Transformative Passion

I had more material from my interview with Dawn Eden about her new book My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints, so I have been sharing it here; and now a second installment:

“How can Christ’s Passion strengthen me? What does it mean to have him live in me, and for me to live in him?” Doesn’t this sound a little bit like a fantasyland?

I suppose it might sound like a fantasyland to someone who doesn’t believe that Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man. But, as a Catholic, I believe that Jesus’ humanity is the instrument through which his divinity divinizes us. No, we don’t become God — we will always be creatures — but we are, through our baptism, united with Jesus’ humanity in a manner that enables his divinity to act upon us and transform us. In the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “our participation in the Eucharist already gives us a foretaste of Christ’s transfiguration of our bodies.”
So Christ’s Passion does strengthen me, because the Christ who suffered comes to me in the Eucharist and the other sacraments of the Church, giving me the grace and forgiveness he won for me on the Cross. He does live in me and I live for him through my baptism, which unites me to him, awakens and enlivens his image in me, and makes me a new creation.
Do I always feel united to God? Do I always feel like a new creation? I wish! But thank God my faith is not dependent upon feeling. Even Jesus didn’t “feel” like God on the Cross, because Jesus, in his humanity, suffered, and God in his divinity cannot suffer. But Jesus knew he was God, and he willed, as a divine person, to suffer in his human nature, in union with all human persons. So I know, whether I feel God’s presence or not, that he is with me in everything I do and everything I suffer. In the words of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, quoted by Pope Benedict in his encyclical Spe salvi, “God cannot suffer, but he can suffer with.”

Read more in my NRO interview with the author.

  • Joseph H. M. Ortiz

    Reading the interview, I noticed that Ms. Adams indicated that abused children often grow to reckon their goodness and loveability in terms of their usefulness as objects to lecherous others. Let this fact be a warning to preachers who, while rightly urging difficult service to others, fail to mention that God’s love for you or me is not only for our “selfless” or “self-forgetful” usefulness to others, but also because he loves each of us (“unto madness”, said Therese of Lisieux) for our own sakes (as He does each of our needy neighbors for theirs). 
“[God's] own Holy Spirit so sore desireth our weal, that, as men say, he groaneth for us in such wise as no tongue can tell.” — Thomas More (in prison).

    • Joseph H. M. Ortiz

      Oh-oh! I should have said (of course) “Ms. Eden”, not “Ms. Adams”.

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