Monday, November 24, 2008

Exploring Catholicism: Part 4

[Also see Parts 1, 2, and 3]

Indefinitely, if I presented this argument to a friend, they would bring up the fact that in Matthew 16:18, in the greek, Peter –Petros- and rock –petra- do not agree in gender and so rock could not be referring to Peter. What is the rebuttal to that?
Matthew used the Greek word petros for Simon's new name, instead of petra because you can't use a feminine noun for a man's name. That would be like calling me "Nicole" instead of "Nicholas." At any rate, by the time Matthew's gospel was written, the words petros and petra had lost their distinction in meaning. In other words, both words meant "rock." If that weren't enough, in Aramaic, which was the language Jesus was speaking, the same word kepha would have been used both for Simon's new name and for the rock of the Church. So, Protestants who try to force a distinction between petros and petra in order to show that Peter isn't the rock of the Church are really making a whole lot out of nothing. Actually, there's a wealth of Protestant biblical scholarship that confirms everything I am saying here. See for yourself.

In general I could accept [the development of the papacy], the talk in the churches I am a part of now is how do we be relevant without sacrificing the truth. Now you may have to help form the following question as well as answer it, but through the lens I have always looked at the Catholic Church it seemed a development of role. What I mean is there seemed to be no clear indication of a papacy in the early church, then around the 300’s or 400’s (I can’t remember) it is defined. Then it becomes very prominent until very recent in which we have the definition of ex cathedra seemingly giving more strength. I glossed over many events but the question is what is the Catholic lens at which to look at this role and see it as a constant as opposed to a role created over time?
Well, I think the key here is to understand that the papacy has developed organically into what it is today, and that there is nothing wrong with organic development. Nothing of the prerogatives of the pope were ever invented. The belief that he is the head of the bishops and he has the authority to speak infallibly have always existed. Just because the Church, throughout the years, may provide a definition or a clarification of what She believes about the papacy, that does not mean that the topic in question is being invented at the moment. For example, Vatican I affirmed the pope's ability to speak infallibly, but this was something that the Church has always taught about the pope. I think that most of the change takes place regarding those aspects of the papacy that are more incidental to his primary mission (for example, the extent of his secular or temporal power, the bureaucracy that exists to help him run the every-day affairs of the Church, the vestments he wears, his ability to travel across the world, etc.).

I'm not really sure what else to say beyond that. Dave Armstrong has a few articles on the development of the papacy that may be of help:He has several articles on the general theory of doctrinal development as well. For these, see Biblical Evidence for Catholicism: Development of Doctrine.

Enoch and Elijah are two good examples [of an assumption in Scripture]. I would agree it seems scripturally sound. I have two hesitations with the other references. 1st - Were these instances assumptions or resuscitations? (and I don’t mean like CPR, I will explain) Example: Lazarus was “raised” but he more than likely died again. So you might call it resuscitation. I am not saying that he wasn’t really dead and brought back to life, but that he was not given the glorified body but “raised” back into the earthly. So were these that were raised also assumed or were they only raised?
From the biblical evidence, it appears that these were assumptions, not resurrections (as was the case with Lazarus). In other words, Enoch and Elijah do not appear to have experienced death. They were raised body and soul into heaven.

2nd- and this gets into a deeper question, You quoted from the apocrypha or deuterocanonicals. The church I am a part of now rejects them completely. I have heard some good case for their acceptance. Do you have a good case for their acceptance?
For this, I would like to direct you to some earlier blog posts that I have written on this subject:I hope those help.

Not that I expect you to find and list every one but I am curious is this an exhaustive list of verses hinting at Mary’s assumption or are there more?
There may be more, but those are the only ones that I am aware of.

Numbers 1 through 14 are very good. Let me see if I am understanding. In those first 14 sections is he simply saying that Mary’s role as Co-Redemptrix or Mediatrix (these are the same correct?) was in her free will participation with the will of God, just in the same way we can. So his remark about it being quantitative as opposed to qualitative means that she had a much larger, more important decision in regards to conforming her will to God’s than we might?
Well, first of all, the words "co-redemptrix" and "mediatrix" do not mean the same thing. The word "co-redemptrix" refers to her role in the redemption of mankind. The word "mediatrix" refers to her role in the mediation or distribution of grace to us. As for her role in salvation in comparison to our role, her contribution is quantitatively greater not because she had a more important decision to make, but because she is able to cooperate with God's will perfectly, whereas we are able to cooperate only imperfectly. Remember, Mary is without sin. This means that she can perfectly, completely, totally unite her will to the will of the Father. Since we are not sinless, we simply cannot cooperate with God as perfectly as she did.

My one hesitation with this article was the first sentence in 15. “Likewise, God chooses to distribute all graces through Mary.” When, where, and how is the jump from Mary having been the instrument used (past tense) for Jesus to enter allowing for all grace, to Mary being used (present) in the distribution of all graces. Biblical evidence would be nice but I don’t even necessarily need that, just the argument would be enough.
Perhaps the following paragraphs will help, from the article Fifth Marian Dogma: "Where Is That in Scripture?":
  • Jesus is the sole mediator between God and man (cf. 1 Tim. 2:5), but all Christians are called to participate in the one mediation of Jesus Christ. All the baptized participate in Christ’s mediation by our prayers for one another. In our works of charity and evangelization we "mediate" Christ to others. The Blessed Virgin Mary was asked by God to take her part in her divine Son’s mediation in a unique and privileged way, like no other creature.

    The title "Mediatrix of all Graces" is appropriate for Mary simply by the fact that she gave Jesus his human nature. In accepting the invitation to be his Mother, she becomes the "God-bearer" and thereby mediates to us Jesus Christ, author of all graces. Therefore, the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38) is an event of mediation on the part of Our Lady, as she finds herself "in the middle," that is, between God and us. She, alone, freely chooses whether she will or will not give flesh to the second person of the Trinity.

    "Mediatrix of all graces" is also a fitting title for the Blessed Virgin in light of Luke 1:41, where the physical presence of Mary mediates grace to the unborn John the Baptist, by bringing to John the presence of the unborn Redeemer, resulting in the sanctification of the Baptist.

    At the Wedding of Cana (cf. John 2:1-11), we again see Mary’s mediation, and, most significantly, we see the effects of her mediation: "This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him" (John 2:11).

    As our Lord was dying on the Cross, he gives to his Virgin Mother the new role of Mother of all Christians: "Woman, behold, your son!...Behold, your mother!" (John 19:26). At the Lord’s command the Blessed Virgin becomes Mother of all Christians (and universally, the Mother of all peoples), and therein is called to exercise her supernatural duties as our spiritual Mother. This surely means that she will have the task of nourishing her children, and she does this by mediating the graces of the Redemption from Christ to mankind. Therefore, she is "Mediatrix of all Graces."
If you need something more, beyond what is written here, just let me know and I'll see what I can do.

I hope this helps.

Pax Christi,


  1. The idea of Mary as Co-Redemptrix and co-mediatrix has bothered me a bit from the time Pope John Paul II talked about it. Thanks so much for shedding light on this for me. I didn't really understand it before now.


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