in any other way than by union with incorruptibility and immortality. But how could we have been united with incorruptibility and immortality, if incorruptibility and immortality had not first become what we are, in order that what was corruptible might be swallowed up by incorruptibility, what was mortal might be swallowed up by immortality, and in order that we might receive the adoption of sons?[16]

In the same line, Paul proclaims that one becomes a son or a daughter of God through the ontological son, Jesus Christ and, therefore, one receives the adoption as a son or a daughter of God through grace (Rom 8:16, 23; Gal 4:4-7; Heb 2:10).  Christoforous Stavropoulous wonders if the human beings are ready to listen to the voice of God that echoes in the Bible, “God speaks to us human beings clearly and directly and He says… ‘You are gods, sons of Most High––all of you’ (Ps 82:6 and John 10:34).” He continues to ask: “Do we understand the meaning of this calling? ... As human beings we each have this one, unique calling, to achieve Theōsis.”[17]
The grace of God, through our faith, transforms us to imitate Christ who humbled himself to share our humanity through the Incarnation. He did so because of his love for the human race that had lost the immortality and had embraced death through the sins of Adam and Eve. St Augustine highlights the understanding of original sin and its influence against Pelagius: “1) as inherited guilt; 2) as total destruction of God’s image in the human being; 3) as a ‘sin of nature’ and not a ‘personal sin’ of Adam and Eve [which the Eastern Church believes]; and 4) as legalistic relations of human beings with God and salvation based on Christ’s death as satisfaction of divine justice.”[18]
The greatest purpose of the Incarnation is to bring back all of humanity to God. Salvation is not understood primarily as liberation from sin, but rather as a return to life immortal and the reshaping of the human being into the image of the Creator. St Athanasius and the Cappadocian Fathers held that it was nothing but “by the incarnation of the Logos that humanity was anointed by the Holy Spirit.”[19] Maximus the Confessor looks at deification as a participation of the “whole man” in the “whole God”:
In the same way in which the soul and the body are united, God should become accessible for participation b the soul, through the soul’s intermediary, by the body, in order that the soul might receive an unchanging character, and the body, immortality; and finally that the whole man should become God, deified by the grace of God-become-man, becoming whole man, soul and body, by nature, and becoming whole God, soul and body, by grace.[20]

St Irenaeus underlines that for Christians the Holy Spirit is the origin, the source of divine life and this new life does not come from us or from our nature, but it is given to humankind according to the grace of God; it is a partaking of the divine life itself.[21] Gross perceives in the writing of St Irenaeus that superior likeness that exists between God and redeemed humankind––is conditioned by the possession of the person of the Holy Spirit, and constituted by a created grace that transfigures humankind and makes them like the three Trinitarian persons.[22] The Eastern Church looks at redemption as an immediate aim for our salvation from sin, but salvation (as a whole) has its ultimate realization in the age to come (eschaton) in our union with God, the deification of the created beings whom Christ ransomed.[23]
         Karl Rahner views human divinization as the center of gravity in the Roman Catholic Church for the relationship between the grace and nature. He follows St Thomas Aquinas and employs the concept of participation in both a philosophical and a theological sense in order to distinguish between God’s efficient presence in all created things, and his “quasi-formal” presence as grace in humanity.[24] The quasi-formal mode of divine presence occurs through the Church, the sacraments, and the theological virtues, in all of which God’s self-communication is actualized in the human person as a creature of history and transcendence. Aquinas expresses the essence of Catholic position between nature and grace ––– grace does not destroy but perfects nature.  Aquinas goes on to say in Summa Theologiae,
Grace, as the divine movement that justifies, sanctifies, and ultimately divinizes the human person, is ‘a certain participation in divine nature,’ and ‘ a special love, by which God draws the rational creature above its natural condition to have a part in the divine goodness.[25]

         Rahner sees grace as the “innermost heart” of the world. Since God wants to give himself away freely, he creates non-divine “nature” to which he could impart himself. Therefore, he believes that creation is the first movement toward divinization because creation takes place for the sake of grace and is, in some level, open to the divine self-bestowal, the personal self-communication of God.[26] In the light of Rahner’s understanding of creation, that means we are offered divinizing participation in God through Jesus Christ.[27]  Gerald O’Collins borrows from Aquinas as follows:
         Through the grace of union [Christ’s] humanity enjoyed the highest imaginable gift, that of being ‘assumed’ by the person of God’s Son. Habitual or supernatural grace sanctified and perfected his human nature in the fullest possible way. The grace of ‘headship’ endowed Christ with the power to sanctify others as the head of the Church or Mystical Body.[28]

        
         To conclude, Aquinas asserts that God’s love for the human beings is everlasting. Heim asserts that “God became human in order that humans may become divine, sharers and participants by grace in the divine life that Christ enjoys by nature.”[29] When we share what Christ enjoys, we not only encounter and relate to others as persons, but in some measure we share in their own personal life. The way we can most deeply and mutually participate in divine fullness is through our mutual awareness of indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us. Heim even dares to say “the divine nature is so great that even God cannot encompass it except through ‘sharing’ in the trinitarian communion.”[30] This communion and sharing is best understood in the self -giving of Christ in the holy Eucharistic celebration where Christ nourishes everyone through his body and blood. Through reconciliation with God, human beings are able to experience God’s compassion and love by the experience of being forgiven and forgiving others; thus to share the celebration of eternal life for which Christ became human so that we might share in his divinity. 




Bibliography
Caponi, Francis J. OSA. “Karl Rahner: Divinization in Roman Catholicism”. ed. Michael J.
Christensen andJeffery A. Wittung.  Partakers of the Divine Nature: The History and Development of Deification in the Christian Traditions. Michigan: Grand Rapids, 2008.
Gross, Jules. The Divinization of the Christian: According to the Greek Fathers, Trans. Paul A.
 Onica. California: A & C Press, 2002.
Heim, S. Mark.  “Salvation as Communion: Partakers of the Divine Nature”. Theology Today 6.
 Oct 2004.
Kärkkäinen, Veli-Matti. One With God: Salvation as Deification and Justification. Minnesota:
 Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2004.
Kereszty, Roch A. O. Cist., ed. J. Stephen Maddux.  Jesus Christ: Fundamentals of Christology.
 New York: Alba House, c1991.
Living with Christ. Vol. 22 No. 4, April 2016.
Maximus the Confessor. Book of Ambiguities. Quoted in Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen. One With God:
Salvation as Deification and Justification. Minnesota: Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2004.
O’Collins, Gerald SJ. Christology: A Biblical, Historical, and Systematic Study of Jesus. 2nd ed.
            New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.
Starr, James. “Does 2 Peter 1:4 Speak of Deification?”. ed. Michael J. Christensen and Jeffery A.
Wittung. Partakers of the Divine Nature: The History and Development of Deification in the Christian Traditions. Michigan: Grand Rapids, 2008.
Stavropoulous, Christoforous. Partakers of Divine Nature. Minneapolis: Light and Life, 1976.
Wilson, Daniel E. Ph.D.  Deification and the Rule of Faith: The Communication of the Gospel in
 Hellenistic Culture. Bloomington: CrossBooks, 2010.





[1] Living with Christ, Vol. 22 No. 4, April 2016, 10.
[2] Daniel E. Wilson, Ph.D., Deification and the Rule of Faith: The Communication of the Gospel in Hellenistic Culture (Bloomington: CrossBooks, 2010), 208.
[3] Ibid., 208- 209.
[4] Ibid., 209.
[5] Roch A. Kereszty, O. Cist., ed. J. Stephen Maddux,  Jesus Christ: Fundamentals of Christology (New York: Alba House, c1991), 163.
[6] Jules Gross, The Divinization of the Christian: According to the Greek Fathers, Trans. Paul A. Onica (California: A & C Press, 2002), p. 164.
[7] Daniel E. Wilson, Ph.D., Deification and the Rule of Faith: The Communication of the Gospel in Hellenistic Culture (Bloomington: CrossBooks, 2010), 191.
[8] Gross, The Divinization of the Christian, p. 165.
[9] Ibid., 164.
[10] Jules Gross, The Divinization of the Christian: According to the Greek Fathers, Trans. Paul A. Onica (California: A & C Press, 2002), p. 1. Quoted from Fonsegrive, Le catholicisme et la religion de l’esprit (Paris, 1913), p. 21.
[11] Gross, The Divinization of the Christian, p. 120.
[12] James Starr, “Does 2 Peter 1:4 Speak of Deification?”, ed. Michael J. Christensen and Jeffery A. Wittung, In Partakers of the Divine Nature: The History and Development of Deification in the Christian Traditions, (Michigan: Grand Rapids, 2008), 85.
[13] Ibid., 82.
[14] Gross, The Divinization of the Christian, p. 166.
[15] Ibid., 219.
[16] Ibid., 124- 125.
[17] Christoforous Stavropoulous, Partakers of Divine Nature (Minneapolis: Light and Life, 1976), 17-18.
[18] Quoted in Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, One With God: Salvation as Deification and Justification (Minnesota: Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2004), 22.
[19] Ibid., 26.
[20] Maximus the Confessor, Book of Ambiguities, Quoted in Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, One With God: Salvation as Deification and Justification (Minnesota: Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2004), 27.
[21] Gross, 128.
[22] Ibid., 129.
[23] Kärkkäinen, 32.
[24] Francis J. Caponi, OSA, “Karl Rahner: Divinization in Roman Catholicism”, ed. Michael J. Christensen and Jeffery A. Wittung, In Partakers of the Divine Nature: The History and Development of Deification in the Christian Traditions, (Michigan: Grand Rapids, 2008), 259.
[25] Ibid., 260.
[26] Ibid., 261.
[27] Caponi, 263. Here, Rahner again follows Aquinas, who consistently addresses grace through the conceptuality of participation, speaking of “the light of grace, which is a participation in the divine nature” (Summa Theologiae, 1-2.110.3), “that participation in the divine goodness which constitutes grace” (ibid., 1-2. 110.2, ad 2).
[28] Gerald O’Collins, SJ, Christology: A Biblical, Historical, and Systematic Study of Jesus, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 208.
[29] S. Mark Heim, “Salvation as Communion: Partakers of the Divine Nature”, Theology Today 61(Oct 2004), 323.
[30] Ibid., 327.