“The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” The Virgin replies: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word”. (Lk 1: 36-38)
At this moment, the Word is made flesh. The Word is for ever united, by an ineffable union, to our humanity. Through the Incarnation, the Word enters into our race: He becomes authentically one of ourselves, like unto us in all things, excepting sin. He can, then, become High Priest and Mediator, since being God and Man He can bind man to God: He was taken from among men.
In the Holy Trinity, the Second Person, the Word, is the infinite glory of[the Father, His essential glory: the brightness of his glory and the figure of his substance. (Heb. 1:3) But as Word before the Incarnation, He does not offer sacrifice to His Father. Why is this? Because sacrifice supposes homage and adoration, that is to say the acknowledgment of our own abasement in presence of the Infinite Being; the Word being in all things equal to His Father, being God with Him and like Him, cannot then offer Him sacrifice. Christ’s Priesthood could only begin at the moment when the Word was made flesh. At that moment when the Word became Incarnate, He united in Himself two natures: the divine nature whereby He was able to say: “I and the Father are one” (Jn. 10:30), one in the unity of the Divinity, one in equality of perfections; the other, the human nature by reason of which He said: “The Father is greater than I” (Jn.14:28). It is therefore inasmuch as He is God-Man that Jesus is Pontiff
Learned authors derive the word ‘pontiff’ from pontem facere: to establish or to make a bridge. Whatever be the value of this etymology, the idea is just when applied to Christ. In the Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena, we read that God the Father, vouchsafed to explain to her how, by the union of the two natures, Christ threw a bridge over the abyss that separated us from heaven: “I would that thou shouldst look at the Bridge that I have built for thee in My Only-begotten Son, and that thou shouldst see the greatness thereof for it reaches from heaven to earth, that is, the greatness of the Divinity is joined to the earth of your humanity … That was necessary in order to restore the road which was broken and make it possible for man to pass through this world’s bitterness and attain (eternal) life; but the bridge could not be made of earth large enough to span the abyss and reach eternal life, since the earth of human nature was incapable of itself to satisfy for sin and remove the stain of Adam’s sin which has corrupted and infected the whole human race. It was, then, necessary to join human nature with the height of My nature, the Eternal Deity, so that it might satisfy for the whole human race. It was necessary that the human nature should bear the punishment and that the divine nature, united with the human, should make acceptable the sacrifice that My Son offered to Me in order to destroy death and restore life to you. So the height of the Divinity, humbled to the earth of your humanity, built the Bridge and made the road … But in order that you should have life, it is not enough that My Son should have become the Bridge, unless you pass over this Bridge.”
The sacrifice of this one Pontiff is on a par with His priesthood; it was likewise the moment of His incarnation that Jesus inaugurated it.
Blessed Dom Columba Marmion OSB (Christ in His Mysteries)
ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS XII
ON THE SACRED LITURGY
TO THE VENERABLE BRETHREN, THE PATRIARCHS, PRIMATES,
ARCHBISHOPS, BISHIOPS, AND OTHER ORDINARIES
IN PEACE AND COMMUNION WITH THE APOSTOLIC SEE
Health and Apostolic Benediction.
Mediator between God and men and High Priest who has gone before us into heaven, Jesus the Son of God quite clearly had one aim in view when He undertook the mission of mercy which was to endow mankind with the rich blessings of supernatural grace. Sin had disturbed the right relationship between man and his Creator; the Son of God would restore it. The children of Adam were wretched heirs to the infection of original sin; He would bring them back to their heavenly Father, the primal source and final destiny of all things. For this reason He was not content, while He dwelt with us on earth, merely to give notice that redemption had begun, and to proclaim the long-awaited Kingdom of God, but gave Himself besides in prayer and sacrifice to the task of saving souls, even to the point of offering Himself, as He hung from the cross, a Victim unspotted unto God, to purify our conscience of dead works, to serve the living God. Thus happily were all men summoned back from the byways leading them down to ruin and disaster, to be set squarely once again upon the path that leads to God. Thanks to the shedding of the blood of the Immaculate Lamb, now each might set about the personal task of achieving his own sanctification, so rendering to God the glory due to Him.
18. But it is His will, besides, that the worship He instituted and practiced during His life on earth shall continue ever afterwards without intermission. For he has not left mankind an orphan. He still offers us the support of His powerful, unfailing intercession, acting as our “advocate with the Father.” He aids us likewise through His Church, where He is present indefectibly as the ages run their course: through the Church which He constituted “the pillar of truth”and dispenser of grace, and which by His sacrifice on the cross, He founded, consecrated and confirmed forever.
MYSTICI CORPORIS CHRISTI
Encyclical of Pope Pius XII “On the Mystical Body of Christ” on June 29, 1943
40. But we must not think that He rules only in a hidden or extraordinary manner. On the contrary, our Divine Redeemer also governs His Mystical Body in a visible and normal way through His Vicar on earth. You know, Venerable Brethren, that after He had ruled the “little flock” Himself during His mortal pilgrimage, Christ our Lord, when about to leave this world and return to the Father, entrusted to the Chief of the Apostles the visible government of the entire community He had founded. Since He was all wise He could not leave the body of the Church He had founded as a human society without a visible head. Nor against this may one argue that the primacy of jurisdiction established in the Church gives such a Mystical Body two heads. For Peter in virtue of his primacy is only Christ’s Vicar; so that there is only one chief Head of this Body, namely Christ, who never ceases Himself to guide the Church invisible, though at the same time He rules it visibly, through him who is His representative on earth. After His glorious Ascension into heaven this Church rested not on Him alone, but on Peter too, its visible foundation stone. That Christ and His Vicar constitute one only Head is the solemn teaching of Our predecessor of immortal memory Boniface VIII in the Apostolic Letter Unam Sanctam; and his successors have never ceased to repeat the same.
41. They, therefore, walk in the path of dangerous error who believe that they can accept Christ as the Head of the Church, while not adhering loyally to His Vicar on earth. They have taken away the visible head, broken the visible bonds of unity and left the Mystical Body of the Redeemer so obscured and so maimed, that those who are seeking the haven of eternal salvation can neither see it nor find it.
50. Christ enlightens His whole Church, as numberless passages from the Sacred Scriptures and the holy Fathers prove. “No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” Coming as a teacher from God to give testimony to the truth, He shed such light upon the nascent apostolic Church that the Prince of the apostles exclaimed: “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life”; from heaven He assisted the evangelists in such a way that as members of Christ they wrote what they had learnt, as it were, at the dictation of the Head. And for us today, who linger on in this earthly exile, He is still the author of faith as in our heavenly home He will be its finisher. It is He who imparts the light of faith to believers; it is He who enriches pastors and teachers and above all His Vicar on earth with the supernatural gifts of knowledge, understanding and wisdom, so that they may loyally preserve the treasury of faith, defend it vigorously, and explain and confirm it with reverence and devotion. Finally it is He who, though unseen, presides at the Councils of the Church and guides them.
51. Holiness begins from Christ; and Christ is its cause. For no act conducive to salvation can be performed unless it proceeds from Him as from its supernatural source. “Without me,” He says, “you can do nothing.”
92. But lest we be deceived by the angel of darkness who transforms himself into an angel of light, let this be the supreme law of our love: to love the Spouse of Christ as Christ willed her to be, and as He purchased her with His blood
110. Venerable Brethren, may the Virgin Mother of God hear the prayers of Our paternal heart — which are yours also — and obtain for all a true love of the Church — she whose sinless soul was filled with the divine Spirit of Jesus Christ above all other created souls, and who “in the name of the whole human race” gave her consent “for a spiritual marriage between the Son of God and human nature.” Within her virginal womb Christ our Lord already bore the exalted title of Head of the Church; in a marvelous birth she brought Him forth as the source of all supernatural life, and presented Him, newly born, as Prophet, King, and Priest to those who, from among Jews and Gentiles, were the first to come to adore Him. Furthermore, her only Son, condescending to His mother’s prayer in “Cana of Galilee,” performed the miracle by which “his disciples believed in him.” It was she, the second Eve, who, free from all sin, original or personal, and always most intimately united with her Son, offered Him on Golgotha to the Eternal Father for all the children of Adam, sin-stained by his unhappy fall, and her mother’s rights and mother’s love were included in the holocaust. Thus she who, according to the flesh, was the mother of our Head, through the added title of pain and glory became, according to the Spirit, the mother of all His members. She it was who through her powerful prayers obtained that the Spirit of our Divine Redeemer, already given on the Cross, should be bestowed, accompanied by miraculous gifts, on the newly founded Church at Pentecost; and finally bearing with courage and confidence the tremendous burden of her sorrows and desolation, she, truly the Queen of Martyrs, more than all the faithful “filled up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ . . . for His Body, which is the Church”; and she continues to have for the Mystical Body of Christ, born of the pierced Heart of the Saviour, the same motherly care and ardent love with which she cherished and fed the Infant Jesus in the crib.
The infinite distance between God and man, the impassable abyss, the breaking of every bond of friendship-all this was the tremendous consequence of sin. Then between God and man appeared the sweet Babe of Bethlehem; suddenly and completely the whole situation changes: distance is overcome, and across the abyss a wonderful bridge is erected which unites earth with heaven and re-establishes relations of intimacy between God and men. This bridge is Jesus, the “only Mediator between God and man,” who joins earth to heaven in a truly remarkable manner” (Mystici Corporis). In His office as Mediator, Jesus is really”at the center” : He is the point of union between divinity and humanity. His mediation has all the qualifications necessary for perfectly pleasing God, since He Himself is true God; at the same time, because He is true man and, as such, represents the whole human race, Jesus can make worthy satisfaction to God for the entire debt of sinful mankind.
The divinity possessed by Jesus as the Word is united in His Person with the humanity He possesses as man. These two natures are not merely in juxtaposition, but they embrace each other; even more, they are united in one Person, the Person of the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ,Our Lord. In Him and through Him, all mankind is readmitted to friendship with the heavenly Father. In Him all can find again the way to reach union with the Trinity.
The eternal Father deigned to reveal this wonderful mystery to St. Catherine of Siena: ” It is My wish that you consider the bridge I have built in the Person of my only begotten Son, and that you notice that it reaches from earth to heaven, because in Him the majesty of the divinity is united with the lowliness of your human nature. It was necessary to construct this bridge in order to repair the road which had become impassable and to open a passage across the trials of this world to eternal life” (Dialogue).
2. “For it hath well pleased the Father that in [Jesus] all fullness should dwell, and that through Him He should reconcile all things unto Himself, making peace through the blood of His Cross, both as to the things that are on earth, and the things that are in heaven” (Gall, 1 9.20). Jesus accomplished His work as Mediator on Calvary, where He shed all His Blood as the price of our redemption. But His work began at Bethlehem, where the Word took, so to speak, that ineffable “giant’s step” which brought Him from heaven to earth, which made Him true Man as well as true God ..
The terrible abyss which sin had produced between God and man has been filled up by the Child who opens His arms to us from the manger. All that sin had spoiled and destroyed is now, by the will of God, saved, re-established in Christ” (Eph 1:10).
The grace which Adam had received directly from God, we now receive only through Jesus, our Mediator; our whole supernatural life always comes through Him. If we wish to be united to God, we have no other means than to attach ourselves to Jesus, to pass through Him, our Mediator, our Bridge, our Way. Jesus bas said, “I am the way” (Jn 14:6); ” I am the door. By Me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved”.
Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene OCD (Divine Intimacy)